What if Lusitania had collision with iceberg


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Matthew Charles O'Brien

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Hello all,

Had Lusitania sustained the same damage as Titanic what would have been the likely outcome? Would a different subdivision had saved the Lusitania from the Titanic's fate?

Thanks,

~Matt
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Would a different subdivision had saved the Lusitania from the Titanic's fate? <<

I don't know for sure but it didn't save her from a torpedo.

I suspect the arrangement might have actually made matters a lot worse had the double bottom been breeched to allow flooding of the inner hull. With all those side compartments, there would have been problems with assymetric flooding which would have put the ship over on her starboard side. That would have made launching the boats vastly more difficult if not impossible.
 
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Matthew Charles O'Brien

Guest
Michael,

That's a great point- I know that the launching of the boats from the Lusitania was something of a travesty, during the daylight. I can only imagine what would have occured had she sustained Titanic's damage, and at night.

A shipwreck is never a predictable event- I just can't get over the fact that ship that was built to government specifications for wartime usage, could perform like the Lusitania did during her sinking.

What was taken into account when she was built? Could anything have been done during her construction to allow her to withstand the damage caused by the second explosion?

Thanks,

~Matt
 
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Wayne Keen

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"I just can't get over the fact that ship that was built to government specifications for wartime usage"

It is interesting to see how conventional wisdom on how to make something safe can change quite dramatically. Take cars for instance. For years, the conventional wisdom was to make them as mechanically strong as possible. This led in part to cars that survived wrecks, but passengers that did not. Eventually the notion changed to one in which the car does in fact give way in a collision.

Wayne
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>A shipwreck is never a predictable event-<<

There's a lot of truth to that. Each casualty is unique enough so that there are always variables at play. The catch is that what happened to the Lusitania in regards asymmetric flooding wasn't much of a surprise to those who built ships. Concerns about exactly this sort of thing were expressed by Edward Wilding during the Titanic inquiry in Great Britain, and these concerns were one of the big reasons why Harland And Wolff tended to avoid sectioning like what was used on the Lusitania.

>> I just can't get over the fact that ship that was built to government specifications for wartime usage, could perform like the Lusitania did during her sinking. <<

I'm not. Government specifications are waaaaaayyyyyyyyy over rated in effectiveness on any level. Trust me on that! It was a lesson I learned through day to day experience in my Naval service!

While the Lusitania and Mauritania were intended to operate as auxiliary cruisers in wartime, they were not proper warships, and it's a matter of record that liners used for this didn't do that well in actual combat. The Cap Trafalgar got the dirty end of the stick in her engagement with the Carmania, but the latter ship was so savagely mauled in the action that she required several months in dock to repair.

One of the BIG problems with really extensive watertight subdivision is that such features as watertight doors require a lot of maintenance to make sure they'll work as advertised when the crunch comes. Especially if they're the sort of doors that need rubber gaskets. (Gaskets wear out and have to be replaced on a frequent basis so they don't leak like the proverbial sieve.) At the very least, these doorways have to be kept reasonably clean and uncluttered. Not one of the easiest things to do if what the door leads into is a coal bunker.

Another problem is that setting all this properly requires a substantial amount of training. The more extensive the subdivision, the greater the training required. Even today, most of the watertight doors, scuttles, hatches, and the like have to be closed manually, and the more there is to deal with, the greater the possibility that something will be missed. Warships typically take up to a year of extensive work ups and drills in order for the crew to learn how to get it right, have to drill frequently to preserve the skills, and the crews of merchant vessels seldom ever have time for that sort of in depth training. A merchant ship doesn't make money by year long work ups and drills. It makes money by hauling as much cargo and passengers from Point A to Point B and back as often as possible.

In light of this, keeping it as simple as possible has a lot going for it. Complicated just means there's a greater potential for something to go wrong.
 
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Wayne Keen

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That was very thought provoking, thanks.

I know there is a tendency to think about this stuff in terms of throw a switch and doors close and are water tight.

Wayne
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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This question was investigated in Lord Mersey's court. Edward Wilding and Cunard's naval architect, Leonard Peskett considered what would have happened to Mauretania, had she been damaged like Titanic. They made some brave assumptions about cross-flooding. Here's how a certain modern author recounts part of their testimony.

"Wilding and Peskett subsequently produced a joint memorandum that professed to show that Mauretania could have survived Titanic's accident, but their work is unconvincing. They wrote:

'From the calculations made, taking the vessel as damaged from the stem to the afterend of the forward boiler room (corresponding nearly - but not quite - to the length from the stem to the afterend of the No. 5 boiler room in the Titanic) the vessel would remain afloat with a considerable list, say 15degrees to 20 degrees, which, no doubt, could be slowly reduced by carefully flooding some after spaces on the opposite side. With the data available we do not think we can satisfactorily discuss flooding corresponding to the damage extending into No. 4 boiler room in the Titanic.'

