1191. Marine Disasters Related to Mass Properties or Stability


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J F Hallock: 1191. Marine Disasters Related to Mass Properties or Stability. 1977.



Operation of marine vehicles is a hazardous at best, and the difficulty is severely compounded when attention is not given to elementary (or even intuitive) mass property or stability principals. The history of disasters at sea is as old as the history of man on or in the sea, but great loss through a lack of understanding of basic concepts remains a preventable tragedy. This paper will re-emphasize by example why our profession must never become complacent.
There are many of us who have not fully made the connection between our software work and the physical world of ships at sea. Each mass properties engineer in shipbuilding must realize he is certainly as responsible for the successful performance of the ship as anyone else on the project. This paper will attempt to establish the connection.
Several cases have been selected of marine casualties (both great and small) which illustrate how some of these fundamental precepts were violated and subsequent results. Examples of the cases are the GREAT EASTERN (improper weight calculations before launch), USS ALAMAGORDO (shifting weights), SS NORMANDIE (adding topside weights and free surface), SS MANCHURIA (adding trimming weights), and USS SPRUANCE (weight and buoyancy curves mismatch).
We can learn from our mistakes or we can repeat them. As Bruke said in 1792, ‘Early and provident fear is the mother of safety.’ If we do not fear these types of disasters because we are far removed from them in distance, time, or job application, let us at least respect them through understanding their cause and prevention.


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