Page 147 - British Inquiry into Loss of RMS Titanic Day 32 - 36
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room. That I think is shown by the plan which he handed up to you with the coloured pencil upon it, because the doors are open by that time, your Lordship will remember. The Commissioner: Yes. The Attorney-General: The watertight doors are open. It is not as if you could say the watertight doors are all closed and then up to a certain section you get the water coming in, because your Lordship will remember once the water gets over the bulkheads and begins to flow in, - these watertight doors were open all the way aft. Mr. Laing: They all shut mechanically. The Attorney-General: Only with the float, yes - but that is as the water rises. The Commissioner: There is, of course, the automatic effect of the rising waters upon the doors. The Attorney-General: Yes, the float we have heard about; that is quite right. Assuming that operated, and I see no reason to doubt it (there is no evidence to show it failed and I do not see why it should), it certainly would have the effect of closing the door before the water got above the stokehold plates. That I have seen put into operation, and I have no doubt your Lordship did, upon the “Olympic.” The Commissioner: That does not answer my question. How many sections do you think were filled at the time she foundered? The Attorney-General: I put it up to No. 4. The Commissioner: Inclusive? The Attorney-General: Yes, because the water is rising there your Lordship sees, and when we have got to No. 4 the water was rising, quite clearly and drove the men up. It got up to their knees and drove them away. The Commissioner: That means to say that this vessel, which was constructed to float with any two compartments filled, did float until four had practically been filled. That is what it comes to? The Attorney-General: Yes. May I add this to it, my Lord, that, according to Mr. Wilding’s evidence - your Lordship has those who are more familiar than ever we can hope to be, after a lifelong study of these questions - but as I follow Mr. Wilding’s evidence the effect was this, that, loaded as she was at the time she sailed on this voyage, she would have floated with three compartments filled. That is what he said, and I see no reason to doubt it. She was constructed, as your Lordship will remember, to float with any two adjoining compartments flooded - that is not unimportant and when so flooded she would have floated with the waterline 2 1/2 to 3 feet below the height of the bulkheads. That is the position. That is what the design was with the vessel loaded in a certain way; but he pointed out that, loaded as she was at that particular time for that particular voyage, although she was not designed for that purpose, she would actually have floated with three compartments flooded. The Commissioner: That is to say, she was lighter in the water? The Attorney-General: Yes. Your Lordship will remember - I only give the reference in passing - this is all dealt with by Mr. Wilding at page 515. He explains his view and how the water overcame the vessel, and how it was that she sank. It is all dealt with very well, and your Lordship will remember he gave us a very graphic explanation of it. I think the result quite clearly, beyond controversy, of this evidence is this, that no height of bulkheads would have saved that vessel, holed as she was. I think that is established. The Commissioner: It is said that if the bulkhead on the after-side of No. 5 boiler section had been taken higher it would have prevented the flooding of No. 4 boiler section, and the ship would either have floated, or have floated, at all events, longer than she did. The Attorney-General: That, assumes, of course, that there is no injury to No. 4. That assumes that. The Commissioner: Yes, it does.
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