Britannic


Dec 12, 1999
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I would like to know if anyone is aware of any project to raise the Titanic's sister ship, the Britannic. As I understand it, the Britannic is in much better shape than Titanic, only three hundred feet down, and, except for the front part of the ship, in remarkably good condition. I have no idea what cost would be involved in raising such a ship, but it certainly couldn't be any more than raising the Titanic, or rebuilding the Titanic.
 

Remco Hillen

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Jan 6, 2001
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There are no such plans to raise Britannic, Bob Ballard has a dream to make the first underwater museum of her.
But raising her isn't easy, she is in a good shape, but still she had laid there for a while....
And if, you have to remove the bow area, 'cause that is only connected by C-deck to the rest of the ship.
She also lies on her side, putting her straight uo would cause a LOT of damage.

Remco:)

if you want any more info, visit: http://www.olympic-class.freeserve.co.uk/
 
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Dec 12, 1999
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Remco-
I just revisted your site after a long absence. I'm still surprised that no one proposes to raise the Britannic. Your reasons (war grave, shipping lane, lack of funding, logistic problems) don't seem insurmontable. If most of the ship could be brought up in one piece, it seems like an attractive project, for investors. Titanic and Lusitania are unrecoverable, Olympic and all the other ships, except for Queen Mary, are gone. So that leaves Britannic. Further, Britannic would be a museum for Titanic research. Imagine a tour of the Britannic, after it's restored to look much like the Titanic: have the Titanic's last dinner aboard a real Olympic class ship, spend a night aboard ship and attend a lifeboat drill while the band plays "Nearer My God To Thee" In sum, "if you build it, they will come." I say we quit trying to come to grips with a 100-year-old disaster, and start experiencing the real thing. Get abourad, bring Britannic to New York. Any comments?
 

Remco Hillen

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Jan 6, 2001
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Joe, I just visited this site in a long time, so I hope you see this...

I don't know if I mentioned this earlier, but you'll have to remove the entire bow for it!
That's only connected by C-deck, I guess you've seen the Marschall painting of the wreck.

I respectfully disagree with your idea of restoring Britannic to look like Titanic, Britannic is Britannic and should be know as Britannic not Titanic.

Britannic could be a museum to Titanic research, but there is more know about Titanic then Britannic.:)

Bob Ballard wants to make a underwatermuseum of Britannic, let's see that becomes true.
I sure hope so.
 

Nigel Hampson

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Jan 11, 2006
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I support the idea of raising Britannic.

She represents - along with Titanic, Lusitania etc, an extremely important era of world history, an era full of change and advancement.
It is all very well for Bob Ballard to want to create an underwater museum, a very laudible idea, but the fact remains that the ship is sitting in a hostile environment. An environment that is slowly destroying her. She should be raised and porperly preserved. Titanic is of course far too deep and far too fragile. I think it is a crime that no attempt has been made to raise her (Britannic).
I agree that the bow would have to be severed, but working at a depth of 300 feet is childs play for modern deep ocean operatives. That sort of depth is a routine event in the north sea oil fields.
And as for the cost of such an operation, if some of the cruise lines can spend $400,000,000 building a new ship, why cant they come up with a business plan to finance the raising and restoration operation, and marry tourism and culture together, to get a return on their investment?
It would make an impressive sight indeed for instance, to see the raised and restored Britannic
sitting alongside the Queen Mary at Long Beach.

Ah well, pipedream over !!!
Nige
 
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Elaine Barnes

Guest
I don't know, I kinda feel like we should leave them where they are. I don't know why, I just feel it's not right to disturb them when they've been underwater for so long. I know it's an advancement to our technology, but I wish we ( I mean the human race ) should just leave well enough alone. So many deaths, and as many people have said, although the bodies are long gone, it IS a grave site and I would just as soon disturb my grandmother's grave as I would Titanic's or any other ship where people lost their lives.
Thanks for letting me get on my soapbox.
Elaine
 

Nigel Hampson

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Jan 11, 2006
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Hi Elaine!
I agree that the whole subject of raising sunken ships is emotional. I understand that very well and in some cases even agree with it. The Lusitania for one instance, Estonia for another.

