Could it happen


Mark Webster

Member
Dec 24, 2005
37
0
76
sorry, am in a rush, did a quick search to check if this had already been mentioned or not but couldn't see it, sorry if it has.

Just curious, I was watching film this weekend, could this ever really happen to a ship if a tidal wave hit it. I was discussing it with the family, obviously it happens to smaller boats all the time, but my father was certain that it be impossible with the stabaliser's on ships these days. I know in the old version of the film they mention ballist a lot and that the ship had less than it should and this helped her to tip over.
In reality could an ocean liner like Poseidon tip over like that, or even todays modern cruise ships like in the recent movie. If it did so what would be the likelihood of people escaping it the way they do in the film? very little I imagine as it was almost impossible in the films themselves. Whats your thoughts?
 
I saw a documentary on science and the movies which profiled the plausibility of several movies from a scientific standpoint. They said that a rogue wave of a certain size could capsize a liner. But a tidal wave looks like any other wave in deep water, but as it gets closer to land, it gets larger and larger.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,591
384
283
Easley South Carolina
Stabilizers wouldn't make any real difference here. There are limits to what can be accomplished with any design. While it hasn't happened to a cruise ship or liner yet, get a rogue wave large enough and it could.
 

Mark Webster

Member
Dec 24, 2005
37
0
76
Thanks guys. Wow, thats one terrifying thought. I wassn't sure just how possible it would be for a wave to capsize a ship the way it happened in the movie. lets hope it doesn't ever happen.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,591
384
283
Easley South Carolina
Rogue waves have been the subject of a lot of myth, legend, and sailor's lore which weren't taken all that seriously until recently when some very large ships not only survived encounters with them, but brought back photos as well.

Personally, I don't think that you'ed have to worry about them on a cruise ship or liner. The shipping lines do keep tabs on the weather and go to a lot of trouble to steer their expensive vessels away from likely trouble spots.
 
Jul 11, 2001
547
1
146
Agreed. Cruise ships will alter course to avoid bad weather. Plus one would think that there are early warning systems in place that would alert the crew of one approaching so they could turn towards it in time.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,591
384
283
Easley South Carolina
>>Plus one would think that there are early warning systems in place that would alert the crew of one approaching so they could turn towards it in time.<<

It's really all about communications. Satillites have been used to monitor the weather for nearly 40 years and the cruise lines make sure their ships have the information.
 
May 3, 2002
800
24
148
58
Wellington, New Zealand
Mark, it has come frighteningly close in my part of the world, 4 times my lifetime. The most recent bing a couple of years ago. It caused a real stink when the news got out and the maritime safety people got interested.

Martin
 

Will C. White

Member
Apr 18, 2007
267
0
86
I go by one rule, there is no ship afloat that cannot be capsized in a seaway; all you need are the right set of circumstances.
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
14
198
Although not a capsize incident, the most notorious example of liner vs rogue wave, was the monster which struck the Michelangelo in 1966. Even with a long bow to diffuse the impact somewhat, the wave collapsed the forward end of the superstructure; sweeping a couple of passengers to a miserable death in mountainous seas, and pinning others in the ruins of First Class forward.

The last liner to be entirely overwhelmed by a storm was the Valbanera, 1919, which went down in 40 feet of water off Key West with the loss of 499 passengers and crew; no survivors. Whether she struck bottom and foundered, or was simply overwhelmed by giant shallow-water waves is open for debate.

Discussed on the St. Pierre thread~ the Quebec Line's Roraima was struck by both a volcanic blast at close range (only about 4 miles from epicenter) and a tidal wave, of sorts, and was rolled on to her beam ends but did not capsize. One could hardly imagine worse simultaneous challenges to a vessel's stability (a third is that she was struck by a whirlpool shortly thereafter) but what did her in was the uncontrollable fire which broke out aboard.

My own hunch is that passengers have more to fear from catastrophic structural collapse than capsize in the event of being broadsided by a freak wave. From a VERY informal study of West coast (US) capsizes, it seems like the majority of the ships were, in one way or the other, improperly ballasted when the turnover occurred. I've been aboard several of today's top-heavy looking ships in high seas, and the stability seems as good as it was on the older ships. What IS scary is the row upon row of balconies, with waiting-to-collapse glass walls just behind them.
 

