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The use of benchmarks in the popular reporting of commercial shipping: is the Titanic an appropriate measure to convey the size of a modern ship?

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Paul Stott



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC-ND).


The multiple layers of the tragedy that accompanied the maiden voyage of Titanic have understandably kept the ship in the public consciousness for more than a century. Its use in the popular press as a benchmark against which to judge the size of modern ships, however, is misleading. Titanic’s size had been surpassed by a factor of almost two by 1936 and in the modern era the vessel would be regarded as no more than mid-sized. Whilst people have a notion that the ship was big, this notion is intangible and cannot be used to convey size in the modern context in any meaningful way. A difficulty arises in that the size comparator for a ship is necessarily volumetric and, unlike common linear comparators such as the Eiffel Tower for height or London buses for length, an accessible comparator for volume that is sufficiently large to be used to express the size of a ship is difficult to find. A revised approach and a number of new parameters are suggested as an alternative to the Titanic.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Stott PW

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: The Mariner's Mirror

Year: 2014

Volume: 100

Issue: 1

Pages: 76-83

Print publication date: 05/02/2014

Acceptance date: 01/01/1900

Date deposited: 24/03/2017

ISSN (print): 0025-3359

Publisher: Routledge


DOI: 10.1080/00253359.2014.866378


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