Figures spotted by CV Grooves on icefloe


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Jul 9, 2000
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Not very likely I'm afraid. Anyone who could have made it to an icefloe would have been somebody who had already been in the water,(No boat would have any reason to go near one of these, assuming that they could have seen them in the dark.) in which case, by this time in the morning, hypothermia would have long finished them off.

Dead people don't move. Seals however are perfectly adapted to just this sort of environment, so it would make perfect sense for seals to be moving about.


Frankly, I find the idea that anyone could have made it to any nearby icefloe problematical for several reasons.
1)Freezing water is almost instantly debilitating, even to the strongest people. At most, they last 15 to 45 minutes
2)Swimming would actually speed up the onset of hypothermia.
3)How would any swimmer even know where to look? It's very difficult to sea much of anything on the open ocean at night, much less the dark form of an icefloe...or anything else...against the inky blackness of the sea. As a retired sailor, I understand this from first hand experience.

For more information on survival times and the effects of swimming in freezing water, go to http://www.ussartf.org/cold_water_survival.htm

The only boat known to have been recovered after being set adrift was Collapsible A, which was found by the RMS Oceanic a month after the disaster with three bodies aboard. They were buried at sea.

For more information on this, go to https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/lifeboats/boat_a.shtml

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Dec 7, 2000
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In short, after Titanic sank, some 20 or so people climbed aboard collapsible A. Some of these later died aboard the boat from exposure etc. In the morning, Lowe's boat #14 passed boat A and collected those that were alive on it. The others (3 dead men) were left behind. These men died during the night and did not get the time to survive and be hungry. Boat A never reached Carpathia, whilst the other 19 boats did.

Daniel.
 
Sep 20, 2000
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"For more information on survival times and the effects of swimming in freezing water, go to http://www.ussartf.org/cold_water_survival.htm"

Mike:

I've got to say I still have serious doubts about these figures. Aside from the fact that they only represent average probabilities (not guarantees) and assume submersion the entire time ('water is 32 times more heat-robbing than air' was stated on one of these "fact sheets"), the source of this data remains consistently obscure. No one cites one!

One reason this is very troubling is that the only known hypothermia *fatality* studies I could identify were those done on prisoners at Dachau concentration camp by the Nazis. (Animal studies are NOT readily extrapolated to human results.) And the lack of a published reference for these online tables is somewhat telltale -- the Dachau data was brought over to the U.S. by a Doctor Leo Alexander, who interrogated the Nazi doctors at Nuremburg, but is by ethical consensus NEVER cited due to the extreme sensitivity of the issue.

In addition to the enormous ethical question, recent researchers who did obtain access to the original data -- a government file not readily available in any form -- strongly suggest that the methodology and reporting were extremely questionable, with data oftentimes fudged by sympathetic assistants who detested what they were obliged to be involved in.

So I wouldn't be too sure about those numbers at all. In any event, with only the *averages* ever published one is unable to discern anything about the extremes. And after all, there's very little of predictability in the human spirit.

One thing's for sure -- anyone who *might* have been able to surface onto an ice floe had a much better chance of survival. If a few people -- even wet -- accomplished this, who could then huddle together for warmth, their odds would increase dramatically! Following Daniel's lead, this is prescisely what occurred on Collapsible A (and B!). And most of those people survived, even many still partly submerged.

One other thing to keep in mind: Whether or not these printed probabilities are indeed the outfall of those Dachau "experiments", such information was certainly unavailable in 1912. So no one could have made any sweeping proclamation in that day and age as to the general survivability of the disaster conditions.

As for Groves' "seals", I wouldn't be too sure of that either. Certainly no one stuck around to find out! And those doubts were serious enough in Groves' mind that he still voiced them with regrets 45 years later.

Regards,
John
 
Sep 20, 2000
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"Anyone who could have made it to an icefloe would have been somebody who had already been in the water ... in which case, by this time in the morning, hypothermia would have long finished them off."

Mike:

Says who?? Not to belabor the point, but those tables -- even IF credible -- don't cover hypothermia survival in AIR at all! And the supporting information at that web site makes it clear that anyone who manages to get OUT of the water is covered by a completely different set of ground rules:

"Cold water robs the body's heat 32 times faster than cold air. If you should fall into the water, all efforts should be given to getting out of the water by the fastest means possible."
[From COLD WATER Survival WWW Page]

So if they did get out of the water, the prognosis changes radically!

