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RMS Titanic Left Southampton England For New Youk USA On Her Maiden Voyage.
Titanic was an Olympic class passenger liner that collided with an iceberg and sank in 1912. The Titanic was the second of a trio of superliners. Titanic and her sisters, RMS Olympic and HMHS Britannic, were designed to provide a three-ship weekly express service and dominate the transatlantic travel business for the White Star Line.
Titanic was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, County Down, Ireland. Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world at the time of her sinking. During Titanic's maiden voyage (from Southampton, England; to Cherbourg, France; Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland; then New York), she struck an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. (ship's time) on Sunday evening April 14, 1912, and sank two hours and forty minutes later, while breaking into two pieces at the aft expansion joint, 2:20 a.m. Monday morning April 15.
Characteristics of Titanic: Harland and Wolff shipyard
The RMS Titanic was a White Star Line ocean liner built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast and was designed to compete with rival company Cunard Line's Lusitania and Mauretania, luxurious ships and the fastest liners on the Atlantic. The Titanic and her Olympic class sisters, Olympic and the upcoming Gigantic, were intended to be the largest, most luxurious ships ever to operate. (The planned name Gigantic was changed to Britannic after the disaster.) The Titanic was designed by Harland and Wolff chairman Lord Pirrie, head of Harland and Wolff's design department Thomas Andrews and general manager Alexander Carlisle, with the plans regularly sent to the White Star Line's managing director J. Bruce Ismay for suggestions and approval. Construction of the Titanic, funded by the American J.P. Morgan and his International Mercantile Marine Co., began on March 31, 1909. The Titanic No. 401 was launched two years and two months later on May 31, 1911. The Titanic's outfitting was completed on March 31 the following year.
The Titanic was 882 feet 9 inches (269 m) long and 92 feet 6 inches (28 m) at her beam (6 inches longer than twin ship RMS Olympic). She had a Gross Register Tonnage of 46,328 tons, and a height from the water line to the boat deck of 60 feet (18 m). She contained two reciprocating four-cylinder, triple-expansion, inverted steam engines and one low-pressure Parsons turbine. These powered three propellers. There were 25 double-ended and 4 single-ended Scotch-type boilers fired by 159 coal burning furnaces that made possible a top speed of 23 knots (43 km/h). Only three of the four 63 foot (19 m) tall funnels were functional; the fourth, which served only as a vent, was added to make the ship look more impressive. Titanic could carry a total of 3,547 passengers and crew and, because she carried mail, her name was given the prefix RMS (Royal Mail Steamer) as well as SS (Steam Ship).
The Titanic was considered a pinnacle of naval architecture and technological achievement, and was thought by The Shipbuilder magazine to be "practically unsinkable." Titanic had a double-bottom hull, containing 44 tanks for boiler water and ballast to keep the ship safely balanced at sea (later ships also had a double-walled hull). Titanic exceeded the lifeboat standard, with 20 lifeboats (though not enough for all passengers), and designers had discussed adding more lifeboats, depending on storage issues. Titanic was divided into 16 compartments by doors held up, i.e. in the open position, by electro-magnetic latches and which could be allowed to fall closed by means of a switch on the bridge. However, the watertight bulkheads did not reach the entire height of the decks, only going up as far as E-Deck. The Titanic could stay afloat with any two of her compartments flooded, or with eleven of fourteen possible combinations of three compartments flooded, or with the first/last four compartments flooded: any more and the ship would sink.
Titanic's unsurpassed luxury.
For her time, the Titanic was unsurpassed in luxury and opulence. She offered an onboard swimming pool, a gymnasium, a Turkish bath, a library and a squash court. First-class common rooms were adorned with elaborate wood paneling, expensive furniture and other elegant decorations. In addition, the Café Parisienne offered superb cuisine for the 1st-class passengers with a delightful sunlit veranda fitted with trellis decorations.
The ship was also unusually technologically advanced for the period. It had an extensive electrical subsystem with steam-powered generators and ship-wide electrical wiring feeding electric lights. It also boasted two wireless Marconi radio operators who worked in shifts, allowing constant radio contact and the transmission of a large number of passenger messages.
2nd Class and even 3rd Class accommodations and common rooms were likewise considered to be as opulent as those in the 1st Class sections of many other ships of the day. The Titanic had three lifts for use of 1st Class passengers and as an innovation, offered one lift for 2nd Class passengers.
The crown jewel of the ship's interior was undoubtedly her forward 1st Class grand staircase, between the forward and second funnels. Extending down to E-Deck and decorated with oak paneling and gilded balustrades, it was topped by an ornate wrought-iron and glass dome which brought in natural light. On the uppermost landing was a large panel containing a clock flanked by the allegorical figures of Honour and Glory crowning Time. A similar but less ornate staircase, complete with matching dome, was located between the third and fourth funnels.
Titanic comparisons with Olympic.
The Titanic was almost identical to her older sister Olympic but there were a few differences - some suggested by Bruce Ismay and based on observations he had made of the Olympic. Two of the most noticeable were that half of the Titanic's forward promenade A-Deck (below the lifeboat deck) was enclosed against outside weather, and her B-Deck configuration was completely different from the Olympic's. The Titanic had a specialty restaurant called Café Parisienne, a feature that the Olympic wouldn't receive until 1913. Some of the flaws found on the Olympic, such as the creaking of the aft expansion joint, were corrected on the Titanic. Other differences, such as the skid lights that provide natural illumination on A-deck, were round while on Olympic they were oval. The Titanic's wheelhouse was made narrower and longer than the Olympic's. These, and other modifications, made the Titanic 1,004 tonnes larger than the Olympic.
Passengers on the Titanic.
The 1st Class passenger list for Titanic's maiden voyage included some of the richest and most prominent people in the world. Among them were millionaire John Jacob Astor IV and his pregnant wife Madeleine; industrialist Benjamin Guggenheim; Macy's department store owner Isidor Straus and his wife Ida; Denver millionaire Margaret "Molly" Brown; Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife, couturiere Lady Duff-Gordon; streetcar magnate George Dunton Widener, his wife Eleanor and their 27-year-old son, Harry Elkins Widener; Pennsylvania Railroad executive John Borland Thayer, his wife Marion and their 17-year-old son, Jack; journalist William Thomas Stead; Charles Hays, president of Canada's Grand Trunk Railway, with his wife, daughter, her husband, and two employees; the Countess of Rothes; United States presidential aide Archibald Butt; author and socialite Helen Churchill Candee; author Jacques Futrelle, his wife May, and their friends, Broadway producers Henry and Rene Harris; writer and painter Francis Davis Millet; pioneer aviation entrepreneur Pierre Maréchal Sr.; American silent film actress Dorothy Gibson, White Star Line's Managing Director J. Bruce Ismay (who survived the sinking) and, from the ship's builders, Thomas Andrews, who was on board to observe any problems and assess the general performance of the new ship.
