What Would You do to Save Everyone?


JMGraber

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Apr 22, 2012
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I got this idea from a documentary that was out recently (with people like James Cameron and Ken Marshall) talking about how the ship precisely sank on National Geographic. So I got this idea from one of the segments where James asks everyone how or if they could save everyone. Here are some ways that came up:

Head to the mystery ship. We all know about that mystery ship that seemed 10 miles off. So James Cameron thought that by putting the Titanic in reverse they could take it to the mystery ship and save everyone!

Head to the iceberg. James Cameron's next idea was for the Titanic to turn around and head for the iceberg and then everyone can climb on it and wait for a rescue.

Head for the field ice. Ken Marshall had the plan to head straight ahead for the field ice and have everyone go on that.

Make rafts. Have some of the crew tear apart the wood work on the ship and also gather the benches and make rafts.

Put all the life jackets in rooms. For the rooms that are flooding, stuff them with life jackets and close them, now no water can get in.

Also, if you were the captain would you do the exact same thing with the lifeboats, or would you be on the more panicky side and instead of asking people to please board them you have the crew say something like "The ship is sinking we are all going to die!" and have stampede to fill all the boats to 70 people.

Any ideas of these could work?
 
Jan 6, 2005
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Because of the short time between impact and the final sinking, I don't think anything short of the sudden appearance of another ship could have saved everyone.

My personal best-case scenario with the circumstances that actually existed that night would involve a much faster call to the lifeboats, filling those lifeboats completely, and perhaps overfilling them a bit. The death toll could have been cut by four to five hundred people that way. That still leaves a dreadful loss of life, it is true, but the actual death toll was truly outrageous.
 
Sep 25, 2004
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Because of the short time between impact and the final sinking, I don't think anything short of the sudden appearance of another ship could have saved everyone.

My personal best-case scenario with the circumstances that actually existed that night would involve a much faster call to the lifeboats, filling those lifeboats completely, and perhaps overfilling them a bit. The death toll could have been cut by four to five hundred people that way. That still leaves a dreadful loss of life, it is true, but the actual death toll was truly outrageous.

Agreed. To quote Lightoller in ANTR: "If they won't get in, chuck 'em in."

I also agree with Michael Standart's answer.
 

Arun Vajpey

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What would I have done?

Simple.

Steer a course which would have avoided the area of known ice.

Absolutely. But since several ice warnings had already come in, I would have also slowed the ship down and posted double lookouts. Also made sure that they had binoculars.

I know that the binoculars bit is a controversial point but my argument is that with the glasses present, the lookouts would not be any worse off. They were only obliged to use them if they felt the need and there is just a small possibility that Fleet, having seen something ahead with the naked eyes, might have identified the berg a bit sooner. Even 10 or 15 seconds sooner MIGHT have made a difference.
 
Oct 28, 2000
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Arun's post (above) succinctly states conventional...and, I must say landsman...wisdom about avoiding the iceberg. What seems so obvious from life experiences ashore is not always the reality at sea.

Binoculars, especially British optics of 1912, are a non-starter. Even today their primary purpose is to identify objects after they have been spotted visually with the naked eyeball. The angle of vision is when using binoculars restricts vision to a very small sector of the horizon when the overriding need is for unrestricted observation of anything and everything from dead ahead to at least two points abaft the beam (22 1/2 deg.). Lookouts are tasked with locating objects of interest and notifying the officers. The nature of the object is rather immaterial compared to noticing it and passing the word to the bridge. And, there is no doubt that Titanic's lookouts performed well at their primary job that night. Something else against glasses (nautical for "binoculars") is that those available in 1912 did not have coated optics, so were not well suited for night use.

From an operational standpoint, it's almost painful to stand watch with a 22-knot ship's wind dead in your face. Lookouts have been known to "hide" their eyes behind binoculars just to releave the stinging of the wind. A man can look quite attentive with glasses to his face when, in fact, he's seeing nothing.

Slowing down is another land-learned response to danger. It is virtually always the right thing to do when driving in traffic. But, a car driving between painted lanes on the highway is hardly comparable to a ship on the trackless ocean. At sea, there is no reason to stay between the lines because they don't exist. The proper thing to do when confronted with danger is to first turn away from it. As I have pointed out on numerous posts, there is evidence Captain Smith attempted to turn south of the ice at least once a half hour before impact. And, I believe it was a second turn that set up the accident. These actions would have been prudent except for the fact they were insufficient for the safety of the ship. Smith needed more distance away from the ice than he obtained.

