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Saturday, April 14, 2012


BON VOYAGE--As you read this (before 4-15), the cruise ship MS Balmoral, operated by Fred Olsen Cruise Lines is asea following the original 1912 route of Titanic, intending to stop over the point on the sea bed where she rests as of 15 April 2012.

The MS Balmoral set sail from Southampton on a Titanic memorial voyage on April 8, 2012, via Cherbourg and to Cobh (formerly Queenstown) in Ireland, arriving, April 9, 2012. Cobh was the last port of call for RMS Titanic before she sailed for New York.

You’d think with all the modern navigational resources, including the latest radars, that the M.S. Balmoral would be immune to any hints of disaster. The Balmoral is carrying the same number of passengers (1,309) as did the Titanic.

Press reports of the new cruise abound with details such as many passengers and crew are dressed in period costumes, while dining on meals from Titanic’s original menu and other events led by historians.

Murphy’s Law, the same ill-fated “what are the odds” phenomenon that struck the Titanic, so far has hit the Balmoral twice. One day out on its memorial cruise, the Balmoral was forced to turn back after one of its passengers fell ill. It had to head back towards Ireland to a point where she could be reached by the Irish Coast Guard. The guest was airlifted to safety. So far, no reports on his condition made the news.

The medical emergency was the second setback for the cruise liner which was delayed on Monday on its journey from Cherbourg to Cobh because of a bad storm.

Setbacks aside, the MS Balmoral is once again on schedule to arrive at the site where Titanic sank on April 14 in time for the exact anniversary of the sinking in the early hours of April 15.

A memorial service will be held at the moment Titanic hit the iceberg.

The haunting black & white photo attached to this blog was taken by the Odell family that joined the cruise in England and debarked in Ireland as part of a holiday. As the Titanic sailed away, the Odell’s snapped the last picture taken of the Titanic atop the water.

The History Channel has a poignant series, which is very well done on examining various disasters throughout modern times. To see HC’s straightforward examination of the sinking is riveting. We apologize for the pun.

Another BBC news report on the departure of the Balmoral can be seen at


Stat Titanic Balmoral
Began Built 1909 2007
Height 175 ft. n.a.
Length 883 ft. 715 ft.
Width 92.6 ft. 92.7 ft.
Tonnage 46,000 43,537
Top speed 22.5 knts 22.5 knots
Passengers 2,500 1,778 maximums
Crew 860 471

Timeline of the Sinking of the Titanic [Gannon, 1995].
11:35 p.m. Lookouts spot the iceberg 1/4 mile ahead.
11:40 The Titanic sideswipes the iceberg, damaging nearly 300 feet of the hull.
Midnight Watertight compartments are filling; water begins to spill over the tops of the transverse bulkheads.
1:20 a.m. The bow pitches; water floods through anchor-chain holes.
2:00 The bow continues to submerge; propellers lift out of the water.
2:10 The Titanic tilts 45 degrees or more; the upper structure steel disintegrates.
2:12 The stern raises up out of the water; the bow, filling with water, grows heavier.
2:18 Weighing 16,000 tons, the bow rips loose; the stern rises to almost vertical.
2:20 The stern slips beneath the surface.
2:29 Coasting at about 13 mph, the bow strikes the ocean floor.
2:56 Falling at about 4 mph, the stern strikes the ocean floor.


CONCLUSION: This article has presented the most probable theory, which has become dominant as a result of evidence acquired during several expeditions to the Titanic site.

The failure of the hull steel resulted from brittle fractures caused by the high sulphur content of the steel, the low temperature water on the night of the disaster, and the high impact loading of the collision with the iceberg. When the Titanic hit the iceberg, the hull plates split open and continued cracking as the water flooded the ship. Low water temperatures and high impact loading also caused the brittle failure of the rivets used to fasten the hull plates to the ship's main structure. On impact, the rivets were either sheared off or the heads popped off because of excessive loading, which opened up riveted seams. Also, the rivets around the perimeter of the plates elongated due to the stresses applied by the water, which broke the caulking and provided another inlet for the water.

The rapid sinking of the Titanic was worsened by the poor design of the transverse bulkheads of the watertight compartments. As water flooded the damaged compartments of the hull, the ship began to pitch forward, and water in the damaged compartments was able to spill over into adjacent compartments. Not only did the compartments not control the flooding, but they also contained the water in the bow, which increased the rate of sinking.

Following the Titanic disaster, double-sided hulls were added to ships to prevent minor hull punctures from causing major damage. Also, the transverse bulkheads of the watertight compartments were raised so that water could not spill over the tops if the ship were pitched at a slight angle. Safety regulations established after the sinking include the mandatory use of the wireless for large ships, the minimum lifeboat capacity equal to the number of passengers and crew aboard, and the implementation of the ice patrol to warn ships of nearby ice fields.

Understanding the causes for the rapid sinking of the Titanic is necessary to prevent similar accidents in the future. The changes made in ship design and safety regulations following the disaster were effective in decreasing the casualties of accidents at sea. Examples include the successful rescues of 1600 passengers and crew from the Andrea Doria in 1956, 700 passengers from the Prinsendam in 1980, and all the passengers and crew from Mikhail Lermentov in 1986 and the Oceanos in 1992 [Garzke and others, 1994]. Other lessons need to be learned, however. Just because shipbuilding companies have the technology to build something does not mean that they should. In the case of the Titanic disaster, the causes for the sinking indicate that shipbuilding technology was far more advanced than the understanding which engineers had of the materials they were using to build the ships.

When she wrote the conclusion (see above) to her report: Causes and Effects of the Rapid Sinking of the Titanic, report, Vicki Bassett was a senior in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin. For the full report:
Sinking Timeline: Gannon, Robert, "What Really Sank the Titanic," Popular Science, vol. 246, no. 2 (February 1995), pp. 49-55.
Comparison chart: Balmoral & Titanic by Thomas Shess via Wikipedia data.

Images: Titanic sailing away from Irish Coast in what is believed to be the final photograph of the ship before it sank. Odell Family photograph; Close up of Hulls: Balmoral/Fred.Olsen Cruises. Titanic/Odell Family

Update: USA Today capsulized in 5-minutes a remarkable animation of the ship going to the bottom with filmmaker James Cameron narrating:

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