Welome To The Titanic Tech Thread

Roy Mengot

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May 16, 2006
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The flooding rate will always slow as a water level inside the ship approaches the exterior water level. The inside water adds pressure against the outside water.

Titanic tipped less in the second hour than the first hour after the collision. This fact of hydrodynamics is what saved most of the people who survived the disaster. They had a relatively stable ship from which to launch the life boats during that second hour. Remember also that the first boat wasn't launched until 1 full hour after the collision.

This little fact also contributed to fact that many passengers felt no urgency to leave the ship. Nothing was happening. The ship wasn't changing attitude much. What to do? What to do?

Andrews knew about midnight what would happen. After his inspection. I think Tom Andrews was the only man on Earth who calculated his own death on a piece of paper because he knew there weren't enough lifeboats and he was not going to take one of the seats.

The water coming into BR6 was enough. Titanic's damage stability would be compromised. Water in BR 5 as well? Game over. What's your best guess on time? Hour and a half to two hours. Tops.

Regards
Roy Mengot
 
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Roy's comments about Andrews are sobering.

In reading the testimonies, it appears that none of the officers, crew, or passengers expected the ship to sink in the midnight hour. It was about that time that Chief Engineer Bell was telling Bruce Ismay that the pumps were holding their own. But, Andrews already knew.

Not only that, but Andrews was able to convince Captain Smith. I think it is significant that the captain ordered the boats away immediately upon his return to the bridge. He confided in Boxhall that things were not good. Curiously, after that Boxhall is rather energetic in trying to summon aid with rockets.

We can never know what passed through Andrews' mind after midnight. From then until the final moment must have been a kind of personal Hell for the man. After all, Titanic was largely his creation.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Had Titanic a chapel onboard, I'm sure it would have been packed with Andrews nearest the alter. Very unpleasant to think about for long.

Roy what I was getting at was the suggestion that perhaps the ice impact damage was not by itself enough to defeat the ship's defences. Is there room in the mathematical models for the damage to have been initially survivable, only becoming mortal after Titanic perhaps was put back under steam for a short time.

I know Dave may squawk at this since I'm not certain he still supports such a theory, but I for one still wonder if the impact damage wasn't enhanced and promoted due to forward headway after the ship's outer bottom was breached. To my thinking, the observed water pouring into the fireman's tunnel could easily be from the pressure of water rising suddenly higher in the forward holds, spilling over and down into the tunnel from above due to the ship being underway again while its bottom was shredded down beneath.
What say you?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Roy what I was getting at was the suggestion that perhaps the ice impact damage was not by itself enough to defeat the ship's defences.<<

If it was enough to breach every compartment all the way back to Boiler Room Five, it was more then enough. That was the direction the cold equations pointed to and Andrews was all too aware of it. The damage going all the way back to Six was enough on it's own and that much was immidiate. We know this much from sworn testimony.

Having said that much, whether or not driving the ship forward for any period of time was enough to make things worse is anybody's guess and falls into the realm of speculation. This is where angels fear to tread, and for good reason too. We can speculate and may even be right but there's just no way to know with absolute certainty. Given that the possiblity of structural damage beyond hull breaches cannot be absolutely ruled out, I'm of the opinion that it didn't help and may have made matters worse. Mariners have learned through bitter experience that driving a ship forward with a busted nose is not a good idea.
 

Roy Mengot

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>> Having said that much, whether or not driving the ship forward for any period of time was enough to make things worse is anybody's guess and falls into the realm of speculation. <<

Sam Halpern actually found some formulas and ran some numbers. Moving the ship slowly would increase the pressure (inflow rate) by about 10% for the couple of minutes Titanic moved after the collision.

Regards
Roy Mengot
 
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A few years ago, I was absolutely convinced that moving the ship forward in some sense "steamed it under." Now, I'm not so certain. The length of time and the speed do not seem as long or fast to me now as then. But, I do know that it was accepted in 1912 that moving a ship with a damaged bow in the forward direction was likely to increase the speed of sinking. This was proven in tests by the younger Froude and the actual attempt to beach HMS Victoria after the Camperdown incident.

So, my concern over re-starting the engines has switched from strictly focusing on what happened to the flooding and/or the steel. I'm now more curious about why Captain Smith ever considered such an action.

-- David G. Brown
 
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I think moving the ship forward after the accident shows that the captain didn't fully understand or appreciate the severity of the damage at first. So knowing if the ship was moved again afterward does provide important information.
 

