Titanic news for veterans day

Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)

Unsinkable Metal Could Lead to Unsinkable Ships. Now Where Have We Heard That Before? (Popular Mechanics, 7 Nov 2019)

The material, which the researchers etched with designs at the nanoscale that allow it to trap air bubbles, could theoretically lead to a truly unsinkable ship or a perfect life preserver, according to Chunlei Guo, a professor of optics and physics at the University of Rochester who coauthored a paper on the new metal in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. The research was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Army Research Office, and the National Science Foundation.

Metro Atlanta Woman Owns Collection She Says Belonged To Couple Who Died On Titanic (WSB-TV Atlanta, 6 Nov 2019)

Laub’s collection includes three small women’s handbags, a pair of spectacles and a lady’s makeup compact. “When I’m handling it, the purses and such, I feel like I’m almost there,” Laub said. “There’s a little ‘window.’ And you open it up and it has the most beautiful red lipstick I’ve ever seen in my life still in there.” Laub received the items from the great-granddaughter of the Straus family’s personal assistant. The assistant often traveled with the couple and Laub believes she was supposed to take the items to them.

The funerary mask of Tutankhamun
Roland Unger (via Wikimedia Commons)

How King Tut Exhibitions Became a Multimillion Dollar Industry (Artsy.net, 30 Oct 2019)

An ongoing show, which started at the California Science Center in 2018, moved on to Paris’s Grande Halle de La Villette in Paris, where it broke attendance records for a French art show—the previous record-holder was also a King Tut exhibition—and sold around 1.3 million tickets. The show will open at London’s Saatchi Gallery in November; the Australian Museum in Sydney will be its final stop. The general public’s embrace of the Boy Pharaoh shows no signs of relenting, but issues of ownership and repatriation surrounding Tut-related objects still rage.

The Daughter Of A Titanic Survivor Buried In Lannon Shares Her Mom’s Story For The Village’s 90th Anniversary (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 28 Oct 2019)

She calls herself a child of a Titanic survivor. Randall’s mother and grandparents survived the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. But Randall’s great- aunt and uncle Maria and Vincenz Kink were among the more than 1,500 who died. Randall’s mother, grandparents and great- aunt and uncle ventured to Milwaukee in April 1912 for a better opportunity. They traveled by train from Zurich, crossed the English Channel by boat and then took another train to South Hampton, England, where they boarded the Titanic. “My mother says they were looking for a better life,” said Randall.

10 Mistakes That Sunk Titanic: Crew Were Left Without Binoculars As Iceberg Approached (Belfast Telegraph, 26 Oct 2019)

The documentary reveals that before the Titanic left Southampton Captain Henry Wilde swapped places with Captain Edward Smith of sister ship the RMS Olympic. As a result of this Second Officer David Blair also left the Titanic and it is believed he took a key to a cabin with him which contained the officer’s binoculars. Simon Mills, owner of the HMS Britannic wreck, said officers could have used the binoculars to help spot the iceberg. “The best way of spotting an iceberg was basically using your natural eyesight as wide as possible on the horizon,” he told the documentary.

Shop For TItanic Books

REMEMBERING THOSE WHO SERVED: VETERANS DAY

Source: U.S. Veterans Administration

[Originally published in 2018.]

When I recently told someone our office would be closed to observe Veterans Day, I got back a blank stare. They had no idea there was such a holiday. Since I work at nonprofit co-located with a federal agency, our office follows the federal holiday schedule. Other workers for offices nearby also reacted the same and some were incredulous that such a holiday existed.

It was never a school holiday as I recall but we all knew what the holiday was about. I think somehow over the years it has fallen by the wayside. Veterans and people who know veterans know of this holiday. Perhaps people just forget there is another holiday after Halloween (not a real holiday but many think it ought to be) and before Thanksgiving.

Veterans Day is a day set aside to thank and honor military personnel who have served in peace and war. The day originally began as Armistice Day to celebrate the end of World War I. It was first officially celebrated on 11 November 1919 and was originally the celebrate veterans who served in that war. In 1954 after many Americans served in both World War II and Korea, veterans organizations petitioned the name be changed from Armistice to Veterans Day to celebrate all who served in the military. Congress approved this change on 1 June 1954 and has been known as Veterans Day since then.

In 1968 as a result of the Uniform Holiday Bill, Veterans Day was shifted to the third Monday in October. Since this law allowed more three day weekends for federal workers (and states that followed the federal holiday calendar) and would allow more people to travel and spend money, this was thought good. The writers of the law never bothered to check and see if people wanted Veterans Day on the third Monday in October. And they were surprised when many states refused to honor the new date and stuck with November 11 for Veterans Day.

