The Titanic: History, Sinking, Rescue, Survivors, Movies, & Facts
Titanic was a British luxury passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912, during its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City, United States.
Out of the approximately 2,224 passengers and crew on board, over 1,500 people lost their lives when the ship was struck by an iceberg, marking it as the most fatal shipwreck recorded up to that point in history.
It still remains the most deadly sinking of an ocean liner or cruise ship during peacetime.
Considered one of the most famous catastrophes in modern history, it drew public attention, serving as a muse for numerous artistic works and laying the groundwork for the disaster film genre.
This event has ignited a plethora of narratives, spawned multiple cinematic adaptations, and a musical rendition, and has sparked diverse academic explorations and scientific conjectures.
Origin And The Building Of The Titanic
During the early 1900s, the transatlantic passenger trade emerged as a fiercely competitive and lucrative industry, as various ship lines competed to transport wealthy travelers and immigrants.
White Star Line and Cunard stood out as two of the primary contenders in this business.
By the summer of 1907, Cunard aimed to bolster its market share by introducing two new ships, the Lusitania and the Mauretania, both slated to commence service in the subsequent year.
The anticipated speed of these new passenger liners was attracting significant attention, as they were poised to establish records for crossing the Atlantic Ocean at remarkable velocities.
Amid rising competition from Cunard, White Star Line's chairman, J. Bruce Ismay, reportedly met J. P. Morgan, who controlled the shipping line's parent corporation, the International Mercantile Marine Co.
Collaboratively, they conceived a strategy to construct a series of sizable sea liners distinguished for their luxury rather than speed.
Ultimately, the decision was made to build three vessels: the RMS Olympic, the RMS Titanic, and the HMHS Britannic.
The Olympic-class ocean liner Titanic was built by the Belfast shipbuilder Harland & Wolff on Queen's Island (now Titanic Quarter) in Belfast Harbour, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
They had a long-established relationship with the British shipping line, White Star Line, dating back to 1867.
Typically, Wilhelm Wolff would outline a general framework, which would then be transformed into a detailed ship design by Edward James Harland.
The construction of the Olympic and Titanic occurred almost concurrently, commencing with the laying down of Olympic's keel on December 16, 1908, followed by the Titanic's on March 31, 1909.
Both ships underwent approximately 26 months of construction, following a comparable building process.
Close to two years later, Titanic was launched on May 31, 1911, at 12:15 pm with the attendance of Morgan, Ismay, Lord Pirrie, and a crowd of 100,000 spectators.
The ocean liner was subsequently moved to a fitting-out berth, where the installation of engines, funnels, and superstructure took place, along with the interior being outfitted, over the following year.
After the Olympic's maiden voyage in June 1911, some changes were made to the Titanic's design. The ship liner embarked on its sea trails on April 2, 1912, ultimately receiving a seal of seaworthiness.
Dimensions, Layout, and Features
Titanic measured 882 feet 9 inches (269.06 m) long and had a maximum breadth of 92 feet 6 inches (28.19 m). It stood 104 feet (32 m) tall from the base of the keel to the top of the bridge.
It featured ten decks, not counting the officer's quarter atop. Among these, eight decks catered to passenger needs. Let's now proceed to outline the decks in descending order:
- The boast deck -on which the lifeboats were housed
- A Deck -reserved exclusively for First Class passengers
- B Deck -where more First Class passengers were located
- C Deck -the highest deck running uninterrupted from stem to stern
- D Deck -included three spacious public rooms: the First Class dining section, the First Cass reception room, and the Second Class dining section
- E Deck -primarily used as accommodations for passengers across all three classes, alongside berths designated for seamen, cooks, trimmers, and stewards
- F Deck -mainly accommodated Second and Third Class and a few departments of the crew
- G Deck -the lowest complete deck that carried passengers
- The orlop decks -decks on the lowest level of the ship
Titanic featured a trio of main engines: a pair of reciprocating four-cylinder, triple-expansion steam engines, and a centrally positioned low-pressure Parsons turbine.
The dual reciprocating engines delivered an output of 30,000 horsepower (22,000 kW), while the steam turbine contributed an additional 16,000 horsepower (12,000 kW).
Its electrical plant boasted a capacity to generate a higher power output in comparison to the standard city power stations of that era.
The interiors of the Olympic-class vessels were partitioned into 16 primary compartments, separated by 15 bulkheads that extended beyond the waterline.
Given the immense dimensions and weight of Titanic's rudder—measuring 78 feet 8 inches in height and 15 feet 3 inches in length—it necessitated steering engines to facilitate its movement.
Titanic had its own waterworks, capable of pumping and heating water to all sections of the vessels through an intricate network of pipes and valves.
