An Unsinkable Titanic/Preface
It is the object of this work to show that, in our eagerness to make the ocean liner fast and luxurious, we have forgotten to make her safe.
The safest ocean liner was the Great Eastern; and she was built over fifty years ago. Her designer aimed to make the ship practically unsinkable—and he succeeded; for she passed through a more severe ordeal than the Titanic, survived it, and came into port under her own steam.
Since her day, the shipbuilder has eliminated all but one of the safety devices which made the Great Eastern a ship so difficult to sink. Nobody, not even the shipbuilders themselves, seemed to realise what was being done, until, suddenly, the world's finest vessel, in all the pride of her maiden voyage, struck an iceberg and went to the bottom in something over two and a half hours' time!
If we learn the lesson of this tragedy, we shall lose no time in getting back to first principles. We shall reintroduce in all future passenger ships those simple and effective elements of safety—the double skin, the longitudinal bulkhead, and the watertight deck—which, were conspicuous in the Great Eastern, and which alone can render such a ship as the Titanic unsinkable.
The author's acknowledgments are due to the "Scientific American" for many of the photographs and line drawings reproduced in this volume; to an article by Professor J. H. Biles, published in "Engineering," for material relating to the Board of Trade stipulations as to bulkheads; to Sir George C. V. Holmes and the Victoria and Albert Museum for data regarding the Great Eastern, published in "Ancient and Modern Ships"; to Naval Constructor R. H. M. Robinson, U.S.N., for permission to reproduce certain drawings from his work, "Naval Construction," and to Naval Constructor Henry Williams, U.S.N., who courteously read the proofs of this work and offered many valuable suggestions. The original wash and line drawings are by Mr. C. McKnight Smith.
J. B. W.
New York, June, 1912.