Draining the ocean

Anything concerning the wreck. Expeditions, submersibles, photos, etc.
paul.mercer
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Draining the ocean

Post by paul.mercer » Mon Apr 22, 2019 6:32 pm

Bill,
I watched a repeat of a film in which you gave some advice called 'Draining the Ocean' where the hypothetically drained the sea away from Bismarck and showing her having been shot full of holes. I realise that the question of whether sh was sunk or scuttled has been dealt with on this Form in great length, and the film deduced that as she had filled with water and had not been crushed it must have been done by scuttling charges. I have said before in another post that it would have taken some very brave men to go below to set them off, but the film made no mention of Dorsetshire's torpedoes or how many were fired, so I i wonder if that was what actually sank her?
Also, it showed the state of Arizona? at Pearl Harbour with one of her triple turrets intact, would that mean that the magazines below it are still full of shells and cordite?

OpanaPointer
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Re: Draining the ocean

Post by OpanaPointer » Mon Apr 22, 2019 8:57 pm

IIRC the after magazines were emptied of shells and ammo. Homer Wallin would be the one to check with for that one. His book is at Hyperwar. (And I don't have the energy to try and scan it on a cell phone. Sorry.

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frontkampfer
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Re: Draining the ocean

Post by frontkampfer » Tue Apr 23, 2019 12:23 pm

The aft magazines were emptied, not forward as part of the salvage operation. The forward magazines detonated and broke the hull in half with the main deck collapsing. Turret 1 was left as it was, the guns of Turret 2 removed & Turrets 3 & 4 with machinery removed completely. Estimates of at least 500K gallons of fuel remain in the aft section. They navy monitors the hull condition in anticipation of it eventually collapsing & the oil escaping. No one is allowed to enter the hull or disturb it as it is a war grave.
"I will not have my ship shot out from under my ass!"

Bill Jurens
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Re: Draining the ocean

Post by Bill Jurens » Sun Apr 28, 2019 1:58 am

Paul Mercer wrote:
"Bill,
I watched a repeat of a film in which you gave some advice called 'Draining the Ocean' where the hypothetically drained the sea away from Bismarck and showing her having been shot full of holes. I realise that the question of whether sh was sunk or scuttled has been dealt with on this Form in great length, and the film deduced that as she had filled with water and had not been crushed it must have been done by scuttling charges. I have said before in another post that it would have taken some very brave men to go below to set them off, but the film made no mention of Dorsetshire's torpedoes or how many were fired, so I i wonder if that was what actually sank her?
Also, it showed the state of Arizona? at Pearl Harbour with one of her triple turrets intact, would that mean that the magazines below it are still full of shells and cordite?"

My apologies for the delayed reply, as readers of other threads on this forum will note, I have more or less had my hands full lately dealing with other things.

To answer your questions:

One of the significant features of the Bismarck wreck is that the hull itself is fairly intact, i.e. there is little visible damage which can be attributed to hydrostatic implosion issues. This suggests that the hull went down with relatively few sealed compartments, which in turn suggests at least some attempt at escape and scuttling being made insofar as in most protocols those abandoning ship are instructed to leave watertight doors etc. open as they leave to allow others behind them to get out. The scuttling charges were probably variants of those already carried aboard to scuttle intercepted merchant ships which were not considered worth sinking via gunfire. These would have been set off using timers set to explode, of course, only after everyone in the vicinity had been evacuated. So 'bravery' here, as it is usually interpreted, is not really much of an issue.

My off-the-cuff recollection is that two torpedoes from Dorsetshire struck Bismarck late in the action, one to port and one to starboard. It's easy enough to check on British records of this, which because the range was rather short, would have rendered torpedo hits fairly easily seen. So I think you can trust their accounts. I have examined the hull both sides along the waterline trying to find evidence of these hits, and although I did find some reasonable candidates, in most areas the shell plating has been so heavily damaged by the slide along the bottom that it's difficult to determine what damage was caused explosively and what damage was caused via sliding and skidding through the silt. My general rule of thumb was to look for patterns of isolated rust points which would suggest the impact of splinters from a large explosion, but the paint coatings in many of the side tanks, etc. are failing due to normal deterioration, and it's often very difficult to tell -- in the absence of visible denting -- what might be due to impact and what might be due to normal failure of the protective membranes after well over a half-century of submergence. In some areas the main belt plates are offset or misaligned, and although it's tempting to assign this to local torpedo hits, structural failure due to the impact with the bottom, etc. cannot generally be ruled out.

So far as Arizona is concerned, my recollection of the reports is that the forward magazines were left more-or-less untouched after the ship sank; much of the propellant of course being already gone and many of the projectiles buried amongst hundreds of tons of twisted structural steel. The after magazines were emptied after the sinking -- much of the after half of the ship remained dry for some time thereafter -- after which the spaces were allowed to reflood naturally.

Christopher C. Wright and I did a fairly comprehensive two-or three part article on the loss of Arizona in Warship International about fifteen years ago, which you can check out for more detail if you think it is worth it.

Bill Jurens

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