The Engineers Lost Aboard Titanic
2013-06-06-Thu  CATEGORY: Category: Finance
The Engineers Lost Aboard Titanic

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When the Titanic went down she took with her the lives of many brave people including her entire complement of engineers under the control of Joseph Bell, the Chief Engineer Officer. His staff consisted of 24 engineers, 6 electrical engineers, two boilermakers, a plumber and his clerk. In addition many of the firemen and coal trimmers were lost.
Despite the library of books which has been written about Titanic the engineers, the role they played and the ultimate sacrifice they made, have received scant comment in these published works.

The reason for this could be the fact that no engineer survived and so there was no verbal evidence of the role they played. The evidence of their important role is, however, plain to see for the ship stayed afloat longer than it would have done had they not sacrificed their lives for the good of others. This brief note attempts to explain what the engineers did during those crucial hours before the ship foundered and in presenting this information it is hoped that the bravery of these men will be acknowledged by all who have studied the ship and its brief history.

This document dealing with Titanic`s engineers is divided into the following sections:

I. Engineers` Duties
2. The Collision
3. After the Collision
4. Engineers` Purple

Engineers` Duties
All ships of the period had an engineering routine and this varied from company to company but for any steam ship there was a need to keep well manned watches in engine and boiler rooms. A large passenger liner like the Titanic needed a number of engineers on each watch {12 to 4, 4 to 8 and 8 to 12, am and pm} these men supervising the firemen, greasers and coal trimmers and tending the machinery/boilers under their control. Engineers would have been on duty in the boiler rooms and the engine rooms (reciprocating engines and turbine).

The Chief Engineer would not have kept a watch but the majority of the other engineers would have done so. There were six Second Engineers allowing for two on each watch, one in charge of the engines and the other responsible for the boilers. The five Third Engineers and the Senior Fourth Engineer would have allowed for a further two qualified engineers on each watch, probably supervising boiler rooms.

The remaining nine Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Engineers would have allowed for a further three engineers per watch giving a total of seven engineers to each watch at sea. This would have allowed for four engineers in the engine rooms looking after the reciprocating engines, turbine and other machinery such as the pumps and steering gear, whilst three engineers would have been responsible for the boiler rooms.

Collision with the Iceberg.
Immediately prior to the collision the engineers would have been following their usual routine watchkeeping tasks of supervising the boiler rooms and tending the main engines and turbine. The ship was proceeding at its normal full speed and in the engine/boiler rooms those on watch would have had no reason to believe that anything untoward was likely to happen.

It is unlikely that any engineer would have been at the engine control platform when the telegraph rang to request an engine stop and then reversal thus there would have been a time delay before the engine controls could have been moved to stop and reverse. How long that delay was must be pure speculation but it would probably not have been longer than 30 seconds. A single engineer could have dealt with both engines within 10 seconds. Unfortunately no engineer survived and the inquiry evidence from the engine room hands who did is confused to say the least.

Engine Room Operations After the Collison
When Titanic struck the iceberg the situation changed immediately and all engineers not then on duty would have been summoned to the engine room by means of alarm bell located in the Engineers` accommodation. The letter reproduced below indicates the standing instructions operated by White Star Line and the situation as it is likely to have existed in the engine room at that time.

Letter from F.J. Blake RNR, White Star Line Engineering Superintendent in Southampton. Published in The Engineer, 26 April 1912. p441

Engineers` Purple
The gold braid insignia of rank worn by British mercantile marine engineer officers on the sleeves of their uniform jackets has a purple background. There is a long held belief that this was decreed by King George V in recognition of the heroism shown by Titanic`s engineers. Although it is a fine story and that heroism certainly deserved recognition, it is incorrect. In 1865 it was decided that British naval engineers would wear a purple background to their gold braid of rank in order to distinguish them from other officers and that colour coding transferred to the British mercantile engineer officers when they started wearing uniforms.

Although engineer officers aboard passenger ships wore uniforms the practice was not common aboard cargo ships prior to WWI and so purple was not usually seen. As more engineer officers wore uniforms the purple background became common and the myth associated with the Titanic developed.

the avanti group engineering reviews

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