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

Jim Currie

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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.
Methinks you use the word "claim" in error. Captain Smith used the 8pm DR I didn't "claim" that. Captain Smith's distress position is exactly 20 miles ahead of the wreck site...I didn't "claim" that. So tell me...what is it that I am claiming?

You wrote: "I'm going to tell you the last time."
Thank heaven! for small mercies.

I do not need any lectures from you, Sam. I have navigated very large vessels using a patent log more times than I can remember But just in case you missed this one the last time...ships travel over water, not land. The distance they travel is the distance between 2 points on the surface of that same water. The patent log measures the distance the ship dragged it across the surface of the water, not the surface of the earth.
The distance Titanic dragged her patent log rotor over the surface of the water from Noon until QM Rowe read it was 260 miles. That distance was made good in 2 directions other than the planned ones of 240.5 true and 265.5 True. The only way that distance could have been made good in these planned directions would have been if the steering was perfect, there was no wind or currents and Titanic turned exactly at the position intended...The Corner...42 North...47 West.
To imagine that she did so is totally absurd and exhibits a less than full knowledge of the behavior of ships.

If I remember correctly. your original theory concerning time involved increased revolutions because of the number of boilers put online that evening. Then you found out about reduction in firing.
This latest idea requires you to be better informed than a highly qualified individual whose sole occupation was marine navigation.
I suggest your problem is that you do not ask why but decide in advance.
The question you and everyone should ask is Why did 5th Officer Lowe state that the ship's average speed was 20.95? And before you even think about it...please don't trot out that tired old bit of "I divided distance to the Corner etc bit of Lowe's evidence. In fact, he probably multiplied 5 hours 50 minutes by 20.95 to get the distance steamed to The Corner to work his 5-50 pm DR.
We are not all perfect, Sam...particulary if we have just survived the world's worst maritime disaster and are being cross examined by a bunch of amateurs.
 

Jim Currie

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Here's a PS for you...an hypothetical question.

You are in a ship heading west. At Noon, your GPS tells you that your position to be 42-00' North, 47-00'West. At that time, you set your patent log to Zero. The GPS is hooked into the automatic pilot.
At 7-25 pm you send your Apprentice aft and have him standby the taffrail log. At 7-30 pm you buzz the Apprentice on the VHF and he reads the Log. at that moment the GPS tells you that the ship is at 42-00'North, 50-00'West. What do you think the reading on the patent log would be when the Apprentice took it?
 
Mar 22, 2003
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The only person that said Smith used the 8pm DR was Boxhall many years later. He also said the ship was AHEAD of the DR, not the other way around. And it was not just in that BBC broadcast that he said that, but in other interviews as well. What you are claiming is that Boxhall got it wrong and it was the DR that was 20 miles ahead as to why Smith's CQD was in error. By doing so, you seem to avoid the possibility that Smith could simply have made a mistake in his calculation.
 

Jim Currie

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The only person that said Smith used the 8pm DR was Boxhall many years later. He also said the ship was AHEAD of the DR, not the other way around. And it was not just in that BBC broadcast that he said that, but in other interviews as well. What you are claiming is that Boxhall got it wrong and it was the DR that was 20 miles ahead as to why Smith's CQD was in error. By doing so, you seem to avoid the possibility that Smith could simply have made a mistake in his calculation.
There you go again with that "claim" word, Sam. I am not claiming anything. I'm simply applying logic.
If Smith used the 8 pm DR as his start point and his position was 20 miles too far ahead then his start point was 20 miles too far ahead.
Boxhall made that observation 50 years after the event...20 miles was the relevant number...20 miles was the difference between Smith's distress position and the true one. Instead of asking about Smith's mistake, consider how a DR might be 20 minutes out and who might just have thought the ship was way ahead and should have turned earlier.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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What has that part of the ocean got to do with it?
The pilot charts show an expected 1/2 knot easterly drift in those parts.

So now you gave additional information that the vessel was a 20 knot ship. If she was really going 20 knots through the water then the log would have read 150 miles and she would have been facing an average head current of over 2 knots since she actually made only 134 miles in those 7 1/2 hours.
 

Jim Currie

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Exactly!
Titanic was on a course of about 240 True from Noon.
According to you,(Titanic Speed & Revolutions) she should have been making just under 22 knots while carrying 75 rpm It follows that at 6 pm, the Patent Log should have read 131.5 miles, it did not. Lowe's evidence points to it reading 125.7 miles at that time. Therefore, Titanic was held back by a current running at about 1 knot running in an ENE'ly direction.
 

