A Brief History
It was on the 11th of April 1912 when the Titanic, carrying more than 2,200 people, left Queenstown, Ireland. The crew members and passengers bound for the city of New York, and probably, most of them were fooled by the common myth floating around at that time for months that the Titanic ship was unsinkable. As per its owner, the White Star Line’s advertisements, and the news articles, the ship was actually designed to be unsinkable.
The Features of the Titanic
When the Titanic was constructed and launched, it was the biggest ship afloat. With a height of 175 feet, it displaced more than 66,000 tons of water. It had a length of 882.5 feet and was 92.5 feet wide. It was regarded as the biggest movable object ever created. It had newly designed watertight compartments along with electronic watertight doors that could be remotely operated. These were a few of the reasons why the engineers thought it was practically impossible for the ship to sink.
Apart from being exceptionally huge, the Titanic was designed for being the best in luxury travels. No other cruise ship had such stunning features as luxurious cabins, restaurants, libraries, a swimming pool, and a gymnasium. The ship even had its own newspaper named the Atlantic Daily Bulletin. Every night, the newspaper was printed and posted in the Smoking Room of the first class. Some of the world’s richest people were included in the passenger list of the Titanic’s maiden voyage. The Ritz hotel in London loosely inspired the interior design of the ship. Located in the Piccadilly neighbourhood, the hotel was established in 1906 and is operating even today.
The Ultimate Voyage
The initial days of the ship’s voyage went smoothly. However, on the 14th of April, 1912, it hit an iceberg precisely at 11:40 pm. The ship was in the northern Atlantic Ocean, around 375 miles south of Newfoundland at that time. The Titanic was created so that it wouldn’t sink even if four out of the 16 watertight compartments of the ship were breached. However, the iceberg’s glancing blow resulted in the ship’s hull plates buckling along the right side of its sideboard. The water soon started to fill in six of its compartments. It didn’t even take three hours for the Titanic to fall apart and then sink more than two miles in the ocean floor. Around 705 passengers and crew members boarded lifeboats and saved their lives.
Sadly, thanks to the outdated maritime regulations, the ship’s designers were not forced to include enough lifeboats to make sure everybody survived. In fact, the ship just had only enough lifeboats for saving a little over half of its people when properly loaded. Sadly, the lifeboats were not appropriately packed, and around 1,517 people lost their lives in the disaster. It made it go down the history as among the worst peacetime maritime disasters of the world.
The Musicians had a Hard Time.
The musicians on board were expected to learn the lyrics of all the 352 songs mentioned in a songbook handed out to the first-class passengers to make requests. The musicians didn’t stop playing even when the ship started sinking. The iconic scene in the Titanic movie actually took place in real life: for calming down the guests on board, all the musicians continued to play the songs as the ship sunk. Ultimately, they lost their lives as the ‘unsinkable’ ship went down.
What Went Wrong?
If only the “unsinkable” Titanic could stay floating more than a few hours, many crew members and passengers could have survived. When the Titanic ship sent out a distress call, the Carpathia was the first ship that responded. Sadly, it took more than three hours for it to arrive, and by that time, the “unsinkable” ship was already on the ocean floor. Another ship, the Californian, was nearest to the Titanic when distress signals were sent out. As there was a vague idea about the actual situation, Captain Stanley Lord didn’t order the Californian ship to assist. He was later heavily criticized for this ‘negligence’ by people across the world.
Looking at Some of the Factors
Experts who have researched and studied the disaster in detail believe that no single factor can be blamed for the tragedy. Instead, several factors were known as an ‘event cascade’, which resulted in the Titanic sinking so quickly. The experts reached this conclusion by also studying the remains of the ship discovered in 1985 on the ocean floor.
For instance, as per the experts, the Titanic was sailing too fast for the icy weather conditions. They also believe that Captain Edward J. Smith did not pay much attention to the received iceberg warnings. There are also chances of some iceberg warnings not even making it to the ship’s bridge from its radio room. Ultimately, the crew members at the crow’s nest looking out for icebergs did not carry binoculars. All these, among other factors, help us understand why the ship hit an iceberg on the fateful night of the 14th of April, 1912.
Why did it Sink so Quickly?
We can only understand partly why did the Titanic did not even take three hours to sink. Because of the unfortunate usage of low-quality construction materials. Metallurgists studying the disasters opine that even those the ship was loaded with luxurious accommodations and advanced technology, poorly-cast wrought iron rivets were used for fastening together the hull of the Titanic. After the ship’s collision with the iceberg, the rivets just popped off, and that resulted in the hull “unzipping” at its seams.
