How much of a difference did the Titanic sinking really make to maritime safety?

Dec 4, 2000
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Rob --

Getting back to your electric socket comment. You are right about warning people not to stick fingers in electrical apparatus. However, moving ice is another thing. The socket stays fixed to the same place on the wall except perhaps during an earthquake. But, ice moves from hour to hour, day to day, and week to week. It is the careful plotting of the movement of the ice as well as the notation of its current postion that helps mariners avoid Titanic-style disasters. And, there is no doubt that the Ice Patrol has wokred in that respect. Ships that pay attention to the information put out by that organization can easily avoid that heart-rending sound of ice meeting steel.

One other thing. Whatever you do, never put a wet toe into a hot socket.

-- David G. Brown
 
Nov 14, 2005
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Actually the electric socket is a good example of how things have to happen to change the rules. So many little ankle biters over the years have gotten zapped sticking daddys car keys or whatever in them they now have and some places require the tamper proof recepticles. They are a good safety item and I tell people they should use them. Personnally I can't stand the damn things because when troubleshooting half the time they dont want to open to get your meter leads in.
 
May 3, 2005
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You need a copy of International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, commonly called the COLREGS. They are far too complicated to give here. They are easily found online.

In summary, a ship is required to travel at a safe speed, having regard to the visibility, the presence of other ships, ice reports and so forth. There is no blanket ban on sailing fast in the dark. It's matter for the captain's judgement. These days ships have the aid of radar and the Automatic Identification System, so in theory they can safely go fast in most conditions. AIS is rather neat. It tells what ships are around, how fast they are going and their courses. It calculates how close another ship will get to you. Even so, accidents still happen. The other day, a Chinese icebreaker hit a berg in fog, while doing less that four knots. They got away with it!
David :

Is this AIS comparable to the display scopes that were used in Air Traffic Control ? (I am a retired. FAA Electronics Technician, but have been out of it for several years now , so things may be quite different now.)
On the FAA system the computer compiled the data from the radar returns and transponder replies and displayed them at the Air Traffic Controller's. position showing the aircraft's identification, its altitude, speed and projected course, etc. on a large display scope with color coded print out on the scope for this information. Each ATC controlled a relatively small area of air space called a "Sector".

Just curious from what sources the AIS would compile this ? Are ships required to have a similar scope showing this or is there some similar sort of control by radio advisory from a central control station such as the Air Route Traffic Control Centers in the old (?) FAA enroute control system ?
Just curious as your description of the AIS sounds much like the system of which I was familiar ?

Sounds like the same thing, only for ships at sea as compared with aircraft in the air ?

Just my guess, but it would seem that radar would not be practical for the distances at sea ?
Some sort of combination with GPS for example ? Just guessing.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Jan 31, 2018
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Thanks very much Aaron. I’m glad to know Murdoch is still a hero and I cannot fault him:D
I’m glad to know Murdoch is still a hero and I cannot fault him?
He should of informed the captain straight way of the haze! Like he had instructed Lightroller do so to!
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Robert, AIS is not at all like the air systems. No radar is involved. It uses a combination of radio and GPS to show a ship's position, course and speed to all the world, via satellite. The basic equipment costs less than $1,000 and the results can be displayed on all sorts of tablets, digital charts, echo sounders, etc. Of course, the pros have elaborate displays, made for the job. They give a lot more detail about ships, including photos. The units are so common now that yachts are required to carry them in offshore races of any importance. Officials and spectators can follow the race on shore. The resolution is very fine. When a ship is being turned round in our local harbor, I can see the ship and the two tugs. I can see which tug is pulling and which is pushing. The pilot boat will be close by. You can have fun at MarineTraffic: Global Ship Tracking Intelligence | AIS Marine Traffic

I sail in a very quiet corner and I don't bother with AIS. If I sailed the English Channel I'd sing a different song!
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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The question is " How much of a difference did the Titanic sinking really make to maritime safety?"
The answers given so far are in terms of technical improvement to existing measures in place at that time. However, there is one factor which also needs to be addressed and that is individual human attitudes to authority and the ever present emotion of fear.
I suggest that very many of those who were lost on Titanic were lost due to the attitudes of "servitude" and "Vicrorian Honour" which prevailed in 1912.
Most of the steerage pasengers would have been relatively poor emigrants. Many could not speak or understand English. Almost all would have had origins in places where the rich and powerful expected them to touch their caps to their betters. Not just in 1912, I hasten to9 add.
Heavens! When I was a lad, I was taught exactly the same thing by my parents. Even as late as the first part of this century, there are places in the UK where the title of "The laird" is still used.
My point is; In such a situation - compare reactions of 3000 people to the orders of authority.
 

