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RMS Titanic & Olympic Collisions and Sinking Conspiracy - A Massive Insurance Scam?

Updated on August 2, 2011

Nearly 100 years on, the Titanic sinking still attracts attention

While the dramatic sinking of the RMS Titanic on the night of April 14, 1912 still holds a massive fascination nearly 100 years later, there are many unanswered questions surrounding the tragic lost of the ship This has lead to several conspiracy theories about circumstances leading to the sinking of the Titanic.

What did sink the Titanic?

These range from pack ice instead of an actual iceberg, problems with the watertight doors, and a massive explosion following a coal fire in one of the ship’s coal bunkers. Yet, the biggest Titanic conspiracy theory is centred around an insurance scam involving the Titanic’s sister ship RMS Olympic.

Titanic : The Facts

While the true facts of what happen to Titanic on that faithful night will never surface, and even the numerous recent deep sea dives on the wreck cannot conclusively pinpoint the exact reason this famous liner sank. The facts are there, the Titanic was steaming at full speed through the Northwest passage to save time to get to New York early, but this dangerous route is notoriously famous for large icebergs drifting down from Greenland. Although, it was a clear night with good visibility, the vessel still managed to strike an iceberg, and the rest is history.

Titanic and her sister ship Olympic :

The Titanic conspiracy theory, centred around an insurance scam involving the sister ship Olympic, only really came to the fore in the 1980s with the publication of a controversial book by author Robin Gardiner entitled ‘Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank?’. The conspiracy theory presented in this book is centred around a massive insurance scam involving the owners of the Titanic and her sister ship Olympic, the White Star Line.

The Olympic Collision :

The Titanic and her sister ship Olympic were both built alongside each other at Harland & Wolff in Belfast. Olympic was the older sister and was completed first and launched in October 1910. Titanic was launched the following year in May 1911. Olympic commenced her maiden voyage on June 14 1911, but a few months later on September 20, 1911, the Olympic was involved in a major collision with the Royal Navy cruiser HMS Hawke near Southampton.

The heavily armoured Royal Navy cruiser smashed its ram into the side of the Olympic, seriously damaging both ships. However, the subsequent naval inquiry found the Royal Navy vessel free of all blame.

RMS Titanic & Olympic together
RMS Titanic & Olympic together
Titanic - one of the last images of her
Titanic - one of the last images of her
Bow Damage to HMS Hawke
Bow Damage to HMS Hawke
Collision damage to the Olympic
Collision damage to the Olympic

Olympic out of action for repairs :

According to Gardiner's theory, the owners, the White Star Line was allegedly not insured for the cost of fixing the damaged Olympic. This is where the insurance conspiracy theory starts. Olympic was badly damaged and had to limp back to Harland & Wolff in Belfast to be repaired. White Star Line’s new flagship would be out of action for repairs, and the Titanic's completion date put back as a consequence. This would result in a serious financial loss for the company.

The Titanic / Olympic Switch?

In Gardiner's theory, he suggests the plan was to dispose of the crippled Olympic to collect insurance money by swopping the identity of the two vessels, which he reckons could easily done as both vessels were identical save a few minor differences and changing the names on all the lifeboats, lifebelts, ship’s bell etc.

With identities switch, the damaged Olympic now masquerading as Titanic would have an ‘accident’ at sea on her maiden voyage and that the seacocks were to be opened at sea to slowly flood the ship. The passengers would have had time to be rescued by shipping in the area, and the White Star Line would collect the insurance.

Which vessel struck the iceberg?

However, whether it was the actual RMS Titanic or the RMS Olympic masquerading as Titanic which struck the iceberg and sank on April 14 1912 with a tragic loss oflife we will never know. According to Gardiner's insurance scam theory, things didn’t go quite to plan. Did the Titanic spent 25 years in service as the Olympic?

Flaws in the ‘switch’ theory :

The Gardiner's Titanic conspiracy theory, centred around an insurance scam, is a great conspiracy, but seems to be flawed in numerous areas. The main flaw is the ‘switch’ of the two ship at Harland & Wolff in Belfast. The Olympic and Titanic were huge ships, and to swop identities would not be a easy task, which would involve many workers, all of which would have to be paid to keep silent, and at least one of these workers would of gone to the papers after the event. Another flaw to this conspiracy theory is why would the White Star Line deliberately sink a vessel that was considerably under-insured.

The evidence lies at the bottom of the sea :

We will never know the true facts surrounding the sinking of RMS Titanic, and those who knew, and the evidence lies over two and half miles down at the bottom of the sea. Titanic conspiracy theories will continue to fascinate the public for at least another 100 years.

© David Lloyd-Jones 2011


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    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I have been also interested in titanics you know ? My friend named mike is also interested in this and the special thing is that his birthday falls on 14th april...

