The Titanic Conspiracy Story
By James Donahue
Most people know about the Titanic disaster of April 14, 1912 that claimed 1,503
lives after the ship . . . that largest liner in the world in its day . . . struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank.
Details of this disaster have been described in graphic detail in Hollywood films, books and television documentaries. Divers
have since found and explored the wreck. Many of the artifacts from the ship are on display in various world museums.
What few people know, however, is that there is a strange alternative conspiracy
theory about this disaster outlined by researcher Robin Gardiner in his book “Titanic: The Ship That Never Sank.”
Gardner suggests in his book that the Titanic Disaster was, in reality, an attempt
at a massive insurance scam that somehow went terribly bad. He believes the identities of the Titanic and her sister ship,
the Olympic, both built by the White Star Line at about the same time, were switched and that it was really the Olympic that
sank after either striking an iceberg or colliding with another ship that was waiting in the dark, with its lights out, to
pick up survivors.
The business of passenger transport across the Atlantic between Europe and the United
States was big business at the turn of the century and the White Star Line was in competition with the Cunnard Line for service.
In 1907 the White Star Line contracted for the construction of three new super liners, the Olympic, Titanic and Gigantic that
were to be the largest and most luxurious vessels afloat, and competing with Cunnard’s Lusitania and Mauritania. After
the disaster, the Gigantic’s name was changed to Britannic.
The Olympic was the first of the three, launched in October, 1910. Ironically Captain
Edward Smith, the skipper who was later fated to perish with the Titanic, was put in command of the Olympic. He was in command
when the Olympic collided with the Royal Navy cruiser Hawke off Southampton in September, 1911. Both ships were severely damaged.
A marine review board blamed the accident on the crew of the Olympic so the insurance company balked at making the necessary
The damage to the Olympic was extensive. Gardiner said the collision damaged the
central turbine mountings and the keel of the ship. Temporary repairs were made but the Olympic now operated with a slight
list because of its bent keel. It was determined that the ship would have to be almost torn apart and rebuilt to ever be made
At this time, the Titanic was under construction at the Harland & Wolff shipyard.
While slightly larger than the Olympic, the Titanic was being cast out of virtually the same exact blueprint used in building
the Olympic. Old photographs of the two ships moored side-by-side, and local observers noted that it was difficult to tell
them apart except for the names painted on the hulls and on life saving equipment.
It is Gardiner’s theory that a secret conspiracy was hatched to switch the
names of the two ships and to send the damaged Olympic out into the ocean on a fated final voyage, disguised as the Titanic,
to collect badly needed insurance money. That meant secretly switching lifeboats, life jackets, the ship’s bell, dishes,
linens and anything else that bore the name of the ships.
Except for the slight list, which few inexperienced sailors would have noticed, Gardiner
believes it was the Olympic that set off on the Titanic’s so-called maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.
He believes the plan was to scuttle the ship in the North Atlantic, and to have the
passengers and crew rescued by ships standing by in the dark at a pre-designated location. But the liner either struck an
unexpected iceberg or collided with one of the ships waiting in the darkness. Thus the planned rescue by that mystery vessel,
and the Californian, a freighter of the Leyland Line, anchored 12 miles away, did not happen. The Californian was waiting
in the wrong place, or the liner sank where it was not expected to sink, Gardiner proposed.
If his theory is correct, the Titanic went on to a successful 25-year career of service
bearing the name Olympic.
While it remains the most famous shipwreck, the Titanic is not the worst disaster
to claim lives at sea. During World War II, for example, the German cruiser Wilhelm Gustloff was torpedoed and sunk, killing
over 9,000 passengers and crew members.
The major flaw in Gardiner’s theory is that it would have taken a large number
of dock workers to have switched the identity of the two ships, and the work would have had to have been done in great secrecy,
probably at night. It is highly unlikely that such a secret could have been so well-kept for all these years without someone