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What if the Titanic Never Sank?


It is the most frequently asked question in the history of maritime disasters; What if the RMS Titanic never sank? What would have happened to her?

While we will never know the answer to this question, certainly we can look at the most logical scenarios. Long story short, at least regarding the ship itself, you might be disappointed.

Let's pretend the ship did not sink. Instead the vessel arrives safely on Wednesday April 17, 1912 to much fan fare and celebration as the World's Largest Vessel. No lives are lost and her passengers return to their lives. After that, Titanic would begin a typical life of relative obscurity and routine.

Through its natural lifespan, the ship would have served for twenty-five to thirty years, typical of ships of that era, quietly meeting the same fate, the scrapyard. Historical value was rarely placed on these ocean liners, much like how airliners are viewed today. Yes they were luxurious and unique but as the commercial fleet vehicles of they day, they were meant to serve but one purpose: to make money.

Ironically, the only reason Titanic's existed for over 100 years as the most famous vessel in history is because she lies at the bottom of the ocean and took with her 1,500 souls.


1913. No Longer the World's Largest Vessel.

The RMS Titanic, upon successful completion of her maiden voyage, would have returned to Southampton several weeks later in early May 1912, relishing in her title as the World's Largest Liner. Believe it or not, this prestigious title would only be Titanic's for less than a year. Titanic would loose not just the top spot, but the second largest spot as well, dropping to "The Third Largest Liner in the World" by 1913. Two huge ships were already in the shipyard and near completion during her maiden voyage, Cunard's RMS Aquitania and the German built, SS Imperator. Both were considerably larger than Titanic, members of the next generation of superliner.

The title of 'World's Largest Liner' or 'Biggest Ship Afloat' was the lucrative marketing stunt of the age. Fueled by one shipping line trying to out do the other, the title would trade hands almost every year. The rivalry between White Star and Cunard was the stuff of legend. White Star's RMS Majestic was the World's Biggest until Cunard launched RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauritania in 1906. So White Star launched the Olympic Class duo: Olympic and Titanic in 1911. In response to White Star's announcement of the Olympic Class, Cunard immediately ordered the RMS Aquitania to reclaim the market cap and title. She was launched in 1912 just weeks before Titanic's maiden voyage. Aquitania was 901 feet long, twenty feet longer than Titanic.

Over the channel in Germany, the Hamburg America Line's also responded with SS Imperator. This colossal 906 foot, 52,000 ton vessel, a full twenty feet longer and 4,000 tons larger, would capture title of the World's Largest Liner regardless. Its construction neared completion during Titanic's maiden voyage.

Losing the title, Titanic would begin a career of routine as a 'typical' ship of the line. She would be spotlighted simply as the White Star Line's flagship for the next two decades. Nothing more.

RMS Aquitania, Britain's Largest Liner by 1913.

RMS Aquitania, Britain's Largest Liner by 1913.

SS Imperator, World's Largest Liner by 1913.

SS Imperator, World's Largest Liner by 1913.

1914. Lusitania Disaster.

Unfortunately, the only effective means of regulation change is a tragic loss of life. If Titanic had not sunk, then the disaster hailed as the most famous maritime disaster in history would have likely gone to RMS Lusitania. Torpedoed in the early days of World War I, the Lusitania was a passenger vessel under the neutral American flag. Today she is considered second most famous, behind only Titanic, maritime disaster of all time.

Without the Titanic Disaster to change maritime regulations at an earlier point in time, the Lusitania likely would retain only sixteen regulation lifeboats for the 1,900 people on board. Sinking in just eighteen minutes, the loss of life likely would have been catastrophically worse than its actual recorded number.

Sinking of the Lusitania.

Sinking of the Lusitania.

1914-1918. World War I

As with the fate of the Olympic, Mauretania, Aquitania, Imperator, and just about any civilian vessel, the Titanic would have likely found herself pressed into service as either a troupe transport or hospital ship by the British government. Repainted in WWI era 'dazzle paint' to confuse U-Boats, stripped of her magnificent internal fittings and portholes sealed over with steel, the Titanic would have been stuffed to the breaking point with nearly 6,000 troops at a time.

Charging back and forth across the Atlantic, dodging U-Boat attacks, rescuing other sinking ships, and even having near collisions with other friendlies, the Titanic would have been hailed for her critical roll in the war effort. Like her sister Olympic, the Titanic would have transported nearly a quarter million troops, burned about as many tons of coal and traveled as many miles. She may even have earned a nick name. Olympic's was 'Old Reliable'.