As an abosolute truth, slowing down by itself only delays, but does not prevent impact on the iceberg (or anything else in front of a ship). Collision cannot be avoided without maneuver -- turning away from the danger. Speed is inconsequential in this sense. And, in fact, a ship moving at its designed speed is usually more maneuverable than it is going at slower speed. So, slowing may not be the most prudent action in all cases.

The double lookout idea is another idea the sounds good, but would it have helped? There was only room for two men in the crow's nest, so even with a doubled lookout there would still have been only four "high eyes" in the ship. And, it is height that gives distance in the sense that the horizon is farther away from up the mast than down on deck. Men placed on the prow would actually have had a shorter horizon than the officer of the watch on the bridge. In fog a lower lookout can often has better visibility from "underneath" the mist. However, that night was crystal clear. Lower lookouts could only have warned the bridge of what the officer of the watch had already been viewing for several minutes.

In the end, the answer to Smith's problem was not binoculars, lookouts, or speed. It was location. He drove his ship too close to a known danger and paid the price. If Titanic had been just a few miles farther south, this forum would not exist and more than 1,500 lives would not have been lost.

-- David G. Brown
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Also made sure that they had binoculars.<<

Having stood lookout watches at sea, I can easily back up everything Captain David here has said, particularly about just how useless binoculars are for searching, particularly in cold weather conditions at night. One of the very first lessons I learned was that using them to search for something actually made matters vastly worse. This may sound counter to so-called "common sense" but the results spoke for themselves. The field of view was dramatically worse and objects passed by in a blur so that it was easy to miss something even if you knew exactly where it was.

The only reason I ever had them to begin with was to identify a target when needed or asked. Since I typically stood lookouts under highly adverse low visibility conditions, I can tell you that identification was not the Officer Of the Deck's concern. Avoiding a collision was. He wanted to know where something was. Knowing what it is was a tertiary concern to be entertained only after you avoided hitting the thing.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Actually, that is what I was asking. Having seen something in the distance with his NAKED EYES, is there a small possibility that Fleet, if he had binoculars, used them only to identify what it was? And if he did, is there a possibility - however small - that realisation that it was an iceberg in the ship's path come 10 or 15 seconds sooner?

I am NOT suggesting the answer in that particular real-life situation one way or another since the original question was hypothetical anyway.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Actually, that is what I was asking. Having seen something in the distance with his NAKED EYES, is there a small possibility that Fleet, if he had binoculars, used them only to identify what it was?<<

He never said anything to the effect. I recall that he groused about not having them but the fact still remains that when he saw the thing, he rang the bell, then rang up the bridge.

In this particular instance, identifying the target you see really is of no import. What does matter is that you see it and report it.
 

Steve Julian

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May 14, 2012
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Two possibilities for saving the ship even after hitting the iceberg:

1. Open all the watertight doors. The water would flow through to more compartments - enabling more pumps to expel the incoming water back out of the ship. Even if the pumps were unable to save the ship the simple fact that more water is being pumped back out means that they would have bought the ship, and everyone aboard, more time while they waited for rescue ships to arrive.

2. Flood one or more compartments at the stern of the ship. The expected effect would be see-sawing the bow out of the water, possibly enough to prevent the incoming water from flowing over the bulkheads into further compartments.

Saving the Titanic is my college research topic and I'm very interested in readers responses to the above two scenarios.

Thanks
Steve
 

Arun Vajpey

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Flood one or more compartments at the stern of the ship. The expected effect would be see-sawing the bow out of the water, possibly enough to prevent the incoming water from flowing over the bulkheads into further compartments.

Interesting. Is this ride expensive?
 
Mar 12, 2011
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Two possibilities for saving the ship even after hitting the iceberg:

1. Open all the watertight doors. The water would flow through to more compartments - enabling more pumps to expel the incoming water back out of the ship. Even if the pumps were unable to save the ship the simple fact that more water is being pumped back out means that they would have bought the ship, and everyone aboard, more time while they waited for rescue ships to arrive.

2. Flood one or more compartments at the stern of the ship. The expected effect would be see-sawing the bow out of the water, possibly enough to prevent the incoming water from flowing over the bulkheads into further compartments.

Saving the Titanic is my college research topic and I'm very interested in readers responses to the above two scenarios.

