Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Could Cannon Balls From The Early 19th Century Sink Warships?

Date:
July 16, 2009
Source:
University of Haifa
Summary:
A new experiment has solved the riddle that has been puzzling researchers ever since they first observed the thick wooden sides of the sunken ship opposite the shore of Acre: could cannon fire have penetrated the hull?

At first glance, the hull of the warship that sank off the coast of Acre seemed strong; but a unique experiment indicated that the thick timbers could not withstand the cannon balls.
Credit: Itamar Greenberg, courtesy of the University of Haifa

A joint experiment by researchers at the University of Haifa and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. succeeded in solving the riddle: Could cannon balls from the early 19th century sink warships?

Related Articles


At first glance, the hull of the warship that sank off the coast of Acre seemed strong; but a unique experiment indicated that the thick timbers could not withstand the cannon balls.

A joint experiment carried out by researchers from the Leon Recanati Institute for Maritime Studies at the University of Haifa and staff of Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. has solved the riddle that has been puzzling researchers ever since they first observed the thick wooden sides of the sunken ship opposite the shore of Acre: could cannon fire have penetrated the hull?

The ship was discovered in 1966, but only since University of Haifa researchers began examining it about three years ago have its mysteries been exposed. The initial matters of interest related to the ship's origins, date and the reason why it sank. A map drawn up by a British officer in 1799, during Napoleon's siege of Acre, led the researchers to assume that this was a blockship sunk by the British to bar French vessels from entering the port.

Another puzzle that has occupied the researchers, however, relates to the thickness of the ship's hull. According to Dr. Yaacov Kahanov, who heads the research team, it was evident at first glance that the hull, which was constructed of oak, was unusually thick, leading the team to question the possibility of cannon-ball penetration. Experimental firings of cannons at replicas of wooden warships have been carried out in other countries, but due to the cost and complexity of such experiments, they have been few and far between. In general, they were only firing demonstrations, and scientific data has not always been obtained. So it was still hard to tell for sure whether the cannon balls found in the wreck would have been capable of sinking this particular ship.

The University of Haifa marine researchers received assistance from a team of Rafael engineers, who developed a unique model that enabled firing experiments to be carried out on a reduced scale, thereby reducing costs, and enabling controlled, measured and documented experimentation. The present experiment was carried out at a scale of 1:2, for which five models of the ship's hull, based on the archaeological findings, were constructed at the University. In parallel, Rafael adapted an experimental gun to fire steel balls, modeling the cannon balls. Meticulous measurements were taken to ensure setting the range of muzzle velocities of the period; 100-500 meters per second.

The experiments showed in the most dramatic way that, despite the hull's strength, it could not withstand the impact of the cannon fire, which penetrated it even at the lowest velocities. It also became evident that the lower the velocity, the more energy was absorbed in causing damage to the hull, and the more the wood splintered, which would have caused more harm to the ship's personnel. The results of this experiment, according to the researchers, are of much significance to the study of the vessel and to the study of naval battles in this period.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Haifa. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

University of Haifa. "Could Cannon Balls From The Early 19th Century Sink Warships?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090715101505.htm>.
University of Haifa. (2009, July 16). Could Cannon Balls From The Early 19th Century Sink Warships?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090715101505.htm
University of Haifa. "Could Cannon Balls From The Early 19th Century Sink Warships?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/07/090715101505.htm (accessed December 20, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Matter & Energy News

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Building Google Into Cars

Building Google Into Cars

Reuters - Business Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) — Google's next Android version could become the standard that'll power your vehicle's entertainment and navigation features, Reuters has learned. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP Review: Nikon D750 and GoPro Hero 4

AP (Dec. 19, 2014) — What to buy an experienced photographer or video shooter? There is some strong gear on the market from Nikon and GoPro. The AP's Ron Harris takes a closer look. (Dec. 19) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Double-Amputee Becomes First To Move Two Prosthetic Arms With His Mind

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) — A double-amputee makes history by becoming the first person to wear and operate two prosthetic arms using only his mind. Jen Markham has the story. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Navy Unveils Robot Fish

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 18, 2014) — The U.S. Navy unveils an underwater device that mimics the movement of a fish. Tara Cleary reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins