British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry

Day 27

Testimony of Edward Wilding, recalled

Further examined by Mr. BUTLER ASPINALL.

25291. Have you prepared a diagram which shows the turning curves of the "Titanic"?
- I have got the results of some of the turning circles - in the first place of two circles which were made off Belfast Lough, one of them with both engines at full speed ahead, and the rudder put hard-a-starboard and the ship's head turning to port; and the other one with the helm put hard-a-port, the ship turning to starboard and the starboard engine reversed to full speed astern. Both of those curves were at speeds of between 18 and 20 knots. (Handing same to the Commissioner.) I have also got the results of circles made with the ship, steaming at different speeds, the engines being kept at the same speed going ahead and the helm put hard-a-starboard and the ship turning to port, the speeds being 11 knots, 19 1/2 knots, and 21 3/4 knots, and I have plotted the three different circles in comparison. (Handing same to the Commissioner.)

25292. Does that complete the information?
- No, there is a little more information that I think the Court wishes to have. Since the accident, we have tried the "Olympic" to see how long it took her to turn two points, which was referred to in some of the early evidence. She was running at about 74 revolutions, that corresponds to about 21 1/2 knots, and from the time the order was given to put the helm hard over till the vessel had turned two points was 37 seconds.

25293. (The Commissioner.) How far would she travel in that time?
- The distance run by log was given to me as two-tenths of a knot, but I think it would be slightly more than that - about 1,200 or 1,300 feet.

25294. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Does that complete the information with regard to the turning circles or curves?
- As regards the turning, but my Lord also wanted certain information with regard to stopping with engines reversed and the rudder not put over.

25295. Yes?
- The trials that I have were made again off Belfast Lough. Both engines were running at about 60 revolutions, corresponding to a speed of about 18 knots. The helm was left amidships and both engines were reversed. The way was off the ship in about three minutes and 15 seconds from the order to reverse engines being given, and the distance run was just over 3,000 feet. I might mention in that connection that, so far as we on the bridge could see, the engines were not reversed as quickly as we had seen them, and the distance is probably a little on the large side; but that is what we actually observed, and it would be very difficult to put an estimated correction on it.

25296. Does that complete the matter, the curves and the distance the ship would run before she would come to a stop?
- That is right.

25297. Then your attention was also directed to this, I believe, whether or not you had made any calculations with regard to the flooding of the "Mauretania" in view of her internal construction. Have you been able to arrive at any certain results with regard to it?
- Yes. The calculations, of course, were approximate, because the data available were not complete in the sense in which they had been complete for the flooding calculations that I made for the "Titanic," but made them in conjunction with the Cunard Naval Architect, who gave evidence, and we agreed on the figures as being the best approximation we could make with the data available. We wrote out a brief memorandum giving the results and made a plan which we both initialed, and I propose to put this in.

(The memorandum was handed in and is as follows.): -

"We have considered by approximate methods the flooding of the 'Mauretania' in the event of an accident similar to that met with by the 'Titanic.' We have assumed the watertight doors and hatches to be closed and similar deductions to those made in the calculations for the 'Titanic.' From the calculations made, taking the vessel as damaged from the stem to the afterend of the forward boiler room (corresponding nearly - but not quite - to the length from the stem to the afterend of the No. 5 boiler room in the 'Titanic'.) the vessel would remain afloat with a considerable list, say 15 deg. to 20 deg., which, no doubt, could be slowly reduced by carefully flooding some after spaces on the opposite side. With the data available we do not think we can satisfactorily discuss flooding corresponding to the damage extending into No. 4 boiler room in the 'Titanic.'

- (Signed.), Ed. W.; L. Peskett."

The Witness:
There is one thing I should like to say with regard to the calculations which have been handed in, because I do not think it appears in the statement. Might I see the statement for a moment? (The statement was handed to the witness.) I see it does not appear in the statement. The calculations show that the vessel would have a considerable list, and in order that the water should not rise above the top of the bulkhead, we had to assume the bunkers flooded on the other side. It would be quite a practicable operation by raising the watertight doors, but they would have to be opened so that the water could get through to the port bunkers.

