Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mystery Ships and Titanic owner J.P. Morgan's Masked Enemies

Was Titanic rammed by a mystery ship? And might that ship have been British?

To many it seems like nonsense to suggest that the British enemies of Titanic's owner, J.P. Morgan, would ram a friendly vessel with many of their own citizens aboard, especially when Titanic was part of a joint shipping venture with a UK shipping firm, the White Star Line.  Why would the British sink ships built by your own countrymen?

The answer is simple: They wanted Morgan's shipping business to fail.

Not everyone was cut into the 1902 deal that was made between J.P. Morgan's International Mercantile Marine (IMM) and the White Star Line.  Some of the smaller British shipping lines, namely Cunard and the Leyland Line, were being muscled out of business.  They were afraid Titanic, and her sister ships, the RMS Olympic and RMS Brittanic, were going to hurt their business badly -- literally sail off with their passengers.

While Americans saw Titanic as a wonderful expression of their own financial and industrial might, the British shipping lines saw her as direct competition and a threat.  To them the letters Titanic spelled hardship, bankruptcy, unemployment, ruin.

If Titanic floated, they were sunk.

It was very much like a Wal-Mart opening in a small town, and putting several Mom and Pop stores out of business. How could the British save their local merchants?

The Cunard Line was a medium-sized British shipping line that was struggling to remain in direct competition with Morgan's near monopoly on the Atlantic shipping lanes, and it had every reason to worry that a lifetime of hard work was about to be swamped and ruined by Titanic's huge backwash.

Some people in British government were worried too -- so concerned that America's super-liners might destroy the prestige of the British shipping industry that they decided to give Cunard massive loans to build two rival super-liners, the RMS Mauretania (built in 1906) and the RMS Lusitania (completed in 1907).

In other words, the owners of the Cunard Line and some wealthy Lords, bankers and ministers in the British government itself had put their life savings on the line in an effort to compete with Morgan and Titanic.  Their fortunes were at great risk, and they had a deep interest in seeing Titanic fail.

Some people have suggested that these smaller British shipping lines did not sit idly by, waiting to be sunk by Titanic.  Recognizing the situation as "kill or be killed," they and their carefully masked investors in the British government actually conspired to bring the RMS Olympic and the RMS Titanic to a bad end.

If one buys this hyposthesis, then it stands to reason that British secret agents deliberately rammed the RMS Olympic with the HMS Hawke and they deliberately engineered an "accident at sea" for Titanic with the specific goal of destroying permanently the White Star Line's rep for safety, effectively spooking people and driving them back to the "old reliable" shipping firms.

Put another way, the sinking of RMS Titanic was a deliberate act of economic warfare.  The British government itself had a vested interest in seeing Titanic fail.  One hundred years earlier their troops had burned down the American capitol building in Washington.  They had made war upon the American people before, and in this case they did not hesitate to sink a ship that was threatening their national security -- their standing as the most powerful navy and merchant fleet in the world.

In the eyes of the wise old men who ran the British Navy, this was just another ship to be sunk.

This theory may not be as wild as it sounds, especially when one realizes that the entire British Empire and its economy depended upon maintaining the preeminence of the British Navy and the British merchant fleet. Morgan's IMM and the Titanic itself were seen as a genuine threat.

In 1902, when Titanic was just a gleam in J.P. Morgan's eye, there were certainly a number of very powerful merchant bankers in the City of London gabbing with high-ranking officers of the British Admiralty -- all of them frowning and wagging their heads with deep concern.  The press of the day reflects this: Many senior ministers in London viewed the International Mercantile Marine as nothing less than a colossal power grab, an effort to swoop in and buy up the British fleet, stealing away the magical seapower of the entire British Empire at a single blow.

Not everyone wanted to become engaged with Morgan or to marry their fortunes to his wild Wall Street speculations and financial schemes. Back in 1902, some members of the British Establishment were very definitely not swooning or going all weak in the knees over J.P. Morgan.

Quite to the contrary, the hostility toward Morgan's proposal indicates many Brits were profoundly offended.

The fact that Cunard Line found enough backing in London to finance the construction of two huge and luxurious ocean liners clearly indicates just how deep was the British desire to compete with Morgan and put him in his place.  Evidently some very wealthy people in London wanted to snub the man and show him who was truly the monarch of the seas. 

