Detachable Top Deck


Mar 15, 2001
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Some of you may have heard of this and if you have I would like to hear more about this. Several years ago, I came across an old magazine that was published a few years after the Titanic disaster and there was a diagram of a ship that had a detachable top deck that would be used in the event of a possible sinking of the ship. It looked good on paper, question is would it have been possible to construct this? Of course now that I think about it, this idea seems far fetched when the simple thing would be to have enough life boats.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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This was proposed in 1912 or earlier. No doubt it could have been constructed but whether it would have floated peacefully off, as its promoters imagined, is another thing. Ships seldom sink as neatly as Titanic.

There a quite a few alternatives to lifeboats, but they all fall down as liner equipment, because of the degree of training required. Free-falling lifeboats are widely used on freighters and oil rigs, but they provide a wild ride that is not suitable for ordinary passengers.

Another real hoot is the Marin Ark system, as sold by RFD. It's a glorified version of an aircraft escape chute and looks like fun, but it needs training. There are movies of it on the RFD site.

I'm afraid ordinary passenger ships will be stuck with boats for the foreseeable future. About the only alternative are davit launched inflatable liferafts, which are quite common. I just hope I'm never inside a 150 person enclosed lifeboat when everybody gets seasick.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Possible, perhaps. Practical? I doubt it.

How does one keep the spaces below watertight? How does one rig the attactments so they don't come off the ship when it takes heavy rolls in a storm?
How does one make the thing strong enough to hold up in heavy seas if it can be successfully floated off without adding to topweight problems?
How does one rig up connections for power, ventilation, etc to those areas that would need it in normal operations? (And how do you close all of that off when you really have to?)

Another reason that lifeboats will hang on is because of the clientel itself. You have to swim out to inflatable liferafts and a lot of passengers couldn't do that. Especially the elderly and infirm.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Trust Mike to see the problems. They could probably be solved, but shipwrecks don't lend themselves to organised preparations.

Ever seen davit launched inflatable liferafts? I wouldn't have thought them feasible, but they are standard on many liners. They hang from small cranes and are inflated while level with a deck. Then passengers scramble aboard and the whole thing is lowered. There's supposed to be no swimming involved, but I wouldn't bet on it. Maybe some high diving too!
 

Erik Wood

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Apr 10, 2001
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"Ever seen davit launched inflatable liferafts? I wouldn't have thought them feasible, but they are standard on many liners."

Is this a new thing??? All or most of the inflatables where for crew use only and the "hard" tenders where for passenger use. I have a Port Safety Control book around here somewhere I will have look into it.
 

Dave Gittins

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Captain Wood, I meant passengers in a general sense, as in passengers in the raft. I understand that ships that follow the 37.5% alternative provided in Regulation 20, part 1.1 of SOLAS regulations, assign the paying passengers to lifeboats and most of the crew to rafts.
 

Erik Wood

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Apr 10, 2001
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Ohhh, I am with you now. Ok, I understand. Sometimes my brain is a little slow. Or in a more accurate statement, my brain is always slow.
 

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