Cheers,
John
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Survival of anyone in the water from the time Titanic disappeared until daylight when they might have been seen...necessary prior to rescue...is highly doubtful. However, it is highly likely that many of the bodies floating in lifevests were not technically "dead." I have talked to several experts who told stories of doing autopsies on "dead" victims of cold water drowning in years past only to find the internal organs were remarkably lifelike. That is why the current rule is, "Not stone cold dead, but re-warmed and still dead."

The problem becomes re-warming the individual. Even modern hospitals with the equipment have difficulty because "brain death" occurs before the body succumbs. It is possible to have a revived corpse. The ethical consequences can be enormous. However, none of the ships that responded to Titanic's distress call had the ability or knowledge to rewarm hypothermia victims. Typically in 1912, they would have been given a "warming" tot of whiskey which would actually have lowered their core temperature.

My personal experience is anecdotal and not scientific. I have found that hypothermia sets in more quickly than might be suspected. I pulled victims of a capsized boat out of Miami (Florida) harbor who exhibited blue lips, uncontrolled shivering, and slurred speech after less than 5 minutes of exposure.

On the other hand, I have also pulled capsize victims out of Lake Erie who had more than 10 minutes of exposure to much colder water and who showed only "goose flesh" on their skin and no other signs of cold.

The signficant difference in these two situations was not the temperature of the water, but the expectations of the victims. Those in Miami were unfamiliar with boats and water. They feared death when their boat rolled over. The Lake Erie victims were experienced small boat sailors and members of a college swimming team. They expected to survive and at one point expected to finish the race.

Age was also a factor. The owner of the Lake Erie boat was in his 60s and in very good physical condition. Yet, he suffered rapid hypothermic loss of muscle coordination and was unable to swim or climb the boarding ladder. Had he panicked, we may not have been able to rescue him.

From these anecdotes and from the available liturature, I have come to the conclusion that few Titanic victims would have been "rescue-able" after only 15 minutes in the water. A few, however, would have been in good enough mental and physical shape to continue fighting for survival beyond that first quarter hour. And, someone of remarkable will and stamina might have seen the dawn while floating in a lifevest, although that is doubtful.

If people had reached an ice floe, their survival potential would have zoomed. Look at the survival of the men on Lightoller's overturned boat. In fact, an iceberg would have provided more protection from cold than that boat because survivors could have found dry spots out of the rising wind. How long could someone of good physical condition survived? No one can say.

My problem with the "people on the iceberg" report is not whether or not it might have occurred. The problem is the time frame in which the allegation was published. The report does not grow out of the moment, but is a recollection of 40-odd years later. By the time the story was published it was impossible to prove or disprove. Are there any solid contemporaneous (1912) reports to corroborate the 1957 story? That's the real question here that should take precidence over any discussion of hypotherimia.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Ashley Regan

Guest
Hello,

I always wondered how far away from the iceberg did Titanic get before she sank? I mean the iceberg she hit of course, was it still visible to the ship? Could it have been close enough for anyone to reach? Would the amount of heavy clothes and a lifejacket help one remain alive for longer than 15 minutes?

Ashley
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Good question Ashley. We don't really know the answer to that one and never will. After the collision, the concern was assessing the damage to the ship, and getting to closer to possible rescue since the Titanic was about 10 miles south of the shipping lanes in use at the time. There is evidence from several sources which indicates that the ship got underway again...notably Colonel Gracie and Lawrence Beesley. They simply would not have been concerned with keeping track of the location of an iceberg which was behind them.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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I think that the fact that there is some testimony to support that the ship got back underway as well as there is some vaguness in the testimony that says without saying that the ship didn't get back underway will be a matter of lot of debate both in this thread an in others.

I think that Mike has a point. If Titanic did get underway they any survivors that could have made it to the a iceberg didn't make it to the one that hit Titanic.

ERik
 
Oct 28, 2000
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My view is that there is unambiguous testimony regarding Titanic resuming making way. It happened. This means that the deadly berg was some distance away from the actual location of the foundering.

There is also rather unabiguous testimony and photographs made from Carpathia that indicates a great deal of ice surrounded the location where the rescue was accomplished. This would indicate that pieces of ice large enough to support human beings could have been within reach of swimmers. It does not, however, prove that any such thing took place.

