Encyclopedia Titanica Message Board » Collision / Sinking Theories » What if Scenarios... » Could this have saved lives:?
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Archive through 26 December, 2002Tom Pappas50 12-26-02  10:34 pm
Archive through 1 January, 2003Bill Wormstedt50 1-1-03  9:28 pm
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Michael H. Standart
Posted on Wednesday, January 1, 2003 - 9:30 pm:       

I've noticed a few threads that are like that Bill, and I'll be damned if I can figure out the reason for it. Some have some large photos posted, so that may account for some of it, but not all of it where threads have text only and not a photo in sight.

I suspect Tom may be right about the way the browser is handling the whole thing. Truth is sometimes stranger then fiction in cyberspace.

Michael H. Standart
Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon
John Meeks
Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2003 - 12:24 am:       

It seems to be a 'Mozilla'/'Netscape' problem.

I normally use Mozilla, and this thread seems to need the horizontal scroll bar. On IE or Opera though, everything seems OK ! ....and I don't have the problem on other threads.....!

(Mozilla/Netscape both seem to load much faster, though !)

I dunno.....


John M
Tom Pappas
Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2003 - 12:57 am:       

Roger everything about <table> and <td>. I think it's something about the SIZE= parameter - maybe mixing constants SIZE=200 and percentage SIZE=80% is upsetting to some browsers?
karen christl
Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2003 - 10:51 am:       

ok now i will add my two cents to this happy little thread (please excuse my landlubber terms if i use them!) what if the titanic was also fitted with transverse bulkheads/watetight doors? ie horizontal as well as veritical? thus creating little "cells" of damage? while probably very impracatical maybe this have worked!! any ideas?
Paul Rogers
Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2003 - 4:07 pm:       

Hi Karen.

From what I've picked up from various threads on this site, it appears that transverse bulkheads could cause more trouble than they're worth. If water is restricted to one or two "cells" on one side of the vessel, then you may well get a serious list and eventually a capsize.

The fact that Titanic didn't have transverse bulkheads probably helped the ship sink on an even keel, thus allowing the lifeboats from both sides of the ship to be launched. I'd suggest therefore that the lack of these bulkheads might actually have saved lives.

Having said this, I am not a mariner and could well be mistaken in my belief.

Bill Wormstedt
Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2003 - 4:30 pm:       

Phil - this thread now looks fine to me. You must have done something!
Parks Stephenson
Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2003 - 4:58 pm:       

Karen & Paul,

I think you mean "longitudinal," bulkheads running parallel to centreline. Titanic did have transverse bulkheads, those running across the width of the ship.

It must first be remembered that when Olympic was laid off, the intent was not to build an unsinkable ship, but rather a practical emigrant vessel. Compromises were made, as they have been in almost every passenger ship design since the Great Eastern was built. According to White's Manual of Naval Architecture, the reference for British naval architects around the beginning of the last century, the transverse system of bulkheads was the most accepted form of watertight subdivision adopted for merchant vessels. Longitudinal bulkheads require additional expense in their implementation, because they tend to "destroy the symmetry of the true displacement" of a ship when one side of the ship is damaged, and this must be accommodated for in the overall design. Their implementation was just not practical for the Olympic-class ships in their anticipated work environment. Longitudinal bulkheads, among other things, were utilised in the Lusitania-class ships to satisfy Admiralty requirements, not the needs of the emigrant trade.

The 1914 Shipbuilder Annual International Number included an article about watertight subdivision, obviously inspired by the Titanic disaster. In that, the optimal "large passenger liner that would not, under any of the known mishaps at sea, lose her bouyancy or stability and sink," was seen by the author as one with spaces between the decks being "divided into very small compartments both transversely and longitudinally...it must be understood, of course, that all openings through the upper deck, such as the boiler and engine casings and hold hatches, would be watertight structures for at least 16 ft. above the load waterline." In addition, "Between the upper member of the upper deck and the shelter deck there should be no air pores or sidelights, or, if lights are fitted, they should not be arranged to open..."

There are objections that can be raised to this type of design. Building the unsinkable ship was just too costly a burden for the shipyards and shipping lines to bear. There was a more cost-effective means of reducing the risk of collision at sea...having the ships' Masters navigate their commands with more prudence and caution. In my opinion, the speculation about supposed inadequacies in design obscures the basic fact that Titanic sank mainly because she was, as John Maxtone-Graham once stated, "imprudently captained." In my view, the real question should be: Were ships navigated more prudently after the disaster?

Tom Pappas
Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2003 - 5:00 pm:       

PR: Your analysis is correct, but the term you need to use is "longitudinal." Titanic did have 15 transverse watertight bulkheads.

KC: Paul's answer is a good one, but I don't think it matches your question. I think this is what you're looking for.

There's a lot of discussion on this point in the thread entitled "What if the designers should have raised the bulkheads......." - but no universal agreement.

I think the answer is: capping the forward compartments would have prevented the sinking, provided that 1) the ship's design would prevent the forces generated by the loss of four compartments from causing structural damage, and 2) the watertight decks could be made almost airtight.

The first requirement lies in the how the structural loads imposed on the hull girder were dissipated in various combinations of flooding. I imagine that the "four compartments completely flooded" scenario had represented a worst-case set of design criteria for the structural engineers, so I think it can be safely assumed that partially flooding them (see below) plus flooding Boiler Room #6 to the water line would not have stressed the structures sufficiently to permit the ingress of water beyond the collision zone.

