Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Documentary Review: Titanic: How It Really Sank

Titanic: How it Really Sank, National Geographic, 2012,
This is a story about many things coming together to cause a tragedy.  It is told with narration to reenactment, (this includes reenactment of a 1912 hearing) interviews with experts, and some original footage.  The Titanic was compromised before it set sail, even though it was called "unsinkable."  A few things were changed about the design.  The bulkheads were lowered, especially those midship.  The bulkhead at the stern of the ship still was full, but the others barely extended above the water line.  The ship was made of steal, a newer and stronger material.  Where the rivets were put in by machine, they were usually steel rivets.  However the machine could not reach everyplace, and men put in pig iron rivets.  It was discovered this rivets were class three, rather than the better quality class four.  The witnesses to the breech, mach those investigating conclude that the steel was not torn, but the rivets gave way and the tear was at the seems.  That the iceberg was so far south was an anomaly.  However the ship had been warned about icebergs being farther south than usual.  An early message reached the Captain, and he delayed turning the boat due west for 20 minutes and as a result, it traveled farther south, and was then headed directly for the iceberg.  Another urgent message never reached the Captain who had left the deck.  A third was ignored.  This would have told them they were headed directly for he iceberg.  The wireless operator was too busy delivering messages of the wealthy on ship to deal with these urgent messages.  The iceberg was this far south as the Gulf Stream was traveling farther south than usual, which allowed the ocean currents form the north to travel farther south.  There was an iceberg watch, however they were hampered because the binoculars were locked away an no one had the key.  A last minute staff changed resulted in the key to the locker with the binoculars being taken off the ship.  Lastly, the boat turned enough to avoid a head on collision, but the glancing blow proved to be more deadly.  Had the Titanic struck head on, chances are it would have survived.  The bulkhead was higher and would have prevented a catastrophic inundation of water.  If the Titanic would have sunk, it would have been slower and allowed rescue.  With the breech along the side, where the bulkheads had been lowered, the water was able to overflow the bulkheads, and flood more compartments.  The finally tragedy was the lack of sufficient life boats.  48 life boats were required for all the passengers.  However, only 16 were required by law.  That is how many there were, because the designer did not think passengers wanted to look at life boats.

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