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Wednesday, May 22, 2019
Titanic

Thank you for another diverse Sea Breezes. So much world-wide information!

Recently, I sent an article to Classic Boat magazine about some thoughts I had about the Titanic. I was hoping someone may be able to back up or cut down my observations. Ideas that may have saved lives or is it just some scribbling from an uninformed person – ‘Me’! The question is, what if the Titanic hit the iceberg head on rather than grazing it and the bow stuck fast so the ship could not sink? Is this a possibility? What if she hit then floated off with a much shortened bow? Would the damage have been so dramatic causing so many compartments to flood? How many compartments would have been damaged? In either case, the death and injury would have been severe with people and furniture slamming into the baulk heads. But would she have still sunk? Would a shorter bow have saved her?

Another thought was, did they have enough pumps on board to flood the aft compartments to counter the lack of buoyancy in the bow, keeping her number 5 and 6 baulks head above the water? Then I saw a TV program all about the Titanic and how she was built in such a hurry – they ran out of high-quality rivets and substituted them with inferior ones, which was confirmed by a fellow CB contributor. The program suggested these inferior rivets would have unzipped when the ship grazed the berg and opened up like a tin can. They tested similar rivets to 11,000 lbs load before they failed, then suggested the collision load to be around 14,000lbs. Not sure about these numbers!

Then another TV program all about a previously unknown picture of the ships starboard bow showing a distinct discoloration in one section on her shoulder. Apparently, the Titanic had a fire in one of her coal bunkers before she had even left the builder’s yard. A fireman on board, at the time, stated at the inquiry into the sinking, the fire was still burning when she left for America. Something I don’t remember the papers picking up on at the time. The program suggested the ship only had just enough coal for the trip to New York, so the captain was speeding trying to use up the hot coal before they ran out. Apparently, the owners were so keen to impress their wealthy passengers that they neglected to mention the fire as they boarded. The heat from this bunker fire had distorted the Number 6 balk head and when the coal water hit it the balk head, it failed folding that fatal compartment that lead into the engine room.

Would it have been possible, or even feasible to get some lines over the bow and drag them aft to where the damaged compartments were then using tarpaulins and bedding along with a good dollop of tar or tallow drag these patches over the gash? Assuming there was time, could the ship have been driven towards the nearby ship that thought the flares were fireworks, before she sank? Or even been driven in reverse to reduce the inflow of water at the same time using all the ships lighting to flash SOS. So many options that may have saved lives, but hind-sight is such a useless trait after the event. Would readers like to comment on the practicalities of these thoughts?

Thank you also for the Tasman Bridge Disaster article in the August 2018 issue. I met a guy who was sitting with a beer in his dad’s backyard looking out over to Hobart and the bridge when the lights flickered, then went out. At first, they thought the red and white lights falling from the dark bridge were fireworks until they realised, they were car lights. They quickly got their dingy out and managed to save one or two people from the water. He did say how eerie it was to see car lights deep down in the water. Apparently one of the cars managed to stop and the driver went back warning of the disaster. Some young hoon sped up and drove around him with his finger in the air. Woops! Some lessons are hard learnt.

TOM WHITFIELD
Mordialloc, Australia

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