There really is no such thing as an unsinkable ship. Depending on who you talk to you here I am sure that there are different ideas from different people. My own opinion is if they extended the bulkheads up a deck it could have prevented a sinking that most think happened.
If I use my and Dave Brown/Parks Stephenson's version of the damage no matter how the ship was made she was going to the bottom.
One way to do it might have been to build the ship to military standards, but as the Lusitania's loss illustrated in gruesome detail, this is no gaurantee. She took a hit and sank in 18 minutes. Conceivably, as Erik indicated, extending the watertight bulkheads higher might have done the trick. Likewise, eliminating the firemans tunnel and the boundry it penetrated by way of bulkhead B might have made a difference. Also, having watertight decks complete with watertight hatches might have made a difference.
There are a number of problems with this, not the least of which is ease of access to other parts of the ship which is a matter of convenience not only for the crew. but the fare paying passengers. One could have designed the Titanic so that it could have had literally thousands of individual watertight compartments but getting around would be so rediculously difficult, that passengers would book passage on far more comnfortable ships. In this sense, the Titanic would have been 100% safe as the only place she would have gone to is the breakers.
Even if passengers were willing to accept the inconvenience, there still would have been the matter of training needed in order to button the ship up and properly contain the damage. Warships have literally thousands of watertight and gas tight fittings which can be closed, but to do it right takes a years worth of constant training in a relentless workup schedule that mercentile crews don't have time for. Even then, there are always mistakes made and fittings that for some reason, just don't work.
In closing, if you take a look at the Britannic, you'll see a ship where all sort's of improvements were made over the Titanic vis a vis higher bulkheads a double hull, etc, but when she parked on a mine, she sank in an hour.
Jennifer asks the question that was never asked in 1912. Rephrased as it should have been spoken at the BOT hearings, "What in Titanic's design and/or construction made it so vulnerable to damage in the bow?"
Looking at the Olympic class of vessels, there is one design feature quite different from any other multi-compartment vessel. It involves every compartment from hold #1 to boiler room #6--which are curiously the same spaces that initially flooded after the accident.
There is also the curiosity that two-thirds of the Olympic class of vessels sank as the result of damage to their bows. Titanic struck on an iceberg and Britannic suffered from either a mine or torpedo. The similarity of outcome is striking.
Much has been made of the "improvements" to Britannic. However, it is obvious they were of no consequence in the face of disaster. This indicates that the so-called improvements did not correct the fatal flaw in the Olympic class design. All of the work done to Britannic was of no more value than rearranging the deck chairs.
What was the fatal flaw? What was the major difference between the Olympics and their counterparts? The answer is that firemen's stair tower, tunnel, and multi-door vestibule. It is my opinion that without this aquaduct through their bows, that both Titanic and Britannic would likely have survived their injuries.
I am not sure that is knowable since Smith and the carpenter and most of the engineers died. I believe Hitchens (don't quote me) tesitfies that Smith noticed a 5 degree list to starboard directly after the accident.
Well, that statement can be agreed with on a religious point of view. I think God makes things like this happen every now and then to give us a good wake up call and let us know whose really in charge. This stems just from my personal belief. So basically Ken, I agree with you.
Not the first time I've seen that opinion, but I do have to ask why Titanic - Olympic was all that Titanic was, but first. Why not go for sinking the first ship in that series rather than holding off for a couple of years? Does God play dice with the universe? Parks started a thread about this earlier this year: Wrath of God?. Lots of points to ponder in there, if you're interested.
People like to look for extrodinary causes to tragic events, but I wonder if when we say God was sending a "message" if were really just trying to give him the blame?
As the existance of diety...any diety...is impossible to prove or disprove by the evidence, I'm afraid we're just spinning our wheels by taking that track. For all the superlatives we toss at the ship, and for all the increduality we express, the ship's loss was really not all that remarkable at all. It was a series of mistakes, one after another which killed the ship. Not the divine, just human error.
Human error...which we are loath to admit to...has put more ships on the bottom then any other cause befor and since 1912!
Hi Raymond, a list of ten degrees on a ship is not that big a deal. They're designed to right themselves from far worse. As to the list the Titanic took, we know it varied throughout the night and in some instances coaused difficulties in launching some of the lifeboats. Overall though, it wasn't that dramatic.
In fact, one of the things about the Titanic which makes her the "Odd man out" of shipwrecks is that she went down on a more or less even keel.
OK, this is probably a stupid question and it comes from a landlubber and someone who struggled with physics and knows nothing of ship construction, but here goes. Wouldn't it make more sense to have watertight bulkheads capped off, ie, put a ceiling on the suckers and make them into watertight compartments? Would this have been out of the question? If so, why? If not out of the question, would it have worked/helped?
It just seems that without a ceiling, the water could flow from one compartment to another, well, just like it did in 1912.
If this has been addressed elsewhere, I haven't found it. If it has, just point me in the proper direction. Thanks for indulging.
