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The RMS Titanic is probably the most famous and known cruise liner known today. She was a British-Olympic-class ocean liner and her fame came from partially the fact that she was the largest ocean liner built during her days and mainly because of her sinking and the amount of passengers that went down with her.
The Titanic was designed to dominate transatlantic travel for the White Star Line and she provided a three-ship weekly express service. She was introduced to the people on April 23, 1908 in an article in the New York Times. That was almost four years before she went under and met the ocean floor.
She was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland along with her sister, the Olympic. Her death occurred on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to Cherbourg, France, then to Queenstown, Ireland, and finally she would dock in New York City. However, on this voyage, she struck an iceberg at 23:40pm on Sunday April 14, 1912. She sank two hours and forty minutes after her hit at 02:20am on Monday April 15, 1912. She broke into two pieces at the aft expansion joint, the middle.
The White Star Line intended for the Titanic to compete with its rival company the Cunard and their ships the Lusitania and Mauretania and them being known as being the fastest ships to complete the voyage to New York City. The White Star Line wanted to beat their records. She was designed by Harland and Wolff chairman William Pirrie, head of the design department Thomas Andrews, and the general manager Alexander Carlisle. The plans of her design were constantly sent to the White Star Line’s managing director J. Bruce Ismay for any suggestions and approval of completed work. Construction was funded by J.P. Morgan and his International Mercantile Marine Co. and began on March 31, 1909. She was launched on May 31, 1911 under the official name Titanic No. 401 and her outfitting was officially complete on March 31, 1912.
The Titanic was 882 feet 9 inches (269 m) long and 92 feet 6 inches (28 m) at the beam. Her gross tonnage was 46, 328 tons and her height from water line to the boat deck was 60 feet. She had three propellers that were driven by two four-cylinder, triple-expansion, inverted reciprocating steam engines, and one, low-pressure Parsons Turbine. The steam was provided by 25, double-ended and 4, single-ended Scotch-type boilers that were fitted by 159 coal burning surfaces that gave her a top speed of 23 knots. Out of the four 63 foot tall funnels, only three were functional. The fourth one was only serving as a vent and was added only to make the ship look more impressive. The Titanic had a maximum passenger and crew capacity of
3, 547. She was given the title RMS (Royal Mail Steamer) and SS (Steam Ship) because she also carried mail and was a stem ship.
She was considered as the pinnacle of ship architecture and technological advancement of the era and The Shipbuilder magazine considered her to be “unsinkable”. The Titanic had a double-bottom hull that contained 44 tanks for boiler water and ballast that kept the ship perfectly balanced at sea. She also exceeded the lifeboat standard by putting 20 lifeboats on board. She was composed of 15 compartments and the diving doors were held up in the open position by electro-magnetic latches that could be shut off and the doors would close by a switch on the ships bridge and there was also a float system installed on the door itself.
The Titanic did indeed surpass all other ships when it came to luxury and lavishness. She had onboard swimming pool, a gymnasium, libraries for each passenger class, a Turkish bath, and a squash court. The first class rooms had elaborate wood paneling, very expensive furniture, and other extravagant decorations. Also, the Café Perisien had excellent food for the first-class passengers and a sunlit veranda for dining. Her features were technologically advanced for that time period due to her extensive electrical subsystem with steam-powered generators and all the electrical wiring throughout the ship. She also had two wireless Marconi sets and included a powerful 1,500-watt radio that was manned by operators that worked in shifts, which allowed for constant contact with the messages sent by passengers.
In comparison with her sister ship, the Olympic, half of the Titanic’s forward promenade A-Deck was enclosed against outside weather to prevent damage and her B-Deck configuration was very different as well. The Titanic also had the Café Perisien, which offered special cuisine, and the Olympic did not have that until 1913. The skid lights on the Titanic were round and they were oval on the Olympic. The Titanic’s wheelhouse was more narrow and longer than the one on the Olympic. All these little differences made the Titanic 1,004 tons heavier that her sister, the Olympic.
The first-class passengers there boarded the Titanic were some of the most famous and richest people of the time. Some of the people were the following: 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 Major Archibald Butt; author and socialite Helen Churchill Candee; author Jacques Futrelle, 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.
