TITANIC Stacking Up In Media

TITANIC media, photo (c) Martin Cox 2010

The name TITANIC has been all over the media this week.  As we move towards the 100th anniversary of that tragic disaster, a second TITANIC cruise is announced and yet another new theory to explain the disaster.

Departing from Southampton, England on April 8, 2012, a Titanic Memorial Cruise on the Fred.Olsen’s BALMORAL (ex CROWN ODYSSEY, NORWEGIAN CROWN) will track the White Star liner’s intended itinerary with her own 1,309 passengers (some of whom are relatives of TITANIC’s passengers).

Recently, Voyages! Titanic 2012 was announced. A voyage on the upscale AZAMARA JOURNEY (ex R SIX, BLUE DREAM) beginning from  Boston, Massachusetts, with 680 passengers will depart April 10, 2012. Special memorial services will be held on April 15, exactly a century after the TITANIC’s sinking at the spot where she was last seen.

Meanwhile, Novelist Louise Patten, granddaughter of TITANIC’s Second Officer Charles Lightoller, has said in the media that an officer had steered into the iceberg instead of away from it, that there was confusion about steering orders. This revelation came in her new book, ‘Good as Gold”, described in the media as “a mix of fiction and fact”. The confusion story, it is claimed, was known solely by Lightoller who confided only in his wife and never discussed this at inquiry. “Mrs Patten said the tragedy had occurred during a period when shipping communications were in transition from sail to steam. Two different systems were in operation at the time, Rudder Orders (used for steam ships) and Tiller Orders (used for sailing ships).”

Sally Neillson, a great-granddaughter of the man now at the center of this discussion, Robert Hichins, who was at the wheel that night, was interviewed on British television and responded that there “is no way on earth” it is correct. Ms. Neillson, who is working on her own book about her great-grandfather, “Hard-a-Starboard,” due to be published in 2012, claims to have new theories of her own to be divulged later, and said, “Hichins had 10 years experience, seven of those as a quartermaster. He sailed the TITANIC for four days before the accident, during which he did shifts of four hours on, four hours off. He would have steered the vessel during these times, so been familiar with the systems. He knew ships. These were experienced men, a very experienced crew. I completely disagree with this theory.”

Later, the two descendants of the TITANIC bridge crew were invited to a television debate.

One thing is clear, fascination with the TITANIC and that terrible night remains is far from over as the 100th anniversary nears.

Recently, Southampton announced it had restored the Titanic Engineers Memorial in Andrew’s Park and the city which provided most of ship’s crew, is planning an interactive museum in the city’s former magistrates’ court, next to the civic center.  Southampton has a collection of some 4,000 artifacts from the TITANIC, much of it is currently in storage: plates and cutlery, letters and menu cards, even fragments gathered from the seabed.  Recordings of the recollections of about 70 survivors will become part of the new museum planned to be open in time for the centenary in 2012.


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