Page 30 - The Times Titanic Souvenir 1988
P. 30
To most, the loss of the Titanic was a tragic accident, but others see something far more sinisten as DAVID WHITMORE discovers s has been the case with so many major news stories and tragedies - from the assassination of President Kennedy to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales - the sinking of the Titanic has Wnv orp the Titanic's captain accelerate : been engulfed by conspiracy theories. into an area of the North Atlantic that was . The claims range from the fairly mundane, full of icebergs? The dangers were common such as a fire, to a murderous insurance knowledge among those who sailed that l ocean, and the captain had also been con and even a supematural curse. : warned about floating ice while at sea. : On 14 April alone, the Titanic received no : and yet the order given was still "full fewer than six wamings about icebergs : steam ahead". , Some think this lust for speed led the : Titantic to her watery grave. White Star : : PSRHAPS rHE most amazing theory is chief exectrtive J Bruce Ismay admitted I that the ship lying at the bottom of the to the American inquiry into the disaster : ocean isn't the Titanic at all, but her sister that he and chief engineer Joseph Bell had I ship, the Olympic. decided in private that they intended to I taunched on May 31, 1911, the Olympic drive the ship as hard as they could if : was plagued by mishaps. ArrMng at the conditions were fair. Although theTitanic : White Star Une pier on her maiden voyage was brand new and had to be eased into , to New York, captained by Edward John action, they wanted to beat the top speed . Smith (who later captained theTitanic), of her sister ship the Olympic, which had : she trapped a tug under her stem and reached 22.75 knots in perfect conditions. I nearly sank it. Although her steelwork was Some survivors claimed that the Titanic i thought to be brittle, she sustained only was trying to take the Blue Riband for the . minor damage fastest Atlantic crossing. The record had : tess than four months later, however, been held by the Mauritania sincelW, . after setting sail for her fifth round trip logging an average speed of27.4 knots. : to New York, she mllided with the Navy Whichever record was the goal, the : cruiser HMS Hawke.The Hawke had 5in- Titanic increased speed daily. On April 14 ; flames thick side arnour and an underwater ram she fired up three more of her 24 main : - a steel casting packed with concrete. The boilers to reach 2,5 knots. Five atxiliary : ram pierced the starboard quarter of the boilers would have taken her up to full : Olympic, below the waterline. T\e Hawke's speed. The same day White Star Line's : bow pierced another huge hole, Baltic sent lhe Titqnic a wireless warning ; WHqN Titanic set sail from Belfast for approximately 15ft high by 14ft wide and of the hazardous ice field. Captain Smith : Southampton, shortly after mmpleting some eight feet in depth, above the showed the message to Ismay and allowed : her sea trials, a fire had broken out in a waterline. One of the Olympic's propellers him to keep it in his pocket for some five . coal bunker in boiler room number six. was badly damaged and two of her hours, instead of displaying it immediately The fire had been dismvered in Belfast, watertight compartrnents were flooded, in the chart room. but eight days later, while she was moored resulting in a massive repair bill, much of This obsession with speed has been in Southampton, it was still raging. For which was not covered by her insurance. blamed, at least in part, for the disaster a fire to break out on board a steamer was Then, on February 24, 1912, while that followed. It blindd those entrusted not unusual at the time, although heading for Southampton from New York, with the ship's safety somewhpf unfortunate for the Titanic on she suffered her third accident in less than to their responsibilities. the eve of her maiden voyage. nine months. Some 750 miles off What is curious is that the fire was Newfoundland, a submerged object permitted to continue burning not only in snapped off one of the propeller blades. 'l|:tg&: . Belfast but for a whole week in In March the Titanic sat side by side It is claimed that the owners swapped ti Southampton, where it would have been in the shipyard with the Olympic. in Wood ot fte SS Edodal tooh thb the vessels'identities there and then ..: deliberately sank the "Titanic' ur Ul tpril 1912. I b ltpubd to be Ute kf,bc.g ilt t lant the lftaaft to rid themselves of a loss- making ship. They also knew they could make a claim on the Titanic's
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