"Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Discuss the RMS Titanic here.

"Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby rikudemyx » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:29 am

Long time reader, first time poster. I looked at similar questions, but no one posted this exact information.
I'd like to start by saying for the purposes of discussion, let's go with Cameron's sinking, which is close to historical accounts. Minor listing, down by the head, eventual breakup, then final plunge.
In every scenario, (except perhaps the more unorthodox ones) we are told the water spilled over the TOPS of the bulkheads, back and back, creating an ice cube tray like scenario. Six compartments were damaged as far as we know, so here's the question:
How did the water actually spill over? In all the diagrams and pictures, they show it just sloshing over the top of the bulkhead, but there was a lot of...well, stuff inside. Was there really just a gap that the water could go over or did it have to travel down staircases in compartment 7, 8, etc.
How did the water get from the damaged compartments, to the undamaged ones?
One similar question had answer having to do with the bulkheads in the boiler rooms, but if that was the case, why did they say "spill over" AND why did they know at the time the ship would sink? Did Thomas Andrews know there was structural failures that would happen in the boiler rooms?
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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby ardtornish » Fri Jul 12, 2013 1:57 pm

Hello there rikudymix!

Loved your ice tray analogy :lol:

A simple definition of WT Bulkheads might help

A bulkhead is simply an alternative name for a wall so I'll use the term 'wall'.

If water cannot get under or round a wall, it is watertight. If two such 'walls' enclose a compartment, the compartment is watertight to the tops of the 'walls'.
In a ship, the problem lies with the tops of the walls. The only way the compartment between such walls can be watertight is when it is roofed-over with a watertight 'roof' or deck. The 'walls' and 'roof's can be perforated by doors and piping but these must also have a means of keeping the whole thing watertight.
In the case of Titanic and any other ship constructed in the same way, the tops of the compartments were obviously not watertight. The water was able to rise over the tops of the 'walls' and gain access to the next compartment.

I think that the use of the term 'spill-over' is unfortunate but never-the less, it is the end result of the water getting beyond the tops of the 'walls'.

A simple extension to your ice-tray ananlogy mught be to place or glue tissue paper and or cardboard tops on the adjacent compartments. The water in one compartment might not initially 'spill-over' but eventually it would find its way throught joins and weak materials and then drip and spill into the adjacent ice-tray compartment.

Initally, in the case of Titanic[/i, the water rose to the top of the foremost collision 'wall' (bulkhead)and found it's way.. seeped through.... over and along non-watertight 'walls', doors, decks before eventually dripping at first then pouring at an ever-increasing rate (spilled-over) downward into the realtively empty spaces above the water tight chain locker and fore-peak tank. This caused the ship to sink bodily slightly, but more importantly it increased the tilt of the bow down ward. I somehow think that this was the 'straw' that killed the 'camel'.
The same process was taking place in the non-watertight areas above the other 'walls' above the holds and boiler rooms 6 & 5. At this pint it should be remembered that although many of Titanic's upper 'wall's and doors were not water-tight, they were very well built and exceedingly strong. Thus, if a non water tight area was closed, the water would rise inside it until the water pressure overcame the strength of the walls and doors. These would 'burst' and water would cascade and rush in (and spill downward) to fill any spaces.

Thomas Andrews, Captain Smith and all of [i]Titanic's
deck officers would have been able to forecast how long the ship had to live if they knew how many compartments were taking in water and at what rate.
Fortunately Andrews was on board, had intimate knowledge of the ship's compartments. Unlike Captain Smith and his officers who were otherwise engaged; Andrews was free to make quick, prognosis in light of the information being supplied to him by the ship's Carpenter. The latter had the duty of sounding compartments.(finding out how much water was in them). The Carpenter would also had a record of what was in them before the ship hit the iceberg so Andrews was able to quickly calculate the speed of down-flooding. There's a lot more to it. Suffice to say, because of Andrews, Captain Smith was able to make his mind up to call for help and start abandon-ship procedures much sooner than he would have been able to do had Andrews stayed in Belfast.

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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby Aaron2010 » Fri Jul 12, 2013 2:39 pm

The Titanic was doomed the moment the water reached E-deck because the watertight compartments (walls) only went as high as E-deck. The damage created by the iceberg had flooded five compartments. This was enough to pull the bow down because of the enormous weight of water she was holding and the water rose to E-deck and spilled over into the dry compartments.

Here is a plan of E-deck. There is a huge open corridor on the port side (Scotland road). It is strongly believed that when this corridor flooded, it caused the Titanic to list heavily to port before she sank. It was so bad, the captain and the officers ordered everyone to the starboard side because they thought the Titanic was going to roll over and capsize.



