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Old 12-16-2017, 09:45 AM
ssgenius ssgenius is online now
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When has ramming a ship ever worked in reality

When has ramming a ship ever worked in reality ?

It is common in many motion pictures to use ramming a ship as a plot device.

IE Star Trek has used it many times.

As a background, here is the Wikpedia entry on it

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ramming

Aside from a dozen or so instances in WW2 of submarines mostly and the Kamikazes of WW2, it has not been overly effective in real life as a military action.
It can be used for a unprovoked surprise attack (ie 9/11 or by the many suicide vehicle attacks) but that is the equivalent of a sucker punch

There were a couple of attempts in the US Civil War, but overall the success rate was very low.

More recently, the US Navy had 2 recent accidental rammings but both appear to be accidental rather than being deliberate.

Aside from accidents or unprovoked sneak attacks, in reality, has this ever been an effective technique.

Thanks

Last edited by ssgenius; 12-16-2017 at 09:46 AM.
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Old 12-16-2017, 09:50 AM
Loach Loach is offline
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Through the 19th century many warships were designed specifically to ram. So ramming was effective from the time we learned wood could float until effective cannon fire rendered it obsolete.
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Old 12-16-2017, 09:59 AM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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Heck, the ancient triremes used ramming as their main tactic.


Pretty much their only tactic, too.
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Old 12-16-2017, 10:03 AM
Morgenstern Morgenstern is offline
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Ask the 7th Fleet. They have 2 ships in drydock because they hit/were hit. Apparently, it works.
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Old 12-16-2017, 10:07 AM
Johnny L.A. Johnny L.A. is online now
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In WWII, USMC Lieutenant Robert 'Bob' Klingman sawed down a Japanese 'Nick' (twin-engine fighter) with the propeller of his F4U Corsair. Kingman made it home. The 'Nick' didn't.
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Old 12-16-2017, 11:37 AM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
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The Battle of Lissa in 1866. It was a naval battle fought in the Adriatic between the Austrians and the Italians. Due to luck and an odd set of circumstances, ships ramming each other decided the outcome of the battle.

That screwed up military thinking for a few decades. Navies were undergoing major technological changes at the time and Lissa was mistakenly seen a harbinger rather than an unrepeatable fluke. It wasn't until 1905 and the Battle of Tsushima that naval theorists completely shook off the belief in ramming as a viable tactic.
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Old 12-16-2017, 11:52 AM
ssgenius ssgenius is online now
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Thanks for the additional quotes

Still aside from these number of actual incidents, it is more of a last gasp attempt rather than a real effective technique.


Thanks
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Old 12-16-2017, 01:16 PM
buddha_david buddha_david is offline
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Fictional example, but since we're still in Cafe Society for some bizarre reason:

In the novel (but not movie) The Hunt for Red October, the Red October destroys Tupelov's attack sub by ramming it.
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Old 12-16-2017, 01:31 PM
Gatopescado Gatopescado is offline
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Old 12-16-2017, 01:34 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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There's at least one Star Trek: TNG novel that uses ramming (the only Star Trek example I can think of; I'm not sure where the OP gets "many") in which the Enterprise-D puts its "Structural Integrity Field" to maximum (the SIF get referenced numerous times during the show to lampshade why the ship doesn't fall apart under the various stresses of maneuvering at warp speed, see also "Inertial Dampeners") and plows through a Klingon warship like it was tissue paper. I found it amusing.
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Old 12-16-2017, 01:49 PM
Drum God Drum God is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
There's at least one Star Trek: TNG novel that uses ramming (the only Star Trek example I can think of; I'm not sure where the OP gets "many") in which the Enterprise-D puts its "Structural Integrity Field" to maximum (the SIF get referenced numerous times during the show to lampshade why the ship doesn't fall apart under the various stresses of maneuvering at warp speed, see also "Inertial Dampeners") and plows through a Klingon warship like it was tissue paper. I found it amusing.
The Enterprise E and the Kelvin employed ramming. Worf ordered the Defiant to "ramming speed", but was rescued before carrying it out.
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Last edited by Drum God; 12-16-2017 at 01:49 PM.
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Old 12-16-2017, 01:57 PM
ssgenius ssgenius is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
There's at least one Star Trek: TNG novel that uses ramming (the only Star Trek example I can think of; I'm not sure where the OP gets "many") in which the Enterprise-D puts its "Structural Integrity Field" to maximum (the SIF get referenced numerous times during the show to lampshade why the ship doesn't fall apart under the various stresses of maneuvering at warp speed, see also "Inertial Dampeners") and plows through a Klingon warship like it was tissue paper. I found it amusing.
Let's see on Star Trek alone that I can remember

