Theories on causes, compared to recent Costa Concordia acci

Theories on causes, compared to recent Costa Concordia acci

Postby EdwardPMcMorrow on Sat Mar 24, 2012 6:44 pm

by Edward P. McMorrow
This year is the centennial of the deadliest and most destructive disaster in maritime history.. On the night of April 14, 1812, the brand new passenger ship RMS (Royal Mail Steamship) Titanic collided with an iceberg while in the midst of her maiden voyage carrying approximately 2,225 passengers and crew from Southampton, UK, through the icy cold waters of the North Atlantic, en route to New York City, USA, As the latest example of the only way to make a trans-Atlantic journey,, she was the largest, 882.75 feet in length, with a beam (width) of 92.5 feet, and gross tonnage of 46,000 tons., and most luxurious, ocean liner in the world at that time, and had been advertised as “nearly unsinkable..”
In those days before air travel, ocean liners like the Titanic were the only available mode of transportation available to those making trans-oceanic journeys. Nearly one hundred years later, long distance transportation is provided by air liners, leaving large passenger ships to be used as cruise ships, entertaining tourists en route to vacation sites.
The substantial damage sustained by the Titanic in the collision, approximately 500 miles from the shore of Newfoundland,.Canada,.caused her to sink to the depths of the North Atlantic, 2.5 miles below the surface, with the loss of more than 1500 human lives. As a result, her collision and sinking was one of the deadliest and most dramatic maritime accidents in human history. Most other maritime disasters lethal to greater numbers of people were the results of intentional acts of war, such as the sinking of of passenger ships like the Lusitania by submarines,. have not been accidents.
In addition, the sinking of the Titanic, was quite ironic because of the claim that she was “nearly unsinkable” had been widely misinterpreted as truly unsinkable This ironic misunderstanding has contributed greatly to the ship's long standing notoriety. Ever since, there has never been any determination of what caused the collision and its murderous aftermath.
Now, as we approach the centennial of this disaster, this question is gaining attention again. This simply increases the public interest already aroused generated fifteen years ago by the success of the movie, “Titanic,” depicting a romance in the setting of the sinking ship.
More recently, in the first month of this centennial year, another maritime accident involving a large passenger ship took place.. On Friday, the thirteenth of January, 2012, the much larger , Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia. ran aground on the well known rocky shoal beneath the shallow waters off the shore of the small island of Giglio, off the coast of the Italian region of Tuscany,. As a result, the t ship was torn open by the reef of jagged stone, and so badly damaged that she capsized, and partially sank onto the reef, only 150 yards from the shore of the island., Despite causing the grounding, the proximity of the shore enabled most of her passengers to escape quickly, either in life boats or with the help of the Italian Coast Guard to the nearby island, .while the, a distance from shore 5,866 x less then than location of the sinking of the Titanic.
Because this was another “sinking” of a gigantic passenger ship, there were many, completely inaccurate, claims of similarity with the far more serious collision and sinking of the RMS Titanic, disaster, nearly one hundred years earlier, perhaps partially due to the popularity of the movie, “Titanic,” Although both accidents involved large passenger ships, there were not any other similarities whatsoever.
First and foremost of their dissimilarities was the incomparable functions of the two passenger ships. . No longer used as a means of long distance trans-oceanic travel, large passenger ships such as the Costa Concordia, are cruise ships, entertaining tourists en route to vacation sites.
As such, she was a much larger ship than the Titanic,, 952 feet in length, (8 % longer than Titanic's length, of 882.75 feet) with a beam (width) of 116 feet (25 % larger than Titanic)'beam of 92.5 feet), and ,a draft (the depth of her keel below the waterline) of approximately 27 feet, (78% of Titanic's) draft of 34.5 feet), and a tonnage of 144,500 tons, (150 % greater than Titanic's gross tonnage of 46,000 tons).,and carrying more passengers and crew with 4200 on board, 80% greater than the 2225 on board Titanic).
