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 Cruise ships become dangerously top-heavy
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 07/19/2006 :  16:27:36  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
There were 94 injuries aboard the Crown Princess cruise ship yesterday, when, according to the ship's owners, the ship developed a steering problem which caused it to list hard to one side.

Not as a marine engineer, but as an old Navy sailor who spent two years as a helmsman and a lookout while crossing the Pacific, let me make one thing clear: This incident was not the result of a steering problem. No steering problem could by itself cause a rationally designed ship to suddenly list so dangerously to one side that the water from swimming pools cascaded over the side. The fact is, The Crown Princess, like so many other modern cruise ships, has been built dangerously top-heavy, in order to maximize profits by cramming as many passengers as possible into the ship, while keeping its beam narrow enough to navigate all the harbors and canals on its itinerary.


The Crown Princess


The incident with the Crown Princess wasn't the first problem with one of these top-heavy ships. In February of this year, the Al Salam Boccaccio 98, being used as a ferry to carry Egyptian workers from Saudi Arabia to Egypt, capsized and sank in the Red Sea, killing somewhere near a thousand people. This ship had been modified in 1991 to add two passenger decks. The sinking has been blamed on a combination of high winds, an on-board fire, and the ship's top-heavy construction.


The Al Salam Boccaccio 98


In my opinion, international maritime standards for ship construction are unsafe, and driven by the huge boom in cruise popularity. Be careful about booking a cruise on one of these unseaworthy monstrosities. A ship should not in any way resemble a high-rise resort hotel. If it doesn't look like a proper ship, it probably ain't.



How a proper ocean liner used to look: The Queen Mary



Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.

Edited by - HalfMooner on 07/19/2006 16:43:52

Randy
SFN Regular

USA
1988 Posts

Posted - 07/19/2006 :  16:44:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Randy a Private Message
Sounds like the poor gal needs heavy duty outriggers; along with moving those heavy, heavy topside buffets down to the lower decks.

"We are all connected; to each other biologically, to the earth chemically, to the rest of the universe atomically."

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McQ
Skeptic Friend

USA
258 Posts

Posted - 07/20/2006 :  08:19:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send McQ a Private Message
Yep, I've noticed the ships becoming more and more top-heavy over the years. They look like they were made to tip over. And yes, it's all based on economics, not safety. You can count on that being the driving factor.
Here's my idea of an unsinkable boat:

http://i7.ebayimg.com/01/i/04/fc/07/60_1_b.JPG


Elvis didn't do no drugs!
--Penn Gillette
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 07/20/2006 :  12:24:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
Agreein' with 'mooner. They are building these thibgs like skyscrapers with no foundation -- they have little or no accomodation for ballast. Without ballast, the great clipper ships would have done the same.

Piss-poor engineering.






"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 07/20/2006 :  15:56:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
Thank you all for your responses. In the back of my mind, I'd been worried about these ships for years. They simply and literally don't look "ship-shape." But I think I'd simply trusted that someone in authority would prevent the design of truly dangerous vessels. Then, a series of largely preventable disasters, from Challenger to Katrina, and now the Al Salam Boccaccio 98 and the Crown Princess, have made me much more cynical about how much governments actually protect the public, especially in the face of economic and political pressure.

I've yet to find single article in the media which focuses upon the danger that I see in these top-heavy cruise ships. So I, as little qualified as I am, had to write my own article.

Why don't journalists investigate this? Will it require the capsizing and sinking of one of these floating resorts, with the deaths of a thousand Americans or Europeans, for insurance companies or regulatory agencies to take action? Sadly, I suspect the answer is "yes."


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25970 Posts

Posted - 07/20/2006 :  16:13:31   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
According to Wikipedia, the movie "Titanic is commonly shown on recent Princess cruises." I guess it's training for the 4,310 (!!) passengers and crew for when the thing finally does sink, eh?

And if it only listed 15°, how the heck did seawater get into the ship? Looks to me like the lowest line of portholes should still have been dry. Surely the boat didn't heel over 75° from vertical and manage to get upright again?! I mean, racing yachts don't even tilt that much.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 07/20/2006 :  16:30:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
Thanks for the link, Dave. The incident, as reported in Wikipedia, seems even worse than I'd thought, with many times the injuries I'd read about. Seawater rushing in indeed makes the reported 15 list seem a possible understatement.

