Wednesday, December 28, 2011


This is coolbert:

Back to the subject of spontaneous coal bunker fires - - such fires quite often causing it is believed explosions of a catastrophic nature as doomed HMS Vanguard, anchored  and moored, sunk to the bottom with almost all  hands, not under fire by the enemy.

My original intuitive thought that the Vanguard suffered from a design flaw. Those amidship turrets [Q and P one on either side of the ship] of big-bore naval guns meant a much increased risk of spontaneous magazine detonation, adjacent as the turrets were to the engine compartment and coal bunkers?

HMS Vanguard with the amidships turret port side visible.

This however does not seem to be the case. My intuition has again failed me? Even Bert can be wrong!

Placement of coal bunkers were an integral and important factor for additional armor protection? Those vital innards of the ship, the engine compartment, protected not only by steel armor but also by stores of coal? So it seems!!

From a web site devoted to the American pre-Dreadnought battleship USS Oregon [BB-3]:

"U.S.S. Oregon"

"As was typical for ships of this time period, coal bunkers were placed along the exterior hull of the ship to act as additional armor protecting the magazines. The proximity of the coal bunkers to the magazines created a danger that could result in the loss of the vessel. Spontaneous combustion of coal dust was not unusual, and a coal bunker fire could ignite an adjacent magazine"

USS Oregon no amidship turret.

"the practice of using coal bunkers as additional armor around the vital areas of a warship - engines, boiler rooms and magazines."

[during the epic voyage of the USS Oregon 1898 the Oregon did suffer a coal bunker fire that was extinguished!]

The danger of spontaneous coal bunker fire leading to possible and increased danger from spontaneous and catastrophic magazine detonation with a total loss of ship and crew was not only recognized from the get-go but was an accepted part of the design process?

Any devoted reader to the blog and expert on naval ships of the era care to comment on this?


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