Great thought Brian! Remind me to have you along when I take a trip!
I am not an electronics expert by any means of the imagination, but the question also stated if the plan would be possible and practical.
In theory, whether the electronics was configured in such a way that the electricity could be disabled in one particular area of the ship would have to be answered by an expert. In my opinion, if the ship had circuit breakers and such for safety at that time, then perhaps it could be done. I just am not an authority on that.
But as for possible from the standpoint of manpower to effectively and efficiently run the ship, lower the boats, send the other signals and conduct an experiment of this size would require more men and it seems that they were not in an abundance of male crew to man the boats much less to perform a 5-10 minute signal experiment.
I think that they would have placed all their efforts and manpower into what they "knew" not what they would "try as a last resort". They were using the SOS and the rockets nearly up to the very end. I do not see the time left to try one last thing. Especially something that had never been done before to communicate with another ship. (If only one of two knows the method of communciations at times the message is missed)
Along with the "possible" side is the idea that someone would think of this during the chaos and be able to get others to see his/her plan and agree to do it in the midst of boats being loaded.
Given all these things, then I would say that your idea is possible.
Practical? Another thought along those same lines would be to merely cover the lighted areas' windows by several people and then uncover them without disrupting the power sources. This would allow the power source to remain in full force, but would again require manpower.
The main thing though is just as it depends upon someone coming up with the idea in the first place, it also requires that someone on the other ship recognize it for what it was.
I think that your idea is rather clever Brian, I am merely looking at it from a very strict practical sense. But hey, it may have worked.
Whilst a very enterprising idea, the lights flickering on and off might
(a) panic the passengers
(b) impede attempts at escape
(c) run the risk that sooner or later something somewhere burns out or blows, thus coal-boxing everything.
It IS a good idea, but I doubt that the likes of Capt Smith had the necessary, for want of a better word, imagination ( insight ? ) to some up with this idea in the space of time available. They would be too busy clearing boats, organising the crew, controlling the passengers and so on to give over-much thought to attracting the attention of a nearby ship - that, after all, would be what the rockets and morse lamp was for.
Clever, but probably unworkable. A lot would depend on the arrangements of the switchboards and wheter or not the electrician working the heavy switches could actually send code. Even if this could be done, consider that at ten miles range (Or more), the Titanic would appear to be hull down so the horizon would obscure the flickering lights along the side. Another thing to consider would be the aspect at which one ship would be seen by another.
If you go to George Behe's website at http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Carpathia click on P. 14 "She Shut Out Her Lights, My Lord." so you see what the Titanic would have looked like to a ship that was viewing her bow on. You can barely make out anything at all and this assumes the ships were close enough for the Titanic's hull to be visible. (A rather hotly contested point if memory serves!)
One other point, I doubt very much switchboards were so arranged that only the stateroom lights could be turned on and off. The same circuit would also involve lighting in passageways, which is the last thing you want going on and off when you want the passengers and crew to find their way out.
Funny thing is that this might have actually been considered in passing. We just don't know. Somehow I doubt it. There was no way of knowing exactly how close this "mystery ship" was at the time and eyewitness accounts are far from trustworthy in this regard. Even with trained and experienced obbservers, one has to be cautious as judging distances at sea is extremely problematic and conditions can be very deceptive. The thing is that the excess steam had to be vented for safety reasons and this made quite a din in it's own right.
The only ones who actually heard it were the people on the Titanic.
Other ideas have been bandied around, such as lighting a drum full of oil on the poop deck. That's another recognised distress signal.
It must be said that the handling of the distress signals was casual. They fired maybe a dozen socket signals, at untimed intervals. They were late in starting to fire them and early to stop. Why quit when Boxhall left?. It was no time to save money! The entire story of the evacuation of the ship is a sorry tale of British 'muddling through', a tradition to which they admit.
Mike is probably right about the steam. By all accounts it was at least as loud as the whistles.
Interesting topic, probably better kicked around by those with experience or practical knowledge. We do indeed have the luxury of hindsight and the mind boggles how other nationals would have handled that identical situation. Personally having travelled the world for the best part of my life, some nationals come to mind who would have made a ''real dogs breakfast'' that night with probably a greater loss of life. I think the British ''muddled through'' quite well all things being considered and if they admitted to it, top marks for honesty!! I have had the pleasure in years past of speaking to one or two who were there,including Fred Fleet along with several crew who had relatives onboard Titanic, and it's as well that they cant read some of the tripe on these threads from time to time. Where on earth do all these ideas of signals and life saving come from ?
Consider a drum full of burning oil on Titanic's poop deck, forvever sloping, teeming with women and children everywhere. We're not only looking at drowning here but severe burns as well!!
I suggest that some of these fanciful ideas go back to the books from whence they came as they certainly don't apply to a passenger liner in distress.
As regards to thinking of saving money whilst abandoning ship, well I remain speechless on that one.
"As regards to thinking of saving money whilst abandoning ship, well I remain speechless on that one."
Aussie irony, David.
You are quite right about the oil, but it's among the things that get dragged out from time to time. It ranks with stuffing the holes with mats from the gymnasium. As you say, landlubbers have some weird ideas.
"You are quite right about the oil, but it's among the things that get dragged out from time to time. It ranks with stuffing the holes with mats from the gymnasium. As you say, landlubbers have some weird ideas."
I think that you both are right, as I stated in my first post, it would take an expert to know if it would work for some of these ideas. I think what happens is that we want so much for there to be a viable way to save people that we look for any and every way that we can think of, not taking into account that there was not a lot of time to do trial and error testing at that point.
But in reality they did all that they had resources and written methods to do. Just getting anybody to fill Boxhall's shoes may not have been an option if there were not a qualified techno pro around.
