At the time the Titanic sunk on April 15, 1912, the regulations concerning life boats were based on the tonnage of the ship, rather than the number of passengers.
Oddly enough, the Titanic held enough life boats to meet the tonnage requirement, even though at full human capacity, the life boats could only have saved half of the people on board in the event of a major disaster.
Dale Blanshan, the Rochester-based storyteller who is tonight’s guest speaker of the New Ulm Public Library, said backward logic was doomed from the beginning:
“One would have thought the concept of life boats would have been a no-brainer. So that if there were 2,000 people on the boat, they had enough life boats for 2,000 people. Unfortunately, this became one of the main lessons we learned from the sinking of the Titanic, which was to stop weighing the ship, and to start counting the passengers and crew.”
In 2006, Blanshan began his current profession -- Sing Along with Dale Blanshan -- as more of a part-time endeavor. As a highly educated man who holds many degrees in the areas of ministry, humanities and law, he quickly found that despite his education he could never get past his love of music, history, and storytelling.
By 2008, Blanshan’s business was in full swing as he began to spread his wings into southern Minnesota, northern Iowa, Wisconsin and North Dakota.
Blanshan takes his songs, stories, and multimedia presentations to numerous libraries, historical societies and senior living sites. He discusses a wide range of topics from the rural schools of America to the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb to the mysterious and wonders of the Titanic.
Blanshan believes the Titanic’s ability to captivate audiences even 100 years after its sinking lies in the wreckage itself.
“There’s something about ship wrecks that really capture the public’s imagination,” he said. “The idea of going down without help in the deep sea, far from home, swallowed by the waves, has always been very emotionally moving. The Titanic has also been very influential politically as a lot of regulations came out of the disastrous event.”
Titanic nostalgia has certainly gripped the country in the centennial anniversary of its sinking. Larry Hlavsa, director of the New Ulm Public Library, said the story still resonates.
“The Titanic is captivating because this was the Titanic’s maiden voyage as the unsinkable ship,” he said. “I think that despite everything, it’s still a really great story.”
Directly following the sinking of the Titanic, committees formed on both sides of the Atlantic, as Great Britain and the United States both tried to make sense of the reasons behind the ship’s fateful voyage.
It was from these committees that that tougher maritime regulations formed, such as the New Radio Act of 1912, which established direct wireless communication within and throughout all ships. This act also established trained operators who could ensure continuous, 24-hour operation of the communication system.
From these recommendations also came the formation of permanent ice patrols in areas deemed the most dangerous for ships. There were also changes to the construction of bulkheads and mandatory emergency drills were established.
For Blanshan, the most interesting aspect of the Titanic narrative lies in how all the elements leading up to, during, and after the accident come together.
“It’s the pathos of the Titanic. It’s those who were supposed to get on the ship but didn’t. It’s those who weren’t supposed to get on the boat but did, and the extreme loss of life associated with the accident,” he said. “It’s all of those things coming together into one spot and the ramifications, policies and political procedures that came out of the event that make the ship so alluring.”