Documentary Claims Fire Was Part of Titanic's Undoing

Senan Molony presents his theory
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 2, 2017 12:48 PM CST
Updated Jan 3, 2017 12:33 AM CST

It's a tale of fire and ice, but this one involves the UK's Channel 4, not HBO. The documentary Titanic: The New Evidence aired Sunday, and it puts forth the theory that the ship was handicapped before it even encountered the iceberg that sent it to its doom. The Telegraph reports Irish journalist Senan Molony has spent three decades researching the ship, and is focusing on photos found in an album that was auctioned in 2012; they show what he says are 30ft-long black marks along the front right-hand side of the hull, where the ship eventually collided with the iceberg. The photos were taken before the Titanic left the Belfast shipyard, and Molony says the marks resulted from what is a well-documented fire that burned for days in a three-story-high coal storage bunker behind boiler room six.

Molony believes the intense heat from the fire—with temps hitting 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit—warped the bulkhead steel, sapping its strength by as much as 75%. That "led to an accelerated sinking" upon collision. "Titanic couldn't stay afloat long enough for an effective rescue," he says, per CNN. Molony also points out that the ship oddly reversed into her berth, which he says kept the streaked side hidden from boarding passengers, reports the Times of London. Jalopnik notes Molony isn't the first to air a fire-related theory. In 2004, engineer Robert Essenhigh presented his theory to the Geological Society of America: that the ship tore through an iceberg field in the dark at full speed because the crew had sped up the rate at which the already burning coal was shoveled from the bunker into the steam engine boiler as a method of getting rid of it. (Read the secret story of the "Nazi Titanic.")

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.