1912: The Unsinkable… sinks.
Right from the start it was the perfect set-up for failure: the RMS Titanic was advertised as being an unsinkable ship. Anyone whose even vaguely aware of Murphy’s Law ought to know they jinxed themselves right there. This massive steam-powered cruise ship was constructed in Belfast, Ireland, and first launched across the Atlantic Ocean on its maiden voyage on April 10th, 1912 from a port in Southampton, England, on it’s way to New York….
It never arrived.
4 days later (April 14th) at 11:40PM the ‘Goliath of the Sea’ ran right into a huge friggin’ iceberg! 2 hours and 40 minutes after that the Titanic had disappeared beneath the icy cold waves, only to be discovered in 1985 at a depth of 12,500 feet on the ocean floor, 370 miles out to sea.
So what the hell happened?!
In James Cameron’s surprisingly historically-accurate period piece / blockbuster film (aptly named ‘Titanic’), we’re given a first-hand experience of this horribly doomed trip from the point of view of Leonardo Di Caprio and Kate Winslet. Not only is it a good movie that balances action, romance, and drama all based around a historical disaster, but it also masterfully depicts the sinking of the Titanic. As the ship went under, the bulkheads filled one after another until the strain of its own sheer weight snapped it in half, and sank like a cement-filled bowling ball made of steel.
“The Titanic was the ship of dreams…” well, that is of course if you’re dreams are in fact LSD-induced nightmarish hallucinations laced with Freddy Krueger and a body count of a small town, than sure!
The Trans-Atlantic voyage of the R.M.S. (Royal Mail Ship) Titanic was a cross-section of Western / European society. It was destined for New York, but instead took an unscheduled detour to the bottom of the Atlantic. Not so surprisingly, most of the casualties were of the lower and middle-classes, but that was more of a society fail…
This was at the turn of the 20th century, a new bold age of innovation. We, as a species, went from floating logs, to rafts, to over-sized canoes, to sailing across the seven seas in rickety wooden boats propelled by wind. Then came the invention of the steam-engine. Before we knew it we had traded in our sails for indestructible iron monstrosities.
This Olympic-class ship was the largest of its kind, at the time a whopping 882 feet and 9 inches. (talk about compensation!) The wealthy owner of this atrociously huge British ship was none other than railroad tycoon J.P. Morgan, who canceled his trip at the last minute, leading to an overly complex conspiracy theory involving insurance fraud, but that’s a whole other ball game.
The Titanic went down (pun-intended) in history as the worst maritime disaster of all time. The worst part about it? It could’ve been avoided all together.
An insanely massive boat was speeding through an iceberg heavy zone, late at night, its crew heavily intoxicated, and before anyone realized it, the big-ass boat was in a fender-bender of truly epic proportions… Not to mention, there weren’t enough lifeboats in the off-chance that the massive IRON tanker did somehow manage to, oh I don’t know, SINK!
Now you might be thinking, but they had life jackets, right? Well, this isn’t a kiddy-pool we’re talking about here; this is the northern Atlantic OCEAN. Near the Arctic Circle, you know that place where Santa chills and sips himself into an eggnog-induced coma while the polar ice cap melts around him? Suffice it to say, going for a swim in below freezing water at 2 am in the middle of the Atlantic is not recommended.
Just how bad was this disaster of epic proportions? Well considering out of a grand total of 2,223 crew members, and passengers of all classes, only 706 survived – that’s a death toll of 1,517! Where the hell’s Aquaman when you need him?
Regardless of the fact that it literally occurred one hundred years ago, if you’re not retro-furious, you should be. Ok, so whose at fault? Who is to blame for this impressive failure of catastrophic proportions? Who do we sue post-mortem?!
Before you grab your torches and pitchforks, there are a few factors to consider. Like a jaded private eye in a film-noir, I’m going to take you through the evidence, and get to the bottom of this dastardly plot in a Humphrey Bogart-style-investigation.
