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News Titanic sank by error?

  1. Sep 23, 2010 #1

    But maybe the biggest error maybe, was design:

    People are known to make mistakes in panic. Design should not facilitate that. Just another variation of Murphy's law. No?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
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  3. Sep 23, 2010 #2


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    The biggest design flaw was that the flood containment walls didn't seal to the top decks.
  4. Sep 23, 2010 #3
    Only on small boats, sailing ships had rudders and wheels since the C16
  5. Sep 23, 2010 #4
    Personally I feel the biggest design flaw was the lack of lifeboats.

    The ship was critically damaged, it was going down. I don't think a designer can be blamed for the sinking if things go that wrong (unless they did actually cut corners as loseyourname says above). However, the lack of lifeboats is something that should never have happened.

    Just found this which lists a few 'reasons' why it may have occurred, not sure how accurate it is though:

  6. Sep 23, 2010 #5
    Uhhh, if you hit an iceberg, one kind of assumes an error of some sort...
  7. Sep 23, 2010 #6
    Putting a deaf guy on the radio and a blind guy on watch! :biggrin:
  8. Sep 24, 2010 #7
    The lack of lifeboats is the subject of a few misunderstandings. It wasn't that there were only lifeboats for first class, or there were few lifeboats to save money etc. The intention was never that everyone on board would abandon ship and then happily row to New York in open boats across the North Atlantic.

    The purpose of the lifeboats was to ferry passengers to another nearby ship that would come to their assistance, so the number of boats required was set by the time the boat was expected to stay afloat for and the time for each boat to make a return trip to a nearby ship.
    It's rather like only having a single coastguard helicopter lifting people from a sinking ship today - you don't expect the ship to be served by a helicopter per passenger.

    In the case of the Titanic a large number of people refused to go into the lifeboats, given the choice between a small rowing boat being lowered on ropes into the ocean and staying on the deck of a huge liner that didn't appear to be sinking particularly quickly they opted to wait for some help to show up.
  9. Sep 24, 2010 #8


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    The point is that the accident did not have to happen in the first place.
  10. Sep 25, 2010 #9
    I don't know if the book's claim is true or not. As said, at the time, the commands for steering a ship were based on a tiller, but the guy at the wheel should have been used to that from training. Also rudders were used for sail as well, the tiller is what is used to turn the rudder, isn't it?

    In the movie, when it is yelled, "Hard-a-starboard!" the helmsman starts turning it hard to port. This is because when humans steered via a tiller, in order to go port (left), you'd push the tiller to starboard (right) and vice-versa. With steering wheels, you would turn the wheel directly in the direction you wanted to go, however, the old commands remained in place for some time, so the command to turn starboard meant port and the command to turn port meant starboard.

    As for design flaws, one big flaw was the rudder. Titanic was a 20th century ship, but it had an 19th century, rather rudimentary rudder design, and a rather small one at that for a ship it's size. It could turn fine as they tested it in sea trials, but the rudder could have been a lot larger and a more modern design.

    The White Star Line made the claim that the rudder was a foul-up with the engineering and that the ship couldn't turn the way it was supposed to, which wasn't true, it could turn fine, but there was nothing exceptional about its turning ability (a larger rudder would have made turning better).

    The WSL did this because what really happened is they were just driving the ship too fast through an area filled with icebergs, but didn't want to admit to it. The ship that tried to warn Titanic earlier the night it sank had had to steer hard twice to avoid icebergs (and the captain decided to stop for the night, so not surprising Titanic hit one).

    I do wonder how they could go slow ahead after striking the iceberg though, as weren't the steam engines knocked out from the water flooding in?
  11. Sep 25, 2010 #10


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    I believe it is not simply speculation; I believe it was confessed by one of the last surviving officers.
  12. Sep 25, 2010 #11
    So they didn't plan for there being no ships nearby? Asking for trouble there.

    Although if the guidelines said they didn't have to then I suppose it's to be expected.
  13. Sep 25, 2010 #12


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    There was a ship nearby, the Californian. It just didn't come to help them
  14. Sep 25, 2010 #13
    Yes, but to send a ship out across the Atlantic and simply assume there'd be a ship nearby if it got into trouble sounds like you're inviting for the worst case to happen. Murphy's Law? Given that the nearest ship didn't come to help (for what ever reason that was) just proves how true that is.
  15. Sep 25, 2010 #14
    Why were there any lifeboats on an unsinkable ship?
  16. Sep 25, 2010 #15
    I don't believe it was ever officially described as unsinkable.
  17. Sep 25, 2010 #16
    http://www.snopes.com/history/titanic/unsinkable.asp" [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  18. Sep 25, 2010 #17
    Nice, didn't know that, although every quote such as that you show does contain 'possible' or 'practical'.

    So strictly speaking they didn't advertise it as actually being unsinkable, and as pointed out in the argument, the public generally ignore the 'as far as possible' or 'practically'. If the public choose to ignore it then that's up to them. Doesn't mean it was actually advertised as unsinkable.

    There is a difference between being practically unsinkable and unsinkable.

    The snopes page also says (I can't copy from it and can't be bothered to type the quotes myself) that it was the "opinion of the engineers at the time that the ship was unsinkable" but it wasn't advertised without the qualifier.

    Advertisers still do it, they say one thing which strictly speaking is correct, but they know the public will take it differently (ignoring certain 'key' words as with the Titanic article). I'm trying to remember the case I saw on TV the other day.
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2010
  19. Sep 25, 2010 #18
    The alternative though, before search aircraft, was that you would get into a small boat and assuming it wasn't immediately sunk by the weather - you would just drift helplessly until you died of hypothermia,thirst or hunger. Much safer to stay onboard until help comes.
    Even today there is a maxim in sailing that you don't abandon ship until you can step UP into the liferaft - ie until the vessel is almost underwater.

    Modern inflatable liferafts are specifically designed not to sail well so that they stay near the wreck and can easily be found - but if they do drift off they are very difficult to find even with aircraft and radar.
  20. Sep 25, 2010 #19
    So you just carry the lifeboats and don't begin evacuating until you really have to. Stay on board as long as possible, but if you're ship is sinking (regardless of how fast), if no one arrives to help then you'll end up in the lifeboats in the same situation.

    I'd still not like to rely on there being a ship nearby and have the option of using a lifeboat as opposed to relying on a ship being nearby and then potentially not having enough lifeboats if there isn't.
  21. Sep 25, 2010 #20
    I'm pretty sure that when the passengers quized them, they said that the lifeboats were practically not there.
  22. Sep 25, 2010 #21
    There was a general fear of being adrift in an open boat, thats why it was a punishment going back before Capt Bligh's famous voyage.
    Until the turn of the century there had been no large vessel losses with ANY survivors, the boat simply never arrived and no one knew what happened. Whats remarkable about the Titanic was that a large number survived and so lots of stories were told.
    So survivability wasn't a major design feature.

    It's rather like cars in the 50s-60s, you had a car crash - you died. People bought cars based on looks and comfort not safety features. Since safety was impossible nobody demanded it so there were no laws requiring it.
  23. Sep 25, 2010 #22
    Actually, there were laws requiring lifeboats and the Titanic had more than the law required.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 25, 2017
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