Why the Titanic and Contra Concordia Sank

Diorama by Werner Willmann representing the sinking of the Titanic. There shouldn't be smoke coming out of the smokestack farthest from the water, btw.  That was only a ventilation stack for the officers' quarters below it.
Diorama by Werner Willmann representing the sinking of the Titanic. There shouldn't be smoke coming out of the smokestack farthest from the water, btw. That was only a ventilation stack for the officers' quarters below it. | Source

PBS recently aired a fascinating documentary called "Why Ships Sink" which examined the similarities in the construction and sinking of the Titanic in April 1912 and the Italian Contra Concordia almost exactly 100 years later (January 2012)...at nearly the same time of night.

Both were the epitome of luxury.

Both had been built to current state-of-the-art design and construction standards. In fact, the Contra Concordia owed her double hull to the Titanic, but we'll get to that later.

Both were equipped with the latest communication and navigation aids, although the Titanic's Marconi (radio telegraph) was little more than a novelty installed so First Class passengers could send endless Tweet-like messages to friends and relatives on land.

Harland & Wolff, Ship Builders

The Titanic and her sister ship, the Olympic, were built for the White Star Line by Harland and Wolff, premier ship builders of the day, at its shipyard in Belfast, Ireland. H&W has been building all types of ships there since the 1850s. In fact, in late December 1883 and early January 1884, my great-grandparents crossed the icy-cold North Atlantic in a ship built by H&W, the American Lines S.S. British Crown.

While researching other H&W ships built around the same time as the Titanic, I learned it wasn't known in 1912 that impurities in the steel used in her hull would make it extremely brittle in icy waters.

That was the Titanic's first design "flaw".

The second was the steel plates that made up the hull were riveted together, not welded. (Welding was unknown or not yet used in shipbuilding in 1912.) Under stress - colliding with the sharp edge of an iceberg, for instance - the heads of the rivets simply popped off and the steel plates separated, allowing water to pour into the supposedly water-tight compartments in the bottom of the ship.

Which brings us to the third design flaw: those compartments were not watertight. The walls of each compartment did not go all the way to the ceiling. Meaning once enough water had come in, it flowed over the tops of the walls into compartments that had not been ripped open by the impact. Watertight compartment walls all the way to the ceiling was one change that came out of the Titanic disaster.

The fourth, perhaps most fatal, design "flaw" was that the Titanic and every ship built by H&W before it (including the one my gr-grandparents were on) had a single hull. Meaning once breached, water could flow into every section of the lower part of the ship and rise through the stairwells to the decks above.

(Which makes the real question not 'Why did the Titanic sink?", but 'Why didn't more of the ships built before it?'...)

Contra Concordia's Double Hull

Since the Titanic, passenger ships have been built with "double hulls" - imagine a thermos bottle or insulated cup - so if a ship collides with a rock or an iceberg, water can only flow into the outer hull, but not into the engine room or the decks above. Because of the weight and sloshing of the water, double hulls won't keep a ship from sinking if the outer hull is breached. But they will extend the time passengers can escape in lifeboats or be rescued by other ships (or in the case of the Contra Concordia, by helicopter).

However...even on today's mammoth cruise ships, those outer hulls don't go all the way to the waterline. Extending it that far not only adds to the cost of construction, but cuts down on speed and fuel consumption. The Contra Concordia proved this to be a penny wise and pound foolish policy, since it was a rip in the inner hull below the waterline but above the outer hull that brought her down.

(If you're planning a cruise any time soon, you should find out if the vessel you'll be on has been retrofitted with an outer hull all the way to the waterline...)

Fire in the Coal?

Some believe a smoldering fire in the Titanic's coal bins weakened the hull in the area where the iceberg hit.

It is true coal back then could and would ignite spontaneously in ships' holds, and that this was a constant concern in ships whose boilers were powered by coal. It's also true such a fire had occurred during the Titanic's trial run, but extinguished before it reached Southampton for the maiden voyage.

However, if the coal did re-ignite at some point - it's only conjecture that it did- it couldn't have made the hull of the Titanic any weaker than it already was thanks to the design and construction flaws above.

Now for the human factor...

Instead of giving the order to abandon ship immediately after learning their ships were mortally wounded, the captains of both ships froze, leaving passengers (and crew members) to fend for themselves. Both also waited an hour or more to notify ships in the area that his ship was sinking. The Marconi operator took it upon himself to send Titanic's SOS, the last message ever sent from it.

The captain of the Contra Concordia did do one thing right, even if it was only to save his own skin. By the time he was aware of the severity of the damage, the ship was already heading into open sea. But he somehow managed to turn it around and maneuver it back to shallow water close to land. Then he jumped into the first lifeboat he could get to and refused to go back, even after being ordered to do so by the Italian Coast Guard.

