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The Titanic was Switched with the Olympic

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/20/2013 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,276 times Debate No: 29394
Debate Rounds (4)
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I, the master historian of this website, hereby open up this debate for challenging.

What Are We Debating?

For a while now, I have learned of a conspiracy theory that I believe is totally wrong and want to rebut it. The theory goes that the ocean liner RMS Titanic was switched with her older sister-ship, RMS Olympic. The reason being that the Olympic had a collision with the warship HMS Hawke and its owners, the White Star Line, believed that the liner was financially ruined, so they decided to switch the two ships and ram the Olympic into an iceberg in order to collect insurance money on what was thought to be the Titanic.

I am debating that this did not happen while Pro must debate that the Olympic was switched with the Titanic.

No trolling and no semantics.

Round 1 for an introduction.


The 'Olympic' did have something of a bad track record in her younger days, running aground and colliding with 'HMS Hawke'. After this collision the 'Olympic' was brought back into dry dock for repairs to be carried out. This brought both the Titanic and the 'Olympic' together for the last time. Some people believe that this is what then happened:
The 'Olympic' was quite badly damaged, it would cost an awful lot more to repair it than was first thought, and, it would delay the launching of the Titanic by months. So, what could they do? They needed a reliable ship, and needed it for 10th April 1912. With time rapidly running out they decided it would be easier to do a botch job on the 'Olympic' and concentrate on the Titanic. But it was already too late. With days to go before sailing day the Titanic was not yet ready, and the 'Olympic' was still sitting barely sea worthy in dock. It is here that the unthinkable happened. Bruce Ismay and J. P. Morgan, realise that if the Titanic does not go to sea on April 10th they are going to have serious money problems soon after with refunds, this was something they could simply not afford, especially when the price of coal was at an all time high due to the coal strikes.

White Star needed all the money and coal they could get. Getting in Captain Smith they told him the plans. They were going to cancel all other White Star Crossings for a week surrounding the Titanic sailing, so that they would not have to pay for coal, also, those passengers affected by this would be offered a cheap ticked on Titanic so that White Star made money on it. Captain Smith was paid a lot of money if, on the 5th day he would sink his ship, everyone would be safe, as they would make sure ships were in the vicinity of the accident. Smith agreed. Meanwhile in the dock, the 'Olympics' lifeboats were being offloaded and placed on the Titanic, and vice versa, any object with the Titanic's name on were put onto the 'Olympic' and again vice versa.

This is my first debate so do not go hard on me plz.
Debate Round No. 1


I thank my opponent for opening such an interesting debate, let's begin.

My Case

The Differences between the Two Ships

Robin Gardiner originally created this conspiracy when he wrote about it and has since then published more recent books on the issue, the latest being published in 2010 titled The Great Titanic Conspiracy. In order for Gardiner to be correct, the ships would have to be switched when they were together at the Harland and Wolff dock in Belfast, Ireland.

In order for the conspiracy to be carried out, the two ships would have to be virtually identical so no one would mistaken them when they went back to work on Monday (as they had weekend off when the switch took place). However, there are certain holes here that I will address, as the two ships did have differences.

I. A-Deck Promenades

One key difference between the two ships was their A-deck promenades (the deck below the boat deck). On the forward half of the Titanic's A-deck promenade the windows were enclosed while the Olympic never had her A-deck promenade windows enclosed during her entire existence. Anyone would be able to make out this distinct difference as I will show you with pictures.

Here is the Olympic:

The RMS Olympic. The A-deck promenade on the Olympic has different forward windows than Titanic's.

Then we have the Titanic:

The RMS Titanic. Notice the A-deck promenade. Her forward windows are enclosed.

Because of the windows on the A-deck promenade being different between the Olympic and the Titanic, a switch would be impossible unless the small crew which carried out the switch enclosed the Olympic's forward A-deck promenade windows and then enlarged Titanic's. That is not the only difference.

II. Upgrades on B-deck

The Olympic's B-deck, reserved for first-class passengers, was not really popular so the White Star Line (the company that owned Titanic and Olympic) decided to add upgrades while the Titanic was under construction. These were mainly extra suites, but one major exception was the Cafe Parisien, a resturant for the first-class passengers that was meant to look like a sidewalk cafe in Paris. The Olympic did not receive a Cafe Parisien or any other upgrades of her own until after the sinking. Once again I will show pictures.

Olympic's B-deck:

Olympic's B-deck had no real upgrade until after the sinking of the Titanic.

Titanic's B-deck (the Cafe Parisien):

The Cafe Parisien, it was a special resturant added to the Titanic that the Olympic did not have until after the sinking. The resturant was for first-class passengers and was went to look like a Paris sidewalk cafe.

In addition to the changes stated in Gardiner's book (swtiching the nameplates, etc.), the small crew that carried out the operation would need to change the A-deck windows on both ships and then eliminate any upgrades on Titanic's B-deck while adding upgrades to the Olympic. This is impossible to do over a weekend.

If anyone wants to know any other differences between the two ships, it is easy to look up the plans for each deck online.


