Were Six Compartments Really Damaged?

Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
Discovery came about 15 minutes later when water had not yet filled the tunnel.
To me that seems a bit longer than the context of what was reported by Hendrickson. It seems that Hendrickson came topside right after the impact, along with most of those in the forecastle, and went back below about 5 minutes later thinking not much really happened. He saw the ship was still making way when he looked over the side as well as the berg disappearing aft into the dark off the starboard quarter before going back below. He then said he went to turn in again but one his mates (Ford) came by to inform him that the bottom of the tunnel was flooding. He then went to have a look and saw water coming in from the starboard side at the bottom of the stairs. He was on G deck at the time. I'd put the time as about 10 minutes post impact when he observed this.

I also think that Garzke's explanation that was posted by Ioannis above is most plausible.
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Mar 18, 2008
We have also others who mentioned that the tunnel and spiral staircase were flooding as stoker Oliver who was told the stairs were flooded (his bunk was on F Deck). After it he took his stuff and went to the mess where he was called to prepare for his watch (12-4).
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Dec 13, 2016
Question, how did they see the flooding from F deck or G deck. Did they simply look down at the bottom of the staircase and see the flooding?
Oct 28, 2000
Up to ten of Titanic’s subdivided compartments may have been breached by the iceberg accident.

Most people look only at the 16 large holds, boiler rooms, and engine spaces when they talk of flooding. However, beneath the tank top deck were 44 tanks capable of being filled or emptied by pumps in the engine rooms. Even though usually overlooked, these tanks would have played their roles in the sinking.

Sam Halpern has an excellent discussion of the tanks contained within the ship’s double bottom. It’s on his “Titanicology” web page and is “must” reading for anyone interested in the ship’s flooding and any potential damage control efforts by the engineers.

Nineteen of the unseen tanks were located in the bow beneath boiler rooms #4, #5, and #6; and, holds #1, #2, and #3. And, there was a central peak tank in the stem which was normally a void space.

Damage caused by a “grounding” on the berg as I favor should have included at least the outboard tanks of all three holds and the one under boiler room #6. Some damage to the outboard tank of boiler room #5 cannot be ruled out as the tank could have flooded without water entering the larger compartment above. Nor can similar damage be ruled out to the outboard tank beneath boiler room #4.

All damaged tanks would have been on the ship’s starboard side where contact with the iceberg took place.


With regard to the firemen's tunnel -- so far, what I've seen is an argument along the lines of, " the firemen's tunnel flooded and Garzke said the tunnel flooded, so he must be right."

My point of view is that from eyewitness accounts the tunnel was just beginning to see water "tumble" into the base of the circular stairway about the time when the off-watch stokers began their trek to their duty posts. It was then, some 10 to 15 minutes after impact that the flooding was noticed and reported. While I'm sure he didn't mean to, Sam's post above supports my line of thinking by showing that enough time passed before Hendrickson was apprised of the tunnel and noted the flooding for himself for that ingress to have had a separate source from impact on the iceberg.

Honestly, I wish I could believe the tunnel flooded upon impact. It would make perfect sense within the context of a grounding event pushing the starboard side up (as described by Fleet) and thereby distorting the frames and longitudinals -- perhaps enough to spring a seam open in the tunnel. But, that's not the way the timeline tells the story.

The passage of time is critical in understanding history. After all, it's history in its most basic form is nothing but an orderly recording of events. Time cannot be discounted, even if it's just one or two-tenths of an hour.

There are plausible reasons for the tunnel flooding beyond impact on the iceberg. One would be to let water gravitate into the tunnel so that additional pumps could be applied to the ingress. To illustrate: if the pump serving hold #2 was swamped with water, draining some into the tunnel and applying a second pump might have been an effective way to increase dewatering efforts. And, we know there was an engineer on the E deck level where operating valves for the bilge pump system could be accessed.

A more likely scenario would be that the downward sag of the bow created strains on the internal structure of the ship. Perhaps a "mini break up" took place and a heretofore watertight seam of the tunnel unzipped allowing water to flood in from the surrounding hold. Such a situation would have taken some minutes to develop and make itself known.

Nobody tasted the water seen tumbling into the tunnel. This sounds funny, but we do not know if it was salt or fresh. Salt, of course would have come from the ocean and been the result of physical damage. Fresh would have come from the water tank in way of bulkhead C which may have failed as the result of distortion of the bow in the same manner as described in the paragraph above.

Then, did the W/T door at the after end of the firemen's tunnel close correctly? Nobody knows because nobody observed it in 1912 and its pretty much impossible to get to inside the wreck. A small failure here might have been watertight to a point, but become apparent when the head pressure grew sufficiently large.

Oh, yes, we could discuss the ice plug theory...

-- David G. Brown

Henry Sincic

Sep 11, 2017

I was under the impression that there was a half-step that water would need to get over before the firemen´s tunnel flooded. Wouldn´t this explain the apparent delay?
Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
With regard to the firemen's tunnel -- so far, what I've seen is an argument along the lines of, " the firemen's tunnel flooded and Garzke said the tunnel flooded, so he must be right."
No such argument David. The evidence speaks for itself. Garzke simply came up was a very plausible explanation of how the tunnel could be seen flooding early on based on how the ship was constructed. Furthermore, there is a big difference between the tunnel being flooded and seeing the tunnel flooding, and it was rushing water that was called to the attention of, and then observed by, Hendrickson. If you read the evidence carefully you will find that Hendrickson, who was off duty when the ship struck, came topside with all the others right after the ship struck the berg. He then went back down to turn in again thinking that there was nothing to be overly concerned about. After getting back to his quarters, which was on the port side of G deck, his mate Thomas Ford comes along and tells Hendrickson that the bottom of the staircase is flooding. It was then that Hendrickson goes to have look down the port side staircase from G deck and sees water rushing in from the starboard side at the bottom.
The attached sketch, drawn to scale, shows what the situation at time of contact would look like.
Impact aft of Blkhd B.gif

Even if water had not come through the starboard side at the base of the tunnel early on, once hold #1 would have flooded above the level of G deck, water would flow down the staircase and flood the entire tunnel at that time.
The diagram below shows more or less the situation about 10 minutes after impact.
Impact aft of Blkhd B - Copy.gif
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