How long could she have remained afloat


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Aidan Bowe

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May 22, 2004
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Time on my hands with this one and purely hypothetical,but:
Just suppose for arguments sake that there had been a hole punched in her hull,say the size of 5mm...If time were not an issue and she had been left mid ocean,how long would she have taken to flood and go under? (all watertight doors etc left open)I'm sure there's some mathematical genius out there that could work it out! Months,years?? Similar to those teasers you used to get at school.If it takes one man to dig a hole,how long does it take two etc....
 
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Myar Jones

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"QUOTE"(all watertight doors etc left open)I'm sure there's some mathematical genius out there that could work it out! Months,years??"

Just letting you know,I am not a mathematical genius,far from it.
Try less then 2 hrs and 40 minutes, channel "E" once aired a program on about "Did Smith made the right choice by closing all the water tight bulkhead/Doors".
The Titanic model was a replica of the Original but way of fraction smaller with all bulkheads place in the right positions and all open when they flooded the model.
The model with her bulkheads open sank in quicker time than the original Titanic with her bulkheads closed,Smith made the right choice and you're answer is not Months or Years but just hours and even less than 2 hours and 40 minutes.
long time ago this was aired on "E" Optus vision,you would have seen this program, the channel "E" Optus net work is no longer being aired at this current moment.
 

Adam Went

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Yes I can remember the documentary that Myar is talking about. The ship did sink on a much more even keel, rather than going down by the bow, which would have made lowering lifeboats, etc somewhat easier, BUT - some time around what would have been 1.40 or 1.45 AM that night, IIRC, there was a shift in all the water that had flooded the inside of the ship and she actually capsized and sank.

So that being the case, not all of the lifeboats would have had time to be lowered, and everybody on board would have been thrown into the water about 40 minutes sooner.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>IIRC, there was a shift in all the water that had flooded the inside of the ship and she actually capsized and sank.<<

You recall correctly. The phenomenom at work here is known as the free surface effect. Small motions caused larger ones with water surging from one side to another until the hull turned turtle.
 

Adam Went

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Yes that's true Michael, and again, if memory serves me (it's been years since I saw this docco), it was something like less than 10 minutes between the time the ship started to list till when she actually capsized altogether. Once there was that much water inside, and there was the motion you speak of, it was very quick from there.

Mind you, I've never been the biggest fan of scale model representations being used for test purposes, personally....
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Mind you, I've never been the biggest fan of scale model representations being used for test purposes, personally....<<

Unfortunately, the only way to get a better test would be to do it with an actual ship. Since that idea's not likely to go over too well with the owners, and any crew on board just might have some objections to being rolled over and sunk, marine architects and naval engineers have to settle for properly weighted and scaled engineering models.

They actually tend to work out very well. Not perfect but the predictions made are as close as you can come to reality short of sinking a real ship.
 

Adam Went

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Michael:

What about the possibility then of carrying out these tests on old ships which are about to be scuttled?

Scale models might be the only realistic way of carrying out these tests, but there are many variables which can change the outcome....
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>What about the possibility then of carrying out these tests on old ships which are about to be scuttled?<<

To be 100% accurate, the old ship would have to be an Olympic class liner configured and laid out exactly as Titanic was on 14 to 15 April 1912. That wouldn't be technically impossible to do, but it would be fantastically expensive. If you have about $400million burning a hole in your pocket, I'm sure some shipbuilder would be happy to take the order. (To say nothing of entertained at what you have in mind.
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>>Scale models might be the only realistic way of carrying out these tests, but there are many variables which can change the outcome....<<

Yes, and some of these variables were accounted for in the tank/model tests showcased in the documentary we've been discussing.
 
May 5, 2005
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Doesn't the test get more accurate the larger the model? Models built for special movie effects seem more realistic the bigger they get. such as in "Das Boot" they had (besides the full-size mock up) models that were 20-something feet long. In "Titanic" (1953) the model used for the sinking was 35 feet long. In "Raise The Titanic" I believe that the model with the missing #2 funnel was 40 feet in length. I should think that something that size would behave more realistically regarding displacement, the ability to place weights in the proper place, etc. Maybe not as accurate as a 882ft long, 46,000 ton model, better than something 2 feet long.
Oh, and I apologize for mentioning "Raise The Titanic" anywhere on this website!
 

Adam Went

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Michael & Steven:

Unfortunately I don't have any millions of dollars to burn, let along 400 of them, but if I ever do, I'll keep those tests in mind.... ;-)

With the scale model, again, I'm going purely by memory here, but I believe the model was basically just the scale of the ship with the watertight compartments. It did not account for any of the many tons of objects that were on various parts of the ship at that time, nor the weight of hundreds of passengers moving from side to side, nor the lowering of the lifeboats, nor currents of the ocean, and so on and so forth.

