107 #44: The iceberg which sank the Titanic was identified the day after by a smear of red paint along its side

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iceberg titanic

TRUE (possibly). The Prinz Adalbert, a German steamer, passed near the position of Titanic’s sinking on April 15th and one of her passengers was photographing an iceberg when they noticed an unusual red smear around its base, which they thought meant it had been involved in a collision with a ship. On hearing later that the Titanic had sunk, they thought this iceberg must have been the culprit, with the red marks caused by Titanic’s red anti-fouling paint being scraped off below her waterline during the collision.

However, another possible culprit was photographed by Stephan Rehorek, a passenger on the Bremen which passed close by the scene of Titanic’s wreckage and saw hundreds of bodies in lifejackets. This picture shows signs of fresh damage at the place where the Titanic would have hit it according to the sketch and description of Joseph Scarrott, who described the iceberg as looking like the Rock of Gibraltar as seen from Europa Point, or something like a lion couchant, as the Wreck Commissioner Lord Mersey commented. This berg seems to fit Scarrott’s description better than the Adalbert berg. Moreover, Colin Cooper, a passenger on the Carpathia and a well-known painter, also sketched an iceberg which shows damage and which fits well with Scarrott’s sketch and Rehorek’s picture.

Whilst it is tempting to believe these reports, several other ships in the area also reported sightings of icebergs which may have been responsible for sinking the Titanic. For instance, a ship called the Cleo, at 41’ 25” N, 48’ 43” W, seven miles from where the Minia found wreckage from the Titanic the following day, saw on April 29th ‘a berg about 150 feet high, appearing as though it had been run into by a vessel’. Given how different icebergs look from different angles and in different lights, and given the complex currents in the area, the iceberg which actually sank the Titanic was never conclusively identified.

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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