Mysteries of Life: how do huge ships crash into other huge ships?

That’s what I ponder every time I read a piece of news — like this, about an Iranian oil tanker that collided with a “bulk freighter” of variegated registry/ownership in the South China Sea.

I understand crashes of smaller objects, like vehicles. They are, after all, usually on the same highway, even if on the other side, and people fall asleep, brakes fail, the infrastructure of vehicles get into funny situations (I remember at least one CSI dealing with a crash of a bus which was sabotage but it took a whole hour to figure it out).

But here we’re talking about an ocean. Yes, there are numerous vessels using that ocean to get somewhere else but it’s not like U.S. 95, is it? Where once outside of Westport, CT, my Kia rental car went dead in the middle lane at rush hour.

An ocean. And two massively huge boats. So how do they manage to bump into each other? Isn’t someone, um, watching the route? And since vessels do not travel at 70 mph, it isn’t as if there isn’t time to turn the wheel when whoever is steering sees a huge thing way too close to his huge thing.

But no. They crashed. And the Iranian tanker burst into flames. And kept burning.

And eventually sank. With its entire crew.

I don’t know how to drive a boat but I maintain if I were at that…is it called a wheel? you know, the thing you steer…even I could not manage to crash into another boat in the middle of a big pond. Even if I were not wearing my contact lenses and were nearly blind I would espy another object as big as three football fields.

The US Navy is beginning to think as I do — if you crash a big boat into another big boat in the middle of a big sea, you can’t just walk off the boat and say, “Oh, hey, my bad. Sorry.”

But still, it doesn’t solve that mystery. How could a massive vessel chugging along in a massive ocean bump into another massive vessel similarly occupied?


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