Firstly, welcome to the site! Hope you enjoy it as much as everybody else here.
Your question has been (and still is) discussed elsewhere within this main thread. Wether or not the theory is 'proven' is a moot point. We shall never know. The main question, however, will always be...Would you be prepared (assuming you were on Titanic's bridge) to "aim straight at it....." ?
The question of whether the Titanic could have survived a head on collision is not without it's problems. Aside from the fact that watch officers are trained to do their utmost to avoid collisions, it is by no means proven that only three compartments would have been compromised.
The problem lies with the nature of icebergs in that what you see above the water does not and cannot speak to whatever is lurking below the waterline. The ship, in all likelihood would have run over any irregular shelves, spurs, and rams which would have torn out the bottom and punctured the side as surely as if she had struck in the way we're reasonably certain she did.
I should imagine the conversation on the bridge would be quiet short
- What's going on Mr Murdoch ?
- Well sir, this bloody big iceberg appeared out of nowhere - so I rammed it head on...
- I see. Perhaps you'd like to go and wake the head of the line and tell him what you've done.
It is an interesting conjecture, but would go against the responses ingrained into Murdoch, Smith et al. Just think of yourself driving along in your own car, and some-one pulls out in front of you. the instinctive response is to pull your wheel hard over and slam on the brakes - usually whilst questioning the other drivers parentage. It is built into us all.
Mind you, its a bit ironic that this very week one of Her Majesty's Destroyers managed to hit the World's Biggest Rock...
Not only is there no way to prove that a head on collision would have only flooded 3 compartments, we must take into account human nature. As Mr. Moran has said, instinct in the face of a collision is to try to avaoid said collision. We also have to think that Mr. Murdoch, when faced with a huge obsticale in his path was probably not thinking.."Humm, I wonder if the ship stands a better chance of staying afloat If I hit it head on? Sure it will probably kill and injure some of the souls up forward, but I think Im going to give it a shot! But wait! What If I try to swerve around it? That may be a better idea. 'Hard a'starboard!!'"
It was probably more like.." Good God! A Berg! 'Hard a'starboard!!'"
We also have to take into account the fact that ships, much like todays cars, are made of steel and an impact head on at the speed they were traveling would crumple the bow inwards much like the front of a car in an impact today. And we know that due to the nature of the steel used in shipbuilding those days, that the near freezing water had infact made it more brittle than it should have been. The impact, followed by the crumpeling of the bow more than likely would have sent an enourmous number of cracks, however small or microscopic, down a further length of the hull allowing water to enter the ship further down than the supposed 3 compartments.
In short, Mr. Murdoch did the best thing he could and that is to do what he was trained to do. TITANIC, and all of her passengers were doomed as soon as Mr. Fleet rang the bell.
Hi Jared. Interesting theory. I see three problems with the theory.
First, it bases its assumption on the fact that the berg had no deadly spurs or under water shelves to it. And that the double hull would not be compromised. These conditions would not be in the largest part of the curve on a standard deviation chart.
Second, I agree with Ryan, that the steel as we know now was brittle when it hit icy water mrely based on its normal composition and creation process.
Third, I agree with Mike who wrote above, "The question of whether the Titanic could have survived a head on collision is not without it's problems. Aside from the fact that watch officers are trained to do their utmost to avoid collisions, it is by no means proven that only three compartments would have been compromised."
I think theories are great, but at times this one in particular assumes stunt man training for the officers and crew. This just did not happen. A car was used as an example above and I will continue with that and this was brought up by another poster (I think Paul Rogers) and I agree, a seasoned driver would instinctively swerve when faced with something. I will use a wall. If I have a reason to believe that I may miss the wall by swerving, I would do that. I would not try to hit the wall head on based on the off chance that there may be spikes on the end of the wall that will take out the passenger's side of the car (by US standards, drivers side by UK and OZ and other standards). But I doubt seriously that I would second guess myself to think hey there may be spikes on this wall so I had best hit this wall head on and maybe kill everyone on that side, but hey I may have sunk the other way.
We assume that it was known that they woudl sink if they tried to avoid the berg. Stuntman know their equipemtn and every element and how it reacts to certain things and they react based on the conditions. Crewman simply were not trained stuntmen and even if they were, no one knew or still knows the full composition and structure of that berg.
So, it may have been an option for them, but I doubt seriously that any person would choose berg head on to open sea to the left and a near miss or miss.
Just like when they staged the sinking on a documentary(cannot remember which one!)and opened all the doors so the ship would flood evenly to see if the aft pumps could have helped keep the ship afloat longer!
The results were that she listed heavly and may have been a worse scenario for the Titanic!
But it is not fact!
For me there are to many intangibles that play out different in so many situations.
The final answer is we will never know!!
If Murdoch had ordered STOP ENGINES instead of Hard a Starboard Titanic would have most likely still hit the berg head on at 22 knots. The ship has 40,000 + tons of steel at 22 knots that need to slow down. The ships forward momentum would carry it forward at the same speed for some distance before the ships slowed.
Have we taken into account the bottom portion of the berg in this scenrio??
Click on the "Sparks's Titanic FAQs" link and once there, read the second FAQ on Page 6. The comments first made in 1912 still ring true today, in my opinion.
As far as STOP engines are concerned, partial rationale for the assertion that Murdoch ordered STOP and not FULL ASTERN can be found on the same site listed above. Click on the "White Paper on the Grounding of Titanic" link and once there, read Appendix II.
It was probably just a brain hiccup in the post above, but "Hard a'starboard" was an helm order, STOP was an engine-order command. I assume that FULL ASTERN was meant instead.
I just finished reading the "Grounding Paper" myself and have to say that it is a Very interesting thing to read. The theory is one that I myself have held onto for quite some time after talking ship (so-to-speak) with some of you fine people. Unfortunately for me I have neither the skill or time to write a paper such as this. If you have not read it I highly recomend that you do so. Thanks for your time.
Just incase you didnt know this but it also would have taken the ship 8 hours to sink if the watertight doors would have been left open. I was wandering what some of your comments were on this.
-Sincerly Titanic expert
Jeremy, it's been posted elsewhere that a test was conducted using your suggestion. The lights went out about an hour after the collision, and the ship capsized a full half hour to 45 minutes before the real ship sank.
Needless to say, you don't let water fill up your engineering and dynamo spaces, especially when it can shift and cause the ship to roll over. And I seriously doubt any seaman would welcome the prospect of letting water flood their ship.
Titanic was a ship to be sunk (so was the Olympic come to that). The main reason being be cause of her supposedly "water-tight" bulkheads. We know that these were not properly water-tight because they did not go up to the highest it possible could. Water would have just simply overflowed into the next compartment and back and back and back. I do not believe she would have survived with only a hole in ONE compartment. She would just take longer to sink until water spilled over her fo'c'sle. The only way she could have survived is if the pumps could handle the water coming in.
Does anyone agree with me, as this is a theory I've had for about 5 or 6 years now?
Welcome to the board. I must say that time can be your worst enemy when it comes to theories.
I do not believe she would have survived with only a hole in ONE compartment.
Respectfully, she certainly could have done, as Olympic survived the Hawke collision in 1911 with two large after watertight compartments flooded, not to mention several hundred tons of water in a third.