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A Man Who Failed to Save the Titanic

A Man Who Failed to Save the Titanic


The sinking of the Titanic is, to this day,
one of the worst catastrophes to come out of a long chain of unfortunate and untimely
events. And that chain that would decide the cruel
fate of the great Unsinkable Ship started with… a tiny key. It seemed like such an insignificant little
thing. So trivial that the man who’d had it with
him completely forgot to hand it over to the person who’d desperately need it at a critical
moment. That man was 37-year-old David Blair, and
he was holding the key to the locked cabinet where all the binoculars for the lookouts
were stored. And there’s nothing unusual about the keys
being with this man because Blair was to be the Titanic’s Second Officer. He’d worked on the ship during all its test
runs, and up until she was ready for departure, he was supposed to be onboard for the voyage. But as fate would have it, just before the
biggest ship of its time was ready to depart Southampton and head across the Atlantic to
New York City, there was a last-minute change of plans… White Star Line, the shipping company that
owned the Titanic, decided to replace David Blair with Henry Wilde, the Chief Officer
of the Titanic’s sister ship, RMS Olympic. They saw him as a more experienced mariner
with better skills of running such large ships. Blair wrote in a postcard to relatives that
he was pretty upset about being replaced. In a hurry by the unexpected change or perhaps
because of this distress, Blair forgot to hand the key to the binocular cabinet over
to Officer Wilde! It might not seem like such a big deal, but
you must remember that sonar technology wasn’t a thing at the beginning of the 20th century. That’s why binoculars were of vital importance
because they were the only way to detect potential dangers early while navigating. Soon after the Titanic left the port, the
crew realized they wouldn’t be able to open the cabinet. But it’s not that they were panicked or
anything. The lookouts had sharp eyesight, and the ship
had been built and advertised to be “unsinkable” after all! They were confident that they could keep watch
without the binoculars, perhaps a little too confident… Fred Fleet was the lookout on duty that tragic
night the ship sailed its first and final voyage. Fleet would end up surviving the catastrophe
and later told the investigators that if he’d had binoculars, he would’ve noticed the
iceberg earlier and the crew would’ve had more time to steer the ship out of the way. Now, most people would be thinking, “How
on earth do you not see a giant iceberg big enough to take down the Titanic waaay before
the ship is even close to it? Witnesses say this thing was sticking out
of the water anywhere from 50 to 100 feet in the air, and it was around 200 to 400 feet
long. That’s almost too big to be a sudden surprise,
don’t you think? Well, here’s where you get more links in
that chain of unfortunate events that would defeat the unsinkable. Yes, the huge iceberg could’ve been noticed
earlier even without binoculars, but perhaps in different conditions. You see, it was the middle of the night, and
they were in the middle of calm ocean waters surrounded by nothing but silence and stark
blackness. No street or city lights, and, more importantly,
no moon… When you’re sailing at night on calm waters
under a moonless sky, believe it or not, it results in the worst conditions for nautical
visibility. There were no waves crashing up against the
iceberg to give an audible warning, and there was no moonlight reflecting off the giant
hunk of floating ice to make it sort of glow. Essentially, this thing really did pop up
out of nowhere, at least in the lookout’s field of vision. Not to mention, it’s believed that the iceberg
had turned upside-down shortly before the collision. It had probably lost more weight on one side
because of melting, which would cause it to flip over. This, in turn, exposed its lower part, which
was full of water and much darker than the upper one. Once Fred Fleet finally saw it at 11:39pm
on April 14, 1912 and famously reported “Iceberg! Right ahead!” to the command bridge, it
was already too late. They only had about 30 seconds to steer the
ship out of the way, and that wasn’t enough for a vessel this size going almost top-speed. And that’s where we run into another problem:
the decision to try and steer around it. First Officer William Murdock made the call,
