Why The Titanic Sank Essay Writing

Who Sank The Titanic? Essay

Named after the Titans of ancient mythology, enormous in size and strength, the Titanic first sailed the seas April 12, 1912. It was a glorious ship predicted to make headlines. However, the headlines anticipated were displaced by a story of tragedy. The Titanic was created to be an unsinkable ship, and perhaps this reckless presumption was what blinded the passengers, as well as Captain Edward J. Smith. After disaster stuck, people were left wondering what caused the catastrophe. Some blamed Bruce Ismay, the owner of the Titanic, for the lives of those passengers on board, while others blamed Captain Smith. Although, he was an honorable and well-experienced captain for forty years, his poor decisions, ignorance, overconfidence, and his thirst for public attention sunk the "ship of dreams" (Titanic).

Captain Smith was an honorable and distinguished captain, "[f]or 40 years storms sought in vain to vex him or menace his craft" (Streissguth, 32). Captain Smith was looked upon as a skillful, assured and a faithful sailor. For forty years he skillfully maneuvered ships through ice infested waters and not once did any ships founder by his hand. His company held him high on a pedestal, when they saw Captain Smith they saw a person "[s]trong of limb, intent of purpose, pure in character, dauntless as a sailor should be, he walked the deck of his majestic structures as master of her keel" (Streissguth, 32). As a demonstration of the respect towards Captain Smith, his company handed to him every new advancing ship that was built (Streissguth, 32). Lightoller described him as, "[a] ship's captain of vast experience, universally regarded as a highly responsible man, who behaved at times in a manner that appears, in retrospect, positively reckless" (Streissguth, 82). However, Lightoller also mentioned that Captain Smith had a tendency to maneuver his ships at "full Speed" (Streissguth, 82).

Regardless of Captain Smith's admirable reputation, his over-confidence was his tragic flaw. Captain Smith was fearless as he navigated through the ocean. Not even the iceberg warnings that he received inflicted him with fear. "It was said that the Captain had been warned of the presence of ice and had disregarded the warnings" (Streissguth, 41). Before the Titanic had hit the iceberg it had received about six ice warnings, Captain Smith transgressed all of them. Rigorous obstacles presented by the sea do not intimidate a well-experienced sailor who has dedicated his life out at sea for forty years. "No doubt Captain Smith, after a lifetime at sea, regarded these incidents as regular, familiar hazards of seagoing. Could he have thought the same about icebergs...

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wireless: a radio telegraph or radiotelephone system. (Back)


Division of the History of Technology, Transportation Collections, National Museum of American History, in cooperation with the Public Inquiry Mail Service, Smithsonian Institution, "The Titanic," http://www.si.edu/resource/faq/nmah/titanic.htm (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, May 1997).

Gannon, Robert, "What Really Sank the Titanic," Popular Science, vol. 246, no. 2 (February 1995), pp. 49-55.

Garzke, William H., David K. Brown, and Arthur Saniford, "The Structural Failure of the Titanic," Oceans Conference Record (IEEE), vol. 3 (1994), pp. 138-148.

Hill, Steve, "The Mystery of the Titanic: A Case of Brittle Fracture?" Materials World, vol. 4, no. 6 (June 1996), pp. 334-335.

Manning, George, The Theory and Technique of Ship Design (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1956), pp. 25-53.

Muckle, William, Modern Naval Architecture (London: W.P. Griffith & Sons, 1951), pp. 121-125.

Refrigerator, Mister, "R.M.S. Titanic," http://www.scv.net/~fridge/index.htm (May 1998).

Rogers, Patrick, Anne-Marie O'Neill, and Sophfronia S. Gregory, "Sunken Dreams," People, vol. 49, no. 10 (March 1998), pp. 44-51.

Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, Principles of Naval Architecture, 4th ed. (New York: The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, 1977), pp. 121-133.

Author's Note: When she wrote this report, Vicki Bassett was a senior in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Wisconsin. (Back to Beginning)

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