Yeah he talks to fish, what of it?
March 18, 2011 5:34 PM   Subscribe

Ok, given that Aquaman has complete control over the world's entire population of sea creatures, could he stop a fully-laden VLCC?

My buddy says that Aquaman is weak, and I respectfully disagree.
posted by Afroblanco to Pets & Animals (38 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Aquaman has superstrength, but I believe it's up to a pressing weight of 25 tons. Theoretically he could gather all of the sea creatures in the ocean and use them to block the tanker, but he would never do that. It's my understanding that the current incarnation of Aquaman doesn't control sea creatures, he can just talk with them and send empathetic messages. So they'll come to his aid but who knows if they'll throw themselves in front of an oil tanker to do it.

I think in the past when he's been faced with shit like oil tankers he's just climbed on the tanker, beat everyone up, and stopped it himself.
posted by schroedinger at 5:42 PM on March 18, 2011 [4 favorites]

Also the first hit for "VLCC" in Wikipedia is an oil tanker article, so I wouldn't say the acronym was that confusing.
posted by schroedinger at 5:43 PM on March 18, 2011

Only if the person writing the story wanted him to be able to.

Upon preview I realize that seems like a sarcastic non-answer but it is not.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 5:44 PM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: Yes it does, mods please feel free to amen with this link :
posted by Afroblanco at 5:44 PM on March 18, 2011

Response by poster: (amend)
posted by Afroblanco at 5:46 PM on March 18, 2011

He's a member of Super Friends. He could always just call Super Man.
posted by milarepa at 5:50 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

The answer to your question is, yes, if a story required that he be able to do so; no, if a story required that he not be able to, and impossible to determine until one of those cases arises.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:51 PM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

So, being able to stop a huge oil tanker hasn't been ruled out.

Consider this: Magneto's powers would be almost useless in a primitive hunter-gatherer culture. There may have been countless Magnetos in caveman culture!

Books: they unleash the imagination.
posted by amtho at 5:59 PM on March 18, 2011 [3 favorites]

The wikipedia article about Aquaman says this:
He can swim at very high speeds, capable of reaching speeds of 10,000 feet per second[27] and can swim up Niagara Falls.
So yeah, if the writer needed the character to be able to stop a oil tanker, viola, problem solved.

But yeah, Aquaman is useless
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:01 PM on March 18, 2011

I really have no idea of Aquaman's powers. So he has control of sea creatures, but not the sea like Poseidon?

If it's only sea creatures, then no, probably not. A fully loaded tanker could have its engines come to a full stop and plow through literally miles and miles of solid sea creatures before coming to a stop. If it didn't turn off it's engines, I can't imagine they'd put up much resistance at all in the open sea. I'd imagine any engines that can move that much weight will even strain under the weight of mashing whales. momentum and all.

If he's like Poseidon, then he can always call in a rogue wave.
posted by sanka at 6:02 PM on March 18, 2011

Also, the most powerful supertanker has a 7780 HP diesel engine. I don't care how much seaweed or squid or whatever gets wrapped around those props, they are going to turn. Imagine that torque.
posted by sanka at 6:09 PM on March 18, 2011

You also gotta ask yourself, "What if he does stop an oil tanker, what happens next?" Remember, the US killed pirates for screwing around with tankers, wouldn't they send Superman to deal with this problem? Yep. Talk about awkward.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:11 PM on March 18, 2011 [6 favorites]

Woops, I have to correct myself, that 7780HP figure is for one cylinder.

The cylinder bore is 38 inches and the stroke is just over 98 inches. Each cylinder displaces 111,143 cubic inches (1820 litres) and produces 7780 horsepower. Total displacement comes out to 1,556,002 cubic inches (25,480 litres) for the 14-cylinder version.

The RTA96C-14 can achieve a maximum power output of 108,920 hp at 102 rpm

So no, nothing alive can stop that thing except the captain, and only like 10 miles ahead of time. Maybe if Aquaman threw a bunch of face-sucking starfish at the deck and blinded the captain?
posted by sanka at 6:14 PM on March 18, 2011

So no, nothing alive can stop that thing except the captain...