The Wikipedia article mentions nothing about the top-heavy design of the Crown Princess. And my Googling for "top-heavy cruise ships" a few minutes ago still retrieved nothing of interest. When will some investigative reporter get onto this issue? How thoroughly will the NTSB and Coast Guard look into the incident? Will they draw what I think are obvious conclusions regarding the danger of top-heavy cruise liners in general?


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 07/20/2006 16:36:32
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25970 Posts

Posted - 07/20/2006 :  21:31:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
I've been looking for info on just how top-heavy these things are, and finally found some. M/S Freedom of the Seas, the world's largest (by tonnage) passenger ship, is 63.7 m high, but only 8.5 m of the boat is underwater. So, nearly 87% of the boat is above the water line. That seems absolutely insane, but on the other hand, most of what's above water is relatively hollow, being staterooms and dining halls and the like, while her six big diesel engines are going to be down low. But still... well, it's nearly too large to wrap one's brain around...

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 07/20/2006 :  21:52:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.

I've been looking for info on just how top-heavy these things are, and finally found some. M/S Freedom of the Seas, the world's largest (by tonnage) passenger ship, is 63.7 m high, but only 8.5 m of the boat is underwater. So, nearly 87% of the boat is above the water line. That seems absolutely insane, but on the other hand, most of what's above water is relatively hollow, being staterooms and dining halls and the like, while her six big diesel engines are going to be down low. But still... well, it's nearly too large to wrap one's brain around...

That ship looks real scary to me. Being literally "top-heavy" is only part of the problem. Even if the ship's superstructure weighed nothing at all, that much slab-sided surface exposed to winds and possible freak waves is a disaster waiting to happen, again.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 07/20/2006 22:27:21
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 07/21/2006 :  01:48:22   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
I find myself skeptical of the 15 degree claim. As anyone who has ever served aboard a Navy warship will readily tell you, 15 degrees is nothing. I've seen a hell of a lot more than that one hell of a lot of times, and I'm sure Halfmooner has as well. I wonder we're if not being jerked around a bit by the cruise line, because any ship that will not take that tiny bit of incline without putting people in hospital has no business at sea. I am beginning to think the roll was a lot steeper, and that might bring seamanship into the equation as well as the "steering problem."

What steering problem? What went wrong with the rudders that could have caused the list? On a straight course, rudder correction is usually around 5 to 10 degrees; very slight. It would take a gross rudder angle to cause such an event in the sort of waters that tourists would find comfortable.

The ship is an obvious pig, but with competent command should be ok in moderate seas, even on the upper decks of the superstructure. And that command would know what to do if the ship lost steering. I'm not ready to call bullshit on it yet -- don't have enough information -- but I'm wondering.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

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and Crypto-Communist!

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Ghost_Skeptic
SFN Regular

Canada
510 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2006 :  01:04:07   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ghost_Skeptic a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by filthy

I find myself skeptical of the 15 degree claim. I am beginning to think the roll was a lot steeper, and that might bring seamanship into the equation as well as the "steering problem."

What steering problem? What went wrong with the rudders that could have caused the list? On a straight course, rudder correction is usually around 5 to 10 degrees; very slight. It would take a gross rudder angle to cause such an event in the sort of waters that tourists would find comfortable.


I think the the steering problem might have been the failure of an automated system limiting the rudder angle in order to protect a dangerously top heavy ship from the actions of an incompetent helmsman. The Smart Car has something like this because it a very short wheelbase and a narrow track with a relatively high center of gravity.

I expect this trend of taller and taller cruise ships will continue until one capsizes and drowns a bunch of wealthy customers along with a celebrity or two. Killing hundreds of third worlders doesn't seem to be an adequate lesson.

A co-worker once sent me a power point presentation he called "The Value of Engineering". It consisted of a series of pictures of the worlds largest floating oil production platform listing, capsizing and eventually sinking. The slides were accompanied with the text of a speach by the CEO of Petrobras (before the platform sank) bragging about how they had reduced costs and created a win-win situation for Petrobras and it's suppliers by not being restricted by established engineering practices.




"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. / You can send a kid to college but you can't make him think." - B.B. King

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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2006 :  01:50:20   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message
quote:
A co-worker once sent me a power point presentation he called "The Value of Engineering". It consisted of a series of pictures of the worlds largest floating oil production platform listing, capsizing and eventually sinking. The slides were accompanied with the text of a speach by the CEO of Petrobras (before the platform sank) bragging about how they had reduced costs and created a win-win situation for Petrobras and it's suppliers by not being restricted by established engineering practices.
Rather like the Bible fundamentalists and the laws of physics, isn't it?

