Tag Archives: Olympic

Titanic News & Musings

Photo:Daemonic Kangaroo(Wikipedia)
Photo:Daemonic Kangaroo(Wikipedia)

Titanic Memorial Plaque Not Stolen Reports BBC News
A Titanic memorial plaque at Vokes Park in Southampton, UK was thought stolen earlier this week. The plaque, erected in the 1990’s by the British Titanic Society, was in fact removed by staff of Associated British Ports. The plaque had fallen off its plinth and was in danger of being stolen reports BBC News. The plaque will be returned and affixed to prevent it from being stolen but the date has not been announced.
Source: Southampton docks Titanic memorial plaque mystery solved (24 Nov 2016, BBC News)

Photo: Mossgreen Auctioneers
Photo: Mossgreen Auctioneers

Rare Parcel Label Address To Titanic To Be Auctioned Off
Another case of something unintentional ending up as a Titanic memorabilia. A parcel label that possibly was on a package of blank telegram forms for the Marconi wireless operators on Titanic is up for auction in Australia reports United Press International (UPI). The package was given to the first office on Olympic, Titanic’s sister ship and to be delivered to Titanic when it arrived in New York. It is believed the Olympic first officer gave the label as a souvenir after Titanic sank and eventually ended up with a private collector who is putting it up for auction. Mossgreen Auctioneers is handling the auction and is expected to fetch $20,000.
Source:Postal label addressed to Titanic expected to raise $20,000 at auction (18 Nov 2016, UPI)

The Day After The Feast

Well Thanksgiving has come to an end and today is called Black Friday here in the United States. People might think that an odd name considering what happens. Many retail chains, mostly the bigger ones, offer special deals on Black Friday to lure people into their stores. It is a clever marketing idea to get a lot of stuff off the shelves for the Christmas holiday. So they deep discount on anything they want to get rid off. Loss leaders are put up to reel in many to buy even more than they intended. The desire to maximize the profits led many chains to open up on Thanksgiving. This has not been welcomed by many employees who want to spend more time at home. Then again some retailers do sweeten the pot, so to speak, with time and half pay. Some think that is required by U.S. federal law but it is not. Unless you work over forty hours a week, that rule does not apply. It is up to the employer to decide if they want to pay you extra for working on a holiday. If you are part of a union, then in the contract with the employer it may specify that working on holidays gets you time. Most employers who can afford usually will pay time and half to get their workers to come in. It takes a lot of people to stock those shelves and check them out at the cashier stand.

I decided this year to not put up the usual safety warnings about deep frying turkey. This video by the Fresno fire department explains it pretty well. Hey you do not need an expensive outdoor fryer. You can buy a electric deep fryer designed for the same thing for the kitchen. You measure in the oil precisely, insert the turkey and close the lid. I saw one video of an old guy wearing shorts and no shoes trying to put the turkey in the fryer. The oil overflowed, flames erupted and the man ran for his life while someone called 911. Enough said.

Have a nice Thanksgiving weekend everyone,


Video:Construction and Launch of RMS Olympic In 1910

The opening scene of A Night To Remember has Titanic being officially christened. In reality, Harland & Wolff never had such ceremonies for launching ships they constructed. If the ship were important enough, they might invite certain important people to watch its launch. Usually it would be just the workers and those who designed the ship at Harland & Wolff to be in attendance. Here is a video that shows the construction of RMS Olympic and its launch.

Rare Desk Chair From Olympic Damaged By Museum Visitors


This photo of SeaCity Museum is courtesy of TripAdvisor

A rare desk chair from Olympic on display at Southampton SeaCity museum has been removed from display due to vandalism reports Daily Echo. The vandalism was caused in part by children climbing over the glass barrier to sit on the chair and ended up smashing the chair instead. And now Southampton faces a £1,600 ($USD2,487)repair bill. And it is not the first time it has happened causing money to be spent restoring the historic chair. For now the chair has been removed from public view and will only return for special events.

