SCP-5238
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rating: +59+x

Item#: SCP-5238
Level2
Containment Class:
esoteric
Secondary Class:
maksur
Disruption Class:
vlam
Risk Class:
notice

Pull.jpg

Agent Farrow repositioning RMS Gigantic for its sinking in 1996.

Special Containment Procedures: The wreck of SCP-5238-A is to be declared off-limits under the cover story of private ownership. Periodic dives by Foundation personnel are to be made to maintain this cover.

SCP-5238-B are to be kept cryogenically frozen in Low-Priority Humanoid Containment Facility 3 at Site-43. They are only to be awoken if modification of SCP-5238-E is required beyond what can be effected through editing Wikipedia or other databases.

SCP-5238-D is to be kept in a sealed container within Anomalous Documents Repository 1 at Site-43.


Description: SCP-5238 is an anomaly complex surrounding the concept and physical form of RMS Gigantic, an ocean liner built for the White Star Line in Belfast, Ireland between 1911 and 1914. The ship (SCP-5238-A) and its occupants (SCP-5238-B) were locked in a flexible annual time loop between 21 November 1916 and 21 November 1996, at which point the anomaly's component elements were separated and became dormant. Gigantic is presently a wreck located one hundred and twenty-two metres below the surface of the Mediterranean Sea, known to the public as HMHS Britannic.

SCP-5238-B is five hundred and thirty-seven human beings from the late Edwardian era.

SCP-5238-C is Futility, and SCP-5238-D is Hubris, a pair of novels by American author Morgan Robertson published in 1898 and 1902 respectively. A limited print run of the former was produced; only one copy of the latter is known to exist.

SCP-5238-E is the narrative surrounding Gigantic in the collective imaginary of mankind.


Addendum 5238-1, Phenomenological Overview: Morgan Robertson, member of the secretive Rosicrucian Order of occultists, published the novel Futility after an extensive period of experimenting with anomalous literature. It sold modestly, a curiosity outside of shipbuilding circles. It concerns the maiden voyage of a vast ocean liner called the Titan, which strikes an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean in April and sinks with tremendous loss of life due to its inadequate provision of lifeboats.

The owner of the White Star Line of British shipping, Thomas Ismay, was particularly taken with the novel. Despite the obviously cautionary nature of the tale, he envisioned a series of ocean liners built to the rough specifications of the Titan, flaws inclusive. Though he died many years before construction began, his dream eventually resulted in the Olympic class of Royal Mail-carrying steamships, the most famous of which by far is RMS Titanic..The original liner in this class, RMS Olympic, was unaffected by the events described in this file.

Titanic sank on 15 April 1912 in almost precisely the manner Robertson imagined for the Titan, killing over fourteen hundred crew and passengers and shaking global faith in the products of British industrial engineering. Morgan Robertson was hailed as a clairvoyant, and his novel enjoyed a brief surge of popularity. He had never chosen to publish its sequel, Hubris, but instead mailed his only copy to Thomas Ismay's son J. Bruce Ismay on its completion.

Hubris details the sinking of the Giant, sister ship to the Titan, during a war between Great Britain and France. It is carrying troops to the continent when it strikes a hidden reef in the English Channel and sinks with all hands. Ismay's reaction to Robertson's gift is unknown; what is known is that he was responsible for overseeing the completion of his father's fleet of ocean liners, the third of which he named RMS Gigantic. It, too, would sink in almost precisely the same manner as its fictional counterpart on 21 November 1916.

Postcard.jpg

Postcard featuring RMS Gigantic, now held by Archives and Revision at Site-43.

Futility continues for half its length past the sinking of the Titan, describing the misadventures of one of the disaster's survivors. Hubris also continues past the sinking of the Giant, but for entirely different reasons. The crew and soldiers on board the ship refuse to believe that it can sink, as seen in the passage excerpted below.

Sergeant Blythe and Captain Hollander were apoplectic with rage. "Do you mean to tell me," Blythe roared, in fine bulldoggish form, "that a ship of Her Majesty's Royal Navy can be unmade by something so insignificant as a common scrap of coral? P'shaw!"

"Never heard such rot," Hollander bellowed. "Madness through and through. Is it said that the waves rule Britannia? Have I misheard, all my long years? I rather thought not."