Then trying to stop it with sea life might not be ideal, but if a bunch of whales were able to knock into a land mass, that might do it. Of course, then there's a bunch of spilled oil in the water, so win some, lose some.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:17 PM on March 18, 2011

Maybe he could recruit sea creatures to muck up the ship's ballast system and capsize it.

Tip it over on its side like the Cougar Ace and it wouldn't matter how many horsepower it has. Propellers out of the water don't help the ship move. You'd still have forward momentum to deal with, but with the props effectively out of the equation and the ship on its side, I imagine the ship would stop a bit quicker than normal.
posted by The World Famous at 6:20 PM on March 18, 2011

If he can swim really really fast, could he swim in circles around the tanker really really fast and create local currents to turn the tanker around? Or if he's fast enough, create a whirlpool that sucks the tanker underwater.

Or heck, swim in a complicated pattern around the propeller creating turbulence that nullifies the thrust?

If he were to use his sea buddies, why not recruit an asston of whales to swim under the tanker and all fart at the same time, creating a giant gas bubble that will capsize the tanker?

I dunno about "Aquaman is the most popular kid you went to highschool with who now does meth and makes hourly Facebook posts about Jesus."

Maybe more like the short skinny class clown (who happens to be very pretty) who's super duper popular with both the guys and the girls. He would never win a fight himself - but who'd want to fight him in the first place? But if someone does mess with him, he's got the jocks to back him or the girls to shame whoever wanted to mess with him.

/barely remembers Aquaman from random comics read as a kid
posted by porpoise at 6:38 PM on March 18, 2011

Mod note: bunch of comments removed - the only way this question is not being deleted is if people don't turn it into a lulzathon, the choice is yours.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:45 PM on March 18, 2011

Define "stop".
posted by Aquaman at 6:52 PM on March 18, 2011 [9 favorites]

I hate that I'm in this discussion, but I'm not entirely sure some people recognize the power and momentum of a supertanker. Like if the captain literally shut off his engines and put them in full reverse he'd still carry forward unstoppably for literally miles.

How many whales are there? Fish? Octopie on my rudders and props? If they were all lined up one in front of the other for two thousand miles or so? I'd still bet on the tanker. 100,000 diesel horsepower.
posted by sanka at 6:53 PM on March 18, 2011

Aquaman can indeed control sea animals. So, I'm pretty confident that he'd just get one of these guys would do it.
posted by oddman at 6:55 PM on March 18, 2011

I'll aside with the "if the story needs it, yes," although I imagine that jumping on board and beating the living daylights out of the crew, or punching the engine to deal, or using that huge hook he had for a while to convince the crew to cooperate would make more sense than killing thousands of sea creatures.
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:12 PM on March 18, 2011

Depends on the writer / incarnation of the character (he's gone through a lot of changes over the decades). Aquaman has demonstrated the power (inconsistently) to control water itself. Think 'aquakinesis' or, like, Green Lantern but with water.
So that version of Aquaman could conceivably solidify the water surrounding the propeller and stop/wreck it, form an anchor, solidify so much water around the hull that the drag overcomes the forward motion, etc.

Everyone makes fun of the talking to fish thing, for good reason. But he argument for Aquaman being super is that anyone who can hang out at the bottom of the ocean with its enormous pressures would have to be incredibly strong and damage resistant. And besides, the earth has a lot of ocean, even if not a lot happens there; so it deserves a superhero of its own, even if not a very cool one.

Meanwhile, over in the Marvel universe, Namor the Sub-Mariner would probably lift it out of the water and throw it or rip it open or something. Dude has anger issues.
posted by bartleby at 8:43 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Is Godzilla a sea creature; or? ?Godzilla came out of the sea; so if Auquaman could communicate with Godzilla I suppose Aquaman could stop a VLC by using Godzilla; a virus creature.
posted by buzzman at 8:50 PM on March 18, 2011 [2 favorites]

I'd say that if enough barnacles & limpets & starfish & so on attached themselves to the underside of the tanker's hull, the tanker would go down. The best way probably would be for them to attach themselves at the bow, so as to get the props right up out of the water, and by that stage the ship would be pretty close to just slicing down to the seabed anyway.

