Among the colorful characters and heart-wrenching stories that make up the tragic tale of the Titanic
, the one that Mother Nature added to the narrative has perhaps remained the most mysterious.
What history tells us with near certainty is that on the evening of April 14, 1912, on a calm, clear, and moonless night (extremely rare for the North Atlantic), the Titanic’s starboard side glanced off an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. The massive ship had been speeding (around 22 knots or 25 mph) dangerously close to an ice field and may have course-corrected away from it and maneuvered accidentally directly into the path of the deadly berg.
Based on testimony from surviving crew members, the iceberg
that doomed Titanic was a “dark-blue mass” between 30-60 feet high above the water line. Seamen Joseph Scarrott, who spied the berg once the ship had passed it, said it resembled in shape “the Rock of Gibraltar” with its highest point to the right.
Photos taken by those on board ships that entered the Titanic’s debris field hours and days after the tragedy have claimed to show the deadly iceberg. Some vessels were there to retrieve bodies, while others were simply following shipping lanes that took them within the area. One thing is for certain: there was lots of ice and icebergs the night Titanic sank. According to the Captain of the Carpathia, the ship that was first on the scene, more than 20 large bergs (some estimated at over 100 feet tall) were observed.
Below are some of the pictures of icebergs taken in the area of the Titanic disaster.
Suspect #1: Titanic Iceberg: The Prinz Adalbert Iceberg
According to sources, this iceberg was photographed from the ship Prinz Adalbert on the morning of April 15, the same day the Titanic sank. Those on the ship thought the berg strange because of a reported red smear near its base — the same color of the Titanic's keel. The ice, however, does not show signs of impact consistent with a collision. Some have chalked the strange color up to bacteria that often form layers on bergs.
Suspect #2: The Titanic IceField
The night of the disaster, the crew of the Titanic was well aware of ice dangers, in particular a massive icefield to the north. According to one account
, it may have been First Officer Murdoch's decision to avoid this ice field that inadvertently lined the ship up with the deadly iceberg. This photo, taken from the Carpathia, shows the extent of the icefield (as well as a giant iceberg), observed by one individual as "one solid wall of ice, at least 16 feet high, as far as could be seen."
Suspect #3: The Minia Iceberg
The Minia was one of the first ships on the scene following the disaster. The crew found this iceberg floating in the vicinity of wreckage and bodies.
Suspect #4: The Rehorek Iceberg
It took 88 years after the sinking of the Titanic for this photograph, taken by Stephan Rehorek on board the German steamer Bremen, to be made public. Many believe it to be the actual iceberg that sank the legendary ship. The Breman sailed into the disaster area on April 20, discovering this iceberg, as well as wreckage and bodies. Unlike other suspected icebergs, this one not only has damage on the correct side that is consistent with a collision, but also matches the "Rock of Gibraltar" description by Scarrott. More information on this iceberg can be found here
Suspect #5: The Birma Iceberg
Both the Carpathia (4 a.m.) and the Russian vessel Birma (7 a.m.) were the first ships to arrive at the scene of the disaster. Both have singled out this particular iceberg as being the one that likely sank the Titanic. According to the Birma, its height was about 140 feet and length 200 feet and its depth, underwater, estimated at 980 feet.
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This story was originally written for Ecorazzi.com and is republished with permission here. Copyright 2014 Ecorazzi.com.