The Titanic's captain didn't jump ship, but neither did he participate in the evacuation efforts. Inaction and denial that their ship is really sinking is apparently a common reaction among captains of large cruise ships. It didn't help that the press had deemed the Titanic "unsinkable". No ship is truly unsinkable, but it's easy to see why the captain of "the [then] largest ship ever built" would believe his was.

As for the Titanic-Olympic "switch conspiracy" theory...

Hogwash. Pure hogwash.

First off, they were both of the Olympic class, and to the untrained eye, identical. But they weren't identical, inside or out. A trained eye could easily spot the differences in fittings, porthole configurations, hatch covers, etc., even that the steel plate next to an anchor port overlaps on the Olympic, but on the Titanic is flush with the neighboring plate.

It is true that while the Titantic was being completed, White Star did substitute photos of the Olympic for publicity purposes. It's also true that some of the blueprints for both were identical and therefore labeled 400-01, 400 being the H&W ID number for the Olympic and 401 for the Titanic. Same for many, but not all, of the engine parts and fittings. Anyone who considers a part stamped "401" from the Olympic "proof" the Olympic was the "real" Titanic knows nothing about manufacturing or shipbuilding.

The Olympic was not substituted for the Titanic at the last minute so the White Star Line could collect insurance to recoup its losses for the expensive repairs necessitated after the Olympic was rammed by a Royal Navy vessel in Southampton harbor a year before the Titanic made her fateful voyage.

The myth that White Star arranged such a switch and to have ships standing by at a certain longitude and latitude to take on the Olympic's passengers in order to sink it without loss of life is just that - a myth.

Those who believe it isn't a myth overlook the fact that thousands of workers were crawling all over the Titanic every day to ready her for the much-heralded maiden voyage. Again, the Titanic and Olympic were not identical, and those workers knew every inch of the Titanic intimately. They would've noticed immediately that they were working on a different ship.

But enough about the "switch conspiracy" in this hub.

Bruce Beveridge and Steve Hall list the differences between the Titanic and the Olympic in detailed explanations and photos in their Olympic & Titanic: The Truth Behind The Conspiracy.

What do YOU think?

Was the sinking of the Titanic an accident or intentional?

  • It was an accident
  • It was intentional
  • I don't know
See results without voting

Which ship sank on the night of 14-15 April 1912?

  • The real Titanic
  • The Olympic disguised as the Titanic
See results without voting


~:~ ~:~ Many thanks to Marcy Goodfleisch for urging me to do this hub! ~:~ ~:~

More by this Author


Comments 87 comments

WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

You covered a lot of ground in a short time. Great job of journalism. I had never heard the switch theory. Interesting.

I guess the moral of the story is . . . ocean cruises are never what they are cracked up to be.


CASE1WORKER profile image

CASE1WORKER 4 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

My late father was a naval archietect they could tell at a glance when a ship was different; it would not have got out of Belfast under the wrong flag.


robie2 profile image

robie2 4 years ago from Central New Jersey

Wow Jama-- what a hub. It is so packed with fascinating information I hardly know where to start. Suffice it to say that I could not put it down. Who knew about the design flaws in the Titanic and the similarities between the Titanic and the more recent Contra Concoerdia fiasco. You write so well and with such flair that I was mesmerized. Oh yes, and that Titanic in a bottle photo is just perfect. I'm voting this up across the board and going off to track down some of the links you recommend.


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

From my research and what I have seen on televised shows lately, cruising is still fairly unsafe (if an accident happens).The ships built now have a too high center of gravity and double hulls still are kept at a minimum... most likely to save money. Add to that there is a probability the crew will abandon ship first according to some studies of more modern day shipwrecks.

I think it pays to do research if one plans to take a sea cruise!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

WD Curry, thanks for the kudos! I'd never heard of the "switch" theory, either, until it was mentioned in a comment on Marcy's Titanic hub. I guess some people can't accept that horrible things can and do "just happen". The iceberg wasn't supposed to be there. It was a "calf" that had broken away from its "mother" after the Titanic sailed and therefore wasn't on any of the charts that were current when the ship left Southampton only days earlier.

The Contra Concordia didn't have that excuse - it had radar to detect such things, but the captain had decided to navigate by sight and turned it off. Problem was, he was distracted by a cell phone call and didn't see the rock until it was too late.

