If you have studied Titanic long enough, you are sure to come across various conspiracy theories. They vary from the supernatural (mummy curse) to the exotic (the Iluminati). And some that are even a stretch for conspiracy theorists to wrap around (like time travel or German submarine sinking Titanic). Then there is the switch theory.
What is the switch theory? That White Star switched the ships so that the actual ship that sank was Olympic not Titanic. The reason varies on who is making the claim. Some years ago Robin Gardiner made the claim in his book Titanic:The Ship That Never Sank? that it was done so that White Star could collect damages on the new ship.
The underlying reason for the switch is the HMS Hawke collided with Olympic in 1911. Olympic was determined to be at fault and Lloyd’s of London refused to pay the claim to White Star. So they decided to switch ships and sink Titanic to claim insurance. Of course the planned sinking went awry and you know the rest.
The book is still out there and has some believers on You Tube and elsewhere repeating it as fact to this day. Enter into the fray Myles Power who decided to take on this claim on his YouTube channel. And it certainly has gotten a lot of interest as newspapers like the Daily Star reporting on it. Power spends a lot of time going through the claim and debunking it. At last check it had over 37,000 views and growing.
I read the book when it first came out and shook my head after I closed the last page. It ought to have been an alternative history book. He is not the first nor likely the last that has come up with wildly speculative (and sometimes entertaining) conspiracy theories. In the age of the Internet though, Gardiner is finding that his claims can be debunked for the whole world to see. No word from Gardiner on what he thinks about all of this. He is probably hoping you will spend money at Amazon to buy his book. Check out your local library and see if you can check it out for free.
FYI: Here is a post I did back in 2014 that goes through many of the various theories about Titanic sinking including the conspiracy and supernatural ones.
Relative of Titanic survivor accused of cowardice clears his name (5 May 2018,Hereford Times) Documents and letters written by Sir Cosmo and his wife, a famous fashion designer of her day, came to light in a cardboard box lying for over 100 years in a solicitor’s offices. “I received a phone call out of the blue saying they had found a box with my family name on it and would I like to have it,” said Sir Andrew. “Of course, I said yes.” The find reveals not just the events of that night, which show beyond doubt that the Duff Gordons acted quite properly, but also includes a long list of Lady Duff Gordon’s possessions.
World-renowned Titanic expert Gowan passes away (6 May 2018, Corsicana Daily Sun) “Phil was arguably the top Titanic passengers and crew expert in the world.” Trower said Gowan’s research of the people was groundbreaking in that he was the first to come up with concrete numbers, that are now called the Gowan Numbers. His research revealed that 1,496 people died on the Titanic, and 712 survived. His research was duplicated by others who came up with the exact same numbers, so his are considered the Gold Standard now, Trower said. “We could sit down to dinner as we did in 2013, and Phil could regale us with stories about the passengers, those who lived and died — his knowledge was limitless,” he said. “We could talk on the phone, in person, via email … but he hated text messaging. Refused to do it. He’d never have the same story twice — he had that deep of a knowledge of the stories.”
On 6 May 1937 the German passenger airship Hindenburg caught fire and was destroyed while trying to dock at Naval Air Station Lakehurst near Lakehurst, New Jersey. Of the 97 passengers and crew, 35 perished and one worker was killed on the ground.
Airships were a popular way to travel. They were comfortable and often afforded their passengers the ability to see things that passengers of airplanes would not often see. The Germans had perfected the use of airships while the United States suffered humiliating crashes that confounded designers. The German Zeppelins used hydrogen for many years without any major incident until 1937.
The event was caught on newsreel and on radio. Herbert Morrision’s radio coverage is classic and you can listen to at History.com. You can also listen to this one on YouTube which points out that Morrison’s voice was much higher than normal due to the tape recording speed (he was known for his deep voice). His actual audio report sounds different when you hear it as it ought to have been. A British Pathe newsreel of the disaster be viewed here.
While sabotage was suspected, neither the American or German inquiries concluded that was the cause. The American report concludes:
The cause of the accident was the ignition of a mixture of free hydrogen and air. Based upon the evidence, a leak at or in the vicinity of cell 4 and 5 caused a combustible mixture of hydrogen and air to form in the upper stern part of the ship in considerable quantity; the first appearance of an open flame was on the top of the ship and a relatively short distance forward of the upper vertical fin. The theory that a brush discharge ignited such mixture appears most probable.
