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|Volume 11 |Issue| 15 | April 13, 2012 ||
Titanic Tragedy Centennial
Syed Maqsud Jamil
RMS Titanic, the largest passenger liner of its time, sank 100 years ago on 15 April 1912 off the coast of Newfoundland. She was on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City and set sail on 10 April 1912. She was carrying 2,229 people – 1316 passengers and 913 crew members. On the fifth day of her voyage, the Titanic collided with an iceberg 375 miles south of Newfoundland. She sank two hours and forty minutes later at 02:20 hrs which lead to the death of 1,516 people; 498 passengers and 215 crews survived. It was one of the deadliest maritime disasters in history. That in short is a description of the Titanic that still interests the world and will continue to do so in the years to come.
The iceberg is the principal perpetrator of the 'Titanic Tragedy'. But recently two physicists of Texas State University at San Marcos have indicted a cosmic convergence as the co-conspirator behind the Titanic striking the iceberg. They concluded that the cosmic convergence occurred on 4 Jan 1912; months before the Titanic disaster when the sun and the moon came into a cosmic alignment with the Earth in a manner that their gravity led to a cycle of unusually high tides, commonly called the spring tides.
However the spring tides of 1912 were special because the moon was at closest to the Earth in 1400 years, and on 3 January 1912, the Earth came closest to the sun. It was possible for the high seas to force the extra icebergs to break away from Greenland. But it is next to impossible for ice floes to float against the heavy currents to reach the shipping lanes by April. A new theory rationalises that the killer berg might have been already there grounded in shallow water around Labrador and Newfoundland.
The collision with the iceberg could have been foreseen. The Titanic received 14 warnings of perilous ice fields ahead, six of which were received on the day of the disaster.
The calamity started with the flooding of the bow. Within a few hours, the Titanic broke and sank with over a thousand people still on board. The 710 survivors were taken from lifeboats by R.M.S. Carpathia.
The wreckage of the Titanic remains on the seabed at a depth of 12,415 feet. According to her officers, she sank in one whole piece. But some crew and survivors gave a different statement that there was a hull failure at the surface. The question rose again when the wreckage of the Titanic was discovered in 1985 and the hull was found in two pieces. In 1986, a third 17.4 meter section from the midship region of the ship was discovered.
Discovery Channel came forward to make its award winning film ‘Titanic: Anatomy of a Disaster’ and approached Gibbs & Cox, a renowned naval architecture and marine engineering firm to solve the mystery.
The associates of Gibbs & Cox graphically constructed a full ship-model. The engineers concluded that stress levels at the midsection of the ship were at least up to the yield strength of the steel just prior to sinking. Recent engineering evidence sum it up by suggesting that the Titanic experienced a hull failure at the surface and broke into pieces before it sank.
James Cameron's film 'Titanic' was phenomenally successful in projecting the emotional nature of the tragedy to viewers all over the world. His directorial finesse and creativity took the account of the RMS Titanic to a great height. The film was spellbinding in its romantic appeal and attention to details. It became an instant commercial success and was the first film to reach the billion dollar mark with a world wide gross of $1.8 billion.
A black and white film 'A Night To Remember', released in 1958, also portrayed the Titanic disaster.
The human tragedy of the Titanic disaster saw worldwide outrage and shock. Safety at sea became the focus. It led to the establishment of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). Although it was a huge tragedy, the future generations can learn from its mistakes and ensure that they are not repeated.
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