Among the 2nd Class passengers was Lawrence Beesley, a journalist who wrote one of the first-hand accounts of the voyage and the sinking. He left the ship on Lifeboat #13. Father Thomas R.D. Byles was a Catholic priest on his way to America to officiate at his younger brother's wedding. Also in second class was Michel Navratil, a Frenchman kidnapping his two sons, Michel Jr. and Edmond and taking them to America.
Both J. P. Morgan and Milton Hershey had plans to travel on the Titanic but cancelled their reservations before the voyage.
Disaster of the Titanic.
On the night of April 14-15, 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank, with great loss of life. There are several figures regarding the number of passengers and crew who were lost. The United States Senate investigation reported that 1,517 people perished in the accident, while the British investigation has the number at 1,490.
Regardless, the disaster ranks as one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in history and by far the most infamous. The Titanic's design used some of the most advanced technology available at the time and the ship was popularly believed to be "unsinkable." The media frenzy about the Titanic's famous victims, the legends about what happened on board the ship, the resulting changes to maritime law, and the discovery of the wreck in 1985 by a team led by Robert Ballard and Jean Louis Michel have made the Titanic persistently famous in the years since. The iceberg apparently buckled plates located in the foward hull, and though it only caused a small series of openings, it was enough to sink the ship.
Titanic: disaster events.
Many aspects have been recorded about various events that occurred in the days surrounding the disaster, as detailed below.
1:45 PM - Amerika iceberg warning
On the night of Sunday, April 14, the temperature had dropped to near freezing and the ocean was completely calm. Surviving 2nd Officer Charles Lightoller later wrote "the sea was like glass". There was no moon and the sky was clear. Captain Edward Smith, perhaps in response to iceberg warnings received by wireless over the previous few days, had altered the Titanic's course around 10 miles (18 km) south of the normal shipping route. That Sunday at 1:45 p.m., a message from the steamer SS Amerika warned that large icebergs lay south of the Titanic's path but the warning was addressed to the USN Hydrographic office and was never relayed to the bridge. Iceberg warnings were received throughout the day and were quite normal for the time of year. Later that evening at 9:30 p.m., another report of numerous, large icebergs in the Titanic's path was received by Jack Phillips and Harold Bride in the radio room, this time from the Mesaba, but this report also did not reach the bridge. Although there were warnings, there were no operational or safety reasons to slow down or alter course. The Titanic had three teams of two lookouts high up in the "Crow's nest" who were rotated every two hours, and on any other night it is almost certain they would have seen the iceberg in time. However, a combination of factors came together: with no moon, no wind, no binoculars, and the dark side of the berg facing the ship, the lookouts were powerless. As Lightoller stated at the American inquiry, "Everything was against us that dreadful evening."
Titanic's maiden voyage.
The vessel began her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, bound for New York City, New York on 10 April 1912, with Captain Edward J. Smith in command. As the Titanic left her berth, her wake caused the liner SS New York, which was docked nearby, to break away from her moorings, whereupon she was drawn dangerously close (about four feet) to the Titanic before a tugboat towed the New York away. The incident delayed departure for about half-an-hour. After crossing the English Channel, the Titanic stopped at Cherbourg, France, to board additional passengers and stopped again the next day at Queenstown (known today as Cobh), Ireland. As harbour facilities at Queenstown were inadequate for a ship of her size, the Titanic had to anchor off-shore, with small boats, known as tenders, ferrying the embarking passengers out to her. When she finally set out for New York, there were 2,240 people aboard.
11:39 PM - "Iceberg, right ahead!!"
At 11:39 p.m. while sailing south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee spotted a large iceberg directly ahead of the ship. Fleet sounded the ship's bell three times and telephoned the bridge. Sixth Officer James Moody answered. "Are you there?!" shouted Fleet. "Yes, what do you see?" replied Moody. "Iceberg, right ahead!" cried Fleet. "Thank you" was Moody's calm, polite reply before informing First Officer William Murdoch of the call. Murdoch (who had now already seen the iceberg) gave an order of "Hard to starboard" (an order to move the ship's tiller all the way to the starboard (right) side of the ship) in an attempt turn the ship to port (left), and full speed astern, which reversed the engines driving the outer propellers (the turbine driving the centre propeller was not reversible). After the wreck, turning tests revealed that reversing engines made turning the ship more difficult.
At 11:40 p.m., the ship made its fatal collision, exactly 37 seconds after Fleet sighted the berg. The ship's starboard (right) side brushed the iceberg, buckling the hull in several places and popping out rivets below the waterline, opening the first six compartments to the sea. It is often speculated that during, or right before the collision, Murdoch may have had the idea to give an order of "Hard to port" (moving the tiller all the way to the port (left) side turning the ship to starboard (right)) in what may have been an attempt to swing the remainder (aft section) of the ship away from the berg (this could explain Murdoch's comment to the captain "I intended to port around it"). If Murdoch did have this idea, he decided against it, because he never gave the order. Quartermaster Robert Hichens, who was at the helm, and 4th Officer Joseph Boxhall, who was nearby on the bridge, both stated that the last command Murdoch gave Hichens was "Hard-a-starboard!". Although pumps in the sixth compartment were able to pump the water out as fast as it came in, the first five were riddled with small holes amounting to an area of about 12 square feet (1.1 m²). The watertight doors were shut as water started filling the five compartments - one more than the Titanic could stay afloat with. Captain Smith, alerted by the jolt of the impact, ordered "all-stop" once he arrived on the bridge. Following an inspection by the ship's senior officers, the ship's carpenter J. Hutchinson and Thomas Andrews, which included a survey of the half-flooded two-deck postal room, it was apparent that the Titanic would sink. At 12:05 a.m., 25 minutes after the collision, Captain Smith ordered all the lifeboats uncovered; five minutes later, at 12:10 a.m., he ordered them to be swung out; then, at 12:25 a.m., he ordered them to be loaded with women and children and then lowered away. At 12:50, 4th Officer Joseph Boxhall fired the first white distress rockets.
12:45 AM - First lifeboat lowered.
The first lifeboat launched, Lifeboat #7, was lowered at 12:45 a.m., on the starboard side, with only 28 people on board out of a maximum capacity of 65. The Titanic carried 20 lifeboats with a total capacity of 1,178 for the ship's total complement of passengers and crew of 2,208. Sixteen lifeboats, indicated by number, were in the davits; and four canvas-sided collapsibles, indicated by letter, were stowed on the roof of the officers' quarters or on the forward Boat Deck to be launched in empty davits. With only enough space for a little more than half the passengers and crew, the Titanic carried more boats than required by the British Board of Trade. At the time, the number of lifeboats required was determined by a ship's gross tonnage, rather than its human capacity. The regulations concerning lifeboat capacity had last been updated in 1894, when the largest ships afloat measured approximately 10,000 gross tons, compared to the Titanic's 46,328 tons.
