15 Nov 2008

Titanic and Olympic

Posted by jofr

Nearly a hundred years ago, the Titanic and the Olympic were the marvels of contemporary engineering and modern shipbuilding. They were giant swimming coal-fired power plants. Edward J. Smith, Captain of RMS Titanic, said: “I cannot imagine any condition which would cause this ship to founder. I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that”. Well, we know the fate of the Titanic. Ships can sink, planes can crash, and rockets can explode. Even modern engineering is not free from disasters and catastrophes: first the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster during the start 1986, then the terrible Space Shuttle Columbia disaster during the landing, 2003.

“When anyone asks me how I can best describe my experience in nearly forty years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog and the like. But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident… of any sort worth speaking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort.

Edward J. Smith, 1907, Captain of RMS Titanic when it sank in 1912

“The Olympic is unsinkable, and Titanic will be the same when she is put in commission. Either of these two vessels could be cut in halves and each half would remain afloat almost indefinitely. The non-sinkable vessel has been reached in these two wonderful craft. I venture to add, that even the engines and boilers of these vessels were to fall through their bottoms, the vessels would remain afloat.”

Edward J. Smith, Captain of RMS Titanic when it sank in 1912

( The photos are from the “The Library of Congress”, they can for example be found here in the Flickr stream of The Library of Congress)

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