Wilding verbally added a further assumption. 'The calculations show that the vessel would have a considerable list, and in order that the water should not rise above the top of the bulkhead, we had to assume the bunkers flooded on the other side. It would be quite a practicable operation by raising the watertight doors, but they would have to be opened so that the water could get through.' Modern naval architects beg to differ, stating, 'to avoid severe initial heel immediately following damage in say two bunkers the cross-flooding must be almost instantaneous to be successful. The difficulties of correcting heel by subsequent cross-flooding are well known.' Under questioning by Sir Robert Finlay and Lord Mersey, Peskett had to admit that he had no knowledge of cross-flooding being put into practice."

We are therefore looking at a ship, which may or may not sink, listing up to 20 degrees. Not a pretty sight, especially as Mauretania was as badly off for lifeboats as Titanic.
 
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Matthew Charles O'Brien

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Dave,

Thanks for the info- it's interesting to consider how another vessel may have responded had they been compromised in a similar way.

What was in that prevented the Titanic from developing a considerable list during her flooding?

In reading the inquiries report a naval architect mentions counter-flooding to right the ship. Has that ever been attempted in an actual sinking? How safe is that strategy?

Thanks,

~Matt
 

Jim Kalafus

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Dec 3, 2000
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>The difficulties of correcting heel by subsequent cross-flooding are well known.'

It seems, from the Lusitania's experience, that the problem of cross flooding was 'self correcting:' there was the initial heavy list, from which she recovered, and a second lesser list from which she also recovered. I assume that since she was more severely damaged than the Titanic was, the repeated heel and recover was the result of water reaching the top of the longitudinal bulkhead and flowing over it.

>That would have made launching the boats vastly more difficult if not impossible

It seems that the fiasco on the Lusitania's port side was more the result of "crew error" than the list. The best documented port side disaster, the collapse of the boat in which Ogden and Mary Hammond attempted to escape was, by Ogden's multiple accounts, the result of a rope breaking or being let go of. The second best documented disater on that side was the boat in which Virginia Loney was lowered- the plug wasn't in, so to speak; it was rendered unstable by the incoming water, and it was capsized by the sinking of the Lusitania. What happened to the other boats is hazy, compared to the well documented multiple tragedies on the starboard side. One thing the surviving passegners from the port side were in almost unanimous agreement on was that several of the boats were loaded and then unloaded by an order from the bridge allegedly given by Staff Captain Anderson. The later stories of boats careening down the deck are notably absent in 1915/1917 accounts- just to toss out a few names, Sarah Lund, Robert Timmis, Mr Frankum, Mr Meyer, Mr Leary (whose account was so histrionic that if such a thing had happened he WOULD have dwelled on it endlessly) Miss Maycock, Rita Jolivet all gave detailed accounts of escaping from the port side (and most of these passengers were on the port side for the duration of the sinking) without mentioning the fabled lifeboats plowing down the deck killing people incident. What was voiced, privately in letters and publicly in the Mixed Claims Commission testimony, was a GREAT deal of anger at the perceived stupidity of being made to disembark from the fully loaded boats after the collapse of the Hammond lifeboat. Miss Maycock, in particular, wrote a scathing review of the crew and the port side non-evacuation, which can be found in the Imperial War Museum collection. Whether the order to unload the boats was a wise one can be debated, but from the accounts we've gathered (and there are many of them and all the major details coordinate) it seems that the list was not as major a factor of the port side debacle as it is made out to be.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>In reading the inquiries report a naval architect mentions counter-flooding to right the ship. Has that ever been attempted in an actual sinking? <<

In a sinking it's dicey. On the one hand, it may let you launch some boats and it might just make some damage control efforts easier, but the obvious price is that you've given up some of your remaining bouyancy.

Counterflooding was a stratagy accomplished all the time during World War Two by warships to deal with battle damage.
 

Jon Brockman

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Oct 2, 2006
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I know slightly off topic, but still relevant, (mods please feel free to move)

How would the QE2 or the QM2 fair if they suffered identical damage to Titanics?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>How would the QE2 or the QM2 fair if they suffered identical damage to Titanics?<<

It depends on how they're subdivided. My understanding is that these are ships which are designed to remain afloat with any two sections flooded. If this is true, my bet it that they would sink.
 

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