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RMS Titanic
Rms titanic sea trials april 2 1912

Name

RMS Titanic

Owner

White Star Line

Length

882.5 feet

Tonnage

46,328 gross tons

Deep draught

34.6 feet (10.8 m)

Beam

92.6

Launched

May 31st, 1911

Speed

21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph) 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph) (maximum)

Fate

Sank on 15 April 1912 after hitting an iceberg in middle of Atlantic Ocean

RMS Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world when she set off on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City on 10 April 1912. Four days into the crossing, at 23:40 on 14 April 1912, she tragically struck an iceberg and sank at 2:20 the following morning, resulting in the deaths of 1,517 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.

An Olympic-class passenger liner, Titanic was owned by the White Star Line and constructed at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland (now Northern Ireland). She set sail for New York City with 2,223 people on board; the high casualty rate when the ship sank was due in part to the fact that, although complying with the regulations of the time, the ship carried lifeboats for only 1,178 people. A disproportionate number of men died due to the women and children first protocol that was followed.

Construction

The Titanic was built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, and designed to compete with the rival Cunard Line's Lusitania and Mauretania. Titanic, along with her Olympic-class sisters, Olympic and the soon-to-be-built Britannic (which was to be called Gigantic at first), were intended to be the largest, most luxurious ships ever to operate. The designers were Lord 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. Carlisle's responsibilities included the decorations, the equipment and all general arrangements, including the implementation of an efficient lifeboat davit design. Carlisle would leave the project in 1910, before the ships were launched, when he became a shareholder in Welin Davit & Engineering Company Ltd, the firm making the davits.

Construction of RMS Titanic, funded by the American J.P. Morgan and hisInternational 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. Her length overall was 882 feet 9 inches (269.1 m), the moulded breadth 92 feet 0 inches (28.0 m), the tonnage 46,328 GRT, and the height from the water line to the boat deck of 59 feet (18 m). She was equipped with two reciprocatingfour-cylinder, triple-expansion steam engines and one low-pressure Parsons turbine, each driving a propeller. There were 29 boilers fired by 159 coal burning furnaces that made possible a top speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph). Only three of the four 62 feet (19 m) funnels were functional: the fourth, which served only for ventilation purposes, was added to make the ship look more impressive. The ship could carry a total of 3,547 passengers and crew.

Lifeboats

For her maiden voyage, Titanic carried a total of 20 lifeboats of three different varieties:

  • Lifeboats 1 and 2: emergency wooden cutters: 25'2" long by 7'2" wide by 3'2" ; capacity 326.6 cubic feet or 40 persons
  • Lifeboats 3 to 16: wooden lifeboats: 30' long by 9'1" wide by 4' deep; capacity 655.2 cubic feet or 65 people
  • Lifeboats A, B, C and D: Englehardt "collapsible" lifeboats: 27'5" long by 8' wide by 3' deep; capacity 376.6 cubic feet or 47 persons

The lifeboats were predominantly stowed in chocks on the boat deck, not connected to the falls of the davits. All of the lifeboats, including the collapsibles, were placed on the ship by the giant gantry crane at Belfast. Those on the starboard side were odd-numbered 1–15 from bow to stern, while those on the port side were even-numbered 2–16 from bow to stern. The emergency cutters (lifeboats 1 and 2) were kept swung out, hanging from the davits, ready for immediate use while collapsible lifeboats C and D were stowed on the boat deck immediately in-board of boats 1 and 2 respectively. Collapsible lifeboats A and B were stored on the roof of the officers' quarters, on either side of number 1 funnel. However there were no davits mounted on the officers' quarters to lower collapsibles A and B and the both of them weighed a considerable amount empty. During the sinking, lowering collapsibles A and B proved difficult as it was first necessary to slide the boats on timbers and/or oars down to the boat deck. During this procedure, collapsible B capsized and subsequently floated off the ship upside down.

