Five Titanic Disasters Before The Iceberg
At exactly 2.20 a.m. on Monday 15 April 1912, RMS Titanic finally succumbed to its fate.
Titanic will remain one of the most infamous sea disasters ever. Many documentaries, films and books exist on the subject.
However, there are five other disasters that occurred to the fated ship, before it hit the iceberg. Here are the five, not so famous problems, Titanic had.
1) Clash with a boat in the harbour
As Titanic sailed out of Southampton it needed to navigate down a narrow strait to reach the sea. During it’s travel down the strait there were as little as eighty feet between Titanic and other vessels.
During this journey, Titanic’s bow drew level with a ship called the New York. As it passed, the thick ropes which tethered the New York to her berth broke. Titanic’s drag forced the New York into the slipstream. The New York began to drift towards the Titanic.
The collision was inevitable. Luckily a quick-thinking harbour pilot stopped the collision. He initiating a surge of power to the propellers. This caused the wash to push the New York of course. As the New Your began to swing back towards the dock, a tugboat was able to get between.
2) Fire in the coal bunker
Throughout the time the Titanic was sailing, there was a coal fire raging below decks. The coal which had caught alight before sailing was impossible to put out. For this reason, Titanic set sail with it still burning.
For this type of fire, there are limited ways to extinguish it. The most common method and the method used by the Titanic was to pump the coal as fast as possible into the furnace. Literally getting rid of the burning coal. It may have been this extra coal which caused the extra speed on the Titanic. The extra speed contributed to how hard it was to avoid the iceberg.
The fire from the coal was burning near the bulkhead and caused significant damage to the area. This was the same bulkhead where the iceberg hit. Whether the damage from the fire helped weaken the side of the ship, was never proved. The poor quality materials that were used during the building of Titanic did not help either.
3 ) A Loss of Binoculars
Titanic’s sister ship Olympic, return to the shipyard for emergency repairs before Titanic set sail. This unexpected grounding of the boat meant that the crews needed to be shuffled.
This meant that Murdoch and Lightoller were demoted to First and Second Officer. David Blair was removed from the line-up altogether. Blair who was ordered to leave the ship immediately, took with him the key to his locker. Stored in his locker were the binoculars for the crow’s nest lookouts. This meant that the lookouts were forced to work without them. Again making the task of spotting icebergs even more difficult.
4 ) Wireless breakdown
The men who operated the wireless were paid little in wages. Instead, they relied on the commission that passengers paid them for sending telegrams. When the wireless equipment broke down, a backlog of telegrams developed. Once repaired both radio operators worked hard to clear this backlog.
During the time, incoming messages from passing steamers warning of ice drifts started. These messages were treated with annoyance as they were interrupting the paid work.
The first message that came in from the RMS Caronia warned of fields of ice. The operators on this occasions took the message to the ship’s bridge. Forty minutes later a second message was received from the White Star steamer, The Baltic. This was delivered to Captain Smith. Smith did not alert his officers to this information immediately. Instead, he took a stroll amongst the first class passengers. During this stroll, he met Ismay and showed him the telegram. Ismay reportedly took the telegram with him only returning it at 7 pm. Officers interviewed after the disaster stated that this second warning was never posted.
Back in the wireless room, Jack Phillips continued to work hard. The ship was now near the Cape Race which meant that radio traffic increased. Phillips was once again irritated by incoming messages from passing ships.
A third message was received, warning of ice. A reply was never received from Phillips as he was too busy sending personal messages across. It is certain this message was never passed to the bridge.
A fourth message from the Californian was received at 11 pm.
‘Say, old man,’ the message read, ‘we are stopped and surrounded by ice.’
Phillips, no longer able to control his mounting anger, responded harshly,
‘Shut up! Shut up! I am busy. I am working Cape Race.’
5 ) The Night of the Crash
For the first time in many years, the current had moved southward, pulling with it cold arctic waters. These colder temperatures meant as many as 300 icebergs drifted further south.
To complicate matters further, the night sky was clear and starry, there was no moon to illuminate the sea. With no binoculars, the crows nest was almost blind to what was happening.
Despite his best efforts, First Officer Murdoch hastened Titanic’s demise. Titanic could have withstood damage to her bow better than to her sides. If Titanic had collided head-first with the iceberg, she would have most likely remained afloat.
The other mystery surrounding the Titanic is the case of the unidentified ship. Everything was done to try and summons help. Both through morse code and flares. Unbelievable these failed to summons the help of a nearby steamer. Although investigations were extensive, no ship was ever identified. To this day it is a mystery as to who this ship was.
These were not the sole reason for the demise of the Titanic, but they clearly contributed to the disaster.
Titanic remains the worse nautical disaster in history. 1503 people died on that fateful trip. Many were never identified or recovered.