If you've ever thought there was more to this story than a collision with an iceberg, you might just be right.
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Many have long believed that part of the reason the Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, was because the ship was racing recklessly to cross the Atlantic faster than any ship before it. While it’s true that the grand vessel’s speed meant it couldn’t change course and avoid colliding with the iceberg, new evidence suggests that the acceleration wasn’t just about breaking records.
This exclusive clip from the upcoming Smithsonian documentary, Titanic: The New Evidence, has a new theory as to why the ship was picking up speed and barreling head-first into an ice field, despite warnings to slow down: The acceleration was actually due to a fire below deck that had started back in the Belfast docks — before the ship had even begun its maiden voyage across the Atlantic — and had spread across more than one of the vessel’s coal bunkers. “‘Bunkers’ — plural!” the documentary’s host points out.
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According to a new evidence, the ship’s bulkhead (an upright wall within the hull) was red-hot from the initial blaze which caused the fire to spread from one bunker to another. This meant that, in order to stop the fire from spreading further, firemen below deck were having to frantically shovel even more smoldering coal into the engine’s furnace, thereby causing the ship to pick up speed and charge “towards her destiny.”
Titanic: The New Evidence uses newly-unearthed photos to reveal the true causes of the Titanic’s terrible end at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. The photos, from the private collection of the ship’s chief electrical engineer, John Kempster, are said to shed light on the true cause of the sinking — a topic that has been hotly debated over the years — by revealing the use of a range of substandard materials and cost-cutting, dangerous shortcuts during the building of the mighty ship. Using CG and colorizing techniques, the filmmakers animated the original stills taken at the shipyard to take viewers aboard and below decks.
Watch the exclusive clip above and don’t miss Titanic: The New Evidence when it airs Saturday, Jan. 21 at 8 p.m. ET on the Smithsonian Channel.