Originally Posted by Sal Paradise
What I wonder about is that the period of time where the Bounty took on too much water seems to coincide not with the pumps failing so much as with the loss of propulsion. I am wondering if, once they lost steerage, they got sideways and spun around and overstressed the hull. Would it have been better to put all effort into trying to sail rather than work on the engines and pumps? Sometimes survival comes down tobuying time.
I would also like opinions about hull stress Bounty was subjected to when they lost propulsion sometime Sunday. I’ve read that in fact the pumps operated during Sunday night even after the engines quit. From the Bounty specs online, I read she was equipped with (2) 35 kw generators. If thats true , and I think it can't be, but - those are massive, each one easily capable of powering 2 pumps. The engineer stated the second generator was the last thing to go, but that for reasons he “ didn’t want to speculate” about, the water suddenly came in faster than they could pump out. Many have speculated that a plank sprung or some type of seam opened. I would like opinions as to whether the first course of action should have been to get sailing, get steering and point the ship so as to be more stable and less stressed. I wonder if that were even possible in those conditions , on this type of ship with 16 people.
The timeline seems to be that things were fairly normal, “ all is well” as they said Sunday on FB and then they lost propulsion. Shortly after that, the engineer, first mate and captain all went into the engine room clearing pumps, and the crew put up some sails. But in the ABC interview they said “ we had so little control” The engineer described being exhausted from holding on as the ship “ twisted” . He also said that Walbridge and the fist mate were in there helping him. My question, which I don’t think we can really answer, is what if the captain and first mate put all their energy into furling sails and steering the ship east thereby minimizing hull stresses. I wonder if it even occurred to them to try and stabilize the ship, or if they were fixated on the engines and pumps, “ Stewing over them” as Claudene Christian wrote.
What if Walbridge put everything into sailing during those last hours? Would that course of action have reduce the hull stresses and delayed the big leak long enough for the ship to survive Monday morning? And wouldn’t still sailing bounty be a more stable ship? That would have been a much better scenario. Helicopters overhead, a deck to launch rafts from, daylight. Or did they fixate too long on the engine room? Leaving the ship to twist and roll in the hurricane eventually leading to catastrophe when the ship rolled and threw everyone into the water in the dark.
I got this idea from another article -- Sal Mercogliano, a former merchant marine who is now a maritime historian at Campbell University had this perspective -
In the 18th century, the original Bounty’s full crew would have hoisted smaller storm sails to keep the ship plowing in one direction. But that didn’t happen as things began to go wrong on Sunday, including the reported loss of diesel power.
Powerless “that ship would have been careening on all three axes and it’s possible that a hole opened up, a plank loosened up, and once she lost power there’s no chance to get storm sails up and manage them with just 16 people on board – remember, the original Bounty had a crew of 100,” says Mr. Mercogliano.
Mercogliano answers to that question when he says: "there’s no chance to get storm sails up and manage them with just 16 people on board – remember, the original Bounty had a crew of 100",
He is exaggerating a bit because the original HMS Bounty had a crew of less than 50 and not all were sailors, but that ship is not a Yacht and the two professional sailors, the captain and the first mate would not be able to sail the boat and take care of the sails alone without the help of a qualified crew. We are not talking about small sail areas like on a yacht. Even on a storm the sail area needed to steer the ship would have been significant if compared with the sail of a small boat and their handling much more complicated.
The boat was making water and the pumps were running already for a long time. The situation, as you say, seemed to be controlled till the moment they had problems with the engines and stayed with only one generator....but you don't mention an electric problem that was clearly stated and that I think it is on the origin of the pumps not working. They were electric pumps and with the system shorted even if they had the generator still working it will not be able to put them working.
Some photos that were posted show a very poor electric installation and the ingress of water could have been on the origin of the electric problem.
Anyway, even making a controllable amount of water, one that the pumps could handle, the moment the pumps went out of service they where domed because they had not an independent reserve pump system and the boat was making water. They had one hydraulic pump system connected to the engines and other electric depending on the generators. In the past they had had an independent diesel pump system as main but they had not replaced it when he broke some years ago.