So in that sense, it was a fairly basic test - with variables remaining. But I agree that it's probably about as accurate as you could hope to get.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Unfortunately I don't have any millions of dollars to burn, let along 400 of them...<<

(Snaps fingers) Awwwwwwww damn!

>>So in that sense, it was a fairly basic test...<<

Yeah, it was. Steven has a point about the model being more accurate the larger it gets. You can throw in some more details that way. Unfortunately, we seem to have a cash flow problem here so unless my gorillas business assocciates can make somebody an offer they can't refuse a tempting business proposition, we're just going to have to make do.
 
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Would she have stayed afloat longer if the split never happened? My original line of thought here was what would have happened if the watertight doors had all failed (or were left open intentionally). Would she have sunk more or less "level", possibly not even listing? Or, would this hasten the flooding and sinking?
 
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I guess you mean with the "split" the break up. The answer is No. The break up have no effect.
Regarding the watertight doors, if they have failed all together or left open it would have been more worse. The ship would have been on an more even keel at the first but then become a more increasing list, the lights would have failed 40 minutes earlier and the ship would have capsized and sunk.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Would she have stayed afloat longer if the split never happened?<<

Not for any signifigent amount of time, no. By the time the breakup occured, the ship had reached that "tipping point" in terms of stability and was already on the way down.

>>Would she have sunk more or less "level", possibly not even listing? Or, would this hasten the flooding and sinking?<<

Tests conducted with engineers models confirmed that power would have been lost much earlier and the ship would have rolled over and foundered much more quickly then she actually did in the real world. In terms of "What If's" you might find http://home.flash.net/~rfm/WHYWHAT/whywhat.html to be of some use in explaining the dynamics.
 

Jim Currie

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It is possible that in the last moments of her life, the ship began a slow roll to port.
The funnel stays would have become tightened by the cooling process. In such ships. it was frequently necessary to adjust the tension on the funnel stays to compensate for them slackening off due to them expanding due to induced heat. If there was a slight port list, all the weight of the funnels (4 x 60 = 240T..?) would be on the starboard stays. They would part and an existing overturning leverage to port would be suddenly aggravated - inducing an accelerating port roll into the hull. Incidentally, the sudden parting of such large diameter steel funnel stays would produce very loud reports - at least 4!
This situation would be further enhanced if there was a large number of people on the low side of the aft main deck. Add to this, Michael's free surface effect which causes the virtual centre of gravity of the ship to rise suddenly and you have an horrendously unstable situation. How ever the FS would need to be in an enclosed area for it to contribute. Or would it?

Another thought: perhaps this was why so many bodies were never found - they became trapped under the hull as it fell to the sea bed and were released at great depth when the ship returned to the upright position on the way down. The pressure at great depth would be enormous. The bodies and their cork lifejackets would be destroyed. Bits of cork would then be found on the surface!

Any more ideas?

Jim.
 
Interesting thoughts about the roll to port, with no doubt, Titanic's stern would be quite unstable with the great weight of the engines and the turbine pulling it down. In that circumstances each movement would have a huge impact on the tilt of the stern. The Titanic was showing quite a severe list to port before the breakup. If you add the falling third and fourth funnels when the ship splat (they would have fallen to the port side due to the list) you have this initial trim increased.
 

Jim Kalafus

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>My original line of thought here was what would have happened if the watertight doors had all failed (or were left open intentionally).

Well... on the one hand, you have the Arctic, a ship with a larger hole than that which sank the Titanic, and no watertight compartments, which took over three hours to sink.

On the other hand, you have the San Juan, an ancient liner with only a few manually operated watertight doors, which sank in less than two minutes after a 1929 collision left her with damage comparable to that of the Arctic.

In between you have the uncompartmented Pacific (1875)which DID begin settling as the Arctic did, from a hole in the bow IDENTICAL to that of the Arctic, until she broke in to three sections.

From reading up on disasters that befell uncompartmented ships, one can determine that:

*Sometimes the sinking WAS slow, gradual, and on an even keel.

and

*sometimes the sinking was fast, exceptionally violent, and difficult to escape from.

Since there was no guarantee of the former, even if the idea was entertained it would have been suicidally stupid to implement it. "Well, sometimes it slows the sinking, and other times the ship heels over and sinks like a stone. Ah, what the heck, let's give it a whirl and see what happens..." is not a good course of action.
 
May 5, 2005
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Jim, (or anyone else) The Pacific, (4 Nov, 1875) Is there any discussion anywhere on this site? and I never heard about her breaking into 3 pieces. Bad wreck, 1 survivor out of 250 people. This one has always interested me, happened in my old neck of the woods. There never has been much info on her.
 
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