Monday, February 21, 2011

"Only actual Titanic footage"


Cbsuesguy said...

Sidney......Are you into the Titanic too??? I have been ever since I was a kid. Would be cool if you would share any further thought or observations.

Mr. Chips

Ganesh said...

Dear Mr Chips,
Glad to meet you - I have a Titanic hobbyhorse of my own. It is this:
I am weary of hearing people speak of the 'flawed' design of the Titanic: the 'fatal flaw' that led to her destruction and the rest of it.
Titanic was a state-of-the-art passenger ship of her time. She sank because she had the extraordinary bad luck to collide with an iceberg. If you were driving your Jaguar XJ at night and ran into a T34 tank that some idiot had parked in the middle of the highway would you claim the consequent damage was a result of a design fault in your car? I am sick of hearing about this!
I read endlessly that the Titanic was 'flawed' because she had latitudinal bulkheads and not longitudinal bulkheads.
The design DISADVANTAGE of longitudinal bulkheads is that a ship quickly develops a list and capsizes when the hull is breached - as was the case with the Lusitania some years later, which capsized as a result of a torpedo strike from a German U-boat.
Designers can't get it right. If a ship is built one way and sinks, it is a flawed design. If it is built another way and sinks, it is a flawed design.
The Titanic was a fine ship. She hit an iceberg and suffered a 300 foot gash in her hull - just a few feet too many for her to survive. This was not a design flaw: this was bad luck.
Shit happens, as they say.

Zaek said...

300 feet? That's a hell of a gash. I had no idea it was that long, though of course I realized it must have been sizable. I believe that's about the wingspan of a 747, or maybe more.

To my mind the interesting thing about the Titanic just now is its applicable analogy to the situation of today's global economy. Most of the passengers don't yet realize just how grave is the damage, nor how deep and icy the trouble in which we will soon find ourselves.

Paul-Francis said...

Dear Zaek,
Indeed, indeed. A few years ago, at a seminar when the topic was aid packages to so-called Third World countries, I likened our collective situation to that of the passengers who were gathered on the taff-rail of the Titanic before its final plunge. We are all huddled there, First Class and Steerage passengers alike. The icy wind blows. The icebergs loom. But the band plays on.
My oft-quoted metaphor has come back to haunt me.
Re the 300ft gash: Yes, just a few feet too long, as the end of the gash punctured the sixth compartment - fatally. But don't think of it as a gash. Basically, the side of the ship was being buckled by the sliding collision with a mass that was relatively soft, but huge. There would not have been a gash, but there would have been a series of punctures where rivets gave way under the stress of buckled plates - a 300ft-long line of high-pressure leaks, and just a touch more than the compartment system was designed to cope with.
It was bad luck. If the watch had spotted the iceberg a few seconds later, and the ship had collided at a sharper angle with the ice mass the damage would have been severe but not fatal. The evasive action produced the worst possible effect - a long, sliding collision with an immoveable mass.
To return to my original point: the design of the Titanic compares favorably with the design of most large cruise liners currently sailing. The only difference is in the provision of lifeboats, which was altered against the wishes of the designer at a late stage for economic reasons. At the time the legal requirement for the provision of lifeboats was a function of tonnage, not of the number of passengers. If there was a 'flaw' in the Titanic it was this, rather than in respect of engineering.

Zaek said...

That's interesting about the buckled-in side, Paul-Francis. After the film that made Leo Dicaprio so popular, a Titanic TV special I recall explained how the ship broke in half before the final plunge, very much as shown in the film - and how that fact was suppressed in the interests the insurance company. But I didn't recall about the exact nature of the original damage. I do recollect there was some suggestion that the metal of which the hull was built was brittle and prone to breakage, but since then I haven't seen any confirmatory material about that.

I'm afraid the analogy is likely to hold up pretty well. Just as the Titanic was fatally struck because of a failed evasive maneuver, so world leaders are probably going to more surely sink us by doing all the wrong things in response to the series of energy, economic and political crises that have begun to accelerate in the past few weeks. They'll do everything in their power to prop up the current unsustainable arrangements, when rapid adaptation to new conditions is what's needed, and will continue to do so beyond the point where it's far too late to correct course.

Ganesh said...

I am afraid the 'breaking up' theory is just another empty conspiracy theory. The Capricio movie incorrectly depicted the hull fracturing at the highest deck level near the centre of the 'grand staircase', (which was structurally the weakest part of the ship because of the huge space provided for the staircase) and subsequently separating into two sections while the ship was still afloat. This is in itself plausible, as a ship's hull is not constructed to withstand the lateral stress of its own weight out of the water. It was the adoption of this 'top fracture' scenario that fed the 'brittle steel' theory.
However, Ballard's examination of the wreck indicated that it was much more likely that the hull had buckled at keel level (Yes, 'buckling' again rather than breaking) and collapsed like a concertina - in the way that a plastic pipe would collapse if you bent it with sufficient force. The hull probably stayed intact while it was above water, but broke in two pieces at the damaged point under the stress of its dive.
Either way, the 'brittle steel' theory explains nothing. State-of-the-art steel in 1912 was fractionally more brittle at low temperatures compared to steel produced 20 years later, but the difference was insignificant. Titanic didn't sink because she was built of substandard steel that ripped apart under stress: she sank because she collided with an iceberg - a modern ship would also sink under the same conditions.
The difference is that a modern ship would have been required to carry sufficient lifeboats - but that is an other story.

Zaek said...

Well that shatters one theory. It did seem unlikely to me that they'd build a ship out of noticeably brittle metal, especially such a well-hyped and ballhooed cruise liner.

As for the wrong evasive maneuvers, I suspect that in the next ten years or so we'll be hearing a lot of hype about fancy new "clean" nuclear reactors, especially thorium reactors, as our energy salvation. Such efforts are doomed, but that is the direction in which I see our rulers most likely rushing as they begin to panic.