All You Ever Wanted to Know About the Titanic

Donald S. Roberts (Letters, Sept. 21) suggests that the Titanic be raised and kept in a state of preservation for historic studies. Should this be done, care will need to be taken that “vultures” don’t pick her to pieces on land as some have proposed to do to her underwater. She’s much more valuable in her two pieces (the stern is detached) than she would be as flagpoles, bells, whistles, steel plates, etc., in lots of people’s garages.

The news media have ignored, so far, a few anecdotes about that great liner.

When news of her discovery was announced, Associated Press sent out a photo of the Titanic’s twin sister, Olympic, claiming her to be the Titanic. The two had the same silhouette, but the forward portion of the Titanic’s promenade deck was glass-enclosed, while it was open to the chilly North Atlantic breezes on the Olympic (1911-1937).

The Olympic was scrapped in 1937 as a Depression casualty, but the paneling from her Jacobean dining room, similar to the Titanic’s, was saved and reinstalled in a British hotel, where it remains today.


A third sister ship, the Britannic (1914-1916), became a hospital ship in World War I, struck a mine in the Mediterranean area, and went down rather fast. She was explored several years ago.

Most people on the Titanic did not “go down” with the ship but soon froze to death in the icy water. Many bodies were discovered later and now rest in graves in the United States, Canada and Great Britain.

The White Star Line, which owned the Titanic, was a subsidiary of the International Mercantile Marine, which had been put together early in the century by American financier J.P. Morgan. The Leyland Line, owner of the Californian, which did not go to the rescue, was also an IMM subsidiary.

While the Californian has received much bad publicity for not going to the rescue, and I’m sure deserves the negative comments, there is a later controversy about a Norwegian sealing vessel named Samson, claimed to have been in the area but avoided the Titanic because of having a cargo of illegal seal pelts.


In 1962 the wire services carried a report of an old Norwegian captain on his deathbed admitting to having steered away from the Titanic to avoid detection of his illegal cargo. However, there have been subsequent reports placing the Samson on the other side of the world on April 14-15, 1912. The Samson story needs more research.

I talked with Titanic survivor Edwina Celia Troutt MacKenzie (1884-1984) of Hermosa Beach and she told of being in Lifeboat No. 13 and seeing the lights of a ship coming straight toward them, then turn away. If the Californian was dead in the water, it would seem that some other vessel must have been nearby.


Pico Rivera