Here's some interesting, if belated news...
LONDON (Reuters) – The Titanic hit an iceberg in 1912 because of a basic steering error, and only sank as fast as it did because an official persuaded the captain to continue sailing, an author said in an interview published on Wednesday.It seems that in the transition from sailing ships to steam-powered vessels, two diametrically opposed methods of steering a ship overlapped for a time, and so, according to Patten, "crucially, one system meant turning the wheel one way and the other in completely the opposite direction
Louise Patten, a writer and granddaughter of Titanic second officer Charles Lightoller, said the truth about what happened nearly 100 years ago had been hidden for fear of tarnishing the reputation of her grandfather, who later became a war hero.
Lightoller, the most senior officer to have survived the disaster, covered up the error in two inquiries on both sides of the Atlantic because he was worried it would bankrupt the ill-fated liner's owners and put his colleagues out of a job.
Well, I can see how a mistake like that could have been made. Patten also says that if the ship had stopped dead in the water after hitting the iceberg, it would have stayed afloat for many hours, long enough for everyone to be rescued ships which raced to the Titanic's SOS call. But because it continued sailing forward, the disastrous sinking was precipitated.
I personally have a greater interest in the less-well-known sinking of the Titanic's sister ship, the Lusitania, torpedoed off the coast of Ireland in 1915. Though very different in so many ways, from the cause to weather conditions, there is one similarity to the Titanic sinking, if this new information is to be believed. I shall get to this commonality in a moment. But first, let's not forget nor discount the tall tale of the suicidal shipyard riveter in Belfast, who, a few days after the 'world's biggest metaphor' struck the iceberg.
It is told that a few days after the Titanic sank, a sobbing and suicidal ship yard worker climbed out of a high window in Belfast (where of course the Titanic was built) and threatened to jump. A police officer managed to get close to the man, and asked him why he was so upset.
The man reached into his coat pocket and with tears streaming down his face, he showed the police man a handful of metal rivets.
"These are the twelve I forget to put in her!" he sobbed. "But she's sunk and it's all my fault!"
Unlike Titanic's boasted unsinkability and its chance, fateful encounter with the iceberg, the sinking of the Lusitania was an act of mass murder during war. She sank in shallow waters on a sunny afternoon in May 1915, less than ten miles off the southern coast of Ireland after being tropedoed by a German submarine. There have been many great books written about the sinking, none greater in my estimation than Diane Preston's Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy (2003).
If Louise Patten's new information about the Titanic
is true, then it shared this with the Lusitania
sinking: both ships continued to travel forward through the water after their fatal impacts, sending both to their watery doom faster. With the Lusitania
, control of the ship's speed and steering were destroyed by the torpedo's explosion, and so the ship pushed itself under the surface of the water with horrifying speed.
Ok, enough morbid sea disaster blather for at least a month! Next up: ....