The many theories that continue to persist are:
Mythbusters examined the incendiary paint hypothesis and concluded it did not cause the catastrophe. Many believe the most likely reason for the explosion is that a tiny tear in the fabric or an exposed piece of metal was the entry point for static electricity to ignite the hydrogen. Hydrogen would never be used again for airships after this.
Airships faded from use though the famous Goodyear blimps over sports and other events are used to film the events below. And with the desire to conserve our environment these days, helium filled airships may yet return as a means of travel.
According to Richmond News, Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition will be at the Lipont Centre in Richmond, Canada from 23 June 2018-11 Jan 2019. The newspaper reports that that Lipont was selected because of its spaciousness and convenient location. Toni McAfee, executive director of Lipont Centre, told the newspaper: “At Lipont Place the Titanic exhibition will find a natural home allowing both the venue and the exhibition to make their debut in Metro Vancouver,” says McAfee. “We look forward to welcoming all visitors, local and international, to the magnificent space and this world-class exhibition.”
Haunting video of Titanic 100 years on exposes the cabins and hallways where 1,500 died (Daily Star, 27 April 2018)
The clip shows the cabins and hallways where passengers slept, ate and partied on their journey from Southampton to New York. It also reveals cooking utensils, bottles and cutlery, in a room where it is likely chef’s prepared meals for their wealthy passengers. Another angle displays the sheer size of the vessel – which remains a shipwreck near the Canadian island of Newfoundland.
Autistic boy overcomes obstacles to build largest Lego replica of the Titanic (WIVB.com,26 April 2018)
The world’s largest Lego Titanic replica is 24 feet long and five feet tall — and it was built by a very special boy. Fifteen-year-old Brynjar Karl Birgisson is on the autism spectrum, and he developed a passion for learning about the Titanic at a young age. When he turned 10, Brynjar decided to combine his passion for the Titanic with his other love: Legos. The painstaking task took 700 hours over 11 months and 56,000 Lego bricks to complete, but when he was finished, Brynjar had built the world’s largest Titanic replica made out of Legos.
Menu for first ever meal onboard the Titanic makes auction record (Antiques Trade Gazette,25 April 2018)
Henry Aldridge & Son offered the lots at its Titanic & Liner Auction on April 21, which made an overall auction total of around £330,000.
The menu for the first meal served on the ill-fated ship had been owned by Titanic second officer Charles Lightoller, the most senior member of the crew to survive the Titanic disaster. It sold for a hammer price of £80,000, a record for a menu from the ship. The menu was previously auctioned in 2003 when it sold for £28,000 at Sotheby’s, and a similar menu, with a strip missing at the bottom and owned by fifth officer Harold Lowe, sold at £51,000 at Aldridge’s in 2004.
His blood ran cold’: The act that sealed the Titanic’s fate (New Zealand Herald, 23 April 2018)
The nearest boat to the great cruise liner, the Californian, was less than 20 kilometres away, within eyeshot — and a crew member informed Captain Stanley Lord the Titanic was sending up distress rockets. Yet, surrounded by icebergs, he decided not to act. He didn’t wake his wireless operator, he didn’t try to contact the ship and he didn’t head towards it. “The hazard to himself and his command was too great to risk responding,” Titanic researcher Daniel Allen Butler told news.com.au. “The Californian did nothing.”
The rarely told story of Jack Phillips, the Titanic hero from Surrey (Get Surrey, 21 April 2018)
The story of Jack Phillips, the Titanic hero from Surrey, is a well-known one. The 25-year-old Godalming-born telegraphist was aboard the Titanic when it hit an iceberg on April 14, 1912. He stayed at his post until the ship sank, frantically contacting nearby ships and saving hundreds of lives. More than 1,500 people drowned but the Carpathia, a ship alerted to the Titanic’s plight by the signals, picked up 705 survivors. Jack sadly died during the disaster but his co-worker Harold Bride survived to tell the story. Following the 106th anniversary of the catastrophic sinking, Titanic enthusiast from Guildford, Mia Fernandez, 30, claims there is a part of the story that is rarely remembered.
