Collision


Michael lowe

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Ok, this post is really calling out for an answer from the great Mr. Standart. I would like to know that if Titanic did go head-on E.T.C. if there was a shelf of ice would it have been able to break through both hulls?

And Also, the Titanic's engines were obviously stopped, then maybe ran astern. As this happened, i would like to know a probable speed that the Ship was travelling just before it collided (The Iceberg obviously slowed it down)
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Ok, this post is really calling out for an answer from the great Mr. Standart.<<

Mmmmmmmmmmmm....if you want "Great" call whatever god(s) you believe in. I'm just a man and just as fallible.

To the question:

If the ship had gone head on into the iceberg, it likely would have caved in a signifigent section of the bow, perhaps as far back as the number three hold. This would have rendered the double bottom compoletely moot. The issue then would have been whether or not the bulkheads in the undamaged portion of the ship wuld have held up.

Whether or not she would have survived is anybody's guess. Edward Wilding...the Harland & Wolff navak architect who knew her best...was of the opinion that shw would have.

You may want to got to the inquiries at http://www.titanicinquiry.org/ and start going over the testimony itself. It tedious but essential reading which reflects the observations, understandings and misunderstandings of the people who were there. It is anything but obvious that the engines were stopped at the moment of impact. Even if they were, there wasn't enough time for the ships momentum to fall off. What this means is that the ship was probably doing about 21 to 22 knots whwn she hit ice.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Michael, I thought you were a crusty irascible cantankerous old person full of stubborn ideas?
happy.gif
 

Will C. White

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I have to agree that she would have survived a head on collison, although the forward part of the ship would have crumpled like an accordian, but that's what the forepeak and holds are for. I do not agree that she was doing 21 to 22 knots at the moment of impact (or supposed direct bow on strike). I believe RMS Mauretania held the Blue Ribband at the time, and her top was about 25 knots. Titanic was not nearly that fast, and was not under full boilers, nor were the engines "run in". Then you have to add the drag of the idle center four bladed screw and the reverse rotation of the two outboard screws (plus cavitation) which further kills forward momentum. That's why she handled so poorly at the critical moment. I'd say 15 tops at moment of impact. Head on, not a death blow, but in actual history, lethal. That's why they teach us never to expose the beam to anything hazardous; wave, another ship, or nasty weather shore.
 

Dave Gittins

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All the navigational evidence is that Titanic was doing about 22 knots 'over the ground' and about 22.5 knots 'through the water" as she approached the berg.

Her speed at the moment of impact remains conjectural. There is every chance that the engines were not reversed before the collision and maybe not even after it. The testimony is too conflicting on point after point.

This topic has been discussed ad nauseum on this forum and you'll find endless argument on old threads. The same goes for arguments over the effect of a head on collision.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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quote:

That's why they teach us never to expose the beam to anything hazardous; wave, another ship, or nasty weather shore.

"If a collision with another vessel cannot be avoided, you should try to manoeuvre your vessel in such a way that the impact is minimised...The smaller vessel turns so that instead of hitting the larger vessel with full momentum, the vessels only suffer a glancing blow." Ref: RESTRICTED CLASS 6 - MASTER/ENGINEER SPC O21B Learner's Guide for Pacific Island Mariners.​
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>you have to add the drag of the idle center four bladed screw and the reverse rotation of the two outboard screws (plus cavitation) which further kills forward momentum. That's why she handled so poorly at the critical moment.<<

Except that the evidence for the engines being in reverse and the centre screw being disengaged is at the very least...questionable. That is if you can believe anything Dillon and Scott have to say. The omne point where they agree was that engine reversal did not happen until after the collision with the iceberg.
 

Will C. White

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OK, I'll bite. If she was still under way with a good amount of forward momentum; say the estimated 20 knots; with no reverse thrust or drag to counteract the rudder which was apparently hard down, then why did she handle so sluggishly, as there seems to have been enough time (and separation) to effectively turn the bow completely off target. It seems she should have gotten "pinned in the tail", if anything. This is of course based on the fact that nobody is lying or just plain mistaken about the point at which the iceberg was spotted. If a mistake was made in elapsed time, or distance to target, it could've almost been a head-on by default.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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quote:

why did she handle so sluggishly, as there seems to have been enough time (and separation) to effectively turn the bow completely off target

Did she handle sluggishly? Was there enough time to turn away for the bow to miss hitting the object? Was the ship really turning when contact with the ice was made? What was the time interval between the 3-bell warning signal from the crow's nest to ice contact? How much time before or after ice contact were engine orders sent down to the engine room? How do you resolve all the inconsistencies in the various testimonies given by witnesses, including the helmsman, lookouts, those below in the machinery spaces, and the ship's 4th officer?

The truth is we really don't know the details of what happened except that the ship made contact along it's starboard which caused fatal damage to the ship.​
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Will's questions are well stated. Unfortunately, there are no possible answers because the traditional, "canonical" accident is an impossibility. Not only did it not happen, it could not have happened in a conventional ship under any circumstances.

