The Real Story of RMS Titanic
On 10 April 1912, when the largest ocean liner in service at that time, RMS Titanic, started its maiden voyage from Southampton, it was a new beginning in history. With at least 2,224 people on board, including a number of prominent personalities, the luxury ship that was nicknamed ‘Millionaire’s Special’ was en route to New York City on that day.
Designed to be the epitome of style and safety, the vessel featured many advanced luxury and safety features. Moreover, the ‘unsinkable RMS Titanic was commanded by a senior captain, 62-year-old Captain Edward Smith, again ensuring the safety of the vessel and its passengers.
However, the destiny of this spectacular ship was already made. On the 14th of April, the world witnessed what could easily be considered as its most deadly civilian maritime disaster – the sinking of the great ship Titanic. On that fateful night, at around 11.40 PM Titanic struck an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland and began to sink.
Over the course of the next few hours, people witnessed the biggest catastrophe to hit the world, and at 2.20 AM on the morning of the 15th, the biggest ship that the world had seen settled to the bottom of the North Atlantic.
The sea, the sinking of the ship and the cold weather were enough to take the lives of 1517 passengers and crew on board. Just 706 of them survived the ordeal to tell the horrific and sad tale to the world.
Why the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic sunk?
As the news of the Titanic disaster reached land, there was shock and outrage directed against several issues that possibly led to the accident. Many legends and conspiracy theories arose almost immediately after the accident on those who died and survived, and also on the reasons behind the sinking of the vessel.
How did the Titanic sink in spite of having the best technical design available at the time seemed a mystery for a long time? This was the question that baffled many scientists and engineers for days after the disaster.
Immediately after the sinking, the investigations into the matter began and in fact, two separate inquiries had been set up – one by the United States Senate and the other by the British Board of Trade.
The U.S inquiry was headed by Senator William Alden Smith and the British one by Lord Mersey. The surviving passengers and the very crew who managed to escape from the clutches of death gave their versions of the tragedy and the investigations were concluded quickly, though the initial questioning and detail gathering took more than a few months.
The results of the investigations revealed that many of the safety measures and regulations of the international maritime were outdated and required a second look. The ship itself was found short on a few of the standards.
Major causes of the Titanic tragedy
Dismissal of iceberg warnings:
Due to the weather conditions in the North Atlantic at that time, the threat of icebergs was high in the region of the Titanic’s crossing. Reports reveal that the Titanic received at least six messages from other vessels in the area warning of drifting ice. The public inquiries had found the captain of Titanic failed to offer proper attention to the iceberg warnings. Almost an hour before the collision, Titanic’s radio operator dismissed a key iceberg warning from a nearby ship, California, since he considered it’s a non-urgent message because the warning didn’t begin with the prefix ‘MSG’ (Master’s Service Gram), and didn’t pass it to the captain.
High speed of the ship:
The ship’s high speed in waters where the presence of ice had been reported was criticized by many, including survivors and investigators, after the accident. Reports revealed that the Titanic, minutes before the collision, was travelling at a speed of 22 knots through the waters of the North Atlantic.
Problems with the materials used for shipbuilding:
Though the ship was built with the best of technological advancement at hand, there were a few chinks in it as well. The steel sheet that was used to make the body was made up of a certain kind of steel that became extra brittle in the cold and easily cracked at the slightest of the contact, in its case – icebergs and this is exactly the answer to how did the Titanic sink.
Less number of lifeboats:
The initial public inquiries had concluded that a number of lifeboats abroad on the Titanic were not enough to meet the requirements during accidents. According to reports, there were fewer lifeboats that could only accommodate 1,200 people when the ship had over 2000 passengers and crew members abroad. Also, the investigators found that the lifeboats were used improperly- not adequately filled and crewed- after the ship collided with an iceberg.
A wrong turn to avoid the iceberg?:
A claim made by Louise Patten, the granddaughter of the most senior ship officer to survive, in 2010 stated that the confusion caused and the wrong turn took may have made the disaster worse. According to Patten, a decision to turn the ship ‘hard a-starboard was passed down the line after sighting the iceberg. But the steersmen misinterpreted it as ‘make the ship turn right,’ moving the ship directly toward the ice.
Lookouts had no binoculars:
Impossible to think with a ship like Titanic? But it was true. Because of a mix-up before starting the voyage from Southampton, the lookouts of the ship had no binoculars. The binoculars were locked up since the key to the store of binocular was with Second officer David Blair, who was transferred off the ship before it started. While has been argued that the binoculars might have helped the lookouts to spot the iceberg in time, some have argued that binoculars would not have been effective during the night.
Similarly, though it has been mentioned in almost all the journals of the time, and indeed later as well, that Titanic was considered unsinkable, this wasn’t said by any of the owners or manufacturers at the time of its launch. It was picked by the press on the 16th of April when the vice president of White Star Line, owners of Titanic, Phillip A.S. Franklin reacted by saying that he thought the ship was unsinkable and was very shocked as to how did the Titanic sink.
The Titanic tragedy has remained one of the most intriguing aspects of the history of the world. Even a century later, the tragedy of Titanic has been studied in detail, becoming a subject for artists, filmmakers and writers. At the same time, ever since the accident, a number of wild conspiracy theories have also bounced around describing the cause of this maritime disaster.
Are you aware of any such theories, and believe those are true? Tell us why do you think that would be the reason behind the Titanic disaster.
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