They could have lived! : LUSENET : TitanicShack : One Thread

What I heard from someone whose dad is obsessed with the real life titanic, is that if the boat would have hit the iceberg straight on, all but like 5 passengers would've died (the couple people directing the ship) but, if they would have hit it head on, they would have only had to close one compartment, and the boat would have been able to stay afloat. That mad me sad when I heard that because I know now, that in reall likfe, thei tragedy might have never happened. Has anyone else heard that theory too?

-- Stefanie (, January 05, 1998


(In response to Nikki's answer)

I haven't seen the recent Discovery channel documentary, but even though the movie Titanic shows ice falling harmlessly onto the starboard foredeck, the killing blow was just above the keel (in a series of small holes "like Morse code").

It's pretty easy to second-guess the decisions made to try to avoid the iceberg, but I can't think of anything the crew could have done differently. (The decision to literally stream full-speed ahead is what killed Titanic, and the arrogant mind-set that went with the decision.)

-- Thomas M. Terashima (, January 08, 1998.

Brittle steel has been mentioned as a contributing factor in the sinking of Titanic.

-- Thomas M. Terashima (, January 14, 1998.

OK, that's weird, because my friend and I were just talking about that possibility today. It makes sense, but I wonder what would hitting a huge iceberg like that head on do? Wouldn't it be an extremely large collison? It does seem possible, though, because it wouldn't have caused so many compartments to fill up, and if nothing else, it would have given them more time to get help before the actual sinking. . .

-- Lori Larsson (, January 05, 1998.

Witness SS STOCKHOLM VS. SS ANDREA DORIA. This theory has been put forth before and is a valid one. However, the natural reaction to that situation would be to try to avoid the collision. The Stockholm hit the Andrea Doria broadside in dense fog with no warning and no time to react. The result was the Andrea Doria sank but the Stockholm was able to steam under her own power smashed in bow and all!

-- Peter Nivling (, January 05, 1998.

As Peter has indicated above, the conventional wisdom for many years has been that if Titanic had hit the berg head-on, there would have been a number of deaths and injuries from passengers (mostly third class men) and crew quartered in the foremost 100 feet or so of the ship, but that the ship would most likely have survived. There is also a somewhat more recent theory that if First Officer Murdoch had NOT tried to reverse the ship's engines, they would have cleared the iceberg entirely. The theory behind this is that by reversing the engines, he reduced the effectiveness of the ship's rudder. Just another 15-20 feet and the ship would likely have missed it altogether.

Another one of those "if only's" that make the Titanic story so fascinating.


-- Kip Henry (, January 06, 1998.

My dad told me the same thing! I wish all those people didn't have to die, but if that didn't happen would they have ever made this movie?

-- Heather (, January 06, 1998.

I watched a really good documentary on the Dsicovery Channel about the Titanic as soon as I feard that the movie was coming out. It said that the Titanic did not hit the iceberg at the top of the ship(pardon my lack of boat knowledge) like the movie portrayed. Instead it hit and made a few one inch incissions on the ships underneath part. It also said that no one would have woken up by it either. The people in third class, if they were awake, would have just felt a slight vibration and the people in first class or on the deck would have felt nothing. But I still think more people would have lived if the Titanic would have hit the iceberg straight on. The impact would have been great yes but the Titanic was so much larger than the iceberg and it would have ultimatly come out the winner.

-- Nikki (, January 08, 1998.

I recall a documentory where metal from the hull of Titanic was brought to the surface and tested. It was found that the steel was much more brittle than most steel used in ship construction at the time. This was attributed to poor metal quality and caused the steel to shatter like glass rather than bend and buckle, thus contributing to the sinking. Can anyone corroborate this?

-- Paul Giandomenico (PGIANDO@AOL.COM), January 12, 1998.

I saw a documentary that stated one of the reasons that they were going full speed was beacause of the coal, some 5800 tons used to fuel the boilers had ignited in storage and was burning white hot. The rush was to get to NY becuse of this, it was kept from the passangers as to avoid panic. Cliff

-- Cliff Podaras (, January 13, 1998.

There was one coal pile that was burning, yes. It had been burning since the ship departed South Hampton, and was considered under control and only a minor annoyance to the crew. It should be noted that coal fires such as this were very common among steamer ships, so it was not a factor in the sinking.

-- Dave Phillips (, January 14, 1998.

It is widely believed that had Titanic hit the berg head-on, the ship would have survived (though with very heavy damage and caualties). But while it's interesting to play "what if" thought-experiments like this, it is quite unreasonable to say (as some have) that First Officer Murdoch, the senior officer on the bridge at the time, "should have" intentionally rammed the berg.

The fact is that Murdoch did exactly what anyone would under the circumstances, that is, try to avoid the danger altogether. It's easy enough now to say that, "if only he'd done so-and-so," with the benefit of hindsight, but given the problem he faced at that moment, the obvious course of action was to try to steer *away* from the berg.

As it happened, there wasn't time to get clear, but Murdoch's obligation (as well as common sense) dictated that he do everything he could to avoid *any* collision, glancing, head-on or otherwise.

-- Andrew W. Hall (, January 14, 1998.

The steel of the Titanic was full of Manganese Sulfite which made it brittle in the cold water. When it struck the iceberg the steel shattered like glass causing thousands of microfractures which allowed water in.

-- Tom McDonough (, January 23, 1998.

A brief note to the post from Nikki Carr:

The film's depiction of the collision with the iceberg is consistent with the historical accounts. Yes, the real damage was done below the waterline, but as Titanic brushed the iceberg, several thousand pounds of ice broke off the berg and landed in the forward well deck. There are survivor accounts of passengers playing "kickball" and catch with chunks of ice, and one story of someone using a piece of iceberg in his drink!


-- Kip Henry (, January 24, 1998.

Hindsight's always 20/20!

Heather, I was very surprised at your comment! As if a good movie makes up for all the lives lost.

While the movie is wonderful, I'm sure Cameron himself would rather the ship not have sunk, even if it meant he would never have had the opportunity to make this movie.

-- Becky Gordon (, March 19, 1998.

i am a seaman and number one to ram it would be wrong because only now in hindsight can one say that it is good. nobody ever wants to colideor hit. what you can critisize is the fact that the OIC on deck put the titanic into reverse that was poor judgement, but to colide is not an option it is a cop out. the first mate would have been marshaled for such a poor decision when a better could hjave been made. so yes they could have survived.

-- ralph (, September 16, 2003.

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