Section III. METHODS OF REPAIRING HOLES
8-10. REPAIRS-GENERAL. There are two general methods of repairing a hole: either put something into it or put
something over it. In either case, try to reduce the area through which water can enter the ship or an area through which
it can pass from one compartment to another.
a. Wooden plugs. Wooden plugs provide the most simple method of repairing small holes. Plugs made of soft
wood are effective under battle conditions, especially in holes not over 2 x 3 inches. They have held up well in much
larger holes. Every ship should have a large assortment of conical, square-ended, and wedge-shaped wooden plugs at
each repair station. The plugs should not be painted, as unpainted soft wood absorbs water and grips better. The plugs
should be stowed in canvas bags secured to the overhead. Combinations of conical, square-ended and wedge-shaped
plugs may be used to get better conformation with the shape of the hole. It is best to wrap the plugs with lightweight cloth
before inserting. The cloth will help the plugs to grip better and will also fill some of the gaps between plugs. Wooden
plugs will not always make a watertight fit, but by caulking the remaining leaky area with rags, oakum, and smaller
wedges, the ingress of water can be greatly reduced. Square-ended plugs hold better than conical plugs in holes in
plating 1/4 inch or less in thickness.
Most wooden plugs are inserted from inside the ship. In that case, they have to contend with metal edges protruding
inward. Plugs driven in from outside may not have as much interference, but outside plugs cannot be tended readily.
They are often knocked out by the action of the sea and do not hold up as well over extended periods of time.
b. Pillows and mattresses. Pillows and mattresses have been rolled up and shoved into holes. They have been
rolled around a wooden plug or a timber to increase their size and to provide rigidity. Wrapping them in a blanket
sometimes helps. Such plugs cannot be relied upon as they have a tendency to be torn out of the holes by the action of
c. Cloth plug. A most effective plug was made by a ship after an enemy shell had torn an 8" x 10" hole in the side
at the waterline. Unable to make repairs from inside because of wreckage, the ship crew made a built-up conical plug of
cloth. The core was a piece of heavy line 3 feet long. An eye was spliced into each end of this core line, which was then
wrapped with strips of blanket until a cone was built up, 2 inches in diameter at one end and 2 feet in diameter at the
other end. The layers of cloth were held together and to the core line by stitching. Lines were secured to the eyes in the
core line, and by means of these lines the plug was lowered over the side and pulled into place. Such a plug has
flexibility; it will adapt itself to irregular shapes. Furthermore, it will absorb water and swell making it more effective.