For a quicker approach, substitute giant squid for barnacles, limpets & starfish.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:40 PM on March 18, 2011

As with sanka, I'm going to emphasize the momentum involved here. The force involved is actually much greater than the maximum horsepower of the engine, just as the force of a car crash is much greater than the power of the car's engine. In both cases, the engine applies force gradually over time, but stopping it quickly will cause that energy to be released all at once.

For that matter, stopping a tanker quickly would almost certainly tear it apart.
posted by dephlogisticated at 9:54 PM on March 18, 2011

Well, if Aquaman has control over all of the world's fish, that amounts to something like one to two billion tons of biomass, more than three thousand times the DWT of a VLCC. So, there's that.
posted by mhum at 10:22 PM on March 18, 2011

If it's any help, I recall a an issue of JLA during Grant Morrison's run on the title, when Aquaman stopped being pouting long enough (this was in the shirtless Captain Hook take on the character) to pull off a world/universe saving feat of strength that impressed even Wonder Woman (who, IIRC, was the strongest character in the DCU in terms of pure strength at the time). So, I'd say, Yeah, he can stop a VLCC. Ultimately, as several others have said, he can be as strong as the story needs him to be.

That said, the problem with Aqua-Man has more to do with his initially being a milk toast rip-off of Sub-Mariner than his actual powers. Mr. Nice-Guy-Who-Talks-To-Fish & Swims-Real-Good has decades of underwhelming mediocrity weighing him down, no matter how hard modern writers try to reboot/tweak the character.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:51 PM on March 18, 2011

that amounts to something like one to two billion tons of biomass, more than three thousand times the DWT of a VLCC.

Sure, but what's the friction coefficient of a mass of fish? They're designed by nature to be able to slip through the water efficiently, so a tanker running into them might just slip its way on through, unless the inertia of the fish combined with their friction is greater than the momentum of the tanker supplemented by the force from its propellers.

The friction issue was why I was thinking of just weighing down the tanker with sea critters that attach to its hull.

On the other hand, if the fish were oriented to face the same way as the tanker, so that it rubbed the wrong way against their scales, I'd guess that would increase their friction coefficient at least threefold.
posted by UbuRoivas at 11:34 PM on March 18, 2011 [1 favorite]

Cthulu is a sea creature. So is Bloop. Bloop and Cthulu are both capable of stopping a supertanker dead its tracks with little or no effort.

So, assuming Aquaman can control all sea creatures, he can just call up Bloop, Cthulu, the Kraken, or some other leviathan to stop the ship. No problem.
posted by The World Famous at 1:29 AM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

The difficulty with using a humongous mass of sea critters to help --- irregardless of Aquaman's powers and/or ability to communicate with them --- is that the squid, fish, whales, etc. are scattered throughout the world's oceans: you can't have them all in one spot to help stop that VLC without a good long lead time to arrive.

(And when they ARE all in one spot: what about feeding the masses? Oxygen depletion in the water from that huge crowd?)
posted by easily confused at 2:52 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd say that if enough barnacles & limpets & starfish & so on attached themselves to the underside of the tanker's hull, the tanker would go down.

Except that ships have antifouling paint to prevent precisely this type of incident (well, to prevent them sticking on; a normally-possibly sans-superhero single layer of stuff will slow the ship down, which is annoying). So the ship's hull is either poisonous or non-stick (or some combination of both); is Aquaman likely to summon hordes of kamikaze barnacles? And you probably don't want to sink the tanker either, because then you'll end up with all the oil in the sea (what's that you say? you could tow it outside the environment?), which would also be annoying.

Tankers are a lot harder to capsize (or sink) than high-sided things like car carriers (e.g. the Cougar Ace), due to basically being great big bubbles of oil, which is lighter than water and so has a tendency to float anyway (there are, as mentioned in the linked clip, rules about how you can build ships -"Well cardboard's right out. And cardboard derivatives." - and the rules about how much of it has to be sticking out of the water are different for tankers than for everything else, you can have them lower in the water).