Fortunately for her passengers.,, when the Costa Concordia an aground in complete daylight and partially sank in the same shallow waters, , she suffered the much less serious fate than did the Titanic, in colliding with an indiscernible object which had suddenly appeared out of the darkness, and which she could not avoid completely . So far, the death toll from the grounding of the Costa Concordia is twenty-five, with seven still missing, for a total of 32 “lost,” (0.8% of the all those on board) while 1503 people (67% of those on board) died on the Titanic. Had the Costa Concordia also collided with an iceberg and sunk while crossing the North Atlantic like the Titani, losing 67 % of those on board , 2814 would have died.
The cause and responsibility for the Titanic's collision, sinking, and for the deaths of so many aboard her during that cold night in the North Atlantic have never been obvious, and cannot be attributed to a single mistake. That catastrophic loss of the Titanic was the result of a combination of factors of various origins, both inadequacies and weaknesses in her design and construction of the ship, as well as of a serious of different mistakes made by multiple members of her crew.
Although “spring had sprung,” already on shore in April 1912,, the temperatures of both the oceanic waters through which the Titanic was steaming and the air above them were still quite cold. As a result, hunks of ice, in a range of sizes, including some of the largest, floating ice mountains, or ice bergs, large enough to threaten passing ships, were still floating around after from breaking from the ice floes farther north, then drifting south. In response, nearby ships which sighted such monstrosities often transmitted signals via wireless (radio) telegraphy (Morse code), to warn other ships in the neighborhood of the danger.
The first such factors were these which caused the Titanic to go anywhere near the dangerous iceberg. Perhaps the most obvious of these was the ship's officers' disregard of those warning transmissions received from several nearby ships, including the French ocean liner Touraine and the German ocean liner Amerika, to alert their recipients to the presence of icebergs in the area into which the Titanic was steaming en route to New York City.
Although they had forwarded that information to other ships and to weather stations ashore , the commander of the Titanic, Captain Edward .J. Smith, and his junior officers had continued sailing through the darkness, without reducing her speed, or changing her course, or increasing the number of lookouts on duty. in response.. Thus, despite having received several warnings of icebergs in the vicinity, the ship was steaming full speed ahead at night, They had done no more than instruct her lookouts on duty to watch carefully for ice in the darkness, despite the fact that their ability to do so was limited by their lack of both binoculars, which were being used on the bridge, and searchlights, available on warships, but not on that brand new ocean liner. If. her lookouts had been using both of these, they could have sighted the iceberg earlier, when it was more distant, therefore giving the ship much more time to avoid it.
At around 11:40 PM, that same day, one working lookout, Frederick Fleet, was straining to watch for icebergs in the darkness from the foremast crows nest. Suddenly, he sighted an apparently small object dead ahead, in the path of the ship, far less perceptible than an island in bright daylight. Immediately, he rang the alarm bell to warn of the obstacle, and telephoned the ship's bridge to inform those in command.
Unfortunately, neither his ability to estimate the distance to the object nor to evaluate its size were very good. Because the obstacle was more distant than he had judged it to be at first, it had been revealed as much larger,than he had guessed as they approached it which made it much more important that it be avoided, This initially inaccurate estimate of the obstacle's size begins the second category of factors, those which prevented the grand ocean liner from completely avoiding it and escaping any collision. with the iceberg, after it had been sighted.
In addition to the crew's misinterpretation of the true danger which they faced, there were two limits in the design of the Titanic which prevented her from being nearly as maneuverable as other contemporary ocean liners, her competitors. One very basic reason for this was the inadequate size of her rudder, mounted underneath the center of the stern (back end) of the ship,. Had the rudder been bigger, it would have directed more seawater to one side or the other, providing the ship's helmsman with the ability to make a stronger, quicker change in course when necessary.
