Monday, April 14, 2008

The 96th Anniversary of the Drowning of the Titanic

Today/tomorrow is the 96th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. As most people know, the Titanic set out on its maiden voyage amidst claims of it being unsinkable, and promptly hit an iceberg and sank.

At 11:40 p.m. on April 14, four days after departing New York, the ship hit an iceberg, and sank over the next two and a half hours (which is why some consider the sinking date to be the 14th, and some the 15th: it hit the iceberg on the 14th and finished sinking the 15th). While many theories have been put forth as to why it sank like it did, a recent one has come to the fore-front after the publication of the book "What Really Sank the Titanic."

As the New York Times reports, the book claims weak rivets were what did the ship in. While some ships used all steel rivets, the Titanic used a mix of steel and weaker iron rivets. The fact that two smaller-but-still-huge sister ships to the Titanic, the Olympic and the Britannic, were being built at the same time caused a shortage in iron, and, according to the book, led to the use of iron weaker than what was normally used on ships like the Titanic. Some of the "weaker" iron rivets were used in the area where the Titanic was hit by the iceberg on its bow.

Obviously, there were numerous factors that went into making this tragedy, but many are now claiming that the iron rivets were a major cause in both the ship sinking and the speed at which it sank. Even more factors went into the amount of lives lost, like there being too few lifeboats, men not being allowed onto some under the "women and children first" rule leading to some of the lifeboats being let down half-full, and nearby ships mistaking the red emergency flares for celebratory fireworks.

The article is an interesting read. I would recommend it if you are interested in the Titanic at all. There is also a photo slide show to accompany the article.