Conspiracy Theory: The Titanic Switch

This conspiracy theory claims that it was not in fact the Titanic that sunk the night of April 14th, and instead its older, sister ship named the Olympic. There are numerous conspiracy theories surrounding the sinking of the Titanic, several I wish to write about in future posts, however, this is the one that has gained the most traction over the years. So lets dive in.

So first a bit of background on the company building and financing the Titanic. The Titanic, alongside its sister ships the Olympic and the Britannic, were built by White Star Line, and financed by GP Morgan. Whilst the Titanic and Olympic shared many similarities, the Olympic during the period of time the Titanic was being built, was involved in two separate collisions that ultimately resulted in a lot of damage. It was also noted that the Olympic had begun to tilt to the left. This of course was a  huge insurance disaster for GP Morgan and White Star Line, in which the cost to repair the Olympic was too great because there was not enough insurance money to cover the cost. The Olympic was then docked in Belfast, where the Titanic was currently being built.

This is where the theory comes in. The Titanic was obviously in brand new condition, and the claim unsinkable meant the insurance was incredibly high. It is thus believed that the Olympic and Titanic were swapped, with only a few minor changes being required to achieve this (changing the name of the ship on menus, bells, the side of the boat), all of which could be done quite discreetly due to the lack of video and photographic evidence that could incriminate them. It is also important to remember that the workers building the boat would have been poor, lower and working class men, and that getting a job with the White Star Line company would have been a big opportunity to them, so it is not difficult to believe that any workers who were aware of the switch would remain quiet about it to receive money, or perhaps had been threatened with jail time (which one worker claimed happened to him on his death bed, although there is not much evidence to back this up). What would the switch mean? It would mean that the real Titanic would remain docked in Belfast, posing as the Olympic, whilst the Olympic carried out the voyage, crashed into an iceberg, and the Titanic’s grand amount of insurance money could be collected. Then the real Titanic still docked in Belfast, could carry out voyages, posing as a repaired Olympic.

So why do people believe this theory, and where is the evidence? Well, the Olympic was known for having 16 portholes on its bow, compared to the Titanic who only had 14. However on the day of the ‘Titanic’ departure, the ship was photographed having 16 portholes, just like the Olympic. Also, the Titanic had evenly spaced windows, all the same size, but on the day of its leaving, the windows were shown to be unevenly spaced and varying in size, much like its sister ship the Olympic (shown below).


Equally, many A-listers and wealthy, famous people were expected aboard the Titanic for its maiden voyage. However,  a lot of them cancelled their voyage at the last minute, including GP Morgan himself. This seems strange as you would expect wealthy family’s to want to be a part of the maiden voyage of a luxury liner named an ‘unsinkable ship’, and more definitely you would expect the man who financed the ship to be aboard on its first journey. It is suggested, therefore, that these people were warned beforehand not to make the voyage, as it was thought that many people who cancelled were friends or acquaintances of GP Morgan, or very important people.

Now fast forward to the tragic night of April 14th. The ‘Titanic’ hit an iceberg, despite the sea being perfectly calm, and the visibility being fine. Another ship, the SS Californian was in the area at the time of the incident, carrying blankets and other rescue supplies regardless of having only a small crew itself. Conspiracy Theorists now suggest that the SS Californian was in the area in order to rescue those on the Titanic as it went down, however the plan went very wrong when the SS Californian did not see the distress signals, or perhaps confused the Samson, another boat in the vicinity, for the Titanic. 1,503 people died that night, and around 700 survived. The ship only carried 20 lifeboats, each carrying 28 people, nowhere near enough to get everyone off the ship, and there were also reports that many lifeboats were released half empty, meaning more lives could have potentially been saved but were not. Of course, no one believes that it was the intention of White Star Line and GP Morgan for this number of people to die, it was a plan gone awry when the SS Californian was not there to save the remaining people on the boat. Following the incident, survivors reported that people were running along the decks, but where they had reported promenades, on the Titanic these places would have been cabins, providing further evidence that this was not in fact the real Titanic. They also recalled seeing the word ‘Olympic’ on several of the lifeboats, with the word Titanic etched on also, but this isn’t completely incriminating evidence as it is possible that rather than making more lifeboats, they used ones from the original Olympic that currently was not in use. Equally, people of Deck B remembered lifeboats being lowered from above, but on the real Titanic there were no lifeboats on the upper levels to deck B – but there was on the Olympic.

Ever since the tragic event, there has been a lot of speculation around the sinking of the Titanic. This is just one of the conspiracy theories out there, but this one in particular has received a lot of media attention and really caught the public’s eye. No matter what really happened, innocent lives were lost, and no truth or answer could ever compensate what happened that night. Tell me what you think of this theory in the comments below – do you have an alternative theory?


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