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R.M.S. Titanic Swapped for R.M.S. Olympic

 

A 1912 conspiracy theory that alleges White Star Line executives switched the newly built Royal Mail Steamship (R.M.S.) Titanic for her sister ship, R.M.S. Olympic, after a collision with the H.M.S. Hawke resulted in damages not covered by the insurance company.

iRumorMill.com Determination: Under Investigation

RMS Olympic and Titanic 1912 

This mystery dates back over 100 years and the iRumorMill.com crew is investigating this conspiracy.  

On September 20, 1911, Olympic was just off the Isle of Wight when collided with the British cruiser H.M.S. Hawke. Edward Smith was in command of the super ocean liner. Less than a year later he would lose his life as the captain of the Titanic.

Damage to the Olympic was intense, because the Hawke was equipped with and underwater battering ram. The collision resulted in two large holes in Olympic's hull, above and below the waterline. Two water-tight compartments were flooded but there were no loss of life from the incident. Olympic limped her way back to Southampton for hull repairs and a complete assessment of the damage. After hull repairs Olympic returned to Belfast for a new propeller shaft and more structural repairs. Her keel was bent and for the rest of her life she would travel on the water with a slight list to the left.

There was extensive damage to the bow of the Hawke. She was repaired and returned to service.

The Royal Navy held an official investigation and the Olympic was blamed held responsible incident.  The investigation alleged that Hawke was pulled into Olympic's side owing to suction created by her large displacement. Because of the Royal Naval decision, insurance carriers refused to finance the repairs to Olympic.

Once repaired, Olympic returned to service to take mail and passengers along the Southampton to New York passage.  On the Eastbound passage, Olympic lost a propeller and returned to Belfast to be fitted with one of Titanic's propellers.

The repairs were quickly depleting White Star's funds and it was rumored that the company's chairman, Joseph Bruce Ismay, and major stock holder, J. P. Morgan, had devised an elaborate plan to swap the crippled Olympic with Titanic, sink her, rescue the passengers in order to collect the insurance to build another ship.

Joseph Bruce Ismay White Star Line
Joseph Bruce Ismay

The alleged plan included sending out the S.S. California, a Leyland Line ship owned by J.P. Morgan, to rendezvous with the Titanic. The cargo holds of the California were empty except for a shipment of sweaters and blankets. How they planned to sink the Titanic is still a mystery but one surviving crew member alleged there was a fire in one of her coal bunkers when the ocean liner left Southampton on her maiden voyage.

Oxford author Robin Gardiner has been researching this conspiracy theory and said that he can prove it is the Olympic sitting at the bottom of the North Atlantic, not the Titanic. This according to an April 14, 2012 article by the Oxford Mail.  Gardiner, who penned "The Great Titanic Conspiracy," told the Oxford Mail, [to] the present day, the most common maritime insurance fraud involves changing identities of ships." Gardiner added, [but] tragically the planned staging of the sinking of Titanic, whereby other ships from the company would be on hand to rescue all the passengers and crew, went disastrously wrong and more than 1,500 souls perished.

The iRumorMill.com crew also found various videos posted on YouTube:






 

Here is what we know so far about the three sister ships of the White Star Line:

White Star's Olympic and Titanic were Olympic-class ocean liners and were almost identical. White Star also built a third ship that was identical to her sister ships, the RMS Britannic. The Titanic met her fate on April 14, 1912 when she hit an iceberg on her maiden transatlantic crossing. Titanic sank in less than 2 hours with a compliment of 2200 passengers and crew. Only 705 souls were saved by Cunard's R.M.S. Carpathia, which responded to Titanic's distress calls.

The Olympic was built first. Her keel was laid on December 16, 1908 at the shipyards of Harland and Wolff in Belfast, Ireland. Her hull was launched on October 20, 1910, the ship was completed in a fitting basin on May 31, 1911. Olympic took her maiden voyage on June 14, 1911. Unlike her two sister ships, Olympic carried travelers for over 2 decades and was used as a troop ship in World War I for the transport of military members. She was retired in 1935 and scrapped.

R.M.S. Britannic was put into service on December 23, 1915 but was never used as an ocean liner. She was drafted into the service of the Royal Navy and used as a hospital ship. On November 21, 1916 Britannic sank after hitting an underwater mine. She was the largest ship lost in the First World War and out of 1,065 souls on board, there were 1,035 survivors. 

 

Ship's Specifications:
  Titanic Olympic
Length 882 feet  9 inches 882 feet  6 inches
Weight 46,328 gross tons 45,324 gross tons
Beam 93 feet 92 feet 6 inches
Draught 34 feet 34 feet 7 inches
Decks 9 10 (1 crew)
Speed 22.5 knots 21 knots
Passengers 2603 2,435
Crew 994 950

 

 

Titanic Cutaway

Cutaway Image found on Titanicstory.com

The iRumorMill.com crew will be continuing our investigation on this conspiracy theory and will be updating this page when we get more findings.

 

Related: Final Lunch Menu from Titanic Expected to Fetch Up To $70,000 at Auction 

Posted 09/17/15

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