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Damage Control and Repair of Warships?

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I got thinking about matters of damage control and repair while at sea and even in port. My knowledge of the subject is likely far more limited that I would like. So hoping we can discuss the various procedures for damage control and to what extent repairs at see can be done and how so.

And then the processes of fully repairing a damaged warships in port. 

If possible please include various warships and nations as I am certain things vary from warship class to class and from nation to nation. Like I have heard some of the BBs that had strong inner layer of armor but thin outer layer of armor could be a pain in the neck to get repaired even if in theory / practice the designs might have been good for battles.

Also might as well throw in how they raised sunk WWI-WWII warships and got them repaired and able to fight again? ( I have heard some of the modern methods but not entirely certain on the methods in this time period.)

Some examples of at sea damage I am referring to and helped drive my curiosity in creating this thread. Some of which greatly highlight why All hatches are sealed during battle conditions as otherwise at least some of this would have been sunk.

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Edited by Admiral_Thrawn_1
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And the US standards that were sunk at Pearl Harbour. I though it was amazing they managed to recover most of them after being capsized only to be rebuilt and modernized once more to fight against the Japanese. But how does one UN-capsize a multi thousand ton warship?

Edited by Admiral_Bingo

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Damage control has two parts to it on a ship:  Passive and active.

Passive damage control is accomplished by the design of the ship and its systems.  The better the design and systems are the harder it is to damage the ship to the point it is abandoned or sunk.  In the WW II era, nations used different standards and design criteria, along with methods and sometimes materials in building their ships.

Some of these design criteria might include:

A requirement that a certain percentage of the ship's volume could flood and it would remain afloat.  This might be described by something like the "Three compartment" system where three major compartments between bulkheads could flood solid and the ship would remain afloat.

At the beginning of the war, only the US was using the "up and over" system of design on their ships.  This meant that below the designated damage control deck (the 3rd deck early on then 2nd deck later), there were no bulkhead penetrations by hatches.  That is, you could not go fore and aft between major compartments below that deck, you had to go up, over, then down.  That made for a major increase in watertight integrity over other nation's ships that still had watertight hatches lower in the ship.

Different nations paid more or less attention to stability and buoyancy in design.  Japan for example had a serious issue with this because they, for whatever reason, did a poor job of attention to detail on this area of design.  That is why a number of Japanese ships were sunk or nearly sunk in a typhoon in the 30's and had to undergo major repairs to improve their marginal stability.

The US (I know US techniques best) was very conscious about weight and stability on ships.  Once the war started you saw US Navy ships undergo radical changes in detail to keep weight controlled as more weapons and such were added.  US pre-war "1500 ton"  destroyers are excellent examples of this.  They lost all of their ship's boats and the tackle for handling them.  Gun mounts had their houses removed to become open mounts.  Most lost one anchor and the associated windlass, etc.  Many fittings like ladders were changed from steel to aluminum.  Every pound that could be removed was removed.

Design for survivability was important.  Things like unit machinery where the boilers and engine rooms alternated and were spread out to make it harder to take all of the machinery out in a single hit was done.  Adding emergency diesel generators made for greater electrical reliability.  Japanese DD's for example had just batteries for emergency power, and not much of those.  Pumping systems and how they were routed made a difference.  On US ships firemain could be connected to the bilges to help control flooding while fighting fires.

Even materials made a difference.  Lexington was lost in large part because a lot of the piping in the ship was cast iron with bolted flange or clamped fittings holding it together.  This was replaced on Saratoga with welded steel pipe, one of the reasons Saratoga spent so much time in shipyards being repaired.  Welding instead of riveting made for a stronger, lighter ship less prone to shock damage that could spring plate seams and allow flooding.

Active damage control was how the ship's crew was trained to deal with damage.

Salvaging sunken ships is another thing entirely.

29122442848_86ce76a940_b.jpg

The USN system for this was everybody on the ship was trained in basic damage control.  Damage control parties were trained to handle any sort of damage they encountered and were spread throughout the ship in lockers during combat.  That meant that there were damage control personnel near the damage who could immediately start countering it.

The Japanese did damage control in the way most nations did in WW 1.  The damage control parties were centralized and specially trained.  When damage occurred, the officer in charge would send a team from the damage control party to deal with it.  That is, there was a firefighting team, a flooding team, etc.  The problem with this was if the damage was inaccessible or difficult to get to from the central station it could spread uncontrolled.  If the central station were hit, most or all of the damage control parties could be wiped out.  Since the rest of the crew were untrained in damage control, they had little chance to deal with the damage.

Technique was also important.  In many navies counter flooding to maintain an even keel (remove list) was a common technique.  But counter flooding added more flooding and weight to the ship reducing its stability and buoyancy.  Kirishima off Guadalcanal was lost in good part due to use of this technique that contributed to progressive flooding and the ship sinking.  US practice became to seal off flooding and dewater as much as possible.  US ships in WW 2 got a number of portable gasoline driven pumps

34-P250-PortablePump.jpg

That's typical, a P-250.  These could be brought out on a weather deck and used to pump flooded spaces even if power were lost.  Counter flooding was a last not first resort.

