Better damage control what if?

Historical what if discussions, hypothetical operations, battleship vs. battleship engagements, design your own warship, etc.
HMSVF
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Better damage control what if?

Post by HMSVF » Thu Feb 04, 2021 4:08 pm

From reading DK Browns work I'm of the understanding that if HMS Ark Royals remaining engine/boiler room had been flooded she would have settled on an even keel and could have been towed into Gibraltar (apparently this was taught in damage control classes).

Which begs the question...


What would the effect would this have had on the RN?


Assuming it takes a year to repair the damage does it mean that the RN can send further carriers East sooner?


Do the air crews transfer to other carriers whilst she is patched up?


Does she return to the Mediterranean at all?


Would she have been a better candidate for reconstruction than one of the Illustrious class post war? (or is still a case of putting new wine into old bottles?)

paul.mercer
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Re: Better damage control what if?

Post by paul.mercer » Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:43 am

An interesting question,
The only problem that i could see was that although the counter flooding on one side could be controlled, the other side might not, leading to an increasing amount coming in on that side so she would still have listed over eventually.
This is what I found on Wikipedia
Final voyage and sinking
On 10 November 1941, Ark Royal ferried more aircraft to Malta before returning to Gibraltar. Admiral Somerville had been warned of U-boats off the Spanish coast, and reminded Force H to be vigilant.[94] Also at sea was Friedrich Guggenberger's U-81, which had received a report that Force H was returning to Gibraltar.[93]

On 13 November, at 15:40, the sonar operator aboard the destroyer Legion detected an unidentified sound, but assumed it was the propellers of a nearby destroyer. One minute later, Ark Royal was struck amidships by a torpedo,[95] between the fuel bunkers and bomb store, and directly below the bridge island.[96] The explosion caused Ark Royal to shake, hurled loaded torpedo-bombers into the air, and killed 44 year old Able Seaman Edward Mitchell, the only man to die in the sinking.[96] A 130-by-30-foot (39.6 m × 9.1 m) hole was created on the ship's bottom and on the starboard side below the water-line by the torpedo, which was judged to have run deep, striking the bilge keel where it detonated, inboard of the side protection system.[97] The hit caused flooding of the starboard boiler room, main switchboard, oil tanks, and over 106 feet (32 m) of the ship's starboard bilge. The starboard power train was knocked out, causing the rear half of the ship to lose power, while communications were severed shipwide.[98]
Immediately after the torpedo strike, Captain Maund ordered the engines to full stop, but discovered that communications were down and had to send a runner to the engine room.[99] The ship's continued motion enlarged the hole in the hull, and by the time Ark Royal stopped she had taken on a great deal of water and begun to list to starboard, reaching 18° from centre within 20 minutes.[99] Considering the list of the carrier, and the fact that other carriers, including Courageous and Glorious, had sunk rapidly with heavy loss of life, Maund gave the order to abandon ship. The crew were assembled on the flight deck to determine who would remain on board to try to save the ship while Legion came alongside to take off the rest. As a result, comprehensive damage control measures were not initiated until 49 minutes after the attack. The flooding spread unchecked, exacerbated by covers and hatches left open during evacuation of the lower decks.[100]

Water spread to the centreline boiler room, which started to flood from below, and power was lost shipwide when the boiler uptakes became choked; Ark Royal had no backup diesel generators.[101] About half an hour after the explosion, the carrier appeared to stabilise. Admiral Somerville, determined to save Ark Royal, ordered damage control parties back to the carrier before taking the battleship Malaya to Gibraltar to organise salvage efforts. The damage control parties re-lit a boiler, restoring power to the bilge pumps. The destroyer Laforey came alongside to provide power and additional pumps, while Swordfish aircraft from Gibraltar flew overhead to supplement anti-submarine patrols.[102] The tug Thames arrived from Gibraltar at 20:00 and attached a tow line to Ark Royal, but the flooding had caused the ship to list more severely. Rising water reached the boiler room fan flat, an uninterrupted compartment running the width of the ship. This forced the shutdown of the restored boiler.[103]


Another photograph showing the degree of the list
The list reached 20° between 02:05 and 02:30, and when 'abandon ship' was declared again at 04:00, had reached 27°.[104] Ark Royal's complement had been evacuated to Legion by 04:30; with the exception of Mitchell, there were no fatalities. The 1,487 officers and crew were transported to Gibraltar.[105] The list reached 45° before Ark Royal capsized and sank at 06:19 on 14 November.[106] Witnesses reported the carrier rolling to 90°, where she remained for three minutes before inverting. Ark Royal then broke in two, the aft sinking within a couple of minutes, followed by the bow.[107]