1st and 2nd Class passengers had easy access to the lifeboats with staircases that led right up to the boat deck, but 3rd Class passengers found it much harder. Many found the corridors leading from the lower sections of the ship difficult to navigate and had trouble making their way up to the lifeboats. Some gates separating the third-class section of the ship from the other areas, like the one leading from the aft well deck to the second-class section, are known to have been locked. While the majority of first and second-class women and children survived the sinking, more third-class women and children were lost than saved. The locked third-class gates were the result of miscommunication between the boat deck and F-G decks. Lifeboats were supposed to be lowered with women and children from the boat deck and then subsequently to pick up F-G Deck women and children from open gangways. Unfortunately, with no boat drill or training for the seamen, the boats were simply lowered into the water without stopping.
Wireless operators "Jack" Phillips and Harold Bride were busy sending out distress signals. The message was initially "CQD-MGY, sinking, need immediate assistance," later interspersed with the newer "SOS" at the suggestion of Bride. Several ships responded, including the Mount Temple, Frankfurt and the Titanic's sister ship, Olympic, but none were close enough to make it in time. The Olympic was over 500 nautical miles away. The closest ship to respond was the Cunard Line's RMS Carpathia, and at 58 nautical miles (107 km) away it would arrive in about four hours, still too late to get to the Titanic in time. Two land-based locations received the distress call from the Titanic. One was the wireless station at Cape Race, Newfoundland, and the other was a Marconi telegraph station on top of the Wanamaker's department store in New York City. Shortly after the distress signal was sent, a radio drama ensued as the signals were transmitted from ship to ship, through Halifax to New York, throughout the country. People began to show up at White Star Line offices in New York almost immediately.
2:00 AM - Waterline reaches forward boat deck
At first, passengers were reluctant to leave the warm, well lit and ostensibly safe Titanic, which showed no outward signs of being in imminent danger, and board small, unlit, open lifeboats. This was one of the reasons most of the boats were launched partially empty: it was perhaps hoped that many people would jump into the water and swim to the boats. Also important was an uncertainty regarding the boats' structural integrity; it was feared that the boats might break if they were fully loaded before being set in the water. Captain Smith ordered the lifeboats be lowered half empty in the hope the boats would come back to save people in the water, and some boats were given orders to do just that. One boat, boat #1, meant to hold 40 people, left the Titanic with only 12 people on board. It was rumoured that Lord and Lady Duff Gorden bribed the two able bodied seamen and five firemen to take them and their 3 companions off the ship. This rumor was later proven false. J. Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line, left on Lifeboat Collapsible C and was criticized by both the American and British Inquiries for not going down with the ship. Other passengers, including Father Byles and Margaret Brown, helped the women and children into lifeboats. Brown was finally forced into a boat, and she would survive. Byles would not.
As the ship's tilt became more apparent, people started to become nervous, and some lifeboats began leaving with more passengers. "Women and children first" remained the imperative (see origin of phrase) for loading the boats. (Despite this slogan, in reality a higher proportion of 1st Class men survived than 3rd Class women and children, according to the Lloyd's of London report.)
At 2:05 a.m. the waterline reached the bottom of the bridge rail and all the lifeboats, save for the awkwardly located Collapsibles A and B, had been lowered. Collapsible D, with 44 of its 47 seats filled, was the last lifeboat to be lowered from the davits. The total number of vacancies was 466.
Titanic: 2:05 AM - Propellers exposed.
The ship's propellers were beginning to rise out of the water; water was slowly beginning to flood the forward boat deck by entering through the crew hatches on the bridge. At this time, Captain Smith released wireless operators Harold Bride and Jack Phillips from their duties. Bride went to their adjoining quarters to gather up their spare money, as Phillips continued working. When Bride returned, he found a fireman slowly unfastening Phillips' life belt, attempting to steal it without Phillips noticing him. Bride grabbed the fireman, and then the three of them wrestled around in the small room, for a few seconds. At one point, Bride grabbed the man by the waist, while Phillips punched him until he finally fell to the floor unconscious. Seeing water now entering the room, Phillips and Bride grabbed their caps and dashed out on deck, where Bride helped with Collapsible B and Phillips ran aft.
The last two lifeboats floated right off the deck as the icy ocean reached them: Collapsible B upside down, and Collapsible A half-filled with water. Shortly afterwards, the first funnel fell forward, crushing part of the bridge plus many struggling in the water, including John Jacob Astor, Charles Williams, and Chief Purser Hugh McElroy. On deck, people scrambled towards the stern or jumped overboard in hopes of reaching a lifeboat. Father Byles spent his final moments alive reciting the rosary and other prayers, hearing confessions, and giving absolutions to the dozens of people who huddled around him. The ship's stern continued to slowly rise into the air, reaching 12 degrees to the sea line at its maximum. At 2:18 a.m., the electrical system failed, and the lights, which had burned brightly, flickered once, and then went out for good. The Titanic's second funnel then broke off and fell into the water, crushing dozens more people in the water. A few seconds later, the Titanic tore herself apart.
2:20 AM - Titanic sinks.
Stress on the hull caused the Titanic to break apart into two large pieces, between the third and fourth funnels, and the bow section went completely under. The stern section was pulled up vertically by the sinking bow, and by the time it reached vertical, the stern detached and surfaced from the water. Some reported cries from lifeboats that the ship had returned (shouting "Look! The men are saved!"). However, after a few moments, the stern section also sank into the ocean, exactly two hours and 40 minutes after the collision with the iceberg.
The White Star Line attempted to persuade surviving crewmen not to state that the hull broke in half. The company believed that this information would cast doubts upon the integrity of their vessels. In fact, the stresses inflicted on the hull when it was at 12 degrees to the sealine (bow down and stern in the air) were well beyond the design limits of the structure, and no legitimate engineer could have fairly criticised the work of the shipbuilders in that regard.
Of a total of 2,208 people, only 712 survived; 1,496 perished. If the lifeboats had been filled to capacity, 1,178 people could have been saved. Of the 1st Class, 201 were saved (60%) and 123 died. Of the 2nd Class, 118 (44%) were saved and 167 were lost. Of the 3rd Class, 181 were saved (25%) and 527 perished. Of the crew, 212 were saved (24%) and 679 perished. Of particular note, the entire complement of the 35-member Engineering Staff (25 engineers, 6 electricians, two boilermakers, one plumber, and one writer/engineer's clerk) were lost. The entirety of the ship's orchestra were also lost. Led by violinist Wallace Hartley, they played music on the boat deck of the Titanic that night to calm the passengers. It is rumored that they played the "Horbury" version of the hymn Nearer, My God, to Thee as their finale. The majority of deaths were caused by victims succumbing to hypothermia in the 28 ºF (-2 ºC) water.
