Titanic the ship that never sank Doh

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Ben Dover

Did you know that there is a book out that proposes that the Olympic and Titanic were switched!? Not only that, the Olympic sank instead of the Titanic which, of course, was sunk deliberately by the crew and passengers as part of some huge insurance scam!!? Hmmm, the people who 'died' then presumably ran off to South America to live in secrecy on their illegal haul!!!? You know, just like Hitler, Bormann, Goebbels and the rest of the nazi gang did in '45...

I just can't believe this! Does anyone think that this ludicrous book has any credibility at all? This seems like a ridiculously implausible story, simply thought up to sell books... What does anyone else think?

Elaine Barnes

Hi Ben,
I too, read that book and I think it's a load of bunk and never should have wasted my money! When the wreck was found, the propeller was checked and the number 401 can clearly be seen, proving that it was the Titanic, not Olympic which foundered that night.
If you read the book fully, you'll find that towards the end the authors admit that the switch never happened. They say it is just an example of the sort of conspiracies that spring up around remarkable events. I can't quote you the page. I too would not waste money on the book.
I agree, Dave. Titanic Conspiracy is not worth the paper its printed on. I'm amazed you had the patience to read the whole thing.

Laurice Monforte

The story behind the Unsinkable Titanic interests me, since I heard of it when I was just 8 yr. old? i can't remember. What really confuses me is that why was it said to be unsinkable when it can be sank anyway. But eventhogh it sank I'm still amaze by the ship. My greatest dream is to go to the site where it sank. And my life would be complete. If given a chance to go back to 1912, I would still prefer to board to Titanic eventhough I know that it would sank.
It has been well argued that the "unsinkable" tag was really added by the media after the event.

It's true that Titanic was described as "practically unsinkable" in White Star publicity and in a journal called "The Shipbuilder" but these publications were not known widely, especially "The Shipbuilder" which was quite expensive and sold only to people involved in the industry. It should be remembered that her sister ship was not known as "the unsinkable Olympic", though her safety features were identical.

In fact, all liners of the time were just as "unsinkable" as Titanic and Olympic. For instance, in 1909 the liner Republic floated for 39 hours after having a big hole punched in her side in a collision. This gave time for her company to be rescued, in spite of her not having enough boats.

After the disaster the media played up the "unsinkable" label. It was part of a myth in which the sinking was a punishment sent by God or Nature to those whose confidence went beyond the bounds permitted to mortals. Look up the Greek terms "hubris" and "nemesis".

As for going to Titanic, all you need is heaps of money. Somebody is running trips to her in Mir, the submersible seen in the movie. It costs a bomb. A mate of mine won a trip in a raffle and was flown to St Johns and out to the wreck. He took photos and brought back a rock from close by the ship.
Dave Gittins wrote:

>It has been well argued that the "unsinkable" tag >was really added by
>the media after the event.

Hi, Dave!

Even so, there are serious holes in that argument. Captain Smith certainly did his best to foster the 'unsinkable' mythos long before the commencement of Titanic's maiden voyage; his enthusiasm for the invincibility of both Olympic and Titanic was both long-term and was expressed numerous times without any qualification. If other White Star officers were as voluble on the subject as was Captain Smith, one suspects that word of both vessels' 'unsinkability' had gotten around and that it would have provided a very good basis for the post-sinking media reports.

All my best,

G’day, George!

You say, “Captain Smith certainly did his best to foster the 'unsinkable' mythos long before the commencement of Titanic's maiden voyage; his enthusiasm for the invincibility of both Olympic and Titanic was both long-term and was expressed numerous times without any qualification.”

Primary sources, please! Smith’s comments about ships at the time he was master of Adriatic are well-known. I’ve seen somewhere some comments he is supposed to have made about Titanic being able to float if cut into two pieces. You probably know the source. I think it’s post sinking. Show me proof that---

1. Captain Smith frequently spoke of the Olympic ships as “unsinkable”.

2 His remarks were widely publicised in the popular press before the sinking.


Dean Manning

Dave, George,

good day to you both!

I think that Titanic's label of being "unsinkable" is both due to hindsight and to the literature published before Titanic's depature. When you think about it, humans have a natural tendency to take variables, no matter how small or large, and weigh them unproportionately when summerizing information or making judgements, especially when considering things that are in the past. In other words, the fact that Titanic may have been thought of as "unsikable" was blow out of proportion when one starts considering all the facits of the disaster; ie: Captain Smith's last voyage, she was the largest ship in the world ect, ect. Why we do this? In think it's merely a matter of our predelection for making a good story more grand.

On the other hand, if you look in "Titanic Voices" on page 187, it shows a photograph of an advertisement the White Star Line published. On the advertisement it reads:

"The forgoing particulars apply of course to the "Titanic" as well, and this steamer should take the water a few months after the launch of her sister ship "Olympic." It is anticipated that the latter will make her maiden voyage to New York about July 1911; and as far as it is possible to do so, these two wonderful vessels are designed to be unsikable."

granted, the hole here is the phrase "and as far as it is possible to do so..." But, I have to ask, what was the public's perception of how close to unsinkable science could make vessels? If the liner Replubic floated for 39 hours, like you stated above, Dave, and the public was aware of this fact, then it's definately feasble for the general public at the time to think that "and as far as it is possible to do so..." to take on the meaning of dang close to being truely unsinkable.

Hope I didn't offend anybody!

Good day all...