Thanks
Steve

Scenario #1 results in Titanic losing power (if i recall correctly) roughly an hour after collision, then capsizing and sinking over half an hour sooner than she actually did. Scenario #2 is probably impossible. Titanic's limited bilge pumping capacity ( roughly 1,750 tons/hr) was devoted completely to stemming water intake equal to 12 times their rated capacity, and no provision was made in Titanic's (or any other ocean liner's, for that matter) design for counter-flooding.
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Arun,

Not a bad idea. The theory is correct. But I think the questioner meant after the impact.

Let's take a closer look at the answers to James Cameron's question. I suspect it was asked with tongue in cheek:

1. Head for the mystery ship.

2. Head for the ice berg.

3. Head for the pack ice.

4. Make rafts.

5. Put all the lifejackets in rooms.

The last bit about lifeboats... I don't know what is meant. But what about the first 5?

Well the first three are non starters because Titanic herself was a non starter!
After 20 minutes, after they found that the ship was sinking rapidly, they were venting off steam so no power for the engines.
Even if they had a little steam, they would need it for pumps and electic power. The mystery ship was heading toward them then turned away which suggests it was on the wrong side of the pack ice so if they headed for it, they would have hit the pack ice. If they had managed to land people on the pack ice, they would have moved away from their distress position which rescue vessels were heading for. In that case, Titanic would have gone down leaving everyone on the ice, freezing to death waiting for rescue vessels to find them. Carpathia found them by shear luck and the good thinking of Boxhall. It is quite possible that if they had landed on the ice, all of them would have perished of hypothermia before they were rescued. Same goes for the berg, except in that case, many would have slid off into the water.
No. 3 is daft simply because they did not know the pack ice was there!
Making rafts would be a last resort action since for much of the time, they did not think Titanic would sink. It follows that the Chief Baker's idea of throwing deck chairs over the side was about the nearest they would get to that idea in the time they had left.

A life-jacket was possibly 6 feet x 2 feet x 4 inches. This means it had a volume of 4 cubic feet. This means that 3,500 such jackets would exclude 400 tons of sea water from the ship. They would fill about 15 of the B Deck outside cabins.
Put another way, it would be equivalent to reducing the depth of water in boiler room 5 by 4 feet. Nowhere near enough to save the ship. It would reduce the ship's overall sinkage by about 3 inches only.


Jim C.
 

Steve Julian

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May 14, 2012
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Thanks for your response.

I wonder if you are able to give any sources for your information.

Also, for the scenario of opening the watertight doors to let more pumps to be used... what if the doors were only partially opened so as to allow only the same amount of water through as the pumps were able to expel?

If this was done surely the ship would not lose power until the water filled the compartments by spilling over the bulkheads.

Look forward to anyone's responses.

Thanks!

Cheers
Steve


Scenario #1 results in Titanic losing power (if i recall correctly) roughly an hour after collision, then capsizing and sinking over half an hour sooner than she actually did. Scenario #2 is probably impossible. Titanic's limited bilge pumping capacity ( roughly 1,750 tons/hr) was devoted completely to stemming water intake equal to 12 times their rated capacity, and no provision was made in Titanic's (or any other ocean liner's, for that matter) design for counter-flooding.
 
Mar 12, 2011
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Thanks for your response.

I wonder if you are able to give any sources for your information.

Also, for the scenario of opening the watertight doors to let more pumps to be used... what if the doors were only partially opened so as to allow only the same amount of water through as the pumps were able to expel?

If this was done surely the ship would not lose power until the water filled the compartments by spilling over the bulkheads.

Look forward to anyone's responses.

Thanks!

Cheers
Steve
The information is available on this very board, unfortunately I don't have any links handy, but the boards search function ought to help you there. As far as opening the doors to allow additional pumps to be used, it appears that this was done as much as was feasible to bring additional pumping capacity into boiler room 4, perhaps boiler room 5. Opening doors any further forward would have done more harm than good. You would have to open the doors more or less all the way to allow the men carrying the pipes through, which of course defeats the purpose of the watertight door. In any event all they could do was buy time. Titanic's pumping capacity was hopelessly outmatched by the initial rate of flooding. For every ton of water they pumped out, at least 12 more flooded in. That information I can provide you a source for.
Pumping arrangements :
TIP | British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry | Report | Detailed Description - Machinery
TIP | British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry | Report | Detailed Description - Pumping Arrangements

Of particular note here, from the machinery section :
Bilge and Ballast Pumps. - The ship was also fitted with the following pumps: Five ballast and bilge pumps, each capable of discharging 250 tons of water per hour; three bilge pumps, each of 150 tons per hour capacity.
(This is where I get the figure for total pumping capacity. 5x250 = 1,250 + 3x150 = 1,700 tons/hr)

