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Updated: Nov. 20th, 2007

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The Shipbuilder / Author’s collection
Vertical-Sliding Watertight Door - These two images are what appears to be the same watertight door on Olympic; this is one of the wider, double-cylinder doors fitted throughout the boiler rooms. (full caption lower right)
The Shipbuilder / Author’s collection
H&W / Author’s collection
Another view of a watertight door on Olympic showing a bit more detail; the door shown in this photo is the one through WTB M, shown looking from the Turbine Engine Room aft into the Electric Engine Room. (full caption right)
H&W / Author’s collection

Lateral-Sliding Watertight Door. Scott Andrews collection.

   Watertight subdivision - The watertight subdivision of Titanic was considered very comprehensive at the time of her building. The design was such that that any two main compartments could be flooded with the ship loaded to the maximum load draft without affecting the safety of the ship. The minimum freeboard the vessel would have in the event of any two compartments being flooded was between 2'-6" and 8 feet from the deck adjoining the top of the watertight bulkheads (known as the “bulkhead deck”). In Titanic, any three of the four forward compartments could have been flooded without sinking the ship to the top of her lowest watertight bulkheads. The ship would remain afloat even with the four forward compartments flooded in a relatively calm sea; however, in heavy seas the water would have been encouraged to run along the decks aft of the forward bulkheads, finding its way below into the fifth compartment aft through the various non-watertight openings within the decks. Even in this state, survival of the ship would still be possible, providing the rate of flooding was not beyond the capabilities of the bilge pumps . . . (continued)


Image above, Lateral-Sliding Watertight Door - A drawing of a typical lateral-sliding watertight door of the era. While the design details differ somewhat from those on Titanic, the principle components are the same. Note the automatic sill cover which prevented dirt and debris generated by foot traffic from collecting in the lower track of the door.
Scott Andrews collection.


   Collision bulkhead - The foremost watertight bulkhead was termed the “collision bulkhead.” It was fitted for the specific purpose of serving as an inner skin in the event the bow should be broken open in an end-on collision. Because of the relatively small volume of the peak compartment, the amount of water that could enter would have little effect on the vessel’s trim; in addition, due to the small area of this bulkhead, the bursting pressure it could be subjected to was small and, being narrow, it was naturally strong. However, the integrity of the bulkhead depended directly on the amount of damage sustained by the bow. To ensure the bulkhead’s efficiency, it was placed a distance from the stem about one twentieth of the vessel’s length . . . (continued)


   Vertical-sliding watertight doors - The vertical sliding watertight doors giving communication between the various compartments at the Tank Top level were arranged on the drop system. They were designed by Harland & Wolff, made of cast iron of heavy section and worked on the “geared” system. These doors were fitted in two distinct sizes, with the doors through WTBs D through J having a clear opening measuring 5'-6" high by 4'-0" wide, while the doors at WTB K and aft were narrower, having a clear opening of 5'-6" x 2'-9". The wider doors were employed throughout the boiler rooms to deal with the large numbers of men passing through these compartments during each change of watch, and also to permit the passage of wheel barrows . . . With the exception of the last 18 to 24 inches, the doors did not fall like a guillotine, but descended gradually, requiring 25 to 30 seconds to close. The heaviest of these doorplates weighed about 15 cwt. (1,680 lbs.). In order to prevent any possibility of a man being caught in the door as it descended, hydraulic cataract cylinders similar to a gun recoil cylinder were arranged so that the speed of the door’s descent was comparatively slow . . . (continued)


Image Upper-left caption. At left, the float is to the left of the door below a horizontal line which indicates the height of the as-yet-to-be-fitted stokehold deck plates above the Tank Top. The image at right shows more of the area above the door, including part of the two hydraulic cataracts which checked the speed of descent of the door.

Image Middle-left caption. At the left of the image, part of the starboard wing shaft can be seen, visible through an opening in the bulkhead which will soon be closed up around the shaft with bolted plates and and a watertight gland. Clearly visible to the right of the door are the solenoid (A), friction clutch (B), weighted bellcrank (C), and hand releasing lever (D), as well the rod and lever from the actuating float (E) located below the deck plates of the compartment. Below the clutch, the gears and shaft of the hand raising gear (F) may be seen, while above the clutch is the remote operating shaft leading to the bulkhead deck above (G). Also visible in this image are the lugs (H) on the door frame and the corresponding wedges (J) on the door plate.


Other topics in this chapter: Bulkhead construction - Horizontal or “lateral”-sliding watertight doors - General overview of Titanic’s watertight bulkheads - Chain locker bulkhead - Coal bunker bulkheads - plus dimensions and specifications for individual watertight bulkheads.

Copyright 2007 Beveridge, Hall, Andrews, Klistorner and Braunschweiger.

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