25298. (The Commissioner.) This report of yours has been made in conjunction with the naval architect of the Cunard Line?
- In conjunction with the naval architect of the Cunard Line, and we both signed it. It was an agreed calculation. There is just one other matter in that calculation which does not appear, which perhaps should be mentioned, and that is that the flooding of the foremost boiler room in the "Mauretania" was due to the fact that at one place in the boiler room there is only a single skin, and not a double skin, and that materially increased the danger to that vessel.

25299. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) I believe the other matter to which you have applied your mind is marking the profile plan at various places where according to the evidence the water entered the ship. Is that right?
- It has not been marked yet; I have undertaken to do it. It is marked on the model.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
In order to do that, I suppose what he would want are some steps and a paint brush, or something. I do not know whether your Lordship wants him to do it now?

The Commissioner:
Oh, yes; we have plenty of time.

Mr. Butler Aspinall - To the witness:
Will you do it now?

25300. (The Commissioner.) First of all, tell me where those points are marked upon the model?
- They are marked here on the model, My Lord. (Indicating.) The blue marks the hole. A piece of ice has been assumed to break off and fill the part of the space marked in red. The white paper round the blue indicates the extent of the probable denting, in the middle of which was the hole.

25301. (The Commissioner.) The blue marks the hole?
- Yes.

25302. Through which the water would come?
- Yes.

25303. The red marks the hole plugged?
- Yes, by the piece of ice.

25304. And there are five altogether?
- Yes, five altogether. I may say the after one corresponds to that damage which is not absolutely proved, but which was under discussion, in No. 4 boiler room.

25305. Now you might go with some red paint and mark the plan?
- I could do it now of course, or I could do it before Friday.

25306. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Your Lordship has already indicated that you wanted him to do it now; the witness did not hear that.

The Witness:
I did not understand his Lordship wanted me to do it now.

Sir Robert Finlay:
I am not sure we have red paint handy.

The Commissioner:
I think we can make these marks upon our own plans from the model.

Mr. Butler Aspinall:
If your Lordship pleases.

The Commissioner:
Therefore I do not think it is necessary.

Sir Robert Finlay:
It might be convenient, My Lord, if it were done on this small model which has been shown. It is very handy. Your Lordship recollects it.

The Commissioner:

Sir Robert Finlay:
It will be convenient if Mr. Wilding puts it upon that.

The Commissioner:
Yes, then he need not trouble about the other plan.

Mr. Edwards:
May I ask Mr. Wilding one or two questions, to clear up certain things?

The Commissioner:

Examined by Mr. CLEMENT EDWARDS.

25307. You were asked by the surveyor of the Board of Trade to trunk the spiral staircase?
- Yes.

25308. If you had carried out that request of the Board of Trade, what difference would that have made on the volume of water in the area of the spiral staircase, do you think?
- I do not quite take your question; either I have not heard it all, or something. Is it in the correspondence?

25309. You were requested by the surveyor of the Board of Trade to trunk the spiral staircase?
- Yes, pardon me, the lower part is trunked already, you know.

25310. Up to where is it trunked?
- Up to G deck, I think; it is marked on the big plan there.

25311. They wanted you to trunk it up to the saloon deck, did they not?
- I think that point was raised at one time.

25312. Supposing that recommendation had been carried out, what difference, in your view, would it have made to the area filled with water in that particular compartment?
- None whatever.

25313. Why do you say that?
- Because the No. 1 compartment was damaged independently, and No. 2 compartment had to be damaged in order to admit water to the bottom of the spiral stair. As to the water that was admitted to No. 1 compartment, the only difference that it would have made - it might have made this difference - is that the water would have taken a few minutes longer, three or four minutes perhaps, to get to the same level inside the trunked spiral stair than it did take. But that would only have made a difference of two or three inches to the trim of the vessel by the head, and so is quite immaterial. [Profile plan]

25314. If the spiral staircase had been trunked in the way that was suggested, would it have been possible for water to have come over that bulkhead?
- Over which bulkhead?