In this timeline, Britannic, the third sister of the Olympic Class would become the only vessel of the class to sink. Pressed into service as a hospital ship, she would strike a mine in the Mediterranean Sea in 1916. The Britannic foundered in less than one hour with just 30 lives lost.

The sinking of the HMHS Britannic after hitting a mine.

The sinking of the HMHS Britannic after hitting a mine.

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Olympic during WWI as a troop carrier. Note the 'dazzle' paint. Titanic would have regaled a similar design.

Olympic during WWI as a troop carrier. Note the 'dazzle' paint. Titanic would have regaled a similar design.

Olympic in 1929.

Olympic in 1929.

1918-1934. Post War Service.

Providing the ship escaped destruction herself, the Titanic would have been returned to civilian service at the conclusion of the war. In 1918, a modernization refit would have been completed giving her a new lease on life. Interior fittings would be modernized, additional staterooms and safety features added. Most importantly, the ship would have been converted to burn oil rather than coal. Oil was cheaper to buy, cleaner to burn and required fewer crew members, thus reducing operating costs and pollution across the board. Nearly all coal burning liners received this massive upgrade.

These refits could have increased her gross tonnage to 49,000, briefly reclaiming the title as the Largest British Liner afloat by outgrossing the longer SS Imperator. After the war, Imperator was now in British hands, a war reparation for the loss of RMS Lusitania.

During the 1920s the ship would have enjoyed a successful career as an express passenger liner attracting the rich and famous competing regularly with her sister Olympic for records and travel. Yet both vessels would not receive much fame. In fact, most attention would have been thrust onto aging RMS Mauretania as the surviving sister of the RMS Lusitania. Which in this timeline would have been the Greatest Maritime Disaster. Titanic may have had the occasional collision with a smaller vessel as did Olympic but nothing else exciting.

The mid 1920s saw changes in immigration law greatly restricting the number of people allowed to enter the United States each year. This affected all passenger lines. 3rd Class passenger travel was the bread and butter of most shipping lanes and justified the need for such enormous ships. The White Star Line would have sent both Titanic and Olympic back to the shipyard for yet another modernization refit as it rethought its marketing strategy. This strategy would add a fourth class, the Tourist Class, to the vessel's accommodations.

New common rooms and state rooms would be again added. Both ships' interior fittings would be again modernized including private bathrooms for all 1st class passengers. The dining saloon would have been expanded to include a dance floor and other entertainment services. From 1929 to 1934, Titanic would have continued its passenger and tourist travel.

From atop Funnel No. 4, the dummy funnel.

From atop Funnel No. 4, the dummy funnel.

Olympic in the 1930s.

Olympic in the 1930s.

1934. Great Depression & Merger.

The end of the mighty Titanic would begin in 1934 with the merger of the White Star Line and long time rival Cunard. The ongoing Great Depression all but killed passenger and tourist service. Those shipping lines that could not effectively reduce costs or reinvent themselves went bankrupt.

Encouraged by the British government, the merger helped secure needed government funding for the construction of upcoming superliners RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth. This newly merged company found itself with a fleet of surplus liners many of which were old and obsolete. Amongst the oldest ships in the fleet at this point would be the thirty-year-old RMS Mauretania, the twenty-three year old RMS Olympic and, in this case, the twenty-two year old RMS Titanic.

Cunard White Star decided to concentrate nearly all of their business efforts into the two new Queen behemoth liners aided by just a handful of smaller liners. RMS Mauretania, old and after several unsuccessful years as a cruise ship, was immediately sold to the breakers.

RMS Olympic's final refit in 1934 failed to generate a profit for the ship. She also began suffering metal fatigue in her upper superstructure beginning in the 1920s. Cracks appeared along the expansion joins and bulkheads, a normal aging symptom common in riveted ships. Also by the 1930s, the she had become extremely inefficient to run compared to liners just ten years newer. The older ships get, the less efficient they become as their power plants age. This is particularly common with triple expansion steam engines. The base-model sister likely would have also been swiftly sent to the scrapyard while Titanic's fate was debated.

Mauretania was sold in 1935 and scrapped in 1936. The Olympic was sold in 1935. Talks amongst her new owners included conversion into a hotel in France but those talks failed. She was sold again to a member of Parliament who bought the ship for the sole purpose of scrapping her. Scrapping was completed in 1937.

1934, Olympic and Mauretania awaiting scrapping.

1934, Olympic and Mauretania awaiting scrapping.

Olympic's partially scrapped hull.

Olympic's partially scrapped hull.

1938-1945. World War II

World events could have delayed Titanic's inevitable journey to the scrapyard under unprecedented circumstances. Timing and outright luck would have been the ultimate factors with little guarantee for success. The stars did aline perfectly for one liner who found herself saved from scrap and operating for more than 11 years beyond her design life, the RMS Aquitania.

