Having been founded in Liverpool, England in the year of 1845 from the remains of a packet company (A company that utilized ships to transport mail and cargo), the White Star Line (Oceanic Steam Navigation Company) would become one of the most prominent shipping lines across the globe. While other oceanic companies focused on speed at the time; most notably White Star Line's rival, Cunard Lines; WSL focused primarily on comfort and prestige status for transporting it's customers back and forth across the Atlantic.
While the company went for comfort over speed in the design of it's ships, it did hold the Blue Riband a total of 5 times, only being outdone by the company's rival Cunard Lines. Cunard Lines held the Blue Riband a total of 13 times. A Blue Riband is an award given to a ship and her company for achieving the highest trans-Atlantic speed record. There is a rumor that the Titanic was attempting to receive this award while on her maiden-voyage and that's why she struck the iceberg however this isn't true. The Titanic was built for luxury, not speed.
When the Great Depression hit in August 1929, it took a toll on the entire shipping industry. Both Cunard Lines & White Star Line were in serious financial trouble. To save each other, the two companies merged on May 10, 1934 forming Cunard White Star Limited. Overtime Cunard would swallow up the remains of WSL, having fully reverted by the name Cunard in 1949 and purchasing the last remaining shares of White Star Lines in 1950. Cunard Line would continue operation until the year 2005 until it finally became apart of Carnival Corporation & PLC. Carnival is currently the largest travel-leisure company in the world with over 100 vessels across 10 cruise line brands.
Today, the only remnant of the White Star Line is the term "White Star Service" used on all modern Cunard ships and the memory of both the company and it's beautiful ships... Including the R.M.S. Titanic.
Construction on the Titanic began on March 31st, 1909 in Belfast, Ireland when the designer, James Andrews, laid the first keel plate and was launched (Put into the water) on May 31st, 1911 but the engines and interior were not installed. She was finally completed on March 31st, 1912 having already killed 8 people during construction.
The Titanic measured 882'9" (269.06 meters) in length, 92'6" (28.19 meters) in width, 104' (32 meters) in height and weighed in at 52.3K tons (104,600 pounds). She could travel at a top speed of 23 knots. At that time, she was the largest ship ever built having been surpassed about a year after her sinking by the German ship S.S. Imperator. Titanic cost $7.5 million (roughly 400 million today) to construct. She was built using 3,000,000 iron and steel rivets.
The Titanic featured 10 decks, 2 of which were for crew and 8 for passengers. The decks are as follows:
Boat Deck The boat deck was the Titanic's highest deck. The wheelhouse and bridge were at the front end and it housed her lifeboats.
Promenade Deck (A Deck) The promenade deck stretched along the entire length of the Titanic and was exclusively for the first class passengers. This deck contained cabins, lounges, reading/ writing rooms and the Palm Court.
Bridge Deck (B Deck) The bridge deck held more first class accommodations with 6 palatial staterooms sporting their own private promenades. Among these first class exclusives were also the second class smoking lounge and hall entrance. Luxurious restaurants such as the À la carte could be found here.
Shelter Deck (C Deck) The shelter deck included both well decks and included the third class promenade.
Saloon Deck (D Deck) Housing three very large rooms, these included the first class reception room, first class dining saloon and second class dining saloon. This deck also sported third class cabins and berths underneath for firemen. This deck was the highest point reached by the bulkheads, in which were 8 of 15.
Upper Deck (E Deck) This deck was reserved for mostly passenger accommodation for first class, second class and third class. It also contained berths for cooks, seaman and stewards. This deck held a very long passageway called Scotland Road and was used by third class passengers and crew members.
Middle Deck (F Deck) This deck accommodated second class, third class passengers and several departments of the crew. This is also where the third class dining saloon, swimming pool, Turkish bath and kennels were located on the ship.
Lower Deck (G Deck) The last complete deck that carrier passengers, it was primarily utilized for mail sorting so it could be delivered at dock, storing food and equipment and also held the squash court. This deck had the lowest portholes on the ship which rose just above the waterline.
