A hundred years on and our fascination with the story of RMS Titanic just gets stronger. But I wonder if that would be the case if her wreck had not been discovered back in 1985?
She was one of three Olympic class ocean liners, the other two enjoying mixed fortunes. RMS Brittanic hit a mine in 1916 and sank, whilst RMS Olympic continued to give sterling service until her scrapping in 1935.
As with many disasters, Titanic conspiracy theories abound. Was she weakened by the use of iron rivets instead of steel?
Was she in fact not the Titanic at all? After a collision in Southampton Water, some claim her older sister Olympic was seriously damaged and not insured for repair.
Any work would also delay Titanic, so at Harland & Wolff Olympic became Titanic.
Daft if you ask me. How then did Olympic carry on sailing for another 24 years?
But the real appeal of the story comes from the ship’s immense size, similar to P&O’s Aurora today, and the fact she was dubbed ‘unsinkable’.
Such cavalier claims would be her undoing, as every sailor knows the day you no longer fear the sea could be your last.
As well as the iceberg, the story of those on board also adds to the legend. In 1912 the class system was still very much in operation, as first class passengers, men included, made their way to lifeboats which were little more than half full and rowed by crew. Meanwhile many third class ‘steerage’ passengers either drowned in the ship as she went down, or froze to death in the icy Atlantic waters.
Have we learned any lessons? In many ways yes. But think about this. In 1912 a captain ordered his ship to travel at full speed through iceberg-infested seas to impress the world as she would arrive in New York early.
In 2012 a captain allegedly ordered his ship (the Costa Concordia) to steer too close to the Italian island of Giglio to impress crew on board and a former ship’s officer.
n The Portsmouth hero of Titanic - the amazing story of Sidney Daniels in Weekend on Saturday.