I was never wild about cruise ships before, even for the great food, but this has put me off them forever. Paddle wheelers on the Mississippi are more my speed...or a City Cruise on the Thames. ;D


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

CASE1WORKER, I think that's true of most of those of in fields that involve building things from the ground up. Or who's done those "puzzles" in the Sunday paper where two "identical" images are side by side, but things are missing from one and you have to spot what they are from the other. I've never been on a big ship in my life, but I spotted the differences in many of the grainy photos in Google Books' facsimile of Beveridge and Hall's book! It's not rocket science, only being a good observer. ;D


homesteadbound profile image

homesteadbound 4 years ago from Texas

What a great read this was. I could not stop, and it was over all too soon. It is amazing how there are so many similarities, yet they were 100 years apart!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

robie, Thanks! (she says, blushing...) But you of all people know the lengths I go to to connect the dots when I get curious. Tracking down Annie's twin Tillie's house in Beckington, for example. Glad you approve of the sinking Titantic in the bottle, but I just noticed a "flaw" - the smokestack farthest from the water shouldn't have smoke coming out of it. It was really only a ventilation tube for officers' quarters below it. ;D


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Scribenet, you're absolutely right that cruising is still fairly unsafe (in an accident). The center of gravity in today's "tall ships" - floating skyscrapers - IS too high for safety in anything but the calmest sea. And the double hulls are NOT as high as they should be, and saving money IS the reason they aren't. If the Contra Concordia disaster doesn't change that, I shudder to think how many more people will have to perish in a similar event before DOES change.

Unfortunately, I suspect you're right about crews abandoning ship first, too, or being clueless what to do to facilitate evacuation if they don't. IF I ever do agree to board a cruise ship - a very remote possibility at this point - I won't need a stateroom. I'll sleep in my life jacket in a lifeboat and never venture far from it when I'm awake! ;D


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

homesteadbound, I'm so sorry it ended too soon for you! As you can guess from the additional information I put in some of my replies, I could've made it much longer, but was afraid it was getting too long. But, yes! The similarities ARE amazing! I thought that the minute I heard about the Contra Concordia on the news. One passenger even exclaimed (in total disbelief) that "this is NOT supposed to happen in 2012" and how "it was almost like being on the Titanic!".

One glaring difference, of course, is the captain of the Titanic went down with his ship, but I suspect the Concordia's captain may well wish he had, too, after 20 or 30 years behind bars.

The PBS documentary pointed out airlines have been rigorously training pilots for decades in what to do in an emergency. They train in simulators so if they do freeze or do the wrong thing the first few times, nobody dies. Sully Sullenberger landing that plane on the Hudson is THE prime example of how such training pays off. (He left the cockpit for good, btw, to train other pilots.) But cruise lines are only now starting to adopt simulator training for their captains and senior crew members. Maybe that's why I'm not scared to fly but won't go near a cruise ship! ;D


Scribenet profile image

Scribenet 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

I agree, Jamagenee, that is how I would sleep on one of those ships...if I ever did venture aboard (also unlikely). Fortunately, there have not been too many accidents.


Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

Marcy Goodfleisch 4 years ago from Planet Earth

This is an outstanding, well-written and well-researched hub! I so appreciate your information about the many flaws and issues that caused the disaster. The similar design flaws in the Contra Concordia are sobering; I think it is very useful to compare the two, as you have done here.

I've added a link to this hub on my hub about the human loss on the Titanic.

Voted up, awesome and interesting!


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

How about a prairie schooner?


JKenny profile image

JKenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

Hi Jama, great hub. I remember thinking when the Concordia sank, that they'll probably make a blockbuster film of it in maybe ten or twenty years. It seemed quite spooky that such a huge ship sank nearly 100 years after the Titanic.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

Very interesting and very topical too. I wouldn't worry too much about being on a big ship when it sinks. We are far more likely to be killed on the roads.


one2get2no profile image

one2get2no 4 years ago from Olney

Very interesting hub and well researched. I learned a lot from this hub. Thank you.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Marcy, thanks so much for keeping on me to write this! Sadly, the one "design flaw" marine architects can't plan for or eliminate in a blueprint is the "human factor", which is the Concordia's downfall. With every variety of modern technology on board, no way should its captain have been navigating "by sight" that night since there are several reports that he'd finished off a carafe of wine at dinner only an hour or two earlier.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

@WD Curry: A prairie schooner (covered wagon) works for me, too! lol!

@christopheranton: I'm claustrophobic AND deathly afraid of large bodies of water, so friends and family were amazed when I had NO problem sitting in a jumbo jet for 7 1/2 hours from Chicago to London, over a VERY LARGE body of water. My rationale being if that plane had fallen out of the sky at 31,000 feet, I'd be dead before my body hit the water. A cruise ship, on the other hand is ON the water and I can't swim, therefore I'd rather not take the chance I couldn't get a seat in a lifeboat. ;D


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

JKenny, they probably WILL make a blockbuster movie about the Contra Concordia, but IMHO I think it'll only be a "blockbuster" if it's written around the parallels between the CC and the Titanic....mainly because the CC went down so close to land in fairly shallow water rather than out in open sea.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks, one2get2no! Glad to know you learned a lot from it! I did, too, while researching it! ;D


John Holden profile image

John Holden 4 years ago

Nothing to add really apart from to second all the other comments. You inspire me!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks, John Holden! "Entertain and educate" used to be my motto. Now, thanks to you, it'll be "Entertain, educate AND inspire"! ;D


John Holden profile image

John Holden 4 years ago

As good entertainment and education should do. Inspire that is.

