Originally Posted by Flatballer
My father, a marine diesel mechanic (who is much more qualified to be the engineer on that ship than the actual "engineer" was) suspects it was the first real weather they'd been in in a long time. The waves stirred their tanks and clogged their fuel filters, which killed the generator and engines. After that it isn't long until the pump uses up whatever battery power they have left. Pump may have even been clogged by stuff in the bilge that got stirred up by the waves.
Probably could've saved the ship with a couple fuel filter changes.
I think it's a bit unlikely that a greater reserve of fuel filters would have prevented the loss of the BOUNTY. They would have been experiencing conditions sufficient to stir up their tanks well in advance of their final day. Certainly possible, of course, but this is one of those things an official investigation should be able to clarify...
I think your supposition about debris in the bilge, however, appears to be a very likely possibility... Especially, since the BOUNTY had recently undergone major re-planking and other hull work in Boothbay... There was an interesting post on Sailing Anarchy that speaks to this issue:
I talked to someone who used to crew on the Bounty. He explained the pump system to me, and I may not get it exactly right. The pumps and engine room were essentially on the same level, and there were no bulkheads that would keep water from sloshing from one end of the bilge to the other.
Additionally, he said that any time they did a yard revolution involving any kind of plank work or ribs, they would spend days cleaning out the culch that accumulated from working with lumber - sawdust, scrap wood, everything. It took a full crew to do it, it was horrible work, and more often than not they wouldn't get it all and the first time they took on significant water (which was whenever they went out, really), the pumps would clog. they'd clean that out, and then they'd run the pumps again until they clogged again.
He said the last line of defense was a diesel pump with I believe a 4" pipe located just below the weather deck that was capable of dewatering the entire ship if necessary - however that depended on it getting started in the first place.
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