Hi Patti...in the tecnical sense...yes, it could have been done. But that still doesn't deal with the questions of ease of access throughout the ship. Designers of merchent vessels have to walk quite a tightrope on this in order to make the ship comfortable enough that passengers will book cabins. For ships designed to carry freight, there is also the matter of having enough free space to carry as much cargo as possible.
By any standard however, the Olympic class liners were substantially over-engineered, with the watertight sectioning actually superior to modern day cruise ships. They just couldn't survive having six watertight sections rendered no longer watertight.
There's a lot of discussion on this point in the thread entitled "What if the designers should have raised the bulkheads......." - but no universal agreement.
I think the answer is: capping the forward compartments would have prevented the sinking, provided that 1) the ship's design would prevent the forces generated by the loss of four compartments from causing structural damage, and 2) the watertight decks could be made almost airtight.
The first requirement lies in the how the structural loads imposed on the hull girder were dissipated in various combinations of flooding. I imagine that the "four compartments completely flooded" scenario had represented a worst-case set of design criteria for the structural engineers, so I think it can be safely assumed that partially flooding them (see below) plus flooding Boiler Room #6 to the water line would not have stressed the structures sufficiently to permit the ingress of water beyond the collision zone.
As to the second part of this conjecture, let me first explain why the decks would need to be airtight. The water entering the hull from below the waterline would compress the air trapped in a compartment by a factor of about 2:1 (depending on hydrostatic head, loading, and a whole bunch of other coefficients not available to apply the calculus to). Another way of saying this is that as long as the air was contained, the sealed compartments would only fill to about halfway. The buoyancy provided by this air, PLUS the buoyancy saved by not flooding above F deck in #2 and #3 Holds nor above E deck in #1 Hold would have held her bow above the waves indefinitely.*
The one joker in this deck [pun] is how soon those compartments could be sealed (if they weren't at the moment of collision) and how high the water would rise, which would determine where the new water line was. This, in turn, would have a direct effect on the hydrostatic head working against the bulkhead between Boiler Rooms #6 and #5. If the damage that made this bulkhead fail in the actual event was sufficiently severe, no amount of watertighting of the forward compartments could save the ship. But if ten or fifteen feet of water could be contained by the damaged structure, then Titanic would have limped into New York, Smith would have lost his pension, and James Cameron would be famous for movies about futuristic war robots.
But while we're on the subject, let me add my two New Pence (nuppence) worth to the discussion about minimizing inconvenience to the passengers. First of all, that phrase is code for "First Class Passengers." In the next place, six of the ship's compartments couldn't be sealed on top because they were boiler rooms, and had to have unrestricted space for air to come in and exhaust gases to go out. The engine rooms could have been sealed, but they might not be able to get anyone to work in them. In any event, the 6 holds are about all that could be sealed, and the people around and above them were either crew or 2nd/3rd class passengers. I don't really think their comfort and/or convenience entered into the decision.
*Provided that the nurses hadn't left the portholes open to air out the wards.
As usual, your collective depth of knowledge is mind-boggling and I appreciate all your nuppances—and I don't see the implied words "You silly girl. Go back to the galley and fetch me a brew," in your replies, so here is what I actually had in mind. Obviously permanent capping would be inconvenient if not impossible for all the reasons you cited.
How about doors that could be closed horizontally in even just a few compartments? Emergency ceilings, as it were. Perhaps they wouldn't even have to be totally watertight, but enough to provide an impediment so that the pumps could be of some service in keeping the ship afloat long enough, perhaps, for help to arrive. One problem I'm having with this idea is where the door is when it's open. Accordions, anyone? (Kidding!)
It's a good thing I didn't live back then, what with all my cutting-edge ideas. We might all be deprived of our Titanic obsessions, eh, Tom?
Michael, I have heard about the cruise ships being less watertight than some of the old steamers. I just saw that Carnival, who bought out Cunard, is planning or has started building a huge ship more on the order of the QEII. Supposedly it is to be the largest ship afloat. It was a quick blurb and I was just passing through the living room when I heard it, so I may not have my facts straight. Have you heard about it? Wonder how "unsinkable" it will be. Maybe "surface-friendly" would be a better word nowadays!
The horizontally closing doors your referring to are known as watertight hatches. They're standard equipment on any warship, but then for a military vessel, ease and convenience of access are a tertiary concern. It's not enough to have watertight hatches either since you also have to be able to seal off vents, cableways, drainage systems, etc.
It's a lot more complicated then a lot of people realize, and very time consuming to get a crew trained in operating them properly. A miltary vessel drills at this all the time and still manages to get a lot of it wrong.
Could this have slowed down flooding on the Titanic? Very likely yes. One little problem though, they just didn't have anything like that.
The cruise ship you're thinking of is Cunards Queen Mary II, which will weigh in at 150,000 tons. While hardly the worlds largest ship, she'll be one of the largest passenger vessels in service when she commissions in 2004. The keel for the ship was formally laid down on July 4th, 2002 at the French yard of Chantiers de L'Atlantique.