Chief Engineer DeLaunay has testified that he opened the bilge suction and Oilers Parker and Aikins both say they closed the sea suction, or seacock. Parker says he closed the seacock as the chief engineer opened the bilge suction.
It is the theory of the inspectors and many marine men who have been in attendance at the investigation daily that by mistake some member of the engine room crew opened the seacock instead of closing it.
As the pumps were working at the time it is asserted that the water rushed from the sea and followed the natural channel to the left pouring into the vessel's bilge.
When vessels are traveling, the sea suction is usually open. The water is taken into the circulator and from there passes into the condenser and thence out of the side of the vessel into the sea.
The bilge suction is placed near the bottom in case of an emergency. When the ship is found to be leaking and the water reaches the end of the bilge suction pipe, it can be taken out of the vessel in the same pipe through which the sea water passes into the condenser. It is considered the quickest way to pump out a vessel, as the pipes are seven inches in diameter and would handle many tons of water in a short time.
The bilge of a vessel is the breadth of the ship's bottom, or that part of her floor upon which she would rest, if aground.
Often when damaged a ship is said to have bilged, which is a common term among shipping men and those familiar with the construction of a vessel.
If any water enters the ship through deadlights, or as the result of a leak, it follows down between the inside skin and the planking, and finds its way to the bottom of the vessel.
Inspectors Whitney and Turner say they believe that if the water entered the 'Clallam' through the deadlight and flowed to the bilge of the ship, it should not have been allowed to get beyond the control of the powerful pumps.
It has developed at the inquiry that when the vessel was taking water at a rapid rate, Chief Engineer DeLaunay sent for Oiler Parker, who was off watch at the time, to hasten to the engine room and take charge of the pumps.
On the witness stand the chef engineer was shown the 'Clallam's' piping and pumping plans. He said that the pipes shown on the tracing were not to be found on the ship.
Following DeLaunay came Oiler Parker, who at once pointed to the pipes shown on the plans and told where they were located in the vessel.
Evidence tends to prove that the 'Clallam' took more water in the hour and a half before Capt. Roberts was notified than she did ten hours later.
Many believe that what water came into the ship after the engines stopped, was that which washed in through the dining half windows and over the decks.