British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 18

Testimony of Edward Wilding, cont.

19950. Do the stewards use those doors?
- I believe they do on the way from their own quarters to the accommodation of the passengers they have to attend to.

19951. That is what I mean - passing from the place where they do their work to the place where they sleep, and so to speak live, they would have to use these doors?
- I believe they would, My Lord.

19952. So that they are being used daily?
- Regularly, as I understand.

19953. (Mr. Rowlatt.) There were other emergency doors that we heard of on E deck right aft in the third class quarters here (Showing on plan.)?
- Those are the two doors I was referring to from Scotland Road into the forward and after second class stairways. Those are two, and then there is a third one right forward.

19954. They are marked on this plan. There is the one right forward that goes into the first class entrance, and then there is one in the middle at the boiler casing?
- No, those are doors into the boiler casing, the fidley escape doors. They are the escape doors. This door is not an emergency door, because it is always open.

19955. You remember, My Lord, he said, there were doors into the fidleys by the chimneys, what is marked on this plan as "Emergency door"?
- It is at the foot of this long stair.

19956. It is that stair (Showing.)?
- At the foot of that stair.

19957. And those doors are into the fidleys?
- Yes, and are not emergency doors.

19958. As I understand it on this plan the emergency door leads into that staircase which runs by the lounge pantry. The two other doors which are marked here are the doors into the fidleys, but they are not called emergency doors?
- And are not for the use of anyone except the firemen coming into the working passage.

19959. You have spoken of four emergency doors, have you not?
- In all, now, I had forgotten the one at the foot of the stewards' stairs.

19960. You said three earlier?
- Yes.

19961. There are two right away aft, and one, which is the one we have been speaking about, in the boiler casing, and one in the first class entrance?
- Yes.

19962. On page 4 you describe the decks and the groups of boats, which I need not take you through, and on page 5 you say the next deck below the boat deck was the promenade deck?
- Yes.

19963. Then you say the next lowest deck is the bridge deck - B deck?
- Yes.

19964. As a matter of fact, it is the deck below the bridge that the Officers use, is it not? The bridge that the Officers use for navigation is on the boat deck, is it not?
- It is the boat deck. The b deck is constructionally known as the bridge deck - not as the navigating bridge. That is the distinction.

19965. Until you get down to the b deck is the ship of lighter construction?
- The decks above b deck are of lighter construction.

The Commissioner:
I am not following you, Mr. Rowlatt.

19966. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Just see if I am right, Mr. Wilding. This is the roof of the Officers' quarters, is it not. (Showing.)?
- That is right.

19967. This is the boat deck on which the Officers' quarters stand?
- Quite right - with the navigating bridge at the forward end.

19968. The navigating bridge being there. (Showing.)?
- Quite right.

19969. This is the a deck or promenade deck. (Showing.)?
- Quite right.

19970. And this is the b deck. (Showing.)?
- Quite right.

19971. It is called constructionally the bridge deck, although, as a matter of fact, the bridge is not there?
- The Captain's bridge is not there, but it is what is known as a bridge house, and on top of it is the bridge deck.

19972. Is the sheathing composing the sides of the vessel, so to speak, of these decks lighter?
- Yes, above b deck it is much lighter.

The Commissioner:
Now, just put the pointer upon the decks which are lighter than the decks below them. That is the bridge deck you are pointing to, is it not?

Mr. Rowlatt:
That is a boat deck.

The Witness:
A boat deck or A deck.

19973. That is the roof of the deck-house, the Captain's quarters; that is the boat deck, and that is A deck. (Pointing.)?
- Quite right.

19974. And here is the b deck or bridge deck, where you first get into the construction of the ship?
- Quite right, into the heavy construction of the hull.

The Commissioner:
Just put your pointer on the bridge, please.

Mr. Rowlatt:
The Captain's bridge is there my Lord. (Pointing.)

The Commissioner:
Below that is the boat deck.

19975. (Mr. Rowlatt.) That is on the boat deck?
- On part of the boat deck, My Lord.

19976. The Captain's bridge is a room on the very forward part of the boat deck; below that is the a deck, and below that is the b deck?
- Quite right.