Mike Spooner

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Captain Smith knew they would coming into an icefield. Smith took a safety precaution at 9.20pm by giving 2nd officer Lightoller a order. If it becomes at all doubtful, let me know at once. I shall be just inside. Lightoller as taken that as the weather or visibility. With no order to slow down the ship.When first officer Murdoch come on duty at 10.00pm, it may be controversial whether Lightoller told Murdoch of that order.
However Murdoch is a senior officer with years of experience and fully understand the changes of visibility at sea. We have hear of talk of the best of place to see unclear visibility ahead is nearer to the sea level. The best place is the bow of the ship. H&W the ship builder had supplied a telephone at this point. That option was never taken up. The second best place is the bridge behind a windscreen. Third best place is the crow nest with no windscreen.
We know from the two person in the crow nest on duty before the iceberg contact said they had notice a change of visibility of a mist or haze coming up.
If that is the case Murdoch should of seen it first and reported to the Captain!
 

Jim Currie

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Captain Smith knew they would coming into an icefield. Smith took a safety precaution at 9.20pm by giving 2nd officer Lightoller a order. If it becomes at all doubtful, let me know at once. I shall be just inside. Lightoller as taken that as the weather or visibility. With no order to slow down the ship.When first officer Murdoch come on duty at 10.00pm, it may be controversial whether Lightoller told Murdoch of that order.
However Murdoch is a senior officer with years of experience and fully understand the changes of visibility at sea. We have hear of talk of the best of place to see unclear visibility ahead is nearer to the sea level. The best place is the bow of the ship. H&W the ship builder had supplied a telephone at this point. That option was never taken up. The second best place is the bridge behind a windscreen. Third best place is the crow nest with no windscreen.
We know from the two person in the crow nest on duty before the iceberg contact said they had notice a change of visibility of a mist or haze coming up.
If that is the case Murdoch should of seen it first and reported to the Captain!
You have to get the story right, Mike.

Captain Smith did not know that his ship was approaching an icefield. Had he done so, he would have doubled his lookouts and possibly slowed down.
The truth is that he had historical reports about ice to the northward of his planned course. His experienced told him that the normal situation would be that the ice would be carried away to the eastward and even further north of it's originally located position.
The officers of Titanic expected to meet an east-north-east setting warm water current in the area. This was the means by which the ice would normally be transported east and northward.
Despite what your read in these pages, there is firm evidence that they met such a current. This would reinforce Captain Smith's confidence.
Before Murdoch relieved Lightoller, he would have had a look at the chart notices then read and signed captain Smith's night orders. These would have contained a written order concerning ice. All offficer went through a hand over ritual which included verbal passing on of the written word.

Incidentally, there is no best place for a lookout. A lookout's ability is simply restricted by concentration, natural visibility and interfeirance of night vision caused by uncovered light sources.
 
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Mar 22, 2003
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The officers of Titanic expected to meet an east-north-east setting warm water current in the area. This was the means by which the ice would normally be transported east and northward. Despite what your read in these pages, there is firm evidence that they met such a current. This would reinforce Captain Smith's confidence.
What firm evidence? The evidence on record is that the officers expected Titanic to reach the ice around 11pm if not sooner.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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They knew about the ice, also Lightoller calculated to reach the ice during his own watch.

Senator SMITH. Do you know where you were at the hour that you turned over the watch to Mr. Murdoch?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Not now, sir.
Senator SMITH. Did you know at the time?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH. Can you give us any idea?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. When I ended the watch we roughly judged that we should be getting toward the vicinity of the ice, as reported by that Marconigram that I saw, somewhere about 11 o'clock.
Senator SMITH. That you would be in that latitude?
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Longitude
Senator SMITH. At 11 o'clock.
Mr. LIGHTOLLER. Somewhere about 11; yes.

