Cruise Ships Unsinkable


Joe Russo

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Apr 10, 2006
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I know that no ship is unsinkable, but it seems that many of the new cruise ships have atriums that span the entire width and height of the ship above the waterline. These same ships have "royal promenade" shopping malls that leave the entire center of the ship open for hundreds of feet. Does anyone know how these ships would handle an accident that required the ship to shut its watertight compartments to stay afloat in an accident or bad weather? It just seems that all of this open space to make the ship feel like a Hyatt Regency would compromise strength and seaworthiness. Wouldn't these large open public areas cause major weak spots in the hull?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Very observant of you, Joe.

I don't think you're going to find a lot of sailors who aren't skeptical of these ship's abilities to survive much in the way of through hull damage or any other kind for that matter. Supposedly, these vessels are designed to the two compartment standard, which means that they can remain afloat with any two watertight compartments flooded.

Whether or not they really can is something I hope is never put to the test. We might not like the answers.
 

Joe Russo

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Apr 10, 2006
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Thanks Michael.
I did notice that the QM2's lobby atrium is rather small in relation to the overall size of the ship and only a few decks high. I guess this could be because they built her for constant North Atlantic crossings with a 40 year plan. I'm sure the stresses on a liner that would have wide open hollow atriums and shopping malls would be incredible. I would hate to think of what could happen to an aging all welded ship like this taking on a North Atlantic storm with so many weak spots. We may start to find out as these mega cruise ships start to get older in the next few decades.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I don't think you'll have to worry about aging cruise ships on the North Atlantic run. The vessels that were purpose designed for the cruise trade tend to be used in the somewhat balmier climes of the tropics ands that's where they tend to stay. The owners of these vessels are well aware of their weaknesses and make a special effort to avoid dangerous weather conditions whenever possible.

It's when it's not possible that can be a matter of concern.
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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I'm putting the finishing touches on an article about a major liner disaster, within living memory, in which it was discovered, post event, that it was possible to build and sail a liner that was a "zero compartment ship" (she could not remain afloat with even one compartment holed) and still remain within the letter of the law as it stood at the time of this ship's construction.
Sometimes it seems that if there is a loophole, someone will find it...

>These same ships have "royal promenade" shopping malls that leave the entire center of the ship open for hundreds of feet.

They tend to be very high up in the ship. If water has reached a level of, say, 80 feet above the keel it would seem that floatation has already been severely compromised. I tend to view these expansive corridor-like rooms more as fire hazards than anything else. As the experiences of Normandie and l'Atlantique show, even when a ship is standing still or under tow, broad, high, lengthy rooms turn into wind tunnels when they ignite.
 
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Glenn Lappin

Guest
Good topic,
Todays naval architects have the flooding,collision,fire lessons well incorporated into their designs.I would be concerned about Hogging stresses on very long vessels regardless of atrium size.A long vessel would be more likely to snap in two on a rough transatlantic crossing than to founder with a few compartments flooded. What is the thickness of QM2's hull plating vs Freedom Of the Seas- Anyone?
 
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Glenn Lappin

Guest
Oh yeah, I forgot about that.Not to disrespect,It's just that my brain is always tuned to salt water vessels. I can't remember if She broke in those heavy swells or just hogged so badly that Her cargo covers popped off like tupperware lids. In either case the lake would come right in. It must have been a nasty ride.
 
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Brent Holt

Guest
Most ships today are built to 2 compartment standards, just like 100 years ago. The atriums you speak of are so high in the ship that they do not factor into the safety design. The emphasis is on avoiding an accident with modern navigational systems.

Brent
 

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