.In addition, he Titanic had an unusual steam propulsion system. which aggravated this problem. Like many other ships, before and since, the Titanic was “triple screw,” (driven by three propellers) and her port (left) and starboard (right) propellers were driven by conventional triple expansion reciprocating steam engines, the four cylinders of each of which were driven by the pressure of the steam coming directly from the ship's coal-fired boiler. Because the the central propeller was directly in front of the rudder, it pushed the water which had the greatest effect on the turning of the ship. It was driven by a more modern steam turbine engine like those driving all the fastest big ships in the world at that time, These included the Cunard Line fast flagship ocean liners Mauretania and Lusitania, as well as the famous battleship, HMS Dreadnought, each of which was powered entirely by turbine engines using steam coming directly from their boilers, The Titanic was not as fast as those other ships, since only one of her three engines was a turbine.
To cut costs by reducing the ships consumption of coal fuel, the turbine engine was driven by steam which had already gone through two of the cylinders of each of the other engines. As a result of this unusual arrangement of the Titanic's steam engines, when the side engines were reversed, they were no longer able to generate the steam necessary to power the central, turbine engine shut down, stopping the central propeller, and reducing the ship's ability both to stop and to maneuver, by reducing the flow around the rudder. .
In spite of the Titanic's inadequacies, her crew made enough effort to ensure that the collision with the iceberg was not a direct one. Ironically, the collision might not have resulted in the sinking of the ship if she had struck the iceberg directly with her bow. Some previous collisions with icebergs by other ships had occurred in this way, causing great damage to those ships' bows, but with their watertight bulkheads preventing the seawater from flowing into much more of the ships' hulls. Unexpectedly, the indirect collision was actually more damaging when it occurred,. As they approached it, and the correct identification , size, and threat of the immense iceberg became clearer,. the ship's First Officer, William Murdoch, was at the helm, (in control) on the bridge. He reacted by ordering that the ship be both turned to port (left) to avoid it, while simultaneously, ordering that the engines be reversed to stop the ship, although she had already come too close to be stopped in time. Instead, this did no more than reduce the ship's speed, which prevented her from turning hard and fast enough to entirely avoid all contact with the iceberg. This caused the ship to strike the iceberg with a glancing blow as she scraped past it, along the starboard (right) side of her hull, Its single layer of plating, lacking any reinforcing backup, was pierced by the ice, at the bow, which then tore a long rip into it, running one hundred yards aft, 34% of the length of the ship. This opened enough compartments along her starboard side to the seawater so that many of them filled rapidly
The next category of factors are those which contributed to the ship succumbing to the damage done by the collision with the iceberg and sinking slightly more than two and a half hours later. Perhaps the ship's greatest structural weakness was her lack of both a double hull, a reinforcing secondary layer of plating a few feet inside her primary hull which would reduce the possibility of any damage to her outermost skin from allowing flooding, and of other lengthwise bulkheads, parallel with the keel, farther within her hull. These would have limited the flooding resulting from any damage to both outer and inner hulls by preventing the sea water from spreading through much of the ship.
With neither a double hull nor many lengthwise bulkheads, a penetration of the outside of her hull by the iceberg lead to unrestricted flooding which entirely filled the damaged compartments from the port (left) to the starboard (right) sides of the ship, allowing the intake of far more seawater than if there had been any intact lengthwise bulkhead,which would have limited the flooding to only those smaller compartments defined by the both kinds of bulkheads preventing the flooding of the entire width of the ship resulting from sea water pouring into those much larger compartments between the crosswise bulkheads and pierced by the iceberg collision.
The most significant of the differences between the Titanic disaster, with this long list of contributing factors, and the fate of the Costa Concordia is that there is no question of either the reason for her grounding or of the responsibility for it That ship's captain, Francesco Schettino, was involved in a contest with the captain of another ship over whose ship could pass closest to the little island,, despite their obligation to control their ships safely, without endangering them or any of those aboard.
In his attempt to do this, the Costa Concordia ran aground when he intentionally took her 50% closer to the shore than the normally minimum distance for such huge ships. Thus, the loss of this ship came as a result her captain's foolish attempt to venture into waters known to be too shallow for his ship. despite her being\equipped with the latest Twenty-First Century radar and technological guidance systems, which were ignored, to warn of such dangers.
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