October 07, 2008

Money Sank The Titanic

I came across an interesting article in Newsweek that shed new light on the sinking of the Titanic. It appears that the mighty ship succumbed to a disease that afflicts us to this day, greed.

"The Titanic sank into the North Atlantic 97 years ago. Since then, as Harvard historian Steven Biel quipped, "Only Jesus and the Civil War have been written about more." In close to 200 books, documentaries and movies—and the highest-grossing film of all time—historians, scientists and Titanic buffs have fervently debated what really caused the biggest passenger ship of her day to sink just two hours and 40 minutes after hitting an iceberg, carrying 1,522 people to their deaths.

It turns out they needn't have bothered. As Brad Matsen explains in his new book "Titanic's Last Secrets," those questions were answered long ago, in a confidential investigation by the ship's builders. To date, experts have amassed enough evidence to demonstrate that the ship broke into three pieces, not two—before sinking, not after—and she went down faster and at a much lower angle than James Cameron would have ever guessed—all thanks to skimpy rivets and a flimsy hull. But a trove of documents from Harland and Wolff—the Belfast, Ireland, shipyard where the Titanic and her sisters were born—reveal that the problem was not just one of incompetence and poor construction. It was negligence: the ship's builders suspected that the ship's hull was too flimsy, but they overrode the concerns of their engineer in a bid to get the Titanic on the seas in time. An investigation held after the ship
sank was not made public; the heads of Harland and Wolff allowed two formal
government inquiries to lay blame for the wreck on the shoulders of the ship's
captain. The lawsuits of so many victims would have bankrupted the Titanic's
owners—J. P. Morgan among them."

It is worth reading the rest of the article. I thought that it was quite interesting and sad to see that a hundred years later greed still plagues us. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe that money is the root of all evil either, but it certainly influences things.

Crossposted Here.

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