A fresh look at the evidence by a former Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents Published by Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
On first seeing this book my first thought was “what more can possibly be written about the Titanic”. I was wrong - this book is written by a retired Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents. He presents the circumstances surrounding the loss of the Titanic through the eyes of a professional marine accident investigator. He has examined the original evidence and worked his way through the confusing, conflicting and often incoherent testimonials given at the two original inquiries. He brings the standards of a twenty first century accident investigation to bear on the events of April 1912.
His view of the accident is not emotional but analytical. John Lang doesn’t plunge strait into the Titanic story but gives a very brief but interesting and relevant history of ships crossing the Atlantic, the shipping lanes influenced by annual ice formation and the growth of traffic influencing the building of the Titanic.
The social rules of the time are explained which I found fascinating and which were a cause of some lack of communication.
A century ago the masters and mates belonged to a very conservative and very skilled profession, they had “done their time” on sailing ships and social protocol was strict.
The White Star Line insisted on officers having the Master’s Certificate or the Extra Master’s. Life on board reflected the social structure of the day. Officers and ratings would live and work separately. Interestingly at that time wireless equipment and wireless operators were supplied by private companies, Marconi in the case of the Titanic.
They did not mix with the ship’s crew. As is known, if the wireless operator of the Californian had been on duty for longer, or the flares seen from the Californian had been investigated, many more lives might have been saved.
John Lang also touches some much more modern marine accidents including the Costa Concordia where the accident report has not yet been published but where there may be safety improvements in his opinion that should be made mandatory for these very large cruise ships.
We are all familiar with the films and other books on the sinking of the Titanic, but this book apportions no blame but just gives us all the known facts and history and leaves us to ponder on what went wrong and where we might ourselves put some blame. An interesting and not easy task for each reader!