FALSE. The Olympic-class was the White Star Line’s answer to the revolution in shipbuilding brought by Cunard with the Mauretania class. The White Star Line hoped to make a profit, certainly, but with the aim of creating the latest in transatlantic comfort and luxury; too much cost-cutting would have been a false economy. As Joseph Bruce Ismay, Chairman of the White Star Line, explained at the US enquiry into the sinking:
JBI013: ‘Titanic was the latest thing in the art of shipbuilding; absolutely no money was spared in her construction. She was not built by contract. She was simply built on a commission.’
This meant that Titanic was built on a ‘cost plus’ basis, where profit for the builders was calculated by adding an agreed amount to the costs they incurred in building her, leaving them with no incentive to cut costs. Indeed, Lord Pirrie, who owned Titanic’s builders, Harland and Wolff, in Belfast, was also a part owner of the White Star Line, Titanic’s owners.
It is also worth mentioning that the Olympic, the first in her class and therefore potentially the most susceptible to design faults, served successfully from 1911 to 1935 and was later known as ‘Old Reliable’, having acted as a troop carrier throughout the First World War. She was also the only merchant ship to ram and sink a German U-boat, and before Titanic sank had already survived a collision with HMS Hawke which snapped off the Navy ship’s battering ram—a record which ought to dispel any accusations of poor quality construction.
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