Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Titanic - a history to remember

This morning is 13 April 2011, tomorrow ninety-nine years ago RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg on her maiden voyage to New York into the Atlantic Ocean. RMS means Royal Mail Steamer. She was a vessel that was meant to carry postal mails across the Atlantic. Titanic was a passenger liner. Even though it was considered as a luxurious vessel, it was not a cruise ship like the Oasis of the Seas. Cruise ships do not see speed as an important factor in their services. Cruise ships emphasize their services on entertaining their passengers and on providing itinerary to places that have been famous as tourist destinations. It was the worst maritime accident in the peace time. We still remembere how the accident was relived in the film starred by Leonardo DiCaprio, Jack and Kate Winslett as Rose. Actually, naval architects who designed the passenger ship had divided the vessel into 16 main compartments and double bottom. The 16 compartments had also been divided into 44 watertight compartments. Meaning that when the doors of the compartments were closed, water could not enter. However, the temperature of the sea that was very cold had changed the structure of the ship's hull. The steel plate of the hull became harder when it was in cold water and lost its ductility. As a result the hull plate of the Titanic had been more brittle in icy water. When she collided with the iceberg, it buckled the ship's hull plate and broke the rivets allowing sea water to flow into the watertight compartments.

The tragedy of the Titanic ship was a great lessons for all of the people who were working in the maritime industry. Safety has now become the main priority of the operation of ships around the world. The lifeboats that are installed in every ship now have to be able to carry all the passengers and crews in case when the ships experience emergency situation at sea. Radio equipment has to be manned 24 hours a day when the ship is sailing and lifeboat drills have to be conducted on every voyage. 
We have got a lot of lessons learned from the sinking of Titanic. Now the maritime technology is more advanced and the rivet joints in ship's hull have long been replaced by welded joints. Inflatable boats have been invented too. These improvements in shipbuilding technique should reduce the number of ship accidents. However, the challenge to the safety of passengers and crews of ships is increasing. Piracy is considered a serious threat for ships. Merchant ships that sail near the Somali waters and Malaka straits are now becoming the main targets for the pirates. Dealing with piracy, international community through IMO give green light to governments to protect their ships with navy personnel and naval ships. Even though the sinking of large ships have greatly been reduced, we must not ignore the pirates and other threats. Never forget that the seemingly calm surface of the blue sea does not reflect that our ocean is always at peace. by Charles Roring