The ship's radiotelegraph equipment was leased by the Marconi International Marine Communication Company to the White Star Line, which also provided two of its employees to serve as operators.
Titanic possessed the capacity to accommodate a total of 2,453 passengers, allocated across three classes: First Class (833), Second Class (614), and Third Class (1,006).
Furthermore, the ship had the capability to house over 900 crew members, resulting in a comprehensive carrying capacity of approximately 3,547 individuals.
Titanic embarked on its inaugural journey on April 10, 1912, commencing its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City.
Dubbed the "Millionaire's Special," the ship was under the command of Edward J. Smith, referred to as the "Millionaire's Captain" due to his popularity among affluent passengers.
Certainly, aboard the Titanic, notable figures such as British journalist William Thomas Stead and American businessman Benjamin Guggenheim were present.
As scheduled, the maiden voyage began at noon and nearly encountered a collision shortly thereafter. The ship was underway after an hour of intricate maneuvering to avert the accident.
On the evening of April 10, Titanic arrived at Cherbourg, France. The ship resumed its journey after about two hours and reached Cork Harbour on the south coast of Ireland on April 11 at 11:30 am.
The ship weighed anchor for the last time at 1:30 pm and set sail for New York City. After leaving Queenstown, It followed the Irish coast as far as Fastnet Rock.
The initial three days of the voyage from Queenstown transpired seemingly without any apparent incidents.
For a significant portion of the voyage, Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, the wireless radio operators, were receiving iceberg warnings, the majority of which were duly relayed to the bridge.
As the ship drew closer to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, a sequence of alerts arrived from other vessels, such as the Atlantic Line's Mesaba, cautioning about drifting ice in the area.
Regrettably, Captain Smith chose to ignore these warnings.
Titanic persisted in maintaining its full speed ahead, as timekeeping was a priority at that time. Moreover, there was a prevailing belief that large vessels faced minimal peril from ice hazards.
Number of passengers
Titanic carried around 885 crew members for its maiden voyage. The passengers counted approximately 1,317 individuals -First Class (324), Second Class (284), and Third Class (709).
Of the 1,317 passengers, 66% (869) were male and 34% (447) female. 107 children were on the ship, the largest number of whom belonged to Third Class.
The most senior captain of the White Star Line, Captain Edward John Smith, was transferred from Olympic to take command of Titanic. Meanwhile, Henry Tingle Wilder held the position of chief officer.
The crew members were divided into three principal departments: Deck (66 crew); Engine (325); and Victualling (494).
At 11:40 pm on April 14, lookout Frederick Fleet spotted an iceberg directly ahead of the Titanic and promptly alerted the bridge crew.
Upon sighting the iceberg, First Officer William Murdoch instructed the ship to be steered around the iceberg. He also commanded the engines to be reversed urgently.
However, these efforts proved futile as Titanic's response came too late to prevent the collision.
The Titanic's starboard side hit the iceberg, rupturing five of its watertight compartments. The clash caused a sequence of breaches beneath the waterline, and it quickly became evident that the ship would sink.
Gradually succumbing to the forces of the ocean, the Titanic began sinking bow-first. As the ship's angle in the water grew increasingly steep, water cascaded from one compartment to another.
The ship's lifeboats could only accommodate approximately half of the total passengers and crew on board.
Due to insufficient training in evacuation procedures, the crew lacked the expertise to effectively plan the evacuation.
As a result, they were unsure of the optimal capacity for the lifeboats and consequently launched a significant number of them barely half-full.
The crew generally followed the "women and children first" protocol when loading lifeboats.
This approach resulted in varying survival rates, with approximately 75 percent of women and 50 percent of children managing to survive, in stark contrast to the 20 percent survival rate among men.
Over two and a half hours after the collision, between 2:10 and 2:15 am, the Titanic's sinking rate suddenly accelerated.
During this critical period, the boat deck began submerging beneath the water's surface, leading to the ingress of the sea through open hatches and grates.
With its stern rising unsupported from the water, revealing the propellers, Titanic broke into two primary segments between the second and third funnels, due to the colossal forces on the keel.
For a brief span of minutes, the stern retained its buoyancy and remained afloat. It ascended to an almost vertical position, with numerous individuals desperately clinging to its surfaces.
At 2:20 am, the Titanic foundered as the stern disappeared beneath the Atlantic, with hundreds of people falling into the icy water.
Many signals were dispatched using wireless, signal lamps, and rockets, but none of the ships that responded were near enough to reach Titanic before it sank.
Those in the lifeboats delayed returning to retrieve, fearing the risk of being swamped. By the time they return, almost all the people had already perished due to exposure to harsh conditions.
