The conclusion which I hope you can generate from the examples and the analysis is that contrary to what is usually taught in many cases, that is the the same factors that determine how a human being reacts to close maneuver against a fixed object (warping into a pier side berth) applies in a close approach problem in multiple moving body situations. The statement that if you see the object from the bridge wing, then something has gone so wrong that it is not possible to do anything about it. Well, I was immediately struck by the situations among, Victoria/Camperdown, Stockholm/Andrea Doria and the Brooklyn/Texas.
And I realized that here were three similar examples of turning ships, all about similar speeds, ranges, and approximate times to fix the mistake in progress; which is 100-150 seconds in available time and about a kilometer and a half separation and with combined closing speeds in excess of 16 m/s. Now George Tryon, the esteemed RN reformer admiral, in example one, deliberately set up the interleaving inward turn maneuver of the two lines he had, to force his subordinates to creatively solve that problem with applied engine backing and rudder control. He does this in clear weather with lookouts, with possibly the best trained fleet in the world. How does it turn out? Not well. The best trained crews in the world, with some of the best designed ships and with a tradition produced by the book chain of command robots who drove their ships into each other. Tryon did not explain intent to his captains. The flag signals the Victoria ran up were unclear and the robot men ran their ships into each other. Tryon did not survive his error. Guess who noticed this debacle and tried to figure out what happened? June 22 1893? Rear admiral Henry Erben, USN, commander for the US fleet in Europe at the time. He will do something about it, but not for the Royal Navy.
Now I have already covered the Stockholm/Andrea Doria fiasco. It is the same thing, an over-confident veteran Regia Marina veteran, Captain Piero Calamai, who thought he knew what he was doing, who more or less ran that ocean liner like an Italian navy warship made a mistake. His crew was too awed to question his decisions. He was the man who ordered the turn to port. The only mistake he actually made, was in contravention to the information his own radars and his posted lookouts told him. That is why many analysts blame him
. No-one contravened or had the guts to second-guess him.
The Swedes do not get off, either. Captain Gunnar Nordenson apparently thought he knew what he was doing. He thought his bridge crew was trained and capable. He was not at his post
when the situation developed, and he certainly left a man, Third Officer Johan-Ernst Carstens-Johannsen, who made numerous procedural errors, in charge in a fog bank
. This man was the one who screwed up the radar plot. I note that no-one on the Stockholm's bridge second guessed or checked him. You see where this is going?
Now we come to the Brooklyn and the Texas. Schley was in the middle of a fierce gun action. He had the Spanish flagship charging him to ram Brooklyn on one side and the American fleet behind him barreling at him at top speed, shooting into the Spaniards for all they were worth. Nobody on Brooklyn had run up any flag signals to detail what the battle plan is. Basically, when Sampson left the scene to see that incompetent General Shafter, he left no instructions. At Schley's court martial; he said, as OTC, he ordered "Close enemy, ship on ship." which is akin to Fighting Instructions; "Form line ahead; engage enemy opposite." Captain Francis of the Brooklyn, and Captain Philip of the Texas claimed they never saw that signal. But what they did; was train their helmsmen and deck officers to think for themselves because in previous fleet maneuvers under that Admiral Erben I mentioned, he exercised the Atlantic squadron in how to avoid collision in line of battle because Erben believed that fleet battles in the age of steam would degenerate into a melee and fleet organization might collapse in all the smoke, noise, and confusion. Everything goes into local control and independent initiative rules for better or worse. So Schley orders the counterturn the wrong way to avoid the Maria Teresa's ram attempt, and the Texas immediately all backs full as the lookouts shout warnings; in the middle of almost blinding smoke, flame, noise, and battle confusion; with Philips cursing his helmsman and Francis straightening out the Brooklyn's turn with a similar string of obscenities and everyone needing a new pair of pants. Of course Schley orders general pursuit as Brooklyn clears Texas and it has a happy American ending; but the point is that the proper steps were taken and the proper training was in place and the properly designed control positions had the right people manning positions doing their jobs the right way.
Now docking is a matter of collision avoidance
of the same kind of people who make mistakes because they are confused or do not understand or panic, or fail to follow procedure and double check. These control issues and outcomes can be affected by human factors design errors. Can you see the design errors in that ocean liner?