Starboard Side


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Jeffrey Beaudry

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Has anyone ever noticed that a lot of the famous sinkings occured because of damage to the front starboard side? Titanic, Britannic, Empress of Ireland, Andrea Doria (she was hit further back, but still the starboard), Lusitania, and there are probably more. I'm not trying to start another conspiracy, but is there a reason for the starboard side being hit more often in big sinkings?
 

T. Eric Brown

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Jun 5, 2005
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Unlucky side I guess. On possible reason may be that some of the collisions occurred because the captains decided to pass starboard to starboard instead of port to port, as is common practice. That's just one of those interesting quirks of fate.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Co-incidence mostly, and occasionally an accident of where the ship just happened to be or how she was handled. In the port around manuever the Titanic very probably attempted, the ship turning to port would put the danger to starboard.

In Britannic's case, it was just blind luck (Very bad luck!) that she ran right over a mine. Probability being what it is, it could have gone either way.

With the Lusitania, it was a matter of the ship sailing closer to land while the U-20 was a bit further out to sea. As to why things happened as they did to the Empress of Ireland and the Andrea Doria, T. Eric's observation is probably bang on the money.

Personally, I don't think there's much to establish a real pattern here. The sinkings that achve the sort of notoriety that these ships did are just a very few among tens of thousands of casualties that have an extremely wide veriaty of causes.
 
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Jeffrey Beaudry

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Like I said, I wasn't trying to start a conspiracy, I was just trying to understand why all of these ships were injured on the starboard side. The common practice of starboard to starboard and just freak luck (or unluck) answers it all. Thanks
 
Aug 15, 2005
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Britannic struck the mine on her port side, not her starboard side. No captain ever passes another vessel starboard to starboard; it is considered an illegal manouevre in the regulations of sailing and seamanship.
Port to port is the correct way for a vessel to pass another craft.
 
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Jeffrey Beaudry

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She struck the mine on the port? I always thought it was the starboard. Wouldn't there be evidence of the explosion on the hull (minus the dismembering of the tip of the ship)?
And on the topic of starboard/port passing, are you saying that ships pass each other as cars do in America or England?
 
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Jeffrey Beaudry

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Gah, I hit post before I could say thanks for all of this info.
 

Jason D. Tiller

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quote:

Britannic struck the mine on her port side, not her starboard side.

I'm afraid you're wrong, so Jeffrey is correct. Britannic hit the mine on her starboard side and I haven't see any evidence to indicate otherwise.

I recommend you check out this link for more information:

The Disaster

You might be surprised at what you read.​
 

Erik Wood

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Aug 24, 2000
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There are some things worth noting in four stackers demise, like the location of damagme. The Lusitania, Britanic and Titanic all starboard bow roughly in the same area and all three foundered. Granted a mine and a torpedo bring quite bump to them.

Another four stacker suffered damage that plagued her for years to come in roughly the same location.

Hmmm.....
 

Dave Gittins

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Jeffrey, when two ships are approaching each other almost head on, both should turn to starboard, so as to pass port to port. The rule applies anywhere on the high seas. The turn must be obvious and early.

They can pass starboard to starboard if there is obviously no risk of collision.

The important thing is to be sure that the turn to starboard is made in good time and that the relative positions of the ships are clearly known. It's been known for a ship to turn to starboard into the path of the oncoming ship, thus turning a close starboard to starboard passing into a collision.
 
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Jeffrey Beaudry

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Dave, are you suggesting that maybe this starboard to starboard near-collision could have been what caused the fate of the Empress of Ireland? It sounds plausible enough, because of the reports of the Empress turning toward the Storstad (or Stockholm? I always get those two mixed up).
 

Dave Gittins

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Jeffrey, I don't know the details of that accident. It was a very confusing affair in patchy fog. I believe the Andrea Doria sinking was caused by a badly judged turn, but don't take that as gospel.

The ship that hit Empress of Ireland was Storstad. Stockholm hit Andrea Doria.
 

Jim Currie

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Oh dear! If you're going to pontificate on this subject - get a copy of the Rules for Prevention of Collision at sea. You will probably find a solution to your answer there. Actually, I would suggest that if there is a preponderance of starboard side damage- contributing factors might be ignorance of the crossing rules or arrogance - both can be fatal.
In crossing rules the vessel who has another power driven vessel on his starboard hand is required to give way to that vessel. If he doesn't do that and the other chap is a stickler for protocol then I rest my
case!
 
Mar 22, 2003
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14. Head-on situations
When two power-driven vessels are meeting head-on both must alter course to starboard so that they pass on the port side of the other.
15. Crossing situations
When two power-driven vessels are crossing, the vessel which has the other on the starboard side must give way.

But the problem sometimes is recognizing a crossing situation especially when the two vessels are approaching each other on near reciprocal headings especially in reduced visibility. And what does head-on really mean? Two vessels can be on reciprocal courses and pass each other starboard to starboard say at a distance of 1/2 mile at closest point of approach. Should they have turned earlier in an attempt to pass each other port to port?
 

Dave Gittins

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Anecdotal evidence won't solve this question. For instance, I have a photo of a collision between Gas Roman and Springbok in which the impact was fair and square on the port side. On the other hand, in 1999 Norwegian struck Ever Decent on the starboard side.

If somebody had time, statistics might be found in a book called Maritime Casualties 1963 - 1996, published by Lloyds. For various reasons, I can't do this tedious job myself.
 

Jim Currie

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There was an old rhyme which said; 'Green to green - Red to red, perfect safety; go ahead.
Whatever! The old Colregs provided for almost every eventuality -that's why deck officers not only had to now then word perfect - but also had to understand them and demonstrate so.
Prelims: '1. In obeying and construing these Rules, any action taken should be positive, in ample time and with due regard to the observance of good seamanship.'
'Prelims: 2. Risk of collision can, when circumstances permit, be ascertained by watching the compass bearing of an approaching vessel. If the bearing does not appreciably change, such risk should be deemed to exist.'
Rule 22: 'Every vessel which is directed by these Rules to keep out of the way of another vessel shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other.'
To me the most important ones:
Rule 27 and 29:-
27: 'In obeying and construing these Rules due regard shall be given to all dangers of navigation and collision, and to any special circumstances, including the limitations of the craft involved, which may render departure from these Rules necessary to avoid immediate danger.'
29: 'Nothing in these Rules shall exonerate any vessel, or owner, master or crew thereof, from the consequences of neglect etc.....'
 
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The most classic accident is when two ships are in a head on situation, but not quite. Both have the the other target a little bit on starboard bow. When they get close, both thinks they are coming too close and then: One finds himself in a not-head on situation and tries to increase the distance by turning more to port, the other one finds that he is in a head on situation and turns to starboard in accordance to the rules.

They turn towards each other. Bang.
 
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