The sinking of Titanic, a ship that was claimed to be unsinkable, has become a reference point in the field of maritimes all over the world. The question that troubled people all over the world is how a ship, which even God himself could not sink, according to one sailor, could actually sink. The question that needs to be addressed at this point in time is how the traumatizing fateful event of April 1912, prompted decision makers and opinion shapers to attack the issue of safety on the water. Has accidents continued to happen? Has world citizens learnt at least a single lesson from that unforgettable disaster?
Whether Titanic tragedy has or has not been a lesson is the focus of this paper. It has sunk due to the overlooking of the safety regulations. It was an outrageous event that 1522 out of 2235 people who were on the board of the ship, had to perish because the lifesaving mechanisms that were in place were only able to save 713 people. However, it was universally agreed that the system should be in capacity of saving at least 1000 people if not more. One can be excused to blame it all to the negligence at the time of the catastrophic of both the ship crew and the company itself. Titanic sank, and a lot of people died.
It is important to note that the existing history documented in books, newspapers, magazines and journals has brought attention of all the efforts that various governments are putting into place to improve maritime safety. Other sources such as periodicals, movies, television shows, and radiograms have also confirmed this allegation to be totally true. Therefore, some efforts put into place to look into the cases of safety while passengers are on the water. This paper analyses efforts, put into place to check various issues in maritime agenda. They include: the issue of life boats; the issue of how and when designs of ships should be effective; the idea of patrolling the ice at the international levels and the case of a 24-hour radio watch as well as the rockets distress.
A closer look at these areas among others will form the backbone of this paper. An emphasis will be on how these proposals have seen the radicalization of the maritime sector in the twentieth century and how it is seen in the twenty first century. Has it impacted positively or negatively? The paper attempts to respond to this question.
It will not be only on how the U.S. government has approached this case and its response. Governments in other parts of the world have used the Titanic episode as a reference point in their countries. The concern mostly on how maritime in general all over the world has learnt a lesson from the sinking of the Titanic.
Improvements to ships design
There has been a revolution in ship construction and changes in navigation innovations. They are aimed to reduce safety risks. In modern day ships construction, there has been major advancements form the methods that were used when the Titanic was constructed. During the Titanic era, construction involved piecing together bits by bits. This work was done by riveters and other skilled men. Process was employed in order to construct shipping vessels in small dock yards. Since the Titanic tragedy, technological innovations have been improved. There is involvement of welders and computer aided designers.
During the Titanic era, Europe was at the center of ship building industry. At that time, much of what was built was essentially created at the construction site. One hundred years later, things have changed. Europe is no longer at the center to ship-building. Asia has emerged as the primary shipyard. Asian countries such as Japan, China and Korea are the main contributors of about 72% of ship construction share.
Ship building technologies have been changed. Pure construction has been shifted from the construction shipyard to other areas. Today, what is done at the shipyard is merely assembly rather than the complete construction. At the turn of the century, modern ships get to the dry docks having been fabricated awaiting welding. This has greatly improved ship construction. This improvement has led to quality ships that improve vessel safety. In the ship construction process, the traditional trial and errors design has been changed and is no longer acceptable.
The innovations in design have ensured vessel stability. In that connection, ships have been compartmentalized. This has helped to slow flooding and at the same time aid evacuation as well as ease rescue process.
The advent of computers played a major contribution in improving safety of ships. The traditional laborious calculations on stability, structure and hydrodynamic have been replaced by compute modeling and analysis.
In the past 100 years, improvements in design have also taken place in the ship construction. In 1912, the Titanic had few navigational aids on boards. Records have it that it had a typical compass of that period. Sextant and the chronometer together with the Nautical Almanac were the main aids of navigation. During the daytime, it was at times impossible to pinpoint the exact ship’s position. Some reference points were available only in the night sky. This made it impossible to accurately determine location.
Another improvement in the safety is witnessed in modern day construction of ships. The compasses that were fund on the board of Titanic have been replaced by gyrocompass. This has led to the introduction of autopilot.