19977. (The Commissioner.) Where does the lighter construction begin?
- At B deck.

Mr. Rowlatt:
All above b deck.

Mr. Laing:
Including B deck.

The Commissioner:
All above b deck is of lighter construction. The decks are then of lighter construction, I understand.

19978. (Mr. Rowlatt - To the witness.) Is that so?
- Quite right.

The Attorney-General:
If you look at it on the model, My Lord, it is very clearly shown there.

The Commissioner:
Just show it to me again.

(The witness explained the plan to the learned Commissioner.)

Once you change from the heavier to the lighter construction - does the lighter construction extend right away up without changing?
- Substantially. The top tier is very slightly lighter than the lower tier, but not much.

19979. (Mr. Rowlatt.) I was here speaking of the bridge deck and describing it in that way. It is the deck which constituted the strong top deck of the vessel?
- The top of the vessel considered as a girder.

19980. As I understand it, the principle of a vessel is that its bottom, its sides and its deck make a girder?
- Yes, and with suitable stiffening constitute other decks.

19981. And this is the deck of the ship as a ship - as opposed to upper works, such as 'A' deck and so on?
- Yes, certainly.

Mr. Rowlatt:
I do not think we need go into the question of accommodation, because we can follow that on in the Report. Now, I will go to page 10, My Lord. I am not going to ask much about the intervening parts. You say on that page: "Below G deck were two partial decks."

The Commissioner:
I cannot find that on page 10. How does the paragraph begin?

19982. (Mr. Rowlatt.) "Below G deck were two partial decks - the Orlop and the lower Orlop decks, the latter extending only through the forepeak and No. 1 hold." That is the deck which is above the blue peak deck?
- That is right. (Showing.)

19983. Which is the lower Orlop?
- Here. (Showing.) It extends through No. 1 hold at the same level, then runs through the No. 2 hold, up again, and through No. 3 hold, and then ceases as a deck. (Showing.)

19984. I see at the top of the words "peak tank" above the blue the Orlop deck is marked with a very heavy line. Is that watertight?
- It is. That is the watertight top of the peak deck.

19985. I do not know whether your Lordship noticed what he said - that the roof of the peak tank there is watertight, so that the peak tank has a watertight roof as well as a watertight bulkhead abaft it?
- That is so as to prevent the water rising into the stores when filled.

The Commissioner:
It is a watertight box.

Mr. Rowlatt:
Yes, My Lord, and below that comes the inner bottom.

The Commissioner:
Are there any of these decks which are watertight, too?

19986. (Mr. Rowlatt.) There is that one and there is another further aft, is there not?
- On the same deck. The deck resumes again abaft the machinery space - this deck coming through No. 4 hold, No. 5 hold, and No. 6 hold. (Pointing.)

19987. Where does it begin to be a watertight deck?
- At about the turbine engine room. There is a recess in the middle of it here, a watertight recess. (Pointing.) A watertight box is formed. The deck is watertight throughout most of its area.

19988. When you say that, that applies to the space that is labelled "Electrical machinery"?
- That space has a watertight roof.

19989. Do I understand you to say that is a watertight box in the same sense as the peak tank?
- Yes.

19990. But people go up, you told us?
- Yes, but they have to get up to the top of E deck before they can get out of it.

19991. But there is a fan trunk?
- The fan trunk, again, is watertight up to this level.

19992. What I am speaking of is this: His Lordship asked whether there was any further watertight deck, a horizontal division?
- Yes, this deck (Pointing.) The deck that forms the roof is made watertight. Any recesses in it are carried up watertight - any necessary holes.

19993. You mean that this passage, this funnel, which goes up from it is carried up, and that is watertight in itself?
- That is watertight.

19994. Therefore it is a watertight hole going down into a watertight box?
- Yes.

19995. (The Commissioner.) So that there can be no escape of water until it had reached the top of that hole, and then it would come out?
- That is the point of it, My Lord.

19996. Will you tell me, if it is not inconvenient, what the object is of making this watertight deck in the afterpart of the ship?
- Yes, My Lord. It is in the event of anything going wrong with the propeller shafting and damaging the ship's side. It makes a convenient way of protecting it. The Board of Trade require us to make the aftermost section watertight in that manner, and we carried it forward.