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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby rikudemyx » Fri Jul 12, 2013 11:35 pm

Thank you both.
Aaron2010, I have always had problems with the Scotland Road list theory. While survivors DID say the ship listed, they said it wasn't that bad, and the uneven flooding does not seem to fall in line with physics. Even a one degree tilt towards the bow would have the water taking the path of least resistance, which is to say, flooding every room and compartment as it went up the corridor, rather than flooding all of Scotland Road before moving on. There are people who said she developed a slight list and then corrected herself, and if I am recalling correctly even the "experts" on Cameron's "Last Word" had disagreements about the amount that she listed. Cameron seemed to think that the water would have flooded it all immediately which is something water does not do. Scotland's Road would have flooded of course, but so would the rooms on the other side, if that makes sense. OF course, I was not there and could be wrong. and the people who were there seem to differ on opinion, as some even say that the list was worse than the tilt.

Thank you for your "tissue paper" analogy. It got me thinking to some of the accounts I have read that she seemed to be going down by the head and then slowed, which, of course would occur if the flooding of the seventh compartment was "leaking" rather than quick pouring over. IF my line of the blueprints are correct the Grand Staircase was above Boiler Room No.5 which, according to what I've read was already filling from No. 6 by the time Captain Smith went to the bridge. The staircase would have been the perfect way for water to get to the rest of the ship, since it went down to E Deck.

Just some thoughts, look forward to more replies.
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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby Aaron2010 » Sat Jul 13, 2013 1:57 am

Many survivors felt a strong list to port, which progressed as the ship went down, and just moments before the bridge was submerged the ship suddenly came back and rolled back level again. I have seen many ship wreck videos and for some strange reason they always level off right before they take their final plunge. If there is a list to port or starboard, it will always roll back to normal just before it submerges. Does anyone know why this happens?

Here are survivor accounts.

George Rowe
"She listed to port"

Jack Thayer
"The list to the port had been growing greater all the time"

Bruce Ismay
"The ship had quite a list to port"

Albert Pearcey
"The ship had a list on her port side"

Frank Prentice
"She was listing to port"

Mr. Hardy
"The ship was then at a heavy list to port."

Charles Joughin
"I did not notice her being much down by the head"

Question - Do you mean that the list to port was more serious than being down by the head?
Answer - I thought so. Yes.

Harold Bride
"There was a heavy list to port."

Frederick Scott
"The port side was where she had listed over, and we went to the starboard side."

Edward Brown
"The ship had a list to port"

Question - At the time that she put the bridge under water was the list considerable?
Answer - Yes.

George Rowe
"All the time my boat was being lowered the rubbing strake kept on catching on the rivets down the ship's side, and it was as much as we could do to keep her off. It took us a good five minutes to lower the boat on account of this rubbing going down."

William Mellors
"At this time it was almost impossible to walk on the deck without you having caught hold of something owing to the ship heeling right over."

Charles Lightoller
"She was taking a list over to port, the order was called, I think, by the chief officer. "Everyone on the starboard side to straighten her up," which I repeated."

Samuel Hemming
"The captain was there, and he sung out: "Everyone over to the starboard side, to keep the ship up as long as possible."

Mr. Barkworth
"I remember somebody shouted: 'Go gently!' as if a sudden shift of weight would have disturbed the ship's position."

Archibald Gracie
"When we were loading the last boat, just a short time before it was fully loaded, a palpable list toward the port side began, and the officer called out, "All passengers to the starboard side. Second officer Lightoller ordered all passengers to the starboard side because of the very palpable list to port, when the great ship suddenly appeared to be about to topple over. There was a very palpable list to port as if the ship was about to topple over. "All passengers to the starboard side", was Lightoller's loud command, heard by all of us."

John Collins
"There were hundreds on the starboard side."

Charles Lightoller
"I think the ship righted. When the order was given to the passengers to go to the starboard side. I am under the impression that a great many went over and the ship got a righting movement and maintained it."

---- This was the final moment. The ship had suddenly rolled back because she was about to take her final plunge. ------

John Haggan
"The ship was shaking very much, part of it being under water. On looking up at it, I could see death in a minute for us as the forward funnel was falling and it looked a certaintly it would strike our boat and smash it to pieces"

Charles Lightoller
"The ship seemed to be heaving tremendous sighs as she went down."

Archibald Gracie
"The forward funnel broke from the ship, falling on the starboard side into the sea."

James Cameron showed many mistakes in his 'revised' version of the Titanic sinking. For instance, survivors saw the first funnel fall over to starboard. There is also proof on the wreck because the bridge wing on the starboard side is completely crushed flat, which was very likely caused by the collapsing funnel when it smashed down onto it. However, James Cameron made a mistake in his revised video and he showed the first funnel collapsing over to port side and crushing the port wing. That did not happen. I think we should all take Mr. Cameron's theories with a pinch of salt. He also thought Captain Smith should have unloaded all of the passengers onto the iceberg. How crazy is that? We will probably see another 'Cameron theory' in the future.

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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby ardtornish » Sat Jul 13, 2013 5:15 pm

Hello Rikudemyx! (May I call you Rik?) :)

I agree with your ideas about down-flooding. Water flows down.. not up-hill.

