(See Page 55, Whole No. 203)
Commander I. I. Yates, C. C, U. S. Navy.—1. In an article entitled “Did the Cyclops Turn Turtle?” in the U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings for January, 1920, Lieut. Commander Tisdale, U. S. N., makes the following statement: “The manhole plates of the topside tanks were
always left off in accordance with instructions from the navy yard
(I won’t mention the yard as I never saw the circular during my time on the colliers) as the air was better for the bitumastic.” As the Cyclops based at the Norfolk yard, the “navy yard” referred to would mean Norfolk in the minds of many readers of Lieut. Commander Tisdale’s article, and it might then be inferred that the loss of the Cyclops was partly due to carrying out instructions issued by the management of the Norfolk Navy Yard. It is the purpose of the following article to correct any such possible inference.
Were Instructions Issued?
2. Other Colliers.—It is reasonable to suppose that such instructions if issued would not be limited to one collier. Lieut. Commander Tisdale himself intimates that in 1914-1915 the Neptune had no such instructions. The commanding officers of the Jupiter and Neptune, now at the yard, state they never heard of such instructions. Both of these vessels have generally based at Norfolk. Appended is a copy of the correspondence with these vessels on the subject.
3. Files.—'The yard files are complete for years past and show no such written instructions were ever issued.
4. Verbal Instructions.—The following officers and employees now at the yard and who held the positions noted in 1915 and 1916 have been consulted and have stated they knew of no such instructions either written or verbal: The manager, inside superintendent, the ship superintendent for colliers, the chief planner, the planner for painting jobs, the master painter and his force. No one else could have issued them.
5. Reason Against Instructions.—At this yard no compartments are coated with “bitumastic,” a coal tar product, but this term may have been construed to mean the asphalt formulas which are applied at Norfolk and whose composition is given in formulas 58, 59, and 60 “ General Instructions for Painting and Cementing Vessels of the U. S. Navy” issued by the Navy Department. Formula 58 consists of Trinidad asphalt and mineral spirits, is applied cold with a brush and acts as a primer for the formulas 59 and 60. Fumes are given off for possibly 24 hours, but the solution is not applied without a further coat, being covered by formula 59, “ asphalt enamel,” which contains 35 gallons of mineral spirits and about 17 pounds of slacked lime to the thousand pounds. The enamel is applied hot with a brush and dries in 5 or 10 minutes. On the deck of a compartment there is added formula 60, asphalt cement, which is applied hot and hardens instantly. After a compartment is finished there is no need for it to dry out further, and in fact the, men applying the enamel and cement work in the compartment without protection and without discomfort. There is therefore no reason to leave a compartment open that has been treated in this way.
6. In 1916 when Captain Worley replied to Lieut. Commander Tisdale that the covers were left off to preserve the bitumastic, no bitumastic or asphalt had been applied at the Norfolk Navy Yard to the tanks in the previous two years. In fact, in March, 1917, the tanks were so rusty that the industrial manager authorized scaling, cleaning, and applying asphalt formulas to these tanks, which work was not done prior to the loss of the vessel due to lack of men at the yard.
Would Instructions have been Followed?
7. It is hardly necessary to point out that even had Captain Worley been given instructions to leave the covers off the topside tanks he would not have followed them. In his judgment the safety of his ship would have been of greater importance than the preservation of cement or paint in the tanks. Further every commanding officer of a vessel of the Cyclops class that has come to the yard has insisted on having a tight well-deck. At each overhaul the hatches to the cargo holds are gone over to make them tight and also the manhole covers if necessary.
Condition of Ship
8. When Lieut. Commander Tisdale discovered the covers off the topside tanks the Cyclops was in a light condition, and it was immaterial whether the covers were on or off. In fact, in this condition the topside tanks are generally kept full of water. When the Cyclops was lost, however, she was loaded over her Plimsoll mark and it is presumed that the covers were secured whether the tanks were full or empty.
Stability of “Cyclops” when Lost .
9. Exact information as to the stowage of cargo, water and coal on the Cyclops when lost is lacking. It is known that she carried 10,600 tons of manganese ore, a very large amount of water, and probably 1000 tons of bunker coal. Had the manganese been secured against shifting by a false deck, shifting boards, or other device the vessel would have had great stability no matter how the water was carried; in fact, the righting arm at 90° would have been at least 5 feet, which would have given a righting moment of 110,000 tons feet with the ship on her beam ends.
10. With the manganese carried at the bottom of the cargo holds the metacentric height would have been so increased that the roll of the ship would have been very jerky and to reduce this it is probable that Captain Worley filled his topside tanks and possibly left a free surface in his double bottom tanks. This would give the Cyclops the easiest roll and the least stability, but even so the righting arm at 90° would have been 5 feet as stated above. If however the topside tanks on one side were full and on the other were empty the righting arm would have increased, at all angles of inclination beyond 44. With a roll of 7.2 seconds period, assuming the ship to bury her topside tanks under a 4 foot head of water she would ship but 20.8 tons of water on one roll whereas the tanks on one side hold 926 tons. The only other condition where the topside tanks could prove detrimental would be to assume the ship had a permanent list so that water would continually pour in, but for this list to result it would have been necessary for the cargo to shift and if it once started to slide there is no reason to think the inclination would have stopped at the point of immersion of the topside tanks.
