Did a Coal Fire Actually Sink the RMS Titanic?

Mike Schuler
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January 3, 2017

RMS Titanic departing Southampton on April 10, 1912.

When the RMS Titanic was constructed it was considered a marvel of modern engineering. So how did the supposedly unsinkable ship sink within hours of hitting an iceberg during its first trip across the Atlantic?

It is this very question that has made the sinking the of the Titanic one of the most fascinating maritime disasters of all-time.

While almost all agree that it was a collision with an iceberg that ultimately sank the ship on April 15, 1912, a new documentary airing in the United Kingdom suggests that a fire and massive cover-up may be to blame for the severity of the disaster.

In the documentary, titled Titanic: The New Evidence, journalist Senan Molony presents new evidence suggesting that a documented coal fire in the Titanic’s boiler rooms actually weakened the integrity of the ship’s hull at the location of impact with the iceberg, exacerbating the damage to the ship and causing it to sink faster.

This new theory comes after long-lost photos of the ship’s launch and construction were recovered from an attic in England in 2012. The photos show a 30-foot-long diagonal mark on the Titanic’s hull right about where the fire is believed to have occurred. 

The fire theory is actually nothing new. The fire is documented to have started in one of the Titanic’s coal storage bunkers during sea trials approximately 10 days before the ship left Southampton.

Throughout history the fire has been largely dismissed as an unrelated event, but the new documentary suggests the fire may have played a much larger role in the disaster than previously thought. Molony says evidence even suggests that the fire continued to burn even after the Titanic departed on its maiden voyage and was covered-up White Star Line under pressure to stay on schedule, under budget, ahead of competition. 

Of course the idea had anything to do with the ship’s sinking is not supported by all experts, and whether or not you believe in the fire theory is up to you. But I believe the documentary just goes to show how much fascination still surrounds the Titanic disaster to this day more than 100 years later. 

The Titanic: The New Evidence aired New Years Day on Britain’s Channel 4. If you hurry you can watch the full 47 minute documentary on Youtube below while still available or HERE if you’re in the UK. 




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