Will C. White

Member
Apr 18, 2007
267
0
86
Jim-All those open side areas worry me too on these monsterous modern cruise ships, as well as some of the huge internal cavities, but I think our next major tragedy at sea will involve one of those babies burning-all the modern materials that are used that aren't nearly as fire retardent as they claim they are. Of equal concern to me is the international flavor of the crews, most of whom are hospitality personnel, like a hotel, not sailors; and I understand the turnover is fairly regular as well. I have some training in risk management, and while it doesn't make the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, it would be a "bullet" in a potential hazard report. WILL
 

Jim Kalafus

Member
Dec 3, 2000
6,114
14
198
>but I think our next major tragedy at sea will involve one of those babies burning-all the modern materials that are used that aren't nearly as fire retardent as they claim they are.

Agreed! There was that issue with the QM2 a few years back, in which Poland's interpretation of "fireproof bathrooms" was a bit more broad than those of the US and UK; the fire aboard the Carnival Ecstasy, and the Scandinavian Star disaster which killed 153. Are you familiar with the circumstances of the MGM Grand Fire? Something 'breaking out' on a centrally located portion of a modern ship, low down, would end up exactly the same.

>Of equal concern to me is the international flavor of the crews, most of whom are hospitality personnel, like a hotel, not sailors; and I understand the turnover is fairly regular as well.

Depends on the cruise line. Naming no names - the whole lawsuit thing- some are infinitely better than others when it comes to staff turnover and training. There are cruise ships where- if you take the time to look objectively- what you see is a sense of cohesion among the crew that transcends the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual, makeup of the same. And, on other ships, when you look what you see fosters a sense of "I would NOT like to be in an emergency situation here."

The 1934 Morro Castle disaster- one of my two 'specialties'- is a textbook example of what CAN happen in a disaster, if one has a crew that is poorly trained; discontent, with a high turnover; multilingual and allowed to separate along ethnic lines, who are suddenly expected to be both professional and selfless. In 1925, the liner Mohawk caught fire in the height of a storm so bad that the captain of the Aquitania described it as the worst weather he had ever seen, and despite that fact that the liner burned for almost a day (was, in fact, entirely destroyed before she sank) she managed to make port with no fatalities; succumbing inside the Delaware Breakwater after everyone had been evacuated. In that case, an equally...eclectic...crew was a well trained eclectic crew, with team spirit and a sense of obligation, and it made the difference between triumph and disaster. One of the stewardesses described the mountainous seas as a lifesaver- the passengers were so terrified of the storm and miserably seasick that the fire did NOT instill the expected panic.
 
Mar 20, 2007
734
1
86
Golly me, but this is scary stuff! Never mind icebergs or torpedoes, I'm now much more frightened I'm going to have to extricate myself from an upturned hull with Shelley Winters for company.

In all seriousness, though, the above posts do make me reconsider the realities of life on the ocean wave. I tend to assume that an Atlantic crossing would involve much sipping of bouillon in a well-cushioned deck chair and sweeping down grand staircases in full evening regalia - but, of course, the weather conditions (particularly out of season) might well have prohibited both these activities. I've never suffered from mal de mer but, faced with the prospect of being swallowed up whole, ship and all, in mountainous seas, this would seem like the least of my worries. In an era when liners really WERE the only way to cross, one can see why an Atlantic voyage was not so much something to look forward to, as something to dread.
 
Feb 4, 2007
1,646
3
108
40
Denver, Colorado, United States
Here is another fictitious rendition of a rogue wave hitting the Queen Mary as she rests in Long Beach today. Funny things is, if I'm not mistaken, the wave approaches and strikes her from the WRONG SIDE or, in other words, the Eastern side. I have no idea what show this clip is from though.
 
May 27, 2007
3,917
3
0
There was a History Channel special about Rouge Waves. They showed some footage of a of Passenger Ship after it had been struck by one.

"Rouge Wave" a new Perm by Elizabeth Arden as worn by our model Shelley Winters for the new Film "Poseidon Adventure". The wet look is always in at !
happy.gif
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,591
384
283
Easley South Carolina
>>I tend to assume that an Atlantic crossing would involve much sipping of bouillon in a well-cushioned deck chair and sweeping down grand staircases in full evening regalia <<

And as you surmised, it seldom works that way out on the North Atlantic. There's a reason that heaters were installed on liners as soon as it became possible to do so. Even in the summer, it can get bloody cold out there, then there's the weather which is always there to throw you a curve ball. Winter storms are obviously not an issue then but hurricanes are.