The Titanic’s Irish Legacy (Irish America, 20 April 2018)
It was White Star Line who paid for the headstones that went up during the autumn of 1912. The Titanic bodies, those not claimed by relatives, were divided between three different graveyards, the biggest share going to the Fairview Lawn Cemetery. Here, 121 bodies are buried with 42 remaining unidentified. A gentle sloping of the ground made it necessary to lay the headstones out in three curved lines, reminiscent of the curve of a ship’s bow. One of the Titanic occupants is Jack Dawson whose grave, thanks to Leonardo di Caprio’s fictional namesake in the 1997 film Titanic, perhaps rivals Jim Morrison’s grave in Père Lachaise with hundreds of visitors leaving flowers and trinkets around it. The second graveyard, the Mount Olivet Catholic Cemetery’s Titanic plot contains 19 victims, including Mrs Margaret Rice from Athlone, Ireland, who was travelling with her five young sons, none of whom were ever found. Four victims were never identified.
Why you’ve never heard of the six Chinese men who survived the Titanic (Washington Post, 19 April 2018)
That man would be one of six Chinese passengers who survived the Titanic, a little-known fact about the historic disaster that has largely remained untold or distorted, owing to a racially hostile environment toward Chinese people in the West at the turn of the 20th century. Now, the lives of these men — who they were, how they survived that fateful night and why they were barred from entering the United States — are being examined in a new documentary, “The Six,” by Arthur Jones and Steven Schwankert.
Michigan Organizers To Unveil Titanic Memorial In May (WKAR.org, 14 April 2018)
The Great Lakes Titanic Connection will reveal the Michigan Titanic Memorial in Marine City on May 12, the Times Herald reported . The memorial will list the 69 names of the passengers headed to Michigan who were among the 1,500 who died while sailing from Southampton, England, for the United States in 1912.The group raised $6,500 to pay for the memorial. The idea began when Margaret Micoff started collecting Titanic memorabilia for her boutique clothing store. She studied the Titanic’s history and stumbled across a community of people who were also fascinated with the story. “When you have that many people, and nobody has done a memorial like other states have done, I thought we should,” Micoff said.
106 years after sinking, Nova Scotians commemorate Titanic victims (CTV News,15 April 2018)
Deanna Ryan-Meister, president of the Titanic Society of Atlantic Canada, says she’s not surprised the disaster is still holding peoples’ attention after more than a century. She says it’s important to continue to honour those who started their voyage with hope and ended it with tragedy.
Initial reporting in American newspapers was a mixture of wishful thinking, press statements from White Star, and jumbled messages that conveyed the disaster was not that bad. Headlines blared the following:
ALL TITANIC PASSENGERS ARE SAFE (Baltimore Evening Sun, 15 April)
ALL SAVED FROM TITANIC AFTER COLLISION (New York Evening Sun 15 April)
And news reports indicated Titanic was being either towed to Halifax or to New York. It turns out though that another ship in distress, an oil tanker being towed to port, got mixed in with reports about Titanic. Wireless messages were constantly being bounced about, were often short, and since Morse code was used easy to mix up things before sending the message forward. And that is what essentially happened. The New York Times was the first to report it correctly. After three days of listening to messages and doing research, managing editor Carl Van Anda realized that no messages had been transmitted by Titanic since its distress calls. Their late edition would read:NEW LINER TITANIC HITS AN ICEBERG;SINKING BY THE BOW AT MIDNIGHT. Other newspapers would be forced to report it as well.
1. Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 pm ship time on 14 April 1912. The night was moonless and the sea calm with temperatures at or below freezing. Titanic was moving quickly but did not see the iceberg until it was nearly upon them. An attempt to steer around it resulted in a collision on Titanic’s starboard side. The iceberg would puncture Titanic enough so that the first five compartments would flood. Since the compartments were not totally sealed all the way up, water would go from one compartment to the other making her sink at the bow.
2. Titanic would transmit signals by wireless telegraph, Morse lamp, and rockets. The ship nearest by most accounts was SS Californian. Her telegraph operator turned off his equipment at 11:30 pm and never heard the distress calls. Questions linger to this day whether or not they saw Titanic or her rockets being fired. The RMS Carpathia received the SOS and its captain, Arthur Rostron, immediately ordered to proceed directly to the last known coordinates to locate survivors despite having to navigate a dangerous ice field on a moonless night.