Once a ship was out of the battle area, any damage was minimized and the ship would then proceed to a port or anchorage for repair.  At Guadalcanal US ships with serious damage would proceed to Tulagi Harbor across the "Slot" from Guadalcanal where there were some port services and the ship could get assistance in damage repair.  In the case of USS Minneapolis (shown above with her bow blown off),  the ship was fitted with a "coconut log bow" at Tulagi to let her proceed to Nomea New Caledonia where there was a repair ship (the Vestal of Pearl Harbor fame) to make more permanent repairs before going to the West Coast for permanent repairs.  She sailed astern to New Caledonia...

29122442848_86ce76a940_b.jpg

 

 

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On 7/8/2020 at 6:26 AM, Admiral_Thrawn_1 said:

I got thinking about matters of damage control and repair while at sea and even in port. My knowledge of the subject is likely far more limited that I would like. So hoping we can discuss the various procedures for damage control and to what extent repairs at see can be done and how so.

And then the processes of fully repairing a damaged warships in port. 

If possible please include various warships and nations as I am certain things vary from warship class to class and from nation to nation. Like I have heard some of the BBs that had strong inner layer of armor but thin outer layer of armor could be a pain in the neck to get repaired even if in theory / practice the designs might have been good for battles.

Also might as well throw in how they raised sunk WWI-WWII warships and got them repaired and able to fight again? ( I have heard some of the modern methods but not entirely certain on the methods in this time period.)

Some examples of at sea damage I am referring to and helped drive my curiosity in creating this thread. Some of which greatly highlight why All hatches are sealed during battle conditions as otherwise at least some of this would have been sunk.


Alot depends on the exact situation.

During combat, DC's primary concern was keeping the ship afloat and fighting. Active fires and Flooding would be the focus. Timber would be used to fill in shell holes. Why timber? as it becomes wet, it expands.

Post battle, things are a bit calmer and you can now get a better idea on what damage your ship has taken. In cases of flooding, they would likely see if they can stop the source of flooding, and then pump the compartment free. In cases like the loss of the bow or larger torpedo holes, they are likely not going to be able to cover the hole with the material on board. In this case, the crew would shore up the bulkheads around the flooded compartment, again with timber, as when they get underway to return to base, the ships motion will put stress on those bulkheads. The picture of the Minnesota with the coconut wood bow is a perfect example of a crew being resourceful. They have shored up the damaged area of the bow as well as protected the bulkhead to a point.

fig36-60.jpg

Did find this off the Historic Naval Ships Association page: the Damage Control handbook

https://archive.hnsa.org/doc/dc/index.htm

 

 

On 7/8/2020 at 8:58 AM, Admiral_Bingo said:

But how does one UN-capsize a multi thousand ton warship?

parbuckling. The most recent example of this is the Costa Concordia.

Now the Oklahoma was similar, only it had massive towers on the side of the ship and the winches were on-shore as she capsized away from the land. In the Concordia's case, she capsized towards the land.

Spoiler

Oklahoma_Righting_01.jpg

277px-NASPH_%5E118506-_19_March_1943._US

240px-Oklahoma_Righting_06.jpg

Now in the case of the USS Utah, parbuckling did not work as well. The harbor bottoms condition wasn't the same as on the Oklahoma's side, and when they reached a point in righting Utah, she began to slide instead of rotate. 

Spoiler

340px-NASPH_%5E120329-_8_Feb_1944._USS_U

As a result, and because she was not blocking any anchorage, she was left in place where she sits today.
 

Spoiler

da70fe7e1ae56740f65d3858ca4faaa5.jpg

A very good book that covers damage control would be 'Sailors to the End' on the Forrestal fire

 

51T8L82GDCL._SX304_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg

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On 7/8/2020 at 5:58 AM, Admiral_Bingo said:

And the US standards that were sunk at Pearl Harbour. I though it was amazing they managed to recover most of them after being capsized only to be rebuilt and modernized once more to fight against the Japanese. But how does one UN-capsize a multi thousand ton warship?

No, none of the US Battleships that capsized at Pearl Harbor ever entered service again.  All capsized Battleships at Pearl Harbor either were scrapped, or capsized a second time on it's way to being scrapped.

The_salvaging_of_the_USS_Utah.gif

1280px-NASPH_%5E118506-_19_March_1943._U

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On 7/12/2020 at 4:49 PM, Sventex said:

No, none of the US Battleships that capsized at Pearl Harbor ever entered service again.  All capsized Battleships at Pearl Harbor either were scrapped, or capsized a second time on it's way to being scrapped.

yes and no

Yes, neither Oklahoma nor Utah which capsized were returned to service.

Oklahoma sank under tow in '47 while on way to be scrapped. Utah remains where she sank, though now upright. Both had material removed an scrapped before being left.


Now

USS Ogala was a minelayer and seaplane tender. She capsized next to USS Helena
1280px-USS_Oglala_(CM-4)_capsized_at_Pea

She was recovered AND returned to service and eventually was scrapped in 1965.

1280px-USS_Oglala_(ARG-1)_in_the_Pacific


 

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Oqala was a very difficult salvage by the way.  The hull was wood and any small hole made sealing it up to pump in air to push out the water nearly impossible.  The salvage team turned to using toothpicks to plug the smallest holes...

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