Newly Unearthed Photos Shed Light on the Mighty Ship's Tragic Sinking in "Titanic's Fatal Fire"

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11 April 2017
Titanic's Fatal Fire
Courtesy of Smithsonian Channel
"Titanic's Fatal Fire"
Premieres Saturday, April 15 at 8 PM ET/PT on Smithsonian Channel
          The sinking of the RMS Titanic has been the subject of countless investigations, and the true cause of the tragedy is hotly debated. Now, explosive photographs have surfaced containing shocking revelations about a series of shortcomings which contributed to the legendary ship’s tragic sinking. These images are uncovered in an hour-long Smithsonian Channel documentary that tells the story of the unluckiest ship in maritime history.
          The film features photographs from the private collection of the Titanic’s Chief Electrical Engineer, John Kempster, that had been stashed away in an attic for over 100 years.  The photos show the momentous launch of the famous ship and hold hidden clues to the impending catastrophe. In “TITANIC’S FATAL FIRE,” these unbelievable visuals bring to life the Titanic disaster as never before.
          Evidence of the ship’s failings, revealed in the photographs and featured in the film, include use of a range of substandard materials and shoddy workmanship, primarily due to cost-cutting and dangerous shortcuts taken by shipbuilders under intense pressure to complete the largest ship in the world on time and within budget. The ship’s inadequacies exposed in the photographs include:
Titanic's Fatal Fire
Courtesy of Smithsonian Channel

•  Fire-damaged hull: the most shocking revelation, perhaps, is found in two critical photos that show a thirty-foot long black streak on the Titanic’s hull. It is evidence that a fire below decks in a coal bunker caused serious damage that weakened the ship’s hull in the same area where the iceberg later struck the ship.
•  Single-skin hull: double-skin hulls had been a feature of ships since the 1850s, but there was intense pressure from Harland and Wolff to complete the largest ship in the world on time and within budget.  Photographic and documentary evidence shows that they did not use the best quality steel in the Titanic.
•  Competing ship drained resources: a photo shows the Titanic and her sister ship, the Olympic, side by side in the building yard, revealing how these two enormous ships were being built simultaneously, leading to a huge drain on materials and availability of experienced workers.


newly-unearthed photos detailing the many shortcomings
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