The Titanic disaster greatly impacted disaster recovery and prevention practices and regulations in the maritime industry.
Lesson # 1 - Monitor the ice better
Given the circumstances surrounding the Titanic disaster, one of the first changes in international practices and laws was a significant improvement in sea ice monitoring.
While icebergs have always been known to be extremely dangerous, the Titanic disaster has sparked a significant increase in awareness that they still pose a danger to modern ships, especially in the North Atlantic.
An international agreement led to the establishment of the International Ice Patrol in 1914, with the aim of monitoring and reporting the location and movement of icebergs in the North Atlantic and providing important information for avoiding collisions and preventing disasters.
Lesson # 2- The disaster led to a comprehensive overhaul of lifeboat systems
One of the biggest criticisms following the Titanic disaster revolved around the number, use and deployment of lifeboats on board. The Titanic was equipped with various lifeboats, but they were not enough for all its passengers and crew.
On the day it sank, it was carrying about 14 standard wooden lifeboats designed to hold 65 people per boat. The ship is also equipped with four collapsible lifeboats, designed to carry about 47 people each. However, she had enough space for about 64 lifeboats, of which 48 were included in her original design. It was later discovered that it had been significantly reduced to reduce "clutter" on the Titanic's decks.
The lack of adequate lifeboats and poor management of the evacuation process were major factors contributing to the high death toll in the disaster, prompting radical reforms to regulations to help reduce future loss of life.
To this end, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) was established in 1914, requiring ships to carry enough lifeboats for each person on board.
3. 24-hour radio surveillance law
Another major flaw discovered in how the Titanic's crew handled the disaster was the lack of constant radio monitoring. Although she had a wireless radio on board, she was not manned at all times. The radio itself was "sophisticated" for its day and could communicate with other ships and ground systems for a range of up to 500 miles (804 km).
Tragically, in the period leading up to the iceberg collision, the Titanic received several warnings about the icebergs, but these messages were not relayed to the Titanic's crew. This is probably due to operators prioritizing private messages to passengers.
However, after the disaster, operators worked tirelessly to send distress signals about the Titanic's location and condition. This action helped nearby ships locate and rescue survivors of the Titanic.
The United States government passed the Radio Act of 1912. In conjunction with the SOLAS Convention, this law required all passenger ships to maintain radio communications 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Lesson #4= A new method for cataloging the dead
Another way in which the Titanic disaster changed international disaster recovery is how the dead are recorded and “treated.” This was primarily thanks to the assistance of Dr. John Henry Barnstead.
As a registrar (a public official responsible for registering births, deaths, marriages, etc.), Barnstead was responsible for documenting the remains.
He coordinated with the White Star Line and rescue ships to identify the bodies.
Barnstead devised a detailed system for identifying Titanic victims. This system carefully cataloged the personal property found on the bodies and assigned unique morgue numbers to each victim. His approach was characterized by methodological rigor and respect, and set the standard for identifying future disaster victims.
Lesson #5= Improvements in search and rescue coordination
The tragic loss of the Titanic highlighted the need for better coordination of search and rescue efforts. At the time of the Titanic disaster in 1912, there were few maritime regulations and practices regarding search and rescue (SAR) standards. However, they were not as comprehensive or structured as modern SAR standards.
The tragedy revealed shortcomings in existing practices and led to subsequent improvements and international agreements. As a result, the Titanic disaster played a decisive role in the development of modern search and rescue standards.
Standards of the time included the "Save Our Lives" (SOS) distress signal protocols adopted in 1906 and used during the sinking of the Titanic. Wireless communication protocols also existed, but as we have seen, these protocols did not require constant monitoring.
There was also the "Nearest Ship Rule", which required the nearest ship to respond if it was able to do so, as the name suggests. However, this was not always adhered to. There was also a general lack of oversight at the international level, which often led to confusion and delays in responding to events such as shipwrecks in international waters.
That's why SOLAS and Ice Patrol were designed to help "clarify" what was expected from other ships and relevant authorities in the event of another Titanic-like disaster.
Source News: interesting engineering - Publication date: 07/01/2024