Ships do sometimes get dead whales stuck on their bows; while this may present a problem for a smaller ship, a larger ship won't even know it's there until someone sees it. If Aquaman could somehow manage to arrange for multiple already-dead whales to be delivered to the ship, they would at least be likely to notice that something was going on.
posted by Lebannen at 4:30 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

You also gotta ask yourself "Why would Aquaman care about an oil tanker?" Seriously, it's on the edges of his domain, not doing anything, just moving around, isn't bothering him or his kingdom, so why would he want to stop it? If anything, he could send whales or dolphins to swim with the ship as backup guidance systems or some such, earn a bit of cash for his kingdom. Stopping an oil tanker, filled with tons of substance that would foul his kingdom doesn't sound too useful.

You know there's more than one oil tanker in the world, right? If he stops one, that's just going to piss someone some land dwellers and really, you know how uncaring those people are, they'll pollute anything. Of what benefit would it be for Aquaman and precious fish?

Which brings up my next point. As king of the sea, how does Aquaman feel about fishing? Who does he explain the mass murder of members of his kingdom, while he's off hanging out with the Superfriends or Justice League? I can see the whales approaching him about being hunted and what does he say? "Yeah, I'll look into that as soon as I get back from a banquet for the Justice League. It's going to be great, everyone will be there, delicious menu, steak and salmon, then...Oh, wait."

Tthe character doesn't make much sense.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:28 AM on March 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

And thinking about this even further, here's a solution: A dolphin army in exoskeletons. Something like this, but fitted for dolphins so they could "walk" and board the ship. Of course it would have to have guns too. Since dolphins are air breathers, the suit wouldn't need major life support and Aqua man could easily command them to do his bidding.

So, dolphins in Iron Dolphin suits, climb the side of the ship, leap into action, gun blazing, captures ship, cuts power, thus stopping the ship. There's still the matter of some country being pissed about their missing oil. Or worse, a company seeing Aqua man impacting their bottom line, so calls are placed to mercenaries with bigger guns or the Legion of Doom and things just escalate. And where do the Iron Dolphins suits come from? They'd have to be designed, built, tested etc, costing billions and taking several years and for what? Eventually the dolphins and other marine life would probably rebel, 'cause hey, it's not there war, so then Aqua man has trouble with the land dwellers and his own kingdom and really, would you want all the whales off the world pissed off at you and trying to kill you?

Again, stopping a tanker seems more trouble than it's worth. Aqua man should probably stick to teaching fish.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 9:28 AM on March 19, 2011 [2 favorites]

Please note the page illustration and Aquaman-related discussion with examples under "Comics" on the TVTropes page for Heart Is An Awesome Power.
posted by nicebookrack at 11:42 AM on March 19, 2011

Mod note: No, we are not brainstorming. You can send lulzy creative ideas directly to AfroBlanco.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 5:36 PM on March 19, 2011

Please note the page illustration and Aquaman-related discussion with examples under "Comics" on the TVTropes page for Heart Is An Awesome

Then you have to define whatvis meant by "stop an oil tanker." yes, commanding a monster to destroy it does stop it in one sense, but then you oil in the ocean, which isn't good.

The question isn't really answerable, because it's working in the simplified word of superhero comics. So, to repeat, it all boils down to what the plot needs. The laws of physics don't matter at all.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:44 PM on March 19, 2011

A VLCC typically carries somewhere around 225,000 - 250,000 metric tons of crude (it's "deadweight" or dwt) , and its gross tonnage (what it weighs itself or gt) is about half that. They travel, normally, at around 15 knots, maybe 20 on the outside in good seas.

So you simply have to calculate it's velocity and the mass needed to stop that without compromising hull integrity (and that will depend on the steel and whether or not it was built in Korea, Japan or more recently China.)
posted by digitalprimate at 7:21 PM on March 19, 2011

Response by poster: Okay, so at final count, we have :

Yes : 8
No : 4
"If the writer wanted it" : 3

I'm going to count "if the writer wanted it" as "Yes." But even if I didn't, it's clear that the "Yes" answers have it. According to the hive mind, Aquaman could indeed stop one of the biggest, mightiest vessels known to man, and is therefore Totally Not Weak.

Thank you all for your participation. My buddy Tim buys the next round.
posted by Afroblanco at 9:50 PM on March 20, 2011

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