Saturday, September 18, 2010

Titanic Didn't Send Signal For 45 Minutes After It Struck Ice | 13 Apr 2010 | Time was spent assessing the damage from the iceberg when nearby ships could have been steaming to the rescue, research from author Tim Maltin said.

His work - 101 Things You Thought You Knew About The Titanic... But Didn't - is published on Thursday and claims no alert was sent from the ailing vessel for 47 minutes because the ships' officers wanted to keep the disaster quiet.

The largest passenger steamship in the world collided with ice on her maiden voyage in April 1912 and sank with the loss of 1,517 lives.

Mr Maltin said: ''They (the ship's authorities) may have been considering the public relations aspect of it and was it going to sink or not because then they would have rather kept it quiet, there may have been a slight bit of delay.''

He said the order to go to the lifeboats was given at the same time as the distress signal.

The writer added: ''It may be that it took them that long to look at the damage but it seems likely to me that they were unwilling to send out a distress message.''

He said it was a moot point whether lives could have been saved but added the relatively nearby Californian vessel could have been at the scene earlier had the alert gone out before midnight when key crew were awake.

When it eventually received the alert it was after midnight and the Californian waited until 5.30am to respond.

He spent two years researching the book and studied the results of American and British inquiries into the disaster and worked with some of the main Titanic experts around the world.

It claimed Captain Edward Smith, despite being the most experienced seaman in the north Atlantic, was accident-prone and not used to that size of ship (50,000 tonnes).

As the Titanic left the docks in Southampton it missed the New York boat by two feet because the channel was narrow with ships moored alongside due to a coal strike.

Its wash dragged in the other vessel, snapping some of its mooring ropes and leaving the gangway crashing into the sea.

Mr Maltin said: ''The collision was avoided by about 2ft, something which obviously is an indicator of the disaster (to come).''

He said the captain was used to boats half the size of the Titanic and had crashed its sister ship the Olympic into the dock in New York.

The Titanic was doing around 22 knots at the time of the accident. At the time it was common but not universal practice to maintain normal speed in areas where icebergs were expected.

Relying on remarks from the captain overheard by a passenger the author said: ''They were trying to beat the Olympic's maiden voyage time. They were trying to surprise everyone and get in on Tuesday night.'' (Nino Guevara Ruwano)

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