The reason is not hard to understand. This patriotic holiday had been celebrated since 1919 and many generations had grown up with with it. In 1975 President Gerald Ford signed into law specifying that Veterans Day would always be celebrated on November 11 no matter what day of the week it falls on. Currently most federal holidays, if they fall on a non-working day (Saturday or Sunday), the nearest working day is the holiday. Meaning if it falls on a Saturday, Friday is a federal holiday. If the holiday falls on a Sunday, the official holiday is Monday. And if it falls into the middle of the week, Monday is when the holiday is observed. Thanksgiving and Fourth of July are two other holidays where they are observed on a specific day every year.

The day is marked with important ceremonies such as the national ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery. It starts at precisely 11:00 a.m. with a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. It is followed by a parade of colors by veterans’ organizations and then speeches and remarks from important dignitaries. Almost always the sitting president will attend though on occasion the Vice President will act in his place should he not be in attendance.

Veterans Day is to honor those who have chosen to serve our country, past or present. We honor and thank them for their service and remember as well that some gave all as well. They give up a lot so that we are protected. And this day is a big Thank You to all of them.

Remembering History: Edmund Fitzgerald

Edmund Fitzgerald(1971) Photo: Greenmars(Wikipedia)
Edmund Fitzgerald(1971)
Photo: Greenmars(Wikipedia)

The SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on 10 Nov 1975 taking with her a crew of 29. The ship was launched in 1958 and was owned by Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company. As a freighter, the ship primarily carried taconite iron ore to iron works in various Great Lake ports. The ship set records for hauling ore during its career.

On 9 Nov 1975, the Fitzgerald under the command of Captain Ernest McSorley, embarked on her final voyage of the season fron Superior, Wisconsin to a steel mill near Detroit, Michigan. She met up with another freighter, SS Arthur Anderson, while enroute. The next day a severe winter storm hit with near hurricane force winds and waves that reached 35 feet in height. Sometime around or after 7:11 p.m., the Fitzgerald sank in Canadian waters approximately 17 miles from Whitefish Bay near the cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, and Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. While McSorley had reported difficulty earlier, his last message was “We are holding our own.”

The cause of the sinking has stirred debate and controversy with competing theories and books on the issue. The various theories are:

(1) Inaccurate weather forecasting. The National Weather Service forecast had said the storm would pass south of Lake Superior but instead it tracked across the eastern part, exactly where the Edmund Fitzgerald and Arthur Anderson were. So they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

(2) Inaccurate navigational charts. The Canadian charts in use came from 1916 and 1919 surveys and did not include more updated information that Six Fathom Shoal was about 1 mile further east than shown.

(3)No Watertight Bulkheads
The ship did not have watertight bulkheads and more like barges rather than freighters. So a serious puncture could sink a vessel like Fitzgerald while ships that had such bulkheads, even if seriously damaged, had a better chance of survival.

(4)Lack of Sounding and Other Safety Instruments
Fitzgerald lacked the ability to monitor water depth using a fathometer( a device that uses echo sounding to determine water depth). The only way the Fitz could do soundings was using a hand line and counting the knots to measure water depth. Nor was there any way to monitor if water was in the hold or not (some was always present reports suggest)unless it got high enough to be noticed by the crew. However on that night, the severity of the storm made it difficult to access the hatches from the spar deck. And if the hold was full of bulk cargo, it was virtually impossible to pump out the water.

(5)Increased Cargo Loads Meant Ship Was Sitting Lower In Water
The load line had been changed in 1969, 1971, and 1973 with U.S. Coast Guard approval. This resulted in Fitzgerald’s deck being only 11.5 feet above the water when she faced massive 35 foot waves on that day. She was carrying 4,0000 more tons than what she was designed to carry. Which meant the buoyancy of the ship was an issue who fully loaded resulting in reports the ship was sluggish, slower, and reduced recovery time.

(6)Maintenance
The US National Transportation and Safety Board believes that prior groundings caused undetected damage that led to major structural failure during the storm. Since most Great Lakes vessels were only inspected in drydock once every five years, such damage would not have been easily detected otherwise. Concerns have also been raised that Captain McSorley did not keep up with routine maintenance. Photographic evidence indicates the hull was patched in places and the failure of the U.S. Coast Guard to take corrective action is also an issue considering that various things were not properly maintained.

(7)Complacency
Captain McSorley rarely pulled his ship into a safer harbor to ride out a storm. Nor did he heed a warning from the U.S. Coast Guard issued at 3:35 p.m. to seek safe anchorage. Possible pressure from ship owners to deliver cargo on time is considered a factor for some captains like McSorley to ride out storms rather seek safe anchorages. The U.S. Coast Guard Marine Board concluded that complacency is a major factor in what happened to Fitzgerald and generally a problem for Great Lakes shipping. Critics point out the Coast Guard failed in its own tasks of properly requiring those repairs and lacked the means to rescue ships in distress on the Great Lakes.