19997. (Mr. Rowlatt.) That is the aftermost section of all?
- Yes, the aftermost part of all.

19998. You say the Board of Trade require you to do that. Does their requirement extend to the peak tank? Is that the aftermost section?
- Yes, but also the piece forward of the peak tank, forward of the stern gland.

19999. How far forward does what you call the aftermost section carry you - as far forward as this (Pointing.)?
- The Board of Trade specify that a part of this deck - they give a length for it which will extend to somewhere about there (Pointing.) - must be watertight.

20000. And as I understand it you carried it on to here (Pointing.)?
- That is right.

20001. (The Commissioner.) Will you explain to me again what the object is of making this part of the ship watertight - that deck?
- There are fast running shafts in it, My Lord, and there is only at the side of the ship close to the shafting the single skin of the vessel. In the event of any accident to the shafting, or anything of that character happening where there are moving parts, and it damaging the skin, it prevents any flooding. That, I understand, is the motive of the Board of Trade in asking for it to be protected. As we do not work any cargo or anything through that space, it was a reasonable precaution to carry it on into the two forward sections.

20002. It is to protect the ship in the event of the machinery damaging the skin of the ship, and then if it did, if it made a hole in any part of the skin of the ship, the effect would be that the water would come in and would be confined by the bulkheads on the one hand and by the watertight deck on the other?
- Provided the hole was completely below the deck, of course.

20003. (Mr. Rowlatt.) As I understand, the hole would be very unlikely to be anywhere but below the deck, if the hole were to be made by the moving parts?
- Yes.

20003a. It could only be below the deck?
- What was in my mind when I made the qualification was the case of the "Olympic," where she was damaged both above and below.

20004. (The Commissioner.) But that was by external violence?
- Yes, that was by external accident.

20005. But you say this precaution is taken in anticipation of possible internal violence?
- Yes, My Lord, that is quite right.

20006. (Mr. Rowlatt.) I just want to get clear another little point about the fore end of the ship. This is the firemen's passage (Pointing.)?
- Yes.

20007. That is a passage which is in the middle of the ship?
- Yes.

20008. Is that watertight?
- It is.

The Commissioner:
What are you asking him about now? When you say "Is this watertight?" what do you mean?

Mr. Rowlatt:
The firemen's passage, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
You mean watertight on all sides?
- Yes.

20009. The roof, sides, and bottom?
- Yes, certainly, My Lord.

20010. (Mr. Rowlatt.) It is a longitudinal hole, just as that was a vertical hole?
- Yes.

20011. (The Commissioner.) Now why is that made watertight all round?
- It was made watertight because it was desired to enable firemen to use it as a means of access to their accommodation, which is forward of B bulkhead, the second bulkhead, and in order to do that, in order to provide them with access through it and not shut them out by a watertight door it had to be carried through as a watertight pipe.

20012. Then in point of fact it is a watertight communication to the firemen's quarters, which does not in any way interfere with the watertight bulkhead which you have just explained?
- It was with the object of making it watertight, My Lord.

Mr. Rowlatt:
May I ask, My Lord, one or two questions as from this model?

The Commissioner:

20013. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Is that the firemen's passage represented here in the model standing back from the side of the ship but running down the middle of the ship?
- Quite right.

The Commissioner:
I cannot see it, but I can follow it.

Mr. Rowlatt:
It is that piece of wood which is standing back (Referring to the model.)

The Witness:
That is the firemen's passage, My Lord.

The Commissioner:
It is like a watertight tube.

Mr. Rowlatt:

The Commissioner:
Put through a watertight bulkhead.

Mr. Rowlatt:
And going through the middle of another watertight compartment.

The Witness:

The Commissioner:
It goes through two, I think.

Mr. Rowlatt:
Yes, it goes through two.

The Witness:
That is so.

20014. It is in communication as soon as you get halfway up the spiral staircase with the second watertight compartment in the ship right forward there?
- Quite, and in that way this pipe, this firemen's tunnel becomes a part for flooding purposes of No. 1 hold.

