107 #21: Titanic was trying to take the shortest route to New York at the time of the accident

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FALSE. She was, in fact, on the longer route to New York, known as the southern track, which was agreed to be used by all the major steamship companies’ ships in the summer months between 15th January and 23rd August. The shorter, winter route, was known as the northern track. These Atlantic shipping lanes were established in 1899 with the intention of avoiding areas where ice and fog was prevalent, keeping eastbound and westbound ships apart, and increasing the chances of a ship in distress receiving help from another vessel travelling on the same route.

However, heavy snowfall in the Arctic in the winter of 1910/11, followed by a warmer than usual Arctic summer in 1911 and a mild winter in 1911/12, resulted in much larger quantities of ice than usual drifting south in the freezing waters of the Labrador current, which was flowing faster than usual that year with high volumes of melt-water from the Arctic. The customary ‘Southern’ track was therefore not southern enough to avoid the ice which Titanic encountered.

As a direct result of the Titanic disaster, this southern westbound track was moved further south, with the turning point known as the ‘Corner’ moved from 42N, 47W to 39N 45W, 240 miles further southeast, in order to avoid ice more effectively. Subsequently, the International Convention for the Safety of Life At Sea was signed on 30th January, 1914. Amongst other things, this established an international ice observation and patrol service, which appointed vessels to patrol the ice regions and provide warnings of icebergs and derelict wrecks in the major Atlantic shipping lanes. The International Ice Patrol still exists today, and commemorates its origins each year on 15th April, by laying a wreath over Titanic’s wreck site.

If you’d like to read the full book of101 Things You Thought You Knew About The Titanic…But Didn’t!, or any of my other books on Titanic, please visit my Author Page on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/tim-maltin/e/B005LNHYEQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1

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