As the ship sank into the depths, the two sections ended their final plunges very differently. The streamlined bow planed off approximately 2,000 feet (600 m) below the surface and slowed somewhat, landing relatively gently. The stern fell fairly straight down towards the ocean floor, possibly rotating as it sank, with the air trapped inside causing implosions. It was already half-crushed when it hit bottom at high speed; the shock caused everything still loose to fall off. The bow section however, having been opened up by the iceberg and having sunk slowly, had little air left in it as it sank and therefore remained relatively intact during its descent.
Titanic: 3:00 AM - Lifeboat rescues.
Only one lifeboat came back to the scene of the sinking to attempt to rescue survivors. Another boat, Lifeboat #4, did not return to the site but was close by and picked up eight crewmen, two of whom later died. Nearly an hour after the whole of the ship went under, after tying four lifeboats together on the open sea (a difficult task), Lifeboat #14, under the command of 5th Officer Harold Lowe, went back looking for survivors and rescued four people, one of whom died afterwards. Collapsible B floated upsidedown all night and began with 30 people. By the time the Carpathia arrived the next morning, 27 remained. Included on this boat were the highest ranking officer to survive, Charles Lightoller, wireless operator Harold Bride, and the chief baker, Charles Joughin. There were some arguments in some of the other lifeboats about going back, but many survivors were afraid of being swamped by people trying to climb into the lifeboat or being pulled down by the anticipated suction from the sinking ship, though this turned out not to be severe. Only 10 survivors were pulled from the water into lifeboats.
4:10 AM - Carpathia picks up first Titanic lifeboat.
Almost two hours after the Titanic sank, RMS Carpathia, commanded by Captain Arthur Henry Rostron, arrived on scene and picked up its first lifeboat at 4:10 AM. Even though the Californian was much closer, their wireless operator had gone to bed for the night, and as a result, the crew was unaware of the tragedy unfolding just a few miles away. Over the next hours, the remainder of the survivors were rescued. On board the Carpathia, a short prayer service for the rescued and a memorial for the people who lost their lives was held, and at 8:50 a.m. Carpathia left for New York, arriving on April 18. Once the loss of life was verified, White Star Line chartered the ship MacKay-Bennett to retrieve bodies. A total of 333 bodies were eventually recovered. Many of the bodies were taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the majority of the unclaimed were buried in Fairview Cemetery. Among the survivors were three dogs brought aboard in the hands of the 1st Class passengers.
Sarnoff and wireless reports.
An often-quoted story that has been blurred between fact and fiction states that the first person to receive news of the sinking was David Sarnoff, who would later found media giant RCA. Sarnoff was not the first to hear the news (though Sarnoff willingly promoted this notion), but he and others did man the Marconi wireless station (telegraph) atop the Wanamaker Department Store in New York City, and for three days, relayed news of the disaster and names of survivors to people waiting outside.
Arrival of Carpathia in New York.
The Carpathia docked at Pier 54 at Little West 12th Street in New York with the survivors. It arrived at night and was greeted by thousands of people. The Titanic had been headed for Pier 59 at 20th Street. The Carpathia dropped off the empty Titanic lifeboats at Pier 59, as property of the White Star Line, before unloading the survivors at Pier 54.
Both piers were part of the Chelsea Piers built to handle luxury liners of the day.
As news of the disaster spread, many people were shocked that the Titanic could sink with such great loss of life despite all of her technological advances. Newspapers were filled with stories and descriptions of the disaster and were eager to get the latest information. Many charities were set up to help the victims and their families, many of whom lost their sole breadwinner, or, in the case of third-class survivors, lost everything they owned. The people of Southampton were deeply affected by the sinking. According to the Hampshire Chronicle on April 20, 1912, almost 1,000 local families were directly affected. Almost every street in the Chapel district of the town lost more than one resident and over 500 households lost a member.
Investigation, safety rules and the Californian
Before the survivors even arrived in New York, investigations were being planned to discover what had happened to the Titanic, and what could be done to prevent a recurrence. The United States Senate initiated an inquiry into the Titanic disaster on April 19, a day after Carpathia arrived in New York.
The chairman of the inquiry, Senator William Alden Smith, wanted to gather accounts from passengers and crew while the events were still fresh in their minds. Smith also needed to subpoena the British citizens while they were still on American soil. The American inquiry lasted until May 25.
Lord Mersey was appointed to head the British Board of Trade's inquiry into the disaster. The British inquiry took place between May 2 and July 3. Each inquiry took testimony from both passengers and crew of the Titanic, crewmembers of Leyland Line's The Californian, Captain Arthur Rostron of the Carpathia and other experts.
The investigations found that many safety rules were simply out of date and new laws were recommended. Numerous safety improvements for ocean-going vessels were implemented, including improved hull and bulkhead design, access throughout the ship for egress of passengers, lifeboat requirements, life-vest design, safety drills, better passenger notification, radio communications laws, etc. The investigators also learned that the Titanic had sufficient lifeboat space for all First-Class passengers, but not for the lower classes. In fact, most Third-Class, or Steerage, passengers had no idea where the lifeboats were, much less any way of getting up to the higher decks where the lifeboats were kept. (According to the report published by Lloyd's, a higher proportion of 1st Class men survived than of 3rd-Class women or children.)
Both inquiries into the disaster found that the Californian and its captain, Stanley Lord, failed to give proper assistance to the Titanic. Testimony before the inquiry revealed that, at 10:10 pm, the Californian observed lights of a ship to the south; it was later agreed between Captain Lord and the third officer (who had relieved Lord of duty at 10:10) that this was a passenger liner. The Californian warned the ship by radio of pack ice on account of which the Californian had stopped for the night. At 11:50pm, the officer had watched this ship's lights flash out, as if the ship had shut down or turned sharply, and that the port light was now observed. Morse signals to the ship, upon Lord's order, occurred five times between 11:30pm and 1:00am, but were not acknowledged. (In testimony, it was stated that the Californian's Morse lamp had a range of about four miles.)
Captain Lord had retired at 11:30; however, the 2nd officer, now on duty, notified Lord at 1:15 am that the ship had fired a rocket, followed by four more. Lord wanted to know if they were "company signals," that is, colored flares used for identification. The second officer said that he "didn't know," that the rockets were all white. Captain Lord instructed the crew to continue to signal the other vessel with the Morse lamp, and went back to sleep. Three more rockets were observed at 1:50 and the second officer noted that the ship looked strange in the water, as if she were listing. At 2:15 am, Lord was notified that the ship could no longer be seen. Lord asked again if the lights had had any colors in them, and he was informed that they were all white.
The Californian eventually responded. At 5:30 am, the 1st officer awakened the wirleless operator, informed him that rockets had been seen during the night, and asked that he try to communicate with any ships. The ''Frankfurt’’ notified the operator of the Titanic's loss, Captain Lord was notified, and the ship set out for assistance.
