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Danger on the seas as walls of water sink tankers

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posted on Dec, 3 2002 @ 10:45 AM

They are the stuff of legend and maritime myth: giant waves, taller than tower-blocks, that rise out of calm seas and destroy everything in their paths.
For years scientists and marine experts have dismissed such stories as superstition. Walls of water do not rise out of the blue, they said. But now research has revealed that 'killer waves' do exist and regularly devastate ships around the world. They defy all scientific understanding and no craft is capable of withstanding their impact.

'Rogue waves in the past have been ignored and regarded as rare events,' said Jim Gunson, the Met Office's expert on ocean waves. 'Now we are finally getting a handle on them and finding out how common they are.'

These mammoth events are not tidal waves or tsunamis, however. Nor are they caused by earthquakes or landslides. They are single, massive walls of water that rise up - for no known reason - and destroy dozens of ships and oil rigs every year.

The story of the super-tanker M�nchen is a classic example. She was one of the biggest ships ever built - the length of two-and-a-half football pitches - and unsinkable, it was claimed.

But on 7 December, 1978, the pride of the German merchant navy, en route to America, disappeared off the face of the earth. Despite the biggest search in the history of shipping, all that was found of the M�nchen and her 26 crew was a lifeboat that had suffered an incredible battering.

'Something extraordinary' had destroyed the ship, concluded an official inquiry, which dismissed the M�nchen's sinking as a highly unusual event that had no implications for other forms of shipping.

Mod Edit: New External Source Tags – Please Review This Link.

Mod Note (This Appears On Every New Thread/Post Reply Page): MEMBERS: Do not simply post news articles in the forums without comment. If you feel inclined to make the board aware of current events, please post the first paragraph, a link to the entire story, AND your opinion, twist or take on the news item.

[edit on 4/12/06/12 by junglejake]

posted on Dec, 4 2002 @ 05:40 AM
where is this article from?
I have to be dubious of the phrase "dozens of ships and oil rigs every year"

posted on Dec, 4 2002 @ 09:06 AM
Hey hit the link Lupe it explains it all there. And yes many ships go missing every year, not all are super tankers but there are many freighters which ' disappear '.

posted on Dec, 4 2002 @ 10:25 AM
link Didn't realize they'd caused the disasters in the 1998 Sydney to Hobart yacht race. I think one or more people died when one of those waves hit the racecourse.

[Edited on 4-12-2002 by Byrd]

posted on Dec, 5 2002 @ 01:30 AM
The ones that got away

1943, North Atlantic. Cruise liner Queen Elizabeth ploughs into a trough and is hit by two massive waves in succession. The impacts shatter the bridge windows 28 meters above the waterline.

1944, Indian Ocean. British Royal Navy cruiser Birmingham plunges into a deep hole then takes a huge wave over her bows. The commander reports wading through knee-high water on a deck more than 18 meters above sea level.

1966, North Atlantic. Italian steamship Michelangelo is hit by a 21-metre wave en route to New York. The water smashes through the bridge and into the first class compartments, killing two passengers and a crew member.

1995, North Sea. Statoil floating rig Veslefrikk B is severely damaged by a rogue wave. One crew member describes a "wall of water" visible for several minutes before it strikes.

1995, North Atlantic. The QE2 encounters a hurricane on a crossing to New York. She takes a 29-metre wave over her bow. "It looked as if we were going into the White Cliffs of Dover," says Captain Ronald Warwick.

1998, North Atlantic. Schiehallion, a BP Amoco floating production platform, is struck by a wave which smashes the fo'c'sle 18 meters above the waterline.

2000, North Atlantic. British cruise liner Oriana is hit by a 21-metre wave while answering a mayday call from a yacht 600 miles west of Cork, Ireland.

From New Scientist magazine, vol 170 issue 2297, 30/06/2001

[Edited on 5-12-2002 by mad scientist]

posted on Dec, 5 2002 @ 01:37 AM
An intersting series of pictures of a rogue wave breaking on the shoreline.
Wave Pics

posted on Dec, 5 2002 @ 02:06 AM
Haven't any of you seen the movie white squall? It's the same thing, but I never knew that people still doubted its existance.

Just goes to show we'll never be the master of anything, so long as we put ourselves on pedastals with the gods.

no signature

posted on Jan, 26 2006 @ 09:51 PM

ABOVE - Rogue wave estimated at 60 feet moving away from ship after crashing into it a short time earlier. In the Gulf Stream off of Charleston, South Carolina, with light winds of 15 knots.

ABOVE - This rare photo of a rogue wave was taken by first mate Philippe Lijour aboard the supertanker Esso Languedoc, during a storm off Durban in South Africa in 1980. The mast seen starboard in the photo stands 25 metres above mean sea level. The wave approached the ship from behind before breaking over the deck, but in this case caused only minor damage. The mean wave height at the time was between 5-10 metres.

ABOVE - Rogue waves are most common in the Agulhas current off the east coast of South Africa, with numerous well documented cases of extreme individual waves, including some striking photographs of damaged ships.

