Today is Memorial Day, a day set aside to remember those who gave all to serve this country. At national cemeteries and smaller ones around the country, flags and flowers have been placed to remember them. We also remind ourselves that freedom is not easily granted, often requires great sacrifice. President Lincoln made note of this in his famous 1863 Gettysburg Address:
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
As most of you are aware, Premier Exhibitions filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 which allows it to reorganize. On Friday it was announced that the Premier Exhibitions Equity Committee had entered into an agreement that “will include the sale all of the Debtors’ assets, including the entire Titanic Artifacts Collection either as assets of the estate or through the sale of RMS Titanic Inc., the company that holds the Titanic Artifacts. The remaining Debtors and their assets likewise would be sold.”
What it means is this: the company can be sold either whole or in parts depending upon the buyers interests. And the Titanic artifacts can be sold either as part of the sale of the whole company or through selling RMS Titanic Inc. The snag that has caused no sale on those artifacts under the salvage award is that they cannot be sold in lots or individually but as the one collection. And the price is simply too high. Under the present circumstances, the price might be lowered and also the possibility the bankruptcy judge might order it sold in lots in order to be sold. Before any of this can move forward, the judge has to agree to a disclosure statement.
Long ago when RMS Titanic Inc was made part of Premier (after some of the original founders of the company were removed and replaced) many thought it would lead to a better valued company. One wonders what really happened here. Titanic became very big after the movie and the centennial of the sinking. Belfast Titanic has done very well and makes money. Either the company was mismanaged and got way over their head or totally miscalculated how to monetize the assets (their exhibitions) to make a profit. Instead of Chapter 11, this is more like Chapter 13 now. The company’s assets are going to be sold in whole or in part to others now. The ghost of George Tulloch is laughing at those that brought this about.
Due to being busy on other projects, some important events in history were missed recently. 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, NJ. Of the 97 passengers and crew, 35 perished and one worker was killed on the ground.
Airships were a popular and comfortable way to fly back then. 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 what happened at Lakehurst, NJ in 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. You can view that here. 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.
Readers of this blog are well aware the Chinese are building a Titanic replica of their own for a theme park. It will be a full size replica and will operate not only as a tourist attraction but a hotel as well. They had planned a “Sinking Simulator” that would demonstrate what it was like on that fateful night. It did not sit well with a lot of people, especially those who had a familial connection to those who perished. The Chinese at first were steadfast in saying there was nothing wrong with such simulation. Now it appears the idea was shelved due to the outcry. According to The Christian Post, the idea was shelved was in January. Author Bruce Beveridge, who heads up design team, is quoted as saying “It was shelved back in January when they hired me as design supervisor. I told them, ‘Do not do this, it’s in bad taste.”
It is a wise decision. There are many ways to demonstrate what happened that night without some tacky sinking simulator akin to a game. And with modern technology these days, you probably will do it through virtual reality glasses in the near future.