3. Titanic would sink on 15 April 1912 at 2:20 am. Although Titanic met the British Board of Trade regulations and exceeded it for the number of lifeboats required, it did not have enough for the full complement of passengers and crew. As a result over 1,500 men, women, and children would had no means of escape from the sinking ship.
4. Carpathia arrives at 4:10 am to rescue survivors who were in lifeboats or able to reach them. 710 survived the initial sinking but the final tally would be 705 due death from freezing cold. SS California would arrive later but would find no survivors. At 12 noon Carpathia sounded her horns and began heading back to New York.* It was the moment that many wives knew for certain their husbands had perished.
*SS Carpathia was on her way to Fiume then part of Austria-Hungary in the Adriatic Sea. Today the city is Rijeka and major city in Croatia owning to its deep port and cultural significance.
Eaton, John P.; Haas, Charles A. (1994). Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy. Wellingborough, UK: Patrick Stephens
Lord, Walter (2005) . A Night to Remember. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin
Lord, Walter (1987). The Night Lives On. London: Penguin Books
Lynch, Donald (1998). Titanic: An Illustrated History. New York: Hyperion
1 April-Titanic’s sea trials postponed by bad weather.
2 April- 0600: Sea trials begin. Fire in boiler room six coal hold.
2000 (8.00 p.m.): Trials completed; Titanic returns to Southampton.
4 April-Titanic berths at Southampton around midnight.
10 April-Titanic departs Southampton at 12 noon. While departing,suction from propellers causes New York to break moorings.Collision is averted by tugs and extra speed from Titanic.
17:30 (5:30 p.m.): Arrival at Cherbourg, France. 274 passengers board including John Jacob Astor.22 passengers disembark.
20:30 (8:30 p.m.): Departs Cherbourg for Queenstown,(Cobh), Ireland.
11 April-11:30 (11:30 a.m.) Titanic arrives in Queenstown. 120 passengers board. Among those who depart Titanic is Francis Brown
(later Father Brown, SJ) with his camera and photos of life aboard ship.
13:30 (1:30 p.m.). Titanic departs Queenstown bound for New York with 2,206 passengers and crew.
12 April-Titanic travels 326 miles.
1. Rare Titanic Letter Offers Insight (Fox News, 10 April 2018) A rare letter written onboard the RMS Titanic is going up for auction, detailing what life was like during the final days of the ill-fated ship. The letter was written by Second Class passenger and survivor Kate Buss on April 10, 1912, after she left Southampton, England, according to auction house Henry Aldridge & Son. “It’s a superb letter and it has been in the possession of the family since Miss Buss posted it on the Titanic,” explained Henry Aldridge & Son auctioneer Andrew Aldridge, in an email to Fox News.
2.The Mayborne Museum Will Present Titanic The Artifact Exhibition (kwbu.org, 10 April 2018) Titanic the Artifact Exhibition is coming to Waco on June 2nd and it’s the Mayborne Museum’s first blockbuster exhibit. With 9 galleries and more than 150 artifacts pulled from the ocean floor, the Titanic exhibit is one of the biggest events ever held at Baylor University’s Mayborne Museum. Rebecca Nall says the museum was looking for a great event and this one fit the bill. “Titanic sunk more than 100 years ago but we know that it still holds a fascination for so many people.” she said.
Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition will run from 2 June 2018-6 Jan 2019. For tickets, hours of operation etc go to https://www.baylor.edu/mayborn/
3. Century-old black and white photos tell the heroic story of how a modest ocean liner the SS Carpathia was thrust into history by rescuing more than 700 Titanic survivors (Daily Mail,11 April 2018) Dramatic photos of the ship that rescued survivors of the Titanic as the liner went down after hitting an iceberg have been unearthed. The UK-US Carpathia achieved worldwide fame when it heeded a distress call on April 15, 1912, and raced 58 miles to rescue hundreds of people from the Titanic. The photos have emerged on the 106th anniversary of the day the Titanic set sail from Southampton for its first and only voyage.Pictures from the collection show the view from the deck of the Carpathia as lifeboats from the Titanic approached, while another shows the officers from the ship posing for a picture. Other shots show several survivors of the Titanic, including Maggie Brown who was later nicknamed the ‘Unsinkable Molly Brown’ for her courage in standing up to the sailor in charge of the boat who refused to turn back to look for survivors in the water.