There is no way this conspiracy could be carried out as there are too many vast differences between the two ships.


Bruce Ismay, the head of the White Star Line was worried. The Olympic, his brainchild to recapture the lucrative North Atlantic passenger trade from Cunard, had been seriously wounded. She was due into Belfast the next morning, October 6th, 1911 for "repairs". But he, and everyone else, knew that she was worthless and could never carry on her business as before.

He approached Thomas Andrews (Managing Director of Harland and Wolff, the builder) with a cunning, daring plan. Switch the Olympic with the Titanic (currently under construction), scuttle the "Titanic", have the passengers saved, claim the insurance money, and save the White Star Line from an impending financial disaster.

Ismay and Andrews had enjoyed a sumptious meal at the White Star Liner's owners palatial home: sat in his leather upholstered chair, a fat cigar protruding from the corner of his mouth, a whispy trail of smoke ensuing. Ismay swilled a glass of brandy as he asked Andrews what he thought of his plan.

Andrews stood in front of Ismay, his face white with surprise. He was simply astounded. "Don't you realise, sir, that public confidence in the White Star Line would be forever destroyed if the ship were to ram an Iceberg?"

"But Andrews," said Ismay between puffs on his cigar, "It'll be an accident. No-one will be to blame. Oh, of course the officers of the watch may face some probing for not avoiding such an accident, but I think the White Star Line will be, as we say 'off the hook'." He took a generous swig of brandy, the hint of a smile and an enquiring gaze on his face, as he waited for Andrews response.

"I think its ludicrous".

"But Andrews, its the only way. Olympic can't sail again - but we can make money out of a catastrophe."

The conversation continued thus for hours, Ismay wearing down Andrews under the condition that no lives would be lost. Ismay pledged his word.

"Alright," said Andrews, still not happy with the plan, "then its simply a matter of logistics; men, equipment, supplies to make the switch feasible."

Ismay slapped the arm of his chair, his voice rising to an excitable squeak, "That's it Andrews! What kind of things did you have in mind?"

Andrews paused for a minute or two, gazing into the warm glow of the fireplace, as his mind poured through his mental notes of the construction and out-fitting of both vessels. "Well, the obvious ones are the name plates. If we can get new plates ,the names cut in, and then switched, then that will be the first step."

"Good," Ismay said between generous puffs on his cigar, "What else?"

"I'm thinking of all the changes and differences between the ships. You recall the B deck promenade on the Olympic and how on the Titanic this would be passenger cabins?"

"Ah yes. My idea."

"Well, we've just about finished on the external and internal layout of the modifications. So, all that will need to be ripped put and transferred to the Olympic, er, I mean Titanic."

Ismay sat forward. "How hard would it be to switch these cabins?"

"I don't know," sighed Andrews, "we've never done retrofitting like this before. It might not be a big job. I imagine its all a matter of time."

"Well, I want 'Olympic' to resume her Atlantic run as scheduled for November."

"That means leaving here about November 20th to get to Southampton in time for the loading of provisions etc."

Ismay did some quick arithmetic, "Well, she dry-docked on October 11th so thats 40 days. That should be enough, surely?"

Andrews nodded, trying to placate his customer.

"You can divert some men to do the modifications? You have 15,000 men?" Ismay suggested.

"Quite true, Sir, but we are performing work on other ships for other lines, and, if you remember, we are due to be laying the keel for the Gigantic in November too?"

"Oh yes," Ismay sat back dejected, "I forgot. I could always delay the maiden voyage for the Titanic, er Olympic, from March 20th to April 10th. That gives you three weeks."

"That will help of course. A lot of that time will be used performing repairs on the Olympic/Titanic and keeping reasonably to schedule with the construction of the 'Titanic', to prevent anyone's suspicions being aroused about delays etc."

Ismay sighed. His plan was starting to come together. "So, what needs to be done to make this switch convincing?"

"As you know, Sir, the two ships differ significantly in construction, and not just B deck. For instance, the carpetting and floor tiles are different in colour. So every one of them will need to be changed to keep up this story."

"I have faith in you, Andrews" beamed Ismay.

Andrews pretended to smile. He didn't like his hard work for Ismay being belittled and abused in such a manner.
"The Turkish bath area on the starboard side of F deck is different in layout. And then theres the front of the wheelhouse. In the Olympic, its curved, but on Titanic, its flat."


"The bridge and officers quarters needs changing too. On Olympic, the wireless cabin had an outside window, but this was changed on Titanic to allow more seaward facing cabins to be included, There are quite a few other changes too." mused Andrews, his mind racing through his mental blueprints.

"Titanic's lifeboats and davits aren't due to be fitted until later on in the year, so we'll need to transfer the whole lot to the Olympic, er, Titanic"

"Splendid!" beamed Ismay, "And you'll have to change the nameplates on them of course."

"But of course," Andrews managed a sickly grin. He paused.
"I've just had a somewhat worrying thought. Just about every piece of wood on the ships we build has the builder's number written on the back to identify which ship the piece was intended for. We'll need to remove the woodwork from the ship and alter the numbering, in case anyone checks."

