Titanic's Hull

Dec 4, 2000
Yuri-- Cal Haines has about as much information as anyone on the tunnel. Perhaps he can supply the exact dimensions. As far as I can see, it was tall enough for a man to walk erect, with pipes overhead; and wide enough for a couple of men. Think of it as a steel-enclosed city sidewalk.

Since the top of the tunnel was steel, it could probably have supported the weight of cargo, although I don't know if that was intended. There is always the possibility of portable (wooden) orlop decking to extend the top of the tunnel to the full width of holds #3 and #2. Otherwise, it appears the tunnel would have made cargo stowage somewhat difficult, especially in hold #2.

The vestibule had four watertight doors and one upward escape. Two of the WT doors were automatic. One closed the vestibule from the tunnel and the other the vestibule from boiler room #6. The other two WT doors were hinged manual doors leading from the vestibule to bunker spaces on either side of the tunnel in hold #3. There was no WT closure on the escape.

Most people on this formum know that I believe the firemen's tunnel/vestibule/stair tower combination was the primary mechanism for the flooding of everything forward of boiler room #5 (except the forepeak). After studying this one aspect of the ship for six months or more, I still cannot satisfy myself with any logical explanation for its design other than expediency. It was the easiest way to move the stokers and trimmers from their quarters to the boilers without them being seen by passengers.

The automatic WT door at the head end of the vestibule should logically have been in way of bulkhead "C." However, it appears there was no room overhead for the raised door, so it had to be moved aft to the vestibule. Since there was already an automatic WT door at the aft end of the vestibule, this resulted in two such doors within a few feet of one another. While in theory they provided equivalent subdivision to doors with wider spacing, this unusual design meant that damage that prevented one door from closing would likely do the same to the other. If both doors were damaged, then holds #1 and #3, and boiler room #6 became effectively a single large compartment.

The tunnel connected hold #3 to hold #1 via the stair tower which rose through bulkhead "B" on G deck. Water in the tunnel (from any source) could rise up through the orlop and then fill G deck and all decks forward of bulkhead "B" above hold #1. Even more frightening, if at the same time the tunnel itself was damaged inside hold #2, then all three holds and boiler room #6 would become one large compartment.

My view is that running over an underwater ice shelf opened the bottom and the tank top beneath the stair tower. This allowed hold #1 to flood beneath the orlop. It also flooded the stair tower, which eventually overflowed into the space above hold #1. Water also flowed aft through the tunnel. At the same time hold #2 filled.

The lifting of the starboard side of the hull (reported by Fleet) created racking and strains on the fabric of the ship. If these strains prevented full closure of the two automatic WT doors in the vestibule, then hold #3 was free to flood through the manual doors. And, it also gained entrance to boiler room #6. In this scenario a single hole--not a long, jagged scar, nor a series of small punctures--a single hole beneath the stair tower has caused the flooding of the bow from boiler room #6 forward.

Of course, there was more damage. We know about the open seam at the head of boiler room #5. More than likely, it was only one of a number of sprung seams caused by the racking and bending of the hull as it moved across the ice. The mail room may have filled with water from such an opening even before hold #3 flooded beneath it.

--David G. Brown


Hi all.

Can anyone tell me how thick the Titanic's hull was, and is such a thickness comparible to the thickness of hull on todays ships.

The hull of the Titanic was one inch. For a ship that size , that would be comparable to todays construction. It was not double hulled however, if it had been it might have stayed afloat.
Mar 18, 2008
>>It was not double hulled however, if it had been it might have stayed afloat.<<

There was no need for a double hull. Also with that she would have got a heavy list to starboard and might have capsized.

Dave Gittins

Apr 11, 2001
The famous one inch thick plating only extended over the central 2/5 of the hull. At both ends, the thickness was gradually reduced and the thinnest part was only .6 inches thick. The garboard strake was rather thicker.

Double hulls are still being argued over. They are mandatory on certain oil tankers, but some designers fear the risk of unseen corrosion inside them, just as they did in 1912.

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