Over a hundred years after its sinking, the RMS Titanic still captures our imagination. The sinking of this ship has inspired numerous film adaptations and even a musical. The lore of the Titanic still compels us to revisit the tragedy. Here are ten of the most intriguing mysteries about the Titanic that have yet to be solved.
Could the Californian Have Saved the Lives of Many Titanic Passengers?
There has been a lot of debate about the response of Captain Stanley Lord and his ship, the Californian, to the Titanic’s distress on the night of April 15th, 1912.
Some said Lord was responsible for some of the death due to his crew’s inaction when they saw the rockets that the Titanic sent up to call for help. Experts still disagree if the Californian could have been much assistance even if they had responded promptly.
1. Could a Fire Have Been the Root Cause for the Quick Sinking of the Titanic?
There is evidence that a coal fire might have caused enough damage to the Titanic’s hull to cause its sinking. The story says the blaze started on the Titanic three weeks before its voyage. Other experts state that a fire would have only hastened the sinking when it struck the iceberg.
2. Why Was Captain Smith Speeding?
Most historians have believed that Captain Smith ordered the ship to go faster and risk the icebergs of the North Atlantic to beat another ship across the Atlantic. Those who believe the coal fire theory state that the captain sped up because he was trying to burn the coal quicker to control the blaze.
3. Speaking of Captain Smith, What Were His Final Moments Like?
Like any honorable captain, Smith went down with his ship. His final moments are ambiguous. Some state that he was overcome by water crashing down on him while he stood on the bridge, while others state that he drowned while comforting little children in his arms.
4. Was Suicide Truly the Cause of the Death of First Officer Murdoch?
In one scene in the 1997 film, Titanic, Officer Murdoch, trying to maintain order as he loads lifeboats, shoots a passenger and then turns the gun on himself. Several passengers on the Titanic told this story, which is how it made it into the film. This has never been verified.
5. The Mystery of the Incident in the Wireless Room
During the sinking of the Titanic, a fight happened in the wireless room. A wireless operator named Jack Phillips was working on sending out distress calls when he was pounced upon by someone who was after his life belt. Harold Bride, a wireless room worker, stated that he shot the attacker. Then, he changed his story to state that he killed him without a gun. Eventually, he then told authorities that he held the attacker while Phillips beat him to death.
6. Did the Samson Ignore the Titanic’s Distress Calls?
According to some discussions, a ship even closer to the Titanic than the Californian could have helped save lives. This ship was said to be the Samson, a Norwegian vessel. According to a crew member, the Samson could have responded to the Titanic’s distress calls but chose not to because they feared prosecution for illegal seal hunting.
7. What About Rigel, the Heroic Dog?
Many stories say a Newfoundland dog named Rigel saved passengers on the Titanic.
Some stories claim he was a pet of First Officer Murdoch that ended up in the ocean, swimming around the lifeboats.
While there were accounts posted in the New York Herald, they could never be verified.
8. Was it the Olympian, and not the Titanic, That Sank?
One theory claims it was not the Titanic, but the Olympian, that sank into the ocean. This story states that the nearly identical Olympian sank and was said to be the Titanic to commit insurance fraud. While there are many flaws with this theory, it continues to stick around.
9. Did the Titanic Hit an Iceberg?
Some experts say an impact with an iceberg would have sent the Titanic to the bottom of the ocean much quicker. They state that it more likely hit sheets of ice just below the surface called “pack ice.” These experts state that optical illusions could account for the various eyewitness accounts of icebergs.
10. The Titanic Inspires Enduring Mysteries
Over the years, we have romanticized the sinking of the Titanic. Is it because it was supposed to be unsinkable? Is it because it appears that so many opportunities were lost to prevent the tragedy? Those could certainly contribute to this ship’s enduring popularity.
The mysteries that continue to linger around the Titanic certainly play their part in this ship, maintaining its mythic status.