The maneuvering geometry of a ship requires that the stern swing a larger circle than the bow. Most people on this forum have been exposed to this reality, but it seems to go ignored in examinations of the accident. Titanic could not have been in a hard-over rudder situation during the accident--to port or to starboard--and damaged only its bow (as occurred in reality). If the rudder had been hard over, the inescapable physics of steering a ship would have caused damage to the "tender flank" of the ship all along the starboard side. The real accident produced damage exactly the opposite to the traditional accident.

Therefore, the classic accident as described by Walter Lord and depicted by James Cameron is a pure flight of fancy. I do not blame these men for their unwitting errors. They accurately depicted what two governmental inquiries decided back in 1912. Unfortunately, what the inquiries reported, what historians have repeated, and what film makers have depicted is a wonderful sea story, but contrary to science.

In my opinion:

The only maneuvering scenario which matches reality requires that Titanic approached the iceberg with neutral rudder. Yes, this means that Murdoch made no emergency "Hard A-Starboard!" command in a too little, too late effort to dodge the berg. He must have deliberately allowed Titanic to run straight at the berg.

However, the iceberg was not truly "dead ahead," but fine on the starboard bow. Lookout Fleet, however, was correct in both of his reports (the bell and the phone call) as to where the officers should look to see the danger.

At the moment of Fleet's phone call, Titanic was "in extremis" with regards to the iceberg. No amount of maneuvering either by the ship or the berg (assuming the berg could maneuver) would have avoided contact between the two. Murdoch's problem was not avoidance of the accident, but of "taking a glancing blow," or minimizing damage.

A head-on, or nearly so, approach confines impact damage to the bow. This mandates that no helm command was given vis-a-vis the iceberg accident until AFTER impact.

As to engine commands, Murdoch had no control over the center screw. However, that propeller and the port propeller were both out of harm's way. It was only the starboard prop and shaft that he had to worry about.

In effect, Murdoch was driving a twin-screw ship. By reducing thrust on the starboard shaft, he would cause the bow to fall to starboard, and the stern to swing outwards to port. Or, in terms of the coming contact with the berg, by slowing, stopping, or reversing the starboard shaft Murdoch knew he could swing the ship's flank and stern away from danger.

But, in a steamship operating in mid-ocean it takes some time to reverse an engine. The reason is more manpower than machinery. Engineers stand "sea watches" offshore with their attention focused on keeping the machinery operating correctly. They are not at their maneuvering stations as they would be when standing "maneuvering watches" in harbors or whenever the ship expected to change speed or direction of the machinery. So, Murdoch knew there would be some delay in the engineer's response to any order he issued.

The delay in engine response meant that to be effective, any engine order had to be sent down prior to impact. While there is some confusion in the testimonies over what order was sent, it seems that Murdoch did, in fact, send an engine order prior to the ship striking on the berg.

The only order that Murdoch could have sent to mitigate damage was Astern Full on the starboard shaft only. Not on both reciprocating engines, but the starboard shaft alone. Reversing both reciprocating engines was contra-indicated because that would have reduced the ship's ability to maneuver by reducing flow of water over the rudder. What order did Murdoch send? We have no absolute evidence, but Lightoller's answers to BOT questions #14511 to 14522 are illuminating. Note that Lord Mersey forced an end to questions about reversing one engine by twice instructing, "drop it."

In the last seconds before impact a variety of factors should have caused Titanic's bow to begin yawing to port. And, we have two eyewitnesses who saw this happening. Both Fleet and Lee reported it. A third man must have seen this yawing also--Quartermaster Hichens. His job was to react to any deviations from course without instructions from an officer. Rather more instinctively than by conscious thought Hichens should have begun applying right rudder (port helm in 1912 parlance) to counteract the incipient yaw. Unless Hichens was asleep at the wheel, he would have been steering toward the iceberg during the heartbeat or three before impact. That was Hichens' job.

Murdoch had been forced to let the ship run toward the berg to protect its flanks. However, that straight-on approach was only half of the needed mitigation maneuver. At the moment of impact Murdoch knew that he had to use right rudder to throw the stern outward and away from the iceberg. Otherwise, that incipient yawing would have caused the bow to slew off to port, exposing the vulnerable starboard flank to damage.

According to eyewitness (or, more precisely, "earwitness") Olliver, Murdoch ordered "Hard A-Port!" when the bow struck on the ice. In 1912, this order called for the appropriate right rudder necessary to swing the midship section of the hull and the vulnerable starboard propeller away from danger.

It was the combination of reduction in power from the starboard propeller, Hichens' early and automatic start to application of right rudder, followed by Murdoch's command that limited damage to the starboard bow. The berg still passed close aboard all the way to the stern, as Quartermaster Rowe's testimony indicates.

OK, what about the famous "Hard A-Starboard" order so critical to the canonical accident?