But from a couple of areas I think that these "Leaps" if you like, should be made. Firstly there is the "Technologically feesable" arguement. I.e we have this new Equipment, we CAN do it, so LETS do it! The deep (and not so deep) oceans of our world, are the last unexplored place left on our planet. There is a wealth of information to be found in the deep - Information that can benefit the whole world. But without the equipment and technology this vast storehouse of knowledge will go untapped.
Our world, working as it does, provides very little of that curse called money, for purely scientific research - and even less for exploration - UNLESS a private company is pretty sure of obtaining some kind of return on it's "Investment" for want of a better word(I refer here to the technology). I don't nesecarily agree with this setup - but unfortunately that's how things always seem to be.
The North Sea Oil fields are a prime example. A lot of the equipment in use today by Undersea researchers of all descriptions, was developed as a direct result of the pressing need to find oil. I dont like it - you probably dont like it, but thats the way it is. I feel that this "Offshoot" technology, if you like, can, now that it is here, be put to good use and benefit everyone.
The second area is of course the Archaeological/ Historical arguement.
Just look at how many myths have been exploded since Titanic was first discovered in 85. The error in position, the ship sinking intact, the Iceburg gash to name but a few. If the technology had not ben invented to enable the scientists to get to these depths, we would still be assuming that Titanic had a 300 foot tear in her hull and had sunk intact at her reported position. Dont forget that the submersible Alvin, which Ballard used to reach Titanic, had been funded by the US Navy, specifically to be able to recover and investigate deep sea wrecks, such as the US Atomic subs Thresher and Scorpion, which had both been lost in very deep waters.
The scienctific and Archaeological benefits that have been reaped from this marriage of Business and Science, should not be underestimated.

Please forgive me if I seem Like I have attacked you - that is not my intention at all. I just think that it would be far better to see some of these vessels raised and preserved for all time, so that all our future generations can learn and enjoy them, rather than leaving them at the bottom of the sea to decay and finally disappear.

I hope I have made my case well!
Please forgive me once again If it seems like an attack on you - this is not what I am trying to do here.
I have included my email address and welcome contact from anyone.
Nigel Hampson
 

Paul Rogers

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Nov 30, 2000
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What a fascinating thread! Please allow me to add my tuppence-worth.

My thoughts are:

(1) Although it is probably possible to raise Britannic, the risk to investors is surely not knowing if she'll hold together during the lift. You could just end up with 40k tons of rusty iron on the seabed and a VERY hefty salvage bill! Because of these risks, and the costs involved, I wonder if it would be cheaper to simply build a replica Titanic/Britannic? (See other threads re this topic.) No salvage risks there!

(2) I appreciate a replica is by its very nature never going to have the same appeal as the original, but then the interest shown in Britannic is surely only because she's Titanic's sister.

(3) IF they did raise Britannic, (to use her as a museum), then surely she'd be required to meet the same safety standards as any other public building or ship? If so, this is one of the big issues around building a replica in the first place, and one reason why it probably won't ever happen.

(4) What would be the long-term effect of raising Britannic? I'd be interested to know if she'd need permanent future care to stop future deterioration once out of the water. (Plus to fix the wear and tear caused by all those tourists that would be climbing all over her!) She might stay in better condition where she is!?

(5) Re point (4), where would you put her? Who's got the facilities to look after a wreck this large? Would they want to use those facilities for this purpose? Who'd pay the bills? Or are we just gonna moor her alongside HMS Belfast on the Thames? (Or any other river.)

I'm still fascinated though. Think I'm off now to do a bit of reading to see if I can answer my own questions!

Regards all.
Paul.
 

Remco Hillen

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Jan 6, 2001
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How would you raise her?
Like Paul said, Britannic isn't as strong as she once was.
First you'll have to remove to bow section, raise the rest, raise the bow and then 'fix' the bow to the hull again.
Also, all the woodwork is gone, if you look at wreckpictures of Britannic, the whole bridge is gone.

Another thing, what would you do with the engines?
If you make a museum of her, you could try to let them 'shine' again, but they will never work again.
If you want her to sail again, you'll have to put in new engines.

You could try to build a new one, but I don't it would make money for the builder.
Most of the people are interested in Titanic, not Britannic.
Not to mention all the problems you'll see appearing when building...

Again like Paul said, where would you put her?
Not all of the harbors or other facilities can handle such a large ship.

The main question; who going to pay all of this..

My opinion is the same as the owner's one, let her stay where she is.
I'm almost sure that if she would be raised there will be harm done to the ship.
Isn't it like 'I don't know what that is, so remove it', it will be a souvenir shop in the Lounge.

BTW, I forget the main problem I think, when Britannic sank she was a hospital ship, not a passengerliner.
She wasn't ready, there still had to be gantry davits added, windows etched out etc.
If somebody would raise her he would want a RMS version, so he would have to add things...and I don't like somebody who doesn't know the ship adding things...

Regards,
Remco:)
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Remco -

With respect to raising the ship, you could have rented the Glomar Explorer on the cheap, because it was mothballed here in the Carquinez Straight (near San Francisco Bay) for a long time. But it's gone now (it was re-fitted for oil exploration and drilling).