"Ships don't sink in the Royal Navy," Blythe agreed. "It simply isn't done."

"But we are sinking," seaman Grove protested. He pointed to the water splashing up against their knees. "There is the water. It is inside the ship."

"Then it had better listen here," cried Hollander, and he affected a stern pose. "I am captain of this vessel, and every drip and drop falls by my beck and call. If I say that the Giant must float, by Jove, I'll brook no dissent from some… some… well, some bloody brook!"

"It is not some bloody brook," Grove muttered. "It is the English Channel, and there is rather a lot of it."

"So help me I'll lash you, if you quote facts again," Hollander growled. He looked to mean it.

The dogged determination of the ship's occupants, save for seaman Grove, is undiminished while the ship slips beneath the waves. Each crewman and soldier stands their post or goes about their business, remaining stoic, unconcerned, and even disinterested in the progress of the rising waters. In the end Grove panics and attempts to untie the lifeboats on the completely swamped boat deck, and Hollander shoots him for a mutineer. This act of ultimate confidence in the majesty of the British Empire and its marine superiority so shames "the very face of Almighty God" that the Giant only briefly passes beneath the surface of the English Channel before rising again, suffering only the loss of a single funnel.

The remaining chapters describe the laborious process of removing thousands of tons of water from the ship's interior, the desultory burial at sea of seaman Grove, and arrival at the port of London. In the final chapter, shortly after mooring, the Giant disappears with all hands. This occasions much consternation on shore, but in the general chaos of the continental war it is almost immediately forgotten. The novel's opening lines reappear as its final lines, ending with an ellipsis, seeming to suggest that its events are doomed to repeat.

When Gigantic sank in 1916, much the same series of events unfolded. Telegraph messages received from the ship suggested a state of mania on board, with references to a war against the French (then England's allies in the First World War) and one junior officer suffering from particularly low morale. The ship's sinking, and subsequent resurfacing, was also laconically reported by its telegraph officer. It arrived at London precisely on schedule, sans funnel, then disappeared with all hands.

This event did not result in the widespread panic which might have been expected, nor did the events of the following year when Gigantic again appeared in the English Channel and steamed for London. A precursor entity to the SCP Foundation hurriedly closed Gigantic's designated dock and effected a city-wide blackout to prevent the public from recognizing the lost ship.

Over the course of the next eight years, various attempts were made to access Gigantic and interact with its crew. These included:

  • Four attempts to board Gigantic using covert Foundation watercraft in 1919, which in each case ended with the ship's captain screaming "You damn sordid Frenchmen!" and a naval lieutenant ordering the soldiers on deck to open fire;
  • Three attempts between 1923 and 1925 to contact Gigantic's telegraph operator, resulting in the following response: "Our captain regrets to inform you that you are damn sordid Frenchmen and he does not converse with said, out of habit";
  • One attempt to waylay Gigantic with a Foundation corvette in 1935; Gigantic effortlessly evaded pursuit, and the corvette received the following taunt via telegraph: "The pride of the White Star Line, winner of the Blue Riband, is not to be outdone by some sordid Frenchman in so sorry a tub as that!".The Blue Riband was an award given to the ship achieving the fastest time crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
  • One attempt to sink Gigantic before it reached port in 1971, which resulted in the inexplicable translocation of a Foundation submarine to the Arctic Ocean.

The only successful attempt to board Gigantic occurred in 1982. Agent Jeremy Farrow, dressed in period attire as a British airman, was dropped onto the ship by parachute from a high-flying stealth aircraft. He claimed to have been shot down over the English Channel; in spite of the absence of any wreckage, this story was accepted by the crew. The following series of excerpts from his mission recordings take place in the hours after the ship began to sink.

Hall.jpg

Stephen Hall, captain of RMS Gigantic, photographed in early 1915.

Agent Farrow is engaged in conversation with Captain Stephen Hall, on Gigantic's bridge. They are ankle-deep in water.

Captain Hall: How goes the battle, son?

Agent Farrow: Oh, you know. You win some, you lose some.

Captain Hall: You talk more like a stoker than a flier.

