Did Titanic Have a Strengthened Bow?


Dave Gittins

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An interesting feature of Titanic's bow was that she effectively had two collision bulkheads. H & W originally designed the collision bulkhead to suit the arrangements of the anchors and the chain locker. When inspected, this arrangement didn't meet Board of Trade standards, because the bulkhead was too close to the bow. After discussions, it was decided to leave the bulkhead alone and to increase the height of the second bulkhead to reach the weather deck. In a head on collision, Titanic could have stood up quite well. It's all in BOT records.
 
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Jul 9, 2000
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>> The strengthened bow would have helped if she had struck the iceberg head on. <<

Uh...no, it really wouldn't have. In a full head on collision, the bow still get's punched in like a boxer's nose. Whether or not the ship remains afloat depends on whether or not the collision bulkhead holds like it did on the Stockholm.

Ice strengthened give the ship some added insurance but it's not the same thing as an icebreaker which does it's thing by riding up and over on sheets of ice, then using it's weight to crush it's way through.
 
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WentHulk

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Who's "they" and what "strengthened bow" did "they" build?

Ship builders in general. Including White Star Line. I've heard that the last iceberg collision prior to the Titanic's sinking was a head on collison. As I recall it was the SS Islander that hit an iceberg in the bow end in 1901. The SS Islander sank soon after.
 
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At the forward end of Olympic and Titanic the framing and plating was specially strengthened with the intent to prevent panting and to prevent damage when meeting thin harbor ice such as encountered in New York during the winter where the vessel may have to force its way through ice 3 or 4 inches thick.
 

WentHulk

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>> The strengthened bow would have helped if she had struck the iceberg head on. <<

Uh...no, it really wouldn't have. In a full head on collision, the bow still get's punched in like a boxer's nose. Whether or not the ship remains afloat depends on whether or not the collision bulkhead holds like it did on the Stockholm.

Ice strengthened give the ship some added insurance but it's not the same thing as an icebreaker which does it's thing by riding up and over on sheets of ice, then using it's weight to crush it's way through.

Its not a guarruntee but it was a safer option than trying to avoid the iceberg when one is too close to it.
 
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That is pure hindsight.

What did 1st Officer Murdoch know at the time? What was his understanding of the situation at the time?

Our perspective doesn't count. He didn't know what we knew.


His knowledge was that there was a icy bump in the road ahead that he needed to avoid if at all possible, and he had no reason which survived to me mentioned in the historical record that he couldn't.

For a deck officer, hitting something is the absolute last resort.
 

Rennette Marston

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The strengthened bow would have helped if she had struck the iceberg head on.

Though some might argue that the impact would've been catastrophic if she had hit the iceberg head-on because she was allegedly traveling at high-speed that night. That may explain why the crew at the helm decided to circumvent the berg instead.
 

Arun Vajpey

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It was not a calculated decision simply because there was no time to do that. Once he learned about and then saw the iceberg, Murdoch had seconds to work with and likely made the impulsive decision that 'porting around' the berg was his best option.

The other thing to remember is that the iceberg was an irregular solid object and not a sheer wall. Theoretically, if they had not turned the ship at all but simply tried to slow it down as much as possible before the inevitable impact, the resultant collision might not have been an exact "head-on" collision in the conventional sense. If the wall of the iceberg that the bow hit was at an angle to the long axis of the ship, the ensuing damage might still have extended along the first 5 watertight compartments, albeit in different areas of the hull.

There is one other issue to be considered. The later discovered (around 01:05 am, I think) damage to Boiler Room #4 was very likely due to water seeping through the double bottom of the Titanic and under the stokehold plates. This might be due to the ship 'riding over' a shelf-like projection of the iceberg during the impact. If the Titanic had not turned at all, there is the possibility that the damage to the double bottom was much more extensive, also contributing to the flooding.
 
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WentHulk

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Though some might argue that the impact would've been catastrophic if she had hit the iceberg head-on because she was allegedly traveling at high-speed that night. That may explain why the crew at the helm decided to circumvent the berg instead.
She was traveling at top cruise speed as I've heard.
 

Rennette Marston

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It was not a calculated decision simply because there was no time to do that. Once he learned about and then saw the iceberg, Murdoch had seconds to work with and likely made the impulsive decision that 'porting around' the berg was his best option.

The other thing to remember is that the iceberg was an irregular solid object and not a sheer wall. Theoretically, if they had not turned the ship at all but simply tried to slow it down as much as possible before the inevitable impact, the resultant collision might not have been an exact "head-on" collision in the conventional sense. If the wall of the iceberg that the bow hit was at an angle to the long axis of the ship, the ensuing damage might still have extended along the first 5 watertight compartments, albeit in different areas of the hull.