"All of it?" Ismay erupted "Do you know how much wood there is on the Olympic?"

Andrews did know. "It sounds arduous, but I believe its necessary. What if someone checks in decades to come? Or what if theres a major refit, or repairs are needed."

Ismay wasn't very happy. This would eat into his schedule significantly.

An uncomfortable silence descended upon the room. Andrews mind sprung into life again. "What about sea trials?"

"What about them?" Ismay muttered clenching his teeth, dropping ash into his lap.

"Olympic ex-Titanic wouldn't have had any. I wouldn't like going to sea without testing her."

"Dash it all! That would give the game away, man!"

Andrews sulked. "And by the way, how do we get away with this without 15,000 Irish men coming forward and telling someone?"

Ismay sat back in his chair; "Now THAT, my dear Andrews, is a good question...."

Comment: Of course, the above never happened. But it is amazing the rubbish that can be created by a fertile imagination.

For interest, the Olympic as scrapped in the 1930s and many of her fittings wound up at auction, and can be found at places such as the White Swan hotel in Alnwick, and, until recently, the Crown Paint HQ in the North of England, The wood pannelling has the number "400" inscribed on the back - the Olympic's yard number (Titanic's was 401).

Another worthwhile web resource, written by noted maritime author Mark Chirnside, can be found at this link.

Robin Gardiner's agent has also joined the fray, but in a most unprofessional manner. His abusive posts on the Encylcopedia Titanica website were sadly deleted, but his venomous spiel is there for all to see in the Fortean Times Forum - look out for posts by "Storyman". Incidentally, don't believe what Storyman says about Robin Gardiner's one-time writing companion, Dan Van Der Vat. In emails to me, Dan describes the switch story as "bilge".

Storyman, aka Graham Smith emailed me out of the blue on June 26th, 2006 with the following tirade:

This shows that the Titanice dide sswitch with the Olympic
Debate Round No. 2


J. Bruce Ismay and Thomas Andrews

Just thought I would add one more argument, J. Bruce Ismay (managing director of the White Star Line) and Thomas Andrews (Titanic's and Olympic's architect) both travelled first-class aboard the Titanic. If any conspiracy would take place, why were they travelling aboard a ship they know would sink? This is esppecially critical in the case of Andrews as he died aboard the Titanic rather than get into a lifeboat. Ismay did get into a lifeboat, but that does not change the fact that he should have not been travelling on the ship if he knew it would sink.


I won this debate in the end as my arguments have not been challenged, vote con.


littlemissdance forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


I declare that I win the debate.


littlemissdance forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Waido 4 years ago
I wish I had been aware of this debate at the time. It is true the two ships were switched. The decision to do so was made much earlier than what is often thought. One might say, but they engraved the names of the ships into the hull it would be impossible to hide that for so long...The name Titanic was never engraved into the ships hull, there are two photos that prove this, one photo of the hull during construction shows the name Titanic has been painted on, it is compressed, uneven and the lines used to align it are clearly seen. On the day the Titanic's hull was launched it is clear that there is now NO NAME on the ship. Keeping in mind this was in 1911 power tools were not to easy to move, the name should have been engraved on the ground before the plates were installed. This allowed them to put the name Olympic on to the Titanic's hull by riveting the new letters on WITHOUT having to cover another name. The original Olympics hull did show the name was engraved while later photos show the letters were raised. They did Rivet the name Titanic over the original Olympic name knowing the ship would be lost to the abyss. It is also clear in what few photos that exist of the right side of Titanic after the switch that there are several areas of additional rivets that have been added below C deck spanning much of the ship. This was the work done to Olympic after the collision with the Hawk, Many plates and rivets had to be reworked. Latter photos of the Olympic after the Titanic's sinking no longer show the damage. Additional it is debated that the Olympics wheel house was curved and the Titanic wreck shows a strait wall. The wheel house of the Olympic'" in front of the wheel also showed a straight wall at the time it was scrapped.
Posted by 1Historygenius 5 years ago
No one has done a debate over this conspiracy theory before, so I want to do one. The 9/11 conspiracy can be said to be just as easily refutable as Titanic/Olympic conspiracy, but no one has ever tried the Titanic/Olympic one, so I am going to do it.
Posted by imabench 5 years ago
He explicitly stated no trolling or semantics, somethin gthat the poop has dna one didnt do, my hands are tied on this one
Posted by THEVIRUS 5 years ago
imabench you should find a way to turn this against him, like the dna in poop one.
Posted by imabench 5 years ago
This certainly qualifies as a debate geared for an easy win if ive ever seen one
Posted by THEVIRUS 5 years ago
Ok this is the dumbest conspiracy theory ever. What idiot would accept the challenge?!
Posted by 1Historygenius 5 years ago
Anyone I actually can, it's fun! There could be 100 on this website for all I care!
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
I claim the title of master historian:P
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Subutai 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:10 
Reasons for voting decision: FF.