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How Quickly Did the Titanic Sink? Reasons what happened with Titanic?
An iceberg contributed to the sinking of the "unsinkable" Titanic a century ago this month, but it isn't the only tragic aspect of the event. Even a century later, the instance of the Titanic illustrates how technological failures can emerge from a succession of omissions, blunders, and bad luck rather than one massive mess-up.
In a Physics World retrospective, Richard Corfield states, "No one thing sent the Titanic to the bottom of the North Atlantic" (1,514) on April 14-15, 1912. "Rather, the ship was ensnared by a perfect storm of circumstances that conspired her to her end. Such a cycle is familiar to those who research disasters - it is dubbed an 'event cascade.'"
The iceberg that the Titanic struck on its route from Southampton to New York is No. 1 on a top-10 list of situations. Here are nine further recommended conditions from Corfield's article and other sources:
Climate caused more icebergs:
Weather conditions in the North Atlantic were particularly conducive for corralling icebergs at the intersection of the Labrador Current and the Gulf Stream, due to warmer-than-usual waters in the Gulf Stream, Richard Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography told Physics World. The result, from an oceanographic standpoint, was that "icebergs, sea ice, and growlers were concentrated in the same position where the accident happened," as Norris put it.
Icebergs moved south because of the tides:
Last month, astronomers at Texas State University at San Marcos noticed that the sun, the moon, and the Earth were in a position that could have caused unusually high tides in January 1912. They thought that the tides might have moved icebergs that were stuck in the Labrador Sea, sending more of them toward the waters that the Titanic went through a few months later.
The ship was traveling too fast:
Many Titanic biologists have argued that the ship's captain, Edward J. Smith, was attempting to better the crossing time of the Olympics, the Titanic's older sibling in the White Star fleet. It has been argued that Smith's worst mistake was ordering full steam ahead with the Titanic despite warnings of approaching icebergs. "Simply put, Titanic was sailing way too quickly in a region known to have ice; that's the bottom line," says Mark Nichol, webmaster for the Titanic and Other White Star Ships website.
Corfield says that warnings about icebergs in the North Atlantic were sent to the Titanic several times over the radio, but Captain Smith did not hear any of them. Phillips, the ship's senior radio operator, supposedly didn't give Smith the last and most specific warning because it didn't start with "MSG," which stands for "Masters' Service Gram." For that to happen, the captain would have had to say it himself. Corfield says, "Phillips didn't think it was important, so he went back to sending passenger messages to the receiver on land at Cape Race, Newfoundland, before the ship went out of range."
Binoculars, which could have helped lookouts on the night of the crash, were locked away, according to Corfield, and David Blair, an officer who had been demoted before the ship departed from Southampton, had the key. The historical community is split on whether or not the binoculars would have prevented the Titanic's doom. Some believe the deadly iceberg could have been noticed sooner with their help, while others disagree.
Did the Titanic's steersman make a fatal error by directing the ship directly toward the iceberg?
That's the allegation made in 2010 by Louise Patten, who said the narrative was passed down through her grandfather, the most senior ship officer to survive the disaster. After the iceberg was discovered, the command was issued to turn "hard a-starboard," but as the command was relayed down the line, it was misread as meaning "make the ship turn right" rather than "push the tiller right to make the ship head left," Patten said. According to her, the mistake was noticed almost immediately, but not in time to prevent the collision. She also theorized that perhaps the ship wouldn't have sunk so quickly if it had halted where it was damaged and the water hadn't pushed through the ship's interior compartments one by one.
Just before the collision, first officer William McMaster Murdoch is rumored to have radioed the engine room to put the ship's engines into reverse, which greatly restricted the ship's agility. The two outer propellers would spin in the opposite direction, but the middle propeller, due to its location and design, could only be stopped, not reversed. …Corfield added "Since the steering propeller was not turning, the ship could not make sharp turns. One of the many tragic ironies of the Titanic disaster is that the ship may have been able to avoid the iceberg if Murdoch hadn't ordered the engine room to decrease and then reverse thrust."
The iron rivets were too weak:
Metallurgists Tim Flecked and Jennifer Hooper McCarty looked into the materials used for the creation of the Titanic at its Belfast shipyard and found that the steel plates toward the bow and the stern were fastened together by low-grade iron rivets. It's possible that lower-quality rivets were utilized due to a lack of available superior rivets or because the shipyard's crane-mounted hydraulic equipment was unable to insert the better rivets in those locations. The metallurgists claimed the low-grade rivets would have pulled apart more easily during the collision, leading the ship to sink faster than it would have if stronger rivets had been used. Other studies have questioned that claim, though.
Not enough lifeboats were there:
The fact that there weren't enough lifeboats for all of the Titanic's more than 2,200 passengers and crew members may have been the worst tragedy. Only about 1,200 people could fit in the lifeboats, which was still more than the legal limit of 1,060 people at the time. Corfield says that the government's lack of control may have made the 1912 disaster worse: "It seems that in a way that is different from our box-checking, responsibility-avoiding mentality today."