706 individuals managed to survive the tragic event and were transported to New York, the Titanic's intended destination, aboard the Carpathia. Tragically, 1,517 lives were lost in the disaster.
Responding to the distress signals emitted by the Titanic, RMS Carpathia arrived at the scene around 4 am. The first lifeboat to reach the liner was number 2.
In the subsequent hours, the Carpathia, a Cunard Line transatlantic passenger steamship, successfully rescued all the survivors.
Approximately at 8:30 am, the Californian finally arrived on the scene, but by that time, the Carpathia had already picked all the survivors.
It took three days to reach New York as the journey was slowed by pack ice, fog, and thunderstorms. At 9:30 pm on April 18, the Carpathia docked at New York's Pier 54, with some 40,000 people waiting in heavy rain.
As an immediate relief, clothing, and transportation to shelters were provided by the Travelers Aid Society of NY, the Council of Jewish Women, and the Women's Relief Committee, among others.
Many survivors didn't linger in New York and headed to relatives' homes almost immediately.
The Carpathia was quickly restocked with food and other provisions before it resumed its journey to Flume, Austria-Hungary. The crew received a bonus of a month's wage from Cunard as a reward.
Some of the Titanic's survivors joined to give the crew members an additional bonus, which amounted to nearly £900 (£95,000 today).
Investigations Into The Titanic Disaster
Even before the Carpathia arrived in New York with the passengers, investigations were already underway to discover the unfolding events.
Subsequent inquiries took place in both the United States and the United Kingdom.
The US inquiry
The US Senate's inquiry, led by Senator William Alden Smith, surrounding the disaster commenced on April 19, a day after the Carpathia arrived in New York.
Over 80 people were interviewed, which included Second Officer Charles Lightoller, the most senior officer of the ship to survive.
Many passengers provided accounts of the prevailing confusion aboard the ship, highlighting that a general warning was never issued.
This resulted in a considerable portion of passengers and crew remaining oblivious to the danger for a significant duration.
The testimony subjected to the highest level of scrutiny originated from the crew of the Californian, who asserted their position to be approximately 20 nautical miles (37 km) away from the Titanic.
Upon spotting rockets in the distance, the crew notified Captian Stanley Lord, who had retired for the night.
However, instead of instructing the ship's wireless operator to activate the radio, he told them to continue to use the Morse lamp. By 2:00 AM, the neighboring ship had purportedly sailed away.
The final report of the inquiry was presented to the US Senate on May 28, 1912.
The report faulted the British Board of Trade stating, "to whose laxity of regulation and hasty inspection the world is largely indebted for this awful tragedy."
Other causes were also highlighted, including the failure of Captain Smith to slow the ship after receiving warnings.
Submersible lost in the North Atlantic
On June 18, 2023, the submersible Titan mysteriously vanished in the expanse of the North Atlantic, just off the coast of Newfoundland.
The tourist submarine, designed to carry five people, under the operation of OceanGate Expeditions, went astray while engaged in a dive to explore the remnants of the Titanic's wreck.
On June 22, 2023, the operating company made an announcement, revealing their belief that the crew of the Titan had tragically perished at sea due to a catastrophic implosion of the submersible.
Six days later, the U.S. Coast Guard unveiled a significant development, disclosing the discovery of "presumed human remains."
The remains were found to be consistent with the possibility of an implosion, aligning with the recovered fragments of the Titan.
The British inquiry
The British inquiry, led by Lord Mersey, took place between May 2 and July 3.
It was overseen by the British Board of Trade, the very same agency that had faced criticism from U.S. investigators due to the inadequate lifeboat mandates.
In addition to testimony from the survivors, the British inquiry took greater expert testimony, leading it to become the lengthiest and most detailed court of inquiry in British history up until that point.
Both studies presented similar conclusions:
- The regulations concerning the required quantity of lifeboats that ships were obligated to carry were outdated and insufficient
- Captain Smith had failed to duly consider the ice warnings
- The collision occurred directly due to the act of navigating into a dangerous region at an excessive speed
- The lifeboats had not been adequately filled or crewed, among others
Discovery Of Titanic Wreck
For a considerable period, it was believed that the Titanic had sunk as a single intact entity. Many proposals were presented to salvage the wreckage but none materialized successfully.
Several expeditions were mounted to find the ship but it wasn't until September 1, 1985, that a Franco-American expedition led by Robert Ballard and Jean-Louis Michel succeeded.
They discovered that the ship had split apart before sinking to the seabed. Both segments made an impact with the seabed at considerable speed, resulting in the bow disintegrating and the stern collapsing entirely.
