Monday, October 11, 2010

The Titanic Sank because of a Steering Error?

Everyone has heard the story of the Titanic, the then biggest-ever ship that was lost on its maiden voyage. Recently, new light has been shed on the reason that the ship ran into an iceberg and sank, ultimately killing more than 1,500 people. Apparently, there were two different ways to command steering; Tiller orders, for sailing ships, and Rudder orders, for steamships. Therefore the Titanic, being a steamship, was operating on Rudder orders. Unfortunately, Rudder orders and Tiller orders meant the exact opposite of each other; “hard-a-starboard” meaning “turn left” for one, and “turn right” for the other. Thus, when the order “hard-a-starboard”, which, under Rudder orders, would have turned the ship away from the iceberg, was wrongly interpreted by experienced Quartermaster Robert Hitchins to be Tiller orders, he turned the Titanic toward the destined iceberg. This new evidence as to why the Titanic sank was released from Louise Patten, who had learned it from her grandfather, who was afraid telling the tale would cause his friends, who worked for the people who owned the Titanic, to lose their jobs. This family “secret” is apparently old news to Titanic experts, who speculate that this could be one reason for the Titanic’s failure. Hitchens, the aforementioned Quartermaster, has a granddaughter who is now writing a book contrary to this evidence. The reason for the sinking of the Titanic will always be debatable, because, as with any other historical event, we do not have the full evidence of what happened.

Zachary K. Period 7


shannon said...

Wow this is so interesting!I always pictured the sinking of the Titanic like the movie, but this proves otherwise. Its crazy to imagine the reason for the sinking was because of wrong orders. It would have been weird to have been Louise Patten,for she knew this juicy family secret for so long and was afraid to tell.

Maddie said...

I found this article very interesting. It is phenomenal to think that an event which drastically altered history, killing thousands of people while doing so, could have been avoided if it weren't for miscommunication or the act of a simple mistake. This article causes readers to question, what would have happened if the Titanic did not sink, and looking back, how could this have been prevented?

Liam S. said...

I came across this story a few weeks ago but did not look much further than the title. Now that I have read this I am absolutely amazed such a tragic incident, one that we have all heard of, could have been avoided had it not been for a simple miscommunication. It really makes you wonder what unforeseen consequences could occur in everyday life from a simple miscommunication.