Tuesday, April 23, 2019

TITANIC: Inescapable Catastrophe or Needless Tragedy


On April 14, 1912 at 11:40 p.m., RMS Titanic struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage.

On April 15, 1912 at 2:20 a.m., the unsinkable Titanic disappeared beneath the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

That was 107 years ago. Of all the shipwrecks and ocean disasters, there is something about the Titanic that tugs at people’s hearts. There is a mystery and—strangely—a romantic aura surrounding it.

In 2012, when I did research about the Titanic, I learned that there were several factors that contributed to this tragedy. If any one of them were changed, the unthinkable might not have happen or at least hundreds of more lives could have been saved. Here are those factors as I remember them.

1) It was a calm, moonless night. One would think calm seas would make travel safer. Titanic needed to cross a section the Atlantic known to have icebergs. A moonless night means that a black sky is reflecting on black water. Calm seas meant that no or very few waves lapped up against the base of the ice, which would have made them a little more detectible. They were virtually invisible. These kind of icebergs were known as black-bergs. They blended in perfectly with the night sky and dark waters.

2) If the lookout could have seen the iceberg even a few seconds earlier, it could have made a huge difference in warning the captain and engine room. The Titanic just might have been able to miss the iceberg or have hit it less severely.

3) Titanic reversed engines to slow and turned to try to avoid or lessen the collision. From what I understand, slowing lessened Titanic’s maneuverability. Some speculate if Titanic had held its speed or even sped up, it might have been able to turn sharper, reducing the impact. But we’ll never know, because no one can go back and have a do-over.

4) The lower bulkheads between compartments weren’t water tight. That’s 
to say, they didn’t seal at the top. So when water poured in and filled up the damaged compartment, the water spilled over into the next and the next and the next until Titanic was too heavy to stay afloat. If the compartments had been water tight, Titanic could have limped to safety.

5) The lifeboats have a two-fold tragedy. First, there weren’t enough for all the passengers and crew. They cluttered up the decks and made the ship less visually appealing. And second, when the first lifeboats were being loaded, a lot of people didn’t believe there was any real danger. Why would anyone want to get off a warm comfortable unsinkable luxury liner and be lowered in a cold, tiny lifeboat into the vast Atlantic Ocean? So the first few lifeboats launched with many seats vacant. A lifeboat that could carry over sixty people left with less than half its potential capacity. People just didn’t believe Titanic would sink. After all, it was advertised as “unsinkable.”

6) The radio operator on the SS Californian (a ship close enough to have rendered aid) had shut down the radio for the night, just ten minutes before Titanic struck the iceberg. So Titanic’s distress call didn’t reach them. Having the radio unmanned during the night was standard practice. It’s not anymore. Because of the Titanic tragedy, radios are now manned twenty-four hours. If the SS Californian had received the SOS, hundreds of more lives would have been saved.

If any one of these things had been different, fewer—if any—people would have perished.

From my backlist
Will trying to save her brother's life cost Brenna her own?

Brenna Kelly's brother has been accused of a murder he didn't commit and sentenced to die. Brenna follows the real murderer aboard the luxury liner Titanic to find the proof to save her brother from the gallows. Little does she know that her fate is as tenuous as her brother’s.
Cliffton Statham is charmed by Brenna and sets out to help her and win her affections. But his flimsy relationship with his uncle puts his future in jeopardy, and he must decide between Brenna and saving himself. Can Brenna find the proof she needs in time? Will love be a help or a hindrance?
Will the icy waters of the Atlantic be the end of them all?


MARY DAVIS s a bestselling, award-winning novelist of over thirty titles in both historical and contemporary themes. Her 2018 titles include; "Holly and Ivy" in
A Bouquet of Brides Collection (January), Courting Her Amish Heart (March), The Widow’s Plight (July), Courting Her Secret Heart (September), “Zola’s Cross-Country Adventure” in The MISSAdventure Brides Collection (December), and Courting Her Prodigal Heart (January 2019). Coming in 2019, The Daughter's Predicament (May) and "Bygones" in Thimbles and Threads (July). She is a member of ACFW and active in critique groups. Mary lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband of over thirty-four years and two cats. She has three adult children and two incredibly adorable grandchildren. Find her online at: Newsletter Blog FB FB Readers Group Amazon GoodReads BookBub


  1. It's all even more sad when you know about those what-ifs!! Thanks for the post!

  2. Interesting post! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I had to quit reading books about the Titanic and didn't even go see the movie because I cried every time I read the books, and there have been some really good ones. Those were real people on a real ship and watching the disaster made it real and happening all over again. I do like to read reports like this and read about the ship itself. So many tragic true life losses on it. The what-ifs add to the sadness, but we can't undo what's been done. Thanks for sharing.