Everybody knows the story. Titanic. The unsinkable ship that sank. Hundreds of lives lost. Maritime inquisitions over the lack of available lifeboats and the failure to watch out for icebergs. Several motion pictures retelling the story, including 1956’s A Night to Remember and 1997’s Titanic. And Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” and on and on and on…
On April 15, 1912 – one hundred years ago next week – the White Star Line’s flagship sank on its maiden voyage.
But what if it hadn’t? What if Titanic completely missed the ice pack or the iceberg or whatever it hit, and arrived on its way to New York without any scrapes or damage?
Let’s play a little “alternative history” game, shall we? Let us assume, for example, that Titanic completely missed the iceberg of doom.
I have three theories about what could have happened. Play along if you like.
1. Titanic arrived in New York safe and sound. It completed hundreds of voyages between London and New York, and was the flagship of the White Star Line. However, in 1915, Titanic was destroyed by a torpedo from a German submarine. The ship sank and all were killed. It was later discovered that in addition to transporting passengers from London to New York, Titanic was also transporting in its cargo holds tons of munitions and armaments and weapons, in an effort to evade a German submarine blockade. The discovery of Titanic‘s subterfuge (and sub refuge) caused a major shift in what was then known as the Great War. Germany eventually captured France; England fell a short time later. A League of Nations was established, and France and England were made to pay repatriations, causing both countries to fall into deep financial ruin. It was only until after the rise to power of ruthless dictators Winston Churchill and Charles DeGaulle, that the world was plunged into war in the 1940’s.
2. Titanic arrives in New York safe and sound; it would complete hundreds of journeys across the Atlantic Ocean. On one of those journeys – Tsar Nicholas of Russia, along with his wife and family, who plan to visit the United States for diplomatic and sightseeing purposes as part of a trip through Europe. However, in his absence, the Bolsheviks take over the palace. The Romanovs are now in exile, living their lives under the protection of the American government. The new government of Russia demands the return of the Tsar and his family. The Americans say no. Eventually ships from what will become the Soviet Union sail across the Bering Sea, and attack Alaska. Once Alaska falls, the Russians invade America through both sea and land (across British Columbia). Eventually the Americans fight back, and what would be later known as “The Great War” between Russia and America lasts for several years, while peace remains throughout Europe.
3. Titanic completely misses the iceberg… but the true tragedy occurred when it arrived in New York. Due to the captain following an inaccurate reading on his maps, Titanic heads straight for – and eventually crashes into – the Statue of Liberty, forever damaging the base of the beloved statue with what would later be known as the “Titanic Gouge.” The investigation would last for many years – it was revealed afterward that Captain Smith had consumed several glasses of celebratory champagne to commemorate Titanic‘s first Atlantic crossing, and may have been enjoying entirely too many glasses of champagne (as well as several amounts of bourbon, whiskey, gin, vermouth, Guinness and a couple of pints of muscatel). Not only was he too drunk to pilot the ship into the harbor, he was too drunk to pilot himself into the pilothouse.
Oh what, did you actually think that if Titanic hadn’t hit the iceberg, everything would be hunky dory? Come on, this is alternative history. Butterfly effect. Road not traveled. In other words… stuff happens.
Now if the Andrea Doria hadn’t sunk in 1956… now THERE’S an interesting concept.