Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Human Error.... A Deadly Price

That Sunday evening, April 14th, was a glorious one, and for many, their last one. As the sun began to fade away over the horizon, it cast wondrous shades of light across the boundless ocean. But as night came on, so did the intense coldness, which forced many passengers off of the open decks, and back into the warmth of the Titanic.
Over the course of the evening the temperature dropped drastically to just a few degrees above freezing. Second Officer Lightoller, had the ship’s carpenter make sure the fresh water didn’t freeze.
Time ticked on to that deadly second when the Titanic would receive her death wound. The later it got, more and more passengers went to bed. Just a few scattered here and there stayed up playing different card games.
First Officer Murdoch came on watch at 11:00 p.m., and around that time the lookouts in the crow’s nest were relieved.

Captain Smith made a terrible mistake in doing this… the Titanic was in a known area of icebergs, she was sailing at night at 22 to 23 knots, it was the most critical part of the voyage, and the Captain was not at the wheel. A terrible mistake that would cost more than a thousand lives.

“No, not even God could sink this ship,” is what people thought of, when they thought of the Titanic.
Then you have everything that caused dates for the Titanic’s departure to be changed and moved around. Before the Titanic was fully ready to take on the endless seas, she had to donate her left propeller shaft to the Olympic, which caused dates too be pushed back. [The Olympic had experienced a collision at sea.] When the Titanic was leaving the Southampton Port, she almost had a collision with the New York liner, and by the time everything was cleared up, it pushed her time back by an hour. All of these things played into the iceberg and Titanic being at the same spot at the same time.
Something else that contributed to the Titanic disaster was that the Captain set the Titanic 10 miles south of the original sailing course to hopefully ‘avoid’ confrontation with the deadly ice. These things certainly happened: the Titanic was sailing through a known ice field at almost top speed at night; first Officer Murdoch was on the bridge instead of the Captain; there weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone on board; when the Titanic started to sink, the wireless operators weren’t able to get a hold of someone in the area; Officer Murdoch made a wrong decision on trying to avoid the iceberg; the iceberg opened up six watertight compartments instead of five; [just one less compartment and the Titanic would have been able to live through the disaster.]
There were many little things that fateful night that played a part in a much bigger circle as history played out. To say that God didn’t have a part in the whole ordeal is not likely.
I have been pondering why the Titanic was, and still remains the most famous ship disaster! The Titanic didn’t have a priceless treasure aboard her. She wasn’t the fastest ship out there; it also wasn’t a shipwreck that cost the most lives. I don’t think the reason she gets all the respect she does today was because she was the ‘grandest’ ship afloat. She was a grand ship but there had been many shipwrecks before her, and many to follow after her, but it seems that none can compare to the Titanic disaster.
What made the Titanic disaster what it is today? The bravery of the men? The Titanic was really a perfect shipwreck; it took long enough to sink so the historical facts can be kept clear. The Titanic was wonderfully engineered to last that long, with that kind of damage. When Thomas Andrews inspected the ship after the collision, he gave it only an hour to live and it lasted 2 ½ hours.
How often does the biggest ship in the world undertake its maiden voyage and sink? Not often! I think the reason the Titanic is still thought of today is because in this day and age men can not think of staring death in the face and let women and children get off safely. Since we probably wouldn’t even think of letting that happen today, it is still a mystery that men long ago could. What if men would have had no refrain? Titanic and her history might not be a big deal today. It would only be an ocean liner that sank a long time ago. The same as any other! Just the concept of a ship sinking on her maiden voyage goes against nature. Why did most of the men stand back as they did? Why did they let women and children get off safely? Sometimes I even have a hard time imagining how they did.