Why Did The Ship Sink & Who Was Really To Blame?


Titanic explored the tragedy of the title ship and made way for two questions about this event: how did the unsinkable ship sink and who was to blame?

Titanic tells a love story while also addressing the tragedy of the sinking of the famous ship, making way for two questions about this event: why did the unsinkable Titanic sink and who was to blame? James Cameron is one of the most respected filmmakers in the industry, and while his name is mostly associated with the sci-fi genre, one of his biggest projects isn’t from that world: Titanic, a disaster drama movie released in 1997.

Based on the accounts of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, Titanic tells the story of Rose DeWitt Bukater (Kate Winslet) and Jack Dawson (Leonardo DiCaprio), two passengers from different social classes who fall in love aboard the ship during its ill-fated maiden voyage. Although the main focus of the story is the forbidden romance between Jack and Rose, Titanic also takes time to explore the sinking of the ship (though not in detail), introducing some of the people involved in the building of it and showing the tragedy of the sinking from different parts of the ship.


Related: James Cameron Fixed One Titanic Scene 15 Years After Release

Although James Cameron did a lot of research while developing Titanic, even visiting the remains of it, he got many details wrong, leading the audience to wonder about what made the supposedly unsinkable ship shink and who was the one to blame for it, if there’s anyone.

Why Titanic Sunk When It Was Supposedly Unsinkable

The Real RMS Titanic

The Titanic was presumed to be unsinkable, which was a big part of its appeal. Unfortunately, the Titanic wasn’t unsinkable at all, and after failing to avoid an iceberg, the ship went down. However, historians and other experts still debate over the reasons why the Titanic sank, and the best answer is that it was a combination of circumstances. First, the Titanic was sailing at high speed, which wasn’t ideal through iceberg-heavy waters like those of the North Atlantic. The crew also dismissed an iceberg warning from a nearby ship (the Californian), which radioed the Titanic to warn them about the dense field ice, but as the message didn’t begin with “MSG” (Master’s Service Gram), the Titanic’s radio operator didn’t pass it along as he didn’t consider it urgent. Others claim that one of the ship’s crew members made a fatal wrong turn when he panicked after hearing the order to turn “hard-a-starboard”. Researchers also found that the material the Titanic was made of had a high concentration of “slag”, a smelting residue that can make metal break, thus weakening parts of the ship. There are also studies that show that weather conditions contributed to the sinking, so there were many elements playing against the Titanic, and it’s complicated to pinpoint just one reason.

Who Was To Blame For Titanic Sinking?

William Murdoch and Captain in Titanic

If finding one concrete reason why the Titanic sank is complicated, finding one person to blame is a lot more. For years, many have blamed Captain Edward John Smith for the sinking of the Titanic as he ignored the warnings from other ships (though, then again, there’s the above detail of the radio operator not passing the message to Smith) and didn’t slow down, and it’s even believed by some that Smith was trying to better the crossing time of the Olympic, Titanic’s sister ship. Others put the blame on the White Star Line for allowing the ship to go at full speed and not adding enough lifeboats; Bruce Ismay (White Star Line’s chairman) for supposedly encouraging Smith to maintain high speed; and first officer William Murdoch, who ordered the ship to be steered around the iceberg and the engines to be reversed, and many argue that was a mistake. The tragedy of the Titanic was the result of a combination of circumstances and bad decisions, and one reason and one person to blame might never be specified.

Next: Titanic: The Bizarre True Story Behind The Man Rose & Jack Saw On The Bow

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