April 30, 2024|Reports

“A Titanic Conspiracy” – Andy Skinner

Our April 23rd speaker, Andy Skinner, works at SeaCity Museum in Southampton and has always been fascinated by the number of conspiracy theories he hears about the ship’s sinking. You would think hitting an iceberg  was unusual enough to satisfy the most active imagination but 13 visitors and over 60 members of Wickham History Society heard Andy explain, and debunk, the most persistent fake news.

Some suggested that the owners were so amoral that they were happy to sink their own ship in order to claim an insurance payout. It was suggested that the Titanic’s similar sister ship – the Olympic – was passed off as the Titanic and sunk as it has been previously damaged in a collision with a royal naval vessel. Andy had done a bit of forensic examination of his own to further disprove this using one of the exhibits at SeaCity.

More technical theories revolved around the use of inferior rivets – a theory that would have involved several thousand shipyard workers in a conspiracy of silence – and the existence of a fire in the coal bunkers that had already compromised the watertight compartmentation. Interestingly ongoing coal fires were common in steamships of the time, but there was no evidence at all that the Titanic’s caused any damage.

The truth is unusual and sad enough without the addition of conspiracy theories, but one suggestion, made in the lively discussion afterwards, was that if the officer on duty had not changed course to try and avoid the iceberg but had hit it head-on then the reinforced bow might possibly have avoided enough damage to the watertight compartments to prevent the tragedy, but we will never know.

Finally there was one actual conspiracy – the expedition to find the Titanic was in fact also a cover for an operation to look for a missing nuclear submarine, admitted later on after the Titanic was located.

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