A new theory that a fire in a coal bunker on the liner RMS Titanic contributed to its sinking has been put forward, as the fate of the liner remains a subject of debate ahead of the 96th anniversary of the disaster later this week.
Ray Boston, who has devoted 20 years to researching the subject, said the reason Titanic was travelling so quickly through dangerous waters was because of an "uncontrollable" coal fire on board which began during speed trials in Belfast 10 days before it left Southampton.
In reference to the ultimate owner of the Titanic
John Pierpont Morgan
Mr Boston said it was clear that Morgan was aware of the fire before the ship set sail but that the news was hushed up so as not to alarm passengers.
It was, perhaps, for this reason that Morgan quietly cancelled his ticket on the maiden voyage the day before the ship set sail, said Mr Boston.
"The crew, who had been sworn to silence, knew very well he was not [on board] because they had watched him, late on the night before his ship was due to sail... carrying his own luggage down to his Rolls-Royce on the quayside," he said.
"Why? Because he knew there was an uncontrollable fire down in coal bunker number six."
Has any one expertise on this CT?
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Post by Al Johnston on Apr 15, 2008 5:46:12 GMT -4
It sounds decidedly odd: if nothing else, a fire at sea can be extinguished by flooding, and it's hard to see what firefighting facilities would be available in New York that weren't on hand either in Belfast or elsewhere in the British Isles. The heat and exhaust given off by a bunker fire should have made it fairly obvious.
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Does anyone take this seriously? Coal bunker fires were common, the one on the Titanic was out before they left Southampton.
Such fires don't 'rage' they smoulder. Putting one out is easy. Crewmen shovel coal out of the bunker whuile water is sprayed onto the coal. When they reach the smouldering coal the water extinguishes it. Alternatively you close the coal bunker doors, open the loading chute and put the fire hoses in. I suppose in New York they could get a fireboat to fill it up with water but the ships own Firemain would be equal to the task. Bunkers onthe Ttanic held 800 tons when full so they weren't absolutely massive and they were only half full anyway. Power stations have problems with spontaneous coal fires in their coal dumps. Old pit waste heaps also catch fire, there were several in County Durham that were smoking for years on end.
It doesn't make much sense to me either. So they were travelling faster to get to New York to put out the fire? Why didn't they just stay in Southampton and put out the fire there? Did New York have better fire-fighting facilities than Southampton?
Was it just a little fire they thought was fine when they put out from Southampton but that became an uncontrollable fire while they were at sea, and so they decided they had to rush to New York at that point? That might make more sense.
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Post by captain swoop on Apr 16, 2008 14:50:21 GMT -4
I don't see how it would become uncontrollable when the method for fighting it is to remove the fuel, TGhey need to use coal in the boilers so you just use the coal in the bunker with the fire. Plus the fire is in the middle of the heap, theres not a lot of oxygen so it smoulders rather than burns, a bit like a 'Coke Oven' I suppose.
Anyway Titanic prob used about 600 tons of coal a day if we go by the Olympics consumption figures so they would need to empty that burning bin in a day anyway.
The Titanic had 5,892 tons of coal in approximate measure when she departed Southampton and burned approximately the same amount of coal as Olympic at similar speeds having a similar boiler plant. On Olympic’s maiden trip she burned a total of 3,540 tons of coal, averaging 620 tons of coal per day at 21.7
Speed: Average 18 knots Southampton to Queenstown, burning 485 tons for 24 hours (actual time is less).
20 knots April 11th to April 12th, burning a total of 630 tons of coal.
21 knots April 12th to April 13th, burning a total of 710 tons of coal.
22 knots April 13th to April 14th, burning a total of 800 tons of coal. Coal remaining: 3,267 tons. 22.5 knots April 14th to April 15th, burning a total of 850 tons of coal.
23 knots April 15th to April 16th, burning a total of 900 tons of coal.
23.5 knots April 16th until 11.59 p.m., burning no more than 500 tons of coal.
Post by Grand Lunar on Apr 25, 2008 8:16:06 GMT -4
It's good to be back.
I read about the story of a fire in one of the coal bunkers in a book called "Ghosts of the Titanic".
It does seem to fit the background of the Titanic story, in that the owners were full of pride for the new ship. Given that bunker fires weren't uncommon, it seems that this was just something not to get excited about. So why alarm passengers?
And of course, the added bonus of making a record by beating the Olympic's travel time might also have played a part.
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