I think that part of the problem is that these ships carry no cargo. The older liners did, albeit not nearly as much as a working freighter might.

During WW II, many ocean liners were pressed into service as troop transports and supply ships. As such, they were required to be at sea during the heaviest weather and were ever vulnerable to air and submarine attacks. Can you imagine any of these tubs serving in such capacity?

Perhaps it is a sign of our times that such virtually useless ships as these exist. We are replacing seamanship with gadgetry, engineering with convenience, science with bullshit.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2006 :  02:01:24   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
In the images from the story in other sources if those are not just stock pics, it doesn't look like it's listing at all. They aren't the best of photos.


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Steve0701
New Member

1 Post

Posted - 07/22/2006 :  20:00:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Steve0701 a Private Message
Ever since the Crown Princess listed I've been looking for a discussion like this one. It seems like all the news services are ignoring the fact that this new ship, which cost around half a billion dollars, nearly nearly rolled to the point of no-return and would have sank with 4300 on board. People need to understand that this incident was much more than the media has made it out to be. It would have overshadowed the Titanic disaster for all time. Is everybody in denial or what! I agree with the postings that say this ship is obviously way too top-heavy to be sea-worthy.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25970 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2006 :  20:18:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message
Welcome to the SFN, Steve0701!

Looking at the photos available at beskeptigal's link, I think it's pretty obvious that they show - at best - an "after the fact" condition. Worse case, I see a few feet of paint exposed that should be below water. There's no way a tilt that small can send furniture "airborne," as reported in the Wiki write-up of the incident. I doubt even 15° could do that.

My guess would be that the boat became nearly horizontal, very slowly. That would explain the relative paucity of injuries. The "airborne" chair was caught on something for a while, but eventually fell. And emptying the pools (all four of them) into the lower decks actually helped to right the ship.

I hereby propose a new invention. A system of large-bore drains gets built into a cruise ship, between the on-board recreational pools and lowest-deck balast tanks. In case of tilt more than 5°, the pools get automatically drained into the tanks opposite the tilt. Thick steel mesh will be placed over the drains in the bottoms of the pools to prevent passengers from being sucked down. This system will henceforth be known as the Dave-Righter.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
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H. Humbert
SFN Die Hard

USA
4574 Posts

Posted - 07/22/2006 :  21:26:24   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send H. Humbert a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dave W.
I hereby propose a new invention. A system of large-bore drains gets built into a cruise ship, between the on-board recreational pools and lowest-deck balast tanks. In case of tilt more than 5, the pools get automatically drained into the tanks opposite the tilt. Thick steel mesh will be placed over the drains in the bottoms of the pools to prevent passengers from being sucked down. This system will henceforth be known as the Dave-Righter.

As a young teenager, I was at a water amusement park that had one of those wave pools that would release a series of waves every 10 minutes or so before needing to recharge. The pool itself was roughly T-shaped (think of a really fat T), with the waves starting at the bottom of the T and flowing toward a larger pool area where the waves would dissipate. Sort of like this:



Well, on either side of the pool walls in the shallow, wider pool area were intake pumps that would suck in the water needed for the next round of waves. The suction stations were covered by metal grates. Well, by chance, I was swimming underwater beside one as it started up. The water was no more than 3 feet deep, so I was almost sitting on the bottom of the pool with my legs in front of me and my knees slightly bent. When the pumps started, I was sucked backward against the grating and pinned there. It wasn't a particularly strong suction, but I had literally no leverage. I couldn't get my legs underneath myself to push up and my arms weren't strong enough to push backward off the grate. My head was no more than 6 inches below the surface, yet I was stuck and running out of air. Finally I had the bright idea to twist myself and roll sideways off the grate, then the suction released and I was able to surface.

Anyway, the moral of this story, Dave, is that swimmers might get trapped by the suction of your system and drown before the ship has a chance to right itself.


"A man is his own easiest dupe, for what he wishes to be true he generally believes to be true." --Demosthenes

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself - and you are the easiest person to fool." --Richard P. Feynman

"Face facts with dignity." --found inside a fortune cookie
Edited by - H. Humbert on 07/22/2006 21:32:30
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