Could this have saved lives


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Paul Rogers

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Um, I should have made it clear that the bath idea wasn't meant to be taken as a serious theory, Michael!
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(Put it down to my weird sense of humour.) But I'm now wondering if they could have used the wardrobes instead...(Just joking!)

I'm glad I didn't suggest taking refuge in the water-tight compartments, as per Senator Smith.

Adam - I completely agree re the 'berg problems. Also, it's sad that the 9th Graders took that attitude. Makes you wonder why they asked the Captain for his opinion in the first place. But then I've seen too many grown-ups take exactly the same attitude after getting an answer they didn't like...

Regards,
Paul.
 
Sep 12, 2000
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Love the bathtub idea. And the bed linens could be sails.BOT tested them with the weight of many women and one lucky man. We just need fifty true to Titanic volunteers to climb into the tubs with the ladies to test this. (SMILE)

Mike as moderator is shaking his head saying lnadlubbers where do their brains go. (SMILE)
 
Jul 9, 2000
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I wouldn't be too hard on Senator Smith for asking that question. He was under a lot of pressure from constituants who had lost reletives on the ship and who were grasping at any straw in the hopes that there might be a chance that more were alive. It was unrealistic and Senator Smith knew it, but it needed to be put down on the official record.

As to where some brains went, the last time I looked, they were still inside people's skulls. (Unless some enterprising lad with anti-social tendencies got frisky with a shotgun and I missed the headlines. Then, all bets are off!)
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Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Taner Tanriover

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This seems a bit dated now but in response to the S.O.S with deck lights idea I would like to point out a couple of things:
1) Even if this had been done, I am inclined to think that the ships in the vicinity (who failed to respond to more commonplace distress signals of the day) wouldn't have reacted any differently. It must be remembered that the "SOS" signal was virtually unheard of at the time and even if signalled successfully it would have appeared to uninformed observers at a distance as just "blinking lights" possibly caused by a fault with the liner's electrical system.
2) I doubt that at the time a whole lot of lights could be turned on and off at the flick of a switch as easily as today.
3) Even if this was possible the only two people capable of signalling SOS (or teaching the electrician how to do it) would have been the wireless operators Bride and Phillips who were required at the Marconi desk at the time.
4) As mentioned by others, panicked passengers and the risk of burning the main electrical equipment to boot.
It's a great idea in hindsight but I don't think it would have worked.
 
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Tom Pappas

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More about lighting a fire on deck:

David Haisman asks: Where on earth do all these ideas of signals and life saving come from?

Dave Gittins adds: You are quite right about the oil, but it's among the things that get dragged out from time to time. It ranks with stuffing the holes with mats from the gymnasium. As you say, landlubbers have some weird ideas.

Rule 37 in the Rules of the Road states:
"When a vessel is in distress and requires assistance she shall use or exhibit the signals described in Annex IV to these regulations."
Annex IV - Distress Signals further states:
1. Need of assistance
(h) flames on the vessel (as from a burning tar barrel, oil barrel, etc.);

To the best of my knowledge, a fire on deck has been a standard maritime distress signal for centuries, and I remain astounded that no one aboard lit one. My suggestion, a barrel of pitch on the compass tower, I should imagine would be quite controllable, as the trim of the ship wouldn't tip it over until just before it was engulfed.

I don't know who first published the idea of stuffing the cracks from the outside, but Bill Garzke and I agree that it would have probably saved the ship. If anyone wishes to style Mr. Garzke, a foremost marine architect, as a landlubber, that is certainly his privilege.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Stuffing the cracks sounds like a wonderful idea on paper. The problem is that in the dark of the night, and with no diving equipment aboard, how would they go about doing it? Wheter done from the inside or the outside, you need a means of getting to the damage...which they didn't have...and you have to be able to see what your doing once you actually get there...which wasn't possible since they had nothing which would work underwater.

While I have the greatest of respect for Bill Garzke and his credentials, he is in fact, not a sailor. It's one thing to propose an idea from ones desk, and quite another to actually do it when everything is going to hell and the deck is stacked against you. Having had training and experience in shipboard damage control in a veriety of conditions, I understand all too well the concept of "Easier said then done."

