April 2012 commemorates two events involving passenger ships. The most famous one is the sinking of the Titanic on the 15th April 1912, having set sail from Southampton on the 10th at noon, resulting on over 1500 dead, more than 1/3 from the city. Belfast opened their new museum on the 31st March and will be holding events for the day of departure. Southampton will also be busy. At noon, a recording of Titanic’s whistle will sound in the port from the former White Star Dock (now Ocean Dock) and other vessels (including those in the flotilla) will respond. They will be using the former tug tender Calshot as Titanic, who will be towed as far as the QEII Terminal then return to her berth. A bit later, the new SeaCity Museum opens at the Civic Centre, which also tells the story of Southampton as a port.
But let’s not forget the events of 30 years ago when Argentina invaded the Falklands on the 2nd April 1982, also resulting in huge loss of life as we protected British citizens who want to stay British. On the 7th April, Canberra returned from the world cruise and after conversion to troop ship, set sail on the night of the 9th. It wasn’t intended for her to enter dangerous waters but she was needed long before the QE2 arrived (set sail 12th May, back 11th June). The Uganda and many other vessels of all types did their duty too. Canberra returned to a rapturous welcome on the 11th July, rust-streaked, battle-scarred, adored by the great British public in scenes not seen again until the QE2 sailed for Dubai in 2008.
People died in both. But one’s become a money making machine while the other is still raw for many. No prizes for guessing which is which. We must not forget those brave troops who lost their lives fighting for freedom, many of whom are still alive, while commemorating those who perished in the North Atlantic. On the 14th, there will be a service in the Solent to remember ALL those who died at sea over the past 100 years and now the 100th anniversary is upon us, it’s time to let the dead of Titanic rest in peace and stop lining profiteers pockets. Many have died in maritime disasters but they aren’t recognised or motivated by greed. There’s nothing more to be said about it. Time for the Titanic buffs to move on.