I wrote:

> “Captain Smith certainly did his best to foster the
>'unsinkable' mythos long before the commencement of Titanic's maiden
>voyage; his enthusiasm for the invincibility of both Olympic and Titanic
>was both long-term and was expressed numerous times without any

Dave Gittins replied:

>Primary sources, please! ..... I’ve seen somewhere some comments he
>is supposed to have made about Titanic being able to float if cut into
>two pieces. You probably know the source. I think it’s post sinking.

Hi, Dave!

Yes, the media accounts themselves were post-sinking, but the quoted conversations with Captain Smith were (of course) pre-sinking.

>Show me proof that---
>1. Captain Smith frequently spoke of the Olympic ships as “unsinkable”.

Certainly. The Erie (Pa.) Dispatch of April 17, 1912 interviewed a gent who had recently crossed with Captain Smith on board the Olympic; Smith was quoted as having said: "Anyhow, the Olympic is unsinkable, and Titanic will be the same when she is put in commission. Why, either of these vessels could be cut in halves and each half would remain afloat almost indefinitely. The non-sinkable vessel has been reached in these two wonderful craft. I venture to add that even if the engines and boilers of these vessels were to fall through their bottoms, the vessels would remain afloat."

The Washington Post of April 18, 1912 contained an interview with Mr. & Mrs. W.P Willie, with whom Captain Smith dined the evening before he left New York to take command of the Titanic. According to Mr. Willie, Smith "said he shared with the designers of the vessel (Titanic) the utmost confidence in her seagoing abilities, and (added) that it was impossible for her to sink."

In 1944 survivor Elmer Taylor wrote an account of his life that described a conversation that Captain Smith had during the Titanic's maiden voyage. Taylor wrote: "We were close enough to hear Captain Smith tell his party the ship could be cut crosswise in three places and each piece would float. That remark confirmed my belief in the safety of the ship."

(The above three accounts are just the ones that I've run across during my *own* research; several friends have uncovered similar quotes by Captain Smith, but I'll leave it to them to share their research info here if they wish to do so.)

>2 His remarks were widely publicised in the popular press before the

To the best of my knowledge this didn't happen. However, there are unmistakable signs that a widespread *oral* tradition of unsinkability existed prior to the disaster, and it wasn't until *after* the disaster that the oral tradition began to find its way into print.

One excellent way for an oral tradition of Olympic/Titanic unsinkability to take root would have been for a prominent person like Captain Smith to boast about that unsinkability to White Star's passengers (many of whom regularly patronized the Line and could be counted upon to share such information with friends) as well to non-nautical friends on shore. The interviews that I've just quoted show that Captain Smith made boasts about unsinkability to *both* groups of people. (Moreover, these were just a few conversations that happened to be shared with the press after the disaster; how many similar conversations with other people were not publicized in this way?) If other White Star officers and crewmen were as enthusiastic about Olympic/Titanic as was Captain Smith (and why shouldn't they be?), the Olympic/Titanic 'unsinkable' myth would have been pretty widespread before the Titanic's maiden voyage. Indeed, we know that such a myth was widespread simply because a number of passengers (e.g. Benjamin Hart, Richard Rouse, Archibald Butt) reassured friends and relatives about the Titanic's unsinkability long before they even went to Southampton to board the vessel. It was this oral tradition of unsinkability that was largely responsible for the confidence that Titanic's passengers felt in their ship even though she was in the process of sinking beneath their feet.

We can never know if Captain Smith truly *believed* the 'unsinkable' myth himself, but the fact remains that he actively *promoted* that myth to other people. What better way for such a myth to gradually gain acceptance among the seagoing public than for the Commodore of the White Star Line to promote that myth himself? Although the 'unsinkable' myth was definitely *played up* by the media after April 15, 1912, it seems pretty clear that a preexisting oral myth was already firmly in place well *before* that date.

Take care, Dave. (By the way, I really enjoy your website.) And many thanks to Dean Manning for his own contributions to the discussion. Interesting!

All my best,


Sarah Littrell

To the talk about the Olympic and Titanic switcheroo...what was the books name? I'd like to take a peek at it please.

much gratitude,
Sarah Littrell

Elaine Barnes

Hi Sarah,
As Mike H wrote in a preceeding message, the name of the book is The Titanic Conspiracy. The author's name escapes me, since I only read it once and stuck it in my attic. Anyone know author's name?

Paul Rogers

To Dave Gittins.

Dave, if you don't mind, would you please post a link to your website, which George Behe commented on above. I've tried to find it in the "links" section of ET, but no joy!

Many thanks.

My URL is http://users.senet.com.au/~gittins I've not touched it for some time and there are one or two things that I now think are not quite right. I'll leave it as it is. If people pinch my ideas they can pinch my mistakes with them.

For Elaine, the culprits were Gardiner and Van der Vat. I think Gardiner's first name is Robin. The book seems to exist in different incarnations. I seem to have heard of a new one called "The Ship the Never Sank".

We know what P T Barnum said about suckers!

Karen Rock

The copy I read (all the way through, believe it or not)is called The Riddle Of The Titanic by Robin Gardiner & Dan Van Der Vat published by Orion. Not only do they tell the ridiculous story that the two ships were switched but also that Captain Smith deliberately steered the ship into the ice field knowing that it would be damaged and sink. He missed his mark and crashed too soon though so there were no other IMM ships around to save everybody as was the supposed plan!
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