Arguments such as those made in the June 2 op-ed column by retired Blade editor Thomas Walton, “Port Clinton seaman floats theory of what really sank Titanic,” popularize unsupported, revisionist theories that add to the growing number of myths that surround the sinking of the Titanic.
What the person quoted in the column believes happened to the Titanic did not happen. More important, it could not have happened.
Leading fireman Frederick Barrett was asked to lift a heavy stokehold plate so that engineers could gain access to valves in the bilge system. Shortly after Mr. Barrett lifted that plate, one of the ship’s engineers, Jonathan Shepherd, accidentally fell into the opening and broke one of his legs.
Mr. Barrett and Herbert Harvey, the engineer who asked Mr. Barrett to pull up the plate, lifted Mr. Shepherd out and brought him to a pump room at the aft end of the boiler room. They stayed with him for about 15 minutes, when a rush of water came pouring through the pass between the boilers.
The column subject’s postulated flooding of the boiler room from Mr. Barrett opening a valve could not have happened, because the bilge system was fitted with devices to prevent such a thing.
Editor’s note: The writer is a co-author of “Report into the Loss of the SS Titanic: A Centennial Reappraisal,” and has written numerous articles about the Titanic.