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What if Titanic Never Sank?

Updated on February 22, 2017

It is the most frequently asked question in the history of maritime disasters; What if the RMS Titanic never sank? What would have happened to her?

While we will never know the answer to this question, certainly we can look at the most logical scenarios. Long story short, you might be disappointed. Let's pretend the ship did not sink. Instead the vessel arrives safely on Wednesday April 17, 1912 to much fan fare and celebration as the World's Largest Vessel. After that, Titanic would would begin a downward spiral of obscurity and routine.

Bluntly the vessel, through its natural lifespan, would have only lived for twenty-five to thirty years. She would have quietly met the same fate as any other vessel from that era, the scrapyard. Ironically, the only reason she's existed for over 100 years is because she lies at the bottom of the ocean.

RMS Aquitania
RMS Aquitania
SS Imperator, World's Largest Liner, 1913
SS Imperator, World's Largest Liner, 1913

1913. No Longer the World's Largest Vessel.

The RMS Titanic, upon completing her maiden voyage, would have returned to Southampton several weeks later in early May 1912, relishing in her title as the World's Largest Liner. Yet she would only hold this honor for less than a year. Two ships, nearly overlooked by history, were near completion during the maiden voyage of Titanic, the RMS Aquitania and SS Imperator.

In reaction to White Star's announcement of the Olympic Class, Cunard immediately ordered the RMS Aquitania to reclaim its market cap. Construction began in December 1910 and launching just weeks away when Titanic's voyaged. The Aquitania was 901 feet long, twenty feet longer than Titanic.

Responding to Cunard's new vessel, the Hamburg America Line's, SS Imperator. This colossal 906 foot, 52,000 ton vessel, a full twenty feet longer and 4,000 tons larger, would shatter Titanic's hold as the World's Largest Liner regardless. Like Aquitania, construction neared completion during Titanic's maiden voyage.

With the spotlight now off Titanic, the ship would begin an unremarkable career as a 'typical' ship of the line.

1914. Lusitania Disaster.

Unfortunately, the only effective means of regulation change is that of a tragic loss of life. If Titanic had not sunk, then the disaster hailed as the most famous maritime disaster in history would have likely gone to RMS Lusitania. Torpedoed in the early days of World War I, the Lusitania was a passenger vessel under the neutral American flag.

Without the Titanic Disaster to change maritime regulations at an earlier point in time, the Lusitania likely would retain only sixteen lifeboats for the 1,900 people on board. Sinking in eighteen minutes, the loss of life would have been catastrophically worse than it's recorded number. The steerage passengers would have also been locked below decks amongst other atrocities.

Sinking of the Lusitania.
Sinking of the Lusitania.
HMHS Britannic, the third Titanic sister.
HMHS Britannic, the third Titanic sister.
The sinking of the HMHS Britannic after hitting a mine.
The sinking of the HMHS Britannic after hitting a mine.

1914-1918. World War I

As with the fate of the Olympic, Mauretania, Aquitania and the Imperator, the Titanic would have likely found herself pressed into service as either a troupe transport or hospital ship by the British government. Repainted in WWI era 'dazzle paint' to confuse U-Boats, stripped of her magnificent internal fittings and portholes sealed with steel, the Titanic would have been stuffed to the breaking point with nearly 6,000 troops at a time.

Charging back and forth across the Atlantic, dodging U-Boat attacks, rescuing other sinking ships, and even near collisions with other friendlies, the Titanic would have been hailed for her critical roll in the war effort. Like her sister Olympic, the Titanic would have transported nearly a quarter million troops, burned about as many tons of coal and traveled as many miles. She may even have earned a nick name. Olympic's was 'Old Reliable'.

Britannic, the third sister of the Olympic class would become the only vessel of the class to sink. Striking a mine in the Mediterranean Sea, the Britannic foundered in less than one hour.

Olympic during WWI as a troop carrier. Note the 'dazzle' paint. Titanic would have regaled a similar design.
Olympic during WWI as a troop carrier. Note the 'dazzle' paint. Titanic would have regaled a similar design.
Olympic in 1929.
Olympic in 1929.
Olympic in drydock for refit.
Olympic in drydock for refit. | Source

1918-1934. Post War Service.

Providing the ship escaped destruction herself, the Titanic would have been returned to civilian service at the conclusion of the war. In 1918 a modernization refit would have been completed giving her a new lease on life. Interior fittings would be modernized, additional staterooms and safety features added. Most importantly, the ship would have been converted to burn oil rather than coal. Oil was cheaper, cleaner and reduced personnel costs. These refits could have increased her gross tonnage to 49,000, briefly reclaiming the title as the Largest British Liner afloat by outweighing the longer SS Imperator.

