The Power of Investigation: The Titanic Disaster 1912
How could it happen? That’s what people asked after the Titanic went down with many prominent Americans among the approximately 1,500 who died. The Senate asked too. Although the ship was British, there were lessons to be learned by all seafaring nations. In 1912, a special Senate subcommittee convened to investigate the Titanic disaster.
Surviving passengers and crew, and company officials, testified to the subcommittee with vivid and dramatic accounts that drew eager attention from the press and public. The hearings were the first to be held in the Senate’s ornate new Caucus Room. Though the Titanic investigation did not lead to criminal prosecutions, the subcommittee did recommend laws to improve ship safety.
Within a week of the ship’s sinking, the Committee on Commerce began hearings. Among the 82 witnesses who testified was Frederick Fleet, the lookout in the crow’s nest, who described the fatal collision.
National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.