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Space Science

Ship-Sinking Monster Waves Revealed 72

vinlud writes "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. ESA writes about it in a story. More information about this phenomena at the website of Karsten Trulsen, Associate Professor at the University of Oslo."
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Ship-Sinking Monster Waves Revealed

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  • Clive Cussler... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mcSey921 ( 230169 ) < minus cat> on Thursday July 22, 2004 @01:22PM (#9771236) Homepage Journal
    Used a rogue wave in one of his stories (they all run together not sure which one). It's also a leading theory behind the disapearance of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
  • Only 30m? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jacoberrol ( 561252 ) <jacoberrol @ h o t m a> on Thursday July 22, 2004 @01:39PM (#9771421)
    Bah... Only 30m? That's nothing compared to the Mega Tsunami! []
  • by HotNeedleOfInquiry ( 598897 ) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @01:43PM (#9771466)
    There's been credible reports of these for years. In "Silent Spring" Racheal Carlson mentioned a something like 125 foot wave that had been observed by reliable observers and measured against the mast of a ship.
  • by whoda ( 569082 ) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @01:46PM (#9771500) Homepage
    In the past, there were a few incidents of US Navy submarines spontaneously diving while doing surface transits near the mouth of the San Francisco bay.

    There were no deaths, but a few people in various instances got hurt. I recall one person suffering very serious injuries when the submarine went down over 100 feet pretty much instantly.

    The cause was finally determined to be that the period of the swells near the Golden Gate bridge caused the distance between the swells to be just less than the submarines total length.

    The wave swells would lift the sub up, and then 'drop' the sub as it passed over the wave. Inertia would keep the sub 'dropping' and an un-intentional dive occured.
    Since they were rigged for surface operations, they quickly popped back up to the surface.

    We had revised operating procedures for transiting near San Francisco after this was discovered.
    However, newer submarines are larger, and the period of the swells doesn't match up as nicely with the dimensions of the sub, so it is less of a hazard than it used to be.
  • bermuda triangle (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lord Dreamshaper ( 696630 ) <<ac.oohay> <ta> <repahsmaerd_drol>> on Thursday July 22, 2004 @04:26PM (#9773168)
    Can't remember the author or title, but I read a book that rather methodically debunked Bermuda Triangle stories (i.e. many didn't actually happen in the triangle, occurred in stormy weather, etc.) and found that unexplained disappearances were statistically similar to any other ocean area. These monster waves would go a long way to explaining many previously unexplained disppearances from any area of the ocean, especially the "spooky" way they disappear w/o so much as an SOS Or so the alien abductors would have us believe...
  • Superior 1, Fitz 0 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Spamalamadingdong ( 323207 ) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @04:49PM (#9773401) Homepage Journal
    Superior is a big lake, but I doubt that it is either big or deep enough to exhibit the kind of wave phenomena these researchers are investigating. Smaller waves piling up when they hit shallower water or coming from different directions (created by converging winds) would be sufficient to explain the sinking.

    FWIW I was travelling recently and saw some posters which appeared to be made from underwater photos of the resting place of the Fitz. Sobering.

  • by rpiquepa ( 644694 ) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @05:31PM (#9773749) Homepage
    Technology developed for space travel has been adapted for uses on Earth for a long time. But today, three articles report that some current customizations can save lives. For example, writes that space technology is entering hospitals []. It says that a system originally intended to keep clean the space station Mir, and later the International Space Station (ISS), is now used in hospitals to build temporary 'clean rooms' -- virtually bacteria-free -- around patients. And a video infrared camera developed by NASA's JPL to study Earth is being modified into a brain scanning device searching for tumors. Elsewhere, National Geographic is saying that satellites are starting to aid earthquake predictions []. And of course, these ESA satellites are identifying these 'rogue waves'. You need to read the articles mentioned above to realize how all these bleeding edge technologies can really help us on Earth, but if you have a limited time, please read this summary for selected excerpts and photos [].
  • Re:Only 30m? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ayaress ( 662020 ) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @06:22PM (#9774109) Journal
    The difference is that Tsunami aren't very big on the open ocean. They barely rock a midsized yacht in deep water, let alone sink a large freigher. They only kick up when they get into shallow water.
  • by DillPickle ( 10473 ) on Thursday July 22, 2004 @08:48PM (#9775162)
    My best friend is retired from Esso Tanker Service, and he swears that one clear day they were underway from Valdize, AK, to Southern California, with a full load of crude oil. He was the helmsman, and on his watch in broad daylite, he observed what he thought was a fog bank approaching head-on to their course. He informed the Captain and they both watched in amazement when the "fog bank" turned out to be a huge wave. He swears that when the wave struck the ship, green water engulfed the wheel-house. He and the skipper had no reason to expect such a wave. I don't remember the height from the water to the wheel-house was, but there was only one wave, and Herb says if they had been hit at an angle, they would have sunk without a trace.The rest of the crew was below deck, or there would have been a real disaster. As it were, the ship only suffered minor damage.
  • Perfect Storm (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bananahammock ( 595781 ) on Friday July 23, 2004 @04:56AM (#9777621)
    The book, Perfect Storm, described specific details leading up to the time the now infamous fishing trawler boat disappeared. It described these radio beacons tethered to the sea-bed (IIRC) that provided amongst other data, the height of waves as they passed underneath. One of the last pieces of info from one beacon during the big storm, was it registering a wave around 100 feet high. It was wrenched from its tether and vanished not long afterwards. Made for pretty compelling reading, not to mention how utterly frightening it must have been for those fisherman who died.

Honesty is for the most part less profitable than dishonesty. -- Plato