The second-class passengers included the following people: Lawrence Beesley, a journalist who wrote one of the first-hand accounts of the voyage and the sinking. Father Thomas R.D. Byles, a Catholic priest, was on his way to America to officiate at his younger brother's wedding. Michel Navratil, a Frenchman, was kidnapping his two sons, Michel Jr. and Edmond, and taking them to America. Sylvia Mae Caldwell, who later married the founder of State Farm Insurance George J. Mecherle, was travelling with her first husband, Albert, and their young son, Alden, to Roseville, Illinois.
Milton S. Hershey and J.P. Morgan had planned to board the Titanic on its voyage, but both cancelled their trips last minute.
Also, through DNA analysis, the body of Sidney Leslie Goodwin was discovered in 2007. Goodwin was a 19-month old boy who was from England. He, his parents, and his five siblings were boarded in Southampton, England and traveled as the third-class passengers.
The disaster of the Titanic is a historical event that is known by many. On the night of April 14, at 11:40pm, she struck an iceberg with her side. She sunk at 2:20am on April 15, 1912. An investigation performed by the United States senate reported that 1,517 people died in this event. The British government did their own investigation and has the number of deaths to be 1,490. Either way, this event ranks as one of the worst maritime disasters in history occurring without any war or battle. The Titanic had a lot of media about her famous victims, Walter Lord's 1955 non-fiction account A Night to Remember, the legends about what happened on board the ship, the discovery of the wreck in 1985 by a team led by Robert Ballard and Jean-Louis Michel, and the box office success of the 1997 film Titanic (the highest-grossing film in history) have made sure that the fame of the Titanic does not perish.
It was believed for 70 years after the Titanic sank, that she had sunk in one piece. Thought many passengers reported that she had broken in half when she sunk, the only inquiries that were written down were those of first-class passengers and the officers. The ship was discovered in 1985 by Jean-Louis Michel of the IFREMER and Robert Ballard and his crew, they discovered that the Titanic had sunk in two pieces. The theory was that as she sank, the stern rose too high out of the water and was unable to support the weight and caused that ship to break in two. This theory became the commonly accepted theory. However, in 2005, new evidence and research stated that the ship had also sustained damage to the bottom of her hull and this new evidence supported the theory that the splitting of the Titanic began at the hull plates. Though this theory is less popular, it is supported by the sketched of Jack Thayer, who was one of the passengers precisely described how exactly the Titanic split in two.
The sad loss and sinking of the Titanic did provide lessons and information for further ship designs and maritime practices. One major change that occurred was the establishment of the International Ice Patrol. The IPP requires a 24-hour radio patrol on foreign-going passenger ships and new regulations related to the lifeboats.
The Titanic disaster also led to the creation of the Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) in London, England on November 12, 1913. A treaty was signed on January 30, 1914 and resulted in the formation and international funding of the International Ice Patrol. The IPP is an agency of the United States Coast Guard and to this day monitors and reports locations of icebergs that could be a threat to ships traveling throughout the Atlantic Ocean. Also, the treaty set up regulations that stated that an appropriate amount of lifeboats will be present on ships, that safety drills will be conducted, and that radio messaging will be conducted 24-hours and have a second power generator to make sure that a message could always be received. Also, it was decided that red rockets would mean distress when being sent up by a ship. The red rockets released by the Titanic were taken as celebratory fireworks by nearby ships and so rescue was delayed. Though the treaty was supposed to go into effect on July 1, 1915, it was delayed due to World War I.
The sinking of the Titanic caused a change in the way passenger ships were to be designed. Many already existing ships were modified to increase safety. Some improvements included reinforcing the hull and increasing the height of the watertight bulkheads. The Titanic bulkheads were 10 feet above the waterline and after her sinking, ships raised their bulkheads to insure that all compartments were fully watertight. Ships were now being created with double hulls and the ships with double bottoms extended their double bottoms up the sides of their hulls and above the waterline so that that would give them double hulls.
