Can the Titanic be considered a Failure?


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Harland Duzen

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Jan 14, 2017
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I just seen this news story on the internet:

US museum labelling Titanic a failure blasted by Belfast councillor - BelfastTelegraph.co.uk

Apparently the Museum of Failure in Los Angeles (who ever thought there was such a thing?) has decided to place the Titanic in it's exhibition of failed products or designs. Fortunately, Belfast is putting up a fight and refusing this categorisation, but this does bring up a possible Chicken or the Egg scenario:

While the Titanic wasn't designed or expected to endure such damage or stress on her hull (and if anything, cope better than anyone could have hoped), could her damage and loss be considered a technical failure?


Personally I believe the Museum is wrong since their under false impressions (and if the story anything to go by, they are using a crude model as an example :mad:) but what is everyone else's thoughts?
 
Dec 23, 2017
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Nothing in my opinion failed. The Titanic was open up for over 400 feet (if you believe in the damage in boiler room 4 was iceberg damage) even ships now could take that kind of damage.

If anything its a story of success for lasting 3 hours and saving 700 people
 
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Rob Lawes

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She performed exactly as designed. The failure was of man not of metal. She didn't steer herself into that iceberg.
 
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Aaron_2016

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You can buy T-shirts here in Belfast which say - "Titanic - She was alright when she left here."

I think Mr. Scanlan summed it up best during the final days of the British Inquiry. He said:


"The whole of this dreadful tragedy is due, in the view I submit to your Lordship, not to any defect in the ship."

"The failure of the Board of Trade in making efficient regulations under this Section 427......There is great need for reform at the Board of Trade.......So meagre and insufficient are their own rules that shipowners voluntarily make provision in excess of those rules, and this very fact should have convinced them that their rules needed revision. That is the point."

The museum might as well put the Normandie up there as well. She caught fire and had tons of water poured into her to stop the fire, which caused the ship to keel onto her side. Does this mean the Normandie should be dubbed a failure as well? The Titanic sank on her maiden voyage. It wasn't a failure, it was a tragedy.


.
 
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Harland Duzen

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Also by that logic, since the Olympic was made to nearly the same specifications and went on to survive a torpedo attack, sink a U-boat and survive multiple collisions, it certainly don't make Titanic OR the Olympic Class a failure.

How long till they consider the Lusitania, Empress of Island or any major ship that sunk?
 
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Jay Roches

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I'm considering some other commonly cited technological disasters, and there is usually some element of the technology that caused the catastrophic failure. With the Challenger, there were the flawed O-rings and the decision to launch in freezing conditions. With Chernobyl, the reactor had various inherent flaws that led to a meltdown. It could even be said that the World Trade Center was particularly vulnerable to the sorts of fire conditions that occurred on 9/11. But Titanic is in a different category, I think. Titanic was subjected to conditions which it could not survive. It did not have enough lifeboats, but it found itself in perhaps the only maritime disaster in history where enough lifeboats could have mattered, because it remained afloat without a terrible list for 2 hours and 40 minutes.

In the event, Titanic performed better than expected. Harland and Wolff knew the ship could float with any three of the first four compartments flooded, but in fact Titanic was able to float with the first four compartments flooded -- this was only determined after the sinking. There was no weakness in the steel or any other aspect of the construction. The ship was simply made to suffer an accident from which no reasonably designed passenger ship could recover. (The damage to Titanic was almost twice as long as the damage to the Costa Concordia -- and the Concordia lost power immediately, while Titanic was well lit for at least two and a half hours.)

When evaluating human failure we tend to look at the hubris involved in challenging nature to the extent that we challenge it. If we go by hubris alone, then any "largest ship in the world" that fails is a major failure, especially if it's touted as "unsinkable." But nature ignores hubris; it's a human concept. Sometimes, we design things that have a propensity to fail catastrophically. Or we design things that people simply don't like. These categories are what the Museum of Failure caters to. It's the place for things like the McDLT, the two-compartment sandwich nobody really wanted to eat, along with the stuff of technological disasters where someone overlooked a critical flaw. But the sinking of the Titanic is not an epic fail -- it was a ship that met the unconquerable force of nature and did fairly well under the circumstances.
 
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Jul 9, 2000
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the Titanic was built to be one of the safest ships of the day and in the area of watertight subdivision is actually superior to much of what's in service now.

The problem was not with the ship, but with a lot of the operating assumptions of the day. No ship, no matter how well built or safe is immune to human fallibility.
 

Kyle Naber

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The sinking of the ship maybe failed to give people hope that they could finally conquer the elements, but it brought light to the fact that some of the regulations needed to be revised.
 
Dec 23, 2017
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I'm considering some other commonly cited technological disasters, and there is usually some element of the technology that caused the catastrophic failure. With the Challenger, there were the flawed O-rings and the decision to launch in freezing conditions. With Chernobyl, the reactor had various inherent flaws that led to a meltdown. It could even be said that the World Trade Center was particularly vulnerable to the sorts of fire conditions that occurred on 9/11. But Titanic is in a different category, I think. Titanic was subjected to conditions which it could not survive. It did not have enough lifeboats, but it found itself in perhaps the only maritime disaster in history where enough lifeboats could have mattered, because it remained afloat without a terrible list for 2 hours and 40 minutes.

In the event, Titanic performed better than expected. Harland and Wolff knew the ship could float with any three of the first four compartments flooded, but in fact Titanic was able to float with the first four compartments flooded -- this was only determined after the sinking. There was no weakness in the steel or any other aspect of the construction. The ship was simply made to suffer an accident from which no reasonably designed passenger ship could recover. (The damage to Titanic was almost twice as long as the damage to the Costa Concordia -- and the Concordia lost power immediately, while Titanic was well lit for at least two and a half hours.)

When evaluating human failure we tend to look at the hubris involved in challenging nature to the extent that we challenge it. If we go by hubris alone, then any "largest ship in the world" that fails is a major failure, especially if it's touted as "unsinkable." But nature ignores hubris; it's a human concept. Sometimes, we design things that have a propensity to fail catastrophically. Or we design things that people simply don't like. These categories are what the Museum of Failure caters to. It's the place for things like the McDLT, the two-compartment sandwich nobody really wanted to eat, along with the stuff of technological disasters where someone overlooked a critical flaw. But the sinking of the Titanic is not an epic fail -- it was a ship that met the unconquerable force of nature and did fairly well under the circumstances.

Not to mention the ship withstood 2 1/2 to 3 times what her max stresses should have been in the roughest seas would have produced until the structure finally failed as no structure is designed to be outside its boundaries like that
 

Harland Duzen

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Also, it probably wasn't a good idea to call it unsinkable (I know only the press called her that) but it seems to be a common occurrence and curse.

Titanic - Unsinkable - sinks
HMS Audacious - Unsinkable - sinks
Bismarck - Unsinkable - sinks

Even the landlocked Titanic in China has been partially officially named unsinkable, and if the Facebook photos are anything to go by, it's already experienced flooding!
 
Jan 11, 2018
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She performed exactly as designed. The failure was of man not of metal. She didn't steer herself into that iceberg.
No amount of safety features can replace proper human intervention. Calling the Titanic a failure would be like calling those who developed AVG or Avast a failure just because a complacent user ended up being infected with ransomware. Would it be right to call Apple's efforts to secure iOS a failure just because someone jailbroke it?
 

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