Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

10 of the Worst Decisions Ever Made


7
The Titanic's Many Bad Choices
Multiple errors in judgment led to the Titanic's tragic end. ©Universal History Archive/Getty Images
Multiple errors in judgment led to the Titanic's tragic end. ©Universal History Archive/Getty Images

More than a century ago, the RMS Titanic set sail on her maiden voyage across the North Atlantic. But just five days into the trip from England to New York City, the luxury liner collided with an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland; consumed by damage she sank, killing more than 1,500 passengers and crew.

Multiple mistakes were made that collectively sent the Titanic to its tragic end in April 1912. First, there were no safety regulations in place for a ship as large as the Titanic. It didn't carry adequate safety equipment. For example, there were only 16 lifeboats, enough for only about one-third to one-half of the passengers on board, and crew members weren't prepared with binoculars or proper lighting. Additionally, the Titanic was untested. Sure, they'd reviewed the ship's equipment, but it was never test driven; it was unproven. The crew was not fully up to speed on the liner, its equipment (such as the state-of-the-art Marconi wireless messaging system) and its emergency procedures.

Despite how unprepared the Titanic was operationally, it may have been a simple human error that ultimately caused the iceberg disaster. In 2010 it was revealed that the helmsman may have made a steering error when diverting the ship around the iceberg, and the turn wasn't corrected in time to avoid disaster. The iceberg was spotted just before midnight, and by 2:20 a.m. the Titanic had split and sunk.


More to Explore