RMS Titanic was a ship deemed unsinkable, yet four days into her maiden voyage, the “unsinkable” ship collided with an iceberg. She went to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean and 1,517 people died. Despite formal inquiries and much informal speculation, a definitive cause for the collision has never been identified.
Number of mistakes.
Realted article: the captain of the Titanic.
There is no question that a number of mistakes contributed to the sinking of the Titanic. Captain E. J. Smith was sailing his retirement voyage as the Titanic was making her maiden trip. Smith reportedly did not give orders to slow the ship despite reports of icebergs in the water, a common practice at the time. Smith also ignored or discounted a total of seven iceberg warnings from other ships and his own crew. J. Bruce Ismay, the Managing Director of Titanic’s parent corporation, the White Star Line, was on board the ship. Some people have speculated that Ismay put pressure on Smith to maintain speed as the White Star Line wanted to prove it could make a six-day crossing.
Mistakes during the build of the Titanic.
Related article: the build of the titanic.
Another mistake, or perhaps a deliberate action, occurred during the building process. Substandard iron was used in the rivets holding the iron plates of the ship. The collision with the iceberg sheared the rivets and caused many sections of the ship to buckle. Yet another mistake lay in the height of the watertight compartments, which did not reach as high as they should have because the increased height would have cut into the living quarters of the first class compartments. Aside from the actual sinking, the ship carried only enough lifeboats for about one-third of the passengers and crew, which undoubtedly led to increased loss of life.
Mistakes by other vessels.
Not all the mistakes were made by people directly connected with the Titanic. Another ship, the Californian, had stopped for the night only 19 miles from the doomed ship. When the Titanic fired distress rockets, the Californian’s captain, Stanley Lord, decided the rockets were being fired because the Titanic was partying. The Californian’s radio had been turned off, and she missed the Titanic’s distress call; had the radio been on, the Californian should have been able to save all the passengers.
The SS Californian
Close to a century after the Titanic went down, yet another possible mistake surfaced. The granddaughter of senior officer Charles Lightoller claimed the man at the wheel of the Titanic either did not hear an order or responded incorrectly; he turned right instead of left, putting the ship on a collision course with the iceberg. Louise Patten says her grandfather -- who survived the sinking -- lied about the mistake to prevent lawsuits against his employers and to protect his job. Patten also says that the chairman of the White Star Line ordered the ship to continue sailing on its intended course to reach land, in the hope of avoiding negative publicity, which may have increased the amount of water flowing into the ship. If what Patten says is true, despite all the other errors, in the end it may have been a simple misunderstanding that led to a titanic mistake.