Here is shown bow damage received by Norwegian tanker Wilstar in 1974: the combination of pitch motion and a steep incoming wave can cause excessive local structural damage. One of the aims of rogue wave research is to recommend changes in ship design to make them less vulnerable in future.

ABOVE - Merchant ship labouring in heavy seas as huge wave looms astern. Huge waves are common near the 100-fathom curve on the Bay of Biscay. Published in Fall 1993 issue of Mariner's Weather Log.

[edit on 26-1-2006 by mad scientist]

posted on Jan, 26 2006 @ 11:39 PM
Don't forget "The Perfect Storm" - written by Sebastian Junger and directed by Wolfgang Peterson. Amazing animation on the waves.

posted on Apr, 10 2006 @ 06:37 PM

Once dismissed as a nautical myth, freakish ocean waves that rise as tall as ten-storey apartment blocks have been accepted as a leading cause of large ship sinkings. Results from ESA's ERS satellites helped establish the widespread existence of these 'rogue' waves and are now being used to study their origins.

Severe weather has sunk more than 200 supertankers and container ships exceeding 200 metres in length during the last two decades. Rogue waves are believed to be the major cause in many such cases.

Objective radar evidence from this and other platforms – radar data from the North Sea's Goma oilfield recorded 466 rogue wave encounters in 12 years - helped convert previously sceptical scientists, whose statistics showed such large deviations from the surrounding sea state should occur only once every 10000 years.


Merchant ship labouring in heavy seas as huge wave looms astern. Huge waves are common near the 100-fathom curve on the Bay of Biscay. Published in Fall 1993 issue of Mariner's Weather Log.

posted on Apr, 10 2006 @ 10:35 PM

Severe weather has sunk more than 200 supertankers and container ships exceeding 200 metres in length during the last two decades.

OMG. That's a lot of oil spill!

posted on Apr, 10 2006 @ 10:40 PM
This thread reminds me of "The Poseidon Adventure." What a great movie. And the wave that flipped the ship.... it was HUGE. Gives me the shivers thinking about it.

When is the remake coming out?

posted on Apr, 10 2006 @ 10:52 PM
Some other ships to add to the list of big ships which have been hit by freak waves. The Grand Voyager was hit by gigantic waves in the Mediterranean last year. And The Norwegian Dawn was hit off Florida by a "freak wave" more than 70 feet high. Both ships are mentioned in this thread:

NEWS: Cruise Liner With 776 People In Distress

posted on Apr, 11 2006 @ 05:20 AM
the problem is that when calculating the required strength of ships, it is assumed that the waves are linear. This has recently been shown not to be the case in larger waves, it is possible for some waves to 'steal' energy from the surrounding waves to grow much larger than the surrounding wave train.

There was a good Horizon documentry on it a few years ago

posted on Apr, 12 2006 @ 04:36 PM
I remember watching that Horizon - it was good.
It's funny how we have in the past laughed at the people who tell these 'myths,' for example, a fisherman who claims his friends boat was once struck by a random 70ft wave on a fine day, and people would just laugh. How many other myths can be proven as fact? Its amazing how much we don't know even on our own planet.

Quite scary Waves indeed.

I think there's a place in Mexico when the occasional chance of a 50 ft wave comes up (due to some ledge) and they Surf it!!! Now thats just crazy!! I saw it on TV (so it MUST be true

posted on Apr, 12 2006 @ 09:25 PM
Would these waves be visible from sattelites?

posted on Apr, 12 2006 @ 10:50 PM
Wow, this is very interesting. I've never heard anything about this topic before really. Especially not of that German ship, I'd like to research that some more. Great topic though.


posted on May, 25 2006 @ 06:34 PM
Add yet another ship to the list of ships getting hit by freak waves. The Brittany Ferries flagship Pont-Aven carrying 1,149 people from Plymouth to Santander in Spain got hit by a 40ft freak wave in the Bay of Biscay. She was forced to dock at the French port of Roscoff for repairs.

Couple caught in ferry drama

I wonder what caused the freak wave... A comet fragment?

posted on May, 25 2006 @ 07:01 PM
In the pre Christian mtyhs, the sea gods were seen as capricious, fickle, and unpredictable. The sea was forever hungry and tempermental, eyeing ships of mortals and without warning, reaching out and grabbing the ships, taking them down to their watery kingdoms below.

It seems myth, as often is the case, is based on real world observations given a more human face to them. The sea goddess is indeed a fickle,mysterious, and unpredictable being, who is amused by our dellusions we hold that we have mastered the forces of nature. Im sure it amuses her to reach out of the sea and snatch these creations of arrogant mortals who dare think their machines unsinkable. they are mere playtoys to her.

it goes to show that even in our scientifically dominated age, the more we think we know, the more we are humbled by what we dont.

posted on May, 25 2006 @ 10:59 PM

Originally posted by Hellmutt
I wonder what caused the freak wave... A comet fragment?

You knew I would find that, didn't you!?

I saw a special on the Discovery Channel the other day about rouge waves. It was very ineteresting. Even more interesting is how common they seem to be, now that we know what to look for. I also find it odd that my grandparents, who have been on upwards of 25 cruises all over the world, have never seen one of these. Lucky for them, though, in my opinion.

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