Sam Halpern has done a lot of very good in-depth work on this very subject. I suggest you read his "Why a Low Angle Break" article and other articles he has written on the subject. You'll find most of them in encyclopediatitanica.org.

Here's some ideas for you and others to play with.

If a ship starts to sink down by the head and with a list to one side, the water entering the hull should rise evenly within it. If the flood water has free access to all compartments, it will continue to do so until the vessel finally looses all buoyancy and she sinks. The original list should remain the same value and the ship should simply 'settle' in the water. There's a thing called Free Surface Effect which would almost certainly make sure this ideal did not happen,but I'm talking 'ideal'.

When such a ship sinks due to a hole or holes in her hull, she does not do so because she gains weight. She does not gain or loose weight, but simply looses all of her buoyancy.
Initially, Titanic just lost buoyancy. however when water 'spilled-over' into an unbreached space between WT buklheads it was the same as adding weight.. much like filling a sealed tank. However in the case of Titanic, her 'tanks' were not sealed.

The idea that somehow, water flowed across and then, toward the stern along the broad service allyway known as Scotland Road is a compelling one but vitually impossible since the water rose while the ship was listed to starboard.
As it rose, the water would seep evenly left, right, forard and aft within the confines of WT 'walls'. When it rose above the WT 'walls', it would breach all non WT restrictions.

Here's a (tongue-in- cheek)thought:

Perhaps the ship became up-right as retained buoyancy on the low (starboard side) began acting upward and counteracting the sinking action? If it did, then the ship would come level and water would begin to flow across the entire width. The ship would continue to sink while upright. However, shortly after that, the loss of buoyancy due to down-flooding (water entering the hull) would become greater on the port side than the retained buoyancy on the starboard side. Then, the port side would then be less buoyant and a port list would start. If nothing else happened, then the ship would keep heeling to port until she overturned. If however, equilibrium was reached or(Starboard side ballanced-out port side), she would continue to settle with a fixed port list until she finally sank.
Just a thought: an uneven distribution of bottom weight would exist if the port side boilers were full and the starboard ones empty.

Now: considering all things being equall and no uneven forces acting upward.....

As the water rose and spread out, it 'spilled-over and downward into an intact compartment. This would be the equivallent of adding weight to the ship. Then she would loose buoyancy due to her hull displacing the sea water around it as she sank deeper. However, once again, if the compartment that spill-over water entered was the full width of the hull i.e. a boiler room, it would have little or no effect on the angle of heel and the ship would still be heeled to starboard.
Any such spill-over would intially enter boiler room 5 from boiler room 6. Then it would progress to boiler room 4. All of these compartments were very low in the ship so would have little effect in contributing to a serious change of heel in a short time.
For Titanic to have changed her heel by so much in such a short time, it had to have been caused by weight transfer. Since water cannot flow uphill, and water entering the hull does not add weight; it follows that it must have been caused by the transfer of existing weight within the hull. Specifically weight being transferred from the right (starboard)side to the left (Port)side. The size of such a weight would be inversely proportional to it's height above the ship's center of gravity. i.e. the higher the weight above the C of G; the less of it needed to change the heel. There were only two major sources of moveable weight within Titanic's hull. These were people and liquids within tanks. The latter was way down low so would have little effect unles it ws in great volume. This would mean flooding tanks or transferring ballast.
People were highly mobile and what is more, could occupy the uppermosts decks of the ship.

So what caused Titanic to come upright from being over to starboard then heel in the opposite direction?

The clear evidence of a port side list can be found from accounts of the gap between the ship's side and the sides of the lifeboats hanging in the davits. The phenomenon of a passenger ship heeling to one side or the other due to large accumulations of passengers to one side o the centre-line on an upper deck is well known to passenger ship men... particularly those used to coastal waters ferries in the old days. From the evidence, we can see it was familiar to Chief Officer Wilde. (Me too! I have frequent personal experience of such a thing.)

I suggest to you and everyone else that there was only one reason for Titanic's port list and that was the enormous mass of humanity located on and above 'A' deck. The port side boats were the last to go. The last starboard side lifeboat went 40 minutes before the ship sank.

However, I'm perfectly happy to bow to superior knowledge and/or consider an alternative theory.

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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby Aaron2010 » Sat Jul 13, 2013 6:55 pm

Survivors felt a list to port 'before' the collision, and during most of Sunday. It is suspected that the usage of coal on the starboard side made the port side heavier, which caused the ship to list to port during her final day before the collision. If the water had reached E-deck and entered the port side cabins down Scotland Road, it would add even more weight to the port side and she would roll over on that side. I recall one survivor who looked down E-deck and he said there was water on the port side and it was dry on the starboard side.

