Titanic: What Really Happened
Titanic was a legendary ship claimed to be “unsinkable,” yet the ship still sank. There were many factors that contributed to the Titanic’s sinking including the ice warnings that were not received, a mirage appearing which gave the fatally incorrect illusion that the iceberg was not there when in fact it was. All of these different factors together contributed to one of the most iconic naval tragedies of all time.
The Titanic was an ambitious ship that had many landmark characteristics that caused the people of its time to believe that the vessel was truly unsinkable. The naval impressiveness that was the Titanic was 882 feet long and 95 feet wide, this size was one of the largest of its time. March 31, 1909, which was a history-setting date for maritime expeditions as the work on the “unsinkable” ship reached an important level with the keel being laid. The legendary Titanic was commanded by the legendary commander Edward John Smith, who was known as the “Millionaires Captain.” This voyage was also going to be the experienced captain’s last voyage. An iceberg would be the end of this history-making voyage, specifically on April 14, 1912 at 11:39 am, where the iceberg struck the vessel. At 2:20 am was the final strike on the iceberg which caused the vessel to sink. Titanic had a carrying capacity of 2,435 passengers and a crew of around 900 amounted to more than 3300 people on board, which means that only a third of the passengers on board would have been able to escape with the current amount of lifeboats. The designers wanted to have 48 lifeboats, but the owners demanded only 16. The owner’s justification for this was, “No one pays to look at lifeboats.” That mistake was one of the ones that sank the Titanic and took so many lives.
The original constructors designed Titanic with 48 lifeboats, which would have saved many more lives if this many lifeboats had been allowed on the ship. The ship owners pushed the number of lifeboats down from 48 to 16 because “no one pays to look at lifeboats,” this is a direct quote from one of the ship’s owners Bruce Ismay. This quote shows just how full everyone was of the fact that the Titanic was “unsinkable.” Each lifeboat could hold 65 passengers in normal conditions but 70 in a rush. These facts were approved by the board of trade so they were known to be true. So the number of passengers that could have been saved with the 16 lifeboats, 3120 was actually 2000 less than the amount of people that could have been saved with 48 lifeboats. 706 people survived the Titanic tragedy by boarding a lifeboat at the most crucial time. Over 1500 people died because the owners did not want to put in the 48 lifeboats, which was a very huge fatal mistake on the owners’ part.
The grand staircase was another feature of Titanic that everyone on the ship was looking forward to seeing. What made this grand staircase of titanic so grand is that the opulent and lavish staircase spanned an entire 6 decks! Specifically, from the Boat Deck to Deck E and then it continued on through F deck as a normal staircase. A watertight bulkhead is a special part of a ship that is designed to keep water out within the ship’s compartment. The grand staircase was completely ripped off of its hinges by the incoming mass flow of water which greatly impacted the watertight rooms by allowing for a ton more of water to come into those compartments. There were 16 watertight compartments on the Titanic and the ship could still stay afloat with 4 of these compartments flooded. After Titanic hit the iceberg, six of these compartments began to flood which is another reason why Titanic sank so quickly. Lowering the bulkhead height caused the Titanic to sink earlier because by the time the water got to what the original bulkhead height was supposed to be, the ship had sunk.
Rivets are a very important part of a ship’s construction. Number 4 was the ideal choice for the ship designers, but the owners were trying to save money so they used the less ideal and less expensive no 3 worse iron rivets. A rivet is a nail that holds 2 pieces of metal together, so the quality is very important for how well the ship will stay together and hold up during construction. If the rivets had been number 4, the ship would have stayed together for longer and more lives could have been saved. Titanic’s sister ship Olympia was also claimed to be an unsinkable ship. Most people haven’t heard about Olympia’s crash because it was fixed so quickly. But the delay in the launch caused another tragedy, Titanic’s launch being delayed a month into the peak of iceberg season.
Another factor that sank Titanic was the weather conditions. Specifically, several reports commenting on the event said that the night was very calm, cold and cloudless, which made the assumption that the Titanic sank inside or very close to a centre of high pressure. The high pressure caused many fatalities to be due to hypothermia and low temperature. Some people suggest that if the weather had been warmer, deaths could have been prevented.There were two lookouts in the crow’s nest. The lookouts, named Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee, had a lot of experience in the field which made them an ideal choice to be at the crow’s nest. Mr. Blair was given a key for binoculars, but the binoculars were never used due to a mirage that gave the illusion of no iceberg being there when there in fact was one. The massive fatal mirage was very similar to a heat mirage, but with cold water. Usually, lookouts use the naked eye to scan, so the mirage was undetected due to binoculars only being used for a high-definition look.
Now the issues pop up more and more, firstly 5 ice warnings were sent to the captain of the Titanic, but only 2 were received. Both of these warnings were promptly ignored by the captain, who was quite frankly getting annoyed. So he said good night, then hung the connection up. The 7:20 pm warning was never received by the bridge, which stated that the Titanic was in the path of the iceberg. The Titanic was traveling at a speed of 24 miles per hour at night, the weather was very clear, flat, calm, and cold. Lookouts should have spotted the iceberg that caused the fatal mistake. But the aforementioned cold mirage was an important factor in the errors. The speed was common for all boats at the time, so Titanic’s speed wasn’t an apparent problem. Iron rivets were a nonnegotiable requirement due to the massive price of steel rivets. If Titanic had used #4 instead of #3 rivets, fewer rivets would have fallen apart and the hole that had let water in would not have been so large. Fireman Barett who worked in Boiler Room 6 was the very first person to spot the water, which came pouring into the Titanic.
One of the final mistakes that Titanic made was the decision to turn and attempt to avoid the iceberg, instead of going in and not changing course. Many ships during the Titanic era had hit icebergs head on and still floated, so it must have been a panic decision. The distress signals, which play a crucial role in saving ships who were hit by an iceberg, were only heard an hour after Titanic hit the iceberg. This time difference made it impossible for Titanic to have ever gotten help before it sank. Californian, a ship that was near Titanic saw flares but was not sure what the flares were. The captain, capt. Lord ignored and did not turn on the radio. Even if the Californian would have received the signal, it would have been impossible for them to go top speed due to the ice in the immediate vicinity. Even if the Californian had gotten to Titanic in time, the angle of the lifeboats and the way the ship was sinking would not have made a difference for the amount of lives saved. Another ship, the Carpathia which was 58 miles away, the top speed was 14 miles per hour which would have taken 5 hours. This time would have come nowhere near close to making a difference for Titanic. When people stopped the portholes to see what the problem was, they left the portholes open which allowed as much water to get inside them as did the actual hole in the hull.