Three nautical engineers were passengers on a cargo ship. They were in a good place for lots of nautical engineering discussion, going over many parts of the ship to point out its good and bad aspects.
The ship hits a reef, which create a gash in the steel below waterline. The engineers go below deck to see the water pouring in.
The first engineer sees how fast the water is rising. He goes topside with his trusty laptop and nautical engineering software. He pounds the keyboard hard and comes to a stunning conclusion: “The ship will sink in 8.5 hours”. To prove his point, he is quite adamant about his position: “There is nothing that can be done except prepare for emergency evacuation.” He admonishes any attempts to remedy the situation.
The second and third engineer help the crew secure bulkheads to help contain the leak to the broken section of the ship. They route emergency power to bilge pumps of that section. They put out the rescue calls. Their hands-on observation and technical expertise engineering perspectives are very useful to the authorities to devise the best rescue plan.
“It’s no use,” cries the first engineer. “The ship is going down regardless of what you are doing.” He is already on the helipad with his suitcase packed.
After a couple of hours of smart and hard work, the two engineers and crew get the ship stabilized. It is still not able to operate on its own. But it is towable and should remain floating for a few days. The two engineers start discussing what happens when the ship reaches drydock.
“We’ll just put a new steel plate over the hole,” says the second engineer. “And we’ll throw in a few extra ribs in that section to give it extra strength. This ship has another 15 years of sailing in her.”
“Are you crazy?” retorts the third engineer. “Didn’t you see the nature of that gash? We have altered the stresses and strains of this ship so much that we no longer have the same ship! We need to learn from this accident to design and build a better ship.”
You are one of three nautical engineers on a sinking ship. But which one?