Orlop Deck & Tank Top This was the lowest level of the ship. The Orlops deck was used as cargo holds while the tank top was the platform used to hold the ship's engines, boilers, turbines and electrical generators. Spiral stairways that rose straight up connected the lowest level with the highest level and all decks in between. Passengers were absolutely not allowed into these decks.
The Titanic Was On Fire
What few people know is that Titanic was actually on fire for the entire duration of her maiden voyage and even before she left belfast.. This fire also played a part in the sinking of the ship, actually being a leading cause to her slipping beneath the waves. Unfortunately, as we find out more information about the Titanic we only uncover more and more just how truly doomed from the start she was.
An Irish journalist, Senan Moloney, had come across a photo album featuring Titanic hidden away in an attic in England. Among the photos included some alarming pictures that seemed to show signs of burn marks on the Titanic. The scorch mark is about 30 feet long and in roughly the same area where the iceberg hit. The scorch mark was also observed on the wreck site by James Cameron among his several successful expeditions to the Titanic's final resting place.
Engineers at the Imperial College of London were able to determine that the mark was caused by a raging coal fire inside the three-story high bunker that stored the coal which fueled the ship. More evidence includes the testimony from Charles Osker Hendrickson, who spoke about the fire in an inquiry regarding the investigation into the disaster. Charles survived the Titanic sinking and had been one of three or four other firefighters that relentlessly worked to put out the fire.
The problem with a coal fire is that it can't really be put out. A great example of this is a coal mine in Centralia, Pennsylvania which caught fire on May 27th, 1962. Firefighters fought to put it out but were forced to abandon efforts after realizing it wasn't possible to put it out. The local government just purchased all of the land from people and evacuated the entire area and ever since then to this day, some 60 years later, the mine is still burning over 300 feet deep over a stretch of 8 miles.
The only way to put out this fire (Other than sinking the entire ship under water, that probably did the job...) was to put the burning coal into furnaces. The Titanic was carrying 6,611 tones (13.2M pounds) of coal and it was burning 825 tons (1.6M pounds) a day. The only people who knew about the fire were the workers shoveling coal, the firefighters and the highest ranking members on-board.
The only passenger on board that knew about the fire was the ship's designer, James Andrews. They wanted to keep the fire a secret for a number of different reasons but more importantly to not damage the ship's reputation which would chase away current or potential investors. Edward Smith, a British Naval Officer, was the captain of the Titanic on her maiden voyage and also knew of the fire. It's suspected that the reason the Titanic was going so fast (22.3 knots, nearly the 23 knot top speed) when she hit the iceberg was because Captain Smith wanted to get to New York as fast as possible to deal with the fire at port.
The Titanic Sinks
Between April 14-15 of 1912 at 11:47PM, the Titanic struck an iceberg going 22.3 knots. It was on course for a straight, direct collision before the lookout officers, Reginald Lee and Frederick Fleet, in the crow's nest of Titanic's forward mast reported their sighting of the Iceberg. 37 seconds later, Robert Hichens who was manning the Titanic's wheel failed to successfully steer the ship after trying to steer it to the left causing the Titanic's starboard side to strike the iceberg.
Both lookouts and Robert Hichens survived the disaster although Robert was accused of being drunk and committing some rather heinous actions while on board lifeboat number 6, even referring to the survivors in the water as "stiffs" and refusing to rescue any of them. He was reported to be drunk and was acting so much out of line that the other survivors in the lifeboat threatened to throw him overboard. Several times he disrespected the dead and other survivors as well as the rescuers, claiming they weren't here to rescue anyone but to just collect dead bodies.
The Titanic's designer, James Andrews, did not survive the disaster and Captain Edward Smith chose to go down with the Titanic, following maritime tradition which states the Captain can't leave until everyone has been safely evacuated and that they are the last one off of the ship. 2,208 people were on the Titanic. 1,503 of those people died, leaving only 705 to have survived the sinking. That's 31.6% of the entire populace on board.
There is a number of combining factors that contributed to this horrifying event and the unfortunate great loss of life. The steel used in her construction was, at the time, the best steel in production however by today's standards it's useless and weak. At the time of the Titanic's creation even welding was more of a newer practice and could not be applied on the massive scale of Titanic's construction. That is why over 3 million steel/ iron rivets were used to patch together the millions of steel plates that made up the structural integrity of the entire ship.
