What Happened to the Other Two ’Titanics’
Everyone knows the story of the Titanic, but not many people know that Titanic had two sister ships and that on the night of its sinking, one of them was rushing to help, but didn’t make it in time. Bad luck seemed to follow the trio of ships, but each one of them had glorious moments that live in the minds of those who sailed in them. Keep on watching to discover a story of awe, ingenuity, and ill-fate. And don’t forget to click the subscribe button and turn notifications on to join us on the Bright Side of life!
You know how the iceberg hit the Titanic, how the band played to the end, and how the whole tragedy unfolded, but before it happened, it would’ve seemed an impossibility for such a ship to meet the end it did. None of that could have been foreseen by White Star Line, the company who built the Titanic, who had high hopes for what the “unsinkable ship” and its sister ships, the Britannic, and the Olympic would accomplish.
The Olympic was the first of the trio to make sail on June 11, 1911, heading towards New York. The sheer size of it would wow the crowds. The Olympic’s maiden voyage went without incident, and a crowd of 8000 people in New York got to explore its luxurious accommodations while it was docked there. There were high expectations for the massive ship, but just around 2 months later, the Olympic crashed with the HMS Hawke.
The Hawke got the brunt of the damage, as the bow was left flat as a pancake. After the crash, the Olympic made its way slowly back to Belfast, where the Titanic was being constructed. On the dock, people could see the two enormous ships side by side, as parts of the Titanic were used to put the Olympic back in shape. A rare sight to behold!
On April 14, 1912, the Titanic hit an iceberg, and minutes later, the crew radioed nearby ships for help. That night, the Olympic was returning from New York, when it received the distress signal. The ship turned around and rushed at full speed towards the Titanic, but they were so far away that they would have arrived next night. At some point during the early hours of April 15, 1912, the crew of the Olympic decided they wouldn’t make it in time and stopped course. The survivors of the Titanic were eventually rescued by the Carpathia.
Olympic was set up with lifeboats for all crew and passengers after the Titanic sank. It went from having 20 lifeboats to 64. Changes were also made to the watertight bulkheads and an extra hull, to construct a type of double hull was installed. It was determined that a double hull would’ve kept the Titanic from sinking.
For several years, Olympic was used in the war effort against Germany. Throughout the years, Olympic carried over 200,000 passengers which included thousands of Americans fleeing from Europe and troops battling during World War I. One of the most significant moments for this ship was when it struck a German submarine and sank it. It was discovered that the submarine was preparing to fire a torpedo on the Olympic before Olympic rammed it.
The Olympic ended up sailing the seas for three decades, which earned her the nickname of “The Old Reliable,” despite some previous accidents. It went on to help the survivors on the HMS Audacious when it was sinking, and do what it couldn’t for its sister, Titanic. Eventually, bad luck caught up with the Olympic. The ship crashed with the Nantucket lightship and the crash signaled the beginning of the end. Beaten up, and after years of service, the Olympic was demolished and scrapped for parts.
The Old Reliable saw many years of service and thousands of passengers, but the Britannic’s journey was shorter lived. When the Titanic sank, White Star Line was faced with a problem, since they already had another enormous ship in the works. White Star Line began construction on the HMHS Britannic on November 30, 1911, around 4 months before the Titanic sank.
Although the Britannic was the youngest of the trio of ships, having been constructed last, it was also the biggest. They intended to name it “Gigantic,” but after the Titanic’s disaster, they changed the name to Britannic, since they considered it to be a lucky name. With the Titanic’s sinking, the White Star Line underwent rigorous investigation, and many changes were made to the Britannic’s design.
The Britannic looked very similar to the Titanic, and it had what was at the time, the largest marine turbine in the world, able to reach faster speeds than the Olympic. With Titanic’s fate fresh in their minds, everything possible was done to ensure the safety of this newer ship. The Britannic was eventually launched on February 26, 1914, almost two years after Titanic met its end.
After the Titanic’s disaster, the White Star Line wanted the Britannic to redeem their name. The Britannic was on its way to becoming a successful ship, it transported passengers for over a year and a half when the British government requisitioned it and turned it into a hospital ship, during the beginning of World War I. The ship became an even more impressive sight to look at.
It was painted all white, with enormous red crosses on its side to indicate it was a hospital ship. One of the ship’s surgeons, Dr. J.C.H. Beaumont thought of it as “the most wonderful hospital ship that ever sailed the seas.” It could treat as many as 3,309 patients at once. This is how the Britannic became His Majesty’s Hospital Ship or HMHS Britannic.
Though the sight of this magnificent ship must have put a smile on a wounded soldiers’ face or two, the Britannic didn’t operate for long. Just a year after it was turned into a hospital ship, the Britannic was making its way through the Aegean Sea to pick up wounded soldiers, when it was struck by a loud explosion. The passengers didn’t know what had happened but headed to the deck to disembark. It is unclear what hit the Britannic, but the general consensus is that it was struck by a mine left by a German U-boat, though some still believe a torpedo hit it.
The captain tried to move the ship to a beach close by, but the ship was sinking fast. In the desperation, against the captain’s orders, several crew members launched lifeboats and disembarked, but since the ship was moving and the propellers working, the lifeboats were sucked and destroyed by the propellers.
Though so much effort had gone in to ensure the Britannic was safer than the Titanic, whatever explosion occurred, left the Britannic in the same dire condition as the Titanic in just 10 minutes. In a cruel twist of fate, it also sank in the ocean.
Unlike Titanic’s enormous death toll, only 30 people perished in the sinking of the Britannic and over 1000 survived. So many people survived because the accident happened in the morning when the temperature of the water was warmer and the Greek island Kea, was close by to offer help. In the end, the Britannic only sailed the seas for over two and a half years.
The bad luck that followed the Titanic and the Britannic and the accidents and demise of the Olympic was remarkable, but what was most impressive is that there was a woman who sailed on all three ships, and survived. Violet Jessop was a crew member and nurse aboard the ships. She was there when the Olympic collided with the HMS Hawke in 1911, and disembarked safely. Two years later, she escaped the sinking of the Titanic in lifeboat number 16, and she showed some women it was safe to board the lifeboats.
You’d imagine that would be enough to keep her from ever getting on a boat again, but not for her. A few years later she served as a nurse in the Britannic, while it was used as a hospital ship. When the explosion occurred, Violet jumped overboard, was pulled under by the water, and hit her head on the keel but survived. Can you imagine her experience? She must have had nerves of steel.
All in all, the trio of ships saw journeys of triumph and tragedy. Ill-fate might have followed them, but all the survivors were left with incredible stories to tell.
So tell us, Bright Siders: Would you have liked to have seen any of these ships in real life? Let us know in the comments section! Don’t forget to give this video a like, share it with your friends, and click subscribe to stay on the Bright Side!