Could Lusitania and Titanic Have Survived The Disaster Of Their Opposite?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by politicalnomad, Oct 18, 2019.

  1. politicalnomad Well-Known Member

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    I was wondering if the designs of Lusitania and Titanic would have allowed each to survive the ghastly fate of their opposite number? Would Titanic have survived a single torpedo hit from U-20? Could Lusitania have stayed afloat after the collision with the iceberg?

    IIRC, Titanic's design would have limited the flooding caused by a single torpedo hit to one or two compartments; she could stay afloat with up to four of those compartments flooded. This does leave aside the question of what exactly the hell Lusitania was carrying as war cargo across the Atlantic. Titanic's main cargo holds were in the bow of the ship, forward of where the torpedo would have struck, so even if she were carrying volatile stores, these may not have detonated. Even if she does sink, she seems more likely to sink relatively evenly, probably allowing for greater preservation of life.

    Lusitania, on the other hand had a longitudinal bulkhead system which would have possibly limited flooding to a few starboard compartments, allowing her to stay afloat, albeit with the mother of all lists. She was also constructed of high tensile steel instead of Titanic's mild steel, which may have limited the damage caused by the iceberg to a certain extent in the first place. Overall the consensus is that Lusitania was rather better built and designed than the Titanic. On the other hand, there's the argument that Lusitania would have rolled over and sank even more quickly than Titanic given the same circumstances.
     
  2. Hood Flagship of The Royal Navy

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    As you said, Lusitania has a longitudinal bulkhead system. 6 compartments ripped open is not something she was designed for, she'd probably sink faster than titanic if not capsize. Her better steel might make it a little better for her but at the same time she's faster again than titanic so the impact may be even harder.

    Titanic, assuming she doesn't have all her compartments and portholes open against protocol should make it to Kinsale at least to beach herself if the situation was bad, Cobh if the flooding was localised where and have some temporary repairs before heading up to Belfast for proper repairs.
     
  3. Captain Seafort Well-Known Member

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    Or that greater headway means she swings that extra few feet to miss entirely.
     
  4. Hood Flagship of The Royal Navy

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    Studies were done that showed if Titanic had been going slower (12 knots) and the iceberg had been spotted at the same time she would've been able to miss it.
    Higher speed means less time to react. It also means it'll be harder to turn the stern back from the swing. Basically there's a degree of drifting when a ship that's been going straight at 21+ knots and suddenly turns hard, and Lusitania going faster would increase this further.
    But regardless, even if she could I think the OP meant if she could survive the damage done by iceberg.
     
  5. politicalnomad Well-Known Member

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    One wonders if Lusitania's rivets were sufficiently better enough to make a significant difference in limiting the flooding in the first place. Titanic's were apparently very substandard.

    How Tiny Rivets Doomed The Titanic
     
  6. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    Titanic had three Props, while Lusitania had four, and a larger, more effective shape on the rudder.

    Since she was to be a Naval Auxiliary, a tighter turning circle was very desirable. Between rudder and reversing a pair of engines, should have been able to veer off in time
     
  7. SsgtC Ready to Call it a Day

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    That's been at least partially debunked. Most of Titanic's rivets were steel, not iron, and were hydraulicly hammered into place. Only in the extreme bow and stern were traditional rivets manually hammered into place used.
     
  8. Hood Flagship of The Royal Navy

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    Every few years a theory comes up about titanic being poorly built, poorly designed etc or something stupid like the fire causing the ship to be so significantly weakened it led to its sinking but when you look at something like Suevic, built by harland and wolff, for white star that ran hard aground, was left there getting pounded by the waves for 2 weeks, had her bow intentionally blown off, a new bow fitted, built by H&W in a very short time frame, and she continued service for over 30 years after, it's hard to believe Titanic, which began construction only a few years later had some kind of huge flaws in her construction.

    Note the same article has the old theory if she'd hit the iceberg head on she'd have been fine. If she did, and didn't "run up" the berg (if it had some kind of underwater "ramp", something similar happened to one of the german four stackers, so a possibility) then it's quite possible, especially if she had weak rivets that it'd buckle her keel, causing her to rapidly flood and sink
     
  9. James Ricker Own your mistakes

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    The Lusitania did not have as many watertight bulkheads as the Titanic. I believe she would have sunk faster.
    The Titanic would have lasted longer than the Lusitania allowing little people to escape with the limes probably would not have survived
    The Titanic was not designed to take battle damage, the force of the explosion probably would have bent her hull, compromising watertight bulkheads. Her sister ship Britannic sunk after hitting a mine even with extra safety features incorporate it into her design after the Titanic's sinking.
     