1. The reboot of Star Trek with the Kelvin

2. Star Trek TOS, The Doomsday Machine episode

3. Star Trek TNG, the last movie where the Enterprise E rams the Romulan supership

4. Star Trek TNG, in Best of the Both Worlds, they are going to ram the Borg ship at the end when they found an alternate way to defeat them

5, Multiple times on Star Trek DS9

6. The pilot episode of Star Trek Discovery

That is just what I can remember off the top of my head

Last edited by ssgenius; 12-16-2017 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 12-16-2017, 02:57 PM
Bryan Ekers Bryan Ekers is online now
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I must be suppressing most of these memories because the idea is inherently ridiculous and my mind rejects it.
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Old 12-18-2017, 04:05 PM
Philliam Philliam is offline
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Even though it was an accident due to a tragic miscalculation, HMS Camperdown collided with HMS Victoria during maneuvers in 1893. Both Battleships had 'ram' bows. Victoria was struck and severely holed on the starboard side, filled and capsized within 13 minutes with the loss of half the crew.
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Old 12-18-2017, 04:43 PM
puzzlegal puzzlegal is offline
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I go to a family camp where we usually have a "water event day" featuring lots of silly water races, many of which involve canoes or kayaks. Ramming is a highly effective tactic to slow an opponent's vessel, although the speed cost to the rammer is great enough that it's often a third party who most benefits.

Still, I have lots of real-life experience that ramming a canoe without a paddle (kids use their hands) or even a canoe in a straight-up canoe race will significantly increase the time it takes to complete a course.
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Old 12-18-2017, 04:48 PM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is offline
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This doesn't involve naval ships, but there were cases of tanks ramming other tanks in WWII.

The German Tiger was a mean monster. It could easily poke holes through a Sherman, and the Sherman in response couldn't penetrate the Tiger's front armor, even with a direct hit. The only hope a Sherman had of taking out a Tiger was to maneuver around behind it and shoot it in the ass (which was featured as a plot point in the movie Kelly's Heroes). It took on average four Shermans to take out a single Tiger.

The Russian T-34 had a better gun than the woefully undergunned Sherman, but even the Russians had a difficult time against the Tiger's thick armor. Fortunately for both the Russians and the U.S. forces, the Germans couldn't build enough Tigers, because the Tigers were just too complex and difficult to build (this is often cited as a classic example of why the "best" weapons don't always win wars).

While the Russians had difficulty shooting the Tigers, they found out that they had a fair success rate if they just rammed the Tigers. The Russian philosophy, which they still use, is to make things simple, easy to produce, and rugged, and the simpler and more rugged T-34 would often survive the ramming, and the Tiger often would not.

This has been greatly exaggerated, with lots of tales of those "crazy Russians", but there is some truth to the legends, and T-34s did ram Tigers on many different occasions in WWII. The Battle of Kursk is often cited as a great victory for the Russians and their ramming. The reality of that battle is that while some tanks were rammed, the Tigers generally kicked the T-34's backsides up and down the battlefield. Once you get past the hype though, there is good evidence that many T-34s did intentionally ram Tigers during WWII on several different occasions, and they were often successful.

There was also at least one case that I'm aware of where a Sherman rammed a Tiger and managed to disable it. during the Battle of Caen. The Sherman shot the Tiger with a direct hit, which the Tiger just shrugged off (a common occurrence in the rare exchanges between Shermans and Tigers), so the Sherman commander just rammed it. The Sherman had hit the Tiger's track, but the Tiger's gun still worked. In order to finish it off, the Sherman tank commander quickly got a Firefly (basically, a Sherman upgraded with a much better gun, one that could actually penetrate the armor of a Tiger) and used that to permanently take out the Tiger.
  #17  
Old 12-18-2017, 04:49 PM
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Aerial Ramming has been used since pretty much the beginning of aerial combat.
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Old 12-18-2017, 05:09 PM
xizor xizor is offline
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Greenpeace seems to have a lot of experience getting rammed during their protests
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Old 12-18-2017, 05:45 PM
Mk VII Mk VII is offline
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At the Second Battle of the Dover Straight in 1917 the British destroyer Broke rammed the German G42. Some of the German crew scrambled aboard the bows from their sinking vessel and the pipe of 'Hands to repel boarders' was passed for probably the last time in the Navy.
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Old 12-18-2017, 09:49 PM
Ranger Jeff Ranger Jeff is offline
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Did you ever hear of PT 109?
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Old 12-18-2017, 10:02 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drum God View Post
The Enterprise E and the Kelvin employed ramming. Worf ordered the Defiant to "ramming speed", but was rescued before carrying it out.
IIRC, Worf also posited that "perhaps today is a good day to die" immediately before issuing that order.
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Old 12-19-2017, 03:36 AM
chacoguy chacoguy is offline
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USS Borie vs. U-405


Highlights include an actual thrown knife.
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Old 12-19-2017, 04:23 AM
glee glee is offline
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Ship rams harbour (does that count?)

