Wednesday, February 11, 2009


The RMS Titanic was an Olympic-class passenger liner owned by the White Star Line and built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, United Kingdom. For her time, she was the largest passenger steamship in the world.
On the night of 14 April 1912, during her maiden voyage, Titanic hit an iceberg and sank two hours and forty minutes later, early on 15 April 1912. The sinking resulted in the deaths of 1,517 people, making it one of the most deadly peacetime maritime disasters in history. The high casualty rate was due in part to the fact that, although complying with the regulations of the time, the ship did not carry enough lifeboats for everyone aboard. The ship had a total lifeboat capacity of 1,178 persons even though her maximum capacity was 3,547 people. A disproportionate number of men died also, due to the women-and-children-first protocol that was followed.
The Titanic, along with her Olympic-class sisters, the Olympic and the soon to be built Britannic, were intended to be the largest, most luxurious ships ever to operate.

1st Class Grand Staircase
From All Things TITANIC Home Page

The designers were William Pirrie, a director of both Harland and Wolff and White Star, naval architect Thomas Andrews, Harland and Wolff's construction manager and head of their design department, and Alexander Carlisle, the shipyard's chief draughtsman and general manager.

RMS "Titanic"'s propellers compared to yard workers
From All Things TITANIC Home Page

Construction of RMS Titanic, funded by the American J.P. Morgan and his International Mercantile Marine Co., began on 31 March, 1909. Titanic's hull was launched on 31 May 1911, and her outfitting was completed by 31 March the following year. She was 882 ft 9 in (269.1 m) long and 92 ft 0 in (28.0 m) wide, with a gross register tonnage of 46328 t and a height from the water line to the boat deck of 59 ft (18 m). She was equipped with two reciprocating four-cylinder, triple-expansion, inverted steam engines and one low-pressure Parsons turbine, which powered three propellers. There were 29 boilers fired by 159 coal burning furnaces that made possible a top speed of 23 kn (43 km/h). Only three of the four 62 ft (19 m) funnels were functional: the fourth, which served only as a vent, was added to make the ship look more impressive. The ship 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).

"Titanic"'s starboard shell plating
(looking aft)
From All Things TITANIC Home Page

"Titanic"'s port shell plating
(looking aft)
From All Things TITANIC Home Page

1st Class Dining Room
From All Things TITANIC Home Page

The vessel began her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, bound for New York City, New York, on Wednesday, 10 April 1912, with Captain Edward J. Smith in command. As the Titanic left her berth, her wake caused the liner City of 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 near accident delayed departure for one 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. Because harbour facilities at Queenstown were inadequate for a ship of her size, 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.

RMS "Titanic" leaves Southampton
(532 KB)
Note the name on the stern
From All Things TITANIC Home Page

On the maiden voyage of the Titanic some of the most prominent people of the day were travelling in first–class. Some of these included millionaire John Jacob Astor IV and his wife Madeleine Force Astor, industrialist Benjamin Guggenheim, Macy's owner Isidor Straus and his wife Ida, Denver millionairess Margaret "Molly" Brown, Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife couturière Lucy (Lady Duff-Gordon), George Elkins Widener and his wife Eleanor; cricketer and businessman John Borland Thayer with his wife Marian and their seventeen-year-old son Jack, journalist William Thomas Stead, 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 and silent film actress Dorothy Gibson among others. Also travelling in first–class were White Star Line's managing director J. Bruce Ismay and the ship's builder Thomas Andrews, who was on board to observe any problems and assess the general performance of the new ship.
On the night of Sunday, 14 April 1912, the temperature had dropped to near freezing and the ocean was calm. The moon was not visible and the sky was clear. Captain Smith, in response to iceberg warnings received via wireless over the preceding few days, altered the Titanic's course slightly to the south. That Sunday at 13:45,[a] a message from the steamer Amerika warned that large icebergs lay in the Titanic's path, but as Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, the Marconi wireless radio operators, were employed by Marconi and paid to relay messages to and from the passengers, they were not focused on relaying such "non-essential" ice messages to the bridge. Later that evening, another report of numerous large icebergs, this time from the Mesaba, also failed to reach the bridge.
At 23:40 while sailing about 400 miles south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, lookouts Fredrick 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 exclaiming, "Iceberg, right ahead!". First Officer Murdoch gave the order "hard-a-starboard", using the traditional tiller order for an abrupt turn to port (left), and the engines to be put in full reverse (although a survivor from the engine room testified that, as he recalled, the indicator of the telegraph had moved to "stop", and only after the impact.
A collision was inevitable and the iceberg brushed the ship's starboard side, buckling the hull in several places and popping out rivets below the waterline over a length of 299 ft (90 m). As seawater filled the forward compartments, the watertight doors shut.