Investigation
Following the sinking, a Board of Inquiry was established to investigate the loss. Based on its findings, Captain Loben Maund was court-martialled in February 1942 for negligence. He was found guilty on two counts of negligence: one of failing to ensure that properly constituted damage control parties had remained on board after the general evacuation, and one of failing to ensure the ship was in a sufficient state of readiness to deal with possible damage.[108] The board tempered their judgement with an acknowledgement that a high standard was being expected of Maund, and that he was primarily concerned with the welfare of his crew.[108]

The Bucknill Committee, which had been set up to investigate the loss of major warships, also produced a report. This report said that the lack of backup power sources was a major design failure, which contributed to the loss: Ark Royal depended on electricity for much of her operation, and once the boilers and steam-driven dynamos were knocked out, the loss of power made damage control difficult. The committee recommended the design of the bulkheads and boiler intakes be improved to decrease the risk of widespread flooding in boiler rooms and machine spaces, while the uninterrupted boiler room flat was criticised. The design flaws were rectified in the Illustrious- and Implacable-class carriers, under construction at the time.[109][110]

The Board of Inquiry closed its report with the observation that Ark Royal had sunk 22 nautical miles (25 mi; 41 km) east of Europa Point, the southernmost tip of Gibraltar. This was accepted as the wreck location for 60 years.[111]

HMSVF
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Re: Better damage control what if?

Post by HMSVF » Wed Feb 17, 2021 1:31 pm

paul.mercer wrote:
Mon Feb 08, 2021 9:43 am
An interesting question,
The only problem that i could see was that although the counter flooding on one side could be controlled, the other side might not, leading to an increasing amount coming in on that side so she would still have listed over eventually.
This is what I found on Wikipedia
Final voyage and sinking
On 10 November 1941, Ark Royal ferried more aircraft to Malta before returning to Gibraltar. Admiral Somerville had been warned of U-boats off the Spanish coast, and reminded Force H to be vigilant.[94] Also at sea was Friedrich Guggenberger's U-81, which had received a report that Force H was returning to Gibraltar.[93]

On 13 November, at 15:40, the sonar operator aboard the destroyer Legion detected an unidentified sound, but assumed it was the propellers of a nearby destroyer. One minute later, Ark Royal was struck amidships by a torpedo,[95] between the fuel bunkers and bomb store, and directly below the bridge island.[96] The explosion caused Ark Royal to shake, hurled loaded torpedo-bombers into the air, and killed 44 year old Able Seaman Edward Mitchell, the only man to die in the sinking.[96] A 130-by-30-foot (39.6 m × 9.1 m) hole was created on the ship's bottom and on the starboard side below the water-line by the torpedo, which was judged to have run deep, striking the bilge keel where it detonated, inboard of the side protection system.[97] The hit caused flooding of the starboard boiler room, main switchboard, oil tanks, and over 106 feet (32 m) of the ship's starboard bilge. The starboard power train was knocked out, causing the rear half of the ship to lose power, while communications were severed shipwide.[98]
Immediately after the torpedo strike, Captain Maund ordered the engines to full stop, but discovered that communications were down and had to send a runner to the engine room.[99] The ship's continued motion enlarged the hole in the hull, and by the time Ark Royal stopped she had taken on a great deal of water and begun to list to starboard, reaching 18° from centre within 20 minutes.[99] Considering the list of the carrier, and the fact that other carriers, including Courageous and Glorious, had sunk rapidly with heavy loss of life, Maund gave the order to abandon ship. The crew were assembled on the flight deck to determine who would remain on board to try to save the ship while Legion came alongside to take off the rest. As a result, comprehensive damage control measures were not initiated until 49 minutes after the attack. The flooding spread unchecked, exacerbated by covers and hatches left open during evacuation of the lower decks.[100]

Water spread to the centreline boiler room, which started to flood from below, and power was lost shipwide when the boiler uptakes became choked; Ark Royal had no backup diesel generators.[101] About half an hour after the explosion, the carrier appeared to stabilise. Admiral Somerville, determined to save Ark Royal, ordered damage control parties back to the carrier before taking the battleship Malaya to Gibraltar to organise salvage efforts. The damage control parties re-lit a boiler, restoring power to the bilge pumps. The destroyer Laforey came alongside to provide power and additional pumps, while Swordfish aircraft from Gibraltar flew overhead to supplement anti-submarine patrols.[102] The tug Thames arrived from Gibraltar at 20:00 and attached a tow line to Ark Royal, but the flooding had caused the ship to list more severely. Rising water reached the boiler room fan flat, an uninterrupted compartment running the width of the ship. This forced the shutdown of the restored boiler.[103]


Another photograph showing the degree of the list
The list reached 20° between 02:05 and 02:30, and when 'abandon ship' was declared again at 04:00, had reached 27°.[104] Ark Royal's complement had been evacuated to Legion by 04:30; with the exception of Mitchell, there were no fatalities. The 1,487 officers and crew were transported to Gibraltar.[105] The list reached 45° before Ark Royal capsized and sank at 06:19 on 14 November.[106] Witnesses reported the carrier rolling to 90°, where she remained for three minutes before inverting. Ark Royal then broke in two, the aft sinking within a couple of minutes, followed by the bow.[107]