-- David G. Brown
 
Jul 9, 2000
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The question that goes begging here is whether or not anyone in the water would have even known of any icefloes close by to make it to. You can't swim to it if you can't see it, and it was mighty dark out there.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Leon Broom

Guest
Does anybody know what the air temperature was on the fateful evening?
Heat loss and cooling of the human body would be greatest if the body or clothing was wet. It is highly unlikely that anybody could have made it to these icefloes without getting wet! Even if they could, the ice adjacent to their bodies would have started to melt because of their body temperature and this would have accelerated the onset of hypothermia. Unfortunately, I think it is near impossible that anybody could have survived in those conditions until dawn.

Regards

Leon
 
Jul 9, 2000
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As I recall...don't have the exact figures handy...the air temperatures had gone down to freezing. In fact, they were concerned enough about it to have the ship's carpenter check the fresh water tanks up topside to make sure they didn't freeze over.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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John Meeks

Guest
Just a short note on this one..

With respect, I feel that all the postings discussing wether or not anyone managed to reach, or could have survived on an iceberg or icefloe, ignore or forget one very basic, simple question...

You've just been immersed, perhaps for some considerable time in 28 degree water. You're suffering from shock and your extremities are numb with cold. You're hampered by waterlogged heavy woollen outer clothing and a life jacket.

You reach an iceberg.

How do you climb on....?

John M
 

Tracy Smith

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Nov 5, 2000
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That's it exactly...you don't. A person would not climb onto an ice floe any more than they would be able to get into a lifeboat from the water by themselves. And I imagine the ice floe would be even harder than the lifeboat, being wet and slippery.
 
Sep 20, 2000
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OK, just to throw fuel on the fire ... ;^)

I often hear this "too wet and slippery" argument bandied about. But let's look at this objectively. The water temperature was supposedly 28 degrees Fahrenheit; the air temperature was also a few degrees below freezing; and, there was ZERO swell -- the surface of the ocean was said to be "like a mill pond". That oily appearance observed on the sea surface is itself indicative that the sea water -- with a lower freezing point still than fresh -- was indeed beginning to freeze.

Since fresh-water ice, of which icebergs, growlers and most of the ice around that night are primarily comprised, only melts at temperatures of 32 degrees Fahrenheit and above, and since it was observed that there was NO water lapping at the bases (by which to have seen THE iceberg), the only part of an ice floe likely to be wet when someone first encountered it would have been the *submerged* part. Right?

And if even a single hearty individual managed to pull himself up onto an ice block potentially suitable for rafting, he in turn would be able to *help* others up onto the "vessel". (Quite similar to what often transpired on Collapsible B.)

"Well", you might say, "he would be wet to begin with!". Yes, but did you ever grab an ice cube out of the deep freeze with cold, wet hands? Initially, you stick, as your own moisture freezes to the ice! How quickly any "slipperiness" evolves depends entirely on the rate of heat exchange. And as we all know, it was *very* cold that night. So anyone previously in the water would not exactly be furnace-like at their extremities.

I don't think this one will ever be as cut and dried as some people would have it. I don't think the idea of ice floe rafting in a pinch is impossible at all. Shackleton and his men actually *lived* on pack ice for months in the Antarctic. They never did quite make it to the continent per se before the ice closed in on Endurance. True, they had the ship to retreat to before it was finally crushed; but they didn't die just from living on the pack ice, before or after the loss of Endurance.

If simply being wet were exactly the same thing as being *immersed*, everyone on Collapsible B should soon have become unconscious (and certainly dead by morning). But they weren't! Collapsible A was quite waterlogged, too, but everyone there didn't die either. Statistically speaking, the estimated average time before unconsciousness sets in, when immersed in water below freezing (according to the U.S. Search and Rescue "Cold Water Survival" web site), is 15 minutes! Yet Lawrence Beesley, in possibly one of the most *conservative* estimates given, said he heard the last cries finally die out about 40 minutes after the sinking (from about a mile away). Unconscious people are not particularly well known for crying out!

Anyone who successfully made it onto an ice floe in sub-freezing temperatures would NOT automatically melt the ice and die as a result of the wetting. This is again a question of relative heat exchange. Kids who go out rolling in the snow for hours in lofty jackets do NOT necessarily come home soaked through. Neither do eskimos living in igloos suffer a constantly soggy existence.

Anyone who actually made it onto an ice floe would in fact have followed the first rule of cold water survival -- get out of the water! Having accomplished this, their odds of survival would drastically improve.

Never say "never".

Cheers,
John
 
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