Seriously though, the way to proceed is to get an estimate from a reputable salvage company on the cost. They'll probably make some sky-high estimate, so get several. After that, you could probably get some seed money from an entity like SFX Entertainment, to get the whole process in motion. Then, when it seems like a realistic proposition, and all the questions are pretty much answered, a public offering could be made to raise the necessary cash.

In my estimation, the television, and tour visitor revenues for such an attraction as "Raise the Britannic" would be enormous, and would start to be generated the minute that the ship is put in dry dock.

I think that a great location would be the Alameda Naval Shipping yard, in Oakland, California. It's a huge former navy base, and the U.S.S. Hornet, a WWII aircraft carrier is docked here. The Hornet is there by itself, so there's a need for more ships. The Hornet is approximately 55,000 gross tons, which approximates, or exceeds the Britannic. The U.S. Navy has vacated most of the buildings here. This location would put it proximate to San Francisco and the heavy tourist traffic. The problem, of course, is getting it here.

The bow would have to be cut off. Then, the rest of the ship would have to be made airtight enough to bring it to the surface. I don't know if cables could be used, I would doubt it because the ship would be too heavy.

The ship is lying on its side. Is it stuck deep into the ocean bottom? Probably not.

To some degree an analogy for salvage may be drawn to the steamship Eastland. That ship went over on its side by a Chicago dock. The salvage company used a powerful tug, the Favorite, to pull the ship upright. They must have simply pumped the water out at the same time, and re-floated it. Of course, the Eastland was must smaller, in shallow water, and didn't have its bow broken off.

I see it as a two-step process. First, the ship would be brought on an even keel. The, if the ship was righted, perhaps some sort of floatation could be wrapped around it to bring it to the surface.

Another way would be to place cables, or some sort of floatation at the ship's bottom, then pull her upright, and on to it. Once she's on an even keel, the salvagor would go around to the other ship and secure the ship, then bring it to the surface.

Part of the attraction in getting investors, and consultants involved, will be the exceptional engineering challenge that raising such a ship presents.

All great ideas start out appearing to be outlandish. Like I said: "If you build it they will come."
 

Remco Hillen

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Jan 6, 2001
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"the ship would be brought on an even keel. The, if the ship was righted, perhaps some sort of floatation could be wrapped around it to bring it to the surface."

I don't think this is good for the ship.
It has laid for so long on the bottom of the ocean, it is covered with sealife and putting her straight up would cause lots of damage to the ship I think.

If they want to to this, maybe those Smit-Tak cranes are of some help.
They are huge cranes on a flat 'boat', I've seen those things raise ships.
But those ones weren't even near the size of Britannic.

I'll stick with the Ballard idea.

Remco:)
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Remco - -

There's a company which calls itself the Walnut Creek Oceanic Steamship Company, which is trying to do somewhat the same thing I suggested, above, with another famous ship. Raising the money has been difficult, however.

This group is trying to move the 69 year old Matson liner Lurline from Tampa to San Francisco, and create a $45 million hotel - - something like the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California.

They're running out of time. The Lurline may be headed to the scrap heap.

Take a look at http://www.sfchronicle.com, and do search for "Lurline."
 
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Elaine Barnes

Guest
Hello Joe and Remco,
I just have to ask "Why?" to the idea of raising any of these sunken ships. I guess I don't understand the appeal to people of raising a ship that has been sitting on the bottom of the ocean for over 50 years. Most of these ships are in no condition to be brought up to the surface and if they were, wouldn't exposure to air cause further damage? I would rather see someone build a replica (knowing this is a touchy subject), than see the original diturbed in any way. Actually, I think I would rather not see a replica of any of the ships built. I'll stick with my original writings, and say, "leave well enough alone"
(Thus ends sermon #2)
Sincerely,
Elaine
 

Lou Kerr

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Feb 6, 2010
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If any of you are familiar with the novel "The Memory of Eva Ryker" and it's subsequent movie adaptation you will remember that, in the movie version, the scene of the opening action was changed from 4/14/12 on board Titanic to 12/7/41 on board the Lurline.
 

Remco Hillen

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Jan 6, 2001
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Elaine - I don't want the Britannic to be raised.
I'd hate to see damage to her, and I don't know what will happen after she would be raised.
Let her rest.

Regards,
Remco:)
 
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Nige

Guest
Re Raising Britannic.

I outlined I thought pretty well, the reasons why I feel Britannic should be raised above. I dont really have much more to add to it.

And as to damageing the ship, Im sure that if an extremely fragile 600 year old wooden warship such as the Mary Rose can be raised without injury, the same can be done to an 80 year old steel liner.