The iceberg buckled Titanic's hull
allowing water to flow into the ship
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

However, while the ship could stay afloat with four flooded compartments, five were filling with water. The five water-filled compartments weighed down the ship so that the tops of the forward watertight bulkheads fell below the ship's waterline, allowing water to pour into additional compartments. Captain Smith, alerted by the jolt of the impact, arrived on the bridge and ordered a full stop. Shortly after midnight on 15 April, following an inspection by the ship's officers and Thomas Andrews, the lifeboats were ordered to be readied and a distress call was sent out.
Wireless operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were busy sending out CQD, the international distress signal. Several ships responded, including Mount Temple, Frankfurt and Titanic's sister ship, Olympic, but none was close enough to make it in time. The closest ship to respond was Cunard Line's Carpathia 58 mi (93 km) away, which could arrive in an estimated four hours—too late to rescue all of Titanic's passengers. The only land–based location that received the distress call from Titanic was a wireless station at Cape Race, Newfoundland.
The first lifeboat launched was Lifeboat 7 on the starboard side with 28 people on board out of a capacity of 65.
It was lowered at around 00:40 as believed by the British Inquiry. Lifeboat 5 was launched two to three minutes later. The Titanic carried 20 lifeboats with a total capacity of 1,178 persons. While not enough to hold all of the passengers and crew, the Titanic carried more boats than was required by the British Board of Trade Regulations. At the time, the number of lifeboats required was determined by a ship's gross register tonnage, rather than her human capacity.
The Titanic showed no outward signs of being in imminent danger, and passengers were reluctant to leave the apparent safety of the ship to board small lifeboats. As a result, most of the boats were launched partially empty; one boat meant to hold 40 people left the Titanic with only 12 people on board it. With "Women and children first" the imperative for loading lifeboats, Second Officer Lightoller, who was loading boats on the port side, allowed men to board only if oarsmen were needed, even if there was room. First Officer Murdoch, who was loading boats on the starboard side, let men on board if women were absent. As the ship's list increased people started to become nervous, and some lifeboats began leaving fully loaded.
By 02:05, the entire bow was under water, and all the lifeboats, save for two, had been launched.
Around 02:10, the stern rose out of the water exposing the propellers, and by 02:17 the waterline had reached the boat deck. The last two lifeboats floated off the deck, one upside down, the other half filled with water. Shortly afterwards, the forward funnel collapsed, crushing part of the bridge and people in the water. On deck, people were scrambling towards the stern or jumping overboard in hopes of reaching a lifeboat. The ship's stern slowly rose into the air, and everything unsecured crashed towards the water. While the stern rose, the electrical system finally failed and the lights went out. Shortly afterwards, the stress on the hull caused Titanic to break apart between the last two funnels, and the bow went completely under. The stern righted itself slightly and then rose vertically.
After a few moments, at 02:20, this too sank into the ocean.
Only two of the 18 launched lifeboats rescued people after the ship sank. Lifeboat 4 was close by and picked up five people, two of whom later died. Close to an hour later, lifeboat 14 went back and rescued four people, one of whom died afterwards. Other people managed to climb onto the lifeboats that floated off the deck. 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 suction from the sinking Titanic, though it turned out that there had been very little suction.
As the ship fell into the depths, the two sections behaved very differently. The streamlined bow planed off approximately 2,000 feet (609 m) below the surface and slowed somewhat, landing relatively gently. The stern plunged violently to the ocean floor, the hull being torn apart along the way from massive implosions caused by compression of the air still trapped inside. The stern smashed into the bottom at considerable speed, grinding the hull deep into the silt.
After steaming under a forced draft for just under four hours, the RMS Carpathia arrived in the area.
At 04:10 began rescuing survivors. By 08:30 she picked up the last lifeboat with survivors and left the area at 08:50 bound for New York.

