A miss is as good as a mile – but a hit can be deadly

Many years ago I worked in the field of Aircraft Operations as an aeradio operator. One of my tasks was to advise aircraft of their proximity to one another, especially if there was any likelihood of their colliding. If we failed to do this, and got caught out – or if an pilot blundered in some way, we had to issue an Incident Report. These Incident Reports were always followed up, often as not by investigators listening to audio tapes and the like.

Apparently such procedures did not apply in the Maritime World back in 1912. I say this because with vast sheets of ice lying along major sea routes in the North Atlantic every year, few sea captain reported near misses.

Probably the reason for this is such reports would detract from the captains’ reputations as careful and responsible ship’s masters. So how many times ships like the Titanic actually had near misses with ice bergs is anyone’s guess, but I expect it was far more frequent than people in those days thought.

I read again with interest that the Titanic received no fewer than six radio’d warnings she would be running into sea ice, some of which would be studded with large ice bergs. Those messages came from the SS Amerika at 11-20am that fateful day day, whilst two days before the French liner Touraine had sent a similar warning. The SS Coronia, the SS Noordam and SS Baltic, also sent messages the final one coming from the SS Mesaba, and none had the effect of slowing that great ship down. Now, when you consider that an iceberg is as solid as a concrete object and that some weighed in excess of three millions tons one can only wonder at the foolhardiness of some of those old sea captains.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.