Conspiracy theories surround almost all major events in history. The sinking of the Titanic is no different. The RMS Titanic, built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, Ireland for The White Star Line was launched 31 May 1911.
It was towed to a fitting-out berth where the construction was completed on 2 April 1912. The maiden voyage was scheduled for 10 April 1912 from Southampton, England with stops at Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland to pick up more passengers. It was then on to the open sea, heading for New York.
Just before midnight on 14 April 1912, the ship hit an iceberg that caused enough damage for all of her watertight compartments to be filled with water, and the ship sunk within two hours and forty minutes.
Many reasons for the cause of the collision with the iceberg were brought forward, including an unsafe speed due to the insistence of White Star Line’s chairman, J. Bruce Ismay, who is reported to have directed Captain Edward Smith to increase speed in order to set a record for the trip.
Other reasons include the fact that the lookouts in the crow’s nest had no binoculars and did not report seeing the iceberg in time to change the course of the ship, and that the sea was so calm the usual indications of small wave action at the base of icebergs was not observed.
Of 2,224 passengers and crew, about 1,517 were lost mostly due to the shortage of lifeboats installed on the supposedly “unsinkable” ship. At the same time the Titanic was being built, the White Star Line was building another ship very similar to the Titanic.
The sister ship, the Olympic, was the first of three luxury liners built by Harland and Wolff for White Star, the third being the HMHS Britannic.
The two ships were almost identical other than changes made to Titanic’s A deck promenade which included a steel screen with sliding windows to provide more shelter on the forward half. Another major difference was a reduction of the B deck promenade to allow room for more cabins.
The Olympic began her maiden voyage on 14 June 1911 on the same route Titanic would later take, and it arrived successfully in New York on 21 June 1911. On the Olympic’s fifth voyage she collided with British cruiser HMS Hawke on 20 Sept 1911 near the Isle of Wight.
Olympic suffered two large holes in her starboard side causing two of her watertight compartment to flood and damage to the propeller shaft. The ship was able to return to Southampton under her own power.
Author Robin Gardinier has suggested one of the most controversial conspiracy theories to date. It is his opinion that the ship that sunk in the North Atlantic Ocean that April morning was not the Titanic, but was the Olympic.