The inquiries found that the Californian was much closer to the Titanic than the 19½ miles (36 km) that Captain Lord had believed and that Lord should have awakened the wireless operator after the rockets were first reported to him, and thus could have acted to prevent a loss of life. As a result of the Californian's off-duty wireless officer, 29 nations ratified the Radio Act of 1912, which streamlined radio communications, especially in the event of emergencies.
Longterm implications of Titanic.
The sinking of the RMS Titanic was a factor that influenced later maritime practices, ship design, and cultural changes, as detailed below.
International Ice Patrol.
The Titanic disaster led to the convening of the first International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea in London, on November 12, 1913. On January 30, 1914, a treaty was signed by the conference and resulted in the formation and international funding of the International Ice Patrol, an agency of the United States Coast Guard that to the present day monitors and reports on the location of North Atlantic Ocean icebergs that could pose a threat to transatlantic sea lane traffic. It was also agreed in the new regulations that all passenger vessels would have sufficient lifeboats for everyone on board, that appropriate safety drills would be conducted, and that radio communications would be operated 24 hours a day along with a secondary power supply, so as not to miss distress calls. In addition, it was agreed that the firing of red rockets from a ship must be interpreted as a distress signal. This treaty was scheduled to go into effect July 1, 1915, but was upstaged by World War I.
Titanic: Ship design changes.
The sinking of the Titanic also changed the way passenger ships were designed, and many existing ships, such as the Olympic, were refitted for increased safety. Besides increasing the number of lifeboats on board, improvements included reinforcing the hull and increasing the height of the watertight bulkheads. The bulkheads on the Titanic extended 10 feet (3 m) above the waterline, and after the Titanic sank, the bulkheads on other ships were extended higher to make compartments fully watertight. While the Titanic had a double bottom, it did not have a double hull; after her sinking, new ships were designed with double hulls; also, the double bottoms of other ships (including the Olympic) were extended up the sides of their hulls, above their waterlines, to give them double hulls.
Titanic: name change.
After the disaster, the name Gigantic was no longer considered acceptable for the third Olympic-class liner. It was named the Britannic instead. (Due to World War I, the Britannic never saw passenger service; it was sunk while serving as a hospital ship.)
The conclusion of the British Inquiry into the sinking was "that the loss of the said ship was due to collision with an iceberg, brought about by the excessive speed at which the ship was being navigated".
At the time of the collision it is thought that the Titanic was at her normal cruising speed of about 22 knots , which was less than her top speed of around 24 knots. At the time it was common (but not universal) practice to maintain normal speed in areas where icebergs were expected . It was thought that any iceberg large enough to damage the ship would be seen in sufficient time to be avoided.
After the sinking the British Board of Trade introduced regulations instructing vessels to moderate their speed if they were expecting to encounter icebergs.
It is often alleged that J. Bruce Ismay instructed or encouraged Captain Smith to increase speed in order to make an early landfall, and it is a common feature in popular representations of the disaster. There is little evidence for this having happened, and it is disputed by many
No single aspect regarding the huge loss of life from the Titanic disaster has provoked more outrage than the fact that the ship did not carry enough lifeboats for all her passengers and crew. This is partially due to the fact that the law, dating from 1894, required a minimum of 16 lifeboats for ships of over 10,000 tons. Since then the size of ships had increased rapidly, meaning that Titanic was legally required to carry only enough lifeboats for less than half of its capacity. Actually, the White Star Line exceeded the regulations by including four more collapsible lifeboats-making room for slightly more than half the capacity.
In the busy North Atlantic sea lanes it was expected that in the event of a serious accident to a ship, help from other vessels would be quickly obtained, and that the lifeboats would be used to ferry passengers and crew from the stricken vessel to its rescuers. Full provision of lifeboats was not considered necessary for this.
It was anticipated during the design of the ship that the British Board of Trade might require an increase in the number of lifeboats at some future date. Therefore lifeboat davits capable of handling up to four boats per pair of davits were designed and installed, to give a total potential capacity of 64 boats. The additional boats were never fitted. It is often alleged that J. Bruce Ismay, the President of White Star, vetoed the installation of these additional boats to maximise the passenger promenade area on the boat deck. Harold Sanderson, Vice President of International Merchantile Marine refuted this allegation during the British Inquiry.
The lack of lifeboats was not the only cause of the tragic loss of lives. After the collision with the iceberg, one hour was taken to evaluate the damage, recognize what was going to happen, inform first class passengers, and lower the first lifeboat. Afterward, the crew worked quite efficiently, taking a total of 80 minutes to lower all 16 lifeboats. Since the crew was divided into two teams, one on each side of the ship, an average of 10 minutes of work was necessary for a team to fill a lifeboat with passengers and lower it.
Yet another factor in the high death toll that related to the lifeboats was the reluctance of the passengers to board them. They were, after all, on a ship deemed to be "unsinkable". Because of this, some lifeboats were launched with far less than capacity, the most notable being Lifeboat #1, with a capacity of 65, launched with only 12 people aboard.
Titanic: use of SOS.
The sinking of the Titanic was not the first time the internationally recognized Morse code distress signal "SOS" was used. The SOS signal was first proposed at the International Conference on Wireless Communication at Sea in Berlin in 1906. It was ratified by the international community in 1908 and had been in widespread use since then. The SOS signal was, however, rarely used by British wireless operators, who preferred the older CQD code. First Wireless Operator Jack Phillips began transmitting CQD until Second Wireless Operator Harold Bride suggested, half-jokingly, "Send SOS; it's the new call, and this may be your last chance to send it." Phillips, who perished in the disaster, then began to intersperse SOS with the traditional CQD call.
Titanic's rudder and turning ability.
Although the Titanic's rudder was not legally too small for a ship its size, the rudder's design was hardly state-of-the-art. According to researchers with the Titanic Historical Society: "Titanic's long, thin rudder was a copy of a 19th-century steel sailing ship. Compared with the rudder design of the Cunard's Mauretania or Lusitania, the Titanic's was a fraction of the size. Apparently no account was made for advances in scale, and little thought given to how a ship 882½ feet (269 m) in length might turn in an emergency, or avoid a collision with an iceberg. This was the Titanic's Achilles' heel.
Perhaps more fatal to the Titanic was her triple-screw engine configuration, which had reciprocating steam engines driving its wing propellers, and a steam turbine driving its center propeller. The reciprocating engines were reversible, while the turbine was not. When First Officer Murdoch gave the order to reverse engines to avoid the iceberg, he inadvertently handicapped the turning ability of the ship. Since the centre turbine could not reverse during the "full speed astern" maneuver, it simply stopped turning. Furthermore, the centre propeller was positioned forward of the ship's rudder, diminishing the turning effectiveness of the rudder.
Had Murdoch reversed the port engine, and reduced speed while maintaining the forward motion of the other two propellers (as recommended in the training procedures for this type of ship), experts theorize that the Titanic might have been able to navigate around the berg without a collision. However, given the closing distance between the ship and the berg at the time the bridge was notified, this might not have been possible.