As to the burning barrel on the compass platform, assuming they had any such available and the time to much around with it, one has to wonder if such would have done any good when the rockets...which exploded much higher up and could be seen at a much greater distance...failed to elicit any sort of response.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Fire on the compass platform...well that might have made that miserable mistake usefull for something. But, were there any old barrels of pitch lying about in the dark recesses of Titanic's holds?

As far as stuffing the cracks...a good plan which would have required two things: 1.) material to do the stuffing; and 2.) that "cracks" were the cause of the flooding. Perhaps there was enough bedding aboard to serve as #1, but I'm of the opinion that the damage was much beyond a few open seams.

Still, I wonder how hard it would be to use a makin' iron 34 feet under water?

--David G. Brown
 
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Tom Pappas

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The meaning of the rockets was ambiguous, in the opinion of Californian's crew. I suppose they could have interpreted a fire on deck as a midnight barbeque, but I doubt it. In any case, given the seriousness of their situation, Titanic's officers shouldn't have assumed that anything wasn't worth trying.

Including putting men into the water to see if they could stanch the flow into the boiler rooms. The parted seams were visible to the crewmen who evacuated those spaces, so there was no doubt about where they would be found, and Andrews could have determined their extent on the back of an envelope, as Wilding did a few weeks later.

Remember, all they had to deal with to save the ship was the flooding in two boiler rooms. They could write off the first four compartments, as the ship was designed to survive with all of them flooded.

If we accept Wilding's estimate (corroborated by RINA) that the total damage amounted to a discontinuous opening some 200' x 3/4" in size, then the portion in Boiler Rooms 5 and 6 would be around 65 feet long, one third of the total. The pressure at any point wouldn't be great enough to entrap anyone with its suction, and the requisite stuffing material could easily be obtained from mattresses and towels. Saving a ship in this fashion is not unheard of in maritime annals, and I don't imagine for a moment that there would be any lack of volunteers: "Gentlemen, the ship is sinking. We are all scheduled to freeze to death in about an hour's time. If anyone would like to hazard diving down to plug the cracks with these exercise mats, he should step forward now."
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Titanic's officers shouldn't have assumed that anything wasn't worth trying.<<

I don't think they did. They used what was available and even asked one of the boats to row for the lights of the "Mystery Ship" they could see several miles off. And were there any barrals aboard and pitch to burn? If so, was it accessable? (Documentation please!)

>>Including putting men into the water to see if they could stanch the flow into the boiler rooms. <<

With what? Did the Titanic have diving equipment. lights and trained divers aboard? (Documentation please!)

>>Remember, all they had to deal with to save the ship was the flooding in two boiler rooms. They could write off the first four compartments, as the ship was designed to survive with all of them flooded.<<

Was it really that simple? All they could report was the damage they were aware of...which cannot speak to what they couldn't find or didn't have a clue about. Remember that any damage control effort would involve working in flooded spaces and actually trying to plug splits, holes, and God knows what else that was already underwater. If anybody thinks that's a simple task, then I would challange them to take the damage control qualification standards that the U.S. Navy has and go through the constant drills and intensive training...none of which the crew of the Titanic had...just to maintain proficiency. I've done this.

It'll be a rude wake up call. All the ruder when one realizes that the body of experience which made all this training and D.C. doctrine possible didn't even exist in 1912.

>>If we accept Wilding's estimate (corroborated by RINA) that the total damage amounted to a discontinuous opening some 200' x 3/4" in size, then the portion in Boiler Rooms 5 and 6 would be around 65 feet long, one third of the total. <<

The keywords is "If we accept". Wilding based his calculations on incomplete data and while he did the best he could with what he had, I suspect he might have changed his tune had he been on a modern day team trying to do the actual forensics.

The actual forensics isn't always as firm as we might think. We have no way of knowing which splits may have been caused by the iceberg and what was caused by impact with the bottom.