Sinking of the Titanic
by Henry Reuterdahl
drawn based on radio descriptions
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Newspapers were filled with stories and descriptions of the disaster and were eager to get the latest information.

New York Herald front page
The Titanic disaster
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Before the survivors even arrived in New York, investigations were being planned to discover what had happened, and what could be done to prevent a recurrence. The United States Senate initiated an inquiry into the disaster on 19 April, 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. This prevented all surviving passengers and crew from returning to England before the American inquiry, which lasted until 25 May.
Lord Mersey was appointed to head the British Board of Trade's inquiry into the disaster. The British inquiry took place between 2 May and 3 July. Each inquiry took testimony from both passengers and crew of the Titanic, crew members of Leyland Line's Californian, Captain Arthur Rostron of the Carpathia and other experts.
Each inquiry took testimony from both passengers and crew of the Titanic, crew members of Leyland Line's 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, improved life-vest design, the holding of 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 stowed.
Both inquiries into the disaster found that the SS Californian and its captain, Stanley Lord, failed to give proper assistance to the Titanic.
Testimony before the inquiry revealed that at 22:10, the Californian observed the lights of a ship to the south; it was later agreed between Captain Lord and Third Officer C.V. Groves (who had relieved Lord of duty at 22:10) that this was a passenger liner. The Californian warned the ship by radio of the pack ice because of which the Californian had stopped for the night, but was violently rebuked by Titanic senior wireless operator, Jack Phillips.
At 23:50, 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 light signals to the ship, upon Lord's order, occurred five times between 23:30 and 01:00, but were not acknowledged. (In testimony, it was stated that the Californian's Morse lamp had a range of about four miles (6 km), so could not have been seen from Titanic.
Captain Lord had retired at 23:30; however, Second Officer Herbert Stone, now on duty, notified Lord at 01:15 that the ship had fired a rocket, followed by four more. Lord wanted to know if they were company signals, that is, coloured flares used for identification. Stone said that he did not 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 Stone noted that the ship looked strange in the water, as if she were listing. At 02:15, Lord was notified that the ship could no longer be seen. Lord asked again if the lights had had any colours in them, and he was informed that they were all white.
The Californian eventually responded. At 05:30, Chief Officer George Stewart awakened wireless operator Cyril Evans, 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 19.5 mi (31.38 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.
In 1990, following the discovery of the wreck, the Marine Accident Investigation Branch of the British Department of Transport re-opened the inquiry to review the evidence relating to the Californian. Its report of 1992 concluded that the Californian was farther from the Titanic than the earlier British inquiry had found, and that the distress rockets, but not the Titanic herself, would have been visible from the Californian.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Titanic's bow
The forestay shackle fallen forwards
As seen from the Russian MIR I submersible
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The casualty figures listed above are from Lord Mersey's Report (British Parliamentary PapersShipping Casualties (Loss of the Steamship "Titanic"), 1912, cmd. 6352, Report of a Formal Investigation into the circumstances attending the foundering on the 15th April, 1912, of the British Steamship "Titanic," of Liverpool, after striking ice in or near Latitude 41º 46' N., Longitude 50º 14' W., North Atlantic Ocean, whereby loss of life ensued.
(©Copyright 1997 Chuck Anesi)
Many alternative theories to the sinking of the superliner RMS Titanic have been put forward. The accepted reason for the sinking, which resulted in the death of more than 1,500 people, is that the ship struck an iceberg at 11:40 PM on 14 April 1912, buckling the hull and allowing water to enter the ship’s first five watertight compartments (one more than the Titanic was designed to survive), and sank two hours and forty minutes later. Hypotheses which have been suggested as the cause of the disaster include unsafe speed, an insurance scam, an ice-pack rather than an iceberg, and even a curse on the ship by the Unlucky Mummy. Most of the stories have been debunked.