As to the second part of this conjecture, let me first explain why the decks would need to be airtight. The water entering the hull from below the waterline would compress the air trapped in a compartment by a factor of about 2:1 (depending on hydrostatic head, loading, and a whole bunch of other coefficients not available to apply the calculus to). Another way of saying this is that as long as the air was contained, the sealed compartments would only fill to about halfway. The buoyancy provided by this air, PLUS the buoyancy saved by not flooding above F deck in #2 and #3 Holds nor above E deck in #1 Hold would have held her bow above the waves indefinitely.*

The one joker in this deck [pun] is how soon those compartments could be sealed (if they weren't at the moment of collision) and how high the water would rise, which would determine where the new water line was. This, in turn, would have a direct effect on the hydrostatic head working against the bulkhead between Boiler Rooms #6 and #5. If the damage that made this bulkhead fail in the actual event was sufficiently severe, no amount of watertighting of the forward compartments could save the ship. But if ten or fifteen feet of water could be contained by the damaged structure, then Titanic would have limped into New York, Smith would have lost his pension, and James Cameron would be famous for movies about futuristic war robots.

But while we're on the subject, let me add my two New Pence (nuppence) worth to the discussion about minimizing inconvenience to the passengers. First of all, that phrase is code for "First Class Passengers." In the next place, six of the ship's compartments couldn't be sealed on top because they were boiler rooms, and had to have unrestricted space for air to come in and exhaust gases to go out. The engine rooms could have been sealed, but they might not be able to get anyone to work in them. In any event, the 6 holds are about all that could be sealed, and the people around and above them were either crew or 2nd/3rd class passengers. I don't really think their comfort and/or convenience entered into the decision.

*Provided that the nurses hadn't left the portholes open to air out the wards.
Michael H. Standart
Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2003 - 5:40 pm:       

Parks and Tom both raised some good points about the questions concerning subdivision as well as the problems that go with them. Let me add a couple more regarding training. Warships are typically subdivided with longitudinal and transverse bulkheads as well as watertight decks, and they also come with the means to seal up things like vents, wireways, etc.

The problem here is that for even one space, this can translate into dozens of fittings that have to be closed, and for an entire ship, the fittings that need to be closed number literally in the thousands. Navy workups prior to deployment typically take at least a year of intensive training that mercentile crews simply don't have time for, so there is a very real need to go for the K.I.S.S. principle (Otherwise known as Keep It Simple Stupid!)

As merchent vessels are not routinely designed for combat, adding the complexity to the scheme that really good subdivision calls for means that there's just that much more that can go wrong, and there is always still that joker in the pack that can throw you for a loop.

Take note of what Tom said as it illustrates a very common problem;


*Provided that the nurses hadn't left the portholes open to air out the wards.

That was exactly what happened on the Britannic. The ship was extensively altered to incorperate the lessons learned from the loss of the Titanic, yet despite all of that, she sank in an hour. That part about leaving those portholes open on E deck was one of the reasons for it. From discussions we've had here over the past two years, I'm give to understand that a lot of the WT doors between the boiler rooms were open to facilitate the change of the watch. (Not very smart when cruising in an area where hostile submarines are known to be operating and sowing mines!) The explosion made sure that some of them couldn't be closed.

All of this just illustrates that all the protection in the world is useless if you
a)Don't know how to use it or,
b)Don't use it at all.

For anyone who wants to understand the dynamics of all of this and more as seen by one of the designers, Ed Wildings testimony befor the Mersey Wreck commission is essential reading. It covers four different sessions. Go to Day 18, Day 19, Day 20, and Day 27
Michael H. Standart
Equal Opportunity Curmudgeon
Erik Wood
Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2003 - 6:38 pm:       

Watertight subdivision like Titanic had is almost non extistent in todays merchant fleets. I know David Haisman is lurking around and perhaps he can fill us in on the Queens and other liners of that era. Recently there was an excellent documentary on the Hyundi shipbuilders in South Korea and how and what the design ships to do.

Ships today (for the most part) are one compartment ships. Watertight ingrity can be held with fire doors in some cases. But below your main decks and once you enter the hold, storage and engineering spaces the engine room and it's associated spaces are the best for subdivision, this is mainly for fear of fire then water.

IMO: it is generally thought that ships of today should be able to avoid or manuver around potential dangers without being injured. Groundings and the like are often absorbed by the tank spaces and occasionally a engine room compartment.

Storage for freight and etc is handled much differently today then it was in Titanic's era, plus you don't have boiler rooms (for the most part) anymore. There is less engineering space to protect in some cases.

Ships on the Great Lakes are no compartment ships, if the crew looses control of one compartment the ship will eventually sink, the good thing about the lakes is, you can run yourself aground fairly easily and in short order.
All the Best,
Capt. Erik D. Wood
Paul Rogers
Posted on Thursday, January 2, 2003 - 7:22 pm:       

I knew I shouldn't drink and type :-(

I did mean "longitudinal" so I have no idea why I typed "transverse." And I think Tom is right in that I may not have answered Karen's question in any event.

Thank you all for the very useful information. As usual, I have learned loads.

Tom Pappas
Posted on Friday, January 3, 2003 - 1:16 am:       


the good thing about the lakes is, you can run yourself aground fairly easily and in short order.

"Does anyone know where the love of God goes
When the words turn the minutes to hours
The searchers all say they'd have made Whitefish Bay
If they'd fifteen more miles behind her."
karen christl
Posted on Friday, January 3, 2003 - 7:57 am:       

paul i too should never drink & try to remember my very limited nautical terms (my grandad would be turning in his urn at me) longitudinal of course!!! (i knew what i meant anyway)thanks to all you have all given me lots of information all very interesting too (but what else did expect?)
Erik Wood
Posted on Friday, January 3, 2003 - 2:38 pm:       

Fitzgeralds problem was that she already ran aground, and IMO that is why she didn't make it to Whitefish.

I too have a problem with drinking and posting at the same time. Unfortunatly that is when I come up with my best theories.
All the Best,
Capt. Erik D. Wood