It would take until 1937 to scrap Olympic. Titanic would be sitting in lay up, fate uncertain. During that time, Aquitania, obsolete herself by now, had wrapped up her successful career and she was also was slated to be scrapped in 1939, bring to a close the age of four funneled liners. Then the clouds of war loomed over Europe once again and in 1939, Germany invaded Poland and everything for Aquitania changed.

In an extraordinary stroke of luck, Cunard White Star pulled Aquitania from scrapping consideration and held her in reserve for the inevitable call for troopship service. In the lead up to troop service, Aquitania made 14 transatlantic voyages ferrying US Nationals out of the UK. In September 1939, the British government called the brand new RMS Queen Mary, RMS Queen Elizabeth and the twenty-five year old Aquitania for duty as troopships. If the fates took kind to Titanic in this timeline, then she too many have joined her longtime rival as a troopship for the second time in their careers.

Preparations began and Titanic's fittings would be once again were stripped out. Instead of the bright and flashy dazzle paint worn during the Great War, troopships of World War 2 were painted battleship grey.

RMS Aquatania was a busy girl during World War II. When the United States entered the war in 1941, she was tasked with ferrying troops from the West Coast to Hawaii in preparation for the War in the Pacific. She then transferred to the Atlantic and ferried troops from the US to Britain. She alongside the monster liners, Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth and in this case Titanic, would have been responsible for ferrying nearly all of the American troops that would land at Normandie on D-Day. By war's end, the smaller four funneled ship logged 500,000 miles and nearly 400,000 troops.

RMS Aquitania as a troopship.

RMS Aquitania as a troopship.

RMS Queen Mary and RMS Aquitania in battleship grey.

RMS Queen Mary and RMS Aquitania in battleship grey.

1949. End of the Four Funnel Era.

Time finally caught up to the grand old ladies RMS Titanic or RMS Aquitania in 1949. After completing one final service ferrying war brides from Europe to Canada, the aging liners would be forced into retirement by the British Board of Trade out of safety concerns. It was officially the end of the road.

The war prompted many government agencies to suspend standard operating regulations and certificates of seaworthiness in the name of the war effort. RMS Queen Elizabeth, brand new when the war broke out, didn't actually complete her sea trials and receive her official certificate of seaworthiness until 1947, eight years and 500,000 miles on the odometer later. RMS Aquitania's own certificate had long expired and she ran without one until war's end.

With the government now returning to peacetime mode, there would be no reissued certificate for Titanic. Operating nearly 12 years beyond her design life, Titanic's problems would have probably been so numerous that she simply would not be worth reconditioning. Leaking decks, hull fractures, corrosion, mold, and worn out machinery would have been just the beginning. RMS Aquitania famously had a grand piano fall though the ceiling of her dining saloon from the deck above during a voyage which sealed her fate. The British Board of Trade would have simply forced both liners retirements by not declaring them seaworthy any longer.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2012 Jason Ponic


Ethan on January 02, 2019:

Titanic did not have to sink like a lot of passengers on the ship died super sad!!

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on September 18, 2018:

Several months with rewrites.

Mike Hardy from Caseville, Michigan on September 18, 2018:

A very thoughtful article (hub) with well placed historical references. How long did this hub take you to finish?

Gerry on March 27, 2018:

And the iceberg that sank the Titanic dissolved to an ice cube before disappearing altogether.

Jaxon on December 01, 2017:

very good work Jason

pafan on October 07, 2017:

Tom1969ca: It is a myth that Britannic was ever officially named Gigantic. Records from the Harland & Wolff Shipyards show the name Britannic assigned to Yard Number 433 in June 1911.

Jennifer on February 09, 2017:

This is very cool! I've never thought about the Titanic from this perspective. :)

Michael McDonnell on November 05, 2015:

If The Titanic had not sunk the 1,500 people would've lived, any of them could've started something that could've changed the course of history, a post apocalyptic Earth devastated during WW1 or 2

Tom1969ca on August 21, 2015:

Also, the third ship of the Olympic-class would probably have retained her original name - "Gigantic". It is generally believed that she was quietly renamed by WSL after the sinking because another name boasting of the ship's size might be unlucky at best and unseemly at worst. White Star then went on to *claim* that they had meant to call her Britannic all along. IMHO, the article should refer to HMHS Gigantic rather than Britannic... :)

Tom Jankowski on November 26, 2014:

If the Titanic did not sink, what would have happened when the Empress of Ireland sank in 1914 prior to World War 1 considering the Empress sank in only 14 minutes and even with the Titanic disaster, over 1000 people died. It would seem like more people would have died on the Empress of Ireland and she may not have been so forgotten.

tv online on December 28, 2013:

Foarte curios. Cea ce am vazut pe pagina dvs. despre What if Titanic Never Sank? m-a impresionat. Te felicit pentru realizarea, care e un site care merita distribuita.