>>The pressure at any point wouldn't be great enough to entrap anyone with its suction, and the requisite stuffing material could easily be obtained from mattresses and towels.<<

Again, with what? The Titanic had no diving equipment, divers or lights. You can't plug what you can't see using equipment you don't have.

>>The pressure at any point wouldn't be great enough to entrap anyone with its suction,<<

At what point? And bear in mind that the flooding would not have slowed until the space was flooded solid or come close to it. This puts the damage underwater and requires trained and well equipped divers to deal with it.

>> and the requisite stuffing material could easily be obtained from mattresses and towels. Saving a ship in this fashion is not unheard of in maritime annals,<<

You're right. It's not. The key point here is that such actions are generally taken from the inside of the vessel with damage that is generally above the waterline. Compartments that are flooded solid are generally left alone if they can be isolated. Titanic's could not be isolated and the pumps they had were not up to the job.
 
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A little addendum here. Anyone wanting to learn about Shipboard Damage Control might have a crack at typing those keywords into their search engine. Google.com gave me a total of 20,900 links on the subject, the first page of which can be accessed HERE

I respectfully suggest befor we get too carried away with this that some parties might want to research the topic. It's nowhere near as easy or as simple as some might believe.
 
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Tom Pappas

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...such actions are generally taken from the inside of the vessel with damage that is generally above the waterline. Compartments that are flooded solid are generally left alone (Whew! That's a lot of "generally"s there in a small space!)

I have dealt all my life with people saying that things I propose cannot be done. They are rarely available for comment when I go ahead and accomplish what they said was impossible. Perhaps their personality type outnumbered those suggesting nontraditional approaches to damage control on the night in question. My main point is that there is no record of extreme measures even having been tried. Were there exchanges such as, "Sir, the maritime convention mandates setting a fire on deck as a distress signal." "Never mind that, son, I can't think of anything to burn, and the funnels might block the light, and the ship over yonder might not see it"?

Remember, when someone tells you something is impossible, all they are really saying is that they can't do it.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Sorry Tom, I'm not saying impossible, I'm saying they didn't have even so much as the means to do what you propose. You can't conduct the needed diving operations either inside or outside the hull unless you have the essential equipment and training to do so. The people on the Titanic had neither one.

May I ask what experience and training you have in shipboard damage control? It's something I trained for over a 20 year career in the Navy, and under combat conditions. I know what it's like to try and find my way through a smoke filled space without even so much as a light to go by.

I've done it.

I know what it's like to try and patch and plug broken pipes and cracks, holes in the deck...etc.

I've done it.

I know what it's like to try and treat and evacuate casulties as it was all a part of my training.

I know what it takes to shore up bulkheads on the verge of collapse as along with every sailor assigned to a ship in the Navy, I've been trained to do just that.

I'm well aware of what improvosation can achieve since the history of damage control is the history of improvising and jury rigging. It's also a history of making do with what you actually have on hand!

Did the Titanic have barrels and pitch to burn?

I don't know. Hell, it might have been worth a try.

Did the Titanic have diving gear including the dry suits needed to dive in freezing water?

No.

Did the Titanic have essential equipment like lights suitable for use underwater?

No.

Bottom line; You can't use what you don't have.

I'll offer you two suggestions;
1)Follow that link I provided on the subject of shipboard damage control. It'll be an eye opener.
2)After studying the information available in those links, try and research what the Titanic actually had available and see if you can come up with a workable scheme.
 
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Tom Pappas

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The crew of Endurance patched her underwater leaks from the outside, in the dark, in freezing water, without protective gear, proper equipment, or training in damage control.

They did it because they didn't know they couldn't, and because they had to. There was no place on that crew for naysayers.

Shackelton carefully and deliberately chose his men primarily for their optimism, because he knew that without this essential quality in each and every one of them, the expedition would fail.

I daresay no one resembling his crew would have been found on Titanic's boat deck.
 

