Revealed: Titanic was doomed before it set sail

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The Titanic faced disaster from the moment it set sail, experts now believe.

Research suggests that, even if the ocean liner had not struck an iceberg during its maiden voyage, structural weaknesses made it vulnerable to any stormy sea.

The flaws, uncovered by researchers who found, filmed and analysed previously undiscovered portions of the Titanic's keel, also reduced the length of time the vessel remained afloat after hitting the iceberg on April 14, 1912 - scuppering the chances of rescue boats sent to the scene arriving in time and thus condemning hundreds of passengers and crew stranded on board to death.

To date, the received wisdom has been that after striking the iceberg, water flooded into the ship. The weight of the water in the bow forced the vessel's stern to rise until, when it reached an angle of 45 degrees, the ship snapped in half and sank.

advertisementHowever, the findings of the new research project, a collaboration between the History Channel and Lone Wolf Documentary Group, an American film company, suggest that the Titanic broke in half when its stern had reached an angle of just 10 degrees - a scenario that could have occurred in heavy seas during any severe storm, never mind in the aftermath of hitting an iceberg.

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Sheldon M. Stern - 6/12/2007

The changes were indeed made, but the Olympic crossed the Atlantic safely many times before those changes.

Alexis Turner - 6/11/2007

The Olympic was *not* "essentially identical" to the Titanic, given that it was retrofitted with a double hull and higher bulkheads shortly after the Titanic disaster. Among other things, these differences added about 30 tons (200%) to the original weight, changing the way the ship held itself in the water and how it reacted to pitch (tilting motion from front to back).

Another engineering consideration to remember is that the point on the ship at which the pitch occurred (the pivot point) matters. It's entirely possible for a ship to ride out a storm while pitching severely, yet be sunk in the next, lesser, storm because it hits its sweet spot on a wave.

Sheldon M. Stern - 6/11/2007

How do they explain the fact that its essentially identical sister ship, Olympic, remained in service for decades?