On April 10, 1912, the Titanic, largest ship afloat, left Southampton, England on her maiden voyage to New York City. The White Star Line had spared no expense in assuring her luxury. A legend even before she sailed, her passengers were a mixture of the world's wealthiest basking in the elegance of first class accommodations and immigrants packed into steerage.
She was touted as the safest ship ever built, so safe that she carried
only 20 lifeboats - enough to provide accommodation for only half her 2,200 passengers and crew. This discrepancy rested on the belief that since the ship's construction made her "unsinkable," her lifeboats were necessary only to rescue survivors of other sinking ships. Additionally, lifeboats took up valuable deck space.
Four days into her journey, at 11:40 P.M. on the night of April 14, she struck an iceberg. Her fireman compared the sound of the impact to "the tearing of calico, nothing more." However, the collision was fatal and the icy water soon poured through the ship.
It became obvious that many would not find safety in a lifeboat. Each passenger was issued a life jacket but life expectancy would be short when exposed to water four degrees below freezing. As the forward portion of the ship sank deeper, passengers scrambled to the stern. John Thayer witnessed the sinking from a lifeboat. "We could see groups of the almost fifteen hundred people still aboard, clinging in clusters or bunches, like swarming bees; only to fall in masses, pairs or singly, as the great after part of the ship, two hundred and fifty feet of it, rose into the sky, till it reached a sixty-five or seventy degree angle." The great ship slowly slid beneath the waters two hours and forty minutes after the collision
The next morning, the liner Carpathia rescued 705 survivors. One thousand five hundred twenty-two passengers and crew were lost. Subsequent inquiries attributed the high loss of life to an insufficient number of lifeboats and inadequate training in their use.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE TITANIC
In 1898 (14 years prior to the Titanic tragedy), Morgan Robertson wrote a novel called Futility. This fictitious novel was about the largest ship ever built hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic ocean on a cold April night. The fictional ship (named Titan) and the real ship Titanic were similar in design and their circumstances were remarkably alike. Both ships were labeled "unsinkable".
This book predicted exactly what happened to the Titanic 14 years later.
RMS stands for Royal Mail Steamer. RMS, in formal terms, means "Royal Merchant Ship". However, the dual meaning was also "Royal Mail Steamer", because the Titanic carried mail under the auspices of His Majesty's postal authorities. At that time, all ships, military and civilian, that were under the British flag carried the distinction of "R.M.S." This, in effect, gave the ship the protection of the British Crown. An attack on an R.M.S. was considered an attack on the crown and an act of war.
Two dogs were among the Titanic survivors.
There were no cats on the Titanic. Cats were often brought on ships as a form of good luck. They also controlled rodents.
The Titanic is about as long as the Empire State building is tall.
The Tower Bridge, located in London England, is approximately the same length and height as the Titanic.
Originally, the Titanic's design only included 3 funnels (smokestacks). The aftmost funnel (towards stern) was added to make the Titanic look more impressive-it gave the feeling of "power and grace". It only functioned as an air vent.
No one ever claimed that the Titanic was "unsinkable". The quote, "practically unsinkable" was taken out of context. In 1911, Shipbuilder magazine published an article describing the construction of the Titanic. The article stated that when the watertight doors were closed, the ship would be "practically unsinkable".
It was customary to break a bottle of champagne on the bow of a boat when launched. The Titanic launching did not include the traditional bottle-breaking.
Many of the passengers were not originally suppose to be traveling on the Titanic. Due to a strike, coal was in short supply. This shortage threatened Titanic's maiden voyage and forced the White Star Line to cancel travel on the Oceanic and Adriatic and transfer their passengers and coal stocks to the Titanic.
There were 13 couples on board celebrating their Honeymoons.
Captain Smith was planning to retire after Titanic's maiden voyage.
The Titanic had 4 elevators (3 in First class and 1 in Second class).
At the time, Titanic's whistles were the largest ever made.
Titanic's whistles could be heard from a distance of 11 miles.
The Titanic carried 900 tons of baggage and freight.
The Titanic used 14,000 gallons of drinking water every 24 hours.
Coal consumption per day: 825 tons.
Carried 20 lifeboats and 3560 life jackets. The life jackets were made of canvas and cork.
More than 3 million rivets were used to build the Titanic.
In a test done to determine stopping distance, the Titanic was accelerated to 20 knots and then the engines were reversed at full power. The distance required to stop the Titanic was about half a mile.
The Titanic's radio call sign was: MGY.
Port of Registry - Liverpool, England. Registry date: March 24, 1912.
Official ship number: 131,428
The number 3909 04 was NOT assigned to the Titanic as a hull number.
The lookouts in the crow's nest did not have binoculars. Having binoculars might have prevented the Titanic tragedy.
The time interval from first sighting of the iceberg to impact was a little over 30 seconds.
The Titanic sank 2 hours and 40 minutes after hitting the iceberg.
It probably took Titanic about 15 minutes to sink to her final resting place on the ocean floor. That means that Titanic sank at a rate of 10 miles per hour (or 16 km per hour).
|Most of the iceberg body is underwater. What we can see is just a small portion of it.|
The Titanic hit the iceberg on the starboard (right) side of the bow. It has been speculated that the Titanic may have suffered only minor damage and minimal loss of life had it hit the iceberg head-on. It has also been suggested that the Titanic may have completely avoided colliding with the iceberg had the bridge not requested that the engines be reversed ("Full Astern"), prior to steering the ship to the left ("Hard-a-starboard"). This action would have decreased the forward momentum of the Titanic causing it to turn at a slower rate.
