The Titanic was on fire: When the liner went to sea, a fire was devouring in one of the vessel’s coal bunkers!
On the night of April 14-15, 1912, the Titanic sank within hours, killing more than 1,500. The ship, due to sail to New York, had left Southampton four days earlier. Titanic was on fire and it might have helped it to sink the unsinkable ship.
It was at the time the “most beautiful structure ever built by man”: The Titanic weighed 46,000 tons, was 269 meters long and 53 meters high. It had been designed to be unsinkable and withstand a very violent shock.
The Titanic sinking had so far been blamed on a collision with a giant iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland. Senan Molony, an Irish journalist who has spent 30 years of his life investigating the story of the shipwrecked colossus, offers a much different story… Titanic was on fire and it may helped the sinking of Titanic.
Its investigations seem to show that the ship would have been weakened by a fire that had been smoldering in its holds for weeks. Without this negligence, the liner would have taken the impact with the mountain of ice without any real damage.
Still looking for documents, Molony got hold of a photo album at an auction, produced by John Kempster, an electrical engineer. The man photographed all stages of the ship’s construction at the Belfast shipyard. Looking at the pictures, Molony discovers a suspicious 10-meter-long spot on the right side of the boat, where the iceberg hit the hull.
The journalist shows the images to experts, who conclude that the mark in question may have been caused by a smoldering fire in one of the coal bunkers, located just behind the engine room. Through numerous cross-checks, Molony became convinced that by the time she left Southampton the fire had been raging for weeks and was out of control. In a smoldering fire, charcoal burns slowly, often without flames. It is impossible to stop him. It does not go out until the fuel is exhausted…
Guilty silence – Titanic was on fire
When the Titanic left the Belfast shipyard, the entire crew knew about the Titanic was on fire in one of the boiler rooms. Many sailors are reluctant to continue the journey to New York. Alerted, the management of the company which chartered the liner, the White Star Line, nevertheless decided to override the concerns of its supporters. The launch of the Titanic has already been delayed by several weeks, millionaires such as Benjamin Guggenheim have reserved their places. They should not be disappointed or bad publicity for the company, which is experiencing significant debt problems and is losing more and more ground to its direct competitor, Cunard. The departure therefore remains fixed for April 10, 1912.
Joseph Bruce Ismay, the boss of the White Star Line, is on the trip, as is the ship’s architect, Thomas Andrews. No question of postponing this crossing… We now know that in order to charter its new fleet as quickly as possible, the shipping company has taken the risk of shortening the construction times for its ships. She does not hesitate to cut back on certain budgets: you save on the thickness of the steel, for example.
It is also to reduce costs that the Titanic will not be equipped with a sufficient number of lifeboats. The 20 rescue boats on board can only carry half of the total number of passengers. Ismay gives instructions to conceal the fire from passengers.
Molony even claims that the liner was “turned” on purpose: it is the left side (port side) that is docked, while traditionally a ship docks on the starboard side (right side). This is to ensure that passengers cannot see the damage already done on this side. And when some of them on the lower decks complain about smells and smoke, they will be explained that everything is normal.
If the giant transatlantic is considered almost unsinkable, it is because its architect has equipped it with sixteen watertight compartments and a double bottom. On paper, it’s supposed to stay afloat even if the flooding hits four caissons. Unfortunately, the collision with the iceberg will drown six. It has long been wondered how the water could have entered the bowels of the boat so quickly, causing it to sink in just two hours and forty.
The answer lies largely in the heat given off by the fire, which was expected to be around 1,000 ° C. At this temperature, steel becomes extremely brittle and brittle. Its resistance to impact and deformation is reduced by 75%. In addition, it seems that the very quality of the steel can also be questioned. Phil Leighly, an American metals specialist, studied hull samples taken from the wreckage. It was a steel rich in phosphorus, sulfur and oxygen, and poor in nitrogen and silicon. Characteristics that make it fragile at low temperatures: it breaks instead of deforming.
However, the temperature of the water in the Atlantic was slightly negative (-1 to -2 ° C) on the night of the tragedy. Yet it was, at the time, the best steel on the market, and its fragility does not explain the waterways. No cracks or tears were found in the liner’s hull. The water would actually have entered through six joints that gave way between steel plates. These, as Timothy Foecke, an American metallurgy expert, found were held together by three million rivets.
To cope with a shortage of steel parts, wrought iron elements were used at the stern and bow of the ship. These rivets could only withstand a pressure of 4 tons (instead of 9 for a higher range), and the high percentage of slag (impurities) contained in the iron made it very fragile. On the night of the tragedy, the iceberg allegedly exerted considerable pressure on the plates, causing the heads of the rivets to pop off. The plates would then have disassembled, opening many waterways.
During the four days before the sinking, the trimmers had fought the blaze by emptying the bunker of the burning coal and dumping it into the boilers. Unloaded of its coal and with machinery pushed to its maximum, the ship had picked up speed, although it should have slowed down, the captain having been warned of the presence of numerous icebergs in its course. The liner was spinning at over 22 knots, which made it all the less maneuverable.
Either way, he didn’t have enough coal to slow down or divert himself. In rushing into the danger zone, the captain of the Titanic had deliberately accepted the risk of a shipwreck. At 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912, the route of the giant liner crossed that of a gigantic iceberg. This clash of titans takes place at the height of the forward starboard hull. At first, the watertight partitions resist. But the one that had been weakened by the fire eventually gave way under the pressure of the water. Six compartments fill up, leaning the ship forward, allowing the waves to pass over the bulkheads.
The speed of the sinking and the lack of canoes explain a tragic toll: 1,500 passengers drowned. After the tragedy, a commission of inquiry will be held in London. But most of the witnesses were from the management of the White Star Line. Everything will be done to prevent Fred Barrett, a surviving firefighter chief, as well as other passengers, bothersome witnesses, from coming to the stand. Fred Barrett will be heard, but the commission, in cahoots with the directors of the company, will conclude that an accident due to excessive speed. Enough to engage the responsibility of the captain, but not that of the White Star Line, which will thus escape any attempts to bring the families of the hundreds of missing persons to trial…
A myth doomed to disappear
Soon, nothing will be left of the mythical liner.
We have just learned that a particularly robust and devastating underwater bacterium is destroying the wreckage of the Titanic, which has rested 3,800 meters deep off the coast of Newfoundland for 105 years.
This formidable micro-organism, dubbed by scientists Halomonas titanicae, eats away at the metallic parts of the ship’s structure, raising fears of its total disappearance within fifteen years…
What do you think about the Titanic was on fire and helped it to fragilized the structure?
Photo credit: Credit: CBS news via The Sun