Maritime Changes

Rachelle Rowe

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Mar 21, 2008
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Hey all. Sorry to probably bring up a topic that you have probably already covered not to mention know a lot more than I do. However, I am doing my masters thesis on the Titanic and similar maritime disasters and am having difficulty finding information and FACT about maritime changes that were instigated due to the sinking of the Titanic eg lifeboat policies, SOS etc. Can anyone in that vast land of web space help me or point me to the right direction. Appreciate it greatly.
Thanks Rachelle
 

Noel F. Jones

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May 14, 2002
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Rachael:

Three majors which spring to mind are the revising of BOT regulations relating to the provision of life saving apparatus, the Bulkhead Committee and the International Ice Patrol.

I'm sure a search on this site and elsewhere will elicit rich veins of information.

There may well have been a revising of radio-communication protocols as well. Possibly the auto-alarm technology arose out of the Titanic disaster, although I think this came much later.

Noel
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hi Rachelle,

Another important one is the twenty four hour wireless watch. That's the only one I can think of at the moment though.

All the best on your thesis and let us know how it went!

Best regards,

Jason
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Dennis Smith

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Aug 24, 2002
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Rachelle and Noel

Hi. While I was in college, in the early 70's, doing my R/O's ticket the guy who took us for Radio Regs was a 62 year old ex R/O. I asked specifically about the Auto Alarm being developed as a direct result of the Titanic and he confirmed it was. He was at sea as R/O in the mid to late 20's, so I would have thought he would have been in a position to know. From what he told me I gathered that it was the research and design that took so long due to WW1 so didn't get introduced until the 20's.

Jason,

Hi. I'm not too sure about 24 hour radio coverage directly after Titanic, but I do know that once the Auto Alarm system was introduced, manual 24 hour coverage was not required, on cargo vessels at least. The 24 Hr manual watches were however kept on passenger ships right up until R/O's were removed from ships in the 90's.

Best Wishes and regards

Dennis
 

Jason D. Tiller

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hi Dennis,

I'm sure that I've read in a few of my books and here on ET that the 24 hour wireless was implemented after the disaster. If my memory serves me right, I do recall it being one of the recommendations from the American Inquiry. Can someone back me up on this?

Thanks for the info about the Auto Alarm system.

Best regards,

Jason
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Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Dennis draws attention to an important point. The radio changes were not as useful as they are popularly made out to be. In essence, the continuous watch applied only to passenger ships on international voyages. There were a zillion exceptions for cargo ships, fishing boats and inshore craft generally. A Californian style situation remained possible.

I don't know when the one operator + alarm system began on cargo ships, but it was in use as late as 1956. Cape Ann was called to the rescue of Andrea Doria by her alarm.
 

Dennis Smith

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Aug 24, 2002
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Dave,

Hi. The 1 operator + alarm system was still the norm in 1989 when I last went to sea as ERO. The system worked very well, I've been woken on numerous occasions by the bells in my cabin - mostly by genuine distress calls. However the system failed in areas where the Radio Regs were not enforced, eg. the Carribean. There was one commercial station working on 505 Khz - the Distress frequency was 500 Khz - with the result the alarm was going off every 10 - 20 mins all day and night, that was a real pain as the station was blocking out everything, God knows if I missed a distress or not.

With regard to when the system was brought in, the lecturer that took us for Radio Regs reckoned that it was in the 20's, true or false, not sure, but this guy was genuine, and I would hope he was telling the truth.

Best Wishes and Rgds

Dennis
 
Mar 3, 1998
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The SOLAS Convention of 1914 first laid down the requirement for a continuous watch by radiotelegraphic operators in "First Class" ships (most transatlantic liners fell into this category, so it's the only one I will address here). In Article 34, there is a statement to the effect:

"Nevertheless, if an efficient automatic calling apparatus is invented, the continuous watch may be maintained by this means by agreement between the Governments of the High Contracting Parties."

This alludes to the fact that there was an automatic alarm system in use since the early 1900s, but it was widely considered to be unreliable. Neither Olympic nor Titanic were fitted with the bell-and-inker system that was designed to activate upon receipt of a distress signal. Other ships, though, did carry the system but seldom used it. For those interested, you can see the alarm system in the 1.5kW schematic that was reproduced in the Shipbuilder Olympic/Titanic number (which does not accurately portray the ships' actual 5kW installation). The schematic dates from 1910.

My read of this is that there has been, at least since 1903 (the earliest version of the system in Marconi apparatus that I have been able to find), recognition of the need for an automatic alarm system, but the technology needed to develop a reliable system didn't exist until well after the Titanic disaster. I can believe that a reliable alarm wasn't developed until the 1920s; if true, this would coincide with the emergence of CW as the primary transmission medium. I'm not sure if an alarm system can be made to work reliably with a spark set.

I don't believe that an automatic alarm system was developed as a direct result of the Titanic disaster. The coincidence of the technological achievement a few years after the very famous disaster probably led to scuttlebutt, which spread throughout the profession and grew into myth. I can understand why it is believed, even by experienced operators, that the two are related. Much like the popular myth about the "Engineer's purple," though, the facts would seem to indicate otherwise.

73,
Parks
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Reading through the thread again, it appears that I strayed a little from the original question. Rachelle, look to the London International Conference on the Safety Of Life At Sea (SOLAS), the articles from which were signed on January 20, 1914, for the safety changes enacted primarily because of the Titanic disaster.

Parks