The RMS Titanic - Aftermath
IMMEDIATELAY AFTER TITANIC'S SINKING, word spread to the public that the giant had floundered. However, because of the poor inter-continental communication of the time, headlines such as Titanic sinks; All saved and Titanic towed back to New York appeared. White Star Lines' offices in New York were surrounded by the media in the days following the disaster. White Star Lines' spokespeople first denied that any accident had occurred; then they said that a mishap had occurred but everyone was allright. After a few days, however, the grim truth became apparent: the Titanic had sunk, with almost total loss of life.
The United States Senate approved Senator William Alden Smith from Michagan to oversee a commitee to investigate the Titanic disaster. The Senate Commitee interviewed 82 passengers, as well as 4 officers and 34 members of the crew. The testimony from the various passengers and crew filled 1,145 pages of text. The conclusion of the hearings was that more lifeboats needed to be installed on ships, one seat per passenger, that the government would require 24-manning of wireless equipment, and that the messages maintained secrecy. Congress was quick to back these initiatives, and legislation was passed in the following months.
After all passengers and crew had returned to England, Britain began their own hearings into the disaster. While the American investigation had looked into "how" the disaster had occurred, the Brisith investigation looked into "why" it had happened, and how it could be prevented in the future. Witnessess such as Harold Bride and Frederick Fleet highlighted the testimony presented at the investigation. The outcome of this hearing was that the Titanic's collision was due to excessive speed at which the ship was navigated; that a proper watch was not kept; the lifeboats were not nearly adequete nor were manned properly; and that there had been no discrimination of third class passengers as they had tried to board the lifeboats. The investigation also cleared J. Bruce Ismay, the owner of White Star Lines, from allegations of improper conduct.
The liability claims against White Star were horrendous. White Star Lines was held liable for everything from a $50 set of bagpipes to a $5,000 Renault automobile to a $100,000 Blondel oil painting. The total claims reached in excess of $16 million.
After the sinking of the Titanic, White Star Lines would never be the same. In 1914, the Britannic had been almost completely fitted out when war struck and she was called into duty as a hospital ship. Boasting luxury-class accomodations for the wounded, both passengers and crew alike began to fall in love with the Britannic. It became very popular as a hospital ship. However, on the morning of Tuesday, November 21, 1916, the HMHS Britannic struck a mine of the coast of Greece and sunk within an hour. However, almost all passengers were saved, as new regulations had forced the ship to have enough lifeboats for all passengers.
The Olympic, the first of the Olympic-class ships, was also called into war duty but survived almost unscathed. After the war, the Olympic was brought back into service but never regained her former glory. The Olympic was retired and scrapped in 1932. Following this, White Star Lines went bankrupt, and in 1934, was effectively bought out by long-time rival Cunard to form Cunard White Star.
And thus the Olympic class was ended; only one of the three most luxurious and largest ships ever lived to see the realization of Lord Pierre's dream.