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  • Writer's pictureSiheli Siyathra

The Story Of The Titanic

On April 14th 1912, at 11.40 pm, RMS Titanic had a terrible accident. By 2.20 pm, the biggest ship of its time had completely disappeared under the Atlantic Ocean. The Titanic took more than 1500 lives with it. That’s more than two-thirds of all the people on board. The cause of this disaster was an iceberg. Or so we have been told. But scientists’ most recent discoveries have debunked this theory. So what is the truth behind the Titanic’s demise?

With its massive size, the Titanic seemed indestructible. People could walk for miles along the countless passages. Even the workers on board took over two weeks to remember their way around. The Titanic had three massive smokestacks. Each of them weighed sixty tons (simply saying - A LOT) and extended 81.5 feet above the deck. Such an impressive height was necessary to avoid covering the passengers in 100 tons of soot blown off daily. The smokestacks were placed at a thirty-degree angle to make them look more imposing.

Harland and Wolff Shipyard took on 3000 men to build the ship. Even with an enormous labour force, working six days a week from 6.00 am, it took 26 months to finish the ship. It was difficult and dangerous. Imagine doing something at the height of a 20-story building with no safety ropes! But these people needed money to support their families. The builders got two pounds a week. It may seem like a fairly small amount now but, back then, it was a big deal. 8 people died during the building process and 246 were injured. So, it’s hard to fathom that such a complicated ship would sink because of an iceberg. Well, new findings have given us evidence that the original cause was not ice, but fire.

Journalist Sonam Maloney has been studying the fate of the ship for 30 years. It was he who discovered a thirty-foot long black mark on the hull of the ship. He found it while examining a photo taken before the Titanic’s departure. The journalist found an album of previously unpublished photographs that showed the construction and the preparation of the ship. The fire had to have been burning for three weeks at a very high temperature before somebody noticed it. Metallurgy experts are sure that such conditions could have easily weakened the metal, reducing its strength by about 75%. That’s why the iceberg didn’t have any problems tearing a hole in the side of the ship. If not for the fire, it would’ve been impossible. Still, the fact that the iceberg hit exactly the spot with compromised metal is an incredible coincidence.

The management of the project knew about the fire and that the ship shouldn’t have sailed. But that would have meant bankruptcy for the ship’s owners. The thing is that, at that time, all the miners in the country were on strike, so there was no coal to sustain the Titanic. But the tickets had already been sold and other ships cancelled. That’s why the owners of the Titanic bought all the coal they could find; even the coal from other ships. Cancelling the trip seemed out of the question. Thus, the journey began.

The interior of the Titanic was based on that of the Ritz Hotel in London. The grand staircase went down seven out of the ten decks on the ship. It was decorated with paintings, bronze cherubs and oak panelling. The facilities for the first-class passengers included a swimming pool, a Turkish bath and a gym (like, seriously?!). They had an onboard newspaper called ‘The Atlantic Daily Bulletin.’ There was even a place for first-class passengers’ dogs (that’s weird). The meals included thirteen courses, each with its own wine. There were 1500 bottles of wine, 20,00 bottles of beer and 8,000 cigars! Yet, there wasn’t a pair of binoculars.

Why is that worth mentioning? Because, if they had binoculars, they could’ve seen that iceberg from a distance. There were no sonar systems in those times, so, to detect threats ahead, they had to use binoculars. But the binoculars of the Titanic had been locked away in a special compartment. The only one with the key to the compartment was David Blair, who was replaced at the last second. He was in such a hurry to leave that he forgot to hand over the keys. This was only discovered three days later. By then, the ship was already at sea.

The crash could’ve also been avoided if the ship wasn’t breaking the speed limit. They were falling behind schedule, which was unacceptable. It could ruin the Titanic’s reputation. That’s why the ship was moving at a speed much higher than it was designed for. Also, in order to contain all the passengers, the Titanic needed about sixty lifeboats. The chief designer, Alexander Carlyle, planned to equip the ship with only 48 boats. But, eventually, the number was reduced to twenty. This was done because the deck looked too cluttered with 48. This amount was only sufficient for ⅓ of the passengers. Surprisingly, carrying such a small amount of lifeboats was legal. According to the law in those days, the number of lifeboats depended not on the number of passengers but on the tonnage of the ship.

What a chain of unfortunate events! Fire or ice, the demise of the Titanic still keeps scientists busy.

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