Scientists have discovered that the builder of the Titanic struggled for years to obtain enough rivets and riveters and ultimately settled on faulty materials that doomed the ship, which sank 96 years ago today.
The builder's own archive, the two scientists say, harbors evidence of a deadly mix of low-quality rivets and lofty ambition as the builder labored to construct the world's three biggest ships at once — the Titanic and two sisters, Olympic and Britannic.
For a decade, scientists have argued that the storied liner went down fast after hitting the iceberg late on the night of April 14, 1912, during her inaugural voyage, because the ship's builder used substandard rivets that popped their heads and let tons of icy seawater rush in. More than 1,500 people died.
The builder, faced with questions of responsibility, ignored the rivet charge and denied having an archivist to address the issue.
Historians say that the new evidence uncovered in the archive of Harland & Wolff, in Belfast, Northern Ireland, settles the argument and finally solves the riddle of one of the most famous sinkings of all time. The company insists that findings are deeply flawed.
....The scientists say the troubles all began when the colossal plans forced Harland & Wolff to reach beyond its usual suppliers of rivet iron and include smaller forges, as disclosed in company and British government papers. Small forges tended to have less skill and experience.
Adding to the threat, the company, in buying iron for Titanic's rivets, ordered No. 3 bar, known as "best" — not No. 4, known as "best-best," the scientists found. They also discovered that shipbuilders of the day typically used No. 4 iron for anchors, chains and rivets.
So the liner, whose name was meant to be synonymous with opulence, in at least one instance relied on cheap materials.