Titanic's Watertight Subdivision


Jul 31, 2011
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Here's a question for you technical people about Titanic...it's hypothetical, so here goes...

Suppose Titanic survived the collision with the iceberg and limped into New York harbor with the first four compartments flooded (not five as in actuality).

Then Titanic would have returned to England on April 20, 1912 and went to Harland and Wolff shipyard for repairs. Suppose you were the head of the design department at H&W.

What recommendations would you have made to make Titanic truly watertight, as "practically unsinkable" as possible?

Here are my recommendations...
1. Double hull extending fore and aft through ALL compartments, not just midships, thinning towards the fore and aft ends to lessen weight. Say 3 feet from outer steel plating, thining to 2 ft or so to extreme bow and stern ends. I think this alone could have prevented Titanic from sinking, even without the heightened bulkheads.
2. Add a 16th bulkhead dividing the electric generator room in half (17 compartments). This was done on Olympic, but I just wanted to add it to Titanic's supposed overhaul.
3. Seal the tops of the bulkheads at C-deck level. Critical bulkheads D, F, K, and M raised to Bridge Deck(B). Forepeak tank sealed (no openings).
4. All bulkheads near boiler rooms sealed at E-deck level, with watertight hatches allowing crew to escape in time of emergency.

That is all I can think off, I know it's a long post...but I just wanted to share my thoughts with you guys...happy to hear from you guys shortly. }
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>What recommendations would you have made to make Titanic truly watertight, as "practically unsinkable" as possible?<<

I'm afraid anything I could think of would render the ship useless as a passenger vessel. The people who designed the Olympic class were walking the same tightrope that any ship designer does, which is to say that with passengers, ease of access was king. Watertight subdivision of the kind that would have rendered the ship as close to unsinkable as possible is the absolute enemy of that imperative.
 
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Mar 22, 2003
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I happen to agree with Michael. But since you are talking about the hypothetical, if Titanic was able to limp to NY with only the first 4 compartments flooded, I believe repairs would have been done in a shipyard there. I doubt she would be taken in that condition back to Belfast. As far increasing her watertight integrity, I don't think they would do anything different since her original design would have been validated by remaining afloat. If any modification was to take place in this hypothetical scenario, maybe it would be to extend bulkhead D up from E to D deck as an added margin of safety. I doubt anything more would be done.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>But since you are talking about the hypothetical, if Titanic was able to limp to NY with only the first 4 compartments flooded, I believe repairs would have been done in a shipyard there.<<

I think they would have done that as well, although they would have been obliged to accomplish temporary repairs afloat. As far as I know, there was no drydock available which would have been large enough to hold the ship.
 
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Jul 9, 2000
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>>As someone else had said, "Another Belfast trip."<<

To say nothing of fervent prayer that the temporary repairs would hold up!
wink.gif
 
Jan 6, 2005
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Olympic's post-Titanic safety refit illustrated some of the problems inherent in watertight subdivision; it obstructed passenger convenience to a degree. The only way you could possibly have both watertight subdivision and easy passenger flow would be to have automatic watertight doors across passageways used by passengers. The problem with that, of course, is that there is a certain type of person who would stand there and argue with anyone giving an order to clear the passageway for automatic door operation. Saving some peoples' lives is a very thankless task - ask any emergency medical technician if you doubt me!
 

TimTurner

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They were different sizes. Some of them zigzagged as they went up, so the same compartment might be shorter or longer depending on which deck you were on.

An average size might be about 55 feet (17 m), the length of most of the boiler rooms. The largest compartment was the reciprocating engine room, about 80 feet (24 m). The smallest boiler room, Boiler Room 1 was about 35 feet (10.5 m), and the aft peak tank was about 30 feet (9m) at its shortest.
 
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Dec 14, 2014
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>>But since you are talking about the hypothetical, if Titanic was able to limp to NY with only the first 4 compartments flooded, I believe repairs would have been done in a shipyard there.<<

I think they would have done that as well, although they would have been obliged to accomplish temporary repairs afloat. As far as I know, there was no drydock available which would have been large enough to hold the ship.

The Naval dry dock at Norfolk was the largest US dry dock at the time, not large enough for the Titanic but they could have managed a repair.
 

Jim Currie

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The Naval dry dock at Norfolk was the largest US dry dock at the time, not large enough for the Titanic but they could have managed a repair.



Absolutely! They didn't even need a special dock. It could have been done alongside in New York.

Because of the small areas breached, they could have made temporary repairs in the form of a cement box in each damaged compartment. First, they would need to reduce or stop the fast ingress of sea water. This could have been achieved with a collision mat or even a simple tarpauline on the outside. Extra pumps from the shore would help keep the compartments dry.
Next, carpenters would build a shutter box of timber round the crack or sprung seam inside each compartment. While doing so, they would incorporate a drain pipe. After the shutter boxes had been constructed and secured, they would mix cement, sand and ordinary washing soda and fill each box completely. The cement mix would dry quickly, as it did any leak water would accumulate in the bottom of the box and then drain away through the pre-installed drain pipe. They would treat each compartment in the same way until all leaks had been plugged. Then the tarps would be removed and the cement box structures further shored for the journey back to Belfast.

Not to be.


Jim C.
 

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