The wreck was found on 14 Nov 1975 using technology to find sunken submarines. The U.S. Navy dived to the wreck in 1976 using an unmanned submersible. The wreck was found to be in two pieces with taconite pellets in the debris field. Jacques Cousteau dived to it in 1980 and speculated it had broken up on the surface. A three day survey dive in 1989 organized by the Michigan Sea Grant Program was done to record the wreck for use in museum educational programs. It drew no conclusions as to the cause of the sinking. Canadian explorer Joseph MacInnis led six publicly funded dives over three days in 1994 to take pictures. Also that year sport diver Fred Shannon and his Deepquest Ltd did a serious of dives and took more than 42 hours of underwater video. Shannon discovered when studying the navigational charts that the international boundary had changed three times. GPS coordinates showed the wreck was actually in Canadian waters because of an error in the boundary line shown on official lake charts. MacInnis went back to the wreck in 1995 to salvage the bell and it was financed by the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians. A replica bell and a beer can were put on Fitzgerald. Scuba divers Terrence Tysall and Mike Zee used trimix gas to dive to the wreck and set records for deepest scuba dive on Great Lakes. They were the only divers to get to the wreck without a submersible.

The wreck is now restricted under the Ontario Heritage Act and has been further amended that a license is required for dives, submersibles, side scan sonar surveys and even using underwater cameras in the designated protected area. And they added a steep fine of 1 million Canadian dollars for violating the act.

Fitzgerald was valued at $24 million. Two widows filed suit seeking $1.5 million from the owners and operators of the ship. The owners filed to reduce to limit their liability. However the claims never went to trial as the company paid compensation to the surviving families who signed confidentiality agreements. It is believed the owners and operator wanted to avoid a court case where McSorley was found negligent as well as the operator and owner. Changes to Great Lakes shipping did occur such as requiring fathometers in ships above a certain tonnage, survival suits, locating systems for ships (LORAN originally now GPS), emergency beacons, better wave predictions, and annual inspections of ships in the fall to inspect hatch and vent closures.

Annual memorials take place though the one made famous by Gordon Lightfoot, the Mariners Church in Detroit, now honors all who perished on the Great Lakes.

Sources:
1. SS Edmund Fitzgerald(Wikipedia)
2. Mariners Church, Detroit, Michigan
3. Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum
4. Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
5. The sinking of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald – November 10, 1975 (University of Wisconsin)
6. National Transportation Safety Board:Marine Accident Report
SS Edmund Fitzgerald-Sinking In Lake Superior (4 May 1978)
7. Marine Historical Society of Detroit

HAPPY SUNDAY

With the end of daylight savings time, the days are now perceptively shorter. Each day the sun sets earlier than it used to, and sunrise later and later. In olden times people would be busy making sure food was stored for the winter. Livestock too would be moved into barns or other places so they were protected from the elements. Farmers would have to get up each day and make sure they were fed and to clean out the stalls as well.

October seemed to go by in a whirl and Halloween seemed to as well. Now Christmas themed commercials are appearing, outdoor ice rinks are opening, and stores are filling their shelves with Christmas items. The Hallmark Channel has switched over to holiday movies until January. And the Christmas tree lots are under construction. Once Thanksgiving hits, Christmas trees will be ready for people to take home.

So far none of the radio stations in our area has switched to Christmas music yet. I am certain it will soon happen soon. For the moment here at Titanic News Channel we will continue with the autumn theme for a while longer. To get in the mood for relaxing Sunday, here is a tune from Simon & Garfunkel. Have a nice Sunday everyone.

Today is All Souls Day

Day of The Dead by William Bouguereau (1825-1905) Public Domain
Day of The Dead by William Bouguereau (1825-1905)
Public Domain

All Souls’ Day is to commemorate the faithful dead and is celebrated by special mass by Catholics and other Christian denominations. Some Christian churches celebrate it on a different day. It is not to be confused with Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) which does remember friends and family who have died but is not a Catholic or Christian religious event(though it takes place from 31 Oct through 2 Nov which coincides with Halloween, All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day).

Today is All Saints Day

The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs (about 1423-24) Public Domain
The Forerunners of Christ with Saints and Martyrs (about 1423-24)
Public Domain

All Saints’ Day(Solemnity of All Saints,All Hallows, Hallowmas or All Saints)is celebrated on 1 November by most Western Christians and is to honor all saints known and unknown. In some Catholic countries, it is a holiday. It is a holy day of obligation for most Catholics except when it falls on a Saturday or Monday. In that case it is celebrated on Sunday. Eastern Orthodox is celebrated on the first Sunday after Pentecost and is called All Saints’ Sunday.


Commentary on Titanic news and other related items.

%d bloggers like this: