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New evidence suggests iceberg didn't cause Titanic sinking

Documentary claims Titanic was badly damaged before setting off on maiden voyage

By Ali Gordon

The Titanic sank as a result of a fire, not simply a collision with an iceberg, a new TV show has claimed.

Titanic: The New Evidence, which aired on Channel 4 on Sunday, argued that photos of the iconic ship show a dark mark on her hull before she left Southampton — at the same spot the iceberg struck — which supports the theory.

Since the Titanic went down on April 15, 1912, during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York, the devastation has been blamed on the ship hitting a massive iceberg.

The film adaptation, Titanic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, depicts this theory, as well as Titanic Belfast, which last year was named the world’s best tourist attraction.

But 30 years of research by Irish journalist Senan Molony suggests that a fire in a coalbunker caused serious damage to the Titanic’s hull, which led to more than 1,500 dying.

Molony, from Dublin, believes that the fire started before the Titanic left the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast for delivery to Southampton.

He thinks the shipyard employees in charge could be criminally negligent for the huge loss of life. In the documentary, Molony says that the 1,000 degree celsius temperatures weakened the hull so much so that when the Titanic collided with an iceberg, disaster ensued.

He says research proves that had the hull not been so hot due to the fire in the liner’s boiler room, the clash could have been nothing more than a minor knock.

The fire was discussed briefly at the Titanic’s initial inquiry, but Molony argues in the documentary that it was largely overlooked at the time.

In an interview with The Times, Molony said: “The official Titanic inquiry branded it (the sinking) as an act of God.

“This isn’t a simple story of colliding with an iceberg and sinking.

“It’s a perfect storm of extraordinary factors coming together: fire, ice and criminal negligence.”

While Molony’s evidence changes the historical narrative dramatically, it is not the first time similar claims have been made.

Ray Boston, who spent 20 years researching the subject, said in 2008 that the reason the Titanic was travelling so quickly when it hit the iceberg was because  of an “uncontrollable” coal fire on board, which began during speed trials in Belfast 10 days before it left Southampton.

Boston’s theory relied heavily on the testimony of Bruce Ismay, the managing director of the White Star Line, which owned Titanic.

At an inquiry, Ismay claimed to have been forced by overall owner of the Titanic, John Pierpont Morgan, to instruct the crew to cross the Atlantic at full speed.

Fireman J Dilley, a stoker on-board the ship, managed to survive the catastrophe and also gave evidence, suggesting, too, that there was a huge fire in the ship’s coal bunker six.

More than 1,500 people died when the ship, which was carrying 2,224 passengers and crew, sank under the command of Englishman, Captain Edward Smith. The state-of-the-art ship was designed by Thomas Andrews from Comber.

At 11.40pm on April 14, 1912, Titanic struck an iceberg while sailing through the icy waters of the Atlantic. By 2.20am, the ship had sunk, with only 711 passengers saved.

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