Was the Titanic really the Olympic?


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Seth Christian Riedel

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I read in a book that there was a myth that someone switched the name plates from the Titanic to the Olympic in a scheme that the company White Star would have the 'Titanic' (really the Olympic with switched name plates) crash into an iceberg so they could collect the insurance for the Olympic, which was damaged from an earlier crash. The problem was the boat crashed in the wrong place at the wrong time. They also think that the Californian was involved in this scheme because they failed to respond to the rockets being launched from the Titanic because they thought it was a scam. What do you think about this?
 

James Smith

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Dec 5, 2001
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Hi Seth, and welcome!

The topic has been done to death here; if you do a search on "Robin Gardner" (the guy who hatched the theory) or "Switch theory," you'll find plenty of threads devoted to the rebuttal of his theory. A few items I can think of off the top of my head:

--Titanic was underinsured--sinking her made no sense.
--Olympic and Titanic were more different than meets the eye; to make all of the structural changes necessary to pass the Olympic for the Titanic would have taken months and required secrecy at a level impossible to maintain in most shipyards.
--A vast number of items recovered from the wrecksite bear the Titanic's Harland and Wolff ID number, 401 (Olympic's was 400)--including, I believe, the bridge instrumentation as well as various items pertaining to the engine room.
--At the end of one of his books, Gardner himself disavows the theory.

Jim
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Poor Seth. First post, and he's told his interest has been done to death. Which it has indeed, but nevertheless .... have fun, Seth, searching the threads suggested above. When you've done that, you'll find this site has myriads of other threads which, although not as startlingly controversial, are just as interesting and much more plausible.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Seth, just for the record, in case you came away with that impression, I wasn't trying to put you down or anything like that. I think it speaks well of you that you sought to ask about this rather then just accept the whole premise without a second thought. We haven't been as fortunate with some of the posters who tried to sell this one, a few of whom seemed to take this as some sort of holy cause.

Conspiracy theories of every patch tend to thrive in the wake of great events, especially those that produce dead bodies in mass quantities. While not really directly germane to the Titanic or her history, you may find The Conspiracy, Paranoid Theorists entry on The Skeptic's Dictionary a useful resource for gaining some insights on how these people think. The traits the exhibit are evergreen.
 

Jamie Bryant

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"We haven't been as fortunate with some of the posters who tried to sell this one..."

I hope that doesn't refer to me Michael. Although it took a while, i did explain my motives for that thread, and that was to tell the sceptics to be a little more 'open minded' about the whole affair, not that i agreed with them or anything.

JB
 
Dec 2, 2000
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No Jamie, I wasn't referring to you. We've had some people here that were a lot more agressive about it.

On the question of being open minded..."open minded" to what? The quality of having an "open mind" doesn't mean that one simply says "Yeah, it could have been or just might be" to every proposition that comes down the pike, no matter how rediculous it is. It means that one is willing to consider the merits of a given proposition based on whatever credible evidence there is to support it and to apply one's critical thinking skills...if any...to same.

Had there been some serious allagations to the ship switch thing in 1912, there just might be something to discuss. The problem here is that what's being dealt with is a modern day contrivance that has nothing to do with the hows and whys of the way ships operate or how a profitable scam would be carried off. Had White Star been tempted to commit barratry at the Olympic's expence, they simply could have arranged to have the ship herself sunk or destroyed. This would have been simple enough to arrange without ever leaving the pier, and it doesn't involve thousands of eyes and ears who would know instantly that something was up had somebody attempted to convert the ships to look like the other, and who would not keep quiet. (Shipyards are absolutely lousy places to try and keep a secret.)

So....an "open mind" to what?
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Seth Christian Riedel

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so.....since that theory is obviously false....why didn't the Californian help the Titanic when they saw the white rockets?
 

John Flood

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Seth, they didn't respond to the white rockets, because they did not believe(100%) they were actual "distress" rockets that they were seeing. They may have thought they were some other sort of communication signal (but not a "distress" signal).

All the Best,
John.
 
