I certainly like her name! ~Vic
One-hundred, thirty years, ago, today…
[The] HMS Victoria was the lead ship in her class of two battleships of the Royal Navy. On June 22, 1893, she collided with [the] HMS Camperdown near Tripoli […] during maneuvers and quickly sank, killing 358 crew members, including the commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet, Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon. One of the survivors was executive officer John Jellicoe, later commander-in-chief of the British Grand Fleet at the Battle of Jutland.
Victoria was constructed at a time of innovation and rapid development in ship design. Her name was originally to be Renown but, this was changed to Victoria while still under construction to celebrate Queen Victoria‘s Golden Jubilee, which took place the year the ship was launched. Her arrival was accompanied by considerable publicity. She was the largest, fastest and most powerful ironclad afloat, with the heaviest guns. Despite the ship’s many impressive features, compromises in the design meant that she proved less than successful in service.
A detailed model of the ship was exhibited at the Royal Navy exhibition in 1892 and another in silver was given to Queen Victoria by the officers of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines as a Jubilee gift.
The ship was nicknamed The Slipper (or when with her sister ship, [the] HMS Sans Pareil […] The Pair of Slippers) because of a tendency for her low fore-deck to disappear from view, in even slight seas, especially as a result of the low forward deck and raised aft superstructure…the two ships [had a] humorously perceived resemblance to the indoor footwear.
In clear, sunny weather, off the coast of Syria…
The officer in command, Vice Admiral Sir George Tryon, was a fearsome martinet with a reputation as a master of complicated ship handling. He had an elaborate plan for bringing his fleet to anchor, providing onlookers a spectacle of precision maneuvering. [Ten] battleships of the Mediterranean fleet were drawn up in two parallel columns, 1200 yards apart, heading directly away from port out to sea. Tryon then ordered a crash 180-degree turn in succession. The intention, apparently, was for each pair of ships…in order…to turn inwards and create a breathtaking view of the ships’ wakes fanning out, while the ships came about, only 400 yards from each other, [then proceeding] in the opposite direction from their original course, heading towards the land. Then, the ships were to turn 90 degrees to form one column and anchor in unison.
[The] Victoria capsized just 13 minutes after the collision, rotating to starboard with a terrible crash, as her boats and anything, free fell to the side and, as water, entering the funnels, caused explosions when it reached the boilers. With her keel uppermost, she slipped down into the water, bow first, propellers still rotating and threatening anyone near them. Most of the crew managed to abandon ship, although those in the engine room never received orders to leave their posts and were drowned. Those who escaped had to contend with the suction from the sinking ship. A circular wave spread out from it which repeatedly drew down those in the water. All manner of items broke loose from the ship as it sank and came shooting up among the men. Onlookers watched as the number of live men in the water steadily reduced.
[On August 22, 2004], the wreck of the Victoria was discovered by Lebanese-Austrian diver Christian Francis, aided by British diver Mark Ellyatt. She was found in [460 feet] of water off the coast near Tripoli […] and was located using sonar. The most amazing aspect of the wreck is that, unlike all others, she sits vertically with about two thirds of her above the sea bed. The upright position is assumed to have been caused by the huge weight of her fore guns, which would have dragged her down, bow first. The wreck has already been declared a war grave and an exclusion zone has been imposed around her, while the English and Lebanese authorities determine her legal status.
Christian Francis Finding HMS Victoria
At 11 foot 8 inches [sic], the Norfolk Southern-Gregson Street Overpass, located in Durham, [NC] […], is a bit too short. The federal government recommends that bridges on public roads should have a clearance of at least 14 feet [but], when this railroad trestle was built in the 1940s, there were no standards for minimum clearance. As a result, trucks would frequently hit the bridge and get its roof scrapped [sic] off.
Durhan resident Jürgen Henn has been witnessing these crashes for years from across the street where he worked. Wishing to share these hilarious mishaps with the rest of the world, Henn set up a video camera in April 2008 and began recording them for his ever popular website 11foot8.com. By the end of 2015, more than one hundred trucks had their tops violently ripped off. These scalping videos, which are also available on his YouTube Channel, have racked up millions of views bringing this particular bridge, nicknamed “the can opener”, a fair amount of international fame.
As Jürgen Henn explains in his website [sic], the bridge cannot be raised because doing so would require the tracks to be raised for several miles to adjust the incline. North Carolina Railroad doesn’t want to pay for the enormous expense it would entail. The bridge cannot be lowered either because there is a major sewer line running only four feet under the street.
Instead, the city authorities installed an alert system that detects when an over-height truck tries to pass under and flashes yellow warning lights several feet ahead of the bridge. [However], many drivers either do not pay attention or fail to heed the warning and crash into the bridge. The railroad department, who owns the bridge, installed a heavy steel crash beam in front of the bridge that takes most of the impact, protecting the actual structure of the train trestle. This crash beam is hit so often that it had to be replaced at least once.
As far as both parties are concerned, the city of Durham and North Carolina Railroad, adequate steps have been taken to solve the problem. The railroad authorities’ concern is with the bridge and the rails above, not the trucks, [hence], the beam. The city, on the other hand, has posted prominent “low clearance” signs from [three] blocks away, leading up to the trestle, over and above the automatic warning system that is triggered by vehicles that are too tall. Apparently, these measures are not enough to prevent accidents. On average there is one crash every month.
When Henn interviewed a few drivers as they deflated their tires to lower their vehicles enough to free them, some told him that they didn’t know their trucks’ heights, while others insisted they didn’t see the signs. Durham officials are now trying out a new tactic. A few months ago, they installed a traffic signal at the intersection before the bridge and hooked up the height sensor to it. When an over-height truck approaches the intersection, the light turns red and stays red for a long time. The light eventually turns green but, the city hopes that the long delay will give the drivers enough time to realize their truck will not fit under the bridge. Unfortunately for the drivers, and to the delight of the rest, the bridge continues to shave the tops of over-height vehicles.
The Infamous Can Opener Bridge
December 17, 2016
I can attest to this bridge, personally. I lived in Durham for two years in the middle 90s. Why those folks don’t turn off onto Peabody Street or Pettigrew Street, coming from the other side, I don’t know. They just plow right under it. It is right behind Brightleaf Square. ~Vic
♦ 11 Feet, 8 Inches… (99% Invisible/Kurt Kohlstedt/08-29-2016)
♦ Durham’s Bridge of Death Will Decapitate Any Tall Truck (Bloomberg/John Metcalfe/10-25-2012)
♦ Trucks Have Hit This Low Bridge More Than 100 Times… (Vox/Timothy B. Lee/01-06-2016)
♦ A Little Off The Top… (Indy Week/Danny Hooley/01-06-2016)
♦ Norfolk Southern–Gregson Street Overpass (Wikipedia)
Compilation of Crashes