10 mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic

This ill-fated ocean liner will forever be burned in our minds as one of the most pivotal tragedies of the 20th century. And, while the story is known the world over, here are the little less-known ten mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic.

The mere muttering of Titanic evokes emotion and conjures memories of the infamous liner. Formally regarded as the RMS Titanic, the British ship was born and built in Belfast between 1909-1911. 

Spearheaded by the renowned White Star Line group, the passenger liner was envisioned to be the preeminent, most unrivalled feat of engineering the world had ever seen.

Titanic’s maiden voyage – which traced waters from Southampton to New York City – departed on 10 April 1912. Tragedy struck some five days later when the vessel hit an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean.

On the morning of 15 April 1912, Titanic sank. More than 1,500 people lost their lives that night – a startling figure given its estimated passenger log of 2,224 aboard. 

Indeed, there is the obvious factor (the iceberg collision) which led to the ship’s demise. However, many unspoken factors also attributed to this tragedy. If you’re interested in facts about the Titanic, keep reading!

10. Tides – higher waters bring a higher risk

Tides made it more of a risk for the Titanic.

In 2012, a group of astronomers at Texas State University published research on the impact of tides in January 2012, that could be attributed to the sinking of Titanic.

It appears that during its maiden voyage, the sun, the moon, and the Earth were aligned in such a way that would result in higher tides, and in turn, more icebergs along the Titanic’s route.

9. Climate – warmer weather bring impending doom

The climate didn't help either in making the Titanic's sinking.

According to Richard Norris of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, warmer-than-usual waters in the Gulf Stream could also be a contributing factor in this tragedy.

The increase in temperature at the time of Titanic’s maiden voyage resulted in a more significant number of corralling icebergs along the ship’s path, ultimately leading to its demise.

8. Portholes – an oversight leading to a downfall

The portholes being left open were a problem.

After Titanic struck the iceberg, passengers – curious to review the damage – opened their porthole windows to look out. This was most certainly one of the mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic.

As panic flared, passengers were advised to make their way to higher decks. The portholes were left open, enabling water to enter the sinking ship at a more rapid rate. 

7. Watertight doors – a logical approach which proves deadly

Watertight doors, while a good thing, turned into one of the top mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic.

As the water began filling the lower decks, closure of the watertight doors commenced. Indeed, this seems like a logical approach. However, if they had been left open, the water would have travelled through the ship’s tunnels, equally flooding the vessel. 

This would have given its passengers and crew more time to devise make-shift rafts, given that there were too few lifeboats onboard to save all souls. 

6. Rivets – bigger is not always better

Rivets were handmade, making another of the top mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic.

Due to the sheer size of the Titanic, its bow could not fit in the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. As a result, the bow’s rivets had to been finished by hand, as opposed to hydraulics – yet another one of the mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic.

Simply put, the ship’s infrastructure was not sturdy enough to withstand such impact due to the hand-fixed rivets.

5. Fire – a coal fire that ignited danger in the hull

Another one of the mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic was fire that reduced integrity of the hull.

One of the less-discussed mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic is a crucial one. 

Ten days before the ship’s maiden voyage, a fire broke out in the coal bunker. This fire continued to burn wildly into the journey and, when met with the freezing Atlantic waters on collision, the stell hull’s integrity was severely compromised. 

4. Shortsightedness – one of the main mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic

Shortsightedness was another of the main mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic.

Another factor that greatly added to the tragedy that struck the Titanic was a case of shortsightedness.

As the ship left Southampton en route to New York, there was a reshuffling of officers. During this switch, the preceding officer failed to hand over the key which accessed the binoculars. Without these, the Titanic’s officers were left blind to the dangers that lay ahead.

3. Agility – too big to bypass

Lack of agility was one of the mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic.

A lack of agility is another one of the mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic. William McMaster Murdoch, the ship’s first officer, ordered the engine room – mere moments before impact – to reverse the vessel. 

However, due to the engineering of the stern, his intentions were unachievable. The propeller could only be halted, not reversed. This lack of agility in the face of danger greatly added to the ship’s demise, as it could not – at such short notice – navigate out of harm’s way.

2. Speed – too fast to steer clear

The speed was one of  the problems with the Titanic and it's sinking.

Fundamentally, the ship was travelling too fast to be able to handle any challenges which lay ahead. 

Simon Mills, owner of the HMS Britannic wreck comments, “The simple fact is that she was going too fast – 22 knots in an ice field. Had she been going slower, she may have missed the berg.” 

1. Icebergs – the ultimate hazard

Avoiding icebergs was one of the top mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic.

The poor navigation of icebergs is undoubtedly the most well-known and momentous of mistakes that caused the sinking of the Titanic.

Indeed, the collision between the Titanic and an iceberg – on 14 April 1912 at 11:40pm – is what caused the tragedy. However, as seen above, this is a result of many mistakes, including poor leadership, engineering, natural factors, and human error.

Curious to find out more about the Titanic? Check out this Titanic memorabilia that’s been discovered.

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