Titanic: Preventable Disaster
Titanic was competitively designed to be the best, but failed--the sea
winning the battle. "The sinking of the Titanic in the early hours
of April 15, 1912, remains the quintessential disaster of this century. A total
of 1,517 souls--men, women and children - lost their lives ( only 711
survived)" (Stone 8). The Titanic sunk because it was built to be
the best, and thus caused people in charge to be full of pride, which caused the
Marconi telegraph distress signals to be ignored.
Star lines needed to construct new vessels to compete with the new vessels of
the time. They needed to build ships better, faster, and bigger than those of
the Cunard liners Mauretania and Luistania" (Noble 1). In attempt of doing
this, the White Star lines got into trouble. The Titanic was built at
Harland and Wolff shipbuilding, located in Belfast northern Ireland, in the year
1912 (Göransson 1). Their ship was huge, the largest ever. The ship weighed
approximately 46,328 tons and which towered eleven stories high. To those
getting on board it must have looked like they could have walked to America with
its 882'9" length. It was the biggest and most expensive liner: over $7.5
million then (Noble 1). "The fact that the finest, largest, strongest ship
in the world--called, in fact, the 'unsinkable' ship--should have been lost
during its maiden voyage is so incredible that, had it not actually happened no
author would have dared to contrive it" [sic] (Stone 8). The real-life
drama of the disaster has spurred thousands of reenactments and web sites
exploring every detail available of that Sunday evening disaster.
catastrophe had social ramifications that went far beyond that night's events.
For the first time since the beginning of the industrial revolution early in the
19th century, bigger, faster, and stronger did not prove automatically to be
better. Suddenly the very essence of 'progress' had to be questioned: might the
advancement of technology not always be progress (Stone 8)?
two main aspects of the Titanic that made her unique probably added to
her fall. These were the double hull and the sixteen supposedly
"watertight" compartments. Neither were very beneficial. The
watertight compartments were walls with room near the ceiling to overflow into
the next compartment. These and a few other aspects deemed the Titanic
supposedly unsinkable (Göransson 2). With Captain E.J. Smith at the helm,
everyone was completely confident her maiden voyage would be the best ever.
This confidence and spirit of competition exhibited by crew and passengers alike was the greatest reason why so many of them died. This appears to be backwards thinking, but when viewed from the standpoint of the actions taken and their cause, this is the reason for so many faults. The first day they sailed 386 miles, the second 519, and the third 546. The reason they gained speed at such an alarming and unsafe rate was their spirit of competition for the world's record for the fastest maiden voyage (Göransson 1-2). If the Titanic had been going slower that Sunday, the crew would have been able to avert disaster by locating the iceberg field before they hit it. Equipped with the finest resources, "the ship even had a French restaurant Café Parisien with French waiters," the first swimming pool on an ocean liner, a gym, smoking room for men, Georgian reading and writing room for ladies, squash court, and an electric horse, camel and rowboat (Göransson 1).
first class passengers felt extremely proud, lucky, and amazed about the
top-notch quality of the Titanic. The voyage continued to please them
very much until they heard their expensive trip was at an end. The first class
ticket was $4,350 then (approximately $50,000 now) (Stone 43). The same attitude
applied for all the classes. "An attitude was in the minds of all the
people on board the ship: This ship will never sink" (Noble 1)!
evening the Titanic sank was a clear night, no moon, and the water was
absolutely still. Archibald Gracie, a passenger on Titanic, believes,
along with many others, that various types of weather conditions would have
prevented the fate of the Titanic. Had there been a moon and even a few clouds,
the iceberg would have been visible much sooner. Secondly, if the sea had even
been slightly rough, the water lapping against the ice field would have been
heard from miles away (102-105). Yet another factor that led to the destruction
of the Titanic concerns the Marconi telegraph, which utilized Morse cord
to send messages by radio waves. "On April 11, 1912, there were 7 warning
messages about icebergs on the Titanic's course. These messages were
noted but were not taken into account" due to the pride and ignorance of
both the telegraph operator and Captain E.J. Smith (Noble 1). The Titanic's
Marconi telegraph operator demanded that the other operators to get off the air
so he could send the many personal passenger messages to shore (Noble 1). Upset,
the California's Marconi telegraph operator abandoned his post and went
to bed, thus removing the California from receiving the radio distress
signals sent out by Titanic (Noble 1).
fate is now sealed deep in the Atlantic ocean where the 46,000 ton monster lay
smashed and broken into two pieces. Before the Titanic was found there
was a controversy over whether the ship broke in two before decent into its
watery grave. Based on research done shortly after Titanic sunk, approximately
half of the eye witnesses said it broke and the other fifty percent said it went
down as solid as ever (Gracie 1-14). There are still many discrepancies over
what happened and why. Still searching for the answer to why, the families of
the lost loved ones became more anguished as they found out the easily
preventable causes for failure of the ship. Families of the dead sought out the
survivors to ask if they knew what their specific relatives were doing in their
last days (Gracie 1-14).
history books have recorded, the last day on the ship Titanic had just as
smooth and perfect weather as the preceding part of the voyage. Therefore,
preparation for such a disaster as an iceberg field was thought to be
superfluous. Icebergs that time of year and in that area were simply unheard of.
The pride of the captain and facade of the blue sky caused him to disregard the
several iceberg warnings he received and increase the speed anyway. There was
great pressure on the crew put upon by the millionaires to continue speeding
away on their luxurious journey to America. In the early 1900's they were
anxiously taking part in the freedoms of the rich in the gilded age. Early that
tragic Sunday, the California, a nearby ship, had repeatedly warned the Titanic
of the ice fields, but the Marconi telegraph operator of the Titanic was
very rude and insulting to the other man.
it is clear to see why the over-rated capabilities of the ship, the pride of all
on board, and the misuse of the Marconi telegraph were the main detrimental
factors leading to the loss of the Titanic. Of all the ocean liners in
the world, this was the best and the worst. The people on board were the cream
of the crop and the dust on the floor, but all with the same curious feeling of
immortality on board. The Marconi telegraph was the best means of communication,
but its signals were ignored by a nearby ship because of the haughty behavior of
the Titanic's radio operator. The Titanic's maiden voyage was the
beginning and the end in one short scenario. All fought for survival; only 711
survived. The competition was great; the loss, fatal. White Star Lines' fight
for the lead in technology had failed. The loss of the Titanic, in
accordance with the redox reaction principle, spurred more strict safety
requirements throughout the United States and Europe, saving an untold number of
lives. (Noble 8)
Göransson, Hannah. The Story of the Titanic. No Date.
1 October 1999
Archibald. The Truth About the Titanic. 1913. 7 c's Press, Inc, 1973.
Noble, Al. Titanic: The Building. Firefly
Productions. 1997. 1 October 1999
Stone, Peter. Titanic. A New Musical. CD:
Story and Book. BMG Music: New
York, NY. 1997.
Statement: The Titanic
sank because it was built to be the best, and thus caused people in charge to be
full of pride, which caused the Marconi telegraph distress signals to be
Back to Table of