During the 1920s the ship would have enjoyed a successful career as an express passenger liner attracting the rich and famous competing regularly with her sister Olympic for records and travel. Yet both vessels would not receive much fame. In fact, most attention would have been thrust onto the aging RMS Mauretania as the surviving sister of the RMS Lusitania. Which in this reality would have been the Greatest Maritime Disaster. Titanic may have had the occasional collision with a smaller vessel as did Olympic but nothing else exciting.

The mid 1920s saw changes in immigration law resticting the number of people allowed to enter the United States each year. This affected all passenger lines. 3rd Class passenger travel was the bread and butter of the shipping lanes and justified the need for such enormous ships. The White Star Line would have sent both Titanic and Olympic back to the shipyard for yet another modernization refit as it rethought its marketing strategy. This strategy added a fourth class, the Tourist Class, to the vessel's accommodations.

New common rooms and state rooms would be again added. Both ships' interior fittings would be again modernized including private bathrooms for all 1st class passengers. The dining saloon would have been expanded to include a dance floor and other entertainment services. From 1929 to 1934, Titanic would have continued its passenger and tourist travel.

From atop Funnel No. 4, the dummy funnel.
From atop Funnel No. 4, the dummy funnel.

Life Aboard the Olympic in the 1920's.

Olympic in the 1930s.
Olympic in the 1930s.

1934. Merger and Retirement.

The end of the mighty Titanic would begin in 1934 with the merger of the White Star Line and long time rival Cunard. The Great Depression all but killed passenger and tourist service, forcing many lines to bankruptcy.. Encouraged by the British government, the merger helped secure government funding for the construction of the RMS Queen Mary and RMS Queen Elizabeth. The newly merged company found itself with a fleet of surplus liners many of which were old and obsolete. The oldest ships in the fleet at this point would be the thirty-year-old RMS Mauretania, the twenty-three year old RMS Olympic and, in this case, the twenty-two year old RMS Titanic.

Saving Titanic or Olympic?

Say there was some possibility that one Olympic Class liner was being considered for modernization. The biggest question would have been which one? How well has the vessel physically aged? Does the vessel have a recorded history of excessive mechanical problems? Will one vessel be more cost effective to modernize than the other? These are just some of the factors that would have been considered before a decision was made.

Olympic began suffering metal fatigue in her upper superstructure in the 1920s. Cracks appeared along the expansion joins and bulkheads, a symptom common in riveted ships. It is likely that Titanic, with its heavier construction and fittings would have had a bigger strain on her superstructure.

1934, Olympic and Mauretania awaiting scrapping.
1934, Olympic and Mauretania awaiting scrapping.
Olympic's partially scrapped hull.
Olympic's partially scrapped hull.

The Scrapyard.

Their internal fittings would be auctioned off and the ships would be sold one by one to the highest bidder for scrapping. Mauretania was sold in 1935 and scrapped in 1936. The Olympic was sold in 1935. Talks amongst her new owners included conversion into a hotel in France but those talks failed. She was sold again to a member of Parliament who bought the ship for the sole purpose of scrapping her. Scrapping was completed in 1937.

There is no doubt that the Titanic would have met a similar fate. The Great Depression would have prevented any chance of the ship returning to active passenger service and the costs of converting her to a stationary hotel would have been too great. In an attempt to create some short termed jobs during the depression era, Titanic would have been scrapped. In so doing, joining her sister in an unremarkable and somewhat insulting death, a fraction of the glory the ship would achieve when she sank on her maiden voyage April 15, 1912.

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    • kuttingxedge profile image

      S.P. Kelly 5 years ago from Just outside of international extradition agreements

      This is a really cool perspective, and well presented. What if's can be so powerful.

    • writer20 profile image

      Joyce Haragsim 5 years ago from Southern Nevada

      Great information for the Titanic. Voted up and interesting.

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 5 years ago from Albuquerque

      Thank you both so much. I agree the what ifs can be very overpowering sometimes. The reality hit me while researching this hub that Titanic would have just been another ordinary ship had she not sunk.

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      Perhaps a lot of people would not have had their hearts broken. Mothers would have not lost their children, children would have not lost parents..ect. Sorry, not trying to make this a bad comment, but it is a true one.

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 5 years ago from Albuquerque

      It's not a bad comment at all, Michele. You are absolutely right, those passengers would have continued on in life. The other side of that coin is that without the Titanic Disaster the lifeboat regulations would not have been changed until probably World War I and the sinking of the Lusitania. There is no way to know for certain how many more lives would have been lost without the Titanic.

    • Georgie Lowery profile image

      Georgianna Lowery 5 years ago from Slaton, Texas USA

      Is it bad that, when I saw your title, I thought 'Well, we wouldn't have had that crappy Celine Dion song?' I know, opinions, right?

