If someone asked you how the RMS Titanic sank, you would immediately shoot back with: it hit an iceberg, dummy! But new evidence which has come to light thanks to a British documentary by Channel 4 called Titanic: The New Evidence suggests a coal fire may have been to blame.
The documentary explores the idea that a coal fire broke out in the ship's boiler rooms, even before she had left port from Belfast when it set sail in 1912. The fire, it claims, was kept secret but it's now thought it led to the tragedy that has, until now, been attributed solely to an unseen iceberg that the ship hit.
Irish journalist Senan Molony has spent years researching the Titanic and says the hull of the ship was weakened by the boiler room fire and so when it collided with the iceberg more damage was inflicted, leading to the tragedy that claimed 1,500 lives.
"The official Titanic inquiry branded [the sinking] as an act of God," said Molony. "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. Since 1912, there has been this myth of a 300ft gash that opened the ship up but when the wreckage was examined people were perplexed because they couldn't find anything like it."
The fire was raging for four days and in this time caused the steel hull to become weak by 1,000C of heat. The iceberg was then able to rip through the hull with relative ease, causing the ship to sink. In the documentary Molony points out dark marks on the hull which can be seen in some recently auctioned photos of the Titanic. These, says the journalist, are evidence of the fire.
"Nobody has investigated these marks before or dwelled upon them." claims Moloney. "It totally changes the narrative. The fire was known about and briefly addressed at the inquiry, but it was played down. 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 percent. She should never have been put to sea but the Titanic has already been delayed a couple of times and was committed to leave on April 10th."
Whatever the reason poor Jack still wouldn't have been able to get on that floating piece of wood with Rose.