BTW, I saw another "error" with the design yesterday. The Titanic had three propellers, the two outer driven by conventional reciprocating engines and reversible, the centre by a none reversible turbine. When the ship went into reverse the central prop was stopped and because there was then no water flow past the rudder the ship became almost unmanoeuvrable, thus reducing its chances of missing the iceberg.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

John, I vaguely remember reading about the inability to maneuver in reverse because of that propeller, too. As I understand it, though, by the time the iceberg was spotted on that moonless night, the forward inertia of the ship at the speed it was traveling - nearly full out to try to break the speed record to New York - neutralized any reverse movement that could've been attained. Turning the wheel on such a large ship was rather pointless, too, as that only caused the stern to fishtail *against* the iceberg. In other words, by the time the iceberg was spotted, the Titanic was toast no matter what the captain or crew did...unless it had been going so slow as to be hardly moving.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

Wonderfully informative hub, JamaGenee. I commend you and Marcy for working together on this and giving each other her due space.

This past March, my mate took me on my first cruise in celebration of my 55th birthday. Aside from the fact that the 2nd two days were totally boring and I wanted to go home, I was surprised, perturbed and perplexed when, upon embarking, the crew gathered everyone together on the ship and went over "emergency" procedures. We were all gathered in front of the line of safety boats (for effect more than instruction!). Not once were we given life jackets to "practice" donning. Not once were we told how to board the boats as they were lowered off the ship in case of emergency. All that was said, was "you don't want to open this gate while travelling, or you'll fall overboard!". Safety measures were not taken seriously at all. In fact, I have very strong doubts the crew would know what to do in the case of a real emergency, except ask the passengers if they could get them another drink!

You write very engagingly and with absolute eloquent presentation. You've impressed me with your skill and I will now follow you to see what else you have to offer!

Voted up along with other appropriate touts. Fascinating, engaging writing!


rednickle profile image

rednickle 4 years ago from New Brunswick Canada

wow classic analysis here and great work done here. No flaw here in your hub( according to what i have read about the titanic actually). Thumbs up

Peace


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

JamaGenee - If enough folks read this thrilling but scary recapitulation of the similarities between the Titanic and the Contra Concordia,you will manage to set back cruise travel considerably. Voting up for the assiduous research and well-written reporting, m'dear.


Dolores Monet profile image

Dolores Monet 4 years ago from East Coast, United States

The Titanic disaster has certainly fascinated people for a long time so I really enjoyed reading this one. I heard (in one of those little snipets on the radio while driving and didn't hear the whole thing) that the whole iceberg problem could have been due to an optical illusion. Something about the weather that time of year. I know how the ocean can create false images, saw some pretty odd looking things when my folks lived at the beach.


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

Nothing is more powerful than God. Therefore we should not be arrogant. The Titanic and the Concordia Sank are good example for us. Very inspiring hub. Thanks for share with us. Rated up!

Prasetio


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

bravewarrior, thanks for the kudos!

That the extent of the emergency instructions you were given was only "Don't open this gate or you'll fall overboard" - well, duh - comes from the false sense of security today's mammoth cruise ships impart to crew and passengers alike. Fostered by the companies that own them, who don't want passengers to even consider the possibility their state-of-the-art vessels COULD sink, or the crews aren't capable of keeping it afloat for the duration, or BOTH.

EXACTLY why it behooves anyone on a cruise ship for the first time to **demand** more information during an "emergency procedures" gathering! To not be afraid or embarrassed to say "SHOW ME how to put on my life jacket" and "SHOW ME how to get into a lifeboat AND lower it safely". It's the crew's JOB to know these things AND be able to instruct passengers in same. If they don't, don't be too shy to track down someone who CAN demonstrate what to do. Contra Concordia passengers learned the hard way one's life could depend on this information. ;D


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

@rednickle: Hello and many thanks for the "Wow" and the Thumbs Up! Glad to know my research and analysis agrees with what you've read about the Titanic. ;D

@drbj, I couldn't help but laugh that I might "set back cruise travel considerably"! That REALLY wasn't my intention. But if 32 completely unnecessary deaths on the Contra Concordia didn't wake up the cruise industry to the need to *thoroughly* instruct passengers AND ALL crew members (even wait and kitchen staff) in what to do in an emergency, then it deserves a considerable setback until it DOES. Thanks for reading, commenting AND the kudos! ;D


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Dolores, I'm also aware the sea can produce some pretty weird optical illusions. But that snippet you heard on the radio is part of the "the Titanic was really the Olympic and sunk for the insurance conspiracy" story.

Believers propose the crew member on watch really saw an iceberg **mirage** in a patch of icy mist on the surface of the water, but when the Titanic-Olympic swerved to avoid the "iceberg", it was rammed by one of the ships standing by at that longitude-latitude to take off passengers and crew before the Titanic-Olympic sank.