Additionally, Titanic experts have hypothesized that if the Titanic had not altered its course at all and had run head-on into the iceberg, the damage would only have affected the first or, at most, the first two compartments. The Guion liner Arizona had such a head-on collision with an iceberg in 1879, and although badly damaged had managed to make St Johns, Newfoundland, for repairs. Some dispute that the Titanic would have survived such a collision, however, since the Titanic's speed was higher than the Arizona's and her hull much larger, and the violence of the collision could have compromised her structural integrity.
Legendary Titanic band
Some events during the Titanic disaster have had a legendary impact. One of the most famous stories of the Titanic is of the band. On 15 April, the Titanic's eight-member band, led by Wallace Hartley, had assembled in the 1st Class lounge in an effort to keep passengers calm and upbeat. Later they would move on to the forward half of the boat deck. Band members had played during Sunday worship services the previous morning, and the band continued playing music even when it became apparent the ship was going to sink.
None of the band members survived the sinking, and there has been much speculation about what their last song was. Some witnesses said the final song played was the hymn "Nearer, my God, to Thee." However, there are three versions of this song in existence and no one really knows which version, if any, was played. Hartley reportedly said to a friend if he was on a sinking ship "Nearer, My God, to Thee" would be one of the songs he would play. Walter Lord's book A Night to Remember popularised wireless operator Harold Bride’s account that before the ship sank, he heard the song "Autumn" (a hymn similar to the former but contains the maritime line about "mighty waters"). It is considered Bride either meant the hymn called "Autumn" or "Songe d'Automne," a popular ragtime song of the time. Others claimed they heard "Roll out the Barrel."
Hartley's body was one of those recovered and identified. Considered a hero, his funeral in England was attended by thousands.
Titanic: faults in construction.
Though this topic is seldom discussed, there is some speculation on whether or not the Titanic was constructed by methods considered sufficiently robust by the standards of the day. Rumored faults in the construction included problems with the safety doors and missing or detached bolts in the ship's hull plating. Some people say that this was a major contributing factor to the sinking and that the iceberg, in part with the missing bolts and screws, eventually led to the demise of the Titanic. Many believe that if the watertight bulkheads had completely sealed the ship's compartments (they only went 3m above the waterline), the ship would have stayed afloat.
However, it should be noted that the Titanic's hull was held together by rivets, which are intended to be a permanent way of attaching metal items together, whereas bolts can be removed and would require periodic tightening unless the nut and bolt are welded after being screwed together. Welding technology in 1912 was in its infancy, so this was not done. While issues with the Titanic's rivets have been identified from samples salvaged from the wreck site, many ships of the era would have been constructed with similar methods and did not sink after becoming involved in collisions. There was a claim that the rivets of the Titanic had not been properly tempered, leaving them brittle and sensitive to fracture in the infamous collision.
While sealing off the watertight bulkheads with watertight decks would have increased the survivability of a vessel such as the Titanic, they would have by no means ensured the survival of a ship with as much underwater damage as the Titanic sustained in her collision with the iceberg: it was a big iceberg. Even if the compartments themselves had remained completely watertight, the weight of the water would still have pulled the bow of the ship down to the point where decks above the watertight deck would have been below the waterline. The ship would then have flooded via the portholes and sunk anyway. It should also be noted that watertight decks would have hampered access to the lower sections of the ship and would have required watertight hatches, all of which would have had to have been properly sealed to maintain the barrier between the incoming water and the rest of the ship. As the increased survivability such watertight decks would have offered is questionable, they are generally considered to this day to be impractical in merchant vessels (though some military vessels, which are exposed to much greater risk of flooding by virtue of being targets for enemy mines and torpedoes, do feature such decks).
It should also be noted that the Olympic, built to almost identical specifications by the same builders as the Titanic, was involved with several collisions during the course of her operational lifetime, one of which occurred before the Titanic sank; and the Olympic's hull was modified to protect her from flooding in a fashion similar to her ill-fated sister's. None of these collisions threatened to sink the ship, suggesting that the Olympic-class liners were built to be sufficiently tough and did not suffer from slipshod construction.
Titanic: conspiracy theories.
There was a minor school of thought that it was not the Titanic that sunk but the Olympic. Conspiracy theorists cited evidence in favor, includes the Hawke incident, which supposedly left the Olympic crippled. This supposedly motivated management to scuttle the Olympic/Titanic and file an insurance claim. Conspiracy theorists also cited the fact that the two ships were drydocked at the same yard at the same time (possibly enabling a switch), the claim that a ship sailed to the site of the collision beforehand with 3000 blankets on board (for survivors), and cosmetic changes presumably made to make the two ships more similar. This theory was clearly debunked with the discovery of the wreck in 1985.
Titanic: parochial headline.
There is a persistent urban legend in Scotland that the Aberdeen Press and Journal, a paper notorious for its parochial coverage, reported the sinking of the Titanic with the headline "Aberdeen Man Drowned" (or something similar). This is untrue.
Titanic: alternative theories and curses.
As with many famous events, many alternative theories about the sinking of the Titanic have appeared over the years. Theories that it was not an iceberg that sank the ship or that a curse caused the disaster have been popular reading in newspapers and books. Most of these theories have been debunked by Titanic experts, citing inaccurate or incomplete facts on which the theories are based.
A novella written by Morgan Robertson, The Wreck of the Titan, published in 1898, concerned the sinking of a ship called the Titan. Other similarities with the later sinking of the Titanic are noticeable, including the month and location of the fictitious disaster.
In 2003 Captain L. M. Collins, a former member of the Ice Pilotage Service published The Sinking of the Titanic: The Mystery Solved proposing, based upon his own experience of ice navigation and witness statements given at the two post-disaster enquiries, that what the Titanic hit was not an iceberg but low-lying pack ice. He based his conclusion upon three main pieces of evidence.
Another theory is that the Titanic was sacrificed because, once construction had been completed, she was expected to be a potential perpetual financial loss. Supporters of this theory cite the claim that everyone concerned, the company and the officers aboard, had received iceberg warnings and yet the Titanic maintained a northern course instead of sailing to the south of the warning limit.
There is even a curse legend. While the ship was being built in the Belfast shipyard, several Catholic workers reportedly walked off the job in protest when they noticed horrible blasphemies against Catholicism and the Virgin Mary spray-painted by Protestant workers on parts of the ship. One of the workers stated, "This ship will not finish its first voyage". The graffiti was noted by coal-fillers when the ship stopped at Cobh, Ireland.
A similar legend states that the Titanic was given hull number 390904 (which, when seen in a mirror or written using mirror writing, looks like "no pope"). This is a myth.
One popular myth states that the Titanic was carrying a cursed Egyptian mummy. The mummy, nicknamed Shipwrecker, after changing hands several times, and causing many terrible things to each of its owners, exacts its final revenge by sinking the famous ship. This myth is untrue.