Perhaps the flooding on the port side was also caused by the open gangway door. Charles Lightoller said:

"My idea was that I would lower the boats with a few people in each and when safely in the water fill them up from the gangway doors on the lower decks, and transfer them to the other ship. I told the bosun's mate to take six hands and open the port lower-deck gangway door, which was abreast of number two hatch. He took his men and proceeded to carry out the order, but neither he or the men were ever seen again. One can only suppose that they gave their lives endeavoring to carry out this order, probably they were trapped in the alley-way by a rush of water, for by this time the forecastle head was within about ten feet of the water."

The question was asked during the Inquiry. Why did Lightoller order the 'forward' gangway door to be opened? Lightoller said he did not realize the ship was going to sink. It took a long time for him to realize how serious the situation was. I wonder if Lightoller actually caused the list to port?

They argued about this during the Inquiry.

Mr. Edwards: - May I recall to your Lordship’s mind Mr. Lightoller’s instruction was, when they were lowering boat 6, that the boatswain and certain men were to go down and open these gangway doors, his view, as he expressed it, being that certain of the boats should come back when they saw the light and take away certain passengers from them? So far as my questions were addressed to him they were simply to ascertain his view as to whether if the gangway doors had been opened forward.

The Commissioner: Forward?

Mr. Edwards: - Yes, forward. He gave the order both forward and aft, and my questions were addressed to him to show whether, in his view, if at the stage when the order was given in fact the gangway door forward was opened on the port side, that might not have accounted for a big rush of water and a sudden list to port.

The Commissioner: "I do not remember that; it has escaped me. (To the Witness.) What do you say to that? - Mr. Lightoller did not convey to my mind that he had given any very distinct order, that is any order that made itself clear which door was intended; but there was evidence that the boats were told to go round to the after door which was the door where this accommodation ladder was provided, and which would be the natural door to go to."

But in that kind of situation, how do we know Lightoller had in his mind "the natural door to go to"? If he did not believe the ship was sinking at this time. He wrote in his 1932 book that he ordered the forward gangway door to be opened and the crew men never came back. I wonder if that order haunted his mind for many years.

Last edited by Aaron2010 on Sat Jul 13, 2013 8:46 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby rikudemyx » Sat Jul 13, 2013 7:53 pm

Let me start off by saying, Thank you for branching this out.
Aaron, more people than I realized confirmed a list to port. I DO remember the pre-crash list because it's used as evidence of the Olympic switchoff, which I don't adhere to, but the list was there before she hit. If she was listing, even slightly, then that WOULD alter the flow of water towards Scotland Road, and is a figure I had not entered into my calculations. My only problem with it is that so many ships capsize while they sink. If she did begin with a list, and then that list became more pronounced as Scotland Road flooded, why didn't she capsize? I'm not trying to poke a hole in your theory, I just am very curious as to why she managed to stay more or less upright.
I think for the time being, I'll have to accept that it could have been the weight of the people causing it, though I always follow knowledge rather than pride.
Lightoller causing the list is an interesting thought, and one that I'm sure would have a profound impact. If it was due to him, then he caused the list, the deaths of at least that crew member and who knows who else, and he had the guilt that I'm sure all the survivors felt. Especially as a man.
I look forward to more perspectives and responses.
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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby ardtornish » Sun Jul 14, 2013 5:58 pm

Hello there!

I think we can all agree that water cannot flow up-hill. This being so; if Titanic had an initial starboard list, the water would need to flow up-hill to get to the port side. Since it could not physically do so, it had to either enter the port side in the same way as it entered the starboard side.. via a hole. Or failing that; be pumped over using the ship's pumps.
We do not know of any such hole nor is there any record of pumps being used in such a way.

Since Titanic was holed on the starboard side, we would expect her or any other ship similarly holed, to take a list to the side where the water came in. Did she behave in the normal way? Yes she did, and here's some of the evidence that proves she did:

QM Hichens Day 3 of the UK Inquiry:

"1043. That is enough - as near as you can; it was after 12?
- Yes, the Captain then looked at the commutator and he found that the ship was carrying a list to starboard."

Lookout George Symons on Day 10 of the UK Inquiry:

"11440. Can you tell us when you began to help getting the boats out, was there any list of the vessel?
- Oh, yes, there was a slight list, if anything in our favour, to starboard.
11441. (The Attorney-General.) Your Lordship asked the question yesterday about the list to starboard. We have heard from one man who says he saw it distinctly from the ship. We have heard of a list to starboard from a Witness on the ship, but this Witness says that he noticed a list to starboard at the first. (To the witness.) Whilst you were on the ship did you see any list to port?
- I never took particular notice of a list to port. The only way I know she had a list to starboard was when we were lowering away we were clear of everything. When we were being lowered away ourselves we were clear of everything"

George Symons left Titanic in Emergency Boat 1. According to Bill Wormstedt et al, that boat was launched at 1-05am. Therefore at that time, the ship was still listed to starboard.

So when did she start listing to port?
We have evidence of that too. It comes from Titanic's 2nd Officer.