Mike Spooner

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O dear it does not go without notice that Jim and Sam don't quite see eye to eye on navigation issues! As the a non navigation brigade it can be quite difficult to sort out who is right or wrong here! May be offer away to defuse the matter. Jim I see you as a very experience navigator and have given deep thought as navigator point of view at the time. Sam I can see you have relied in what has been said in the inquires and is no doubt is a 100% correct as stated. From that we can only try work out what really did happen.
Here I see were the rub what has been said in the inquires by the officers and crew members, and them fighting there own battle!
If I was there shoes to tell the whole true and nothing but the true can well work against them. We know the two officers Lightoller and Boxhall did not quite tell the same story in the two inquires. I cannot rule out the officers are smart enough to know the loss of Titanic is just one less ship in the fleet so were is my next job come from! Plus the Titanic was added to the fleet were White Star have recruited more officers and crew members. That only make it more difficult in finding a job within the company. Then there is the issue of knowing 1500 have died. Who in their right mind wants to held responsible for their deaths, which may well down to a navigation error they are part off!
I also see protocol comes into the play to. Boxhall is a junior officer at 28 old, as Lightoller 38 is a senior officer with 10 years more experience over Boxhall. It is the reasonability of the senior officers to know the correct position of the ship at all times, as junior officers are not to question a seniors officers decision.
Conclusion? The way I see it, It is not the best of interest for officers and crew members to tell the whole true in fear of jeopardising their future career!
It would appear as ET members we are doing a far better job of finding nearer to the whole truth than the two inquires ever did, which were very lacking to know the full truth for political reasons to!
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Lowe's evidence points to it reading 125.7 miles at that time. Therefore, Titanic was held back by a current running at about 1 knot running in an ENE'ly direction.
You keep missing the point. The log is not effected by current. For the same revolutions it should show a corresponding number of miles over a given period of time. Thus in your hypothetical example above, the log would show 150 miles while the ship actually travelled 134 miles as measured by the GPS.
By the way, here are the numbers for Titanic from my Speed Vs Revolutions article. See App A. ref: Speed and Revolutions.

rpm spd (knots)
70 20.89

71 21.14

72 21.39

73 21.65

74 21.90

75 22.15

76 22.40

77 22.65

78 22.90
 

mitfrc

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The thread title is something I've been pondering on for a while now.

We know what the outcomes of the initial inquiries were and the responses by White Star and the wider industry. Looking at the impact of these going forward, I think it's easy to argue that very few of the recommendations have had a significant impact on maritime safety.

The most obvious one that did was 24 hour radio coverage by all ships at sea. At least distress calls wouldn't be missed. With the advent of modern telecommunications this system has become even more reliable.

On the other hand, if we look at the lifeboats and space for all onboard, how many subsequent sinkings have had the time or list free ability to launch all of the available boats? None spring to mind. Various examples where this was impossible are available. The Estonia and Herald of Free Enterprise rolled over in minutes. The Andrea Dora, Costa Concordia and Oceanos listed so badly that only half their boats could be launched. Yarmouth Castle remained on an even keel but fire prevented passengers from accessing many of the boats.

In terms of practices and procedures at sea, a lot of these were already in place although there use was being implemented sluggishly. I suppose the Titanic sinking hastened the abandonment of the old style rudder orders and the standardisation of communication and distress signalling but again, this had already been agreed by international conferences before the disaster.

Finally, in terms of ship construction, ships would for many years after still become death traps in a fire or have fewer compartments open to the sea than Titanic and still sink. The fact remains, if enough water gets into a ship, no matter how high the bulkheads or the thickness of the double hill, she'll still end up on the bottom.

Overall, I think it's easy to argue that apart from the huge outrage at the time and the "seen to do something" response, the impact on maritime safety made by the Titanic disaster was arguably negligible.

Thoughts ??

Rob, there's been some excellent comments, but one that hasn't been brought up is the corollary to the inability to launch boats in most sinkings--the development of the cannisterized self-deploying life raft. Growing up sailing on ferries in Washington State, some of them reasonably impressive vessels of up to 4,000 GT capable of 20kts in confined waters with heavy international shipping traffic, with open but watertight car decks, one couldn't help but notice that they carried only rescue boats, no lifeboats whatsoever.

Being unrestricted by SOLAS since they never leave US territorial waters, they were fully equipped with massive numbers of cannisterized life rafts. All else being the same, in a rapid sinking enough for all aboard were able to be deployed in the space if a couple minutes, from either beam. With life preservers liberally stowed under every seat, the majority of the people on the boat had at least odds-even chance of making one of the rafts.

It is the availability of rafts, not boats, which is the real game-changer. If the crew of Titanic had been able to throw large numbers of rafts over the side then several hundred of those in the water may well have lived.
 

Mike Spooner

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What is coming clear to me that Smith had no intention to avoid the icefield at speed and took his chance to get through without contact. Was he under pressure to take the direct route from his boss on board Mr B Ismay who was so knee to arrive in New York by Tuesday evening and not Wednesday morning as scheduled?
 
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Rob, there's been some excellent comments, but one that hasn't been brought up is the corollary to the inability to launch boats in most sinkings--the development of the cannisterized self-deploying life raft. Growing up sailing on ferries in Washington State, some of them reasonably impressive vessels of up to 4,000 GT capable of 20kts in confined waters with heavy international shipping traffic, with open but watertight car decks, one couldn't help but notice that they carried only rescue boats, no lifeboats whatsoever.