The conditions that the Titanic sank in were clear and cold. Extremely cold air and water came in from the North (Canada and the Arctic) as was normal for the season. The air temperature is thought to be around 4.1 Celsius (39.3 Fahrenheit) with the ocean temperature being around 7.3 Celsius (45.1 Fahrenheit). There are a number of different estimated guesses on temperature but all agree that it was somewhere around the point of freezing (0 Celsius, 32 Fahrenheit). Many of the deaths were attributed to hypothermia, which is an extreme medical emergency occurring when the body loses heat faster than it can produce it. With the reported water temperature, hypothermia would have set in anywhere between 5-10 minutes and would have been fatal in around 15 minutes from it first setting in.
The freezing temperatures would have made the steel extremely fragile and brittle. Many survivors reported hearing what sounded like china plates breaking when she hit which backs this up. The rivets would have just popped right out and the steel plates would have shattered rather than be crimpled up like steel normally would react. On top of this, the fire we previously spoke which was still burning as it struck would have made the steel softer and even weaker than it already was.
Another major flaw was the 16 watertight bulkheads within the belly of the ship. If struck, these bulkheads were designed to close to prevent water from spreading into other areas of the ship. The problem was the bulkheads did not reach the very top of the ceiling, meaning water could travel over the top of the bulkheads and spread into the other areas of the ship. The Titanic was reported to still be fine even if 4 of these compartments had been affected. Unfortunately and oddly enough, The iceberg ripped a hole on the starboard side that affected 5 compartments.
After striking the Iceberg, the Titanic continued to sail about 15 minutes later only to finally stop and her engines shutting down for good. During this 15 minutes, passengers were worried and confused. The Titanic's belly was already rapidly filling with water. It was chaos as workers raced to evacuate, especially before the bulkheads closed on them. Many of them would die down there, laid to rest for the rest of eternity with the ship they worked so hard to keep operational.
It took Titanic 2 hours and 40 minutes to completely sink. As it submerged below the water line, she broke into three pieces. Those pieces traveled to the ocean floor at about 30MPH (48 KMH), taking only roughly 5-6 minutes to touch the bottom. Anybody still inside the ship as it sank did not survive long enough to feel the impact on the bottom which was 12,600" (2.6 Miles) deep.
No bodies were ever recovered from inside the wreck , all that remains of them are clothes and shoes spread around the wreck in the debris fields. 328 bodies were recovered from the water while over a thousand still remain completely lost. Most bodies were brought to shore for identification but 116 were so badly decomposed that they were buried at sea.
About a month after the Titanic sank, a lifeboat from the Titanic was found about 200 miles from where she sank with 3 rotting corpses inside. This was collapsible boat A and was never launched off the Titanic. It was the last lifeboat off and only washed over the side as the last bit of the Titanic sank beneath the surface. About 30 desperate survivors in the water struggled to climb aboard. Most of the survivors in this boat died from exposure. Eventually it was found and 12 survivors inside were rescued. The life boat was allowed to drift away with bodies still on it. These three corpses were the bodies of 2 unidentified men believed to be firemen and a first class passenger, Thompson Beatti.
The sinking of the Titanic was met with international shock and outrage. How could so many people die? What went wrong? The numerous flaws weren't the only cocktail that attributed to the sinking. These lifeboats were also among the many, many problems. Titanic only had 20 lifeboats on board but could carry 48. It was only carrying less than half of her capacity. They didn't want to carry the full capacity because they felt the deck would become too cluttered. Additionally, these lifeboats weren't even filled to max capacity when evacuating the passengers, women and children first.
These boats weren't filled in their entirety because alot of passengers were reluctant to leave the ship. They still didn't understand what had happened and held onto beliefs that the Titanic was "unsinkable". Lifeboats 7, 5, 3 and 1 on the starboard side and lifeboats 8 and 6 on the port side were the first boats to be lowered into to the icy waters. These lifeboats were all released in rapid succession of each other.