Roy Mengot

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I think Smith's more immediate concern was dropping the steam pressure. The boilers were dampened but he had a lot of steam and was still producing more. Maybe after a few minutes he decided this was a bad idea after all and went for the emergency steam release.

Regards
Roy Mengot
 
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I think steam pressure may have come second. First priority was not hitting anything else nearby the ship. Can't steer a ship through an iceflow without steam for the engines.
 

Roy Mengot

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Titanic coasted to a stop after the collision. If you're stopped, you don't worry about hitting anything. Titanic then moved some more for a couple minutes with the boilers drawn before stopping for good. That additional movement is the mystery. I suggested it was meant to use up steam.Maybe they closed the steam feeds to the engines and let the engines clear themselves of pressure.

Regards
Roy Mengot
 
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Well, we know steam was escaping from the blow-offs on the funnels from testimony. But this was almost an hour after the impact. Why would Titanic still have so much steam escaping from the forward funnels if the engines were stopped around 11:40pm? The forward funnel served the first two boiler rooms. How could steam be coming from BR5 and 6 as late as 12:30am??? How long did it take for excess steam to bleed off? And wasn't all steam from the boiler rooms routed into a 'main' pipe which fed into the engine room? If that 'main' had a gate valve which was shut, isolating the forward two boiler rooms, then perhaps that's why steam was escaping from the forward funnel blow-off.

If Titanic was steaming around between 11:50pm and say 12:20am or so, before finally stopping for good I could believe that steam needed to be released around 12:30 or so as the lifeboats were being readied for loading.

But does that mean the first two boiler rooms were making steam even as late as midnight? How can a boiler room make steam if its fires are drawn, the stokers evacuated and the compartment flooded tens of feet above the floor?
 
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My chronological analysis shows that raking of the fires in boiler room #6 started within moments of impact. However, the ship did not resume steaming for about 8 minutes after encountering the iceberg. So, steam generation in BR #6 was out of the question. All other boiler rooms seem to have still been "on line."

The duration of the run after the iceberg is very difficult to determine. Nobody seems to have timed it--or, if they did they kept that information to themselves. The testimonies give the impression that the order to Stop engines was given before the venting began. However, things could have been the reverse. Whatever happened, most of the venting occurred after the ship came to a stop for the last time.

As near as I can see, steam only vented from the #1 funnel. This restricts its origin to either boiler room #5 or #6. I've not seen any descriptions of the venting specific enough to say which section was dumping steam--or if both were dumping.

BR #6 was shut down almost immediately after the accident. Stoker Beauchamp gives a good description of raking down the coals. But, he says nothing about what was done with the steam. The venting did start early enough that it could have been to reduce pressure in BR #6 in conjunction with raking the fires.

We also know from Hendrikson and Barrett that the water levels in the boilers of #5 were allowed to go below the sight glass. This was discovered during the blackout. Venting steam from a boiler can cause it to "blow dry" by taking water out with the steam. So, there is a high probability that steam was also vented from BR #5.

The dumping of steam from BR #6 would most likely have been done on purpose. Venting from BR #5 may have been an automatic safety blow-off. We also know from Barrett and Hendrickson that the fires were not raked down in BR #5 until after the boilers were found low of feed water.

If both sections vented, it is highly probable that these separate actions would have been perceived on deck as a single event. The sound would have been continuous.

Venting from funnel #1 continued for quite a while, so the purpose must have been to dump a lot of steam. It was not a quick "pop off" of a momentary overpressure. The stokers and trimmers who were raking the fires in BR #5 seem to have been sent on deck about the time that the venting stopped. Perhaps there is a connection to the end of raking down #5 and the end of the venting, but we have no proof.

Steam from boiler rooms #2 through #4 was apparently not vented. Despite the stopping of the main engines, a great deal of steam was needed to keep Titanic's lights burning and the pumps running. This use of steam coupled with the large condensers was probably sufficient to prevent problems. Also, it is fairly safe to assume that other boiler room fireboxes were raked down as the night wore on. This would have reduced new steam generation to keep things within design parameters.

Also, Parks Stephenson has found evidence that at least one of the single-ended boilers of BR #1 was "hot" when it came out of the ship. We know from testimony that all of those boilers were "cold" at the time of the accident. But, with more than two hours between impact and breakup there was time to attempt to put BR #1 "on line" that night. It would have been possible to carry hot coals to the fireboxes of BR #1 from BR #2. Steam can be "pushed" around from one boiler to another, and hot feed water would still have been available.