There is one other issue to be considered. The later discovered (around 01:05 am, I think) damage to Boiler Room #4 was very likely due to water seeping through the double bottom of the Titanic and under the stokehold plates. This might be due to the ship 'riding over' a shelf-like projection of the iceberg during the impact. If the Titanic had not turned at all, there is the possibility that the damage to the double bottom was much more extensive, also contributing to the flooding.

Makes a lot more sense now. Thanks for clearing some things up!
 
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WentHulk

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Indeed. Titanic not sinking as a result of a head on collision isn't a certainty. From Ballard in a documentary I got the idea that had the ship had a head on collision with the iceberg, they would have killed a lot of the crew but the ship probably wouldn't have sank.
 

Rennette Marston

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Maybe. But I still think the Titanic could've suffered serious damage across the hull after hitting a huge floating object head-on at high-speed (violent vibrations causing rivets to pop and all).
 

Arun Vajpey

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Indeed. Titanic not sinking as a result of a head on collision isn't a certainty. From Ballard in a documentary I got the idea that had the ship had a head on collision with the iceberg, they would have killed a lot of the crew but the ship probably wouldn't have sank.

But Ballard could not have known the actual shape of the iceberg or, more importantly, the nature and the angle if the surface it would have presented to the Titanic if the ship had not been turned at all. As I said, a theoretical head-on collision with the iceberg would NOT have been the same like collision against a vertical wall. Other than the effects of impact against a very irregular and multi-angled surface, the Titanic could have also sustained greater damage to the double bottom and keel than what actually happened. IMO, there are too many variables involved for anyone to be able to calculate with any degree of accuracy the extent of damage and so the probability of sinking or otherwise in he event of a head-on collision.
 

Aly Jones

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Head on collision would be a lot safer option (maybe titanic survive or less damage -sank a lot slower and lasting longer) then a vertically hit along her hull as we know the results from that, but officers were trained to avoid collisions. Better yet, if officer Murdoch and fleet never saw the berg until they hit.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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I do not believe it would have been as simple or straightforward as that. As I have explained above, had the Titanic not been turned at all but simply slowed down as much as possible (which would not have been anything significant in the timeframe available), there is no easy way to tell the kind of surface the bow would have struck, given the size and irregularity of the berg. The resultant damage would have been different, of course, but it still might have resulted in foundering of the ship. The dynamics involved, flooding pattern and timeframes would have been different but I don't think those can be calculated so easily even with hindsight.

I want to use this opportunity to point out something else. Put yourself in Murdoch's position; after he heard about and saw the iceberg, he had less than perhaps 10 seconds to make a decision about the course of action. With that sort of pressure situation, the built-in reflex to avoid asserts itself, overriding potential actions learned from training or even experience. IMO, Murdoch would not had time to think logically and decide what to do; it had to be (and was) a reflex response.
 
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Given that there was about 45 to 50 seconds between the 3-bell lookout signal and when the ship actually struck the berg, I believe it was not a quick reflex decision by Murdoch, rather a subject calculated decision to turn his vessel so as to take a glancing blow rather than a head-on blow, or a blow amidships or further aft which might have resulted in a capsize.
 

WentHulk

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Head on collision would be a lot safer option (maybe titanic survive or less damage -sank a lot slower and lasting longer) then a vertically hit along her hull as we know the results from that, but officers were trained to avoid collisions. Better yet, if officer Murdoch and fleet never saw the berg until they hit.
Indeed. However the survival of the ship after a head on collision was not guaranteed. Ballard said that the ship PROBABLY wouldn't have sank. It would have killed a lot of people, a lot of the crew were in the bow section but Ballard says the ship PROBABLY wouldn't have sank. Or at the very least lasted longer. But to be fair Titanic lasted a lot longer than her own builder thought she would. I've heard that Andrews thought Titanic would sink in an hour, but she lasted exactly 2 hours and 40 minutes. Impressive.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Given that there was about 45 to 50 seconds between the 3-bell lookout signal and when the ship actually struck the berg.
True, but that was the time between the 3 bells and actual collision, right? But Murdoch himself would have had much less time to make his decision. The question that perhaps can never be answered now is at what point after 3-bells did Murdoch himself SEE the iceberg? Did he immediately look for the berg or after Fleet made the phone call, Moody responded and then shouted to Murdoch? I felt that even with the best scenario, some time would have elapsed before Murdoch actually saw the berg himself and when he did, he had to make a quick (even if quick-calculated ;) ) decision about his course of action. He then made-up his mind, gave the order, Hichens turned the helm and the Titanic had started to respond when the collision occurred.

That is why I felt that the time frame that Murdoch had for actually thinking and making a decision was a lot narrower than 45 seconds.
 

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