It must be frustrating for you David to see us hypothesising about everything, but this is how we learn. Sorry.
Hi there Maureen,
Certainly no need to apologise as I have heard many permutations on life saving exercises in my travels which brings one particular instance to mind whilst representing my mother at a Titanic Exhibition in Australia.
This bloke came up to my table and said that more time could have been saved if they had dropped both anchors to their fullest extent after the collision with the ice berg.
I reminded him that ship's anchor cables (chains) have the last link shackled to the bottom of the cable locker.
As that part of the vessel was the first to be flooded, who I asked, did he think was going to dive down there with a marlin spike and undo those pins with that tremendous weight bearing up on those shackles, not to mention the extreme cold,darkness and lack of wet suit.
He hadn't thought of that one although in theory, one could see where he was coming from.
Some ideas are credible like the flashing of deck lights but this would have to have been thought out well before hand and besides, those guys ''down below'' were in no state of mind to experiment with the ships lighting arrangements as they were vital to prevent possible panic.
We of course, have had 90 years to work that one out. Those poor souls had a little over 90 minutes !
However, please continue with your theories and don't let me spoil your fun,
We could just about start a thread on crazy ideas for saving the ship. I've heard the anchor on elsewhere. Apart from the problem you mention, the weight of the anchors and cables was negligible in relation to the weight of incoming water anyway.
A certain American worked out a scheme for getting everybody into the lifeboats. It involves repeated lowerings of boats and skills normally confined to the Olympic gymnastics. Some people badly need to be taken out to sea on a dark night.
This all reminds me of a Dateline, NBC program years ago about a 9th grade class given the assignment of saving the Titanic's passengers and crew. With their "brilliant" critical thinking skills they came up with two solutions:
-Launch the lifeboats and form a semicircle on one side of the ship, creating a "pool", where passengers and crew would then thrown in deck chairs, doors, and what not in. They would then tie the construct together, and lower passengers onto it using the ship's cranes. Once finished, the boats would cast off and form a complete circle, creating a massive raft.
-Bring the ship alongside the iceberg, lower the anchors, and have crewmen jump onto the berg, haul the anchors to the other side and lock them together. Then, lash any mooring lines available to the berg, using the floating ice as a life preserver for the ship itself.
Feel free to rip these two apart. There might be one or two problems with them I missed.
They're both amusing even if utterly impractical Adam. (I suspect you already know this!)
1)How many of these people would have the requisite skills in rope handling and know tying so they could do the job well in freezing water, at night, and with the clock running against them? Further, one would have to wonder where they would scrounge up enough material in order to build a raft that would hold 1500+ people.
Then there's the matter of the freezing water itself since this "raft" would not be waterttight and would barely qualify as bouyant. That's assuming it could even be built in these conditions. (It really couldn't be.)
2)Approach an iceberg and essentially moor to it? This one gets the "You've Got To Be Kidding Me" Award.
a)Moor to what? A ship in order to avoid drifting away from something needs to be tied securely to it. There's nothing secure on an iceberg...which could come to pieces on you with zero warning! And aside from that;
b) what of whatever is lurking underwater ready to rip you a new one in addition to the damage you already have? You already have a leaky ship and the last thing you want is to poke more holes into it.
c) How does one disembark the passengers and crew onto this thing?
d)How long does the berg remain stable so that anyone who actually makes it on to the berg is rescued befor it turns over? (Again with no warning!)
e)How does a prospective rescue ship even find which berg your people are on in an icefield extending as far as the eye can see? Lots of choices out there and coveted The Grim Reaper Award goes to whoever guesses wrong.
I see this one from time to time on the listserv and it never ceases to amaze me. I could go on forever but I'm sure some of this has already occured to you.
I think Adam's latter theory (and I realise you don't actually believe it Adam!
) was focused on using the buoyant iceberg to stop the ship from sinking - rather than disembarking the passengers onto it. Which would have been quite ironic had it worked - the villain of the piece ending up being the saviour of the ship!
But even I (a confirmed landlubber) can see the holes in this one. For a start: (1) Find the iceberg! Now I know it's around here somewhere...
(2) How much do anchors and their chains weigh?! Right then, I'll just carry this dinky little anchor around the side of this iceberg...oops! There goes my hernia again.
Still, it's fun to play with theories. Here's mine:
How about ripping all the baths out of the staterooms and using them as mini lifeboats? After putting the plugs in, of course...(Ducks and runs for cover.)
Have you ever tried to wrestle large objects from below decks to the upper decks? Assuming you have time to unbolt the thing, who is going to wrestle these cast iron monsters through narrow passages, doors, and up stairs and ladders out to the weather decks? You would need a far larger working party and tools then was actually available.
How do you launch the beasts too? (Without swamping them!) How do you keep the plugs in place? Are they stable enough to remain upright? (Doubtful, but your welcome to try!)
Another problem with the theory, Paul, is the lunacy of mooring alongside an unstable object with large protruding points, and with the likelihood of falling apart and/or capsizing with a 46,000+-ton ship tied to it. That's the big problem I see with it.
To top it off, the 9th grade class had asked for the opinion of a seasoned sea captain (former skipper of the QE2 IIRC.) He said both ideas were ludicrous, and the students responded by saying, among other things, "he just doesn't agree with it because it's never been tried before."
For the record, I was a HS sophomore at the time this was aired.
If the Titanic would have had the number of lifeboats that were first planned ( I think they first planned to install about 40 regular lifeboats )would all people have survived?
I think not! In my opinion, many steerage passengers, firemens and engineers would not have had the opportunity to get to the boatdeck.
Would one have allowed to let the male passengers to go into the boats? That would have accelerated the evacuation.
What do you think?