I picked up an interest in the story of the Titanic a few weeks ago when I bought a book on catastrophes. It had a section in it about the RMS Titanic. Since then, I’ve had a heck of a time researching it.
The Titanic lived up to her name as the largest ship in the world at the time. People on shore waved goodbye to friends and relatives on board the majestic ocean liner. Little did they know that for many, it was goodbye forever. At exactly 11:40 p.m. on April 14, 1912, both passengers and crew felt an amazing jolt.
The ship had entered an ice field, and came in contact with an iceberg. Four hours later, the ship was on its way to the bottom of the ocean. When the RMS Titanic began to sink, the orchestra kept playing for those who were not able to escape. This is where the expression “…and the band played on” comes from.
Survivors recall that they felt “a large finger” tearing down the starboard hull towards the bow. Thus many people believe that an enormous gash was torn in the ship. But when the Titanic’s remains were found in early September of 1985, no gash was found. A gash would have sank the ship by allowing water to flow into the watertight compartments inside the hull.
People also believe that the Titanic split in two when it hit the bottom. But when the remains were discovered in 1985, the stern had rotated 180 degrees to face the bow. Here’s my theory: The iceberg ran along the stern of the gargantuan steamer, but didn’t leave as deep a gash as the passengers thought. I hypothesize also that the iceberg started a crack running along the sides of the hull, which took three hours to expand enough to fill the limit of the watertight compartments to sink the ship.
The reason the iceberg even managed to sink the largest steamship in the world was discovered along with the Titanic on September 1st, 1985: The bolts that held the ship together. They were extremely rusty, weak and worn, even when the ship was in its prime 100 years ago. The iceberg sliced through these like a hot knife through butter.
No matter what sank the Titanic, so much was lost on April 15, 1912. Not just lives and luxuries, not just 4,500 tons of metal. Most likely, 4,500 tons of future was lost when the RMS Titanic went down.
*Note: When the giant steamer was found in 1985, anything that wasn’t exposed to the salty waters of the Atlantic was in perfect condition.