Despite the earnest testimonies of Fourth Officer Boxhall and Hichens, the ship could not have been turning left (starboard helm in 1912) at the time of the accident. The laws of physics simply do not permit the claims of an emergency left turn during impact on the iceberg.

Does this mean the officer and quartermaster invented the left turn out of whole cloth? I doubt it. At this point I am speculating, but I believe the ship did turn left (using starboard helm) two points immediately prior to coming "in extremis" with the iceberg.

My analysis of the pre-accident situation is that the "haze" described by the lookouts in their testimonies was really field ice. The deadly berg was silhouetted against that "haze," so visible as a "dark mass" at a range of about 5 minutes (11,100 feet) and reported by the lookouts. See seaman Scarrott's testimony for corroboration of the 5 minute duration between the ringing of the crow's nest bell and impact.

Using trigonometry, the berg was about 550 to 750 off to the left of the ship's intended track at the time when the lookouts rang their warning bell.

Ice navigation texts of the era indicate that bergs could not be seen on a calm, moonless night at more than a quarter or third of a mile distance. This was true in Titanic's case. It was the silhouette that the lookouts reported with their bell. They had not seen the berg by reflected light at that point. It was only at a range of about a quarter mile that they were able to detect the berg directly by eye from reflected starshine.

Boxhall and Hichens were involved in a two-point left turn (using starboard helm in 1912 parlance) to go around the field of ice. That turn was planned and executed without specific regard for any particular piece of ice, including what became the deadly berg. Due to the clumsy layout of Titanic's bridge, the ship made this turn when the berg was about 22 degrees off the port bow.

As Hichens "steadied up" from making this turn, Titanic was less than 45 seconds from disaster...the berg was now fine on the starboard bow...and we all know the rest of the story.

-- David G. Brown
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Dave, I've commented to you privately about the details of your scenario which you summarized here, so I see no need to bring those up now. However, we do agree that it is easy to prove, as you said, that the accident could not have happened the way most people were led to believe.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>the rudder which was apparently hard down,<<

What is hard down? I think what you mean is "Hard over."

Will. the questions your asking aren't bad ones but they suffer a bit from the assumption that the traditional pop history version of the collision with the iceberg is the way it actually went down.

It's not.

This, BTW, is not a put down aimed at you as I suspect that on some level, you may already know this. That's why you're asking some of the questions you've put to the board. You know that something is way wrong with the picture even if you're not quite sure what it is.

You might want to parse some of the debates we've had here or even check out some of the articles that have been published on the information side of this website. See

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/item/1515/

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/item/1511/

https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/item/1485/

Yes, there are points here in these articles which are controversial and debatable, but they do a nice job of illustrating why the pop version of these events just ain't so.
 

Will C. White

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Hard down is a slang term that comes after hard over. Hard over is the command of execution. Hard down is that once the stop is reached, hold her there. That's the time you need a strong QM, or did, at least until sail by wire.
 

Dave Gittins

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Actually, "hard down" and "hard up" are old sailing ship terms and relate to the tiller. "Hard up" means the tiller is pulled as far as possible to windward. "Hard down" means it's as far as possible to leeward.
 

Will C. White

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I was considering it in a more modern and under power setting as opposed to under sail, which is were my experience is. Like I said, we used it as a slang term, so I've no doubt it was translated from sail. The real hope is that your officer doesn't get so distracted with whatever else is going on that you go 360!
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Hard down is a slang term that comes after hard over.<<

Not under power it isn't, and there is no evidence whatever that such a term was ever used on the Titanic. What did get carried over from sail was that tiller commands were still used in relation to the rudder, For example, hard a starboard meant turning to port. With a tiller, it made sense because to make a turn to the left, one had to push the tiller arm to starboard. One a ship with a wheel, it was jusr an archiac hold over that tended to cause some measure of confusion.
 

Will C. White

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Note that I said 'we' used it as a slang term, meaning those I have served with and 'in my experience' which meant my personnel experience. I concur that it was not used on the Titanic's bridge. I was just trying to clarify what I stated earlier. There are tons of slang terms in use in every facet of life, and they may only be understood by those in a particular line of work, or perhaps by people who work at specific firm. Here's a nautical one just for fun-'handy billy'.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Note that I said 'we' used it as a slang term, meaning those I have served with and 'in my experience' which meant my personnel experience.<<

And note that I said "Not under power it isn't, and there is no evidence whatever that such a term was ever used on the Titanic." I'll grant that a lot of slang terms carry over to areas where they make no sense, but there's no evidence that this is one of them.
 
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>>Here's a nautical one just for fun-'handy billy'.<<

Wasn't that a portable pump used to pump accumulated water, something on the order of bailing ?
 

Dave Gittins

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The 'handy billy' I know was a portable tackle with,say, four to one purchase, kept handy for when a bit of hauling was required. It could be hooked onto whatever needed hauling.
 

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