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Old April 19th, 2005, 08:34 AM
MichelleP's Avatar
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Default Interesting info about rogue waves

Mark sent me the following information about rogue waves, which I thought was interesting enough to share:

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 München 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 München 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 München's sinking as a highly unusual event that had no implications for other forms of shipping.

Now scientists believe this calm assurance may be dangerously misguided. The destruction of the München was anything but uncommon, as a BBC2 edition of Horizon, Freak Waves, will point out on Thursday.

'Ships are going down all the time,' said MP Eddie O'Hara, chairman of the parliamentary committee on maritime safety. 'If you read the maritime press there is a boat going down at least once a month, with the loss of crew usually measured in dozens of lives.'

In the past, bad maintenance or poor seamanship were blamed. Now scientists suspect the truth may be far more bizarre.

It is now known that the Queen Mary was hit by a 75ft wall of water while carrying 15,000 troops in December 1942. 'The ship came within an ace of capsizing, but it was all hushed up at the time,' O'Hara told The Observer.

And only two years ago the British superliner Oriana was struck by a 70ft wave that smashed windows and sent water cascading through the ship, swamping six of its 10 decks. A month later eight men were killed when a freak wave struck the Anorient trawler 87 miles west of Loop Head in Co Clare, and two Britons taking part in the world's toughest yacht race last March were seriously injured after a 50ft wave swept over their vessel 70 miles off the Australian coast.

Michelle P.


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Old April 19th, 2005, 08:48 AM
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Default Re: Interesting info about rogue waves

Cheers indeed. That's scary info Michelle! Especailly since I'm 4 days to sailaway!


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Old April 19th, 2005, 09:27 AM
MichelleP's Avatar
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Default Re: Interesting info about rogue waves

Sorry Donna, didn't mean to scare you! I'm sure everything will be fine on your cruise!

Michelle P.


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Old April 19th, 2005, 10:14 AM
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Default Re: Interesting info about rogue waves

Dearest Donna- If you find yourself too frightened to go on your cruise, DW and I will make the great personal sacrifice and take your place.


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Old April 19th, 2005, 10:20 AM
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Default Re: Interesting info about rogue waves

Thanks for the info, Michelle. About a year ago (3/3/04) Julien A provided us with some fascinating data from BBC (I think) about rogue waves. It was a very long, detailed article that got into the scientific reasons for these phenomena. I don't know how to identify the website, but if you'll click on "Search" above and then type in "Al Osborne" you'll find Julien's posting. It's worth the read!


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Old April 19th, 2005, 10:57 AM
Join Date: Aug 2002
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Default Re: Re: Interesting info about rogue waves

An interesting article on the study of rogue waves may be found at http://www.esa.int/esaCP/SEMOKQL26WD_index_0.html. A more general article may be found at http://www.marinelog.com/DOCS/NEWSMMV/2005apr17.html.
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