Known as the "Mystery Ship", it then steamed away to the north, right into a known iceberg field (sure...) and was never identified OR seen again. The "mystery factor" necessary to every conspiracy theory.

When the wreck of the Titanic was finally located, it was plain that the gash in its side was made by an iceberg, not by colliding with another ship (OR an optical illusion!). But believers in the Titanic-Olympic "switch" will never let FACTS ruin a "good" conspiracy theory. ;D


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

prasetio30, you are absolutely correct that NOTHING is more powerful than God (or whatever one calls his/her Higher Power)! Not even (at the time) the "largest ship in the world" or one outfitted with state-of-the-art technology (the Concordia).

When one considers **only a few feet** made all the difference in whether each sailed past or collided with the immovable object that sank each, there was definitely a more powerful force at work.

Many Titanic passengers, btw, thought it might be jinxed before it ever got out of Southampton harbor where it narrowly missed hitting (or being hit by) another ship. Those fears were forgotten, however, when the voyage itself - up until it hit the iceberg, of course - was uneventful.

Thanks for reading, commenting and the UP rating!


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

And to further the conversation, the media tells us what we are ALLOWED to know, whether it be governmental or corporate dictate. Unfortunately, in today's world, the consumer must not be made aware of possible consequences so as to not compromise corporate gain or negate taxation! Sounds like a whole new chain of discussion to me!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Precisely! That's why Corporate America and its paid lackeys are pushing so hard to limit our access to the internet...except, of course, to sites that sell their wares and spread their lies. The TV drug ads DO crack me up, though. At the end of the commercial for the Miracle Drug du Jour, the voice over HAS TO recite ALL the side effects, most of which are FAR worse than whatever condition the drug is supposed to alleviate or cure. So I look for the Truth In Advertising law to be on the chopping block before too long. ;D


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

And that, my newfound friend, is a whole 'nother topic: the disclaimers for the drug advertisements! Really? And people still actually take them? What kills me is each and every commercial says "tell your doctor if your taking..." such and such. Your doctor doesn't already have this information??? Are you kidding me??? Consumer ignorance or ignore-ance absolutely baffles me! I'll quit now, or I'll go on and on and on and on....

We could have some awesome conversations!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Yes, we sure could have some awesome conversations!! We might have to take this one offline via email. lol!

The "tell your doctor if you're taking such-and-such" is my #2 favorite part, for the same reason you said. My #1 MOST favorite part of those commercials is...after an already long list of unpleasant side effects like stomach cramps, diarrhea and increased blood pressure (for a drug for, say, toenail discoloration) is "could also cause death". Well, at least your corpse will have pretty toenails, right? ;D


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

I agree, JamaGenee! For some reason, my "contact Bravewarrior" choice is no longer on my profile page. This is probably putting my neck out, but I trust our hubbers. You can email me at rlbmate@embarqmail.com


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, I hadn't heard of the switch theory either, fascinating! There are so many people over the last hundred years who have blamed only the captain, and I have always said that it was mainly down to poor workmanship on the ship itself, it seems however good we keep trying to make them there is always going to be a flaw that someone has missed, it's a strange thing that the Condcordia was lost almost to the same months as the titanic. Fascinating hub, and a great read, voted up! cheers nell


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

bravewarrior, you won't see "contact bravewarrior" on your profile page when you're signed on. It only appears to others - or to you if you're signed out. Weird, huh? It also appears, though, to you (and everybody else) on each of your hubs no matter if you're signed on or not.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Nell, good for you for maintaining the captain wasn't solely responsible for the Titanic's sinking! And yes, there's always going to be a "flaw" in design that someone missed, although in the case of the Concordia, the only flaw was in the captain's (alcohol-impaired?) judgement to switch off navigational technology.


2patricias profile image

2patricias 4 years ago from Sussex by the Sea

It's real genius to link the Titanic and the Concordia in this hub.

Even though the Titanic is everywhere this year, it can felt as if that sort of thing could only happen a long time ago - until the Concordia disaster of a few months ago.

No matter how good the design of a ship, there is still a capacity for human error.

Those of us who live in England remember the sinking of the channel ferrry, The Herald of Free Enterprise. Due to poor discipline, drinking and inattention, the ferry left the port with the bow door open. The consequences were tragic.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

2patricias, I think the Titanic and Concordia will be forever "twinned" now because thanks to their sinkings being so eerily close to 100 years apart and under such similar circumstances.