As part of a raid on a french harbour in WW2, a ship rammed a harbour.

If everything went according to plan, Campbeltown would ram the huge dry dock gates, smash her way through and come to rest deep within the dock itself. There she would be scuttled, and there, with luck, she would explode and finish the Normandie Dock for the war’s duration.
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Old 12-19-2017, 09:22 AM
Just Asking Questions Just Asking Questions is offline
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You want ramming speed? You have a starship?

Take that sucker up to .999c and hit something with it. Anything. Ship, planet, star. The result will be...most spectacular. And there's no defense. Even if you managed to blow up the ship, the debris is still moving at near-light speed.
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Old 12-19-2017, 09:42 AM
TriPolar TriPolar is offline
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If it's done right it should work pretty well. The bow of a ship should be very strong, while it's sides will be considerably weaker. Ram a ship nose on into the side of another and it should do some considerable damage. I don't mean modern heavy steel warships, they ought to have other means besides ramming for battle, but prior to cannons ships couldn't engage in battle without contact, and if you ram your opponent you should gain an immediate advantage.
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Old 12-19-2017, 03:14 PM
gytalf2000 gytalf2000 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chacoguy View Post
USS Borie vs. U-405


Highlights include an actual thrown knife.

At first I thought that you were joking. But I guess not! Amazing story!
  #27  
Old 12-19-2017, 05:05 PM
ruh-roh ruh-roh is offline
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It worked for the MS Stockholm when it took on the Andrea Doria in 1956. However the Stockholm also lost about 30 feet of it's bow, although it was able to make it back to port on it's own.

The RMS Titanic had little luck taking on a nondescript iceberg. I've often wondered if it would have survived had it been a direct hit rather than the glancing blow.
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Old 12-19-2017, 11:26 PM
gkster gkster is offline
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This is fiction, but C.S. Forester has a memorable ramming scene in Mr. Midshipman Hornblower:
"The galley turned a little, getting exactly into line, and then her oars’ beat quickened. She was coming down to ram, like the Greeks at Salamis."

http://www.fadedpage.com/books/20170206/html.php#ch164
  #29  
Old 12-20-2017, 12:19 AM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Ekers View Post
Heck, the ancient triremes used ramming as their main tactic.
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssgenius View Post

Still aside from these number of actual incidents, it is more of a last gasp attempt rather than a real effective technique.
I am slightly annoyed you are dismissing hundreds of years of classical warfare .
  #30  
Old 12-20-2017, 06:26 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chacoguy View Post
There were a number of incidents in WWII* of destroyers deliberately ramming subs.

It usually turned out badly for the subs.

*The captain of the sub that sank three British cruisers in WWI was commanding another sub, U-29 later in the war when he failed to notice he was surfacing in the path of HMS Dreadnought, which rammed and cut his vessel in two.
  #31  
Old 12-24-2017, 12:00 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
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The U.S. Army (!) had a group of rams on Western waters during the Civil War:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Ram_Fleet
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Battle_of_Memphis

Quote:
Originally Posted by Philliam View Post
Even though it was an accident due to a tragic miscalculation, HMS Camperdown collided with HMS Victoria during maneuvers in 1893. Both Battleships had 'ram' bows. Victoria was struck and severely holed on the starboard side, filled and capsized within 13 minutes with the loss of half the crew.
Later fictionalized for comic effect in the Alec Guinness film Kind Hearts and Coronets.
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Old 12-24-2017, 02:09 PM
Chimera Chimera is offline
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https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Lissa_(1866)

"The Battle of Lissa (sometimes called Battle of Vis) took place on 20 July 1866 in the Adriatic Sea near the Dalmatian island of Lissa ("Vis" in Croatian) and was a decisive victory for an outnumbered Austrian Empire force over a numerically superior Italian force. It was the first major sea battle between ironclads and one of the last to involve deliberate ramming."

And just a lot of battles mentioned and stuff; https://www.ancient.eu/Roman_Naval_Warfare/

Mentions the largest: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Cape_Ecnomus

Romans: About 330 ships; Approx. 140,000 rowers and marines
Carthaginians: About 350 ships; In excess of 150,000 rowers and marines
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  #33  
Old 12-24-2017, 02:16 PM
Morgenstern Morgenstern is offline
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Icebergs count?
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  #34  
Old 12-28-2017, 10:56 PM
ssgenius ssgenius is online now
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Icebergs count?
Surprisingly

Aside from the Titanic, there has been very few Iceberg collisions resulting in loss of life

Last edited by ssgenius; 12-28-2017 at 10:57 PM.
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