Titanic: one hundred years later, have we learned anything?

titanicApril 15, 1912.  100 years ago. On that date, over 1,500 souls were sacrificed to the Atlantic Ocean when the RMS Titanic sank.  Just over seven hundred people survived that event, one which should have been avoided.  The sinking of the White Star’s most famous ship is one that could have and should have been avoided. There were many things that contributed to the disaster, human pride being the biggest thing.

In an age where man thought he was invincible, his arrogance at a high, nature slapped him down, if only for a minute.  That iceberg proved it.  Funny thing, had the ship plowed straight into the berg, it would not have sank and those 1,500 people would have, likely, survived and the name Titanic would be just a footnote.

But, it did not hit the berg head on.

Trying to avoid a collision, the ship attempted to turn out of the way and, allegedly, it ‘brushed’ against the berg, causing a seemingly small gash ripped through the side. The gash exposed several ‘water tight’ compartments to flood. Problem, though, is that the water tight walls did not go all the way up. Instead, water would overflow one wall and into the next compartment, like an ice tray. If only a few compartments had flooded, the ship would not have gone under. Unfortunately, that gash ensured all of them did.

There’s been a lot of research and conjecture about the quality of the steel used, the bolts, the joints, etc. Indeed, it does appear that the steel had much to do with the sinking and, to be fair, it was entirely the fault of the water tight compartments. As they filled, they pulled the bow under while the rest of ship rose up. At one point, the sheer weight of the airborne section put so much stress on the ship, it literally broke in half and that is what, ultimately, killed the ship and those 1,500 people.

Could such a thing happen today?  Well, yes.  In fact, there have been several accidents involving upwards of 2,000 casualties, though no ice berg was to blame. So, could a Titanic like accident involving ice bergs still happen? Yes, but the chances are very slim. With improved navigation techniques and GPS as well as other technologies, the chances are very slim that an ice berg will cause such an accident, but, it COULD happen.

Luckily, ship building has improved quite a bit since Titanic was built.  Materials are better, quality is better and ship design is far superior. Even so, Mother Nature still has her fury and, no matter how well we build or design our ships, she could still swat us like a fly.


2 thoughts on “Titanic: one hundred years later, have we learned anything?

  1. There is no doubt more than enough blame could be placed in multiple areas for titanic’s fate. However, I agree that human pride many times gets in the way. That seems to be a problem that both time and technology hasn’t solved. How do we solve this???

    • JD, I am not sure how or even if we can. After I posted this, I remembered the Shuttle Challenger. While it was not the same number of people who perished, the effect was very similar. We were arrogant and complacent and seven people paid with their lives. I am all for progress and technology, but maybe we need to step back now and again and ask if we should do whatever we are going to do.

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