It is as clear as the waters of the North Atlantic were the Titanic sank 400 miles southeast of Newfoundland: what sank the “unsinkable” Titanic is rivet failure. Recovered rivets from the 12,000 foot deep wreck show that the ones in place where the iceberg struck were not of pure steel but of either a substandard grade steel or a mixture of iron and steel. Due to the large number of rivets required ( in the millions) for both the Titanic and its sister ship the Olympic, foundries were in short supply of steel rivets.
This video shows the Titanic’s rivets and tests simulating rivet failure:
Marine forensics investigators use maps of the wreck field to come up with hypotheses; then they spend months proving or disproving each theory. Amazingly, or maybe not, eye witness testimony provides some of the most important data. Titanic survivors who reported seeing the iceberg, validated what might has been studied by scientists for years without proof. As in Andrea Doria survivor, I was astonished to hear marine forensic scientists admit to this– even after interviewing many survivors for my book, Alive on the Andrea Doria. Because of my respect for science and technology, I assumed that the iceberg theory would be a no-brainer to validate. Not true at all! I will continue to interview Doria survivors to piece together all the missing links.
The following video discusses the challenges posed to marine forensic researchers:
As I continue to work with the steering committee planning the first international marine forensic symposium of 2012 ( to coincide with the hundredth anniversary of the Titanic), I am deeply committed to perpetuating safety on our seas. Historic shipwrecks can provide valuable clues of future ocean transportation.