For the past one century, there has been the introduction of a 24 hours radio frequency further improving safety. Communication with ports authority has been facilitated by the high frequency radio. Broadcasting of safety information of the distress call has been enhanced. The radio also allows sailors communicating with other vessels at the vicinity. There is the use of echo sound that has provided modern vessels to give warnings to nearest sailors in case of an incoming emergency.
The international convention for Safety at sea abbreviated (SOLAS) have made radar to be a mandatory requirement. This has renationalized navigation. It is possible for the officers of the watch to anticipate hazards, as well as obstacles even before they can actually see them. The replacement of manual plotting of vessels movement with automatic radar plotting has further improved accuracy and speed involved in vessel plotting. This is a great milestone towards improving safety since the officers keeping navigational watch are aware of such impediments long before it occurs.
Over the past 100 years since the Titanic era, there has been a revolution in position fixing. This has been made possible by application of satellites. This technological innovation has made it possible to have communication between those people on board and in any other part of the world. This includes those at the shore, at any time of day or night. During the time the Titanic was sinking, communication was only enhanced by transmission of information or message from ship to ship. At times, such message could easily be missed if a radio officer was not present at the monitoring station. It has been revealed that the first distress call or message when Titanic was sinking was possible to have been missed since the radio officers were on the bridge.
The twentieth century witnessed the revolution of bridge hardware. This is also aimed at improving the safety in navigation. There has been the introduction of automatic identification system (AIS). This is an automatic tracking system used in ships to easily identify other ships. It also enables a ship to be identified at the shore – station. The officers can target and predict actions of oncoming ships. Also, provides information which may include unique identification of ships as well as the position, course and speed. The information is displayed on a screen. This has greatly improved situation awareness and the safety of the ship.
Since the sunk of Titanic, major advancements have also been made in weather forecasting and monitoring. This is aimed at improving the safety at the sea. Today, this development has been embraced and has enabled to make decisions on the best route for a ship. Mostly, weather forecasting reveals the existing weather situation. It enables to identify the characteristic of a ship as well as to identify prevailing ocean currents. Other special cargo requirements can also be easily identified. However, the aim here is try to find the best balance in order to minimize the time of transit and fuel consumption when not placing the vessel or the crew at any risk. Weather forecasting is not aimed to avoid adverse weather conditions but to ensure safety of all sea vessels.
For the past one century since the Titanic sank, technological advancements have greatly reduced the risks, such as ship wrecking during navigation. Since then, the marine environment has also been improved adding safety.
During the Titanic era, training in the maritime sector was a national affair, and there were no international standards that were agreed on. However, over the century the training has moved from a localized subject to an international scrutiny where common standards baselines have been laid down. At the time of the sinking of the Titanic, nations developed training schemes in isolation. Voluntary apprenticeships have not been changed during training prior to the examination. Therefore, vocational qualifications in the maritime sector have been developed to produce competent graduates.
Rules and regulations have also been laid down at the sea. During the days of Titanic, there was little concern in regulation to specify shipping activities. There were universally applicable international rules. However, in post Titanic, the shipping industry has been revolutionized and operates on a global scale. Rules and regulations have come into the form of codes, conventions and guidelines the go beyond national boundaries. All these are aimed to improve sea safety. There has been an organization formed to be responsible of ensuring adherence to international convection and recommendations. These codes have assisted in preventing accidents and pollution of the agreed ship design standards. They also govern the construction and operation involved in the shipping industry. These have formulated following the Titanic disaster and to improve maritime safety.
Another improvement in the ship industry was the implementation of British and American Board recommendations that ships should carry enough lifeboats for the people on board. There is a mandatory number of lifeboat drills where inspections will be carried out to ensure they are adhered to. These were incorporated in the international convection for sea safety and passed in 1914. The Titanic ship had 48 lifeboats with a capacity not capable to cater for all the people that were carried.