While we would prefer to keep original artefacts from our collection on permanent display, we recognise that we cannot continue to risk such damage to these items and incur the extra cost of repairs.
(City council member quoted by Daily Mail)

Source:Titanic Sister Ship’s Deck Chair Vandalised While On Display SeaCity Museum(6 Aug 2015,Daily Echo)

Titanic News: Titanic II and Rare Olympic Footage Found

1. Cruise Ship News opines they hope construction on Titanic II will begin soon and that rumors it was a publicity stunt are wrong. CSN though thinks the new ship will lack the eloquence of the original: “ Firstly, the newer ship will be taller than the original and will also have a shallower draft, much like modern ships in that respect. This will mean to look at she will look shorty and stubbier, and so some people suggested that making the Titanic 2 slightly longer would have helped with its proportions.”
Source: Titanic 2 To Lack Elegance Of Original Ship(12 Mar 2014, Cruise Ship News)

2. Des Cox was handed reels of old film and discovered one that had real value. It was an old cinema advertisement for RMS Olympic. It is quite a find and shows Olympic in her glory days and gives a sense of what it was like on Titanic in 1912. The news link will take you to an ITV interview with Des Cox. He does not know exactly what to do with it but best guess is that some Titanic museum will get it.
Source: Rare Video Of The Titanic’s Sister Ship Discovered(12 Mar 2014,ITV)

Titanic 2010

Titanic still draws people to her long after she sank in 1912. There are the usual memorials in Belfast, Southampton, Halifax and other places. Each year the U.S. Coast Guard flies over the area Titanic sank to drop a wreath. Other less noticed things occur as well. Titanic themed meals are in vogue. People dress up in period outfits, attend a dinner that approximates meals served aboard ship, and learn some Titanic lore from enthusiasts. Titanic documentaries are often shown around this time along with showings of A Night To Remember (1958), a fondly remembered movie based on Walter Lord’s book. The more recent Titanic is not history but does recreate the ship wonderfully along with rich period look and feel.?

Titanic is not unlike a Greek tragedy. Such tragedies always depict the outcome as avoidable. Not so far off in Titanic’s case. Her demise was avoidable and arguably predictable. Walter Lord summarizes it as complacency on all levels: government, the ship owners, and those commanded them. No one seemed overly concerned with the lack of lifeboats. Ship owners, for reasons of economy and aesthetics, did not want too many. They knew their presence comforted passengers. The Board of Trade considered passengers cargo and cargo equals space. So lifeboats were tagged to the amount of space one took, not on the total number of passengers and crew aboard ship. Fine in small vessels but inadequate when the numbers exceeded the total capacity of lifeboats available.

Major shipwrecks were rare but not uncommon. Most ship owners believed the risk was minimal. They also believed passengers carried the risk as well. It was always a possibility, however remote, that something would go wrong resulting in injury or death. Strict liability laws made it difficult (but not impossible) to obtain judgments against them. Many became complacent about the danger of a major catastrophe. They believed in all the wondrous new technologies that made ships stronger and safer. A ship might be wounded, scraped, and battered but would remain afloat. Titanic was designed with that in mind.

Even with lifeboats, it required a trained crew to work them. And on Titanic, that was a problem. Too few were experienced in this task. Smith never had a boat drill. Boat assignments were posted after leaving Queenstown. Manning was inconsistent. Lifeboat 6 was assigned two while Lifeboat 3 had 15. Worse neither he or the senior officers had any idea how many people each lifeboat would carry. They did not know they had been throughly tested by Harland & Wolff to carry 65 persons without any sign of strain. Harland & Wolff never mentioned it, according to Walter Lord, because they assumed Smith and his officers knew this “as a matter of general knowledge.”

Captain Smith was experienced officer. He was widely respected amongst his peers and passengers who sailed on his ships. Yet like many others he was complacent. Until he commanded Olympic, he never had any major problems at sea. However the incident in New York with a tug and the Olympic’s collision with the Royal Navy cruiser Hawke were warnings about how differently these new large ships operated. And suction from the propellers caused the liner New York to break moorings in Southampton. Independently these events proved nothing but together form a pattern. All of them occurred while he was in command.