Another myth says that the bottle of champagne used in christening the Titanic did not break on the first try, which in sealore is said to be bad luck for a ship. In fact, the Titanic was not christened, as White Star Line's custom was to launch ships without a christening.
The idea of finding the wreck of the Titanic and even raising the ship from the ocean floor had been perpetuated since shortly after the ship sank. No attempts even to locate the ship were successful until September 1, 1985, when a joint American-French expedition, led by Jean-Louis Michel of Ifremer, Dr. Nicholas S.E. Cappon and Dr. Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, sailing on the Research Vessel Knorr, discovered the wreck using the video camera sled Argo. It was found at a depth of 12,500 feet (3800 m), south-east of Newfoundland at 41º43'55?N, 49º56'45?W, 13 nautical miles (24 km) from where the Titanic was originally thought to rest.
The most notable discovery the team made was that the ship had split apart, the stern section lying 1,970 feet (600 m) from the bow section and facing opposite directions. There had been conflicting witness accounts of whether the ship broke apart or not, and both the American and British inquiries found that the ship sank intact. Up until the discovery of the wreck, it was generally assumed the ship did not break apart. In 2005, a theory was presented that a portion of the Titanic's bottom broke off right before the ship broke in two. The theory was conceived after an expedition sponsored by The History Channel examined the two hull pieces.
The bow section had embedded itself more than 60 feet (18 m) into the silt on the ocean floor. Besides parts of the hull having buckled, the bow was mostly intact, as the water inside had equalized with the increasing water pressure. The stern section was in much worse condition. As the stern section sank, water pushed out the air inside tearing apart the hull and decks. The speed at which the stern hit the ocean floor caused even more damage. Surrounding the wreck is a large debris field with pieces of the ship (including a large amount of coal), furniture, dinnerware and personal items scattered over one square mile (2.6 km²). Softer materials, like wood and carpet, were devoured by undersea organisms. Human remains suffered a similar fate.
Later exploration of the vessel's lower decks, as chronicled in the book Ghosts of the Titanic by Dr. Charles Pellegrino, showed that much of the wood from the Titanic's staterooms was still intact. A new theory has been put forth that much of the wood from the upper decks was not devoured by undersea organisms but rather broke free of its moorings and floated away. This is supported by some eyewitness testimony from the survivors. Also, while filming James Cameron's Titanic, the Grand Staircase set broke free of supports when it was flooded for sinking sequences of the film. This has led historian Don Lynch and historical artist Ken Marschall to believe that the Grand Staircase in fact exited the sinking ship in this way (as mentioned in DVD commentary of the film).
Although the British inquiry had determined mathematically that the damage to the ship could not have comprised more than twelve square feet, the popular notion was that the iceberg had cut a 300 feet (90 m) long gash into the Titanic's hull. Since the part of the ship that the iceberg had damaged was buried, scientists used sonar to examine the area and discovered the iceberg had caused the hull to buckle, allowing water to enter the Titanic between its steel plates. During subsequent dives, scientists retrieved small pieces of the Titanic's hull. A detailed analysis of the pieces revealed the ship's steel plating was of a variety that loses its elasticity and becomes brittle in cold or icy water, leaving it vulnerable to dent-induced ruptures. Furthermore, the rivets holding the hull together were much more fragile than once thought. It is unknown if stronger steel or rivets could have saved the ship.
The samples of steel rescued from the wrecked hull were found to have very high content of phosphorus and sulphur (four times and two times as high as common for modern steels), with a manganese-sulphur ratio of 6.8:1 (compare with over 200:1 ratio for modern steels). High content of phosphorus initiates fractures, sulphur forms grains of iron sulphide that facilitate propagation of cracks, and lack of manganese makes the steel less ductile. The recovered samples were found to be undergoing ductile-brittle transition in temperatures of 32 ºC (for longitudinal samples) and 56 ºC (for transversal samples-compare with transition temperature of -27 ºC common for modern steels-modern steel would become as brittle between -60 and -70 ºC). The anisotropy was likely caused by hot rolling influencing the orientation of the sulphide stringer inclusions. The steel was probably produced in the acid-lined, open-hearth furnaces in Glasgow, which would explain the high content of phosphorus and sulphur, even for the times.
Dr. Ballard and his team did not bring up any artifacts from the site, considering it to be tantamount to grave robbing. Under international maritime law, however, the recovery of artifacts is necessary to establish salvage rights to a shipwreck. In the years after the find, the Titanic has been the object of a number of court cases concerning ownership of artifacts and the wreck site itself..
Titanic: ownership and litigation.
Upon discovery in 1985, a legal debate began over ownership of the wreck and the valuable artifacts inside. On June 7, 1994, RMS Titanic Inc. was awarded ownership and salvaging rights of the wreck by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. (See Admiralty law) RMS Titanic Inc., a subsidiary of Premier Exhibitions Inc., and its predecessors have conducted seven expeditions to the wreck between 1987 and 2004 and salvaged over 5,500 objects. The biggest single recovered artifact was a 17-ton section of the hull, recovered in 1998. Many of these artifacts are part of travelling museum exhibitions.
Beginning in 1987, a joint American-French expedition, which included the predecessor of RMS Titanic Inc., began salvage operations and, during 32 dives, recovered approximately 1,800 artifacts which were taken to France for conservation and restoration. In 1993, a French administrator in the Office of Maritime Affairs of the Ministry of Equipment, Transportation, and Tourism awarded RMS Titanic Inc's predecessor title to the artifacts recovered in 1987.
In a motion filed on February 12, 2004, RMS Titanic Inc. requested that the District Court enter an order awarding it "title to all the artifacts (including portions of the hull) which are the subject of this action pursuant to the law of finds" or, in the alternative, a salvage award in the amount of $225 million. RMS Titanic Inc. excluded from its motion any claim for an award of title to the 1987 artifacts. But it did request that the district court declare that, based on the French administrative action, "the artifacts raised during the 1987 expedition are independently owned by RMST." Following a hearing, the district court entered an order dated July 2, 2004, in which it refused to grant comity and recognize the 1993 decision of the French administrator, and rejected RMS Titanic Inc's claim that it should be awarded title to the artifacts recovered since 1993 under the maritime law of finds.
RMS Titanic Inc. appealed to the United States court of appeals. In its decision of January 31, 2006 the court recognized "explicitly the appropriateness of applying maritime salvage law to historic wrecks such as that of Titanic" and denied the application the maritime law of finds. The court also ruled that the district court lacked jurisdiction over the "1987 artifacts", and therefore vacated that part of the court's July 2, 2004 order. In other words, according to this decision, RMS Titanic Inc. has ownership title to the artifacts awarded in the French decision (valued $16.5 million earlier) and continues to be salvor-in-possession of the Titanic wreck. The Court of Appeals remanded the case to the District Court to determine the salvage award ($225 million requested by RMS Titanic Inc.).
