Waiting for Godot 1: Could the Titanic Have Been Saved? -by Robert Milnes at The PLAS Place.

The Titanic Tragedy took place April 14, 1912 at about 23:40 pm. After striking an iceberg, it took about 2 hours 40 minutes to sink to a depth of about 12,500 ft, about 370 miles S-SE of the Newfoundland coast-about Cape Race. The Captain, Edward Smith, soon called “All Stop”.
Most of us are fairly familiar with the facts of the tragedy. For myself, I sometimes wondered whether it had to happen the way it did; Couldn’t SOMETHING have been done? Objectively it looks hopeless. That is probably the conclusion most if not all in authority quickly came to. So they sat in place, disembarking into too few lifeboats, and sank.
Over the years I wondered: Could the Titanic have revved up its brand new engines and headed towards land or possibly shallows and beached it?
Recently I actually looked at some maps including some depths. And gathered some facts on Wikipedia and did some calculations. It turns out the Continental shelf juts out from Newfoundland in a triangular shape to just short of where Titanic sank. This area is called The Grand Banks, longtime famous for abundant fishing. The Shelf is relatively shallow, about 200-500 feet deep, and rapidly slopes downward to thousands of feet deep. The Grand Banks has at least one very shallow area, east of Cape Race of about 40′ depth. There was at least one other shallow area, towards Nova Scotia, an island near the edge of the shelf called Sable Island. It was also well known in 1912.
That would be sufficient. To sink 40′ would flood many lower decks, but the upper decks would remain above water. Most if not all passengers and crew could have survived this.
The ice pack itself was common, being fed by glaciers on the west coast of Greenland, traveling south to melt. Titanic had past most of this ice pack, some due north, little more due south. There did not seem to be any other shelf or shallows due south until Bermuda which was very far. However my research should not be considered expert and/or thorough.
So Titanic was steaming at 22knots (25mph) which was customary, relying on lookouts which also was customary. I do not know if Titanic had searchlights, which were used in WW2 to spot aircraft during night time bombing raids. Titanic’s reported maximum speed was 24 knots (27 mph).
Reportedly in 1907 the Kronprinz Wilhelm, a German liner, directly hit an iceberg. It suffered serious bow damage but did go on to complete its voyage. So the argument could be that had Titanic not veered to avoid a direct collision, it may very well have survived. But that is not the issue here. At issue is whether after hitting the iceberg, could something have been done for its survival. It’s fate was sealed when the decision was made to disembark to lifecraft. To suddenly rev the engines and go full speed to some hopeful shallows would have been at least very awkward for the passengers disembarking.
Quick calculation: At full speed Titanic MAY have made it about 70 miles. That would not be enough to reach Sable Island. However it would reach the outer area of the Grand Banks. However that is still around 250 feet depth. Which still sinks the Titanic exposing all passengers and crew to the elements. Plus Titanic was sinking from the bow, so sooner or later the propellers would come up out of the water rendering them useless. Maybe salvage operations would have been prompt, but deaths still great. The goal here is to save the Titanic from sinking AND save most if not all passengers and crew.
So this begs the question: Could Titanic’s engines and/or bilge pumps have been pushed beyond their recommended maximum-temporarily-in order to increase the distance on this desperate survival run?
I do not know. I guess I am asking readers for their input.
12/3 I just looked up Titanic’s load draft. 34’6″. And I got to thinking about the propellers and the forward pressure they exert.
I assume the propellers are manufactured to be functioning at fixed horizontal. The faster the propellers rotate, the more forward pressure. But don’t they also exert an upward bow pressure? Isn’t this what we see in speedboats? The bow seems like it wants to go up and maybe take off and fly! So it should be that forward motion should tend to lift the bow. Plus, if the bow begins to sink while the stern remains afloat, the propellers should begin to tilt downward. Wouldn’t that increase the iupward pressure, the angle of thr propellers? This should increase the time afloat i.e. increase the afloat time and consequently increase the distance possibly traveled.
Also, coincidentally, 40′ would be almost ideal a depth to come to rest. The draft is already 34′ so the entire ship would only sink about 6′! Now, if the bow was sunk fairly far down, as it approached the shallows, the forepeak area-the underside of the bow, should begin to run aground (sand not rock?) first. And get pushed upwards. This would be when the engines should start to slow down reducing speed. Then come to all stop, but keep the engines running to generate electricity. I assume there is a neutral type gearing as in automobiles for this purpose.
We know the iceberg was hit with a glancing blow on the right (starboard) side. Was the damage a puncture, a gash, did the rivets pop? What was the nature of the damage? In any event, the damage was forward, not aft.
12.4. So, is that it then? The Officers should have consulted with all White Star officials and other experts on board and decided to slowly engage the engines, change course to North by Northwest towards Cape Race increasing to full speed plus, adjusting course towards the nearest shallows of about 40′ or less. Since the damage was in the front of the ship, the forward momentum should have mitigated the rate of sinking. How much is unknown but could be estimated. And figured into the distance of the nearest shallows up to the Cape itself.
Could you imagine that? This huge luxury liner approaching the beach at Cape Race. Going aground or coming to all stop and settling down-sinking-a few feet? The engines running, bilge pumps emptying out most of the salt water. Quite a mess and frightfully inconvenient, but Tragedy averted.
That would really have been something!

About rwm4prez2012

Candidate for President of the UNITED STATES for /2004/2008/2012/2016/2020.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.