2nd Officer Lightoller Day 12 of the UK Inquiry:

"13879. Now, tell us about the way in which it [the loading of lifeboat 6 with passengers]was done and the orders given as to who should get into it?
- As a matter of fact, I put them in myself. There were no orders. I stood with one foot on the seat just inside the gunwale of the boat, and the other foot on the ship's deck, and the women merely held out their wrist, their hand, and I took them by the wrist and hooked their arm underneath my arm."

Lightoller earlier stated that he was not certain of there having been a starboard list but if there had been one, it was very small. However, the fact that he could load people onto Lifeboat 6 in the manner described, shows that the lifeboat was more or less against the ship's side which it would not have been had there been any appreciable port list. If there had still been starboard list, lifeboat 6 would have been hard against the ship's side.

Lifeboat 6 leftTitanic about 01:10am so at that time, the ship was more or less upright. She must have listed to port some time after that. However we know for a fact when she was listed over to port.

Baker Joghin on Day 6 of the UK Inquiry:

"5988. You said "a slight list." Was it the "Titanic" that had the list?
- Yes, Sir.
5989. A list to port?
- Yes, a list to port, and that made the boat swing out about a yard and a half."

Joughlin was working at lifeboat 10 at that time.

According to Wormsted et al, boat 10 was launched at 1:50am. That's 45 minutes after boat 1. So during that 45 minutes, Titanic listed from a few degrees? to starboard to about 5? degrees over to port.

Lifeboat number 15 was lanched before number 10 was launched. at that time, the list to port could not have been great since acording to the evidence of Fireman William Taylor on Day 7 of the US Inquiry:

"8648. Could you not see?
- I could not see, because we kept the boat off the ship, to keep from rubbing down her side.

According to Wormstedt et al, boat 15 was launched at 1:40pm.

Number 10 boat was the second last conventional lifeboat launched and all the starboard side boats were gone. This means that all 'hopeful' passengers would be on the port side of the ship. Loghlin told us about that too:

"5946. What was happening, how far had things got?
- They were getting the boat [number 10]ready for getting the passengers in, and Mr. Wilde shouted out for the stewards to keep the people back, to keep the men back, but there was no necessity for it. The men kept back themselves, and we made a line and passed the ladies and children through"

If all these people were congregated on the port side of the highest deck on Titanic then they and they alone were causing that list to port. Their combined weight and the loss of weight due to the launching of all starboard side boats had cancelled out the slight starboard list and listed the ship to the opposite side.

Here's how I see it:

By the time the ship came upright, when Lightoller was loading boat 6, the water would have reached a point above the tops of the WT 'walls' and would be starting to flow across the entire width of the ship. It would enter the compartments on the port side of Scotland Road. Assisted by the transfer of weight on the boat deck, and the extra water to port, the ship would heel further to port and then adopt a constant port list. The water would continue to rise and the ship would settle with this new port list. It would have continued to do so but for the catastrophic hull failure.

Evidently the people in the UK thought of the list beng caused by people transfer. This from the evidence of Naval Architect Edward Wilding on Day 20:

"20934. Moving 800 people through 50 feet would right her 2 degrees?
- About 2 degrees

If Titanic was a mere 2 degrees over to starboard at first, then the removal of all the starboard side boats and movement of all these people from starboard to port would bring her upright and over a litle to port allowing the water to flow down-hill. The water would then be free to flood across and fill the port side cabins on Scotland Road, causing a further heel to port. This heel would stop when these compartments had filled-up and the water had once again reached it's own level.

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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby Aaron2010 » Sun Jul 14, 2013 7:43 pm

I wonder if this could also be related to aircraft. I have flown many times and on several occasions the stewardess will ask some of the passengers to move to the other side of the plane because there were too many people on one side, and they needed to balance the plane steady and not have too many people on the same side. I think it was affecting the pilot's steering. Instead of holding the wheel in the middle, he had to keep it slightly turned to one side, just to balance the extra weight which was causing the plane to list, and I think this also makes the steering sluggish and slower to turn. I think the pitch of a plane is also affected if too many people are at the back or at the front of the plane. Does this scenario also affect ships? When the Titanic lost her buoyancy, she must have been rolling freely. They were lucky the sea was not rough.

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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby ardtornish » Mon Jul 15, 2013 12:05 pm

Hello Aaron.

A ship normally operates in one dimension...the horizontal plane. (no pun intended) An aircraft has the aditional dimension of the vertical plane. As far as I know, the weight distribution in an aircraft is more concerned with where it is relative to the front or back. (It's longitudinal position relative to the position of the aircraft's center of gravity (pressure). The effect of weights left or right of the center of pressure within the fuselage of a small aircraft, although measurable, are insignificant as far as normal handling is concerned but it might be important on a large, wide bodied aircraft. I don't know. Perhaps Sam, who has a current (?) PPL can help you out with that one.