Nige
 
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Elaine Barnes

Guest
Dear Nige,
I feel that if we have the technology to explore the deep oceans, let's explore the deep oceans and leave the wrecks alone. Yes, I agree that we need to explore the "final frontier", but I don't believe we should disturb shipwrecks to do it. Not being a scientist,I may not understand what can be gleaned from raising these ships and spending millions of dollars to preserve them. I think the money could be easily put to another use.( As in using it to develop new technology)
As to my feeling as though you attacked me in a preceeding message, that's what this board is for, and no, I don't harbor any ill-will. Obviously, we have different opinions about this matter and I think that's great.If we can't discuss our opinions like rational people, we have no business writing on this board!
I have no problem with exploring the wrecks to try to learn more about why it foundered and maybe learn some truth to the rumors, but I think we should leave it where it is. (Here I'm speaking of Titanic). The same goes with Britannic.
Concerning Mary Rose, I haven't heard about it, how much damage was done to it when it sank? Would it be safe to say that raising a wooden ship would be easier to raise than an steel one, in terms of weight, and how much smaller was Mary Rose than Britannic?
Anyway, I have enjoyed this discussion very much.
Sincerely Yours,
Elaine Barnes
 
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Joshua McCracken

Guest
I just feel the need to toss my two cents in here. First of all, the Britannic is not in as bad a condition as most people think it is. In fact, the steel is almost as structurally sound as the day the ship sank. Most of the woodwork is now gone, and the bow section is nearly detached from the rest of the ship. Although I would be as thrilled as anyone to set foot on one of the 'Olympic Class' ships, raising the Britannic to achieve that goal just raises too many question marks, both economically and morally.

1.) The Britannic is a registered British war grave, and as such any salvage operation would need written permission from the Admiralty to do such a thing, and they have not been very generous to salvagers in the past when it comes to raising war graves.

2.) The Britannic lies in one of Greece's busiest shipping lanes, and although it's nice to think that raising the wreck would be a simple, fast matter, it actually isn't. Detaching the bow from the wreck alone would take nearly three weeks, and then raising the rest of the ship could take as long as eight months. Add to that the time it would take to raise the bow section, we're looking at a good year's worth of work here. There is no way that the Greek government would stand for that sort of thing.

3.) If one were to actually raise the ship, the structural damage caused both during the sinking and the raising would probably be enough to turn it into scrap within a few days on dry land.

4.) Although many people would be interested to see the fully restored Britannic, it is very likely that they would remove the large davits and call the ship Titanic in order to gain more tourist activity. However as with everything else that is brought back after many years out of human eyesight, interest would eventually dwindle down and then the investors would be left with an enormous deft and an old ship.

5.) If the ship were to be raised the man hours required to make it safe for large numbers of human beings to walk aboard her combined with the cost makes raising the wreck a nearly impossible feat.

6.) She is fine just the way she is. Let her rest.
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi!

I have to agree that it would not be ethical to raise Britannic, for a number of reasons. It is good that this thread has been revived, for it shows increasing levels of interest. (BTW Joshua, welcome to ET, I haven't seen your name here before and a fellow Britannic enthusiast is a welcome addition. I'm sure you'll find the talk here interesting with Michail and Remco as two of many others.) A few of my own comments and thoughts:

1.) The Britannic is a registered British war grave, and as such any salvage operation would need written permission from the Admiralty to do such a thing, and they have not been very generous to salvagers in the past when it comes to raising war graves.

I think we are fortunate in that the issue of Britannic's ownership is so confusing, but I feel the most important point is that Simon Mills is apparently decisively anti-salavge. There have been at least two owners of the rights to the wreck since 1977, whereas before then the British Government was in.

I can't agree with the proposed timetable as to raising Britannic, but certainly I feel that the whole operation would be costly, not just in the practical stages. It took one year to negotiate with Simon Mills the dives of the 1998 expedition, and all they were doing was looking!

I won't comment on the forensic points of Britannic turning into scrap within a few days of being raised, for I am not a scientist, but I would agree that raising her would cause too much damage. For example, if an operation to raise her was begun and the ship began to suffer from the raising, you couldn't just drop her down again!

Britannic should not be considered of as a link to Titanic. She has been given the rather demeaning title 'Titanic's Lost Sister.' Never mind that she had a life of her own and was very different to Titanic. I agree that the historical focus should be on herself as the Britannic.

Who says that the ship could ever be made safe enough to let people onboard, even if there was unlimited time and resources? The interior spaces explored so far have such a jumble of wires and other debris; the firemen's tunnel is reported to be full of wires, other obstacles and the walkway has fallen.

6.) She is fine just the way she is. Let her rest

I couldn't agree more.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Not to worry, if the effort to raise the ship got into trouble, any hypothetical salvors wouldn't have to drop the hull down. The hull would drop itself down, but in much smaller peices! Kind of like that Golf class missile sub the CIA tried to raise with the Glomar Explorer.
 

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