Where was the stairway Lightoller used to detemine how fast water was rising

Feb 14, 2011
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In "Titanic and Other Ships", 2nd officer Lightoller inicted he kept peeking down some crew access stairway to determine how quickly the water was rising. Now I have heard some Titanic buffs insist the stairway he looked down was in fact the grand staircase- others suggested it was either the stairway on port or starboard ,next to the wheel house, that cut down to A deck. But others told me nestled inside the officers quarthers was a crew access ladder he utilized. So in your opinion; which stair/ladder did Lightoller use to see how quickly water was rising?

regards

Tarn Stephanos
 

Steven Hall

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Dec 17, 2008
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From the boatdeck to A deck. (stairs just beyond bridge-wing) Had a skide light on the wall I believe) Might be wrong.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Lightoller says the stairs went to C-deck, but I think it likely he was talking about the Crew Use Only stairs that ran from the Boat-deck to B-deck. My question is when did he start making use of them? I am guessing not until quite late. Any ideas?

Lester
 
Feb 14, 2011
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It would seem strange if he used the stair by the wheelhouse, as it only dropped one deck. With the grand staircase though, he could see al the way down to E deck. I dont think Lightoller mentioned his using the stairs as a guide to how fast the water was rising in the inquiries, but rather mentioned in his autobiography. Im starting to think mabey he used the grand staircase as to measure how fast the water was climbing...
Anyone else have ideas?

regards

tarn Stephanos
 
Dec 7, 2000
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I doubt it was the grand staircase. It would have been too much trouble to check them. I was also confused as to which stairs he was using. If he referred to the ones near the bridge, by the time water would have reached these at B deck, it would have been after 2.05 and Titanic would have been sinking quite fast then. At this point you wouldn't need the stairs to tell how fast the ship was sinking.

Daniel.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hi Tarn,

The Crew Only Stairs near the Bridge ran from the Boat deck down to B-deck. Lightoller referred to the stairs as being a very long emergency stairway from the boat deck down to "C" deck. Hardly the Grand Staircase.

Lester
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hi Daniel,

It is my understanding that the water reached A-deck just as boat D was being lowered; so I would have thought that it would have been at the bottom of the stairs on B-deck quite sometime before 2 am.

Lester
 
Dec 4, 2000
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As a writer, I have viewed Lightoller's description as more of a "literary device" than an pivotal event. Lights undoubtedly used a stairway as a gauge of the foundering that night--as he probably used other portions of the vessel. However, the literary allusion of water creeping up a stairway is so visual and so instantly understandable that I can understand why he used it in his book.

A man moving from lifeboat to lifeboat would not have any single stairway handy. Nor was there likely time for him to wander over and count stair treads. My guess is that at one point he looked down some stairway and saw water where there shoudn't have been any. The memory of that event became a salient episode in his book.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Scott R. Andrews

Guest
Hey guys, here's a distinct possibility. There is another "hidden" emergency stairway for use of the crew only - in fact, there are several of these. They are mentioned in the BOT final report: "From each boiler room an escape or emergency ladder was provided direct to the Boat deck by the fidleys, in the boiler casings..." These are a set of steeply inclined stairs - ladders, really - situated inside the fidleys on either end of each boiler casing. On the one drawing that I've seen showing one of these, which was a midship section, there appears to be a landing at every other deck. (I guess you'd need someplace to catch your breath on such a long climb!) Lightoller may have had easy access to a door into one of these, perhaps located in one of the corridors in the officer's quarters. This would have indeed given him a look at the progress of the flooding as far down as E deck.

Regards,

Scott Andrews
 

Dave Hudson

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Apr 15, 2011
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I agree with Dave B. The oiler casing stairs are an interesting possibility, but an unlikely one. Lightoller was in charge of lowering 10 lifeboats in less than 2 hours, I highly doubt that he took the time to enter the officers' quarters every few minutes to look down a stairwell. This is also especially unlikely during the time that he was above the Boat Deck with the collapsible.

David
 
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Mike Shetina

Guest
Is there any evidence that he used the staircase while struggling with the collapsibles?
 

Dave Hudson

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Apr 15, 2011
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Mike,

I think he used a ladder. The funnel shaft stairs didn't have access to the deck above the officers' quarters (unless there was a door in the first two funnels).

David
 
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Scott R. Andrews

Guest
Mike,

Do you mean did he use the stairs as a gauge while struggling with the collapsibles; or, did he use those stairs to access the collapsibles (it sounds like David may have assumed you meant the latter when he answered "I think he used a ladder.") As far as the stairs having access to the roof of the officer's quarters, where Lightoller was working, I don't think so, but this isn't necessarily impossible.

The stairs were in the fidleys, which are rectangular air shafts the width of the boiler casings. There were two of these shafts in each boiler casing - one per boiler room - with one located immediately ahead of the funnel and the other immediately aft. As the fidleys were an integral part of the boiler room ventilation system, the tops of these were open to the elements, covered only by the fidley gratings. On some ships, part of the grating was fitted with a hatch to allow access to and from the ladders within the casing from the fidley deck, the small raised top of the casing upon which the funnels stood. The shafts are still visible on the wreck today. Look for rectangular openings fore and aft of the funnel casing; each will be sandwiched between the funnel casing and another rectangular shaft which was capped by the intakes to the boiler room fans.

At any rate, I'd be willing to bet that by the time they had begun their struggle with that collapsible boat, Lightoller had long since abandoned checking on how fast the water was rising.

Regards,

Scott Andrews
 
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Mike Shetina

Guest
Scott and David,
I meant that when struggling with the collapsibles, he would not have used the stairs to guage the rising water. He would know that the ship was about to lurch under and that he must get the boats uncovered quickly. He would not have used them then, so the point which he made about it being impossible during the attempted launch is not possible. I do agree with him on the point that he launched so many boats in rapid succsession, and going to the staircase every few minutes is highly unlikely.
Just a thought, and a cleared up misunderstanding,
Mike Shetina
 
Feb 14, 2011
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Did most of the firemen and trimmers utilise these stairs/ladder within the boiler casings for a fast route to the boat deck?

I wonder if there were access doors on each deck, in case one wanted to enter from the lower decks.

The staircase/ladder shaft must have been illuminated to the very bottom. I think I read Lightollerts comment taht the lights beneath the water cast an eerie glow..

regards

Tarn Stephanos