So his lack of action on lifeboat organization is not the work of a lazy or incompetent ship master. It is of someone who believed they would never be needed except in very rare circumstances. Unlike the depiction in A Night To Remember, Smith was not decisive and barking out orders when the crisis hit. Instead he had to be asked by his officers about lowering lifeboats and other orders like firing distress rockets. Which is why things were confusing on that night. Passengers did not know where to go and had to wait for instructions on deck. Lightoller and Murdoch operated inconsistent policies in their respective lifeboat operations. Lightoller was strict about women and children first while Murdoch allowed men on lifeboats. Smith was likely in shock about Titanic sinking and the terrible loss of life about to happen.

It was not long after Titanic’s sinking that every passenger liner put lifeboats for all and pronounced it in advertisements. No longer was it an issue of money but one of safety. The shocking numbers of those saved to those lost were the new mathematics. And ship owners complied and later maritime laws would make it mandatory along with boat drills for crew. Today most cruise passengers have to practice putting on life jackets and assemble at designated points not long after sailing. While no one crashes into icebergs these days, very rough seas can tumble ships as recent stories indicate. Complacency was certainly major element to the Titanic disaster, which is why one must never become too comfortable for the unexpected happens more often than we like to admit.

Destination Titanic: Big Ship, New Problems

On this date in 1912, Titanic departed Southampton on her maiden voyage. As she was leaving, suction from Titanic’s propellers caused a nearby ship, the New York, to loose its moorings. Quick action by a tug and extra speed from Titanic averted a collision. This incident confirmed a theory put forth by the British Navy in legal action against White Star about such suctions. Ironically the captain of the ship involved was Edward J. Smith.
In 1911 the Olympic had two such incidents. The first, according to Walter Lord, occurred on 11 June as Olympic was docking. The tug O.L. Hollenbeck was near the stern when a sudden burst from Olympic’s starboard sucked it against the ship. Hollenbeck’s stern frame, rudder, and wheel shaft was cut off. The press played down the incident but the tug owner sued White Star for $10,000. White Star countersued but the legal action was dismissed for lack of evidence. Lord writes: “No one saw the incident for what it really was: a disturbing lesson in the difficulty of managing a steamer of the Olympic’s unprecedented size.”

A few months later a more ominous event occurred. Olympic and the Royal Navy cruiser Hawke collided in the Spithead, a body of water near Isle of Wight. Hawke was running parallel to Titanic, several times her size, and both ships were at 15 knots. Suddenly Hawke veered to port and headed straight for Olympic’s starboard quarter. The cruiser rammed the liner’s hull and fortunately no one was killed. Hawke’s bow was badly crumpled. Olympic had a double gash in the stern and two compartments flooded. Olympic’s passengers were taken off by tender and the ship limped back to port in Southampton and then to Belfast for repairs.

Everyone thought Hawke was at fault. After all, it had suddenly rammed Olympic. Interviews in the press praised Captain Smith and laid blame on the Royal Navy. The Royal Navy (RN) was not amused and sued for damages. Here is where it gets interesting. Normally the argument is over who had the right of way. Instead the RN argued that suction from Olympic’s propellers had drawn Hawke in. Using models to show how displaced water works, they argued Hawke was the victim and not the aggressor. The court ruled in their favor to the displeasure of many maritime experts. The use of models was dismissed along with the theories used. The ruling stood and White Star had to pay damages.

The findings were dismissed by many since it relied on models. White Star must have agreed since it kept Smith on and made him captain of Titanic. The incident with New York, which matched what happened with Hawke, suddenly made the theory of hydrodynamic forces acceptable. The theory was that a ship moving forward displaces water on either side of the hull. This displaced water then surges back to the stern and into the vessels wake. Any small object that is afloat nearby will be sucked in. The pull increases with the size of the ship, its speed, and proximity. Olympic was a 45,000 ton ship and much too close to Hawke (200 feet) considering her speed against the 7.500 ton Hawke.

Smith likely did not realize this. His experience was on smaller vessels for his entire maritime career. Ships like Olympic and Titanic were totally new to him and everyone else. After the incident with New York, Lord notes Captain Smith did something odd. After leaving Cherbourg, he ordered practice turns for the ship. He apparently realized he needed to find out more about Titanic. Sadly, of course, Smith perished when Titanic went down on 15 April.