Tag: Titan submersible

The Titanic sails on through history

The Titanic sails on through history

The shadow of the Titanic casts a long shadow though history. Even today it has been in the news with the loss of the Titan submersible. It is another notch added to its sad toll of casualties. The Titan submersible with five rich adventurers sank irretrievably to the cold dark depths of the Atlantic beside the rusted wreck of the fated White Star liner of 1912 fame. Now those passengers lie too forever nearby to the rusted tangled wreck. The Titanic sails on through history. Its tragic sinking continues to fascinate.

Deja Vu, the other ship called The Titan

Didn’t the CEO and founder of the submersible company, Ocean Gate know that the name Titan was that of the liner in Morgan Robertson’s eerily predictive 1898 novel, Futility? The liner featuring in this pre 1912 novel was so similar in dimensions, weight, number of funnels and load of glamorous passengers to the Titanic liner that would set sail on its maiden voyage some years later. Its fate was exactly the same. The Titan of the book hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic at similar co-ordinates to the ‘unsinkable’ Titanic. But it seems the owner of White Star Lines, Bruce Ismay did not read that book nor did Captain Smith or the builder, Thomas Andrews. Because of this, the Titanic sails on through history.

Ignoring the ice warnings, they sailed their beautiful ship full steam ahead in an attempt to break the Transatlantic Crossing record and arrive in a fete of glory one day early in New York. But instead, due to their vanity and disregard for other people’s lives, they did not arrive at all. The 2223 passengers would have preferred a late arrival than none at all. The women widowed that night would live in the shadow of the Titanic for the rest of their lives as mere ghosts of their former selves. For 1517 passengers, mostly male, that night was the last one of their life.

Staring Death in the Face

Imagine waiting on the cold sinking deck, knowing there was now no hope of rescue, watching your wives and children fading into the distance in rowboats on the icy calm sea. This surely was worse than the five Titan passengers who, just a week ago, voluntarily descended to the same icy depths over a century later. Though these five men, one just a teen, did have to contemplate the dangers of the Atlantic as they signed a declaration that they were aware they may not return to the bright light of the surface as planned. Staring death in the face is never easy. Would you sign this waver? “This is an experimental submersible vessel, that has not been approved or certified by any regulatory body, and could result in physical injury, disability, emotional trauma, or death.” Quote taken from The Titan Submersible Journey

A Bold Adventure for the rich?

In both cases, the trip was meant to be a bold adventure. The first in 1912 boasted a trip of a lifetime on the biggest ship afloat with everything of luxury you could ever want (except lifeboats and binoculars to spot icebergs). John Jacob Astor was onboard, the richest man alive. The others in first class were also fabulously rich. Likewise for the Titan sub trip, there was a billionaire, SEO Stockton Rush, onboard and indeed any of the other four were obscenely rich, paying 250,000 for the planned 8-hour adventure to the bottom of the Atlantic and back.

Build me a better boat!

In both cases, the hull of the vessel played a major role in the tragedies. The steel and pop rivets of the original liner were not strong enough to survive an iceberg scoring down its starboard side. A 300-foot gash opened the luxury liner to the ocean and compartment after compartment flooded, sealing the massive ship’s fate. For this recent tragedy, the carbon fiber and titanium hull would again prove the vessel’s downfall. There had been warnings but for the sake of innovation, the designer ignored these with disregard to his own and other passengers’ safety. The lights of the sub were reportedly off the shelf from a camper store and the steering operated by a game controller. Despite his fascination with the mysteries of the deep, was Mr Rush cutting corners or just in a rush for foolhardy adventures?

Withstanding pressure

AS any vessel or diver descends into the depths of the ocean, the pressure increases dramatically because of the water above. At the almost 4000 m depth of the Titanic wreck the pressure is almost 400 times that of the surface. this places a huge load on a submarine vessel and is incompatible for a human diver. It’s like having the New York, Empire State Building sitting on the hull. What sort of hulls can continually withstand this pressure? Not it seems carbon fiber ones. They may tolerate this stress a few times but not continually. Cracks could develop and then the vessel is history as are its passengers. It and the Titanic sail on through history.

What a terrible fate for anyone, even those who ride the depths of their own free will. The young Pakistani youth did not want to go but was coerced by his adventurous and very wealthy father. Did teenager, Sulemon have a premonition? Or was he just more sensible than the older men.

What was it like for the original survivors and their families after the 1912 tragedy? Read about the 706 survivors ordeal and ongoing lives in my post, Surviving the Shadow of the Titanic. And was it strictly women and children first as the lifeboats were loaded? Read my post, Was it women and children first? about that tragic night in April 1912.

If you find maritime disasters and shipping stories fascinating as I do then check out my post on the Italian liner Andria Doria. Like the Titanic disaster, the Andrea Doria’s fate was compounded by human error. Another boat was going the wrong way in the shipping channel and there was a head-on collision in a fog. Again, nature was involved. Not an iceberg but a pea-souper fog that led to zero visibility. It’s an interesting read.

There are lots more either here on my joniscottauthor.com blog or on whisperingencouragement.com where I used to blog. In either site you can read posts about history, amazing women, books and writers and even a few science ones. I am a scientist, a biochemist who took up writing historical fiction at a later age. Now history is my new obsession. It is fascinating and so instructive for us. We can learn about things that went wrong and correct our moves. I don’t think we should just cancel the uncomfortable parts but learn from them.

If you like good stories based on true historical events, check out my two published novels in the Time trilogy, Whispers through Time and the newly released, Time Heal my Heart.

Joni Scott is an Australian author with four published novels: Whispers through Time, The Last Hotel Colour Comes to Tangles and her latest historical WWI drama, Time Heal my Heart. Joni has her own website; https://joniscottauthor.com.