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Titanic had a covered promenade deck olympic did not olmpic never had one. the titanic was originally designed with the covered promenade. Olympic how ever was not. The gigantic which was changed to Britannic in spite of Titanic's sinking Had a covered promenade which was removed when ww1 started. The olympic never ever had a promende deck. In fact the Titanic's Promenade was covered when Olympic struck the Hawke.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      To make the switch they would have had to have done it during a very narrow 48 hour window, changed two decks completely, removed several first class cabins at one end, taken out toilets and bathrooms just installed in the Titanic and the new carpets and moved the boat and prom decks as well. All this over a weekend, in a time when they were not able to work on a Sunday, with a few people, as most workers were not there until Monday morning. Possible? For the super humans may-be. Then they would need to bribe people and pay them to shut up; expensive and keep the workers out of the pub when it would soon leak out. Then you would have to dive down to the Titanic and remove the 401 on her rivets and several other items. Then you would have to explain how as some claim that the Titanic was not nearly completed at her maiden voyage, a less than complete ship was passed off for one that was, and how that same incomplete ship, being the original Titanic now pretending to be the Olympic steamed fully completed just one day later to New York and then turned up, looking very complete indeed at the Titanic, still incomplete ship wreck site. Confused: I certainly was when I saw the video. This proves that the Titanic did sink and not the other way around. The photo evidence very much points to the wreck being the Titanic and no real proof exists of any conspiracy. Still it was a sad tragedy and 1500 people lost their lives, due to out of date laws and freak extra calm, extra cold weather conditions. There was a cover up: but it was the bosses trying to cover up so they would not have to pay compensation and crew not wanting to admit a panic: very boring and human, but very normal.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I have read a number of theories as well as the proper books on the Titanic, and to be honest they seem to get wilder and wilder every year or with each new book. I can only accept what the facts and the investigations have proven. She was hit a glancing blow on her starboard side, at the water line by an iceberg, packed with hard ice and rocks or at a stretch by hard pack ice. She was not speeding, but going around 21-22 knots, normal speed for the time, when there was no obvious reason why she should not have done. Due to the dead calm that night, mirage conditions made it hard to see the iceberg until it was on top of them, and then through a mix of mere human error and bad luck, she was hit by the iceberg and her fate was sealed. The water had come into her compartments and five of them were full: she could not remain afloat with this much damage. The Titanic was not widely believed to be unsinkable despite popular belief and it was known at once when Andrews was summoned to the bridge by Captain Smith that she would sink within 3 hours.

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      6 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      Er, done that already, or I wouldn't have commented...

    • Midnight Oil profile imageAUTHOR

      Midnight Oil 

      6 years ago from Isle of Man UK

      100 years ago, the Titanic sinking still attracts attention, but was it really the actual Titanic that sunk or another ship? Read above for more...

    • Doc Snow profile image

      Doc Snow 

      6 years ago from Camden, South Carolina

      I think you are right; the conspiracy idea just doesn't make sense. Such a massive scam would have been readily apparent.

      "...the Titanic was steaming at full speed through the Northwest passage to save time to get to New York early..."

      I'm afraid you are confused here. The Titanic was nowhere near the Northwest Passage, which was not navigable in 1912--well, not practically so; Amundsen had threaded his way through, taking the three years 1903-1906:

      In any case, the Northwest Passage is *way* off any logical route from Ireland to New York. You are thinking of "Iceberg Alley," which is just a stretch of the North Atlantic east of Newfoundland:

      Also, if you ever want to explore further Titanic connection, you might look at the history of the Britannic. Incredibly, one woman--Violet Jessup--was on board all three ships when they sank or (in the case of the Olympic) were damaged.

    • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

      Marcy Goodfleisch 

      6 years ago from Planet Earth

      I just saw this hub after viewing a video on another hub (I have a hub on the Titanic as well, but not one that explores the conspiracy theory). I like the way you present the theory as well as questions that challenge it. I wonder if any forensic studies were done on the Olympic afterward to shed further light. Or whether the reported list to port had somehow disappeared after the 1912 tragedy?

      Voted up and interesting.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      understand in march 1912 Olympic was classified a wreck at admiralty court hearing .IF she was classified a wreck and so called titanic sank April 1912 which ship almost ran aground of lands end 7 weeks after so called titanic sank please reply as looking at royal navy archives kind regards

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Im so sad for the people who diden"t make it off the titanic and capathia and olypic.

    • Midnight Oil profile imageAUTHOR

      Midnight Oil 

      6 years ago from Isle of Man UK

      Hi Justin - Thank you for your interest in my Titanic Hub - is the UK Government still trying to keep the truth quite? What do you think? They will still be talking about the Titanic in another 100 years I bet. Good luck with your school project...

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      i have found many theroys about really what happened to the Titanic and that's why i am doing a school project on it ..... do you belive that the government is still at trying to make people shut up about this because a friend of mine had a website about the Titanic and now someone (government) put a hack on it and now files are eraced just letting u know

    • Midnight Oil profile imageAUTHOR

      Midnight Oil 

      7 years ago from Isle of Man UK

      Thank you for your comment and compliment - seems lots of us have a Titanic interested...

    • KCC Big Country profile image


      7 years ago from Central Texas

      Very interesting article. I have long been interested in stories about the Titanic. I have several Titanic hubs myself.


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