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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby David G. Brown » Sun Jul 21, 2013 3:16 pm

Regarding the height of bulkheads --

Titanic was not unique in having water “overtop” its bulkheads. Overtopping has occurred to every multi-compartment ship that ever sank. At some point water always rises higher than the bulkheads. The difference in Titanic's case is that convention wisdom puts virtually 100% of the blame for the disaster on water coming over top of the bulkheads. This confuses me because I've not found a single eyewitness account that confirms it ever happened. The closest descriptions I've seen are a few mentions of a skim of water tumbling down stairways to lower decks inside the same compartment.

To the contrary, however, there is the testimony of leading stoker Barrett that flooding was not overtopping bulkhead E when he was force out of boiler room #5 by that “rush” of water. “I do not see how it could come over the top, no,” Barrett told the British inquiry.

First-hand accounts I've read about serious flooding speak of water welling up from low in the hull. The best examples come from firemen Dillon and Cavelle who told of water rising in boiler room #4 well before there was any water in boiler room #5, the next compartment forward. Or, leading stoker Hendrickson found water running on the deck of the firemen's tunnel, not tumbling down into it. My conclusion is that while water did eventually overtop the bulkheads, it was not the cause, but the result of Titanic foundering.

Regarding the port list--

Due to its shape – long and narrow – a ship is far more likely to roll on its side than pitch up on its nose. This is why preventing a ship from rolling onto its side is so important. Transverse stability (the ability of a ship to float upright) is a critical factor in both the design and operation of vessels. Naval architects design ships to float upright. Officers are trained to load those vessels to maintain proper transverse stability. But, all of that is for an intact hull. Once a ship is damaged and begins to flood, things change rapidly and all the change is for the worse as transverse stability is lost.

I suppose somewhere a sinking ship has rolled onto its undamaged side, but I've not seen it in 60-odd years of reading nautical history. It seems universally true that a damaged ship rolls (or lists) toward its damaged side. Perhaps the classic case was Andrea Doria which rolled onto its starboard side as if to cover the gaping wound caused by the Stockholm collision. While not as dramatic, Titanic initially listed to starboard after its starboard bow contacted the iceberg.

Titanic's starboard list maintained for some time. If there is anything unique about the sinking, it is that the ship unexpectedly righted itself and then began a continuous roll onto its port side. My impression is that this was a slow-motion “death roll” that would have put the vessel on beam ends had Titanic not both been too far gone at that point. But what might of happened is inconsequential. The key question is, “why did the ship right itself?” And, the next most important question follows, “why did Titanic roll onto its apparently undamaged side”?

Water seeks its own level, true, but inside a vessel this takes time. The delay of water filling a space evenly is part of what naval architects call the “percolation rate” of that compartment. When a hull is breached incoming water “piles up” on the side of the damage for a short period of time. This weight of water is probably what starts the ship listing. Even though in time the water inside levels out, the list remains because there is more depth of water on the side of the wound. Unless something comes along to change things, the ship will maintain or even increase the initial list toward the damage. That “something” could be a big wave, but the night Titanic sank was exceptionally calm. There were no outside forces that could have caused the free surface water inside the ship to “slosh” over to the port side and cause what amounted to a final death roll. In my view the damage and flooding of the bow could not have caused the port roll. We have to look toward the events of the breakup to find out why that port roll took place.

But first, a bit about ships breaking apart while afloat. In writing my book “White Hurricane” about the 1913 storm on the Great Lakes I was confronted by stories of steel ships suffering both transverse deck cracks and girdling cracks of the hull. We have harrowing stories from those ships that had transverse deck cracks because most survived and carried their crews to safety. The ships with girdling cracks (all the way round the hull tube) left no one to tell their tales. Great Lakes ships of 1913 were built of steel made the same way as the plates in Titanic. The scantlings used were modeled on British standards. And, the building methods of U.S. yards were the same as in British shipyards of the day. So, lessons learned from the 1913 Great Lakes storm can illuminate what took place as Titanic sank.

OK, now I'm going to do some theoretical history. That is I'm going to speculate, but from knowledge of similar events in ship disasters. Computer simulations have shown Titanic's hull failed at a low angle (11 to 15 degrees). The point of failure is actually above the point where stress on the hull exceeded the designer's intentions. Titanic was actually a bit stronger than its builders thought.

A low angle breakup is also in keeping with laws of buoyancy which require the ship to have displaced as much water as it weighed to remain afloat. If the stern had upended as movies suggest, the “footprint” of an intact hull would have been too small. Too much of the bow would have been forced under to create enough buoyancy too keep Titanic on the surface. The movie images of the ship standing on its nose before it broke are simply not possible. For Titanic to have foundered as the eyewitness accounts describe, the breakup must have occurred at a low angle when the ship had enough buoyancy to float level enough to allow launching of lifeboats and people to move aft along the boat deck.