According to several reports, J.P. Morgan was taken aback by the extreme hositility in the British press when he first proposed the IMM shipping merger.  Apparently he had not fully understood how deeply attached the British were to their merchant ships, and what a central source of national pride they were.

Would it be so difficult to imagine, then, that by 1912, as Titanic rolled off the line and started on her maiden voyage, a faction within the British Admiralty had already decided to sink her?

This hypothesis of two-faced double dealing by the British works.  It actually explains quite well a number of unfortunate events that are normally seen as mysterious "accidents" namely:

1) Huge cost over-runs in the building of Titanic.  It was almost as if someone were working to sabotage her construction, and make the building and fitting of Titanic as expensive, painful and slow as possible.

2) The collision of the British destroyer HMS Hawke with Titanic's sister ship, the RMS Olympic, which cost Morgan dearly for repairs.  Perhaps it wasn't an accident after all?

3) The "accidental" near collision of the Titanic itself with the S.S. New York as Titanic was leaving Southampton harbor (the New York somehow untied itself from the dock and swung directly into the path of Titanic, nearly causing expensive delays and repairs); and

4) The strange presence of two or three "mystery" ships within immediate range of Titanic when it sank -- ships that did nothing to help her but just sat in silence watching while she sank by the head.

Why would the British do nothing?  Because when Titanic sank they knew that Morgan's profit margin was sinking with her, and they were thus dealing a death blow to an economic marriage that several senior people in the City of London dislike profoundly.

Perhaps the best known of the mystery ships lurking about Titanic was the Leyland Line cruiser S. S. Californian, whose Captain kept his ship within visible sight of Titanic, maintained radio silence, and didn't budge an inch while Titanic sent off several distress flairs.

The Leyland Line is a British ship line, based in Liverpool, and technically part of the I.M.M. One must read up on the role played by Leyland during the formation of the I.M.M shipping trust to fully appreciate the clever way in which this company maneuvered and lured Morgan's outfit into paying very large sums to Leyland for very little in return.

That one of Leyland's ships would just sit motionless within visual range of Titanic, and silently watc the great ship founder, is quite believable given the past history between Morgan and Leyland.  The negotiations between the two were a tense and unfriendly game of high-stakes poker, and the grim managers of the Leyland Line wasted very little love or affection for the I.M.M.

In fact, they scalped Morgan.

The sinking of Titanic may have been nothing more than the consummation of a long standing hostility between the Leyland Line and Morgan's company.

Add to this the fact that the Californian had left directly from London, and that its captain refused to speak to American reporters in Boston on grounds of "state secrets," and one almost gets the impression that the captain left with a brief and a clear assignment from the British government itself .

To this very day, the British government are very wishy-washy in their explanation of why the S.S Californian just sat there, doing nothing, while Titanic sank.  The British investigation was definitely flawed, key questions were never asked of Capt. Lord or his crew, and the officers of the Californian were never prosecuted or properly held to account for their failure to aid and assist the Titanic.

One may read the short Wikipedia story on the SS Californian for the disturbing details, but even those who want to skip the details need know nothing more than what they saw in the 1997 film Titanic to reach a common sense conclusion: It is entirely unbelievable that experienced officers would just stand still, watching more than five flares going off without budging to aid and assist a ship that was clearly in distress and signalling for help.  All they had to do was to  turn on their radio to see if the ship might be in trouble.

Do you really think that experienced merchant marines would just stand about watching flares, wondering what they meant? As the Wikipedia article on the Californian points out  " In 1912, it was understood by all seamen that rockets being fired in sequence, no matter their color, were to be interpreted as a distress signal and that aid should be rendered."

The fact that the S.S. Carpathia, the ship that did finally ride to the rescue, was a Cunard Line ship was all to the greater glory of the Cunard Line -- also one of the I.M.M.'s British rivals.  Cunard Line got to grab headlines and play the hero.

In other words, here we have a good cop bad cop game. One British shipping rival, The Cunard Line, races to the rescue, another British shipping rival, The Leyland Line, does nothing..

Either way one looks at it, rescue or no rescue, Titanic's British shipping rivals appear to be the only ships surrounding her when she went down.

Even to those who are not conspiracy minded, it looks disturbingly like a set up, and the dishonest and disingenuous investigation by the British government does nothing to dissuade one from the impression that Capt. Lord of the S.S. Californian did indeed go to his grave guarding a British "state secret."