The Real Enemy - Misplaced Emphasis - Avoiding The Iceberg Part 3

Completely Exposed! Although there were many factors involved in the chain of events and the conspiracy of circumstances that led to the sinking of Titanic, over confidence was perhaps the final rivet in its coffin. It is good to have some confidence, but being over confident is far worse than being under confident because it can often lead to risk taking and ultimately disaster. Not being aware of, and not taking enough of the necessary precautions against potential problems was a major factor in the sinking of that great ship and the loss of so many lives. Our faults and our weaknesses were completely exposed. Some of the factors that conspired to sink Titanic, causing the untimely deaths of over 1500 people, included greed, arrogance, pride, over confidence, under provision, skimping, ignoring warnings, not paying attention, forgetfulness, lack of consideration, lack of common sense, and even speeding. There are probably a few more. Faults? Yes, we have them!

That Fatal Night: However, on top of these things the weather and even the sun and moon all contributed to the conspiracy of circumstances that finally broke titanic in half. Due to the alignment of the sun, moon and Earth, tides had been especially high previous to the disaster, dislodging more icebergs. There were also warmer than average waters in the Gulf Stream, which then colluded to concentrate them in that vicinity. Titanic's maiden voyage was delayed by several weeks due to her sister ship, Olympic, having an impact at sea. Titanic had to be moved back out of dry dock, where she was being fitted, to make way for Olympic to come back in for repair, meaning Titanic eventually left at a time when the icebergs were further south than they otherwise would have been. On that fatal night there was no moon and so no moonlight, there was also no light from other vessels, both of which would have aided visibility. The sea was calm so there was no wave action around the base of the iceberg, which would also have helped expose the iceberg sooner. There were also no binoculars to hand in the crow's nest that night, because they had been left locked in the cabin. The ship was speeding somewhat recklessly because the captain wanted to race to New York and wanted to set a new record for the crossing. To that end he had blatantly disregarded and ignored six or seven warnings from other ships about the danger of icebergs in the vicinity.

They Were Warned! When the iceberg was eventually spotted, the ship tried to turn to avoid it. If it hadn't tried to turn it would have impacted head on and more likely survived. At the same time the ship was put in reverse, but this made the rudders far less effective and the ship less able to turn. The ship could withstand the flooding of four of its compartments, but because it was going so fast and tried to turn so late, the iceberg scraped down the side of the ship, buckling the steel plates. Because some of the rivets holding the plates together had been substituted with a substandard type, their heads broke off, allowing the plates to separate. The collision, effectively a glancing blow, buckled and ruptured the plates, ultimately flooding not four, but five compartments. That tipped the balance. It was only then a matter of time. Even so, after the collision, if the ship had stayed put it could have remained afloat for much longer than it did, but it tried to move off again and continue on its way, expediting the taking on of water and ultimately sealing its fate. Even the evacuation of that magnificent ship was a complete farce, with many of the too few lifeboats being launched without being full to capacity. The Carpathia arrived three and a half hours after the collision, too late to do more than rescue those in the lifeboats. Over fifteen hundred people perished in the freezing waters of the Atlantic on that great ship's maiden voyage! When daylight arose, they counted at least 25 icebergs over 200ft high, and dozens more between 50ft and 150ft high still in the vicinity. They were warned, but the man in charge thought he knew better!

Many Lessons: Needless to say, it wasn't just one thing that sunk Titanic, it was a whole series of events that conspired to do so; any one of which if had been avoided, the story would have been different. This is usually the case in such disasters and when such things happen, it is never just one thing alone that leads up to, and causes it. There are many lessons in the sinking of Titanic and it is good that we always learn from such tragedies. We have this to thank for the fact that flying is as safe as it is now. Because every time there is an air disaster, the circumstances that led up to it are painstaking analysed and forensically examined to try and make sure it can never happen again. One by one, faults and weak points in technique, operating procedure, equipment and infrastructure, are eliminated and each time we come closer to totally eradicating failure in the air. We can learn from our lessons. We can also do so much better when we positively pull together as a team. For me there are a lot of interesting cryptic things in the English language. One such anagram is that of mate. Which, when you rearrange the letters, also makes team. That means shipmate can make teamship. Yes, funnily enough my spell check currently doesn't like the word, but I do! Life is so much better when we can all be mates and all pull together as a team. As true for any ship, any company, any band, any household and any conglomerate. Or in fact, for any planet!
Crosstalk by Taz: January 2015

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