In my opinion...worth what you paid for it...Titanic's port side cracked vertically in way of the rise of the floors in boiler room #1 to the expansion joint on the boat deck. The critical portion of this initial hull failure must have been low, probably at tank top level, because it allowed water to tumble in on the port side of boiler room #1. Much higher on the side and the crack would have been exposed to air so no flooding would have occurred. The sudden addition of weight caused the ship to lose its starboard list. By that point Titanic had very little transverse stability. So, once all that free surface water started moving there was no stopping the roll to port. And, that's when the vertical crack became a girdling crack. The compromised hull girder failed and chaos took over.

I have seen no evidence that there was a larger mass of humanity on the port side than the starboard when the ship began to roll to port. In fact, there are several descriptions of large numbers of people running aft on the starboard side (see baker Joughin's testimony for one). Even so, the listing of the ship was apparently of enough concern for an officer (Wilde?) to order passengers to move across the ship to the other side. Moving “the beef” is one way to keep a sinking ship upright when it has lost nearly all of its stability.

Moving the passengers was a forlorn hope. Although no one on the boat deck could have known, water was not just pouring into the bow through the original iceberg damage. Nor was it additional downflooding from the forecastle submerging. It was all of that and more. By then the big damage was the ever-growing breakup of the hull. The significant ingress was now through the area of that break in way of boiler room #1. It was the ship's coup de gras.

-- David G. Brown
David G. Brown
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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby Aaron2010 » Sun Jul 21, 2013 7:20 pm

Survivors on the boat deck said there were "Hundreds on the starboard side" moments before the water rushed onto the boat deck. Hugh Woolner was on the port side on the promenade deck and he saw nobody. He looked down the full length of the ship on the port side and saw not even a single person, except for himself and his close friend. He noticed the ceiling lights on the roof of the promenade deck were turning red and then he saw water rush onto his feet as the port side sank lower. There are reports that Wilde, Lightoller, and Captain Smith had all yelled together and ordered everyone to go to the starboard side because they feared the Titanic was about to roll over completely and possibly capsize. Do you think that was possible if the ship had remained intact?

Do you agree with Mr. Barkworth? He followed the crowd to the starboard side and he said:

"I remember somebody shouted: 'Go gently!' as if a sudden shift of weight would have disturbed the ship's position."

They had to "go gently" because if everybody had rushed to the starboard side too quickly, she could have rolled over the other way. I think she did, and this could explain why the forward funnel fell over to starboard, and not port, and crushed the starboard bridge wing.

I think there have been quite a few ships which were damaged on one side, but have rolled over the wrong way and sank on the opposite side from the damage. The Costa Concordia tore a gaping hole on her port side but she rolled over to starboard. I think the wind and the waves pushed against her hull which caused her to list over to starboard and she came to rest with her damage exposed above the surface.


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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby ardtornish » Mon Jul 22, 2013 5:21 pm

Hello there Aaron.

I have been in correspondence with various Naval Architects and colleagues on the matter of the Costa Concordia. The consensus is that she rolled over because of what is known as 'dry-docking' effect.
When a ship lands upright on the keel blocks of a dry dock, her center of gravity rises quickly. If she lands on an even keel, it does so very dramatically and the ship will fall over to one side or another. Costa Corncordia touched bottom in shallow water along the full length of her keel. The C. of G. rose instantly and because of shallower water on the starboard side, the port bilge area contacted the sea bed and caused an overturning moment to the right and she heeled over toward the beach.
In his defence, her captain claimed that he saved lives because of his action of bringing the ship nearer to the land. I suspect he knows that if he had gone into deeper water, he could have controlled the flooding and stayed afloat, albeit with a heavy port list.

Hello David.

Some interesting stuff there. I have had the pleasure of sailing all around your great lakes in a cargo ship just after the Seaway opened. Even ended-up in drydock at Montreal after doing so. I have also had the pleasure of seeing the side-ways launching procedures and even acted as an expert witness during an inquiry into pilotage errors. All great fun but a long, long time ago.

I make a few observations:

" Overtopping has occurred to every multi-compartment ship that ever sank"

Not strictly true! For very many years, all compartments of a multi- compartment ship must have a means of being closed water-tight below the upper-most continuous deck. I think you'll find that in most cases of sinking you have catastrophic structural failure which results in a loss of buoyancy equal to or greater than the total displacement weight of the vessel.
I think in particular of a tanker. Here we have a multi- compartment vessel which can, in certain circumstances, stay afloat with paractically no freeboard at all. The compartments in such a vessel are all watertight. Spill-over cannot happen. It's usually catastrophic hull failure combined with flooding of the engine spaces that finally causes the vessel to sink.

Boiler room 5 was already damaged on the starboard side and according to Barratt, the water was flooding slowly into the starboard side of the bunkers. Also, according to Barratt, he closed the bunker doors. These were not watertight but because the ingress from outside was greater than the amount escaping through leaking doors, they would have held back the water until the pressure inside exceeded the strength of the door latches. When that happened, there would be a sudden surge of water flowing aft. This would not appreciably effect the trim of the ship since it was not new water adding weight to an empty compartment. Bouyancy equal to the volume of water in BR 5 would already have been lost.

