Substandard rivets to blame for Titanic's sinking

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Washington, April 19 : Researchers have discovered that the Titanic, a liner reputed to be unsinkable, sank so quickly after hitting an iceberg because of substandard rivets.

More than 1500 people died when the Titanic sunk in the North Atlantic on its inaugural voyage 96 years ago.

And now, metal fracture experts Timothy Foecke and Jennifer Hooper McCarty have blamed rivets made from low-quality iron for the tragedy.

The metallurgists have detailed their claims in a new book, 'What Really Sank the Titanic,' based on extensive tests of 48 rivets recovered from the Titanic's resting place in the North Atlantic.

While there obviously were several factors, Foecke argued in his preliminary report, the critical failure could have been the use of brittle, substandard wrought iron rivets to hold the giant ship's hull plates together.

The shock of the collision with an iceberg would have popped off the heads of large numbers of rivets, hull plates opening up like a zipper to let in the seawater.

The scientists determined the ship's builder, Harland and Wolff of Belfast, Northern Ireland, used No. 3 iron bar, rather than the preferred No. 4, for the millions of rivets needed to build the Titanic.

What Really Sank the Titanic gives the back-story, said Dr Foecke, from the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Maryland.

Ranging from vignettes on the working conditions of Irish shipyard workers in 1912 and the business pressures on the White Star Line, the ship's owners, to the science and techniques of a modern metallurgy lab, with side trips to review contemporary testimony on the accident, Foecke and McCarty combine history and forensics to discover just what caused the ill-fated ship's demise.


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