Investigation
Following the sinking, a Board of Inquiry was established to investigate the loss. Based on its findings, Captain Loben Maund was court-martialled in February 1942 for negligence. He was found guilty on two counts of negligence: one of failing to ensure that properly constituted damage control parties had remained on board after the general evacuation, and one of failing to ensure the ship was in a sufficient state of readiness to deal with possible damage.[108] The board tempered their judgement with an acknowledgement that a high standard was being expected of Maund, and that he was primarily concerned with the welfare of his crew.[108]

The Bucknill Committee, which had been set up to investigate the loss of major warships, also produced a report. This report said that the lack of backup power sources was a major design failure, which contributed to the loss: Ark Royal depended on electricity for much of her operation, and once the boilers and steam-driven dynamos were knocked out, the loss of power made damage control difficult. The committee recommended the design of the bulkheads and boiler intakes be improved to decrease the risk of widespread flooding in boiler rooms and machine spaces, while the uninterrupted boiler room flat was criticised. The design flaws were rectified in the Illustrious- and Implacable-class carriers, under construction at the time.[109][110]

The Board of Inquiry closed its report with the observation that Ark Royal had sunk 22 nautical miles (25 mi; 41 km) east of Europa Point, the southernmost tip of Gibraltar. This was accepted as the wreck location for 60 years.[111]

My understanding in regards to restarting an engine was that it was a catastrophic mistake as the flooding had subsided or at least slowed considerably. By restarting the engine and gaining motive power they put undue stress on a structure that was severely compromised causing the failure of bulkheads that had up till that point held firm.Had the ship remained on an even keel I presume that she would have been easier to tow her back into Gibraltar.

Arguably there is a comparison with HMS Prince Of Wales here. Lt Wildish restarted the damaged shaft after her first torpedo hit aft. All the accounts I have read seem to suggest that the catastrophic flooding occurred after the shaft was restarted.

Of course the situation was entirely different, POW needed all the motive power she possessed however its an interesting 'what if" had the shaft not been restarted. The end result would probably been the same however would she have been a 'dead ship' aft (losing her after 5.25's and steering) and would she have settled so low in the water by the stern? Would she have remained manoeuvrable ?

OpanaPointer
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Re: Better damage control what if?

Post by OpanaPointer » Wed Feb 17, 2021 3:49 pm

Possibly informative. https://maritime.org/doc/dc/

HMSVF
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Re: Better damage control what if?

Post by HMSVF » Wed Feb 17, 2021 4:48 pm

OpanaPointer wrote:
Wed Feb 17, 2021 3:49 pm
Possibly informative. https://maritime.org/doc/dc/

Wow! Thanks for that OP! Looks an interesting read!

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wadinga
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Re: Better damage control what if?

Post by wadinga » Fri Feb 19, 2021 8:13 pm

Hi All,

Mike Rossiter's (who located the wreck) book "Ark Royal" suggests that due to strong currents, even with one, (some accounts say two) tugs, her speed over the ground was so slow, she was making little or no progress toward Gibraltar. The decision to start the port engine and propeller was to try and reach safety before progressive flooding caused a capsize.

The discovered wrecksite location is restricted information, and the site gives two different distances, eg:
The exact location of the wreck remained unknown until December 2002, when it was finally located 50 kilometers off Gibraltar under 900 meters of water. Read more at wrecksite: https://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?134857
was taken in tow for 12 hours until 4.30 a.m. on the 14th when she turned over and sank. At the time of her loss she was 25 miles E. of Gibraltar. Read more at wrecksite: https://www.wrecksite.eu/wreck.aspx?134857
25 miles and 50 km are contradictory.

Counterflooding the port engine room would have meant no steam powered pumps at all, and the progressive flooding would probably have taken her earlier. That enormous hole was seen in the bottom of the hull when she rolled over. The suggestion that Maund was premature in getting his crew off was splendid hindsight, when the enquiry could know that U-81 would not come back for a Coup de Grace, with a whole salvo of torpedoes. At the time Captain Maund could not know that, his ship was dead in the water. Friedrich Guggenberger had actually fired four torpedoes at Malaya,
heard two detonations after 6 minutes 6 seconds and 7 minutes 43 seconds.
www.uboat.net/allies/merchants/ships/1201.html

one of which apparently hit the Ark. The other must have gone off at end of run?

If Ark had survived, she would have needed a major rebuild to handle bigger, heavier aircraft than she had been designed for. Lessons about auxiliary pumps, counterflooding etc were learned and applied.

All the best

wadinga
"There seems to be something wrong with our bloody ships today!"

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