If I remember rightly, the boiler rooms had non water tight void spaces beneath the floor plates. These would fill first then the water would well-up and over- flow the top of the floor plates. No big mystery there.

I agree with you that the water over-topping the bulkheads was not the single cause of Titanic foundering but it was a major contributing factor.

A ship which is not influenced by outside factors does not roll per se. It may do so because of free surface effect but otherwise it will only heel and/or trim by the head as a result of added or re-distribution weight, loss of buoyancy or both. In the case of Titanic, there was no appreciable motion due to sea and or swell. Nor was there apppreciable evidence of enough free surface liquid to set up a synchronous rolling motion caused by a sea or swell, however slight.
Unless water poured over and down into an empty compartment to one side of the fore and aft line, there would not be an added weight contribution. That leaves the transfer of exisiting weight. The only known transfer of weight would be the transfer of humanity from one side to the other.
Think inclining experiment with nobs-on! Also remember that since there was no added weight below the original center of gravity, it would remain as it was before the icberg. Even then, it would have risen due to loss of weight (coal and supplies used from strorage spaced below the sailing-day position of the center of gravity). The ship would be 'tender' and easily heeled.. particularly if a relatively modest weight as moved transversely at any height above the then centre of gravity of the ship.

Aaron's post illustrates the picture perfectly. You will remember that Chief Officer Mr. Wilde called for everyone to move from the port side to the starboard side. That's where the 'hundreds' came from. The call of (the) Wilde (Oh dear! Just couldn't resist it.) was not to bring the ship up-right but to reduce the heel to port and allow more efficient loading and launching of the lifeboats. If the ship was on a roll (Oh dear! Again.) then the movement of passengers would have had little or no effect.

However, there was in fact added weight and it was the cause of Titanic coming upright and then developing a port list. To understand how this came about, I go over the sinking process.

Titanic had no water tight centerline bulkheads. The boiler rooms were simply open topped boxes extending for the full width of the ship. This means hat when the WT doors at each end of a boiler rooms were sealed, the water was free to fill the 'boxes'. If, several 'boxes' of exactly the same dimensions were holed by exactly the same amount on one side, the ship would simply fill with water without taking on any appreciable list.
In the case of Titanic, the 'boxes' were different in size and content. If any of them had a centerline division then the ship would initally take a list to the side where the damage occurred. The boiler room bunkers were divided lingitudinally at their centers. Therefore the starboard bunkers would fill first and cause a slight starboard list.
As the water continued to enter Titanic through the holes in her starboard side, it would spread across each of the sealed 'boxes' to the port side; there was nothing to stop it doing so. It would continue aross to the port side shell plating then rise up it. The port side lower bunkers would also fill and the starboard list would start to disappear. When the water reached the top of the boiler rooms, it would find it's way into Scotland Road and thence into the port side accommodation. During this time, the ship was sinking bodily and the water level continued to rise. It would extend aft along Scotland Road and find it's way into the upper bunkers and down into the spaces aft the succesive water tight bulkheads. Because it had downward routes on the port side, and because of the unrestricted volume of Scotland Road, the ship would start to develope a port list. This list would continue until the spill-over water started making its way back acoss the' box' of boiler rooms 5 & 4. In time, the ship would have come upright once more. However, before that happened the catastrophic hull failure you describe took place. When it did, Titanic was still over to port and huge amounts of sea water suddenly flooded into the port side of the massive void that was the main engine room. At that moment, the overwhelming weight of added water cause her to take a sudden lurch to port, twisting herself apart in the process. That's when the funnel stays parted and the hull fractured transversely.

I cannot see any stabilty situation other than that sudden lurch which would have caused Titanic to overturn. in fact, I don't think she would have overturned in any curcumstances. The weight of flood water was way down in the hull. There was little or no effectively large areas to allow free surface(boiler stools and boilers themselves created effective surface breaks.).

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Re: "Spilling Over" the tops of the bulkheads

Postby Aaron2010 » Mon Jul 22, 2013 8:09 pm

I wonder exactly how many hundreds of people were standing on the starboard side. Do you think the vast majority of the 1,500 were on the starboard side?

Here is a rough total.

100 - People who were trying to get into the starboard collapsible boat
400 - People who were told to go to the starboard side due to the extreme list to port.
200 - People who were standing inside the open gangway door on the starboard side. 4th officer Boxhall was too scared to approach them and rowed away.
300 - People who suddenly came up from the decks below just moments before the final plunge. Colonel Gracie described the terrible scene.

"There arose before us from the decks below a mass of humanity several lines deep converging on the Boat deck facing us and completely blocking our passage to the stern. There were women in the crowd as well as men and these seemed to be steerage passengers who had just come up from the decks below. Even among these people there was no hysterical cry, no evidence of panic. Oh the agony of it."

Last edited by Aaron2010 on Mon Jul 22, 2013 10:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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