Here’s the line-up of suspects I’ve narrowed down:
This unlucky bastard was retiring after this one final voyage. Boy did fate fuck up his plans to do just that. Well, many would consider him to be responsible, as Captain and all; it’s automatically technically his fault. Also, he canceled a lifeboat drill the very same day the ship hit the iceberg, which would’ve undoubtedly saved more lives.
Smith stayed behind on the sinking ship whether out of guilt, or honor, none can be certain, he took his secrets to a watery grave. The Captain decided to go all out on his last command, and played ‘Minesweeper’ with almost 3,000 lives, in an ocean of floating ice-chunks of death, and lost…
The Look Out Crew?
Some say the lookout crew should’ve seen an iceberg coming in time, but there’s a few problems with that scenario: it was the middle of the night, they were freezing their asses off, and it’s said one guy left the binoculars behind (FAIL). When they did shout out, “Iceberg, straight ahead!” it was practically too late, but in those 37 seconds before impact, something happened which made the situation soooo much worse…
The notorious quarter master, was at the ship’s wheel when the Titanic struck that over-sized ice-cube. Hitchens is most famous for rowing away from the Titanic’s wreckage, and refusing to go back for survivors, but recent theories suggest that when First Officer Murdoch shouted-out “Hard to Starboard”, Hitchens actually panicked and turned it to the Port side, ramming the ship right into the side of the imposing mountain of rock-hard ice, and putting a massive gaping hole into the side of the ‘indestructible’ ship. FAIL!
The Titanic’s resident communications officer was on duty that very night, when he received a Morse code message concerning an unusual influx of icebergs in their immediate vicinity. Unfortunately the memo never reached the bridge, because Mr. Phillips was too busy telegraphing personal messages for the passengers aboard. Moments after the ship slammed into the dreaded iceberg, it was Phillips who sent out the SOS.
The S.S. California
Turns out the S.S. California wasn’t too far away from the sinking Titanic. Had they received the distress signal, who knows how many lives they would’ve been able to save? If only their wireless operator hadn’t gone to sleep – only 15 minutes early!
Other prime suspects include the crew as a whole, seeing as they did such a shitty job evacuating, and maintaining order, but really how could you blame them if they never received any training in the matter?! Not only that, but as everyone knows, there were not enough lifeboats for even a third of the passengers! What the hell? Whose responsible for that?!
J. Bruce Ismay.
The douche who demanded the ship go faster to arrive early to impress the stockholders. This pompous British bastard was the businessman who created the ad campaign portraying the ocean liner as the safest ship ever created… a folly that Poseidon would shortly rectify. Ismay was the managing director and chairman of the White Star’s line of steam ships, and the highest ranking White Star official to survive the calamity. Which means yes, he’s directly responsible for the ship not having enough lifeboats…
The problem with history is that it too often repeats itself, we as humans have the memory of a mentally challenged gold fish, and keep making the same mistakes time and time again. Here’s one disaster we need to make sure doesn’t ever again.
Nowadays, thanks to this Titanic-sized shit-storm there was a whole wave of safety regulations put into effect. This is why we our various vehicles come with seat belts, airbags, flotation devices, parachutes, and cup-holders, because you just never know when you might need it!
Whatever can go wrong will go wrong.
…Seriously, if there’s ever an inter-galactic space-cruise orbiting Neptune in the far-too-distant future that randomly gets hit by an asteroid, there better be enough escape pods on board, just sayin’.
Hope you enjoyed this edition of “Epik Fails of History!”, if you have any comments, questions, concerns, or suggestions let me know in the comments below! Also, be sure to ‘Like’ on Facebook! (www.Facebook.com/EpikFails), and SHARE IT with your friends!
“The Little Book of Big F*#k Ups” by: Ken and Katie Corcoran Lytle
“Titanic: The Sinking of the Unsinkable” by Dean King
“Titanic: The tragedy that shook the world – One Century Later” by LIFE
“Mankind” – History Channel Documentary
“TITANIC” (1997) Directed by: James Cameron. Starring: Leonardo Di Caprio, and Kate Winslet