13531. Then when you had taken the ship over from Mr. Wilde and gathered this information, I think you gave some directions to one of the Junior Officers? - I directed the sixth Officer to let me know at what time we should reach the vicinity of the ice. The Junior Officer reported to me, "About 11 o'clock."
13532. Do you recollect which of the Junior Officers it was? - Yes, Mr. Moody, the sixth.
13533. That would involve his making some calculations, of course? - Yes.
13534. Had this Marconigram about the ice with the meridians on it been put up; was it on any notice board, or anything of the sort? - That I could not say with any degree of certainty. Most probably, in fact very probably, almost certainly, it would be placed on the notice board for that purpose in the chart room.
13535. At any rate when you gave Mr. Moody those directions he had the material to work on? - Exactly.
13536. And he calculated and told you about 11 o'clock, you would be near the ice? - Yes.
13537. That is to say an hour after your watch finished? - Yes. I might say as a matter of fact I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Moody did not take the same marconigram which Captain Smith had shown me on the bridge because on running it up just mentally, I came to the conclusion that we should be to the ice before 11 o'clock, by the marconigram that I saw.
13538. (The Commissioner.) In your opinion when in point of fact would you have reached the vicinity of the ice? - I roughly figured out about half-past nine.
13539. Then had Moody made a mistake? - I should not say a mistake, only he probably had not noticed the 49º wireless; there may have been others, and he may have made his calculations from one of the other Marconigrams.
13540. Do you know which other Marconigrams he would have to work from? - No, My Lord. I have no distinct recollection of any other Marconigrams.
13541. Because it is suggested to me that there was no Marconigram which would indicate arrival at the ice-field at 11 o'clock? - Well, My Lord, as far as my recollection carries me, Mr. Moody told me 11, and I came to that conclusion that he had probably used some other Marconigram.
 

Mike Spooner

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Smith and officers were given warning of ice ahead as stated in the inquires. There is a the case of a less experience Captain Lord who is travelling a very similar route to Titanic. Yet he managed to read situation ahead right!
Then we have the case of Captain Moore of Mount Temple he too read the situation right ahead as well!
 

Jim Currie

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What firm evidence? The evidence on record is that the officers expected Titanic to reach the ice around 11pm if not sooner.
The evidence given by the 5th officer which you reject. I refer to the evidence which states that Titanic covered a distance of 125.7 miles in 6 hours from Noon, giving an average of 20.95 knots over 6 hours.
I remind you of what 5th Officer Lowe stated under oath:

(1). "Her speed from noon until we turned the corner was just a fraction under 21 knots."

(2) "I used the speed for the position at 8 o'clock, and got it by dividing the distance from noon to the corner by the time that had elapsed from noon until the time we were at time corner."
You should consider that Lowe describing how he obtained of an 8 pm DR.
Lowe was required to carry out 2 separate calculations to arrive at his 8 pm DR position.

Lowe was not on the bridge when Titanic turned The Corner at 5-50 pm that evening so he had no idea of how far she had run from Noon to that moment. He simply knew that the measured distance from the Noon position to the to the turning point was 126 nautical miles. In any event, he would most certainly not divide that number by 5 hours 50 minutes to obtain a DR for the turn position. To suggest he would is nonsense. he was trying to explain to a layperson how he worked.

Boxhall or Moody should have calculated a DR for 5-50 pm and noted it in the Scrap Log. This was standard practice on every British Merchant Vessel. It was usual to call the after bridge to obtain the Patent Log reading at the time of turn. However Boxhall did not use the patent Log...he used engine rpm.

However, on Titanic, the patent Log was read every 2 hours. The 6 pm reading would be available for Lowe to use and the vidence shows that he did use the Patent Log. In fact 8 pm was the time that Lowe could be certain of a value for average speed to use in his calculations. He already knew the courses. His work would then consist as follows:
Calculation A...DR for 5-50pm
1. Divide 6 pm log reading by 6...average speed obtained: 20.95 Knots therefore log distance to 6 pm = 125.7 nautical miles.
2. Multiply 5 hours 50 minutes by 20.95 to obtain distance Noon to the moment of turn. (Hence evidence (1) above).
3. To the Noon position, apply distance run on a course of 240.5 True to obtain the DR position of where Titanic turned.
Calculation B
1. To the 5-50 pm DR position obtained from A run 2 hours and 10 minutes on a course of 265.5 True at an average speed of 20.95 knots. ( He used that average speed because as he told his questioner "If you take the average speed from 12 to 6 - that is giving her a run of six hours - she will not jump up in two hours, from 12 to 6 o'clock, from that average speed."

This means that Lowe used a total distance of 8 x 20.95 knots = 167 miles from Noon until 8 pm to calculate his DR position for the end of his Watch.
if you accept the second Patent log reading taken at the time of impact, then Titanic ran anothert 93 miles until impact. We know she averaged 22.5 knots during that last period in her working life therefore she would have steamed for another 4 hours 8 minutes unril she hit the iceberg, not 3 hours 40 minutes. She would have steamed for less time had she worked up to 22.5 knots between 7-30 pm sights and 8 pm.
However , the foregoing only works if you accept Lowe's patent log evidence. If you don't, then why do your accept QM Rowe's patent log evidence?
 