Titanic: current condition of the wreck.
Many scientists, including Robert Ballard, are concerned that visits by tourists in submersibles and the recovery of artifacts are hastening the decay of the wreck. Underwater microbes have been eating away at the Titanic's iron since the ship sank, but because of the extra damage visitors have caused, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that "the hull and structure of the ship may collapse to the ocean floor within the next 50 years." Several scientists and conservationists have also complained about the removal of the crow's nest on the mast by a French expedition.
Ballard's book Return to Titanic, published by the National Geographic Society, includes photographs showing the deterioration of the promenade deck and alleged damage caused by submersibles landing on the ship; however, Ballard was the first person to crash a camera sled into the wreck, and also the first person to repeatedly land on its deck in a submersible. The mast has almost completely deteriorated and repeated accusations were made in print by Ballard that it had been stripped of its bell and brass light by salvagers, despite his own original discovery images clearly showing that the bell was never actually on the mast- it was recovered from the sea floor. Even the memorial plaque left by Ballard on his second trip to the wreck was alleged to have been removed; Ballard replaced the plaque in 2004. Recent expeditions, notably by James Cameron, have been diving on the wreck to learn more about the site and explore previously unexplored parts of the ship before the Titanic decays completely.
Titanic: comparable maritime disasters.
The Titanic was at the time one of the worst maritime disasters in history, a comparable loss of life having never happened before on the heavily travelled North Atlantic route. It remains the worst civilian maritime disaster in British history. The biggest civilian maritime disaster in the Atlantic Ocean up to that time had been the wreck of SS Norge off Rockall in 1904 with the loss of 635 lives. However, the Titanic's death toll had been exceeded by the explosion and sinking of the steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River in 1865, where an estimated 1,700 died. Two years after the Titanic disaster, a Canadian liner, the Empress of Ireland sank in the Saint Lawrence River with 1,012 lives lost after colliding with the Norwegian coal freighter Storstad. The ratio has been repeated with the sinking of the RMS Lusitania and the sinking of the RMS Leinster. Both were sunk by German U-boats in World War I.
Also similar to the Titanic was Hans Hedtoft. In January 1959 the Hans Hedtoft, a Danish liner sailing from Greenland, struck an iceberg and sank. The Hans Hedtoft was also on its maiden voyage and was boasted to be "unsinkable" because of its strong design. In 1987, the MV Doña Paz, sank in the Philippines after colliding with the oil tanker Vector and catching fire and claimed between 1,500 and 4,000 lives. In 2002, a Senegalese government-owned ferry the MV Joola capsized off the coast of Gambia resulted in the deaths of at least 1,863 people.
The worst maritime disasters happened during World War II. The RMS Lancastria sank during the evacuation from Dunkirk in June 1940 with the loss of 4,000+ lives. This remains Britain's worst maritime disaster. However, the most deadly maritime disasters in WWII involved German ships. The sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff with an estimated death toll over 9,000 remains the worst disaster in shipping history in terms of loss of life in a single vessel (sunk on 30 January 1945 having been the target of four Soviet torpedoes). The SS Cap Arcona (which, ironically, stood in for the Titanic in the 1943 film version of the tragedy) was sunk by the Royal Air Force on May 3, 1945, with an estimated death toll of more than 7,700. The Goya was sunk with an estimated 7,000 dead, again by Soviet submarine on 16 April 1945.
The Titanic was not the only White Star Line ship to sink with loss of life. RMS Tayleur, which has been compared to the sinking of the Titanic, sank after running aground in Ireland. The Tayleur was also technically innovative when it sank on its maiden voyage in 1854. Of its 558 passengers and crew, 276 were lost. The White Star Line had also previously lost the RMS Atlantic on rocks near Nova Scotia in 1873 with 546 fatalities, and the SS Naronic in 1893, probably in an iceberg collision near the Titanic's position, with the loss of all 74 aboard. Three years before the Titanic, on January 24, 1909, another palatial and "unsinkable" White Star Line passenger liner, the RMS Republic sank 50 miles off the coast of Nantucket killing six persons. The Titanic's sister ship Britannic sank in the Mediterranean sea while serving as a British hospital ship during World War I. Conflicting accounts say it was either a torpedo attack or an unlucky encounter with an ocean mine (the sinking was proved to have been caused by a mine). Thirty-four people died when one of the lifeboats was launched before the ship had come to a total stop and the boat was sucked into a still revolving propeller.
Titanic: popular culture.
The sinking of the Titanic has been the basis for many novels describing fictionalised events on board the ship, such as Titanic: The Long Night written by Diane Hoh. Many reference books about the disaster have also been written since the Titanic sank, the first of these appearing within months of the sinking. Several films and TV movies were produced. The 1997 film Titanic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet was a critical and commercial hit, winning eleven Academy Awards and holding the record for the highest box office returns of all time. A search for Titanic items on sites like Ebay show thousands of items that have been created that are for sale. The book A Night to Remember was also transformed into Titanic: the Musical, with a book by Peter Stone and music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. "Titanic: the Musical" ran from April 23, 1997 to March 21, 1999 and won five Tony Awards for 1997, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Musical. The production originally starred Michael Cerveris, John Cunningham, David Garrison, Victoria Clark, Brian d'Arcy James, Jennifer Piech, and Martin Moran.
Titanic: last survivors.
On May 6, 2006, the last American survivor and the last survivor to have memories of Titanic's sinking, Lillian Gertrud Asplund, died at her home in Shrewsbury, Massachusetts. Asplund, who was just 5 years old at the time, lost her father and three brothers (including her fraternal twin) in the tragedy. Her mother Selma Asplund and brother Felix, then three, survived. Selma Asplund had died on the anniversary of the sinking in 1964.
At the time of Lillian Asplund's death, survivors Barbara West Dainton of Truro, England, ten months old at the time of the sinking, and Millvina Dean of Southampton, England, who was 10 weeks old, were still living, but were too young to have memories of the catastrophe. Therefore, with the death of Lillian Gertrude Asplund, firsthand passenger experience of the Titanic's sinking has passed out of living memory..
Titanic: last ten survivors.
Robertha Josephine "Bertha" Marshall (née Watt) and Ellen Natalia "Helen" Callaghan (née Shine), at the time of their deaths, the twelfth and eleventh remaining survivors, died in close proximity: Marshall died on 4 March 1993 and Callaghan on 5 March 1993 at ages 93 and 101 respectively. Callaghan was the last remaining Titanic survivor from Ireland.
Titanic: 100th Anniversary.
On 15 April 2012, the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic will be commemorated around the world. By that date the Titanic Quarter in Belfast will have been completed. The area will be regenerated and a signature memorial project unveiled to celebrate the Titanic and its links with Belfast, the city that built the great ship.
References to the Titanic.
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