20015. That is what I wanted to get?
- And it was because it was recognised that it became that that it was made watertight.

20016. Now, just as we are upon that, I think I had better ask you a question with regard to the evidence. You know there has been evidence that water was flowing into that firemen's passage at the bottom of the spiral staircase?
- There was.

20017. Was the firemen's passage at any such point in contact with the outside skin of the ship?
- No, it was 3 feet 6 inches - I have a plan showing it.

The Commissioner:
3 feet 6 inches what - away from the skin of the ship?
- I should have thought it was much further than that.

Mr. Rowlatt:
I should have thought so too, My Lord.

The Witness:
I have a plan showing it. (Producing the same.)

The Commissioner:
Now I understand it.

20018. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Would you look at this blueprint for a moment, Mr. Wilding?
- I have a copy.

20019. You show here the two spiral staircases?
- Yes, two spiral staircases, one port and one starboard.

20020. Now, on either side of those there is an upright white line representing a division, is there not?
- A watertight wall.

20021. Is that a watertight wall?
- Yes, it is a watertight wall to the trunk containing the stair, the side wall.

20022. And the 3 feet 6 inches that you mention is that from the corner at the bottom of that watertight wall to the skin of the ship?
- I think it scales a little less, about 3 feet 3 inches from the corner horizontally to the shell of the ship.

20023. Is that the nearest point at which that cavity in which the spiral staircases are approaches to the skin of the ship?
- That is right.

20024. So that is it a fair deduction to say that if water from the sea was running into that spiral staircase space something must have penetrated the ship through the skin for 3 feet 3 inches, and then through iron, the thickness of which you will tell us by and bye, of the watertight compartment again?
- That it must have come far enough in through the side of the ship to disturb effectively that watertight wall.

The Commissioner:
In other words, the ice must have penetrated into the ship more at this point than 3 feet 6 inches.

20025. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Yes, and have penetrated in sufficient bulk to break this partition at the end of the 3 feet. It must have been a good heavy sharp piece that succeeded in coming in as far as this in order to do further damage. (To the witness.) Is not that so?
- It probably came in gradually. It started some few feet further forward and came in gradually; I do not think it went in with a bang.

20026. You do not think the puncture was necessarily confined to this spot in the vessel?

The Commissioner:
No, no; but at that spot there must have been a puncture which penetrated at least 3 feet 6 inches into the ship at that point.

20027. (Mr. Rowlatt.) How much further forward than that you cannot say?
- No, we cannot say, but we know damage was done in the 4 feet. My Lord, we put a mark upon the model, if you remember, at the time down here, as showing the position, when Hendrickson's evidence was given. I remember that.

20028. (The Commissioner.) And that, you say, is where the ice penetrated if there was water in that tunnel as described. It was there that the ice would have penetrated and have admitted the water?
- That is right.

20029. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Now, Mr. Wilding, on page 10 you then go to the inner bottom of the ship?
- Yes.

20030. You say it extends fore and aft through about nine -tenths of the vessels length, and on this were placed the boilers, Machinery and auxiliary machinery and the electric lighting machines. Now, the top of that blue space running the length of the ship was what we heard of as the tank top, was it not?
- Yes, the inner bottom or tank top are absolutely synonymous.

20031. Now, you say it runs fore and aft about nine -tenths of the vessel's length?
- Quite right. Of course, it stops in the forepeak and it stops a little forward of the after-peak; it stops at the afterend of the forepeak.

20032. That means that when I see your peak tank there are no longer two floors to the peak tank, so to speak; the peak tank goes right down to the bottom of the ship?
- Yes, to the shell of the ship.

20033. And then it comes here abaft the bulkhead (Pointing.)?
- In the aftermost piece of the tunnel. It does not go right to the afterend.

20034. It stops two-thirds of the way between O and P, does it not?
- Yes, that is right, two-thirds of the way between O and P.

The Commissioner:
Just look at this plan, and tell me whether it is accurate.

(The witness explained upon the plan.)