I hadn't heard about The Herald of Free Enterprise tragedy. I'll have to google it. Thanks. I've never been on a Channel ferry, but if I ever am, I'll be sure and check that the bow door is closed.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

Thanx for the clarification!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

That Captain was unbelievable! Did you see the Captain being yelled at on tv? The man in the other boat was saying, get back on that ship now! scary stuff!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Nell, I didn't see the Concordia captain being yelled at by a man in another boat, but I did hear the recording(s) the calls to His Cowardness from the Italian Coast Guard (the highest authority in Italian waters) repeatedly ordering him to get back to the ship, find out how many passengers were still on board, and assist in the evacuation. I don't remember all of the captain's reply except him whining "I can't...I can't...". He was obviously terrified that if he went back, he wouldn't get off the ship alive again. So much for the age-old tradition of the captain being the last one off and possibly going down with his chip. Wimp.

It was the (Second Mate?), the mayor of the village, and a female doctor who stayed on board until all the passengers **they could find** were off the ship. The mayor and (I think) the doctor were the last to be lifted off the port side by a helicopter before the Concordia laid completely over on her starboard side.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 4 years ago from Central Florida

So where is the training? Where is the responsibility? Where is the leadership? How did he earn Captain in the first place? Most of all, where is the ACCOUNTABILITY???


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

bravewarrior, the cruise industry is only recently starting to train captains and key crew members in how to remain in control in an emergency situation. The airlines have been doing it for decades, in simulators. Now there are simulators that can replicate marine emergencies.

As for how the captain got to be a captain: impressing the "right" people and *appearing* capable enough to command a large vessel, plus being in the right place at the right time to fill an open spot.

As for accountability, the FORMER captain is under house arrest while awaiting trial for a verrry long list of criminal charges in not only the deaths of 32 passengers but criminal negligence for his actions before and during the sinking. Once convicted, he'll be in prison for the rest of his natural life. This is a given, the trial is only a formality.


barbergirl28 profile image

barbergirl28 4 years ago from Hemet, Ca

This is a great hub. I have always been interested in The Titanic and the reason it sunk but never really looked much further into it. As a teenager, naturally, I fell in love with the story because of the movie... but since they have re-released the movie, I have been watching a few of the documentaries. Great information and I learned a lot from this!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

barbergirl, you're most welcome! And THANK YOU for leaving a comment! Most of the information here about the Titanic has been out there for years, but nobody other than Titanic aficionados paid much attention to it until the 100th anniversary was coming up.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Very interesting piece here JamaG- you did your homework and presented it to the class very well indeed. Learned about the recent Concordia sinking too. What a brave chap the Concordia's captain was- and how can someone in a position like that live with themselves after such cowardly behavior. Anyway, I'd never heard of the switch conspiracy either but have heard of the 300 supposed anti federal reserve men invited on board.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Well, there ya go, Alastar. Tit for tat. I hadn't heard of "300 supposedly anti federal reserve men invited on board"! Interesting! I'll have to look THAT one up!

That said, it never ceases to amaze me the scenarios people conjure up after a major disaster like the sinking of the Titanic. Thanks for the kudos and the heads up! ;D


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

I have never been on a cruise and since my husband has no desire to go, I doubt that I will at this point in my life. Not only can the ships be sunk as the recent Concordia fiasco demonstrated, but the illnesses that people can pick up while on ships would keep me a bit wary. I like your idea of river cruising. How about the Rhine? Interesting hub! Voted that, up and sharing with my followers.


LadyFiddler profile image

LadyFiddler 4 years ago from Somewhere in the West

Very very Interesting Hub :) i love the movie titanic watched it 22 times to be precised and never got bored of it. I haven't in a few years though.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us :)

Do have a wonderful week

God bless you


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa

I read your article with intrigue as our family tree reveals we had a distant relative on the Titanic. This has not been proven but all correspondence points to the fact. As I understand it third class passengers names were not recorded and this may account for our lack of proof.

I am presently reading my second book of the 'Titanic' the first one giving the court case accounts that followed and it seems that much of the case was seriously flawed.

I have been on two cruises and although both were enjoyed prompting me to write two hubs on cruising I've since decided to have my future holidays on land.

All the facts you present were not known to me and this is worth a re read so thank you for the fine effort and now I'm off to do just that, read once again.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Peggy W, I'd totally forgotten about the illnesses that are rife on a cruise ship. On a par with those in hospitals, if memory serves. Thanks for reminding me!

That said, a river cruise company in Europe sponsors a PBS program I watch regularly. Between its ads and everything else I've heard about cruising the Rhine, I think I'd enjoy a river cruise. At least you're within sight of shore the entire time!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

LadyFiddler, thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! You have a wonderful wee, too! ;D


John Holden profile image

John Holden 4 years ago

Really! How personal, have a wonderful wee indeed! :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

LadyLyell, of course the names of third class passengers wouldn't have been recorded in "Arrivals" at the New York end, but would've been when they boarded on the British Isles side. The (British) National Archives site has a database called something like "Passengers Leaving the UK" that I've consulted many times when looking for a "missing" ancestor I know was on a ship that embarked from a British or Irish port.