Dave Gittins

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Tom, old sparring partner, you're not dealing with Dan Butler and company now. This forum includes real experts, including ocean-going masters, merchant navy seamen and USN men. We've heard all the mad schemes long ago. I suggest a little lurking and learning.
 
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I just read through this part of the conversation. The claims made here surprised me a bit, so I sent an e-mail to Bill Garzke, to ask him exactly what he thought about Titanic's damage control capabilities. Being the holidays, I wouldn't expect an answer back until after the first of the year. If need be, I could contact him at home, but I don't want to impose unless it were absolutely necessary. It's not like the subject being discussed will change history or anything.

Parks
 
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Tom Pappas

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Dave:
Still your old patronizing self, I see. To your "real experts", I say: Feh! If you think that The Navy Way is either a) correct or b) the only way, then you know less about history than I suspected. My personal experience with the Navy was that they require checking one's imagination at the door. You may suggest whatever you wish. And I will ignore whatever suggestions I please.

Parks:
While you're waiting for Bill to reply: http://www.augustachronicle.com/stories/120298/fea_124-8960.shtml
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Dave: Still your old patronizing self, I see...<<

Hold it right there Tom. As the moderator of this thread, it is now my duty to remind you of the rules prohibeting personal attacks. From the rules;

- When writing your messages, please use the same courtesy that you would show when speaking face-to-face with someone. "Flames" (i.e. intentional provocation), insults, profanity, personal attacks or discrimination based on sex, faith, age, ethnicity or other personal, cultural or racial characteristics will not be tolerated under any circumstances. It is fine to disagree strongly with opinions, ideas, and facts, but always with respect for the other person. Great minds do not always think alike.

For more on this, please click on The Forum Rules.

Understand please that compliance with these rules is mandatory. This is not to stifle debate. You're certainly entitled to your opinions. The idea is to make sure it takes place in a civilized atmosphere.

>>My personal experience with the Navy was that they require checking one's imagination at the door. <<

My 20 years of service says otherwise. Maybe you got the short end of the straw and ended up on some bad commands. The commands where I served encourged critical thinking, and I can think of a number of crisis situations in my career where failing to do so would have gotten people killed.

Now, to get back on point and back to debating this matter, I went through that article and I can't see where a newspaper report...in and of itself...proves much of anything. Especially one that is going on five years out of date.

Basically, you're trying the old "arguement from authority" trick. You have t oknow that arguements from authority carry very little weight and the reason for that is that expertise is not transferable. Garzke, Foecke are crackerjack architects and metallurgists, but have no experience or training in actual damage control.

From the article;
quote:

"Now more than 40 rivets recovered from 11 places on the sunken ship have been examined, and 14 of them ``have some kind of problem,'' he said."

Sorry, but 40 rivets do not make for a valid statistical sampling out of three million known to have been used on the ship, most of which survived just fine. Of those that broke, there is no way of knowing whether the ones that failed did so because of impact with the berg or impact with the bottom. You'll notice in the sampling that was taken, that the 26 rivets which recieved the passing grade also failed.

quote:

Stuffing the gaps might have slowed the rush of water into the ship long enough to keep it from sinking until the ship Carpathia arrived, and possibly could have saved all aboard, Garzke said.

This assertion has already been disposed of. With no diving equipment and no way of seeing in the dark, any such effort would have come to a cold stop befor it even started.

It's one thing to try and swim through water which is waist deep, quite another to actually try and breath it. Humans do not have gills and don't last long when immersed unprotected in 28 degree water.

You said: "You may suggest whatever you wish. And I will ignore whatever suggestions I please."

Bad move Tom. A good historian listens to all points of view and all the evidence befor reaching a conclusion. Playing the pick and choose game where you simply discard that which does not support your opinion without considering their merits increases the odds of making your making erroneous conclusions to that of certainty.​
 
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Tom Pappas

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I say, "Shackleton's crew (none of whom had gills) dived under Endurance in the dark, in ice water, and plugged leaks in her hull. With no training, equipment, or protective gear."

You say, "...any such effort would have come to a cold stop."

Well, you must be right.
 
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