The pumps on Titanic : LUSENET : TitanicShack : One Thread

Does anyone know the specifics of how the pumps on Titanic worked--they are briefly mentioned by Mr. Andrews after the collision when he says they pump only minutes at a time and won't be of much help. Were there better pumping systems available at the time that might have been of use on Titanic? And please, use laymen's terms--I know very little about ships =)

Thanks, Nonnie

-- Nonnie (, August 31, 1999


As far as I know, there was no "better" system of pumps than Titanic had. There simply was no way any pump system could handle the kind of damage that the iceberg caused. I'm not sure any system today could deal with 1/3rd of a ships hull being opened to the sea. (Of course, the steel of today would be of much higher quality, and the iceberg would have been sighted hours before reaching it, with the global positioning network and all.)

As far as the pumps helping at all, I think Andrews statement in the movie is right: it really didn't make much difference at that point.

-- Thomas Shoebotham (, September 02, 1999.

1/3 of the hull ripped opened??!!!! Actually, the damage that the iceberg caused was about 12 square feet. In other words, the size of the whole from the berg was about the same size as a door.

-- JoshH (, September 02, 1999.

Yes, but that twelve square feet was stretched out over one-third of the ship's length, and most likely was not continuous but intermittent. The individual openings were probably rather small, but taken together, it was enough to send Titanic to the bottom.


-- Kip Henry (, September 02, 1999.

Yes, and therein lies the rub. Trying to stem the flooding from such a wide area, albeit only 12 square feet total, was beyond any pump of the time and certainly was beyond anything that the crew could have done to "shore up" the damage. Of all the possible damage scenarios that could have happened, this was probably the worst.

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (, September 05, 1999.

As to the subject of flooding and the Titanic's pumps, a recent test showed if Captain Smith had left the watertight doors open to have even flooding so the pumps could work in all the flooded compartments, the ship would have capsized an hour earlier, lost her lights, putting the passengers in panic, and probably costing many more lives. To read about the real Titanic and all her equipment, try to get the SHIPBUILDER June, 1911 magazine, or Patrick Stephens reprint of this publication. It covers the construction of the Olympic and Titanic.

-- Robert Hardy Gibbons (, September 11, 1999.

That ranks right up there with hitting the berg head on. Thoughts on the watertight doors being left open to even out the flooding and thereby keeping the ship afloat longer really don't make much sense. Water will seek it's lowest level and to theorize that it would settle evenly is wishful thinking. As for hitting the berg head on, more than likely that would have effectively ruptured the hull and it would have sank in minutes, not hours. My opinion is that everything that could have been done after the collision was done (on the Titanic anyway) and that was why she stayed afloat as long as she did. As for before the collision, that's another story!

Regards, Peter

-- Peter Nivling (, September 13, 1999.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