20035. Are these structural tanks at the bottom of the ship, ballast tanks?
- Yes. For ballast and fresh water, My Lord.

20036. Some of them are used for fresh water for the use of the ship?
- Some of them are available for fresh water.

20037. And the others are available for sea water, are they?
- Those in the way of the boiler rooms are available for sea water only. Most of the others are available for fresh water.

20038. And on this voyage do you suppose they were full or empty?
- One or two of them would be full as she neared the end of the voyage.

20039. Full of fresh water?
- All would be full of fresh water when she left, and then it would be gradually used during the voyage. You do not put salt water into the same tanks to preserve the same stability outside the ship, but you do put salt water into some of the salt water tanks.

20040. When you start on your voyage are these tanks full of fresh water?
- I believe every tank was full, all of the fresh water tanks.

20041. (Mr. Rowlatt.) I think it comes, My Lord, further on in the report. Now on page 10 you deal with the firemen's passage, but I took that out of its order. Now, on page 11 you get "structure" - you see it is headed "structure." You say, "The vessel was built of steel and has a cellular double bottom of the usual type with a floor at every frame." Now I just want to have this explained. When you talk of cellular double bottom you are speaking of the inner bottom and the skin of the ship which we have just been dealing with, are you not?
- The space between the two. It in cut up into cells by watertight partitions, and hence its name.

20042. Now when you say "with a floor at every frame" will you just explain what that means. I think I know, but will you just explain it to the Court. Have you got a section there or a plan that will show it?
- Yes. (Handing up a midship section.)

The Commissioner:
Now it has been explained to me that the floor is not a floor.

20043. (Mr. Rowlatt.) As I understand Mr. Wilding, a floor is a sort of tie?
- A vertical plate running across the ship and keeping the inner and upper bottoms apart and tied together.

The Commissioner:
These floors are about 3 feet apart?
- Every 3 feet apart amidships.

20044. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Is that where the frame comes?
- The frames are carried up outside the double bottom. The floor constitutes the frame in way of double bottom.

20045. Now the depth of this frame is, you say, 63 inches for the most part, but 78 in way of the main reciprocating engines. I see there that the inner bottom is run up a little when you get to the engine section and falls again when you get to the first boiler room section - is that what you are alluding to?
- That is quite right, it is necessary under the very heavy part of the engines to put heavier and stronger framing.

20046. Is that for weight?
- No, for the movement, the internal movement of the engines, to keep them within control.

20047. Now you say for about half the length of the vessel this double bottom extended high enough up the ship's side to protect the bilges and the bilge plating was doubled. Now "extended high enough up the ship's side to protect the bilges," does that appear upon this model?
- To a certain extent.

20048. Does this piece of wood here in the bottom represent the space that we are speaking of between the two bottoms?
- That is so.

20049. As far forward as that, extending up to the bilge and then forward where it has to be cut back only being in the middle of the ship, and not coming up to the bilge at all?
- Only coming up to the lower part where the ship begins to rise away.

20050. And then it stops?
- Yes, it stops, the idea being to protect the part of the ship which is likely to come on the ground in the event of her grounding.

The Commissioner:
Will you let me look at that model. (The model was handed up to his Lordship.)

20051. (The Commissioner - To the witness.) You said something about for protection in the event of the ship taking the ground - what did you mean by that?
- In the event of the ship accidentally grounding as ships sometimes do, it is very desirable that water shall be as far as possible kept out of the machinery spaces, that is to say the engine and boiler rooms, and it is very usually the bilge which gets damaged because the ship gets a slight list, and then the part of the ship that is beginning to rise gets damaged and water gets in; therefore we carried it round the curve, above the round of the curve of the bilge.

20052. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Now have you got a midship section?
- I have already handed one up to My Lord.

20053. Does it end in that way, running right up to the ship's side and ending in an angle?
- Practically it comes to a knife -edge at the corner - a sharp corner, as shown in the midship section.

20054. That is not the case, is it, where you get to the other part of the ship where it is not brought to the bilge?
- It is not above the bilge - it turns.

20055. This that you gave us here, the double bottom only, extends, does it not, as far as that point - (Pointing.) - immediately under the centre of the spiral staircase, so that it does not go out until the roof of the double bottom meets the side of the ship, so to speak?
- No, it is only done in the machinery spaces, in the engine and boiler spaces.