Agent Farrow: Well, uh, I worked in a munitions plant before I joined the service. Say, speaking of battles… where did all this water come from?

Captain Hall: Where does it usually come from? Below, just as surely as you came from above.

Agent Farrow: Yes, well, but how is the ship still afloat? The entire boat deck is swamped.

Captain Hall: Good old British wish-how, my boy.

Agent Farrow: …wish-how?

Captain Hall: That's right.

Agent Farrow: Any relation to know-how?

Captain Hall: Of course! Wish-how is know-how you need to believe in. On this ship we wish that the sordid French will fall, that God will save our gracious King, and that the pumps will keep a-pumping until even the Irish regiment in steerage can lay on their bunks without a-drowning.."Steerage" denotes the third-class staterooms, located near the ship's steering mechanisms.


Agent Farrow is conversing with the ship's chief engineer, Wilbur Boyd. The water is up to their necks, and moving very quickly; the ship's massive reciprocating engines are churning in the background. It is unclear how the boilers are continuing to burn while completely submerged.

Agent Farrow: Are you sure this is safe?

Boyd: Safe?

Boyd laughs for two minutes and seventeen seconds, pausing only to take deep breaths and stick his head underwater to check the engines.


Agent Farrow is standing in the mess hall, formerly the second-class dining room. A regiment of soldiers in Great War uniforms are eating at the tables; the water is up to their chests. The ship is listing to starboard, and several empty tables are partially submerged.

Agent Farrow: This isn't alarming anyone else?

First Soldier: Well, look who misses mummy.

Agent Farrow: The room is filling with water literally as we speak.

Second Soldier: Gonna claim trenchfoot?

First Soldier: That's the ticket, home on blighty.."Blighty" is a period slang term referring to a wound serious enough to end a soldier's active duty.

Second Soldier: Damned coward.

Agent Farrow: You're going to be underwater by dessert!

First Soldier: Then we'll eat our pudding with our mouths closed and chins up, like men!

Agent Farrow dove overboard just before Gigantic sank completely. He reported witnessing Captain Hall strangling a junior officer (who was waving his arms in protest) shortly before the ship vanished. Three minutes later it rose again from the bed of the Channel, minus one funnel. Agent Farrow was recovered without incident.


Addendum 5238-2, Containment: In 1995, Site-43 recovered the only existing copy of the heretofore-unsuspected sequel to Futility, Hubris. The parallels between the fates of the Giant and Gigantic were quickly identified, and Dr. Harold Blank began researching Robertson's career in occult literature. This produced a tome written under a pseudonym, Mason Freeman's The Book of the Turning Falcon, excerpted below.

Dr. Blank concluded that Robertson's novels may have actuated the construction of Titanic and Gigantic by tapping into the human collective unconscious, spurring the Ismays and the crews of each ship to play their specific parts. Both vessels were effectively thoughtforms, real-world manifestations of the public imaginary, in a pair of curated effects designed to bring about epochal change by undermining the optimism of the Edwardian era.

Robertson's prose suggested that these thoughtforms might remain malleable after their creation. To this end Dr. Blank proposed Operation TURNBACK on 26 October 1996; management of the SCP-5238-E effect was by now so difficult with modern shipping and surveillance conditions that the anomaly was in serious danger of raising the Veil.

Operation TURNBACK unfolded in four phases:

1) The creation of an alternate history for the third Olympic-class steamer by the Archives and Revision Section of Site-43, to separate its narrative component from its physical anchor. The ship was to be renamed HMHS Britannic, made a hospital ship rather than a troop carrier, be sunk after striking a German mine rather than a reef, come to rest at the bottom of the Mediterranean Sea rather than the English Channel, and result in the deaths of thirty men rather than over five hundred;
2) The amendment of encyclopaedia and other knowledge bases to reflect this alternate history, with the selective amnesticization and re-education of topical experts to support it;
3) The removal of the ship's company from Gigantic;
4) The relocation and scuttling of the ship itself.

Britannic.jpg

The revised identity of RMS Gigantic, His Majesty's Hospital Ship Britannic.

Thirty individuals had been cut to pieces in mid-November 1915 when a lifeboat was sucked into the rotating screws of a smaller passenger liner during a drill. These deaths, as yet unreported due to wartime delays, were co-opted for the new tragedy of Britannic.