11. The angle of repose of the manganese may be taken as 370, but with a jerky roll it might start to slide at a smaller angle of inclination of the ship. If the ore were not secured and it did start to slide at the end of a roll it would continue to slide at the next roll on the same side, and at some inclination between 50° and 6o° the ship would have lost all her righting moment. The condition of stowage water ballast in bottom or topside tanks would have had very little effect had the ore once begun to shift.
Cause of Loss of “Cyclops”
12. With the data at hand it is impossible to arrive at a definite conclusion as to cause of the loss of the Cyclops, but from the fact that no wreckage has been discovered, no drifting boats seen, no radio call received it is probable that her end came suddenly. The theory that due to faulty loading of her cargo she may have broken in two and sunk does not fit the facts that no trace of her can be found; for had she broken, one of the ends would probably have floated long enough for some life raft to have been rigged or other wreckage remain on the surface. We thus arrive at the same conclusion as Lieut. Commander Tisdale that she probably “ turned turtle,” but for the sole reason that her cargo shifted and without considering any effect of her topside tanks. In fact it is reported that she carried 4000 tons of water and that necessitates her topside tanks on both sides being full as they carry 1852 tons and the remainder of the tanks, i. e., reserve feed and all other inner bottom tanks, hold only 2044 tons in all. The only objections to the theory are first that Captain Worley would not have sailed without securing the ore against shifting, the answer to which is that in war time he may have considered it worthwhile taking a chance, and second that no unusual weather was reported along the Cyclops’ track when lost, the answer to which is that it would not take much of a sea to build up a roll of 35 to 40 degrees for the Cyclops as loaded.
Correspondence with “Jupiter” and “Neptune”
Industrial Department, United States Navy Yard, Norfolk, Va., February 3, 1920
To: Commanding officer, Neptune.
Commanding officer, Jupiter.
1. In the U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings for January there is an article which states that the Cyclops had instructions from the navy yard to leave off the manhole covers from her topside tanks as the air was better for the bitumastic.
2. Information is requested as to whether in your experience on these colliers you have ever received such instructions. It is further requested that you read the article and supply any facts bearing on the case.
I. I. Yates, Acting.
U. S. S. “Neptune,” Navy Yard, Norfolk, Va., February 4, 1920
From: Commanding officer.
To: Industrial manager, navy yard, Norfolk, Va.
Reference: (1) Ind. manager’s letter 3H03-4/GAA-i/FA8-3/Fa-C of 3 February, 1920.
1. In the autumn of 1910 I put the Cyclops in commission at the Norfolk yard as executive officer under Captain Worley, who was the original commanding officer. The Cyclops had just been delivered from Cramps and was unusually well built, in fact Cramps lost money in building her, and no caulking of seams or butts was found necessary after her first cruise to Europe to coal the Squadron at Kiel. The Cyclops was the most seaworthy of her sister ships, but she rolled to wide angles. In August, 1911, I was transferred to command the Nero, in August, 1917, to command the Jupiter, and in November, 1919, to command the Neptune. In all my experience on the colliers I never heard of instructions to leave the covers off the topside tanks and in fact they were always kept on unless men were actually at work in the tanks. When the vessel is light the topside tanks, except two, are kept filled to lessen the stiffness and cause easier roll. When the vessel is loaded, but not too deep in the water, the covers on the topside tanks are kept on the manholes, but the sea connections are left open to let such water run out as may leak in. The tanks are sounded twice a day. Captain Worley was always making jokes and was author of the celebrated “Tame Lion” story of 1910-11 which was given such publicity that the Department wrote him to put ashore any lion he had on board. It is probable that Captain Worley answered Lieut. Commander Tisdale in jest on being taken to task for leaving his covers off.
W. J. Kelton.
U. S. S. “Jupiter,” Navy Yard, Norfolk, Va., February 6, 1920
From : Commanding officer.
To: Industrial manager, navy yard, Norfolk, Va.
Reference: (a) Industrial manager’s letter of February 4, 1920, No. 31103-2/FA3-C.
1. In my experience as an officer in the navy colliers from 1907 to 1916, and 1916 to date as commanding officer, I have never to the best of my knowledge or belief received or heard of any instructions to leave off topside tank, or any other tank covers or manhole plates on account of bitumastic.
2. I have read Lieut. Commander Tisdale’s article on the loss of the Cyclops in the U. S. Naval Institute Proceedings for January. It is customary in the Cyclops type of collier to keep nearly all, or all, topside tanks full, depending on circumstances of ship’s trim, when in a light or nearly light condition to ease rolling by reducing the stiffness, and for ballast. Covers to manholes are kept secured. In a loaded condition, topside tanks are used as little as possible, and are kept empty except occasionally for purpose of trim.
3. It is my opinion that if Lieut. Commander Tisdale discovered manhole covers to topside tanks on Cyclops open, it was due to carelessness on ship’s force part in securing same, and that Captain Worley’s remark was made in a joking spirit, as such a remark would be very characteristic of him in such circumstances.
4. As a possible theory of the Cyclops loss, in connection with the tanks, I would suggest that in case the Cyclops cargo shifted, which seems probable, and the ship listed, topside tanks on the opposite side were used to righten her, and on her reaching even keel slack water in double bottoms worked to that side and caused her to “flop” over that way and possibly capsize. It has been my experience in righting ship by means of topside tanks, if she is allowed to come to even keel, she will almost invariably go over the opposite way.
H. M. Bostwick