Since its initial discovery, the wreck has been revisited countless times by scientists, tourists, explorers, salvagers, and filmmakers, recovering thousands of items from the debris field.
RMS Titanic Inc. has retrieved numerous artifacts from the ship, showcasing them in touring exhibitions around the world and in a permanent display at the Luxor Las Vegas.
In 2019, a startling degree of deterioration was observed, with several significant features deteriorating noticeably, including the loss of the captain's bathtub.
While the Titanic's wreckage will inevitably degrade over time, it seems unlikely that the famed liner will fade from the collective consciousness of the public.
Safety Practices After The Titanic Tragedy
The tragic sinking of the Titanic, considered unsinkable, resulted in the below changes in maritime policy:
- Recommendations were made by both the American and British Boards that ships should carry enough lifeboats for all abroad
- United States government passed the Radio Act of 1912, the first legislation that need licenses for radio stations
- The US Navy allocated the Scout Cruisers Chester and USS Birmingham (CL-2) to conduct patrols within the Grand Banks region for the remainder of 1912
- The inaugural International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea convened in London on November 12, 1913
- The International Ice Patrol, a US Coast Guard agency responsible for monitoring and reporting the positions of icebergs in the North Atlantic Ocean, was established and funded through international efforts; This organization continues its vital role to the present day
- Ships were refitted for increased safety, following the sinking of the Titanic
The ocean liner Titanic has gone down in history as the ship that was deemed unsinkable. For more than a century, it has been the inspiration for both fiction and non-fiction.
Several survivors even penned down their experiences in books, yet it wasn't until 1955 that the first historically accurate book emerged: "A Night to Remember," by Walter Lord.
Saved from the Titanic, the first film about the incident was released only 29 days after the tragedy occurred. The film had an actual survivor as its star, American actress Dorothy Gibson.
1958's A Night to Remember is still widely considered the most historically accurate film portrayal of the disaster.
James Cameron's 1997 film Titanic became the highest-grossing movie in history up to that time. The film won 11 Oscars at the 70th Academy Awards.
The catastrophe prompted the creation of many memorials and monuments dedicated to the memory of those who perished.
These solemn tributes were erected in cities that had experienced significant losses and in various English-speaking nations.
RMS Titanic Inc., the authorized company to salvage the wreck site, hosts a permanent Titanic exhibition at the Luxor Las Vegas Hotel and Casino in Nevada.
This captivating exhibit showcases a remarkable 22-ton slab of the ship's original hull, offering visitors a unique and immersive connection to the historical legacy of the Titanic.
List Of Movies About The Titanic
The Titanic has been the subject of numerous films, TV movies, and TV episodes. Its story has been portrayed across a spectrum of genres, spanning from short cartoon parodies to epic dramas.
Below, you'll find a compilation of drama films based on the Titanic story that were released theatrically:
|Saved from The Titanic||1912|
|In Nacht und Eis||1912|
|Atlantic / Atlantik||1929|
|A Night to Remember||1958|
|The Unsinkable Molly Brown||1964|
|Raise the Titanic||1980|
|Titanic (directed by James Cameron)||1997|
|The Chambermaid (on the Titanic)||1997|
|The Legend of The Titanic||1999|
|Titanic: The Legend Goes On||2000|
|In Search of The Titanic||2004|
|Holmes & Watson||2018|
15 Facts About Titanic
In this compilation, we unveil captivating Titanic facts sourced from a variety of reputable outlets such as magazines, media websites, archies.gov, and history.com.
- The ruins of the Titanic rest nearly 2.5 miles beneath the surface of the ocean.
- The iceberg that the ship hit is conjectured to have been 50 to 100 feet above the water. The entire iceberg is speculated to have been between 200 and 400 feet long.
- Only three of the ship's four funnels worked.
- The first safety lifeboat was released an hour after the collision.
- Over half the people on board could have had a chance of survival had the entirety of the space on the lifeboats been utilized.
- The remains of the ocean liner will eventually be entirely eaten away by rust-eating bacteria.
- Around 100,000 people attended the Titanic's launch.
- The Titanic burned an estimated 825 tons of coal each day.
- The ship's main anchor weighed more than 30,000 pounds so 20 horses were required to transport the anchor.
- Less than a third of all individuals on board survived.
- The sea water temperature was below freezing when the Titanic sank.
- Despite the Titanic's capacity to accommodate 64 lifeboats, it was equipped with a mere 20.
- Even to this day, a contentious debate persists regarding the proximity of the SS Californian to the Titanic at the time of the iceberg collision.
- The official name of the ship was Royal Mail Steamer (RMS) Titanic.
- Musicians played for over two hours as the ship went down.
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