July and August are the only two months the weather permits expeditions to the Titanic wreck site.
An American writer, Morgan Robertson, wrote a book The Wreck of Titan which predicted exactly what happened to the Titanic 14 years later.
There was more ice afloat in the North Atlantic in the spring of 1912 than at any time in the previous 50 years.
If placed upright, the Titanic would have been taller than any of the buildings of her time.
Titanic's boilers were over 15 feet high.
Titanic's funnels were big enough for two trains to drive through.
The Titanic had 3 propellers. The middle one was 16 feet and the other two were over 23 feet.
During construction, 3 million rivets had been hammered into her hull.
Her 3 enormous anchors weighed a total of 31 tons, about the weight of 20 cars.
The Titanic's swimming pool was one of the first ever seen on an ocean liner.
An elegant foyer stood below the wrought-iron and glass dome over the 1st class staircase.
Titanic was never christened.
Titanic had a near collision as the ship left Southampton.
Titanic never held a full lifeboat drill.
Titanic's manoeuvrability had never been tested at full speed.
Standard practice for sailing through ice was "Full Speed Ahead".
Titanic received 6 iceberg warnings on the day of the collision.
The crew knew they were taking a risk by sailing at such a speed in dangerous waters
After the collision, many passengers were not aware of the fact that they were sinking.
The band played light, cheerful music as the ship sank.
The lookouts had no binoculars.
Many of the lifeboats were launched half-filled.
Titanic had lifeboat space for less than 1/3 of her passenger capacity, but it was still more than the law required.
The decks were numbered alphabetically downwards. Today, decks are numbered Deck 1, 2, etc, upwards.
Titanic was nicknamed "The Millionaires' Special", "The Wonder Ship", "The Unsinkable Ship" and "The Last Word in Luxury" by newspapers all around the world
The route of the Titanic from Southampton to where she collided with the icebergis approximately 400 miles off the caost of Newfoundland. She sank near the edge of the undersea Continental Shelf. The ice field the Titanic encountered was 78 miles long.
Strange, but True:
British spiritualist, William T. Stead, wrote a tale similar to Futility (mentioned at the top of the page). "How the Mail Steamer went down in the Mid Atlantic, by a survivor" appeared in the March, 1886 issue of Pall Mall Gazette. In this story, Stead tells of a large steamship that sinks after colliding with another ship. Many lives are lost due to lack of lifeboats. Stead wrote that, "This is exactly what might take place and what will take place, if the liners are sent to sea short of boats". Stead was travelling to the United States at the request of President Taft to address a peace conference at Carnegie Hall on April 20, 1912. Stead sat calmly in the library reading a book as the North Atlantic sea water came rushing in as the ship he was traveling on sank. That ship was the Titanic. Stead did not survive.
William T. Stead also authored the novel From the Old World to the New. In this book, he describes the sinking of a ship in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg. To add to the irony, the captain of the ship which picked up the survivors, was Edward J. Smith -- the eventual captain of Titanic.
Price of a ticket (in 1912):
First Class: $4,350 (price of finest 1st class suite)
Second Class: $1,750
Third Class: $30
The Titanic carried a total of 20 lifeboats. 14 of these lifeboats were wooden and each one had a capacity of 65 persons, 2 were wood cutters with a capacity of 40 persons each and 4 were collapsibles (wood bottoms and canvas sides) and each collapsible was capable of carrying 47 persons. The total capacity of all 20 lifeboats was 1,178 people. This was obviously not enough lifeboats to save all the 2201 people on board the Titanic. If every lifeboat left the Titanic filled to maximum capacity, 1,023 persons would have been left behind. Unfortunately, very few lifeboats were filled to maximum capacity when they were lowered from the Titanic into the icy water. This caused the death toll to rise dramatically. When the order came from Captain Smith to commence loading the lifeboats, the Titanic's Officers were probably unaware of the magnitude of the situation. Their apparent complacency did not instill a sense of urgency and therefore caused many passengers to balk at the opportunity to get into a lifeboat. To make matters worse, there were never any lifeboat drills and the crew had not been informed that each lifeboat could be safely lowered when filled to capacity. Only 711 persons were rescued and 1490 died. Luckily, the Titanic was not filled to capacity (3,547 persons). If this were the case, there would only be enough lifeboats to save one-third of the people (assuming that every lifeboat was filled to capacity).
Why so few lifeboats? Well, believe it or not, the Titanic actually exceeded the number of lifeboats required by the Board of Trade at that time. The regulations, ratified in 1894, applied to ships of 10,000 gross tons or larger. As ships increased in size over the years, the lifeboat requirements stayed the same. The Titanic was designed to carry a total of 48 lifeboats, but the White Star Line decided that passenger comfort was most important. They believed that an increase in the number of lifeboats (beyond 20) would have cluttered the decks and taken up valuable space. Harland and Wolff tried to persuade the White Star Line to install more lifeboats, but eventually gave up the fight. As they say, "the customer is always right".
When the lifeboat needs were finalized, the general feeling was that the modern ship was engineered and built so well that even if a ship was in a situation where it might sink, there would be plenty of time for other ships in the area to come to the rescue. It was also believed that the main purpose of the lifeboats was to ferry passengers and crew from the distressed ship to the rescue ship(s). The Titanic tragedy prompted laws requiring that ships carry enough lifeboats for all passengers and crew.
|The powerful Titanic today|
Documentary About the Titanic
“It is unsinkable. God Himself couldn't sink this ship...”