Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Battle of Tsushima and the Titanic: same shipbuilding mistake?

A reader of "Professor Krylov's Navy" posted a question on Amazon: "Krylov was involved in the Russia's biggest naval failure in Port Arthur and Tsushima battles in 1904-1905. Russia's loss was 4,380 dead, 5,917 people captured and 21 ships sunk.
It will be interesting to know what "Naval Architect" Krylov said about these events in his memoir.

A short answer is "He tried but failed to prevent it. After the Battle of Tsushima, he was assigned to restore the Russian Navy, implementing the principles for which he fought before it."

(The battleship Orel)

A longer answer calls for discussion of how Russian inertia and bureaucracy  doomed the Russian battleships at Tsushima in 1905 by neglecting the same principles, ignoring which doomed the Titanic in 1912.

Krylov's approach to protecting the ships:
  1. Compartments do not protect a ship from sinking. The ship reserve buoyancy does it. 
  2. Reserve buoyancy is the volume of the above-water part of the ship, bounded by the upper watertight deck. 
  3. Partitioning of the hold into compartments is one way to utilize reserve buoyancy.
  4. Besides buoyancy, it is necessary to provide for the ship stability. This is achieved by coordinating partitioning of the above-water parts with partitioning of the hold and by arranging appropriate system of flooding the compartments to right the ship. 
  5. The principle of partitioning should be that buoyancy is lost prior to stability—in short, that the ship sinks without capsizing.
The idea was novel and counter-intuitive: have sufficient reserve buoyancy and deal with a hole not by pumping water out of the damaged compartments (all but impossible in the iron or steel ship) but by flooding additional compartments.

Krylov advocated proper partitioning and systems for  quick flooding. He even prepared tables showing the effect of flooding the compartments on the ship list, trim, and stability.  In 1903, he hand-delivered the tables to the squadron ships in Port Arthur.  No reaction.

Then the Battle of Tsushima happened. One ship followed Krylov's recommendation:
On the Orel, knowledgeable and talented naval engineer Kostenko sailed as a hold mechanic and, on his own initiative, arranged the system of righting with resources available on the ship. Although the Orel received the same damages in the Battle of Tsushima as the ships of the same class, Aleksandr III, Borodino, and Suvorov, she remained afloat while the other three ships capsized and sank.
In 1908, Krylov was made the chairman of the the Naval Technical Committee and tasked with restoring the navy. At an enormous cost, the lesson was finally learned, at least by the Russian Navy.

In 1912, the Titanic sank. She did not have sufficient reserve buoyancy, and her sixteen compartments were too large and not watertight.  The ship was doomed.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Extraordinary Estate: Illegitimacy in XIX Century Russia

  ...The godparents were Maria Mikhailovna Krylova, the widow of the Colonel of the Guard, and the son of Natalia Alexandrovna, Alexander Ivanovich Krylov, of the village California, but his surname, however, was not Krylov but Tyubukin...
...In the process of making his first vital record, the embarrassed young priest invented an extraordinary estate for Alexander Tyubukin and made an error in his last name.

What extraordinary estate? The record says nothing about Tyubukin's estate!

This is what I found. At the time, Russia had several estates (each further subdivided into groups):
  • Nobility
  • Clergy
  • Honorary Citizens
  • Merchants
  • Commoners
  • Peasants
  • Cossack
The child belonged to the father’s estate. “Illegitimacy, in contrast, prevented one from exercising one's family rights and thus put one in an awkward position, both legally and socially” (O. E. Glagoleva, 2005)

A record of christening always indicated the estate of the parents and of the godparents. In this case, the godmother, as a widow of a colonel, belonged to nobility, but what about the godfather?   

For people of illegitimate birth, the mother's name was written instead of the estate.

When the priest wrote down the mother's name, he formally indicated (incorrectly) that the godfather was of illegitimate birth rather than a nobleman, as was the case. Aha! The estate was indicated.

Krylov later gives a fictitious reason why the family had to move to France. Krylov's grandson, Andrey Kapitsa,  explains in the introduction to the memoir, that, in fact, it was the impending birth of Krylov's half-brother.
“Now, 130 years later, a family secret can finally be revealed. … Had the baby been born in Russia, his fate as an illegitimate child would be a sad one.”

Extraordinary estate indeed.