I'm with you on sticking to holidays on land (although I've yet to find a way to get to England that doesn't involve flying)! But as I just told Peggy W, I think I'd enjoy a cruise on the Rhine. ;D


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Same to you, John Holden!! ;D


LadyLyell profile image

LadyLyell 4 years ago from George, South Africa

Jama, I find your comment on the names recorded of passengers boarding interesting and worth a follow up.I realize many who drowned were forgotten souls.

Last night I was reading my book on the Titanic and every read emphasizes the tragedy.

Thank you for the database info which I will duly pass on to my sister-in-law who is doing the research on the possiblility of a relative being on board.

This article must be one of the best I've ever read on hubpages!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

LadyLyell, the last line of your comment made me blush. Thanks!

That said, it occurs to me in all of the books, newspaper stories, documentaries and such about the Titanic, I don't recall ever seen a FULL passenger list. Yet from researching my own British ancestors and those of others for three decades, I know the British LOVE to keep records of *everything*. So a full list (or lists) of passengers who boarded the Titanic at various ports before heading out into the North Atlantic would've been left with the authorities at those ports.

The (UK) National Archives website, btw, featured the Titanic in a huge spread in honor of the 100th anniversary. I'm going to poke around over there and see what I can turn up. ;D


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

Yes...a Rhine River cruise would be right up my alley! I'm a pretty good swimmer and could undoubtedly make it to shore if a worst case scenario would happen. Survive the middle of the ocean without a lifeboat? I'd die of fright first!


John Holden profile image

John Holden 4 years ago

Unfortunately JamaGenee, though we do love to keep lists, we only like to keep lists of important things (and people) you'll probably find that no records were kept of those travelling steerage (third class).


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

On the contrary, John.

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the sinking, the UK Nat'l Archives released the passenger lists of first, second AND third class (steerage) passengers who boarded the Titanic at Southampton or Queenstown. (As explained below, the only passengers not listed were those who boarded at Cherbourg, France, but whose names are possibly in lists of the rescued or identifiable recovered bodies.)

At Ancestry.com or Ancestry.co.uk, in the database entitled "UK, RMS Titanic, Outward Passenger List, 1912", one can see images of:

"...passenger lists for passengers who boarded the RMS [Royal Mail Ship] Titanic at the ports of Southampton, England, and Queenstown, Ireland. It does NOT include lists for passengers who boarded the ship in France. The passenger lists recorded the following details:

contract ticket number

name

class

port at which passenger contracted to land

profession or occupation

age

gender

whether accompanied by husband or wife

country of last permanent residence

country of intended future residence"

The same lists in text form can also be viewed at findmypast.co.uk. Alas, both Ancestry and FindMyPast are pay-to-view sites, but the lists of passengers - including 3rd class - ARE available.

For those who can't or don't wish to pay to view the lists, the UK Nat'l Archives has an extensive and interesting presentation about the Titanic at http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/titanic/

Thanks for stopping by!


old albion profile image

old albion 4 years ago from Lancashire. England.

Hi JamaGenee.

Congratulations on this absolutely first class hub. Your research and commitment shine through. I really enjoyed it and some of your 'links'.

Graham.

voted up and all.


John Holden profile image

John Holden 4 years ago

Ah, sometimes it feels good to be proved wrong :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks, Graham! Our small public library sells (donated) used books and magazine. Some kind soul recently donated several years worth of National Geographic from the 1980s for 25 cents each. Since I'm in the process of downsizing, I refused to give in to temptation until the day the issue about the discovery of the Titanic's watery grave happened to be on top. I snapped it up in case there might be some tidbit I could add to this hub. Alas, the piece primarily consisted of grainy photos of sections of the wreckage alongside corresponding diagrams of the same sections from blueprints or photos taken during construction.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

John Holden, in this case I agree! lol! Releasing the passenger manifests and lists of dead for all three classes will allow descendants to verify once and for all if a loved one really was on the Titanic. A pity, though, that the lists weren't released decades ago.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Hi Jama, I have just emailed Sothebys in London to ask about the Homer painting you asked about, they say reach high, can't get higher than that! lol!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 3 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Great! I'll be looking forward to what Sotheby's has to say about Winslow Homer's "Children Under a Palm Tree" painting! Thanks!

For those who haven't read Nell's hub about the painting, it's at http://hubpages.com/art/Children-under-a-Palm-Tree...


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

Thanks Jama, I got in touch with them, and London said they would pass the email onto America Sothebys. So I waited and they replied. No luck I am afraid, they said that there was no more information about it at this time! Oh yeah? keeping quiet on it methinks! thanks so much for the link, I will still try to keep my eyes open, this may well have stirred them up to check it out, you never know!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 3 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

tee hee... Methinks you're right. Keep the painting out of the limelight for a decade or so, then auction it off for the Blakes for a tidy sum and no one will be the wiser. Not if "Nell Rose, Girl Detective" stays on their tail! ;D


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 3 years ago from England

LOL! yes that's me! I will keep on niggling at them, until they cough up big time! hopefully it goes for selina and not the blakes! arghhh!


