Owner, Green Bay Packers
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: SW Michigan
Thanked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Rep Power: 12
Newer lighter materials may well fail in ways that older materials did not. Likewise, they may well not fail the way older materials did.
For example: Ships today are built of high tensile steel and are thus much stronger overall. Unlike boats, ships flex tremendously in a seaway. It's not at all unusual to see them flex a foot or more over their length. You have to position yourself in the proper position to even observe it. Fortuantely on cruise ships there really is no such viewing position! High tensile steel is phenomenal in this regard and, as a result, thinner plating can be used resulting in a large weight savings. A lighter ship equals more cargo capacity. The trade-off is that the thinner plating is, well, thinner. We punched a hole through the hull on a container ship I was in during docking in Baltimore. A fifty ton shackle on a quay-side fender was adrift and became exposed on the outer portion of the fender. 50,000 tons of ship moving at a 1/4 of a knot sideways did the rest. It was above the waterline in a fuel oil tank and, fortunately, above the level of fuel oil in the tank! A simple matter to inert the tank with CO2 and weld it up.
Likewise those ships are built to maintain speed in heavy weather. The ship's are stronger but the men are the same as always. Some of the ships will develop a sideways whipping motion. You can be standing on the bridge deck, or asleep in your bunk, and suddenly be either thrown five feet sideways or physically thrown out of your bunk! Young men's ship's those.
Advancements in materials and technology always come with trade-offs and are seldom used without stretching the limits of the advancement. I recall Robert Cumberford, an automobile designer, writing in opposition to aerodynamic improvements in auto body design. The ability to build a small, light weight car not dependant on massive amounts of horsepower to achieve very high speeds would result in many people killing themselves in cars that were not built for high speed nor were very crash-worthy. I'm sure you'll not find it too much of a stretch to imagine certain high performance sailboats that exhibit similar survivability issues when taken well offshore and forced to deal with the full fury of an inescapable sea.
“Scientists are people who build the Brooklyn Bridge and then buy it.”
Wm. F. Buckley, Jr.