but it might’ve been a better idea to just ram the iceberg head-on. Surprisingly, the consequences could’ve
been less dramatic. The bow of the ship would’ve been crushed,
and, yes, part of the crew and passengers from the front cabins wouldn’t have survived. But only 2 watertight compartments would’ve
been flooded. With that kind of damage, the Titanic could’ve
stayed afloat long enough for other ships to make it and save the rest of the passengers
and crew. But, they had such little time to weigh the
options. At 11:40pm, the 46,000-ton ship smashed into
the iceberg in the cold waters of the North Atlantic. Her right side scraped 300 feet along the
ice, the hull buckled, the seams broke, and the water rushed into the damaged compartments. Thomas Andrews, the Chief Naval Architect
who’d designed the ship and was onboard as well, confirmed that the Titanic couldn’t
be saved. The passengers had to be evacuated immediately. Well, it was only downhill from there. Another cruel twist of fate is that there
was a desperate shortage of lifeboats, with 2,224 people on board and only enough boats
to save 1,178 lives. The ship was constructed as an unsinkable
one, so nobody seriously believed that the boats were needed at all. On April 15, at 2:20am, the Titanic sank to
the bottom of the ocean. Only 706 people survived… So what ever happened to David Blair and that
cursed key? Well, he realized his mistake too late. But he continued to work as a mariner and
even received a Bravery Medal from the Royal Humane Society in 1913 for saving a crewmember
of the Majestic. Blair, who was First Officer on that ship,
jumped into the water when the man fell over the side. Although the lifeboat sent to retrieve him
reached the man first, Blair was commended for his selfless act. As for the notorious key, for a long time
he kept it as a reminder of the tragedy he’d miraculously avoided. Then he passed it on to his daughter Nancy. In 1980 she gave it to the International Sailors
Society, but it’d later be sold at an auction held by Henry Aldridge & Son. The auctioneer said that it was one of the
most valued artifacts from the ship. And who’d argue with that? This key could’ve completely changed history
and saved the Titanic had it been onboard. It was sold in 2007 for £78,000, which would
be about $135,000 by today’s rate. That makes this key the 7th most expensive
artifact from the Titanic. On the 100th anniversary of the sinking, they
sold a letter written by 33-year-old Wallace Henry Hartley, a violinist and the bandleader
on the Titanic. He wrote to his relatives that the ship was
great, and he liked the guys from the band. He was going to come home on Sunday – the
next day after the Titanic was to arrive in New York. He sent the letter from Queenstown, Ireland
– the last stop before the doomed ship sailed into open ocean. The letter was sold for £90,000 (equivalent
to $125,000 today). But the most expensive, and no doubt the most
exclusive finding, is Hartley’s violin. He and his band famously kept playing on deck
while the ship was sinking to calm down the passengers and help them overcome panic. The brave musicians played up to the very
end, and, tragically, none of them survived. Later, newspapers wrote that the musicians
of the Titanic were among the noblest people in maritime history. Hartley’s violin was found almost immediately
after the sinking, and the instrument was given to his fiancée. She’d given it to him as a present before
he departed. After the tragedy, she passed it on to the
British Salvation Army. But for almost 100 years, the violin was thought
to be lost until it reemerged in 2006 when an amateur musician found it in his parents’
attic. After that, experts spent 7 years examining
it and finally announced that the instrument was authentic. It was sold for a jaw-dropping price of £900,000
($1.3 million today). Most of the people who buy these sorts of
artifacts are Titanic memorabilia experts and collectors with the goal of keeping such
historical items safely preserved so that they – and what they remind us of – are
never forgotten! So now it’s your turn: Do you think that
key could’ve changed history, or were there too many untimely coincidences that sealed
the Titanic’s fate? Let me know your thoughts down in the comments. If you learned something new today, then give
this video a like and share it with a friend. But don’t go looking for any more missing
keys just yet! We have over 2,000 cool videos for you to
check out. All you have to do is pick the left or right
video, click on it, and enjoy! Stay on the Bright Side of life!