Passengers refusing to leave the ship because of ignorance. This was another problem. Most of the passengers were all into the hype of how the Titanic could not ever sink and were way too confident, including the crew. In fact, when she first struck the iceberg most people didn't even hear it and the majority of those that did chose to ignore it. Very few people demonstrated any concern. Extremely good marketing is the blame for this.
Discovering the Titanic
The Titanic sunk on April 14-15th, 1912 and it wasn't until 73 years later on September 1st, 1985 that she was seen again. This was after several years of failed expeditions that sought after the wreckage but all have failed due to the North Atlantic's unpredictable weather and rough seas combined with a number of other factors. The 1985 joint American-French expedition lead by National Geographic's own Robert Ballard and French Scientist Jean-Louis Michel was successful in finding the wreckage which was in deeply involved in a decomposition process.
The discovery actually came as part to a secret US Cold War military operation. Robert Ballard met with the US Navy in 1982 to request funding for the research and development of new technology necessary to build his submersible that was needed to find the Titanic. The US Navy agreed and wanted the Robert to use the technology to locate and photograph two sunken submarines, the U.S.S. Thresher and the U.S.S. Scorpion.
The US Navy was very interested in the two submarines, not so much in finding Titanic. So they weren't really thrilled to hear Robert ask if he could also search for the Titanic which was between the two submarines. Retired Vice Admiral Thunman stated he told Robert they were very interested in the Submarines but, if there was time left after completing the mission than maybe.
The Navy didn't really have much interest in the Titanic for 3 reasons:
1.) It wasn't apart of the original mission
2.) They didn't think Robert would even find it
3.) They were worried about the publicity the discovery would bring and reveal the mission which was supposed to be top secret
The mission was a success. The objective was to see if the nuclear reactors were going to pose an environmental safety hazard and if the U.S.S. Thresher was destroyed by the Soviets like they thought. Both confirmed that they were safe and never attacked by those communist bastards. After the mission, Robert had 12 days left of the mission which he used to search for Titanic.
His side mission to find the Titanic was also a success. Located in the North Atlantic waters at the coordinates of 41.7325° N, 49.9469° W, he found the Titanic split in half with a massive debris field in areas he speculated. The Titanic split into three pieces as she sank. The bow and Stern ended up facing away from each other on their descent down into darkness. The middle piece disintegrated on the journey along with her funnels, however the forward mast with crow's next survived and is still visible on the wreck site. The two pieces rest 1,970 apart from each other with debris fields covering an area of 3 x 5 miles.
Serious deterioration over the course of nearly 100 years submerged within crushing depths of salt water harboring strange creatures has put the wreckage in serious dismay. A new kind of rust-eating bacteria was actually discovered on the Titanic and named Halomonas Tianicae after the the once beautiful ocean liner. The bacteria can actually be seen, forming long "rusticles" along the ship's hull as it eats away at the metal. The wreckage is also been contaminated with modern trash left from the several expeditions.
The problems go even deeper than that. It's been reported that parts of the ship have been damaged from the many submarines bumping around while exploring the wreckage and landing on her. Parts of the wreck have caved in. At the rate the Titanic is decaying, it's reported that she will only be around for an estimated 10-15 years or so. Scientists expect the wreck to completely disappear by the year 2030.
When the wreck disappears it will be tragic to say the least. She is a reminder and memorial to the worst disaster in commercial maritime history while also holding the record of greatest loss of life at sea. Not a record to be proud of but necessary to remember so that the same mistakes aren't made ever again. Even when the ship disappears, we will still have artifacts.
About 5,500 artifacts were taken from the wreck and preserved by a private American company, RMS Titanic Inc. (Now out of business) since 1987. These artifacts include everything from a 15 ton piece of the hull to dinner plates, forks and spoons. Pieces of the deck can even be bought on Ebay alongside the coal that was taken from the wreck. At least even when she's gone, she won't truly be gone.
For now, may the Titanic and all the souls she brought with her rest in peace.
Titanic Facts, Myths & More
I. The last meal served on the Titanic was a meal served by the Ritz Restaurant featuring fresh oysters, caviar, lobsters, quail, salmon, roast duckling and lamb.