Comparisons with the Olympic

Titanic closely resembled her older sister Olympic. Although she enclosed more space and therefore had a larger gross register tonnage, the hull was almost the same length as Olympics. Two of the most noticeable differences were that half of Titanics forward promenade A-Deck (below the boat deck) was enclosed against outside weather, and her B-Deck configuration was different from Olympics. As built Olympic did not have an equivalent of Titanics Café Parisien: the feature was not added until 1913. Some of the flaws found on Olympic, such as the creaking of the aft expansion joint, were corrected on Titanic. The skid lights that provided night time illumination on A-deck were round, while on Olympic they were oval. Titanics wheelhouse was made narrower and longer than Olympics. These, and other modifications, made Titanic 1,004 gross register tons larger than Olympic and thus the largest active ship in the world during her maiden voyage in April 1912

Ship History

Sea trials

Titanic's sea trials took place shortly after she was fitted out at Harland & Wolff shipyard. The trials were originally scheduled for 10.00am on Monday, 1 April, just nine days before she was due to leave Southampton on her maiden voyage, but poor weather conditions forced the trials to be postponed until the following day.

Aboard Titanic were 78 stokers, greasers and firemen, and 41 members of crew. No domestic staff appear to have been aboard. Representatives of various companies travelled on Titanic's sea trials, including Harold A. Sanderson of I.M.M and Thomas Andrews and Edward Wilding of Harland and Wolff. Bruce Ismay and Lord Pirrie were too ill to attend. Jack Phillips and Harold Bride served as radio operators, and performed fine-tuning of the Marconi equipment. Mr Carruthers, a surveyor from the Board of Trade, was also present to see that everything worked, and that the ship was fit to carry passengers. After the trial, he signed an 'Agreement and Account of Voyages and Crew', valid for twelve months, which deemed the ship sea-worthy.

Maiden voyage

The vessel began her maiden voyage from Southampton, bound for New York City on 10 April 1912, with Captain Edward J. Smith in command. As 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 Titanic before a tugboat towed New York away. The incident delayed departure for about half an hour. After crossing the English Channel, 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, 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.

John Coffey, a 23-year-old crewmember, jumped ship by stowing away on a tender and hid amongst mailbags headed for Queenstown. Coffey stated that the reason for smuggling himself off the liner was that he held a superstition about sailing and specifically about travelling on Titanic. He later signed on to join the crew of Mauretania.

On the maiden voyage of Titanic some of the most prominent people of the day were travelling in first class. Among them were 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 (known afterward as the "Unsinkable Molly Brown" due to her efforts in helping other passengers while the ship sank), Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife, couturière Lucy (Lady Duff-Gordon), George Dunton Widener, his wife Eleanor, and son Harry, 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. Banker J. P. Morgan was scheduled to travel on the maiden voyage, but cancelled at the last minute. Travelling in first class aboard the ship 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.

Sinking

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 (being two days before new moon), and the sky was clear. Captain Smith, in response to iceberg warnings received via wireless over the preceding few days, had drawn up a new course which took the ship slightly further southward. That Sunday at 13:45, a message from the steamer Amerika warned that large icebergs lay in 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 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 adjusted the engines (he either ordered through the telegraph for "full reverse" or "stop" on the engines; survivor testimony on this conflicts). The iceberg brushed the ship's starboard side (right side), buckling the hull in several places and popping out rivets below the waterline over a length of 299 feet (90 m). As seawater filled the forward compartments, the watertight doors shut. 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.

Photograph of an iceberg in the vicinity of RMS Titanic's sinking taken on 15 April 1912 by the chief steward of the liner Prinz Adelbert 'who stated the berg had red anti-fouling paint of the kind found on the hull from below Titanics waterline. 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 arrive in time. The closest ship to respond was Cunard Line's Carpathia 58 miles (93 km) away, which could arrive in an estimated four hours—too late to rescue all of Titanics passengers. The only land–based location that received the distress call from Titanic was a wireless station at Cape Race, Newfoundland.

From the bridge, the lights of a nearby ship could be seen off the port side. The identity of this ship remains a mystery but there have been theories suggesting that it was probably either SS Californian or a sealer called Samson. As it was not responding to wireless, Fourth Officer Boxhall and Quartermaster Rowe attempted signalling the ship with a Morse lamp and later with distress rockets, but the ship never appeared to respond. Californian, which was nearby and stopped for the night because of ice, also saw lights in the distance. Californians wireless was turned off, and the wireless operator had gone to bed for the night. Just before he went to bed at around 23:00, Californian's radio operator attempted to warn Titanic that there was ice ahead, but he was cut off by an exhausted Jack Phillips, who had fired back an angry response, "Shut up, shut up, I am busy; I am working Cape Race", referring to the Newfoundland wireless station. When Californians officers first saw the ship, they tried signalling her with their Morse lamp, but also never appeared to receive a response. Later, they noticed Titanics distress signals over the lights and informed Captain Stanley Lord. Even though there was much discussion about the mysterious ship, which to the officers on duty appeared to be moving away, the master of Californian did not wake her wireless operator until morning.

