1. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Explosions, if you know anything...

    Discussion in 'Research' started by spklvr, May 6, 2011.

    Say a cruise ship is right between two islands, roughly a kilometer apart. And then there is an explosion that leaves only the people at the very ends of the cruise ship alive, and most of those drown because of how fast the ship sank (would it sink fast?), is it plausible that the ship and its contents are scattered all across the bottom of the sea and on the islands themselves?

    Kind of really sick of my two main projects right now, and need a silly one that probably won't go anywhere, but that doesn't mean I don't want it to be accurate. :p
     
  2. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Most amusing! :p

    Well, here goes... note that I have not participated in any explosions of that size, so this is largely educated guesswork.

    How big is the ship? This is a mildly important question because in principle we could be dealing with something between 15 and 350 m long, and explosions required to destroy something of the latter size would be incredibly big indeed.

    There are in fact very many questions about this scenario you have developed. :) For example there is a good chance that the sea between those two islands is not even deep enough to allow the ship to sink, and it will just submerge a few decks until it hits the bottom. If your islands involve a lot of corals and lagoons, the chance of this happening is close to unity. ;) But let's assume things are as you say.

    An explosion "destroying" a ship will likely rip it in half. That does not mean that both halves immediately sink (although they can, potentially). In fact, halves of ships destroyed have been known to survive a tow back to port, to be rebuilt. Ships are compartmentalized, and have been so for some time, so to have the ship disappear completely below the waves after a big explosion is difficult to imagine. It becomes easier if you are actually dealing with lots of multiple explosions that are distributed along the whole hull, that breach lots of compartments individually.

    Naval engineering aside, I guess the ship would still take, at the very least 15-45 minutes to sink, depending on size (if it's a big ship, more than 100 meters long). If this is more something of a 15m affair, one minute or less should be plausible.

    The suction from a big ship sinking will pull anything with it that's still nearby.

    Now, on to the ship parts. A single, big explosion, will tear a huge hole into the ship, and otherwise rip it into two large parts, each of which will sink pretty much straight down. Smaller parts from the ship, perhaps up to a meter across if they are light enough, can land several hundred meters away, and also on the islands.
     
  3. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Modern ships are made of hardened steel and honeycombed with miles of passage ways, rooms and sealing bulkheads to prevent flooding from spreading.

    That is a lot of air pockets displacing water, that will have to flood before the ship can sink. It takes time for water to move into all those air pockets and the flow of water has to circumvent the sealed bulkheads, meaning that the water has to be coming in from multiple points (such as a hull rupture along several different compartments). As more and more compartment fill with water, the ship gradually sinks lower and lower into the sea until if finally slides under, dragging anything still near it down into the murky depths.

    So...no, I don't think it happens quickly, unless the explosion was gigantic enough to destroy the vessel all at once (which wouldn't leave any survivors at all, think asteroid impact or atomic bomb).

    Debris would be scattered on the sea floor and washing up on the beaches.
     
  4. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    The only way I know of to make a ship sink fast is to change its bouncy. If you where to desalinate the water under the ship it would sink like a rock. This does not help your story though.
     
  5. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think I should probably go with several big explosions then. I want it to go fast. I figured the people on deck would have a chance of surviving. And I'm basing the distance and the shape of the island and the water on the island my granparents have their cabin on. Just talked to my grandfather, it's 3 km between the islands... guess distance looks less on the sea or something. But that the ship wouldn't be totally submerged is a good thing. I want my characters to be able to go out there.
     
  6. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Oh, if your islands are in Norway, I guess the water could be very deep indeed even between two quite close islands. I was thinking more of Carribbean climes myself. :cool:
     
  7. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    I originaly based it in Norway (because I've never read about anyone being stranded on an island in Norway before), but I suddenly realized it's near impossible to survive on a Norwegian island. Not to mention, almost impossible to not be discovered. So I basically just took the island and the waters and made it hotter and tropical. Which is why I'm suddenly finding myself studying general tropical waters and forests for a story that's already turning out to be very plotless... I'm a weird person.
     
  8. Earlychop
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    Earlychop Member

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    HMS Coventry and Sheffield went down in less than 40 mins. You would be surprised how quickly a ship can go down.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    cute, almost apropos accidental coinage for 'buoyancy'!
     
  10. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    I guess the definition of "quickly" is subjective.

    To me, a blaring alarm and 3 minutes to make it to a life boat is quickly.

    A blaring alarm and an announcement that I have the better part of an hour to get to a life boat isn't all that quick.
     
  11. Earlychop
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    My dad thought it was quick enough. Ironically You'd probably only live 3 minutes if didn't think about it before jumping into the sea.
     

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