TIL that in 1943, the hull of the tanker ship SS Schenectady cracked in half while docked in Portland, Oregon. The sound of the fracture was reported to have been heard over a mile away, and the cause of the failure wasn’t fully understood for another 50 years.

Read more: https://www.designnews.com/materials-assembly/engineering-disasters-ss-schenectady-lesson-brittle-fracture

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  1. We studied this in the Navy Nuclear Power School. There are Brittle Fracture Prevention Limit curves for starting a Navy reactor. You need to raise temperature and pressure within the prescribed graphs or there’s hell to pay. Not that you break the reactor, but the EOOW is responsible. He gets in trouble.

  2. > engineers now say, it was a metallurgy problem. The steel plates of the cargo ship’s hull were butt welded, and the welds held up well. But the pouring, rolling, and shaping processes used to make the steel left an undesirable chemistry. Sulfur content was too high; manganese was too low. In the end, those elements (or lack thereof) weakened the steel’s strength and left it with a tendency to grow brittle in cold temperatures.

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