All-in-all, it appears that venting of steam was related to only the two boiler rooms closest to the damage, or involved in the iceberg damage. The other sections appear to have been managed so as to avoid overpressure problems while still producing the steam necessary to keep the ship operating.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Good information Dave, thanks.
It seems very likely to me that BR6 didn't flood as quickly as Barrett thought it did. It also seems likely to me that Beauchamps version of events in BR6 are closer to truth. That said, then flooding in BR6 needs to be examined further. Was it managable after the impact? If it was managable at first, what changed to make it become unmanageable? Did overflow from hold 3 enter BR6 after midnight?

Suppose Titanic stopped briefly after the initial impact, then proceeded ahead a short while before sighting the iceflow and reversing to move away from it. Speculation I realize, but why else use the engines after the impact? Especially considering Captain Smith didn't yet realize how severely Titanic was damaged before midnight, and no one knew of an iceflow blocking their path ahead. Smith may have decided to go ahead to New York under slow speed while Titanic manuevered its way through the ice field. (Not an uncommon thing to do) But quickly the engines are ran in reverse when the pack ice ahead is spotted. Near this time word finally begins to reach the bridge that Titanic is making water in the forward boiler rooms and that the mail room is flooded. Smith orders stop engines while he makes an inspection himself since he has received conflicting reports regarding the damage.

Smith finally gets the whole picture and orders lifeboats swung out. He also may do some short manuevering to get into a clear area to launch boats. But by quarter after midnight Titanic is stopped for good and the boats are about ready to begin loading. BR6 is flooded beyond management and BR5 has now been evacuated with fires drawn. The three men in BR5 are still working on making something happen and aft of BR4 we know larger pipes are being installed furiously toward some effort. Why larger pipes aft of BR4? Why ongoing work in BR5? Important questions but at this point as Roy stated, futile efforts to do something, anything to control the unstoppable flooding.

Almost gives a picture of the engine rooms and boiler rooms as war zones in a desperate battle against fate.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Smith may have decided to go ahead to New York under slow speed while Titanic manuevered its way through the ice field.<<

Somehow, I doubt that this much happened. As you said, at this point, Captain Smith had no idea just how badly damaged the ship was. I think at this time, he was at the point where he was trying to check things out and weigh his options. I don't know if he thought New York was practical but Halifax may well have been on his mind. It was a deep water port and it was a lot closer then New York City so this would be far more attractive as a safe harbour for a damaged vessel.

Whatever he may have been thinking, by midnight, he had the bad news and knew that it was entirely moot.
 
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I think the actions of Smith and crew indicate that long after midnight hope was being held out that Titanic would remain afloat, and inhabitable, well into the next morning. Seems that long about 2am, when she started to go down by lurches instead of gradually, the suddeness of the final plunge seemed to come as something of a surprise. One reason for my opinion is the fact the ship's log and charts never made it into a lifeboat. Also that all the engineers were lost seems to support the notion that when the end came, many were still locked in the mortal combat of man against the ingressing sea below decks.
 
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I want to argue slightly with what Yuri said, but only with his statement about Captain Smith still being naive after midnight. Certainly, many of the crew said that during the hour or so after midnight they did not believe the ship would sink.

Captain Smith's actions indicate that he was well aware of the situation. After conferring in the engine room, presumably with Andrews among the conference, the captain came back and immediately ordered boats away. That is not an action taken by any captain who thinks his ship is not going to sink. Putting people in boats is such a dangerous evolution that Smith would not have ordered it done without strong evidence that keeping passengers on the ship was even more dangerous.

Curiously, Boxhall was the only officer in which Smith seems to have confided the full truth. And, of all the officers Boxhall does the most to attract attention of other ships--those rockets. Is there a connection? Perhaps.

However, I think the captain's concern with Boxhall's updated CQD accuracy and his order to launch boats indicate he had a pretty good grasp of what was about to happen.

Otherwise, the testimonies of surviving crew and officers indicate a general belief that Titanic would only settle a bit and then float as rescue ships pulled up to take people away.

Roy Mengot has a lot to say about Andrews and his role that night. I'll defer to him rather than mangle what he has put together.