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Hi, came back for another read because there have been programs about it as well as the titanic. The one thing that is so confusing in the news at the moment is that plane! The Chinese one? So strange. They have said that it totally disappeared, but can't find the wreckage, now I would love to know what's happened to it.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

The last I heard about the Concordia was that they'd righted her and the residents of that Italian village could have their beach back.

As for that plane, I got an alert (from the BBC?) that two oil slicks had been spotted in the vicinity it went down. The two passengers with stolen passports will likely be the key to what happened, that is if authorities can ever figure out their true identities.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Evidently the oil slicks are nothing to do with the plane. The latest is that its really puzzling because they can't find any floating parts of the plane, and the fact that the radio signal just cut out is even more strange, the whole story is really weird.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

So maybe there's a "Bermuda Triangle" in that part of the world? Nah, sounds more like a well-planned hijacking, but even so there should've been a radio signal. :-(


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 2 years ago from England

Exactly, I am sure there will be lots of conspiracy theories concerning this one if its never found!


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

Good job on digging out those tiny, but oh-so-important detail differences. As they saying goes, "The devil is in the details."

My husband and I saw the PBS show "Why Ships Sink" on the cable menu one evening--he skimmed past it with the dismissive remark, "Uh, because they get holes in their hulls...???" Yes, he's a professional smart-a$$, and proud of it, but he also grew up around boats, and has owned several in his lifetime, so I guess, to him, that was not a particularly interesting show.

Great hub--voted up and interesting.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks, Liz! My own family history started the research that culminated in this hub. My great-grandparents and their young family, including my future grandfather, had come to America in the 1880s on a ship built by Harland & Wolff (the British Crown). Until I looked up the B.C.'s history, I wasn't really aware that H&W had also built the Titanic. It snowballed from there.

Your husband sounds like a real card. I mean that in a good way. His remark 'because they get holes in their hulls...??' is exactly what my smart-a$$ son would've said had he come across the program on the menu. But being the sort who likes to take things apart to see how they work - and has since he was a toddler - he would've been glued to the set until the show was over!

Again, thanks for stopping by! ;D


DrBillSmithWriter profile image

DrBillSmithWriter 2 years ago from Hollister, MO

Fascinating stuff! Thanks, so much, for sharing!! ;-)


agvulpes profile image

agvulpes 2 years ago from Australia

Just when I thought it was safe to go in the water. Hmm... no that's another show lol

I just loved the way you laid out this article so well and I know that these ships were built a long, long time ago but why were the designers so , for want of a better word, dumb?

Maybe they were actually the first to invent planned obsolescence ?

JamaGenee great read and shared out :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

G'day, Ag, and thanks for the kudos! That said, I doubt planned obsolescence had anything to do with the design of the Titanic since it was touted as the height of cutting edge technology at the time. "At the time" being the key phrase here. Apparently even the best structural engineers of the day weren't aware how brittle steel could become in icy waters.

But I do have to agree with you that they WERE "dumb" for designing the walls of the compartments at the lowest level of the ship to go only halfway up. A fatal design flaw based on the mistaken assumption that the Titanic's other state-of-the-art design elements would make it unsinkable. The tragedy of the Contra Concordia is proof that no ship is unsinkable under the "right" conditions.


poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 20 months ago

Some fascinating information. I learned something today.


isitaplane profile image

isitaplane 11 months ago from Why in the Loft of course

Hi all you informed commentators and to the writer, I shall not comment on what I see although will say that I am a shipbuilder and maritime researcher and leave it at that, by the way the ship was named as the "Costa Concordia" and she went down due to the "Free Surface Effect" of water sloshing around inside from side to side until the vessel's righting arm is too far over to correct and she will turn right over and sink, or in this case rest against a rock outcrop just under the surface, interesting subject though, and well done for looking at this, as for the Titanic well less said about this the better, far worse disasters at sea have happened with little or no high vis press reporting.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 9 months ago from Central Oklahoma Author

isitaplane, thank you for your insights. However, this is a hub, only intended to focus on the similarities between two maritime disasters that occurred nearly 100 years apart. It was never meant to be an in-depth analysis of shipbuilding or to imply that either was THE worst in maritime history. Had an Astor and other well-heeled members of Society in the early 1900s not been on board, I doubt the Titanic would've received the press coverage and such at the time and for all the decades since it went down.

As for the Contra Concordia, had the captain not been more concerned with saving his own skin and reputation than the safety of passengers and crew members, EVERY person on board would've survived his colossal error in judgement, and a cruise ship going aground would've been "old news" in a matter of days, until the mammoth operation of removing this "beached whale" was underway.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working