Andrew Crawley from Earth on December 09, 2013:

Really awesome keep up the awesome work

Deathblow on December 09, 2013:

Really cool.

jack full on November 19, 2012:

bom dia

eu tenho uma planta do aquitania

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 30, 2012:

I will keep your topic in mind! fjohn, thank you so much!

fjohn from india on June 29, 2012:

very interesting topic, i hope everybody would like it. keep it up.

Nicoli Clause from United States of America on June 29, 2012:

I enjoyed this article and here is a suggestion for a new hub for you. Write about the sinking of the titanic but in regards to the construction of the ships (welding, expansion joint, life boats...)

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 14, 2012:

Thank you! That's a funny analogy of the film but so true!

Ann1Az2 from Orange, Texas on June 14, 2012:

Jason, what a well though-out scenario. It never occurred to me what might have happened if Titanic hadn't sunk. You're right, though, she will certainly live on now.

I asked my son the other day if he was going to go see the 3D version of the movie - he said, "Mom, let me tell you how it ends - the ship sinks." Oh well, no sense of the romantic, that boy.

Good hub - voted up and interesting.

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 08, 2012:

Thank you very much! I appreciate it. I always find myself wondering the "what if" questions all the time.

Angie Jardine from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ... on June 08, 2012:

Great concept for a hub, jason ... totally original. Just when I was beginning to think there was never going to be anything original on HP ever again :)

I also appreciated your creativity is spinning a potential history for Titanic - it really all sounded so plausible.

Well done on getting a HubNugget nomination - it was well deserved!

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 08, 2012:

Thank you so much!

Beata Stasak from Western Australia on June 08, 2012:

Awesome hub, worthy of nomination, have learnt to look at Titanic from different perspective...many disasters happen for no reasons but the trace of destruction they leave in their trail is unforgettable as it shows us our own vulnerability....

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 07, 2012:

A Titanic Sliding Doors movie would be interesting to watch!

LauraGT from MA on June 07, 2012:

Very interesting hub. I was glad to read that Titanic changed maritime law around safety regulations. I also wonder what would have happened if all of the passengers who died had lived. Perhaps a "Titanic Sliding Doors" movie? Great hub!

Cardia from Barbados. on June 07, 2012:

Wonderful Hub! Enjoyed reading it. Certainly makes you think 'what if?'

Voted up! :)

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 07, 2012:

Titanic is so unique in history. Few events have ever been as captivating.

Kelley Marks from Sacramento, California on June 07, 2012:

Very good idea for a hub. Everything about the "Titanic" is fascinating, though her sinking is of course the great tragic story. Later!

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 07, 2012:

Had James Cameron made the movie LUSITANIA, I think the song would have been a little bit different. haha.

TurtleDog on June 07, 2012:

This post was a lot of fun to read. Great alternative (and very logical) history 'what-if' view on the Titanic. Thanks! Voted up, interesting!

Farhat from Delhi on June 07, 2012:

if Titanic hadn't sunk we wud have never seen a wonderful oscar winner romantic film with a lovely song 'every night in my dreams.."....oh come on, its the humour side, apart an amazing stock of history and that how we remember it!

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 06, 2012:

It's truly amazing to think about it! It really blows your mind!

Voyager28 from Chandler, AZ on June 06, 2012:

Fascinating read! I was totally engrossed in your article. Amazing how history would have been so different if the Titanic hadn't struck that iceberg.

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 06, 2012:

A detail. :)

dxnworks on June 06, 2012:

Also we may never have the greatest romantic song by Celin Dion - My Heart Will Go on.......

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 06, 2012:

dxnworks, no you would have, but it would have been called LUSITANIA not TITANIC. haha.

dxnworks on June 06, 2012:

jasonponic, im just thinking by rewinding your questing and got this answer : i will not be able the watch that nice movie Titanic by Kate & Leonardo :)

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 05, 2012:

Kaili, thank you so much! I'm curious as to what nick name Titanic would have earned during the war.

Kaili Bisson from Canada on June 05, 2012:

Jason this is a great Hub. Congratulations on your HubNugget nomination. I agree that the Titanic would have become a troop carrier had she not sunk; so many luxury liners were pressed into service during the war.

