- Newly emerged photos show signs that a fire ripped through the boat before its collision with the iceberg
- All new evidence was presented on a documentary by Irish journalist Senan Molony
- The investigation was cause for some controversy
It was April 14, 1912 when the largest ship afloat in the world hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank into the ocean, taking the lives of 1,500 passengers and leaving behind some 700 survivors. Ever since then, the world has believed that it was the iceberg the only cause of the tragedy. Irish author and journalist Senan Molony has found evidence to disprove such theory.
On a documentary named “Titanic: New Evidence”, broadcasted on New Year’s Day in the UK, Molony introduced new information that leads to believe it was a fire in one of the coal rooms the main cause behind the sinking of the ship. Hidden in a forgotten album from over century ago, he found photos showing a dark mark on the ocean liner’s starboard side near the seat of the fire — the exact point of the collision with the iceberg.
According to Molony, the occurrence of a fire in the coal bunkers was known and well documented, only it was never given enough importance. With temperatures that reached around 1,000 degrees in one of the coal bunkers, which were three storeys high, the fire warped the bulkhead steel and weakened it to the point that any minor collision would have caused it to tear.
“Nobody has investigated these marks before or dwelled upon them. It totally changes the narrative,” declared Molony on an interview with The Times. “We have metallurgy experts telling us that when you get that level of temperature against steel it makes it brittle and reduces its strength by up to 75 per cent.”
His findings may also explain why Captain E.J. Smith had the RSM Titanic speeding through an iceberg field in the middle of the night, right before the catastrophe happened. Workers in the boiler room may have been trying to control the fire, burning coal at a rapid rate in the ship’s furnaces, which would have caused the ship to steam on at a high speed. Similar findings were presented by an American engineer back in 2004.
Molony is a large-boat enthusiast and has been interested in the story of the Titanic ever since he was a child. For him, the emerging photographs are “the Titanic equivalent of Tutankhamun’s tomb”. In an interview with The Times of London he said, “The official Titanic inquiry branded [the sinking] as an act of God… This isn’t a simple story of colliding with an iceberg and sinking. It’s a perfect storm of extraordinary factors coming together: fire, ice and criminal negligence.”
However, not everyone agrees with his argument.
David Hill, former secretary of the British Titanic Society, told The Times, “There certainly was a fire. Was it a life-changer? It’s my personal opinion that it didn’t make a difference”.
Nonetheless, the current society’s convention officer Nikki Allen has welcomed the documentary with an open mind.
“Most satisfying to us, as I’m sure to other like-minded societies is the reaction to Senan Molony’s presentation. It clearly shows that although the Titanic sank with great loss of life almost 105 years ago, the story of the vessel and her passengers and crew is still very much alive, for which we are grateful.”