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  10. Roosevelt Mayor Mike

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    IIRC that was due to the watertight doors failing to shut, not so much the mine, so I wouldn't rule out Titanic fairing better assuming she can close her doors in time
     
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  11. James Ricker Own your mistakes

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    The doors failed to shut probably because the force of the explosion probably warped the hull. Even a fraction of a degree could prevent the watertight doors from closing
     
  12. Mort the Reaper Well-Known Member

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    I think I've read that hitting the iceberg straight on also might've caused boiler explosions, but I can't remember where, so take that with a grain of salt.
     
  13. Hood Flagship of The Royal Navy

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    The watertight doors, which by regulation should be been closed in the first place. They, along with a lot of Britannics portholes were open to "air out" the ship before picking up wounded.
    The Britannic was actually rather badly warped, so much so it caused the mast to whip and broke the lines which meant they couldn't receive messages and thought the wireless was down.
     
  14. RLBH Well-Known Member

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    Pretty much any ship would have sunk if subjected to the damage the TITANIC suffered. Even the QUEEN MARY 2, built to the standards of a century later, wouldn't survive. It was seriously extreme damage - after the ship suffered it, the only remaining questions were how long it would take to sink and how many people would survive. I have that little gem direct from the naval architect who led the design.

    One obvious change is that LUSITANIA's longitudinal bulkhead arrangement would likely lead to loss of stability following flooding. And potentially quite rapidly. It's probable that the LUSITANIA could capsize, possibly without a single lifeboat getting away. If that happens, there'll be few if any survivors; unless there's a distress message, the first anyone knows of a liner going missing at sea is when it fails to make port and another ship spots floating wreckage. That could be a real shock, even more so than the loss of the TITANIC. That's a bit of a worst-case scenario, but I think it's likely that the ship would capsize faster than the TITANIC sank, with a probability of higher loss of life.

    Alternatively, the operating practices of Cunard with a well-broken-in ship would have been sufficiently different from those of White Star with an unproven ship that there's a decent chance of the collision risk being spotted in sufficient time to take preventative action. But since it's likely that the ship would have been running faster, the scope for avoiding collision is reduced once in proximity to an iceberg.

    TITANIC might have a fighting chance against the torpedo that took out LUSITANIA, but it's not a given. And in any case, if Schweiger were confronted with a bigger ship that had survived the first torpedo, he might well have just fired a second to finish the job. Generally, merchant ships don't have much chance against a determined enemy.
     
  15. BELFAST Irish Confederate

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    The cold water mirage would have made it just as hard for the Cunard ship to spot the ice berg.

    The Invisible Iceberg


     
  16. RLBH Well-Known Member

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    The Swiss cheese model applies here - there wasn't just one thing that led to the collision, but there were many things that could have prevented it. The mirage effect didn't help matters, but it didn't make the iceberg totally invisible; different working practices could well have led to it being spotted. Just a minute or too sooner would be enough to go from 'catastrophic loss of life' to 'near miss, but no harm done'.

    Equally, of course, Cunard's working practices might have been even worse on the day, there's no real way of knowing. My feeling is that the two were likely substantially similar, but the particular circumstances that led to the White Star lookouts not having access to binoculars were unlikely to apply. But, if the LUSITANIA were steaming at a higher speed than the TITANIC, this advantage could well be eliminated.

    The ten billion dollar question (literally, using modern valuation of lives saved) is whether the master of a proven Cunard ship would have slowed down for ice, or pressed ahead at speed. The actions of the CARPATHIAN on the night in question prior to receiving the TITANIC's distress signal would be illuminating, since she was a proven Cunard ship operating in the area in question, albeit further south.
     
  17. BELFAST Irish Confederate

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    Swiss cheese indeed.
    Titanic may have been short of coal due to coal strike in Wales so stopping or slowing down may have risked running out of steam before reach New york.
    Lusitania may not have had that problem
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2019 at 8:26 AM
  18. RLBH Well-Known Member

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    Unlikely, I would suggest - slow steaming almost invariably reduces fuel consumption per mile run. If need be, boilers could be shut down to avoid the need to keep the grate covered. Not an action that would be lightly taken, since it would scupper any chance of maintaining schedule, but it would certainly use less coal than running at speed.
     
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  19. Carl Schwamberger Kicked

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    Is there anything to the Lusitanias continuation of a turn and speed in a attempt to make shore and beach? This is supposed to have forced water into the breach faster than would be expected were the ship made to rudder ahead and full stop. Just curious if this idea holds water?

    The other question I have is if the theory about a coat dust explosion has been supported by examination of the wreck? That is the torpedo hit on a empty forward bunker tossed coal dust into the air, compressed it, and ignited it. Thus opening a larger hole in the hull.
     
  20. Alanith Well-Known Member

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    And if the line HAD a shortage, it’s not likely that their brand new flagship on her maiden voyage would have been the one being shorted.
     
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