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.
1. At 11:30pm on the night of the sinking the two lookouts spotted what they believed to be haze on the horizon, extending approximately 20 degrees on either side of the ship's bow, despite there being no other reports of haze at any time. Collins believes that what they saw was not haze but a strip of pack ice, three to four miles (6 km) ahead of the ship.
2. The ice was variously reported as 60 feet (18 m) high by the lookouts, 100 feet (30 m) high by Quartermaster Rowe on the poop deck, and only very low in the water by Fourth Officer Boxhall, on the starboard side near the darkened bridge. Collins believes that this was due to 'an optical phenomenon that is well known to ice navigators' where the flat sea and extreme cold distort the appearance of objects near the waterline, making them appear to be the height of the ship's lights, about 60 feet (18 m) above the surface near the bow, and 100 feet (30 m) high alongside the superstructure.
3. A ship such as the Titanic turned by pivoting about a point approximately a quarter of the ship's length from the bow, with the result that with her rudder hard over, she could not have avoided crushing her entire starboard side into an iceberg were such a collision to occur, with the result that 'the hull and possibly the superstructure on the starboard side would have been rent. In all probability the ship would have flooded, capsized, and sunk within minutes.
Ohio State University engineer Robert Essenhigh released a theory in November 2004 that claims a coal fire led indirectly led to the iceberg collision. He claims a pile of stored coal had started to smolder, and to get control over that situation, more coal was put into the furnaces, leading to unsafe speeds in the iceberg-laden waters.
Essenhigh states that records prove that fire control teams were on standby at the ports of Cherbourg and Southampton because of a fire in the stockpile, and that such fires are known to reignite after they have been supposedly extinguished. He suggests that the Titanic actually set off from Southampton with one of its bunkers on fire, or that a spontaneous combustion of coal occurred after the ship left port. Such fires were a common phenomenon aboard coal-fired ships and one of many reasons why marine transportation switched to oil in the early 1900s. It is similarly theorized that such a bunker fire was responsible for the explosion of the USS Maine in 1898, by setting off her powder magazines.
One of the most controversial and complex theories was put forward by Robin Gardiner in his book, 'TITANIC: The Ship That Never Sank?' In it, Gardiner draws on several events and coincidences that occurred in the months, days, and hours leading up to the sinking of the Titanic, and concludes that the ship that hit sank was in fact the Titanic's sister-ship RMS Olympic, disguised as the Titanic, as an insurance scam.
Titanic researchers continue to debate the causes and mechanics of Titanic’s breakup. In his seminal book, A Night to Remember, Walter Lord described Titanic as assuming an “absolutely perpendicular” position before its final plunge. This view remained largely unchallenged even after the wreck’s discovery in 1985 confirmed that the ship had indeed broken in two pieces at or near the surface; paintings by noted marine artist Ken Marschall as well as James Cameron's 1997 Titanic depicted the ship attaining a steep angle prior to the breakup. Most researchers acknowledged that Titanic’s after expansion joint--designed to allow for flexing of the hull in a seaway--played little to no role in the ship’s breakup, though debate continued as to whether the ship had broken from the top downwards (like a stick) or from the bottom upwards (like a cardboard tube).
In 2005, a History Channel expedition to the wreck site scrutinized two large sections of Titanic’s keel, which constituted the portion of the ship's bottom from immediately below the site of the break. With assistance from naval architect Roger Long, the team analyzed the wreckage and developed a new break-up scenario which was publicized in the 2006 television documentary Titanic’s Final Moments: Missing Pieces. One hallmark of this new theory was the claim that Titanic’s angle at the time of the breakup was far less than had been commonly assumed—according to Long, no greater than eleven degrees.
(From From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Titanic Main Menu

"The Break Up". The History Channel.

Titanic The Experience ~ International Dr. Orlando - Tour of Titanic

Discovery Channel :: Titanic

Discovery Channel :: Titanic

Read The Sinking of the Titanic by Logan Marshall

Titanic Passenger List at Encyclopedia Titanica

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