25315. The bulkhead abaft the spiral staircase?
- Certainly.

25316. The trunking would have made no difference?
- No difference.

25317. Why?
- Because the trunk would only have been carried up the middle portion of the bulkhead. The sides of the bulkhead were just in the same position as before.

25318. It was not proposed to trunk it all the way along?
- Not for the whole width of the ship, as I understand, but round the two spiral staircases. That takes about one-third of the width of the bulkhead and leaves about two-thirds over which the water could flow.

25319. You were also asked this. Perhaps I had better read you the letter. In 1910 you were asked by Mr. Chantler: "I am to state that the following information, as supplied in a previous case by the builders of an unusually large steamer, which greatly facilitates the consideration of these cases, should be furnished, namely, curves of buoyancy, complete curves of load, of shearing force, and of bending movement as applicable to the ship when on the crest, and also in the trough of a wave of her own length, corresponding to the conditions of leaving port, and of arriving at the end of a voyage, with coals consumed." In reply to that letter you say: "With regard to curves of buoyancy and load, showing also curves of shearing force and bending movement mentioned in the second paragraph of your letter, following our usual practice, we have not made out this information in the form you desire to obtain, nor have we found it necessary to do so for previous large vessels, and, as you are no doubt aware, the calculation of it is a very laborious process, and would occupy at least three months. Accordingly, we trust you may be able to see your way not to press for this particular information." And, in fact, they did not press for it?
- They did not. May I say that the object of that information would be to supplement the basis on which the strength of the vessel is estimated, and which, I think, Mr. Archer mentioned as being represented by the weight displacement multiplied by the length and divided by 30. The effect of those data asked for would enable them to go into the question as to whether the 30 was exactly the correct figure or not.

25320. That might be a very important factor in determining the strength of a ship of this size?
- Yes, to the extent to which it departs from 30. Our experience is that it does not usually depart much.

25321. Anyhow, the view was taken then that the mere fact of much greater magnitude might in itself effect this problem?
- Not at all.

25322. I am not saying whether that is right or wrong, but evidently that was the view of the Marine Department of the Board of Trade at the time?
- I do not think that view would be held in the least.

25323. "I am to state that the following information as supplied in a previous case by the builders of an unusually large steamer, which greatly facilitates the consideration of these cases"?
- Certainly.

25324. Anyhow, the information was not supplied and they did not insist?
- It was not made out.

25325. I ought to have asked you this question. First of all, the Board of Trade took the view that your collision bulkhead by stepping did not quite comply with their regulation?
- Quite right.

25326. And to meet their view somewhat, you undertook to carry up the first bulkhead abaft the collision bulkhead a little higher?
- Quite right.

25327. The bulkhead immediately abaft the spiral staircase?
- Yes, abaft the upper part of the spiral staircase.

25328. Did that bulkhead in the "Titanic" vary in strength from any of the other bulkheads?
- It is on the same basis; that is, all the bulkheads in the "Titanic" were constructed on the same footing for scantlings.

25329. Have you any idea what weight of water might cause that bulkhead to give way at any point?
- It is not a question of the weight of water, but a question of the height of water. I tried to explain that before, if you remember.

25330. What height of water in relation to the height of bulkhead would reach either the bending or the breaking strain in the bulkhead?
- Any height at all will produce a certain amount of bending; the steel is flexible. But to produce a breaking strain, that is assuming the calculations that were made to be correct, it would take a head of water of about 150 feet to break the bulkhead.

25331. Have you considered the amount of bending that would be caused by different heads of water: take the height of the bulkhead?
- I think that one is about 52 or 53 feet - something like that anyway.

25332. Assume the water was up to 45 feet, with the flexibility of the steel, have you any idea to what extent it would cause a bend?
- I believe I have got out figures, but I have no recollection what they are.

25333. There would be a certain point reached by the bend which might cause a displacement of the rivets?
- That point would not be reached; it was nothing like enough to do that.

