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Belfast centre remembers Titanic 100 years on April 1st 2012: http://www.aljazeera.com/video/europe/2012/03/2012331155033763749.html?utm_content=automateplus&utm_campaign=Trial6&utm_source=SocialFlow&utm_term=tweets&utm_medium=MasterAccount
April 15th 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Oddly symbolic that this is tax day for a nation also down by the bow, taking on water fast, and doomed to the icy depths below.
But I digress.
Now, I am fascinated by history as much as the next person, but it occurs to me that maybe all this excitement about Titanic's 100th anniversary is a touch overblown. National Geographic has two specials coming out by Bob Ballard and James Cameron, Titanic is their cover story, History Channel and Discovery are ramping up all their Titanic shows.
It's a bit much when you realize that all this celebration is for one of human history's biggest failures!
Just think about it. Titanic was designed with far too small a rudder for effective maneuvering, a turbine-driven center propeller that could not go into reverse, transverse watertight bulkheads that barely came above the waterline amidships, NO longitudinal watertight bulkheads at all, no powerful searchlights to illuminate the water in front of the ship at night, (this being before radar and might vision was available), only one pair of binoculars for the lookouts (which were misplaced that fateful night), and of course, far too few lifeboats. Whereas Titanic's original design called for steel rivets, Harland and Wolff failed when they decided to use wrought-iron rivets in some parts of the hull (including where the iceberg struck), to save money and labor. The wrought-iron rivets were poorly made and contained large amounts of slag inclusions, which weakened them. The long cold-soaking in the North Atlantic seawater also made them very brittle and easy to snap under the impact of the ice.
Managing Director of the White Star Line J. Bruce Ismay failed when he (in typical money-junkie thinking) poured money onto Titanic's luxury accommodations and pinched pennies where the actual running of the ship was involved (see above about binoculars and lifeboats). Ismay also failed when he requested Captain E. J. Smith speed up the ship to arrive in New York early to garner more headlines, knowing that pushing the brand-new engines during their first week of service would shorten their useful lifespan. And of course Captain E. J. Smith failed by agreeing to do so, knowing there were icebergs in the area.
Captain Stanley Lord of the steamer California failed when he did not order his radio operator to keep sending the warning of the ice field that had stopped his ship after Titanic's radio operators rudely rebuffed an earlier warning, then failed again when he ordered that he not be disturbed when he went to bed, which prevented him from being told his crew saw Titanic's distress rockets to the SSW.
Titanic's radio operators, Jack Phillips and Harold Bride (officially employees of the Marconi company) failed in ignoring the warning message from the California while sending paid "vanity" messages from the passengers to the mainland. So, while Captain Smith knew there was ice in the area (he had been given an earlier radio warning), he did not know that the ice field was dense enough to force the California to stop.
Ultimately everyone failed because they did not plan for the worst case scenario, and instead simply assumed their remarkable good luck (White Star had not had a single passenger fatality in the previous 25 years) would continue unabated. This allowed the money-junkies to spend on comforts and cut corners for safety.
I know a lot of people will say that remembering the Titanic will teach us not to make such mistakes again, but we have celebrated and recapitulated history's greatest failure for a century, and yet the lessons from Titanic did not prevent Hindenburg, Three Mile Island, Bhopal, Chernobyl, Exxon Valdez, Challenger, Columbia, Deepwater Horizon, and Fukushima. In every one of these cases, as was the case with Titanic, the money-junkies making the crucial decisions failed to plan for the worst case possibility, cut corners for the safety systems that could have prevented disaster, wrote themselves huge bonuses, crossed their fingers, and when it all came apart, left the general population to suffer the harm and clean up the dead bodies.
After 100 years of Titanic commemoration, during which the above disasters happened, there is only one lesson we have learned and that is money-junkies never learn any lessons at all.~ Mike Rivero