Rate of flooding :
TIP | British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry | Day 19 | Testimony of Edward Wilding, cont. (Part of Harland and Wolff naval architect Edward Wilding's testimony at the british inquiry) The relevant piece of information for this discussion :
20422. There is one other thing I think you wanted to tell us upon the points you have left. Have you made any calculation as to the volume of water that came in through the apertures of this vessel?
- Yes. I referred this to this condition B on the plan I put in, and corresponding very nearly to condition D on the third plan. Assuming the forepeak and Nos. 1, 2 and 3 holds and No. 6 boiler room flooded, and that the water has risen to the waterline which is shown on those diagrams, it would mean that about 16,000 tons of water had found their way into the vessel. That is the volume of the water which would have to come in. As far as I can follow from the evidence, the water was up to that level in about 40 minutes. It may be a few minutes more or less, but that was the best estimate I could make. When the inflow started the evidence we have as to the vertical position of the damage indicated that the head would be about 25 feet. Of course, as the water rose inside, that head would be reduced and the rate of inflow would be reduced somewhat. Making allowance for those, My estimate for the size of the hole required (and making some allowance for the obstruction due to the presence of decks and other things.), is that the total area through which water was entering the ship, was somewhere about 12 square feet. The extent of the damage fore and aft, that is from the foremost puncture to the aftermost puncture in the cross bunker at the forward end of No. 5 boiler room, is about 500 feet, and the average width of the hole extending the whole way is only about three-quarters of an inch. That was my reason for stating this morning that I believe it must have been in places, that is, not a continuous rip. A hole three-quarters of an inch wide and 200 feet long does not seem to describe to me the probable damage, but it must have averaged about that amount.

So, 16,000 tons of water in 40 minutes, averages out to 400 tons per minute, or 24,000 tons per hour. That's roughly 14 times what the pumps were able to handle. It really drives home what a hopeless battle the crew below decks were fighting, doesn't it?
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Stephen!

Theoretically, if you could match the volume of water allowed through an aperture i.e. the side of the ship or a water tight door with the volume of water entering the ship from the sea and the volume in question was within the capability of the ship's pumping arrangements then sure.. the ship would not sink. In fact, if the volume entering the ship from the sea was less than the maximum pumping capability then the ship would begin reducing her draft and start to return to her former trim. However, that's all theory.
There was two factors needed for the theory to become a practicable sollution... the total pumping capacity and the exact volume of water entering the vessel.
As Michael pointed-out we know what these two important factors were so the answer to your question about regulating the flooding using the water tight doors is yes! but only if you can also regulate the amount of water entering the ship from the sea by the same amount.

Jim C.
 

Steve Julian

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May 14, 2012
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Thanks Michael and Jim for your responses.

What is still unclear to me is in what situations a counter-flooding measure might cause the ship to capsize. Would this occur no matter which compartment/s near the stern were flooded? Is there a scenario where one or more specific compartments might have been counter-flooded that could have had the net result of buying the ship more time? Any references would be gratefully received. Thanks!

Cheers
Steve



The information is available on this very board, unfortunately I don't have any links handy, but the boards search function ought to help you there. As far as opening the doors to allow additional pumps to be used, it appears that this was done as much as was feasible to bring additional pumping capacity into boiler room 4, perhaps boiler room 5. Opening doors any further forward would have done more harm than good. You would have to open the doors more or less all the way to allow the men carrying the pipes through, which of course defeats the purpose of the watertight door. In any event all they could do was buy time. Titanic's pumping capacity was hopelessly outmatched by the initial rate of flooding. For every ton of water they pumped out, at least 12 more flooded in. That information I can provide you a source for.
Pumping arrangements :
TIP | British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry | Report | Detailed Description - Machinery
TIP | British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry | Report | Detailed Description - Pumping Arrangements

Of particular note here, from the machinery section :

(This is where I get the figure for total pumping capacity. 5x250 = 1,250 + 3x150 = 1,700 tons/hr)

Rate of flooding :
TIP | British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry | Day 19 | Testimony of Edward Wilding, cont. (Part of Harland and Wolff naval architect Edward Wilding's testimony at the british inquiry) The relevant piece of information for this discussion :


So, 16,000 tons of water in 40 minutes, averages out to 400 tons per minute, or 24,000 tons per hour. That's roughly 14 times what the pumps were able to handle. It really drives home what a hopeless battle the crew below decks were fighting, doesn't it?
 

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