It is true that different measures have been put into place. The task remains, however, to assess further efforts that had fared. It is true that legislation of various rules and regulation regarding the inclusiveness of life boats in ships has seen some light in this issue. But has it really fully succeeded? Has the radio act of 1912 helped to ensure that people on board in any of the ships are safe? How far has the ice patrolling faired ion its uniqueness?
By the time the Titanic sank, there were only three ships as big as Titanic, including latter. They all belonged to one maritime company. The other two were: Gigantic and Olympic. Their designs were of their own kind. They were enormous. They would accommodate quite a number of sailors at ago. After their sinking there was an agreement of the ships’ design to account size of the ship as well. Has this helped to curb water accidents? More and more ships continue to appear at the face of the earth. They continue to assume different shapes. On the occasion of any accident, the probability of losing more souls in comparisons to the Titanic is very high. This, therefore, calls for more seriousness in upholding the dignity of maritime safety.
Fatal accidents like that of the titanic continue to decrease as it was shown earlier. The great problem is that other issues have continued to complicate, compromise and jeopardize these noble efforts. The size of the ships is clearly crucial. Efforts to solve some problems seem to create room for more and more complex challenges.
Ship owners seem to seek assistance from countries that has questionable training environment and methodologies. They are people from struggling economies whose marine training lacks the proper gist to be appropriately absorbed in the industry. These are the people who are likely to compromise the marine industry particularly if the ship owners include them to constitute the members of the crew. Such a crew is very dangerous and should not be allowed to gamble the lives of innocent sailors especially in the twenty first century.
With the rising need to take care for the lives of people in all sectors of life, insurance companies has conducted a massive campaign for people and companies to buy insurance covers against future dangers. They have massively done it in all sectors of life: health sector, transport sector, education sector, political arena but only a few are the sectors that insurers will not operate in until they win their trust and confidence. As life becomes complex to spend on earth as life becomes more uncertain on earth, people have become more cautious on any single move they take in life. One such move is to ensure that any company that they entrust their lives are insured. The problem with the current trends of super ships is on how to insure them.
When the quality of the members of the crew is put into test, the other question becomes that of whether the members are actually enough. Lately, the umber of the members of the crew has continued to decrease. This is particularly dangerous. It can compromise the marine safety by increasing the human error which cannot be eliminated fully in any field.
There seems to be much emphasis to the issue of nature. Efforts have been put in place to monitor among other factors, the movements and the likelihood of icebergs appearing. Geographical factors have been checked properly. This said and done, the sector still faces other challenges in its efforts to ensuring zero tolerance to the inadequacy of marine safety. Some governments across the world seem to have pushed the issue of rules and regulations too far .they has become bureaucratic in nature. This has continued to compromise the marine safety in various waters. Political lethargy and apathy is to be blamed as well. Some political powers seem totally unwilling to cooperate to ensure safe territorial waters not only from icebergs but from other human made threats. A very good example is the Somali coast which continues to suffer. It has continued to victimize innocent sailors for absolutely no apparent reason. This should not be divorced from other discussions of maritime safety. It is not quite fair for people to survive natural catastrophes only to end up perishing at the hands of merciless individuals before arriving at their destinies. In other places, different complications constitute the problem. They include: the environment, navigational and ice shipping. They have continued to pose a challenge.
The sinking of Costa Concordia few years before conveys a point to all the stakeholders in the marine industry. The marine industry is a delicate one. New challenges will never fail to appear. This calls for a more comprehensive and a serious consideration.
Meteorologists, geographers, earth scientists, marine scientists should work hand in hand to ensure that lives of people are not at risk. They should always be prepared to provide any necessary information that can be helpful in this industry. These people should also seek to work hand in hand with technologists who mesmerized the world every other minute by the products they bring into the face of the world – particularly the design of the ships. Another group of people that should be brought on board include the ship owners, the members of the crew, the political authority as well as the people who travel on these machines. Political authority should be very careful especially in its making and implementation of rules and regulation agenda.