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 05, 2012:

Thank you very much! The human tragedy is never far from my mind.Sometimes I wonder just how many lives did the Titanic save over the last century once the regulations change.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on June 05, 2012:

This is a very interesting idea to write about, and you did it quite well. You introduced many facts to consider, but of course, we always think of the people that died, plus their families. I think the hub was very informative.

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 04, 2012:

Thank you!

Better Yourself from North Carolina on June 03, 2012:

Very interesting, great hub!

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 02, 2012:

Thank you very much. I am honored! Imagine the James Cameron blockbuster 'LUSITANIA' that would have been made instead of 'TITANIC' haha!

Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on June 01, 2012:

It's amazing how history can be remembered so differently based on the occurrence of just one event.

Titanic's place in history is truly a result of its demise. As you said, if it had not gone down, it would not have continued to hold such an important title.

And most likely the RMS Lusitania would have been considered the worst disaster. I never thought of that before, but it makes perfect sense.

You definitely wrote an interesting Hub and congratulations on your HubNuggets nomination. And also, welcome you to HubPages.

Michelle Simtoco from Cebu, Philippines on June 01, 2012:

It wouldn't teach us to be more careful! Oh that and the song too as Georgie said. (hehe)

Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! Visit this link to read and celebrate and vote of course

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on June 01, 2012:

Thank you very much Joan Veronica! It does play with one's mind, the idea of Titanic getting scrapped as an obsolete aging vessel, doesn't it?

Joan Veronica Robertson from Concepcion, Chile on June 01, 2012:

Very good Hub! So interesting to imagine the Titanic actually getting old! Great creativity and well written. Voted up and more.

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on May 21, 2012:

Thank you very much Faith! This one is a personal favorite of mine. I asked myself that question ever since I was little.

Faith Reaper from southern USA on May 21, 2012:

Wow, Jason, that title just draws one in for sure. Very interesting perspective. Great imagery. You put a lot of work into this piece, well, as you always do in your hubs. Well done!

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on May 18, 2012:

Thank you so much!

Kebennett1 from San Bernardino County, California on May 18, 2012:

Great Hub! A lot of information on the other ships that I never knew! I like your scope of what may have happened!

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on May 18, 2012:

Thank you!

Anoop Aravind A from Nilambur, Kerala, India on May 18, 2012:

Great work. Awesome photos. Good hub.

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on May 16, 2012:

I heard of that book. I think it was based off of Operation Valkyrie. It's funny because Titanic Adventure Out Of Time has a crucial plot device, a painting painted by none other than Hilter.

Steven P Kelly from Tampa, FL on May 16, 2012:

Now that is cool. I have never heard of that game but it would be a fun theory to sound. Totally off subject now but that reminds me of a book called The Berkut, about the possibility of a German commando that hates Hitler's guts being ordered to get him out of Germany at the final moments, at much disgrace to ole' Adolf. It is a great fiction, a great 'What if?'.

Sorry for the tangent.

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on May 16, 2012:

The what if possibilities are endless. In fact there is an old computer game called Titanic: Adventure Out of Time that suggests that if the Titanic had not sunk there would have been no World War I.

Michele Travis from U.S.A. Ohio on May 16, 2012:

Jason, I had not thought about that part. I am glad that regulations changed. That probably saved more lives then we will ever know.

Georgie Lowery from North Florida on May 16, 2012:

Is it bad that, when I saw your title, I thought 'Well, we wouldn't have had that crappy Celine Dion song?' I know, opinions, right?

This is a great Hub. I have never really asked what would have happened if she hadn't sunk. The whole era, to me, was glamorous, and she would definitely have stood out. Even people who are not really interested in history have always been fascinated with the Titanic, though. It's an amazing and sobering story.

Great hub, voted up!

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on May 16, 2012:

It's not a bad comment at all, Michele. You are absolutely right, those passengers would have continued on in life. The other side of that coin is that without the Titanic Disaster the lifeboat regulations would not have been changed until probably World War I and the sinking of the Lusitania. There is no way to know for certain how many more lives would have been lost without the Titanic.

Michele Travis from U.S.A. Ohio on May 16, 2012:

Perhaps a lot of people would not have had their hearts broken. Mothers would have not lost their children, children would have not lost parents..ect. Sorry, not trying to make this a bad comment, but it is a true one.

Jason Ponic (author) from Albuquerque on May 15, 2012:

Thank you both so much. I agree the what ifs can be very overpowering sometimes. The reality hit me while researching this hub that Titanic would have just been another ordinary ship had she not sunk.

Joyce Haragsim from Southern Nevada on May 15, 2012:

Great information for the Titanic. Voted up and interesting.

Steven P Kelly from Tampa, FL on May 15, 2012:

This is a really cool perspective, and well presented. What if's can be so powerful.

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