TIL that there were two contemporary inquiries into the sinking of the Titanic (British and American). The British inquiry focused more on how the disaster had come about, while the American version was much more about who should be blamed.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Wreck_Commissioner%27s_inquiry_into_the_sinking_of_the_Titanic

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  1. How a key was blamed for the sinking of the Titanic…
    (18th September 2017)

    “Ten years ago, a small iron key, thought to have secured the binoculars for the Titanic’s crow’s nest, sold for £90,000 at auction.”

    “The key had been accidentally taken off the ship before it sailed, leaving the binoculars locked away. In an inquiry after the Titanic sank, one of the lookouts said they could have prevented it from hitting the iceberg, which caused the tragedy.”


  2. Most likely due to the needs of both inquiries.

    Even with all of our hype due to films and the intriguing history of the passengers and the event, it’s hard to explain the impact on Titanic in current terms. The high amount of VIPs on the trip, along with the standing of White Star. White Star was a major shipping concern that had already gone through a huge scandal regarding the sinking of the RMS Republic, and the shipbuilders at Harland & Wolff out of Belfast needed proof that Titanic wasn’t a mechanical failure as Republic was sunk due to a collision at sea.

    Harland & Wolff are still around today, but the sinking of the Titanic could have caused the concern to fail. To bring it into a modern lens the sinking of the Titanic would be like Boeing having a 747-8 disintegrate in midair over the Atlantic, with multiple billionaires on board, and no black box recovered. Imagine Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 with several members of the top 100 richest people in the world aboard, but a few survivors are recovered and claim the thing just fell apart.

    The British needed a mechanical inquiry to save face for one of the biggest shipwrights in Europe.

    Then the American inquiry. White Star’s sinking of the Republic, known as the Millionaire’s Ship, had been huge news in America as it was a successful example of rescue while being a huge loss of cargo. Over $1B in today’s money went down, much of which was US assets, and the fight regarding coverage was intense. Add on the loss of notable American lives on Titanic, and the needs of the investigation changed. The British inquiry also was a known concern: it isn’t as if the two independent investigations had no overlap.

    So yeah. Both sides of the pond investigated and had their own concerns. This isn’t a case of ‘well, the British were doing the right thing” or Americans doing the wrong, both sides got the information that was pertinent to each other, and had their own economic and sociocultural reasons for completely different inquests.

  3. I experienced something similar at work. If something went wrong, the US office would often ask “who was responsible for this?”, while the more typical response from the Norwegian office was “how did it happen?”. Culture differences.

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