One of the biggest shipwrecks in human history occupies the minds of many, even 100 years later. The ultra-modern ship equipped with all the best facilities of the time, bearing the proud name of Titanic — how could it have been sunk by a mere iceberg?
It turns out there were several other factors apart from the huge chunk of ice that led to the disaster. Here are a few of them.
A fire was blazing in Titanic’s fuel space
Titanic moored in Southampton port, April 1912
British journalist Senan Molony has been investigating Titanic’s history for 30 years, and having scrutinized the photographs made before the ship’s voyage, he assumes that the reason for the wreck may have been a fire outbreak in the fuel tank bay.
The fire started even before the ship set sail, and the crew had been making futile attempts to contain it for weeks. The journalist found out that the ship’s owners had known about the combustion and tried to hide it from the passengers by turning the liner the other side to the shore in Southampton, thus making the soot marks invisible.
The ship’s hull heated up to about 1,000°С in that place, and when Titanic hit the iceberg, the steel gave way, opening a huge gap. Experts confirm that steel becomes fragile and loses up to 75% of its hardness in such heat.
Binoculars were locked, and the key was left on shore
One of the Titanic’s binoculars, found on the ocean bottom many years later
Just before the departure, White Star Line managers decided to replace the first mate with Henry Wilde, who’d had experience with big passenger liners. However, David Blair, the previous first mate, had forgotten to give Wilde the keys from the binoculars box.
Of course, Titanic had her own lookouts, but without binoculars they had to depend solely on their own eyes. Thus, they only noticed the iceberg when it was already too late.
That the binoculars had been locked became known to the public 95 years later, when the box key was put up for auction.
Some more factors that could have led to the tragedy
This is probably that same fateful iceberg
- There was no moon that would’ve lit the iceberg otherwise, and the lookouts might have noticed it a bit earlier. Moreover, the stars shone so brightly that it was difficult to tell the sea from the sky — the line of the horizon seemed higher than it actually was, which made it all the harder to notice the danger, not to mention without binoculars.Source: timmaltin.com
- Despite warnings from other ships, Titanic didn’t slow down in the drifting ice zone (safety rules of the time did not require that). If the liner had gone a little slower, she would’ve been able to maneuver and avoid the disastrous tackle.Source: autumnmccordckp.weebly.com
- The bridge lookout officer issued a “Hard-a-starboard!” order, but there was too little time for that already. Experts also concluded that before shouting for the ship to change course, the officer waited for about 30 seconds, which could have saved the liner. Titanic would’ve still probably hit the iceberg, yet only the forward compartment would’ve been seriously damaged, and with one waterproof compartment filled with water, the ship would’ve stayed afloat.