Reader Comments

  1. just saying, the binoculars wont help

    the water was so calm, "like a mill pond"
    so no water could crash onto any bergs, making it hard to see

    and it was a moonless night, so it was extremely darker than normal, making it much harder to spot bergs, it was not foggy or anything, just weather too good that caused something too bad

  2. couldn't they break the lock,crush it or open it with other techniques. Or They could have bought new binoculars from the city the titanic stopped after southampton. But all in vain because the titanic is the only ship in history unsinkable. No need to worry.

  3. Just amazing… yet such is life.

    It's easy to play "Monday Morning Quarterback" and wonder why there wasn't a backup set of keys – and a regulation to use them, or why not a light shone ahead to see that the way was clear, not to mention the lifeboat thing. But no matter how much effort you put into it, something is always going to happen. But rather than be fatalistic about it, just think of all the little "coincidences" that kept something like the sinking of the Titanic from happening, and therefore from our ever knowing about them. Let's hope your life is filled with enough of those to keep you safe and happy.

  4. Great information about the missing key. However if the key was turned over, there could have been a chance it could have giving the passengers and crew to be saved. I enjoyed the history update.

  5. hello Bright Side, I'm YH from Korea, I have a question to you, What's your program that make this video? I'm looking for this program for many days, But I didn't found the program, Could you let me know the program name? please 🙂

  6. Never think a ship is unsinkable, because you could be shown that it IS sinkable by losing your life. Repeat everything important you need to remember LOTS of times, too. (Unless you're like me)

  7. Well its been shown that the furnaces were heating up the walls of the titanic which their for caused the steel to become weaker .

  8. What kind of binocular were they night vision? Ok hello axe the lock or shoot it off dam wasnt their a billionair lock smith on board?

  9. I expect better from a channel with 29M this theory has been debunked time and time again.

    Binoculars during that time were and would have never been used at night to spot Ice burges. Lookouts were trained to watch the breaks of waves off objects in the water. Binoculars were only used to inspect objects at a distance but no one would have ever instructed a lookout to use binoculars, at night to find iceburgs.

    At the British Inquiry this was very well explained.

    Stop spreading this misinformation.

  10. Why do they need keys no one is gonna steal it plus they could of just broken the glass so theycan get the binoculars

  11. They could do something to open that door but the name "unsinkable" made them to stop worrying about it. DETAILS !!

  12. When we invent Time Travel…someone needs to get that key and take it back in time so they can unlock the binoculars.

  13. Lookouts only use binoculars to closer identify objects, not find them. This story of "what could have saved the Titanic" is good for click-bait but bad when you look into it.

  14. The sinking was planned hear me out

    This is long

    They had another ship the Olympic And it had an accident. so they took pieces from the Titanic and put them on the Olympic . But now the Titanic had missing pieces and they had already planned the trip. but they couldn't afford to cancel the trip so they changed the Olympic to the Titanic . Then they told the richest people to not go .
    They planned to sink the ship and get insurance money for it.

    Go down for proof

    1. Somebody who claimed he was sick so he was unable to go got caught out with his wife the day of the trip and so did many other rich people

    2. When they went to find the ship under water they found an m and a p . That could hay been chiped paint from them trying to change the name of the ships

    And finally

    3. They had no money left before the ship sunk but when can it sunk they got millions witch made there insurance company run out of business
    I'm not saying that they would do this on purpose but there is so much proof it.

  15. Everything was planned by White Star company!. That ship was the Olympic ship instead of the Titanic because they just needed to get a real good insurance!. This is the only misteriuos I think is reasonable!.

  16. Did the staff not ask around the passangers incase some of them had a pair or worst case sinario couldnt they have broke into the cabinet i mean its the 1st thing i would have done being a wee rebel that i am lol

  17. Wait didnt they confirmed that the ship has long been burning due to the fact that one of the photos caught the ship's hull discoloration due to fire and metal burning?

  18. I am confused because in ur other video u said that the iceberg was not the reason the titanic sunk it sunk because of an explosion 💥 please explain?!!!!

  19. the captain of the titanic should have made the decision to cut the lock, after all its his ship & is responsible for everyone's safety..

  20. They would’ve sunk even if they did because binoculars aren’t for spotting things there for observing them and they don’t need to observe the iceberg they could’ve seen the whole thing with their eyes or the binoculars so really it didn’t matter Plus they need a full vision if you wear binoculars it will just narrow down the vision and you can see as much

  21. The binoculars wouldn’t do jack Squanto. It still would be impossible to see the iceberg even with them. The reason they couldn’t see it earlier was because of a mirage caused by the sea, not because it was to far away. A better video would have been about Murdoch’s decision not to hit the iceberg head on which could have saved Titanic.

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