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Alex McLean

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That is not to say they didn't respond in some way. They used a morse lamp to signal the steamer on the horizon, and between firing the rockets, Titanic did the same. Both parties believed they had a responce at one point or another, but dismissed it as being nothing more than a masthead light flickering as they could make no logical sence out of it.

Not wanting to start another 'what ship was it' thread, but how can we even be sure the ship observed from Titanic was even Californian?

On another topic, I noticed that both Seth and John were reletively new to the board, so I would just like to welcome the two of you to our little community.

My best,
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Alex
 
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Seth Christian Riedel

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I really don't want to start a whole new strand somewhere else so I'll just post this here....

I read that the collision could have been avoided if they had ordered the engines to be put in full reverse AND turn at the same time.

Also, if the water temperature was 28 degrees, wouldn't it be full of chunks of ice?
 

Lee Gilliland

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Feb 14, 2003
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It was full of ice - there was an ice floe, spiked by icebergs, several miles long. Carpathia dodged bergs, and Californian was shut down sitting in the midst of it. It was one of the problems they had to deal with when rescuing the lifeboats.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I read that the collision could have been avoided if they had ordered the engines to be put in full reverse AND turn at the same time.<<

Actually, that is what the claimed attempt was and it was exactly the wrong thing to do. When you need to turn, putting the engines in reverse is a very good way to lose rudder effectiveness and make for a much longer turn radius. I have some reason to believe however that this was not attempted in the real accident, but that's the subject for another thread.

>>Also, if the water temperature was 28 degrees, wouldn't it be full of chunks of ice?<<

As Lee pointed out, it was. However, it was all fresh water ice calved off from a glacier, probably the one in Greenland. The salt water however has a lower freezing point.
 
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Jing Hua Wu

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I have read somewhere that ships turn faster if they are going at faster speeds. So, to avoid the collision, they should of do the opposite thing and stop the ship or keep the original speed. But i guess the crew on the bridge were too frantic to think about this logic. They have no time to think that faster ship turn faster than slower ones. If they did realize that, Titanic would just have been another ship in history.

There are definitely a lot of ice in the water, but I think the smaller ones would of melted as the result of salt water seeping into them, lowering their overall freezing temperature. But there are definitely tons of big ones.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hi Jing: This is a very good question regarding the rate of turn. It is true that the rate of turn will be faster at higher speeds simply because the ship is moving through the water faster. The real question, however, has to do with the turning circle. What is the effect of speed on the radius of turn of the ship? The answer to this actually came from data supplied by Edward Wilding to the British wreck commission. In a report given by a Mr. Roch of the Marine Engineers' Association he said the following concerning the turning circle of the Olympic, Titanic's sister ship, and the effect of different speeds:

quote:

I thought the question of the turning circle was material, and your Lordship has had that put before you. I have not seen the plans, but they are here, and I understand from Mr. Wilding the effect is this - that he has got the turning circle at what is roughly 22 knots; he has a turning circle at what is, broadly speaking, 11 knots - that is half the speed - more than half the speed of this vessel - and he tells me, and I have no doubt it is accurate, that whereas in 37 seconds you turn two points at the higher speed, in 74 seconds at the lower speed you will not turn very much more than the two points; that is to say, the turning circle is about the same at the two speeds, but that at the slower speed it takes double as long as at the other. Therefore, you do not by decreasing your speed affect very much your power of averting that which it is your object to avert by your action.
A long winded statement that says the turning circle is not very different at half the speed. So if the start of the turn is at the same distance relative to the object you are trying to avoid, the result will be about the same at speeds from 1/2 to full for these ships. He did say that at the slower speed it would "not turn very much more," which implies that the turning radius would be a little smaller at slower speeds, but not by very much.

Stopping, or slowing down if at all possible, would be good, and turning much sooner, if possible, would be better. What they needed is more time and distance. Even if you cannot avoid hitting an object, at the slower speed the energy of impact will be significantly lower since energy goes as the square of the speed. Half the speed, 1/4th the energy of impact.

Cheers,​
 
Aug 31, 2004
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The idiot who claimed that either wanted to stir up people and get some money, or is just plain stupid and dosen't know anything about the Titanic. Two words: Enclosed Promenade!
 
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