II. The Titanic had 20,000 bottles of beer, 1,500 bottles of wine and 8,000 cigars on board when she sank.
III. There's a conspiracy that the Titanic didn't actually sink. The Olympic, Titanic's oldest sister out of 3, was already around sailing about but was in need of constant repairs. Deemed to be damaged beyond profit, she got her final repairs where the Titanic was being built and it's rumored that White Star Line switched them out to just get rid of Olympic for insurance money.
IV. Another conspiracy theory, this states that J.P. Morgan purposely had the Titanic sunk to kill off business rivals. J.P. Morgan owned the International Mercantile Marine Company which was White Star Line's parent company. Meaning J.P. Morgan also owned Titanic, which many of his business rivals did board as passengers.
V. Ironically, a lifeboat drill was scheduled on the day she sank but the drill was cancelled by Captain Smith. Nobody knows why but it's believed to be because he felt nothing was going to happen and it would kill the good spirits and positive attitudes people had.
VI. The most expensive item lost on the Titanic was the La Circassienne au Bain painting, which an insurance claim fetched $100,000 ($2.6 Million today) for.
VII. There were 9 dogs on board the Titanic, 2 of which survived having been put into lifeboats among the women & children.
VIII. While we know how many people died on the Titanic, we don't know who they all were. Back then people would travel under false names & such while also having come from all over the world. It wasn't feasible to accurately ID all of the bodies.
IX. An eight piece band went down with the ship playing their last song which was either "Nearer my God to thee" or "Autumn".
X. 700 Third class passengers had to share 2 bathtubs.
XI. Only three of the funnels actually blew smoke. The fourth one all the way to the rear was purely for looks. The kitchen exhausts and boiler rooms were connected to the other funnels.
XII. The iceberg the Titanic hit was thought to rise above the water at about 100 feet and be around 200-400 feet long. It was 5,000 miles south of the Arctic Circle and is believed to have broken off of Greenland sometime in 1911. The iceberg would have completely melted sometime in 1913.
XIII. Charles Joughin, the Titanic's Chief Baker, had heard the ship was sinking and to prepare for the icy waters he had went into the ship's liquor storage and drank as much whiskey as he could. Then, he threw chairs overboard to be used as flotation devices for people in the water and jumped off the ship where he treaded water for 2 hours before finally being rescued.
XIV. First class passengers had access to a heated swimming pool. Truly the height of aspiration and affluence.
XV. An American Author might have predicted the Titanic. 14 years prior to her sinking, Morgan Robertson wrote a novel titled "The Wreck of the Titan" which involved a fictional ocean liner that sank and didn't have enough lifeboats for everyone.
XVI. Wallace Hartley, Violinist among the eight piece band, played his final piece with his band on his violin as the ship sank. None of the band members survived however his violin did. Found in 2006 in an attic, the violin was tested and was confirmed to be the violin played by Wallace as the ship went down. It sold at auction for $1.6M.
XVII. The moon was unusually close. Actually, it was the closest to Earth it has ever been since the year 976. As a result, the tides were higher than normal and it's believed this had also directed a large amount (more than usual) of ice into the Titanic's path. The moon would have been bigger and brighter that night she sank. It was also a clear, cold night and many other strange events had occurred such as refraction. This is why the lookouts didn't see the Iceberg quick enough.
XVIII. Dorothy Gibson was an actress aboard the Titanic and she was lucky enough to have survived the ordeal. 4 weeks later she would star in a Titanic film wearing the same clothes she wore when the ship sank.
Titanic Belfast is a tourist attraction built on the exact spot Titanic was built at which was at a drydock on Queen's Island in Belfast, Ireland. The building can hold the same amount of people the Titanic could, 3,300 people which is a very nice detail. It's over 12,000 Square Meters (130,000 Square Feet) which is mostly occupied with galleries, private function rooms and community rooms. One of the rooms is even the very exact room where James Andrews designed the Titanic.
Most of the original buildings and such were demolished however both Titanic's and her sister Olympic's original slipways and graving docks are still there. The Arrol Gantry, a large steel structure where the 3 sisters were constructed at, is gone now sadly.
For more information and visiting information, please click on the image below. It will take you to the official website.