The Odd Shipwreck Thread

I don’t know how many Dopers may have heard of the story of the HMS Victoria. She was a pre-dreadnought battleship, with the second largest bore guns of any used by the Royal Navy. For a hundred years her fame, such as it was, derived from how she was lost: Her Admiral basically ordered the two squadrons of his fleet to turn in towards each other without sufficient sea room to allow for the two columns to safely clear each other.

So she was rammed by the lead ship of the second division, and sank in about ten minutes, with huge loss of life.

A week ago all I could have told you was that, without giving a name to the ships involved. I’d read the story of her loss as a pre-teen, and only the basics of the story stayed with me.

I got the urge last week, to see what I could find out about this, see what I’d misremembered, or what I had remembered properly. And I found out that the wreck of the Victoria had been found recently, and it was in a position that seems to be unique: It’s inclinws at 90 degrees attitude to the seabed.

That doesn’t mean that the ship is lying on its side on the seabed.

No, the forward third of the hull is embedded into the sea bottom, and the other two thirds are pointed straight up at the surface.

No point to this, just sharing because I found it interesting.

Ye gods; that last picture is the most astounding I’ve seen in a while. It’s really amazing, the way it’s sticking straight out of the seabed like that. Thanks for sharing.

Yes, thank you for sharing this. I’ve read up a lot on the late Victorian era but haven’t come across this before. Plus, being a (very novice) diver made it all the more interesting.

Sad to say my reaction while reading the linked accounts was that it was a good thing Tyron died in the incident.

I remember reading about that shipwreck in a book by Donald J. Sobol, the same guy who wrote the Encyclopedia Brown books. Admiral Tryon’s last words: “It’s all my fault.”

I don’t understand why she hasn’t collapsed under her own weight in the succeeding decades. I’ve read that Lusitania, which is lying on her side, has compressed to half her original beam since she sank in 1916; why wouldn’t Victoria have similarly succumbed?

Different construction? Different conditions?

The Lusitania, which was quite a bit larger than the Victoria, would have not been built with armor. The armor belt on the Victoria (18 inches thick) is probably acting as an added support while the internal bulkheads, rusting more swiftly in the Lusitania (one inch or less vs the 16 inch thick armored bulkheads on the Victoria), are not prepared to hold up the hull’s weight.

In addition, there may be more stress placed on the Lusitania in the strong currents off the coast of Ireland than on the Victoria in the fairly placid waters of the Eastern Mediterranean.

The Lusitania would have initially projected upward from the sea floor 87 feet, (its beam). The Victoria appears to be projecting upward about 200 feet, so the thickness of the armor would probably provide quite a bit of support for only a bit more than twice the distance of projecting hull.

That makes sense. Thank you. I often forget just how heavily armored those battleships were.

I bet it’s unstable as Hell.

I wouldn’t enter that wreck for all the [del]lead-painted toys[/del] tea in China.

One slam of a hatch, or shift of shells might tip it over.

There are pictures on one of the linked pages showing that the Victoria (like the ship that hit her) had a ram. (The ninth image down on this page shows the Victoria’s ram while the ship was in drydock.) That implies to me that the ship was braced for fore-to-aft stresses of very high magnitude. Simply resting vertically is going to be a lower stress than hitting another armored ship would have been. And the nature of the seabed there (some tens of feet of the ship plowed into the seabed, after all) meant that her impact with the seabed was cushioned more than an impact with a rigid hulled ship would have been.

Finally, it’s my impression that naval architects have to put some effort into bracing a ship for fore-to-aft stresses even without the presence of a ram. There’s no incentive to as heavily build a ship to take side-on stresses, because the sorts of heavy seas I’m thinking of are supposed to be met head-on to maximize the ship’s survivability.
On preview: Bosda, it might be unsteady, but I’m not so sure… I think that the heavy warship construction would mitigate that, with the attention to fore-to-aft stresses I’ve already mentioned.

Of course I wouldn’t enter the wreck, either - but my concern would be debris, and misorientation - not that it would fall over.

My concern would be random skeletons.

Those are long since eaten - remember, there were no remains found aboard Titanic or Lusitania. I grant that the Med doesn’t have quite the same diversity of life that the true oceans do, but without the hazard of going from fresh to salt water it would be relatively easy to colonize it with bathyspheric lifeforms. Besides, even at its deepest, the Victoria isn’t that deep, only about 3-400 feet at the seabed, I think. It takes deep fresh water to preserve remains for more than a few years. AIUI, ocean waters have active ecosystems at all depths, where places like Lake Superior are so young (relatively speaking) there’s been not enough time for radiative evolution to produce bathyspheric life.

IIRC, when there were those several dives recently on the Edmund Fitzgerald they found human remains near the wreck. Then it was announced, that the remains couldn’t have been one of the crew of the Edmund Fitzgerald, because it was wearing safety gear dating to the nineteenth century. :eek:

Sure, but what about the stability of the material the bow is lodged in? :dubious:

My thoughts exactly!
p.s. Does anyone know if skeletons would even survive that long down there?

p.s.s. I see that OtakuLoki answered my question.

I was only being facetious, but that was a very interesting response, and something I’d never actually thought about. Thank you.

I guess that means that some ships that are War Graves (eg Royal Oak in Scapa Flow) are designated such, not because of any actual remains, but more as a symbolic thing. :frowning:

Is that a ship’s ram or are you just glad to see me?

Well, yes, and no. The wreck of the CSS Hunley showed that it’s possible, in certain circumstances for remains to survive for over 100 years. But that was in mud and a closed void - which seems to have silted up rather quickly.

So, for the Royal Oak, or the Arizona, I’d say that there’s a good chance there are some remains in closed off compartments that are still around. But they’d be only a tithe of all the bodies that are listed as being in the wrecks. That’s just a guess, though.

All graves & cemetaries are symbolic things, bodies or no.