25334. Nothing like?
- Nothing like.

25335. Have you calculated what extent of bend there must be to displace rivets?
- Not for this particular case, but in most riveted structures it goes to something like 7/8ths of the ultimate breaking strength before the rivets give.

25336. If a bend - I am only putting it "if" - if a bend sufficient to cause displacement of the rivets with the weight of the water had in fact taken place, that would indirectly lead to the collapse of the whole thing, would it not?
- No.

25337. Assume such a bend by a weight of water as to displace rivets, what was there abaft the bulkhead that would hold it in position?
- You say "displace rivets." I am not quite clear what you mean. Do you mean to push them out, or do you mean to make them slightly loose in the hole?

25338. I mean to make them slightly loose in the hole to begin with, and then to cause a movement of the plates or a movement of the stiffeners. I purposely used the term "displacement"?
- Go on. I am not quite clear yet.

Mr. Edwards:
I purposely used the word "displacement."

The Commissioner:
Yes, but he wants to know what you mean by it.

25339. (Mr. Edwards - To the witness.) There may be degrees of displacement?
- Certainly.

25340. There might be the breaking of the head of the rivet?
- Yes.

25341. There might be simply a loosening of the rivet?
- That would occur, of course, Much earlier than the other.

25342. And the moment there was a loosening begun, there might be an accelerated process of displacement?
- No, I think not, not an accelerating process.

25343. You think not?
- I think not.

25344. Anyhow, you cannot state what would be in your view such a weight of water as would cause a sufficient displacement of the rivets, as to cause the collapse of any part of the bulkhead?
- Only the general statement that I made to you, that in riveted structures in general, it would take something like seven-eighths of the collapsing head. I pointed out to you that the collapsing head was something like 150 feet, and therefore a head of something like 130 feet would generally do it. That is only in general terms.

25345. That is where your tank is perfectly still and the water is quite passive?
- Or only moderately disturbed.

25346. If there were a swaying movement, that would make a very great difference to the power of the water and the pressure of the water on the bulkhead, would it not?
- It would undoubtedly make some difference, and that is why the strength of the bulkhead is so much in excess of the height.

25347. Do not you think after this experience that it might be very advisable, instead of relying upon mere calculations, to get bulkheads practically tested under actual water conditions?
- I think I told you that results were known to me of bulkheads which had been tested, and they agreed with the calculation.

25348. That is not quite an answer to my question?
- If the test agrees with the calculation, I do not see any reason for testing each one.

25349. But your calculation has been based upon water perfectly passive, but I am putting if there were movement. Do not you think it advisable that there should be actual practical tests of what I will call the resistibility of the bulkhead under actual water conditions, and even a movement of water condition?
- How are you to get the movement conditions? It does not seem very practicable.

The Commissioner:
You can shake water either violently or a little. Do you suggest there ought to be a series of experiments beginning with a slight movement, and then going on to a greater movement, and a greater movement still?

Mr. Edwards:
I suggest that there should be such tests as will, as near as may be approximate to the actual conditions which these bulkheads are built to resist.

The Commissioner:
Sometimes they are in a storm, you know.

Mr. Edwards:

The Commissioner:
Are you to get a storm for the purpose of your test?

25350. (Mr. Clement Edwards.) I am afraid, if I suggested that, I might raise one here, and that I am anxious to avoid; but I have the point I want. (To the witness.) Anyhow, your view is that the builders can be trusted in this matter.

The Commissioner:
I think these are matters which probably the bulkheads Committee will enquire into. I should think so.

Mr. Edwards:
Yes, My Lord.

Examined by Mr. LAING.

25351. Mr. Edwards said at page 687 that "either Messrs. Harland and Wolff defied the Board of Trade, or there was extraordinary laxity on the part of the officials of the Marine Department of the Board of Trade, to allow in the construction of this ship a departure from those Rules which they have already laid down." Is there any foundation at all for saying that you defied the Board of Trade?
- I really know of none.

25352. Or that the ship was allowed to be built by the officials of the Marine Department in violation of their rules?
- We have to comply with all their rules, and make some sacrifices to do so.

(The witness withdrew.)