On the morning of April 14-15, 1912, the world experienced one of the greatest naval tragedies in history in horror. That night the British ocean liner Titanic, on its maiden voyage from Southampton, from where it had departed on April 10, to New York, was wrecked in the North Atlantic. In total, 1,514 of the 2,223 people traveling on the ship died from the sinking of what was until then the largest ocean liner ever built.
The cause of the Titanic disaster, the pride of the White Star Lines shipping company, has been historically and virtually unanimously attributed to the Titanic\’s crash into an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. on April 14.
The collision, which occurred some 600 kilometers south of Newfoundland, caused the opening of several waterways in the case of the ship, causing it to gradually sink from its front as the stern rose. In less than 3 hours, the ocean liner sank completely, with much of the passage trapped on deck in the absence of sufficient lifeboats.
However, despite this official version of the tragedy that occurred the night of April 14-15, 106 years ago, several alternative theories have emerged in recent times about the final causes of the tragedy.
Fire in the boiler area
According to this theory, captured in the documentary \’Titanic: the new evidence\’ -based on an investigation by the Irish journalist Senan Molony-, the cause that precipitated the sinking of the Titanic was a fire in the boiler area. This hypothesis maintains that the fire affected one of the transatlantic coal stores and caused the metal hull to weaken.
From two images of the Titanic showing a mysterious stain on the ship\’s case, Molony maintains that the fire started while the ocean liner was still in the shipyard and was still latent when the ship left Southampton on April 10. In his opinion, the fire weakened the hull and made it unable to withstand the crash against the iceberg. Had it not been for the fire, this investigation maintains, the Titanic would have taken much longer to sink and it would have been possible to rescue all the passengers.
The documentary also notes that Bruce Ismay, president of the White Star Line shipping company, was aware of the fire, but instructed the crew not to inform passengers. Ismay was one of the passengers who managed to save his life by boarding one of the Titanic\’s lifeboats.
Perhaps one of the most surprising theories about what really happened that fateful night between April 14 and 15, 1912 is the one held by the British historian Tim Maltin, one of the world\’s leading scholars of the shipwreck. In his opinion, that morning there were exceptional weather conditions in the area where the sinking occurred.
Specifically, there would have been a collision between two air masses, one very cold and the other very warm, which would have caused a mirage that caused the crew not to notice the presence of the iceberg against which the Titanic collided. According to this hypothesis, this optical illusion would have occurred when the Titanic left the warm Gulf Stream and entered the cold Labrador Sea. This alleged mirage caused the crew at the lookout to observe a false horizon as they made their way to the ice floes. When they spotted the iceberg, it was too late.
The “cold-weather mirage” occurs when a front collides with the warmer air in cold weather and causes the light passing between the boundary of the two to tilt dramatically, distorting the way an object appears.
After the sinking of the Titanic, more than 70 years passed until the discovery of the ocean liner. It was not until September 1, 1985 when the American oceanographer Robert Ballard located the wreck at almost 4,000 meters depth. The finding confirmed that the rivets on the Titanic\’s hull had notable deficiencies. They were not all the same, they did not have the same composition, they were not even placed in the same way. In addition, those located in the bow and stern area were of much lower quality than those in the center of the ship.
Jennifer Hooper McCarty of John Hopkins University and Tim Foecke of the US National Institute of Standards and Technology conducted extensive research on these rivets, combining metallurgical analysis with the study of the ship\’s documentation at the Harland shipyards and Wolff, in Belfast (Northern Ireland), where the huge ocean liner was built.
Laboratory tests corroborated that, under high pressure, these metal pieces could jump, causing cracks in the steel plates of the liner\’s hull and opening waterways. In this sense, according to this theory, it was the poor quality of the rivets and their faulty placement that caused the tragedy.
The moon and the tide
Experts such as astronomer Donald Olson, from Texas-San Marcos State University, or scientist Richard Corfield, from the British Institute of Physics, maintain that the Moon played a fundamental role in the sinking of the Titanic.
According to his theory, on January 4, 1912, four months before the tragedy, there was a rare alignment between the Moon and the Sun that caused the gravitational pulls of these stars to reinforce each other. At the same time, there was also the closest approach between the Moon and Earth in 1,400 years and the closest approach of Earth to the Sun.
These circumstances were what, according to these experts, caused an unusually high tide that caused a large number of icebergs that at this time were trapped in shallow waters of the Labrador Sea to resume their way to the ocean currents of the south. According to investigators, it was this circumstance that caused the Titanic to crash and ultimately sink.