The speed of cruise ships traveling through iceberg areas was also changed. The Titanic was traveling at her normal speed of 22 knots, but that normal speed was too fast for her to be able to move around or away from an iceberg. It was always assumed that any iceberg big enough to damage a ship would be seen and give plenty of time to maneuver around it. After the sinking of the Titanic, the British Board of Trade introduced regulations that instructed vessels to lower their speed in areas known to have icebergs. Many allegedly accuse J. Bruce Ismay of encouraging Captain Edward Smith to increase the speed of the Titanic in order to reach New York City quicker and shock all the passengers. However, there is no true evidence of this and the claim is often disputed.
After the disaster, the amount of lifeboats increased from 16 hold 962 passengers, this law was issued in 1894, and that was the amount of lifeboats that the Titanic held. When the ship was being designed, there was room to place 64 lifeboats. However, it is alleged that J. Bruce Ismay vetoed installation of all those lifeboats in order to make more room for the first-class passengers on the promenade area. However, after the Titanic disaster all White Star Line vessels included enough lifeboats to hold 1, 178 passengers. It was always believed that in the busy North Atlantic Sea, a rescue vessel was never far away.
Lack of lifeboats was not the only reason why the Titanic went down. Almost an hour was spent deliberating what to do after she hit the iceberg. After that, the crew worked quite fast and lowered al 16 lifeboats in 80 minutes. The crew was divided into two teams on opposite sides of the boat and it took about 10 minutes to prepare and lower a lifeboat. Another reason for so many deaths was the reluctance of the passengers to board the lifeboats. Many did not want to accept that they were in fact going to sink because the Titanic was said to be “unsinkable”. Due to this, some lifeboats were lowered with many less passengers than maximum capacity. The “women and children first” policy had also been blamed for the amount of deaths. The lifeboats had a total capacity of 1,178 - enough for 53% of the 2,224 persons on board - the boats launched, only had a capacity of 1,084, and altogether only 712 people were actually saved - 32% of those originally on board. This resulted when the 1,084-person capacity of the lifeboats actually launched had sufficient room to include all of the 534 women and children on board, plus an additional 550 men, of which there were 1,690 on board. Based on these figures, it had been suggested that if each lifeboat allowed one man aboard the lifeboat per each woman and child would increase the total amount of people saved and the total amount of women and children saved. Instead, many of the men desperately trying to save their lives and board the lifeboats were held at gunpoint to keep away, adding to the chaos, rather than the rescue mission.
The use of the Morse code distress signal “SOS” occurred before the Titanic sinking. The SOS signal first proposed to the International Conference on Wireless Communication at Sea in Berlin in 1906. It was largely ratified and used widely since 1908. The British wireless operators, however, rarely used the new code or SOS and so instead used the old CQD code when the Titanic was going under. The wireless operators only began using SOS when there was little time left.
The ability of the Titanic to turn was not useful in trying to steer the ship away from the iceberg. Reciprocating engines were reversible and the turbine was not. When Murdoch ordered to reverse the engines, he ended up stopping the turbine because it could not turn at full speed. Also, the center propeller was positioned forward on the vessel’s rudder and therefore diminishing her ability to effectively turn the rudder. If Murdoch had reversed the port engine and first reduced the speed, while keeping the forward motion of the two main propellers, some experts say that the Titanic may have been able to steer around the iceberg because the turbine would keep turning. Other experts also suggest that if she hit the iceberg head-on, instead of trying to go around, she would only effects the two first compartments and would be able to stay afloat and possibly even keep moving because her hull was so large and would have taken much of the impact, keeping the rest of the ship safe.
The documentary series Second from Disaster, the construction of the Titanic and whether her construction methods were sufficient by the standards of the day. Some faults included problems with the safety doors and missing or partially detached bolts and screws in the ship’s hull plating. Loose bolts and screw would have had a significant role in the sinking of the Titanic because if the watertight bulkheads had completely sealed the ship’s compartments, the ship may have stayed afloat. The rivets that held the hull together were said to have been improperly tempered left and leaving them brittle and very sensitive to fracture in the iceberg collision. Though sealing off the watertight bulkheads with the watertight doors would have kept the Titanic afloat for a bit longer, it would in no way save her. There was too much underwater damage done to the side. The water would pull the ship down and eventually fill the portholes and sunk anyways. Watertight decks may have offered survivability, but are to this day seen as impractical in merchant ships.