Final minutes

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, collapsible B upside down, collapsible A half-filled with water after the supports for its canvas sides were broken in the fall from the roof of the officers' quarters. Shortly afterward, 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 afterward, 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, it also sank.

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 afterward. 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 at 17.5 knots for just under four hours, RMS Carpathia arrived in the area and 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.

Aftermath

Arrival of Carpathia in New York

On 18 April, Carpathia docked at Pier 54 at Little West 12th Street in New York with the survivors. She arrived at night and was greeted by thousands of people. Titanic had been headed for 20th Street. 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 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. On April 29 Opera stars Enrico Caruso and Mary Garden and members of the Metropolitan Opera raised $12,000 in benefits for victims of the disaster by giving special concerts in which versions of "Autumn" and "Nearer My God To Thee" were part of the program. The people of Southampton were deeply affected by the sinking. According to the Hampshire Chronicle on 20 April 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.

Survivors, victims and statistics

Of a total of 2,223 people aboard Titanic only 706, less than a third, survived and 1,517 perished. The majority of deaths were caused by hypothermia in the 28 °F (−2 °C) water where death could be expected in less than 15 minutes.

Men and members of the 2nd and 3rd class were less likely to survive. Of the male passengers in second class, 92 percent perished. Less than a quarter of third-class passengers survived. Six of the seven children in first class survived, all of the children in second class survived, whereas less than half were saved in third class. 96 percent of the women in first class survived, 86 percent of the women survived in second class and less than half survived in third class. Overall, only 20 percent of the men survived, compared to nearly 75 percent of the women. Men in first class were four times as likely to survive as men in second class, and twice as likely to survive as those in third.

Four of the eight officers survived. About 21 of the 29 able seamen survived and all 7 quartermasters and 8 lookouts survived. 3 of the 13 leading firemen survived, around 45 other firemen survived and around 20 of the 73 coal trimmers survived. 4 of the 33 greasers survived and 1 of the 6 mess hall stewards survived. Around 60 of the 322 stewards and 18 of the 23 stewardesses survived. 3 of the 68 restaurant staffs survived. All 5 postal clerks, guarantee group and eight-member orchestra perished.

Another disparity is that a greater percentage of British passengers died than Americans; some sources suggest it was because Britons of the time were polite and queued, rather than forcing their way onto the lifeboats. The captain Edward John Smith was shouting: "Be British, boys, be British!" as the liner went down.

  • A Swede, Alma Pålsson, was travelling third class to meet her husband with their four children aged under 10; all died. "Paulson's grief was the most acute of any who visited the offices of the White Star, but his loss was the greatest. His whole family had been wiped out."
  • The sailors aboard the ship CS Mackay-Bennett, which recovered bodies from Titanic, were upset by the discovery of a 19-month-old boy. They paid for a monument and he was buried on 4 May 1912 with a copper pendant placed in his coffin by the sailors that read "Our Babe". The boy was identified in 2007 as Sidney Leslie Goodwin.
  • Stewardess Violet Jessop, who had been on board RMS Olympic during the collision with HMS Hawke in 1911, went on to survive the sinking of HMHS Britannic in 1916.
  • The last living survivor was Millvina Dean from England, only nine weeks old at the time of the sinking. She died on 31 May 2009, the 98th anniversary of the launching of Titanic's hull.
  • There are many stories about dogs on Titanic. A crewman released the dogs from the ship's kennels before it went down; they were seen running on the decks. Two lap dogs survived with their owners in lifeboats.