As holes formed in the hull, this led to the flooding of six compartments of the ship. It finally caused the so-called “unsinkable” Titanic not just to sink, but to sink quickly. This disaster came as a massive shock to the world. It resulted in numerous new maritime safety rules and regulations, including enough lifeboats during every voyage for carrying all the people on board.
Some Fascinating Facts
It cost $7.5 million for building the ship. James Cameron’s 1997 film’s production budget was based on the accident, was $200 million. 3,000 Harland and Wolff shipbuilders for building the ship, which was more than 882 feet long. It was so huge that around three football fields could fit into it! It was a whopping 52,310 tons in weight. Even though you see four smokestacks on the Titanic pictures, only three of them actually worked. The extra smoke stack was to add to its beauty and make it look more impressive.
The ship had just twenty lifeboats, while it had the capacity to hold 64. Most of the boats were sent out even before they got full. The first boat carried 28 people while it could hold 65. The ship needed plenty of coal to operate. Every day, more than 800 tons of coal was burned for powering the ship. The ship had a massive send-off. More than 100,000 people came in for the Titanic’s launch.
Nobody Knows the Precise Number of Fatalities
Nobody can tell for sure how many people exactly died in the accident. The ship manifests have been the basis of the rough estimates which were made. However, many passengers were on board under fake names. Also, they came from so many different regions that there is no accurate list with accurate expressions of the people travelling on the ship.
Some Facts about the People on Board
Some passengers on board saw the Titanic as a romantic vacation, and there were thirteen couples on the ship who were going on their honeymoon. Only 23 crew members in the ship were females and, they made up the rough estimate of 885 crew members who were on board.
The Final Dinner was a Huge Feast
The last meal, which was served on the ship, was a feast with ten courses. Its menu included poached salmon, cream of barley soup, oysters, and a lot more. The ship also had 1,000 bottles of wine and around 15,000 bottles of ale on board. Eight thousand cigars and 850 liquor bottles were also in its stock! After the discovery of the shipwreck in 1985, a few of the champagne bottles were also recovered.
The Wealthiest Man On Board
John Jacob Astor IV was the richest passenger on board. Sadly, he couldn’t survive when the accident happened, and he died in the sinking. His worth was more than $90 million, which is more than two billion dollars by today’s standards if we consider inflation. Astor travelled in the First Class of the Titanic and was a self-made millionaire from America. He belonged to the well-known Astor family, was a writer, inventor, businessman as well as a lieutenant colonel during the Spanish-American War. He was the wealthiest man to die in the sinking of the Titanic.
Astor’s business interests included the original Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, and he was mostly interested in real estate. His divorce, followed by his wedding to Madeleine Talamaddge Force, which was much younger, resulted in a scandal. He planned to have his extended honeymoon abroad for waiting out the controversy, which was cut short by his wife’s pregnancy.
Looking at the Survivors
One of the survivors was Charles Joughin, the baker on the ship. He was rescued after spending two hours in the waters. As per his claims, he drank plenty of whiskey in advance, which saved him and made him last so long in the water. Nurse and stewardess Violet Jessop was also among the survivors who experienced yet another sinking of a ship. In 1916, she was one of the Britannic ship passengers, and when it sunk, she survived this time as well but had a traumatic injury on her head.
Margaret Brown is among the most known survivors of the Titanic. Nicknamed as “The Unsinkable Molly Brown”, she became a popular face of women’s suffrage who turned into an avid activist and ran for the United States Senate later. However, she did not win. Millvina Dean was the youngest survivor of the Titanic. She
Various Newspapers Published False Narratives
After the Titanic sinking news broke in the mainland, numerous newspapers misreported the entire incident, stating no casualties. After the real numbers began to come in, people worldwide came together to raise money for the Titanic’s victims. (See How to defeat Black Waltz no 3 – FF9 – Cargo Ship)
The Remains of the Ship are Vanishing
To date, there has been a recovery of about 6,000 artefacts from the shipwreck. These are exhibited at museums across the globe, while some have even been sold at enormous prices at auctions. Sadly, these remains are slowly disappearing as Halomonas titanicae, a rust-eating bacteria, is slowly eating away the Titanic remains. As per the rough estimates, all the remains will completely vanish by the year 2030.
The World May See Another Titanic
In 2012, Clive Palmer, the Australian millionaire, announced his plans of building a contemporary replica of the Titanic. He named it Titanic II, and it is an association with a newly-formed Blue Star Line Company. There are two descendants of the ship’s survivors on the company’s board.