20056. May I ask you this, as an expert? Would it be of any protection to a ship in the case of accidents such as this that has overtaken the "Titanic" if this double skin could be carried more round the bilge?
- Well, it does not seem so, because in the one case where we have a double skin in the way at the foot of the spiral staircase it was ruptured. We had a double skin there.

20057. What you say is that the outer skin of the ship and the wall of the spiral staircase are equivalent to two skins of the ship?
- Yes, because we know that the water got through that inner wall.

20058. But I suppose you would agree, I do not know how far it is feasible, but for any lesser wound a double skin would protect it?
- Certainly.

20059. Such as the wound described, for instance, by Barrett in the boiler section?
- Probably.

20060. Is that a feasible idea at all?
- Well, there are objections as well as advantages. Do you want me to go into them?

20061. I do not know. You think the objections would outweigh the advantages?
- It is a matter for careful consideration.

20062. But it is a matter for consideration perhaps?
- It is a matter which I may say we have under consideration.

20063. (The Commissioner.) Perhaps you had better state, Mr. Wilding, what the advantages are, and what the objections are?
- Well, the great advantage is of course what Mr. Rowlatt was saying, that it does protect from small wounds, slight wounds. The chief disadvantages are that it does reduce the space inside the ship available for any use such as bunkers or anything else. It is too small in itself to use as a bunker. It is a very difficult space to satisfactorily look after in practice and to ensure the proper upkeep of. If things were looked after in an ideal fashion, it would do away very largely with that objection, but judging by our experience of the upkeep of such very restricted spaces which are very difficult of access, there is considerable risk in our judgment; we believe that such spaces will not be as well looked after as they might be, that corrosion, which is the most subtle enemy that we have to deal with, Might set up and weaken the outside shell plating and in that way it might prove to be a disadvantage eventually, though for a new ship a protection.

20064. Do you know how this part of the ship is constructed in men-of-war?
- In broad outlines, yes, I do, My Lord. I have been in the Naval service.

20065. Well, I am informed that the difficulty which you point out is not found of any consequence in men-of-war where the stronger plan is adopted?
- I am quite aware that it is adopted in men-of-war, but I would like to point out that there is a good deal better - shall I say, a good deal more time and labour available for the upkeep of His Majesty's ships than there is for most commercial ships.

20066. Then, does it mean that if more money were spent you would be able to look after these inaccessible parts of the ship, and therefore might make them stronger than you do?
- More money, and more careful supervision and more pains taken. It is a practical, Mechanical thing. Our commercial experience of such structures where they have been tried has not been encouraging.

20067. (Mr. Rowlatt.) You are speaking of such a space being carried up the side of the ship, not being used as a tank, of course?
- Not being used as a tank. To use it as a tank would only put salt water into it, and that is one of the troubles which causes corrosion.

20068. You put salt water into some, at any rate, of these lower tanks, do you not?
- We do.

20069. How do you keep the corrosion in check there?
- In the first place, they are much larger; and, of course, in the second place, it is much easier to walk about in a space which is flat than in a high narrow space.

20070. There is more room for a man to walk about there?
- Yes; you can walk through the double bottom of the "Titanic" almost without stooping.

20071. Now you say at that point, that is to say where the double bottom extends to the bilges, the bilge plating was double?
- Yes.

20072. What do you mean by that?
- Taking the strake of plating, the skin plating of the ship in the way of the bilge, there were two thicknesses put together. The reason for that is that the bilge is one of the corners of the girders of the ship, and consequently it was desirable to strengthen it.

20073. That is just on the turn of the bilge, all along there, there is double plating?
- That is right; two thicknesses closely riveted together.

Mr. Rowlatt:
I do not know how much longer your Lordship desires to sit. I am now about to enter upon a thing which will take a few minutes, perhaps a quarter of an hour, or something of that sort.

The Commissioner:
I intended to sit till a quarter to four. We will use now if you like, Mr. Rowlatt?

Mr. Rowlatt:
If your Lordship pleases.

(The Witness withdrew.)