      This is a great Hub. I have never really asked what would have happened if she hadn't sunk. The whole era, to me, was glamorous, and she would definitely have stood out. Even people who are not really interested in history have always been fascinated with the Titanic, though. It's an amazing and sobering story.

      Great hub, voted up!

    • Michele Travis profile image

      Michele Travis 5 years ago from U.S.A. Ohio

      Jason, I had not thought about that part. I am glad that regulations changed. That probably saved more lives then we will ever know.

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 5 years ago from Albuquerque

      The what if possibilities are endless. In fact there is an old computer game called Titanic: Adventure Out of Time that suggests that if the Titanic had not sunk there would have been no World War I.

    • kuttingxedge profile image

      S.P. Kelly 5 years ago from Just outside of international extradition agreements

      Now that is cool. I have never heard of that game but it would be a fun theory to sound. Totally off subject now but that reminds me of a book called The Berkut, about the possibility of a German commando that hates Hitler's guts being ordered to get him out of Germany at the final moments, at much disgrace to ole' Adolf. It is a great fiction, a great 'What if?'.

      Sorry for the tangent.

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 5 years ago from Albuquerque

      I heard of that book. I think it was based off of Operation Valkyrie. It's funny because Titanic Adventure Out Of Time has a crucial plot device, a painting painted by none other than Hilter.

    • anusujith profile image

      Anoop Aravind A 5 years ago from Nilambur, Kerala, India

      Great work. Awesome photos. Good hub.

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 5 years ago from Albuquerque

      Thank you!

    • Kebennett1 profile image

      Kebennett1 5 years ago from San Bernardino County, California

      Great Hub! A lot of information on the other ships that I never knew! I like your scope of what may have happened!

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 5 years ago from Albuquerque

      Thank you so much!

    • Faith Reaper profile image

      Faith Reaper 5 years ago from southern USA

      Wow, Jason, that title just draws one in for sure. Very interesting perspective. Great imagery. You put a lot of work into this piece, well, as you always do in your hubs. Well done!

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 5 years ago from Albuquerque

      Thank you very much Faith! This one is a personal favorite of mine. I asked myself that question ever since I was little.

    • joanveronica profile image

      Joan Veronica Robertson 4 years ago from Concepcion, Chile

      Very good Hub! So interesting to imagine the Titanic actually getting old! Great creativity and well written. Voted up and more.

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      Thank you very much Joan Veronica! It does play with one's mind, the idea of Titanic getting scrapped as an obsolete aging vessel, doesn't it?

    • ripplemaker profile image

      Michelle Simtoco 4 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

      It wouldn't teach us to be more careful! Oh that and the song too as Georgie said. (hehe)

      Congratulations on your Hubnuggets nomination! Visit this link to read and celebrate and vote of course https://hubpages.com/community/I-Left-My-HubNugget...

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 4 years ago from Long Island, NY

      It's amazing how history can be remembered so differently based on the occurrence of just one event.

      Titanic's place in history is truly a result of its demise. As you said, if it had not gone down, it would not have continued to hold such an important title.

      And most likely the RMS Lusitania would have been considered the worst disaster. I never thought of that before, but it makes perfect sense.

      You definitely wrote an interesting Hub and congratulations on your HubNuggets nomination. And also, welcome you to HubPages.

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      Thank you very much. I am honored! Imagine the James Cameron blockbuster 'LUSITANIA' that would have been made instead of 'TITANIC' haha!

    • Better Yourself profile image

      Better Yourself 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Very interesting, great hub!

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      Thank you!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 4 years ago from United States

      This is a very interesting idea to write about, and you did it quite well. You introduced many facts to consider, but of course, we always think of the people that died, plus their families. I think the hub was very informative.

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      Thank you very much! The human tragedy is never far from my mind.Sometimes I wonder just how many lives did the Titanic save over the last century once the regulations change.

    • Kaili Bisson profile image

      Kaili Bisson 4 years ago from Canada

      Jason this is a great Hub. Congratulations on your HubNugget nomination. I agree that the Titanic would have become a troop carrier had she not sunk; so many luxury liners were pressed into service during the war.

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      Kaili, thank you so much! I'm curious as to what nick name Titanic would have earned during the war.

    • profile image

      dxnworks 4 years ago

      jasonponic, im just thinking by rewinding your questing and got this answer : i will not be able the watch that nice movie Titanic by Kate & Leonardo :)

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      dxnworks, no you would have, but it would have been called LUSITANIA not TITANIC. haha.

    • profile image

      dxnworks 4 years ago

      Also we may never have the greatest romantic song by Celin Dion - My Heart Will Go on.......