-- David G. Brown
 

Roy Mengot

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May 16, 2006
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There's a nice discussion of the boiler arrangements and uses in the BoT Final Report. Boilers for the engines and the auxiliary machinery were segregated and scattered across the aft 4 boiler rooms (or could be) All the steam from all boilers for the engines is pooled on a common steam line so the venting involved releasing steam across the whole system, not just the forward boiler rooms.

Titanic came out of the collision maneuver pointing north. No other helm orders were given that we know about concerning any destination. I'm thinking now that the momentary moves of the ship after the collision were nothing more than a test to see if the engines and propellers worked, in case there was the possibility of getting underway again.

The suddenness of the final plunge definitely surprised about everyone except Andrews. He knew it would take a while for the GM/GZ curves to go negative, but when they did, whatever the ship was going to do would happen quickly and violently.

Regards
Roy Mengot
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>One reason for my opinion is the fact the ship's log and charts never made it into a lifeboat.<<

I wouldn't read an awful lot into that. In theory, when a ship comes to grief, the logs, charts and other important ship's papers are supposed to be sent off in one of the boats. In reality, how many times has this actually happened? (Even when the crew had a reasonable amount of time to play with.) Sometimes the reason for this is a cover up, sometimes it's the confusion of the moment when time is short, and sometimes it's just plain forgotten about, because everybody assumes that somebody else is taking care of it.

Whatever the "Great unwashed" among the passengers and crew believed, Captain Smith had no illusions about the Titanic's condition. As David said, ordering the evacuation of a ship by way of the boats in mid ocean is not done lightly. Especially if there's no rescue vessel in sight. It's the court of very last resort when there are no other options left.
 
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The order to ready lifeboats for launch isn't a commitment to actually launch, but just a smart way to plan ahead in case launching is needed later. I wouldn't be surprised if it was standard practice for WSL to require all boats be 'readied' for launch in any kind of collision. In Titanic's case, the option of actually abandoning ship did eventually become plan A of the night. But when Smith gathered his officers together and gave orders to put passengers off in boats, it may not have been his first choice, and more importantly, it may not have been the only option he was exercising that night. I mean lets be honest, when has the management ever completely trusted the engineers in any company or emergency??? (thats sort of a joke)
So Smith reaches a point where he figures if Andrews is correct then Titanic is doomed within an hour or two at most. But just in case prayer works and the engineer is overreacting with his calculations, Smith decides to also keep his crew hard at work trying to keep the ship afloat and inhabitable. Holding out hope that despite Andrew's dire predictions, Titanic will somehow float till morning and help will arrive in time.

We've all met people like that, you know? The ones that never admit defeat even when the odds against them are so overwhelming its obvious to everyone else that failure is certain. Smith didn't have a crystal ball, he didn't know for 'certain' that Titanic would sink, only that Andrews said it would. One man's opinion. Even after midnight the ship is on a steady keel. The weather is calm and favorable for rescue. The lights are on and music is in the air. I mean for God's sake, this is the brand new TITANIC!! (to stress Smith's point of view) Its a modern ship with a hand picked crew, if ever there was the right ingredients for a miracle to take place, this was it. Somehow Titanic would float till morning. Somehow rescue would arrive in time. Somehow this will not really happen as Andrew's says it will. I mean, its completely unthinkable in such a modern age as 1912.

I don't think the crew of Titanic beleived the ship would sink before morning any more than the firemen in the WTC buildings beleived those towers would fall, until it/they did.
 
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I should add that while everyone else may have hoped or expected things would somehow turn out ok, one man at least was not so optimistic.

Andrews.

He really did know without a doubt what would happen, and with rough accuracy when. This certain knowledge may be the best explaination for why Andrews was not to be found below decks working with the engineers or carpenters trying to make a miracle happen. So when one questions why the only report of him near 2am places him in a daze like state staring at a painting in the smoking room, I think there are but two good possible reasons for his presence there at that time.

One:
Because for him at least ever since 11:40pm, Titanic had already foundered. What else was he to do but accept his fate that night.

Two:
Because of his truly intimate understanding of Titanic, he may have calculated that the weakest point of Titanic's structure was directly at that spot. If/When the end finally came, that is the curves go negative, he may have suspected that the first noticable failures would occur in that room. Was he looking for cracks in the floor tiles, or listening for creaks in the ceiling? Ironic that when Titanic's keel buckled and the ship began to break in two, Andrews was right at the apex of that split as the structure diverged.