Being unrestricted by SOLAS since they never leave US territorial waters, they were fully equipped with massive numbers of cannisterized life rafts. All else being the same, in a rapid sinking enough for all aboard were able to be deployed in the space if a couple minutes, from either beam. With life preservers liberally stowed under every seat, the majority of the people on the boat had at least odds-even chance of making one of the rafts.

It is the availability of rafts, not boats, which is the real game-changer. If the crew of Titanic had been able to throw large numbers of rafts over the side then several hundred of those in the water may well have lived.
I think lift rafts would have made a big difference for many of the people on Titanic. If they were anything like what I'm used too they could have been employed on Titanic in an aesthetically pleasing manner that I think the White Star people would have accepted them. But I will have to look up the technology of the time. I don't think they exisited in 1912. We had cannisterized life rafts on my ship. They ringed the ship and would deploy manually or automatically I was told. They only problem I had with them was they were out in the open. A good strafing run and they would be wiped out. Of course that would only be an issue for liners if they were commandeered lke Britannic was. But the big problem was White Star thought they would never need even the boats they had.
 
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What is coming clear to me that Smith had no intention to avoid the icefield at speed and took his chance to get through without contact. Was he under pressure to take the direct route from his boss on board Mr B Ismay who was so knee to arrive in New York by Tuesday evening and not Wednesday morning as scheduled?
That has been debated many times. My conclusion for whats it worth was that Ismay being aboard didn't have much effect in that regard. Captain Smith was pretty much doing what he and most other ships captains did as for operating preceedures during those times. In other words he was doing what he usally did and unfortunantly it went against him on that night.
 
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mitfrc

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I think lift rafts would have made a big difference for many of the people on Titanic. If they were anything like what I'm used too they could have been employed on Titanic in an aesthetically pleasing manner that I think the White Star people would have accepted them. But I will have to look up the technology of the time. I don't think they exisited in 1912. We had cannisterized life rafts on my ship. They ringed the ship and would deploy manually or automatically I was told. They only problem I had with them was they were out in the open. A good strafing run and they would be wiped out. Of course that would only be an issue for liners if they were commandeered lke Britannic was. But the big problem was White Star thought they would never need even the boats they had.
Cork liferafts did exist, they were added to all the liners used as troopers in WW1. Line the rails with them, lashed outboards... I think that's basically what they did in WW1. It won't interrupt views or deckspace, and anyone with a good knife can just start cutting them loose in a sinking. Heck, it would have even improved compliance with "women and children to the boats" as an order because the men know they're just being asked to take their chances swimming to one of the liferafts, not accepting certain death. It would have made the loading of the boats more orderly and might have allowed for more women and children to be brought to them from steerage.
 
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Cork liferafts did exist, they were added to all the liners used as troopers in WW1. Line the rails with them, lashed outboards... I think that's basically what they did in WW1. It won't interrupt views or deckspace, and anyone with a good knife can just start cutting them loose in a sinking. Heck, it would have even improved compliance with "women and children to the boats" as an order because the men know they're just being asked to take their chances swimming to one of the liferafts, not accepting certain death. It would have made the loading of the boats more orderly and might have allowed for more women and children to be brought to them from steerage.
I think thats a good point. We know that some did not act in a very chivalrist manner that night. Some down right psychotic if the story is true about the guy throwing the baby over the side. I know its an academic point and hindsight only but yes life rafts would have been a good idea.
 

Aristide

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I think the first ship that used more lifeboats after Titanic was the SS France. She had her maiden voyage 20th April 1912. Only 5 days after Titanic went down.

She wads teh first ship in history that had places in life boats for all people on board.
 

Mike Spooner

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That has been debated many times. My conclusion for whats it worth was that Ismay being aboard didn't have much effect in that regard. Captain Smith was pretty much doing what he and most other ships captains did as for operating preceedures during those times. In other words he was doing what he usally did and unfortunantly it went against him on that night.
Not all ships did not do what Smith that night! As Captain Lord with Californian took notice of the icefield and approach the icefield with caution. Captain Moore of Mount Temple also took caution by sailing further south of the icefield.
Smith may be the captain of the ship and no doubt whist in command is 100% in control. But he does not own the company and in the pecking order of the company he comes below the board of Directors who have the financial control and power to have him remove at five minutes notice if they do not like the way he acts. If Ismay want the ship to arrive by Tuesday evening that puts Smith in a bit of a dilemma. He can ignored Ismay request at his own peril for his future career within the company!
 
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"He can ignored Ismay request at his own peril for his future career within the company!"
It was his last trip. He was supposed to retire after this run. I said most captains not all. But I take your point that some captains were more cautious. You are right about that. From what I understand Captain Lord was being extra cautious because he was not familar with sailing in ice conditions so he wasn't doing what he normally did by stopping that night. But I could be wrong about that. I think he did the right thing stopping that night. Hope your having a good weekend.
 
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Mike Spooner

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"He can ignored Ismay request at his own peril for his future career within the company!"
It was his last trip. He was supposed to retire after this run.
If it was his last crossing why take such a risk through the icefield at speed?
If it was his last run how does he get back home?