    • jasonponic profile image
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      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      A detail. :)

    • Voyager28 profile image

      Voyager28 4 years ago from Chandler, AZ

      Fascinating read! I was totally engrossed in your article. Amazing how history would have been so different if the Titanic hadn't struck that iceberg.

    • jasonponic profile image
      Author

      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      It's truly amazing to think about it! It really blows your mind!

    • shara63 profile image

      Farhat 4 years ago from Delhi

      if Titanic hadn't sunk we wud have never seen a wonderful oscar winner romantic film with a lovely song 'every night in my dreams.."....oh come on, its the humour side, apart an amazing stock of history and that how we remember it!

    • TurtleDog profile image

      TurtleDog 4 years ago

      This post was a lot of fun to read. Great alternative (and very logical) history 'what-if' view on the Titanic. Thanks! Voted up, interesting!

    • jasonponic profile image
      Author

      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      Had James Cameron made the movie LUSITANIA, I think the song would have been a little bit different. haha.

    • Kosmo profile image

      Kelley 4 years ago from California

      Very good idea for a hub. Everything about the "Titanic" is fascinating, though her sinking is of course the great tragic story. Later!

    • jasonponic profile image
      Author

      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      Titanic is so unique in history. Few events have ever been as captivating.

    • Cardia profile image

      Cardia 4 years ago from Barbados.

      Wonderful Hub! Enjoyed reading it. Certainly makes you think 'what if?'

      Voted up! :)

    • LauraGT profile image

      LauraGT 4 years ago from MA

      Very interesting hub. I was glad to read that Titanic changed maritime law around safety regulations. I also wonder what would have happened if all of the passengers who died had lived. Perhaps a "Titanic Sliding Doors" movie? Great hub!

    • jasonponic profile image
      Author

      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      A Titanic Sliding Doors movie would be interesting to watch!

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia

      Awesome hub, worthy of nomination, have learnt to look at Titanic from different perspective...many disasters happen for no reasons but the trace of destruction they leave in their trail is unforgettable as it shows us our own vulnerability....

    • jasonponic profile image
      Author

      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      Thank you so much!

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Great concept for a hub, jason ... totally original. Just when I was beginning to think there was never going to be anything original on HP ever again :)

      I also appreciated your creativity is spinning a potential history for Titanic - it really all sounded so plausible.

      Well done on getting a HubNugget nomination - it was well deserved!

    • jasonponic profile image
      Author

      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      Thank you very much! I appreciate it. I always find myself wondering the "what if" questions all the time.

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Jason, what a well though-out scenario. It never occurred to me what might have happened if Titanic hadn't sunk. You're right, though, she will certainly live on now.

      I asked my son the other day if he was going to go see the 3D version of the movie - he said, "Mom, let me tell you how it ends - the ship sinks." Oh well, no sense of the romantic, that boy.

      Good hub - voted up and interesting.

    • jasonponic profile image
      Author

      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      Thank you! That's a funny analogy of the film but so true!

    • NC4Life078 profile image

      NC4Life078 4 years ago from United States of America

      I enjoyed this article and here is a suggestion for a new hub for you. Write about the sinking of the titanic but in regards to the construction of the ships (welding, expansion joint, life boats...)

    • fjohn profile image

      fjohn 4 years ago from india

      very interesting topic, i hope everybody would like it. keep it up.

    • jasonponic profile image
      Author

      Jason Ponic 4 years ago from Albuquerque

      I will keep your topic in mind! fjohn, thank you so much!

    • profile image

      jack full 4 years ago

      bom dia

      eu tenho uma planta do aquitania

    • profile image

      Deathblow 3 years ago

      Really cool.

    • Deathblow profile image

      Andrew Crawley 3 years ago from Earth

      Really awesome keep up the awesome work

    • profile image

      Tom Jankowski 2 years ago

      If the Titanic did not sink, what would have happened when the Empress of Ireland sank in 1914 prior to World War 1 considering the Empress sank in only 14 minutes and even with the Titanic disaster, over 1000 people died. It would seem like more people would have died on the Empress of Ireland and she may not have been so forgotten.

    • profile image

      Tom1969ca 21 months ago

      Also, the third ship of the Olympic-class would probably have retained her original name - "Gigantic". It is generally believed that she was quietly renamed by WSL after the sinking because another name boasting of the ship's size might be unlucky at best and unseemly at worst. White Star then went on to *claim* that they had meant to call her Britannic all along. IMHO, the article should refer to HMHS Gigantic rather than Britannic... :)

    • profile image

      Michael McDonnell 18 months ago

      If The Titanic had not sunk the 1,500 people would've lived, any of them could've started something that could've changed the course of history, a post apocalyptic Earth devastated during WW1 or 2

    • ActionForEarth profile image

      Jennifer 3 months ago

      This is very cool! I've never thought about the Titanic from this perspective. :)

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