new york titanic collision

Helen’s words ring in my ears.

Don’t spend all your time counting screw-holes!

I can’t help but smile.

Titanic is magnificent. I knew she would be. Every problem with Olympic, every design flaw that didn’t prove as successful as we hoped, has been corrected in this second ship. There are more staterooms. I’ve made minor changes to the design.

And everyone wants to sail on her…

Or rather, about fourteen hundred of us. She is nowhere near capacity, but the coal shortage forces us to take on passengers from all other boarding ships; they are in dock while we set sail for New York.

My wife knows me well. “Thomas Andrews,” she said as she put my hat on me, “you are a perfectionist. You find fault with even the most wonderful things.”

“Except with you, and our daughter,” I answered, and kissed her goodbye.

I’ll be home in a fortnight, but even a few hours feels too long. Yet here we are, embarking on a voyage. Years of work, of labor in the shipyards, of setbacks, riots, strikes, and accidents, years of inquiries, tests, arguments, and publicity have led to this moment.

This tremendous ship, this enormous ship, this wonder of engineering, sets sail. Crowds throng beneath us on the docks, shouting and waving up at our tiers of passengers. Yet, it is not they who catch my eye – but the smaller vessel in the channel with us.

She bobs on the waves like a cork, our wake sucking at her moorings. Lines snap and she heads straight for us. Enthusiasm prevents most from noticing her, but a few alongside the rail lean over and point her out. It is a narrow miss, other crafts bearing down on her, throwing lines across, drawing her aside before she rams us… or we sink her.

The New York is tied at the dock, and we leave her behind. Our near-collision with her feels ominous, somehow.

Is it true, Thomas?

Helen flashes into my mind, after the Olympic inquiry.

Are your ships simply too big to be safe?

I hope not. I truly hope not.


Short article on ship designer Thomas Andrews coming this afternoon.