Titanic may have been doomed by a coal fire
By T.K. Randall
January 2, 2017 · 44 comments
A fire, rather than an iceberg, may have sealed the ship's fate. Image Credit: Willy Stower - 1912
It is now thought that the vessel had been on fire even before it left on its fateful maiden voyage.
In a documentary that aired last night, Irish journalist and author Senan Molony put forward a remarkable new theory suggesting that the Titanic may have been ultimately doomed, not only by the iceberg that it hit, but by a serious fire that had been smouldering in its coal bunkers for weeks.
The fire, which had been generally dismissed as irrelevant even during the original inquiry in to the disaster, is thought to have damaged at least one of the bulkheads responsible for keeping water from flooding the rest of the ship in the event of a hull breach.
Evidence of this includes a set of never-before-seen photographs of the vessel which show a strange black mark on the outside of the ship where the fire was situated. Some of the men who fought the fire on the lower decks also spoke about damage to the bulkheads.
According to Molony, it is likely that the company behind the Titanic, White Star Line, had opted to set sail knowing that there was a fire on-board because it couldn't afford any more delays.
There is also evidence to suggest that the ship had been constructed from sub-standard materials which made both the outer hull and the protective bulkheads prone to being damaged.
This, coupled with the extreme heat of the fire, would have been a recipe for disaster.
"We have experts telling us that when you get that level of temperature against steel it makes it brittle, and reduces its strength by up to 75 per cent," said Molony.
"The fire was known about and briefly addressed at the inquiry, but it was played down."
The findings suggest that the protective bulkheads would have probably kept Titanic afloat long enough for everyone to be rescued if the fire hadn't damaged them beforehand.
"The official Titanic inquiry branded [the sinking] as an act of God," said Molony.
"It's a perfect storm of extraordinary factors coming together: fire, ice and criminal negligence."
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