The RMS Titanic. This magnificent ship was one of a trio of Olympic-class luxury passenger liners that were set to rule the waves. Titanic’s older and youngster ‘sisters’ were RMS Olympic and HMHS Britannic respectively. All three were the brainchildren of operators White Star Line and the shipbuilders Harland and Wolff, of Belfast in Northern Ireland, were commissioned to construct these behemoths. Work on the Titanic began on 31st March 1909, roughly 15 weeks after the Olympic’s hull was laid down. Both ships were constructed alongside one another in identical styles: two massive floating box girders with the keel acting as the backbone. Construction took in excess of two years to complete.
Titanic’s first and final voyage began in Southampton on 10th April 1912. Under the command of Captain Edward Smith, the Titanic made a pair of stops – at Cherbourg in France and Queenstown in Republic of Ireland – before heading out across the Atlantic Ocean. Five days after leaving port, and approximately 300 miles off the Newfoundland coast, 1500 souls went down with the ship. These included 685 of the 899 crew members on board (77%) and the Naval Architect who designed the Titanic, Thomas Andrews.
RMS Olympic set sail from Southampton on 20th September 1911 and within an hour was involved in a collision with the HMS Hawke just off the coast of the Isle of Wight. Captain Edward Smith, in command of the RMS Olympic, ordered a turn in the Solent, which caught the Commander of the HMS Hawke off-guard. Both ships ran into one another. Olympic managed to head back to Southampton for repairs under her own steam without any major injury or fatality aboard. But it is exactly this collision that is at the centre of people’s belief that the White Star Line discovered that the damage to the RMS Olympic was more extensive than initially believed, and an insurance scam of epic proportions was put into action.
It has been suggested that while both RMS Titanic and RMS Olympic were in dry dock together in Belfast, that both ship registries were switched, and that it was the RMS Olympic, not the Titanic, that set off for New York on 10th April. Was it possible that Capt. Smith deliberately scuttled his own ship at the behest of the White Star Line? Supporters of this theory do tend to assume that Edward Smith was a poor choice of Captain for the Titanic, or at least believed there were better candidates for the job. There is some decent circumstantial evidence that could support this idea.
- The owner of the White Star Line, J.P. Morgan was supposed to have been on board the RMS Titanic for its maiden voyage. For some reason he cancelled these plans several hours before departure and didn’t make the journey.
- Capt. Smith had received numerous updates regarding iceberg warnings the day before the disaster. White Star Chairman, J. Bruce Ismay, still ordered Captain Smith to proceed Full Steam Ahead.
- Someone made an unscheduled course correction for reasons that have never been explained. Could it be that such a correction was made to put the liner on a direct collision course with an iceberg?
Did Ismay and Morgan plan the greatest insurance scam of all time? Such a claim does have merits in plausibility, but something clearly went wrong with the idea. When the Titanic hit the iceberg, the nearest aid was over 2 hours away. There should have been another ship waiting to save Titanic’s passengers but the course corrections made steered the Titanic far from its position. Some even go as far to say that the doomed ship didn’t hit an iceberg at all, but struck the relief ship that was there purely to aid the passengers.