There are many other theories that suggest why the Titanic had sunk. Some say that it was not an iceberg that sunk her or that she was cursed. Another theory suggests that she was sacrificed because after she was built, she was expected to be a potential financial loss. Support is found for this theory in the fact that the officers on board had received iceberg warnings and yet kept her northern course instead of sailing south and around. Some rumors suggest that it was the Olympic that had sunk and not the Titanic and that was done in order to receive insurance. Another myth states that there was a mummy on board and it was cursed. The name of the mummy is often said to be Princess of Amen-Ra. This mummy was named the “Shipwrecker” and was said to have caused a lot of ship to sink. However, there was no mummy aboard the Titanic, only a coffin lid.
All attempts to locate and raise the wreck were unsuccessful until September 1, 1985 on an expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel. They discovered the wreck using the video camera sled called Argo. The depth that she was found at was 12, 536 feet, south-east of Newfoundland at 41°43′32″N, 49°56′49″W, 13 nautical miles (24 km) from where Titanic was originally thought to rest. The biggest discovery that the team had made was that she did in fact break into two. The stern section lay 1, 970 feet from the bow sections and both faced the opposite direction. Up until this discovery, most believed that the ship did not break in half because the only written record stated that it was whole when it went down.
The bow section of the ship was embedded more than 60 feet into the bottom silt of the ocean floor. It was mostly intact because the water inside had equalized with the increasing water pressure. The stern section, however, was in rather bad condition. As it was sinking, water pushed out the air inside and tore apart the hull and decks. The stern also hit the floor very fast and that caused further damage. All around the wreckage, lay extraneous articles from the ship, including dinner ware, furniture, and personal items. Human remains and other natural material were ripped apart and eaten by underwater creatures.
After the discovery in 1985, a debate of who was entitled to the artifacts found on the Titanic. The RMS Titanic Inc. was awarded ownership on June 7, 1994 by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. The RMS Titanic Inc. have conducted seven expeditions to the wreck from 1987 to 2004 and brought up about 5,500 artifacts. The biggest artifact was a 17-ton section of the hull that was recovered in 1998. Many of the artifacts can be found traveling with museum expeditions.
On February 12, 2004, RMS Titanic Inc. requested that the District Court made an order awarding it “title to all the artifacts which are subject to this action pursuant to the Law of Finds” or instead give the $225 million. On January 31, 2006, the RMS Titanic Inc. appealed to the United States Court of Appeals and the court recognized “explicitly the appropriateness of applying maritime salvage law to historic wrecks such as that of Titanic” and denied the application of the Maritime Law of Finds. Later the Court of Appeals remanded the case to the District Court to determine the salvage award of $225 million that was requested by the RMS Titanic Inc.
Scientists believe that recovering of the artifacts has led to further wrecking of the vessel. Also, underwater bacteria and microbes continue to eat away at the iron since the sinking but the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration states that "the hull and structure of the ship may collapse to the ocean floor within the next 50 years". The National Geographic published a book by Ballard named Return to Titanic and it contains photographs showing the deterioration of the promenade deck and all the damage caused by the submersibles landing on the ship. The mast of the ship is almost completely deteriorated and there are accusations that it was stripped of the bell and brass light by undersea salvagers. Ballard’s photographs, however, clearly show that the bells was never on the mast and that it was recovered from the ocean floor. The Nautile, a French submarine, is accused of being responsible for crashing into the Titanic’s crow’s nest and being the cause of it falling off the mast. The most recent expeditions have been by James Cameron in order to learn more about the wreck and the site and exploring any unexplored parts of the Titanic before she completely deteriorates.
The unfortunate event of the Titanic has been a basis for many movies and novels. There are many reference books about how she sank. The first movie created was In Nacht und Eis and was released in 1912, right after the Titanic sank. The movie made in 1997 was a big hit and earned 11 academy awards and until recently, held the record for the highest box office reruns of all time.