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Emergency hull repairs while at sea

Discussion in 'Britain at Sea!' started by Fatboy Coxy, Nov 3, 2020.

  1. Fatboy Coxy

    Fatboy Coxy New Member

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    Hi all, certainly in Nelsons time, and possibly throughout the years of sail, emergency hull repairs could and were undertaken while at sea, by fothering. This was the practice of wrapping a sail around the bottom of the hull, being fastened on either side of the ship, hoping the pressure of water trying to get into the hole would push the sail in, providing a decent plug. Come the 20th century and the demise of sail, was there anything similar to effect emergency hull repairs to warships, to ‘get them home’.

    Regards
    Fatboy Coxy
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Mentioned this "elsewhere" but: Take a mattress or three off some bunks and brace them against the hole. We carried 4x4 lumber to shore up the "soft patch". You tested this by having a hunking seaman grab the overhead and slam the shoring with his size 14 feet. When we were doing refresher training at Gitmo the umps stressed economy of lumber use, we had all we were going to get with us when we sailed, so "waste not, want not."
     
  3. ARWR

    ARWR Active Member

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    Fothering used a form of mat like sheet rather than simply a plain canvas sail and fothering mats were still part of ships stores in WW2. In Nelson's time they would be made from old sails and form part of the sail maker's stores. Preparing fothering for stores involved partially unpicking a thick sail turning it into a sort of hairy mat - like picking oakham from old ropes - very hard on the fingers and deeply boring - usually a task for defaulters - in Victorian times contracted out to prisons and poor houses
     
  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Torpedoes tend to make larger holes in the hull than cannonballs. Also, warships were subdived into watertight compartments - that were not on sailing vessels. As such, flooding boundaries would be established, to contain flooding. Wooden boards would be used to construct supports for watertight bulkheads to help the withstand the increased water pressure put on said bulkheads.

    For smaller holes beneath the water line, mattresses and wood were common items to slow the ingress of water.

    There is lots of literature available on the net for WW2 shipboard damage control.
     
  5. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Compartmentalization can be a ship saver for sure. Shoring up bulkhead, like when a cruiser loses a few dozen feet off the bow, ensures that it won't get worse.
     
  6. ARWR

    ARWR Active Member

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    Fothering was much more likely to be used to repair structural failures due to issues of materials eg hoggage, leakage due to rotting timbers, lost sheaving etc or underwater collision (uncharted rocks etc). It wasn't until Nobel's moored explosive mine (known misleadingly as a torpedo) used extensively during the Crimean War that defences against underwater explosives became an issue and the RN became involved with double hulls, bulkheads etc etc although they had been suggested as an answer to Fulton's somewhat impractical submarines
     
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    One combat situation where fothering would be useful:

    Sail era: Shooter (ship) aims at target (ship). When target rolls away from shooter, shooter fires at exposed area of hull that will be underwater most of the time in normal conditions.
     
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  8. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    There were also pre-measured wood plugs, based on known typical shot diameters, for that sort of thing. And if no plug was available, one could be, relatively, easily fashioned from a spare spar.

    Not a permanent fix, but enough, with proper caulking and a lot of pumping, to get you somewhere where something more permanent could be made.
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2020
  9. ARWR

    ARWR Active Member

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    French, Spanish and American navies tended to fire on the uproll whilst RN fired on the down roll. British ships had a heavier broadside and so did more damage to the enemy hulls.
     
  10. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    "Hit 'em twixt wind and water!" (Some Hornblower book or other.)
     
  11. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    That must have been before the advent of duct tape.
     
  12. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Certainly in the 18th & 19th century sailing navies the ship's carpenter and his mates would have loved the concept of duct tape. :)
     
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  13. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Hornblower: Mr. Bush, get that hole plugged!

    Bush: Right away, sir!

    Voice over: If they had any Flex Seal sealant they'd already have it done! And if you order now the Purser can get six cans for the price of five!
     
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  14. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    That will take care of the rotten planks in the cutter, eh?
     
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