Retrieval and burial of the dead

Marker of the unknown child who was later positively identified as Sidney Leslie Goodwin. Once the massive loss of life became clear, White Star Line chartered the cable ship CS Mackay-Bennett from Halifax, Nova Scotia to retrieve bodies. Three other ships followed in the search, the cable ship Minia, the lighthouse supply ship Montmagnyand the sealing vessel Algerine. Each ship left with embalming supplies, undertakers, and clergy. Of the 333 victims that were eventually recovered, 328 were retrieved by the Canadian ships and five more by passing North Atlantic steamships. Most of the bodies were numbered. The six passengers buried at sea by Carpathia went unnumbered. In mid-May 1912, over 200 miles (320 km) from the site of the sinking, RMS Oceanic recovered three bodies, numbers 331, 332 and 333, who were occupants of Collapsible A, which was swamped in the last moments of the sinking. Several people managed to reach this lifeboat, although some died during the night. When Fifth Officer Harold Lowe rescued the survivors of Collapsible A, he left the three dead bodies in the boat: Thomas Beattie, a first-class passenger, and two crew members, a fireman and a seaman. The bodies were buried at sea from Oceanic.

The first body recovery ship to reach the site of the sinking, the cable ship CS Mackay-Bennett found so many bodies that the embalming supplies aboard were quickly exhausted. Health regulations permitted that only embalmed bodies could be returned to port. Captain Larnder of the Mackay-Bennett and undertakers aboard decided to preserve all bodies of First Class passengers, justifying their decision by the need to visually identify wealthy men to resolve any disputes over large estates. As a result the burials at sea were third class passengers and crew. Larnder himself claimed that as a mariner, he would expect to be buried at sea. However complaints about the burials at sea were made by families and undertakers. Later ships such as Minia found fewer bodies, requiring fewer embalming supplies, and were able to limit burials at sea to bodies which were too damaged to preserve.

Bodies recovered were preserved to be taken to Halifax, the closest city to the sinking with direct rail and steamship connections. The Halifax coroner, John Henry Barnstead, developed a detailed system to identify bodies and safeguard personal possessions. His identification system would later be used to identify victims of the Halifax Explosion in 1917. Relatives from across North America came to identify and claim bodies. A large temporary morgue was set up in a curling rink and undertakers were called in from all across Eastern Canada to assist. Some bodies were shipped to be buried in their home towns across North America and Europe. About two-thirds of the bodies were identified. Unidentified victims were buried with simple numbers based on the order in which their bodies were discovered. The majority of recovered victims, 150 bodies, were buried in three Halifax cemeteries, the largest being Fairview Lawn Cemetery followed by the nearby Mount Olivet and Baron de Hirsch cemeteries. Much floating wreckage was also recovered with the bodies, many pieces of which can be seen today in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax.

Investigations into the RMS Titanic disaster

Political cartoon from 1912 which shows the public demanding answers from the shipping companies about Titanic disaster 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 the UK before the American inquiry, which lasted until 25 May, was completed. The British press condemned Smith as an opportunist, insensitively forcing an enquiry as a means of gaining political prestige and seizing "his moment to stand on the world stage". Already, however, he had a reputation as a campaigner for safety on the railroads of the U.S. and he wanted to investigate any possible malpractices by railroad tycoonJ. P. Morgan, Titanic's ultimate owner.

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 Titanic, crew members of Leyland Line'sCalifornian, Captain Arthur Rostron of 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 Titanic had sufficient lifeboat space for all first-class passengers, but not for the lower classes. In fact, most third class passengers had no idea where the lifeboats were, much less any way of getting up to the higher decks where the lifeboats were stowed. U.S. immigration regulations required complete isolation of third class passengers and the route to the boat deck, through the higher classes of accommodation, was somewhat tortuous as a result. A third-class steward, John Hart, had to guide E-deck passengers, in two trips, to the boat deck but many were left behind.

SS Californian inquiry Both inquiries into the disaster found that the SS Californian and her captain, Stanley Lord, failed to give proper assistance to Titanic. Testimony before the inquiry revealed that at 22:10, 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. Californian had warned the ship by radio of the pack ice because of which Californian had stopped for the night, but was violently rebuked by Titanics 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 Californians Morse lamp had a range of about four miles (6 km), so could not have been seen from Titanic.) SS Californian 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 and 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 01:50 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.

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. Frankfurt notified the operator of Titanic's loss, Captain Lord was notified, and the ship set out for assistance.

The inquiries found that Californian was much closer to Titanic than the 19.5 miles (31.4 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 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 Californian. Its report of 1992 concluded that Californian was farther from Titanic than the earlier British inquiry had found, and that the distress rockets, but not Titanic herself, would have been visible from Californian.

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