The third phase was more difficult to arrange; a partial record of the complex pantomime which successfully depopulated Gigantic follows.

Foundation agents in period attire from the French and English navies are arrayed on the deck of a replica French battleship sitting directly in the path of Gigantic. The agents in English attire are outnumbered by the agents in French attire, but are nevertheless holding the latter at bayonet-point. The ocean liner gradually slows, and comes alongside the battleship with some difficulty. Captain Hall is visible on the wing of Gigantic's bridge; he waves his hat.

Captain Hall: What ho!

Agent Farrow: Ahoy! Captain Jeremy Farrow, pleased as punch to meet you. Thank god you're here!

Captain Hall: Watch your mouth, son, he's always watching.

Agent Farrow: Ah… yes. Anyway! These poxy Frenchmen sent our ship to the bottom of the Channel, but we got them, by Jove!

Captain Hall scans the waters.

Captain Hall: Don't see any wreckage, son, but then I suppose the damn thing did swallow up a plane not long ago.

Agent Farrow: Wait, you remember that?

Captain Hall: Pardon?

Agent Farrow: Nothing! Nothing.

Lieutenant Nathan Foxworthy, commander of the soldiers on board Gigantic, appears at the railing. Agent Farrow salutes.

Agent Farrow: Lieutenant! My men and I are outnumbered down here. These scurvy dogs didn't put up—

Lieutenant Foxworthy: These scurvy what?

Agent Farrow: —didn't put up much of a fight, of course, you know how it is, ah… Frenchmen…

Captain Hall: Of course.

Lieutenant Foxworthy: Of course.

Both men nod.

Agent Farrow: …but we still need help manning the ship.

Lieutenant Foxworthy: King and country, son, I'll send a few of our boys down.

Agent Farrow: I'm afraid that won't quite do it. You see, this old tub's in rather a bad way. French mechanics, you understand.

Lieutenant Foxworthy: Of course.

Captain Hall: Of course.

Agent Farrow: My men and I need to get to London, posthaste. We're on an important mission, and we're going to need your ship.

Silence on recording.

Agent Farrow: The whole thing.

Silence on recording.

Captain Hall: Do you have papers?

Agent Farrow: Of course I have papers.

Silence on recording.

Agent Farrow: It's for the King?

Captain Hall: Well, then, I hope you know how to steer fifty thousand tons of Liverpool steel!

Gigantic's crew and troop complement, five hundred and thirty-seven individuals in total, debarked onto the battleship and were taken to Site-91 for processing and cryogenic freezing. The ship was towed to the Mediterranean Sea, under the cover of a film dramatization of the sinking of Titanic, and treated to simulate eight decades of immersion in salt water. After the application of period explosives to confirm the mine damage cover story, Gigantic was carefully positioned by divers and sunk..Though Gigantic's water displacement had not changed, it now appeared to weigh roughly as much as a small sailboat after the neutralization of its crew and passengers.

Robertson's version of the ship's history, the true course of events, quickly faded from popular knowledge. Without the sustaining influence of the ship's company's belief in the events of the time loop, the loop itself weakened and finally collapsed. Gigantic's wreck briefly translocated to the mouth of the English Channel in 1997, and an incorporeal phantom appeared there instead in 1998; neither ship moved. In 1999, and every year since, no apparition event occurred at all.

The spiritus mundi component of SCP-5238-E, the persistence of Robertson's original narrative in the collective unconscious, was permanently co-opted by the Foundation following the creation of Wikipedia in 2001. Dr. Blank personally wrote the entry for HMHS Britannic, and the "EVENT" caused by Hubris completely vanished from the noosphere within the space of one year. Britannic remains on the bottom of the Mediterranean, never to complete its voyage, and its passengers and crew will never again reach London.


Addendum 5238-3, Update: A piece of fragmentary correspondence matching Morgan Robertson's handwriting was found during a raid on an occult gathering in Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States of America. It is reproduced in its entirety below.

Futility was for the cause. The wheel had to turn, and I turned it.

Hubris was for me. A monument to Pox Britannia.

When you hold their strings, it's so hard not to make the little idiots dance.


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