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Other causes involved in the sinking of the rms titanic

Print this page 'Practically unsinkable' As soon as the waves of the North Atlantic closed over the stern of RMS Titanic on 15 April 1912, the myths began surrounding her design, construction and transatlantic voyage.

The Titanic disaster today is a classic tale, a modern folk story, but like all folk stories our understanding of what really happened has been clouded by the way the disaster has been recounted over the years.

The claim actually made was that she was 'practically unsinkable'. It was said that the builders and owners of Titanic claimed she was 'unsinkable'. The claim actually made was that she was 'practically unsinkable', close enough, but nevertheless an unfortunate statement and one which would haunt both builder and owner for years. Size, seldom an indication that something is better, was the only record she held. Designed and built as record breakers, both held the coveted 'Blue Riband' for the fastest Atlantic crossing.

They were built principally from lessons learnt from advances in warship construction, but most importantly both were powered by steam turbines driving quadruple screws, each fitted with a large balanced rudder, making them faster than the competition and easier to manoeuvre.

This was a giant leap forward in marine engineering, comparable to the advances made in 1969 with the introduction of the Concorde supersonic aircraft. Titanic and Olympic should best be described as the 747s of their day. As huge people carriers, travelling at moderate speed, with space for large cargoes, they posed a great commercial threat to the smaller and more expensive-to-operate Cunarders.

Top Achilles heel Titanic's rudder design was her Achilles heel. Titanic, identical in almost every respect to her sister, adopted tried and trusted methods for her design and construction. No risks were taken with the choice of engines which were enlarged versions of the propulsion system first used experimentally in Laurentic, another White Star liner, in 1909. The triple screw vessel had proved that two expansion engines feeding exhaust steam into a low pressure turbine were more economical than vessels using expansion engines or turbines alone.

Titanic's other causes involved in the sinking of the rms titanic and upper works were also enlarged versions of designs refined over several decades.

Her stern, with its high graceful counter and long thin rudder, was an exact copy of an 18th-century sailing ship, wrought in steel, a perfect example of the lack of technical development. Compared with the rudder design of the Cunarders, Titanic's was a fraction of the size.

No account was made for advances in scale and little thought was given to how a ship, 852 feet in length, might turn in an emergency or avoid collision with an iceberg. This was Titanic's Achilles heel. Top Speed Oceanic's dining saloon. The room, with its domed ceiling, one of the finest ever created for a ocean liner, was designed by Richard Norman Shaw. White Star had given up all thought of speed records more than a decade before, in 1899, with the introduction of Oceanic, a ship given the title 'Crowning Glory of the 19th Century'.

Titanic would never be able to challenge the speed or manoeuvrability of the Cunarders. White Star could not afford to lavish the same expense on their new ship Titanic, which was much larger than Oceanic.

Titanic, nevertheless, was a fine, well-built vessel, with large public rooms and finely-appointed suites for those travelling in first class.

However, there were many other ocean liners built in Britain, France and Other causes involved in the sinking of the rms titanic which were technically superior and had stunning interiors. Speed plays a major part in the continuing story of Titanic.

It is often said she was trying to make a record on her maiden voyage, attempting to arrive ahead of schedule in New York. Not all of Titanic's boilers had been lit and besides this she was sailing on the longer southern route across the Atlantic in order to avoid the very threat which caused her eventual loss. Even if all boilers had been lit, her maximum speed was 21 knots, a far cry from the 26 knots the Cunarders regularly recorded.

Titanic did not attempt a full speed crossing because of the risk of potential engine damage, and her passengers would have been inconvenienced by arriving a day before their hotel or train bookings. At the age of 39 he was also president of the International Mercantile Marine Company, a giant combine and owner-operator of several transatlantic business, at the head of which was White Star.

The myths surrounding Ismay are many but almost all centre on allegations of his cowardice in escaping the sinking ship whilst fellow passengers, notably women and children, were left to fend for themselves. The claims made at the time and repeated today were that he 'saved his own skin' whilst others died. Ismay's fault was that he survived. In reality Ismay helped with loading and lowering several lifeboats and acquitted himself better than many of the crew and passengers.

Some witnesses stated he was ordered into the lifeboat but, whatever happened, Lord Mersey said at the British enquiry into the loss of Titanic, 'Had he not jumped in he would simply have added one more life, namely his own, to the number of those lost'. Ismay's fault was that he survived and as a consequence laid himself open to the high and somewhat dubious moral code of the US press.

