Thursday Titanic: Amazing Images, Brittle Steel, and Treasures

Amazing New Images

It is amazing what the new images of Titanic are showing. Once of them is a of a gold chain that featured the tooth of a Megalodon, a pre-historic shark. According to the Daily Mirror, this is one of the finds made possible with the technology used to examine the shipwreck giving us such deep details as this. Despite it being found, there is little chance it will ever be brought up. Its original owner is long dead and likely got a settlement from White State over its loss. No doubt it was stunning to wear.

Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-

Brittle Steel Contributed to Titanic’s Demise

For most, there is little doubt what sank Titanic but what contributed to is sinking. The Daily Mirror reports that a new book by Jennifer Hooper McCarty and Timothy Foecke that provides more detail on their theory about how brittle steel contributed to making it easier for the ship to sink. McCarty made this claim in the National Geographic special Titanic: How It Really Sank. This was backed up when Timothy Foecke’s own study with the National Institute of Standards and Technology(NIST) which confirmed her findings. Examining steel and rivet samples from the Titanic debris field showed it had three times the amount of slag normally in iron. This allowed it to become brittle at cold temperatures and made it easier for the iceberg to pierce the hull. Sonar images and other things have been used to substantiate the claim.

Needless to say, this is controversial in the Titanic community. Harland & Wolff deny the claim and many Titanic researchers do as well. Nevertheless, this is not as outlandish as theory. Many ships built for the Great Lakes in the early part of the 20th century had too much sulphur or phosphorus in the steel. This made them highly susceptible to being damaged in powerful storms and contributed to ships breaking apart. So it is recognized that it can happen. The allegation in the documentary is that Harland & Wolff, in order to save costs, decided to go for less expensive rivets at the very front (a common practice). Now whether they knew this would make the ship more susceptible to damage and becoming brittle at cold temperatures is unknown.

Treasures of Titanic & Liability Law

Front Page, New York Herald, 15 April 1912
Public Domain (U.S. Library of Congress,

It goes without saying that Titanic, thanks to all the wealthy people aboard, had lots of valuables that ended up at the bottom of the sea. The Daily Mail has a list of them for you to gaze at. When you consider the value of what was lost, it is amazing how White Star Line managed to use the then very limited liability laws to keep from shelling out millions of British pounds. In the U.S. and most maritime countries, liability is limited to the value of the ship. And the U.S. law that the owner of the vessel cannot be held financially responsible for loss of life since the ship has no value once it sank.

A terrible boat fire in 2019 aboard the dive boat Conception brought the issue to a head. 34 died in that fire but when it became known that the boat owners not only had no liability but sued under that law to limit liability, it sparked outage. So the old 1851 law was amended in 2022 and signed by President Joe Biden in 2023.. The new law allows that owner of a boat to be held legally responsible for their actions and allows claimants up to two years to file claims. No longer is the value of the ship or boat a factor. The owner of the Conception had been found at fault by the National Traffic Safety Board (it also found fault with the Coast Guard as well) with numerous safety violations and inadequate fire watch on the boat while anchored. The old law precluded much in the way of damages owing to limitations. That has now changed and other laws to add more safety laws to small vessels are being done.