Mar 22, 2003
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However , the foregoing only works if you accept Lowe's patent log evidence.
We been through this more times than I care to. Lowe said he obtained that speed of 21 knots by dividing the distance to the corner by 6 hours. The subject of the log came up only when he was asked if he had means to 'definitely' know how fast the ship was going, and then Lowe said:
Mr. LOWE. In what way, sir? We have the log -
Senator SMITH. (interposing). Between 6 and 8 o'clock.
Mr. LOWE. We have the log.
Lowe never said he used the log reading in ascertaining the speed between 12 and 6. What he said is that he took the distance from th noon position to the corner and divided it by the time using 6 hours.
 

Jim Currie

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We have been through this so often because what I am pointing out to you does not fit with your pre-conceived ideas, Sam.

As for Lowe' remarks regarding the use of the Patent Log...are you kidding?
Where do you think he got such a precise value of 20.95 knots? Certainly not from propeller revolutions.
What is it you fail to understand?
The man was asked how he arrived at his 8 pm DR and Lowe told him...by using the average speed between Noon and 6 pm. How did he get that? He told Senator Smith "We have the log"...not "we use propeller revolutions".
Lowe was working Slip Tables between 6 pm and 8 pm.
In simple terms, "Slip" is the difference between actual speed and engine speed. You are the "expert" tell me...how the heck could he have been working such tables if he did not have a reference for actual speed values?

I do not "claim" that the 8 pm DR position used by Captain Smith was 20 miles too far to the westward, Sam...it had to be. Because Captain Smith said he used it and his distress position was exactly 20 miles too far west of the true distress position of Titanic.
 

Jim Currie

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What firm evidence? The evidence on record is that the officers expected Titanic to reach the ice around 11pm if not sooner.
How is this for starters:
(1)
"Senator SMITH: Did you realize that you were out of the particular influence of the Gulf Stream?
Mr. BOXHALL: No, sir."

So Boxhall must have thought they were still being influenced by it.
(2)
"Mr. BOXHALL: From all the positions of icebergs that I had, of course I knew that we should be getting close up to those positions in the early hours of the middle watch; at least. I did not think we should be up to any of those positions before midnight that night."
Boxhall was the one who plotted the positions of reported ice relative to the planned course of Titanic. Lightoller had nothing to do with it.
(3)
"Senator NEWLANDS.
How about the ice in the locality in which you placed it on the chart? Was it likely to drift; and if so, in what particular direction?
Mr. BOXHALL.: Yes; we should expect it to drift to the northward and to the eastward."

(4)
16955. (The Solicitor-General.) It is not wind, your Lordship sees. (To the witness.) Whether there is a wind or no wind, the current will flow?
- Yes, but invariably we find a strong easterly set there; very often we find that the Gulf stream -"

Then there was another who knew that area very well:
(5)
Captain Moore of the Mount Temple.
"I should imagine perhaps 11 1/2 knots. Of course, perhaps she would have a little of the Gulf Stream with her too, sir."


Why would they expect an easterly set there? because between them they had 39 years experience passing to and fro at that very place.

So you tell us all...how did Titanic avoid it?

However, every Master Mariner (myself included) knew what to expect in that area because they were taught that they would and all of them looked -out for it. This is what they and i wee taught and experienced:
Current knowledge in 1912.jpg

and....
Current advice in 1912.jpg












 

Mike Spooner

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It doesn't matter how much you massage the figures or who said what. The plain fact is that Titanic got the warnings of ice ahead. Who address the problem Captain or officers is another matter. If was in the Smith shoes, he seem be awaiting to see the evident at firsthand! As instructed to Lightoller. If it becomes at all doubtful, let me know at once. I shall be just inside! We know from Fred and Lee in the crow nest the visibility ahead did deteriorate.
However when you look at Smith prevention beforehand you can see there is a different here between other sea Captains who faced the same problem!
Lord on Californian has recognised the serious problem ahead and had put on extra lookouts. As for captain Moore on Mount Temple he too taking avoiding action to sail further south of the icefield.
Smith should of been more a weary in his situation as he is doing twice the speed of the other ships.
We hear of claims in the inquiry, that captains always take that risk in icefields to maintain the schedule time! However three key words. In clear visibility. Isn't that what captain Lord is setting out to do next day in clear day light, so can see for himself at firsthand of any hidden danger that might lay ahead of him!
 
Mar 22, 2003
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I do not "claim" that the 8 pm DR position used by Captain Smith was 20 miles too far to the westward, Sam...it had to be.
So if not you, who else is making such a claim? I'm going to tell you the last time. Speed or distance through the water is not the same as speed or distance over the earth's surface. You know that. The log measures distance through the water. If the ship 21 knots by log, then she was making 42 miles every 2 hours through the water which can only mean her revolutions had to be less than what was reported over the previous 24 hours. In fact, they would have had to go from about 75rpm down to 71-72rmp. No such reduction had taken place from all reports given. The ship did not slow down.
 
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