Almost universally condemned in America, when he finally arrived home he was cheered and applauded as he descended the gangway at Liverpool. The British press had treated the whole episode in a far less judgmental way. In a second, more serious allegation, it was claimed he ordered Captain Edward J Smith, Titanic's commander, to 'make a record crossing' thus indirectly causing the collision with the iceberg.

It is unlikely other causes involved in the sinking of the rms titanic an experienced shipmaster like Smith, on his last voyage before retirement and the highest paid commander in the mercantile marine, would defer to Ismay on matters of navigation. No firm evidence has ever come to light to suggest that Ismay in any way interfered with the navigation of Titanic and, other than talking with the various heads of departments on the ship, conducted himself like many other passengers.

Yet the opposite image of him exists today. All of the negative stereotypes can be tracked back to the American press. But where did all these stories come from? All of the negative stereotypes can be tracked back to the American press and in particular to those newspapers owned by William Randolph Hearst, one of the most powerful and influential men in America. Hearst and Ismay had met years before in New York when Ismay was an agent for his company.

  1. With vertical walls, the water in the hull would remain on the damaged side of the ship, causing the ship to lean to that side.
  2. The rivets were then either elongated or snapped in two, which broke the caulking along the seams and provided another inlet for water to flood the ship.
  3. What the test showed, and the readout confirmed, is the brittleness of the Titanic's hull steel. Since then, four more expeditions have visited the Titanic.
  4. If one side of the hull is damaged, the water that fills the hull will even out across the width of the ship. About 700 passengers survived the disaster.

The shy and private Ismay disliked press attention and the two men fell out as a consequence of his refusal to cooperate.

Hearst never forgot, and in April 1912 his syndicated press prosecuted a vicious campaign against Ismay, who was defenceless in the eye of the hurricane. Stories were invented and witnesses, wishing to strengthen exorbitant insurance claims for lost baggage against the company, declared he had in fact ordered Smith to make a record crossing. After all Captain Smith had done just that, or had he?

  1. However, the Carpathia was some 58 nautical miles 107 km away when it received the signal, and it would take more than three hours to reach the Titanic. Stresses at failure were estimated at nearly 15 tons per square inch [Gannon, 1995].
  2. Lifeboat number 2 was the first to reach the liner. On September 1, 1985, oceanographer Bob Ballard and his crew discovered the wreck of the Titanic about 350 miles southeast of Newfoundland, Canada [Gannon, 1995].
  3. No account was made for advances in scale and little thought was given to how a ship, 852 feet in length, might turn in an emergency or avoid collision with an iceberg. The bow, dangling beneath, continued to fill with water.
  4. Titanic's hull and upper works were also enlarged versions of designs refined over several decades. When a pendulum struck the modern steel, on the left, with a large force, the sample bent without breaking into pieces; it was ductile.

In a strange quirk of history the man directly responsible for the loss of Titanic is remembered as a hero, whilst the man who tried to save lives is labelled a coward. Smith failed the passengers and crew of Titanic. He failed to heed ice warnings, did not slow his ship when ice was reported directly in his path and allowed lifeboats to leave the sinking ship partially filled, unnecessarily adding at least 500 names to the list of the dead.

But what organisation or individual was ultimately to blame? The British government's Board of Trade allowed Titanic to sail with insufficient lifeboat accommodation. The government simply had not kept abreast of advances in marine engineering and based all life-saving regulations on ships up to 10,000 grt gross registered tons which were required to carry 16 lifeboats. Titanic was 46,329 grt.

Titanic sinks

A ship designed to accommodate 3,511 passengers and crew was only required to provide lifeboat accommodation for 962. In fact, White Star provided her with four extra collapsible boats, increasing capacity to 1,178. If Smith had not failed in his duty, all these lifeboats could have been loaded to their stated capacity in time, or even with many more, for the numbers reflected shipyard workers, not women and children.

In the flat calm conditions that night, the first boat to leave Titanic's side, with a capacity of 40, contained just 12 people. Titanic, famous for that terrible disaster, today stands as a memorial to mankind's over-confidence in technology and a reminder of how weak we are compared with the forces of nature.

But Titanic should also stand as a reminder of an era when millions of emigrants made the voyage across the Atlantic seeking a new life, in a new world - a memorial to a unique event in history.