Monday, November 2, 2009

Titanic Kid Question

Big thanks to the two readers, Diugo and Tioga-George, who responded to H’s question about the Titanic. The question was would the ship have sunk if it had hit the iceberg head-on instead of scraping it along the side. The answer seems to be that it probably would not have sunk, although we will never know for sure.

The Titanic was designed with 16 water-tight compartments. However, the bulkheads separating these compartments only extended up to decks E or D, and were open at the top. Because of this open-top design, if more than four compartments in the front of the ship flooded, its nose would tilt down because of the weight and allow the seawater to spill over the tops of these bulkheads into the other compartments. When the Titanic side-swiped the iceberg, its hull was breached in five compartments – which was one too many.

If the Titanic had struck the iceberg head-on, there would have been much more initial damage to the ship. The nose and first two compartments may have been obliterated. However, a ships nose is generally its strongest part, designed to withstand a collision without sinking. In addition, the Titanic would not have tilted down enough to allow seawater to spill over the other bulkheads with only two, three or even four compartments breached.

I will try to explain this to H. I’m sure he will be very appreciative!