CATASTROPHE: Carelessness

The Lafayette lay on her side like a dead whale, belly exposed, in the dirty ice mush of her slip in the Hudson River. Snow fell gently on the mammoth, fire-scarred hulk. Thousands of New Yorkers trooped to the waterfront to stare at her. She was a heartbreaking sight.

Evidence grew that the catastrophe need never have occurred. While rumors of sabotage still persisted, evidence at hand showed something worse than sabotage: carelessness. The story was pretty clear:

Workmen had been stripping the onetime Normandie of her peacetime elegance. She would have been ready...