History.com

History.com

 

The Titanic was a feat of engineering unlike anything the world had ever seen. It was considered unsinkable and was an incredibly sought after cruise liner. The ship was a British passenger liner that started her maiden voyage in Southampton and was headed to New York City. This was the second of three Olympic class liners which was operated by the White Star Line.

Built by the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, it was looked at as the flagship of the fleet. The architect of the Titanic, Thomas Andrews died during the sinking of the ship on April, 15th 1912. After the collision with the iceberg, the death-toll was one of the deadliest in modern peacetime maritime history. Of the approximately 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, somewhere around 1,500 died. There is much debate about the actual numbers, but most come in somewhere between 1,497 and 1,517 that did not survive the sinking.

This was not because of the ships lack of safety features. In fact, it had some of the most advanced safety features of all ships. These included watertight compartments and remotely activated watertight doors. The issue was that the outdated maritime safety regulations only required enough lifeboats to carry about half the number aboard.

The Titanic took 2 hours and 40 minutes from collision to sinking. As an unsinkable ship, this was a shock to the world and the following facts talk about the people, the experience and even some facts that are nothing more than shocking.

The question, though, is how did we become so arrogant? Why do we feel that we can create things that are claimed to be immune to the laws of nature? We live on this world and we have to play by its rules. There is never a surefire thing. The Titanic is proof of that. While the disaster could have been mitigated or even prevented as you will learn in the following pages, the fact that we were so sure that we could create something that could not be destroyed by nature was what doomed the ship from the start.

This story, as heartbreaking and fascinating as it is, is a story that can be learned from. The individuals that boarded this ship expected nothing but luxury and safety. Much like when we leave our house each day we expect to make it home that night without issue. The true lesson of the Titanic is that we can not take any one moment for granted. They are all just moments away from our last. Those moments may be decades from now or minutes from now. There is no way to tell. Remember that we are just a speck of dust in this universe and our time is short, so we have to enjoy it and understand that we have no control over what the world will throw at us. That is to say, live every moment as if it were your last.

40. That Is Some Anchor

Via NPVM.org.uk

Via NPVM.org.uk

The main anchor for the Titanic was so large and heavy that it required 20 horses to pull it. These aren’t just any horses either, they were Clydesdales. The procession that followed the anchor started towards Dudley Railway Station on April the 30th of 1911. From there, the anchors and chains would travel via rail to Fleetwood, located in Lancashire. It was late afternoon when the anchors arrived. It took some time after that, until May, for the anchor to arrive at the Titanic. The center anchor was the largest anchor ever hand-forged at the time.

39. Accepting Fate

Via Alchetron

Via Alchetron

Benjamin Guggenheim was an American businessman that died during the sinking of the Titanic. He was both an American and German citizen. After his father died, he inherited a great deal of money, which seems to have allowed him to launch his own career. He boarded the Titanic with his mistress, his valet (Victor Giglio), and a few others. When helping two of his party onto Lifeboat No. 9 he spoke to his maid in German, saying, “We will soon see each other again! It’s just a repair. Tomorrow the Titanic will go on again.”

He knew better, though, to what his fate was at this point. He and Giglio returned to his cabin to change into formal evening wear.  He was heard to say, “We’ve dressed up in our best and are prepared to go down like gentlemen.” The last anyone saw of Guggenheim and Giglio was of the two sitting on deck chairs in the foyer of the Grand Staircase. There they sipped brandy and smoked cigars as they awaited their fate.

38. All Dogs Go to Heaven

via William Murdoch

via William Murdoch

There were a total of nine dogs on the Titanic. Of those nine, a Pomeranian and a Pekinese were both rescued, the other seven did not survive. Other reports state that there were around a dozen dogs and two Pomeranians and a single Pekingese survived.

37. The Lifeboat Issue

via reddit

via reddit

While the sinking of the Titanic was a tragedy, the loss of life was what makes it such a memorable moment in our history. The sad truth is that there should have been fewer deaths by a pretty wide margin. The Titanic was equipped to carry 64 lifeboats but only carried 20. While 65 people could fit in the first lifeboat alone, only 28 got on. If all lifeboats were equipped on the ship, and all could carry 65 people, over 4,000 people could have been saved, theoretically. That is much more room than would have been needed.

36. Multiple Warnings

via Foot's Forecast

via Foot’s Forecast

The Titanic received six ice warnings before colliding with the iceberg. To make matters worse, the ship was going just .5 knots below the top speed through iceberg-filled waters. So when the lookout spotted the iceberg, they had no choice to but plow through or try to turn away from it – the turning was the fatal mistake that sunk the ship.

35. No Public Address

The Bluefish

The Bluefish

Both the Titanic and her sister ship the Olympic had no form of public address system. This is part of the reason that our next fact likely exists. In the moments after the collision, confusion was obviously a big factor in the light load on the first lifeboat as well as many other issues that occurred. For a luxury liner that would be carrying so many, hindsight makes it clear that some form of PA system should have been included.

34. Bad Timing

via National Geographic

via National Geographic

From the time that the Titanic and the iceberg met, to the time of the Titanic’s sinking, 160 minutes passed. Of that 160 minutes, only 100 were available for escape. It took about 60 minutes for the first Titanic lifeboats to start launching. This is likely due, in part, to the fact that no PA system was on board, so communication was difficult to reach all of the people on the ship, to say the least.

33. Not Originally the RMS Titanic

via eBay

via eBay

Many consider the Titanic a cruise ship. This is likely due to the fact that it was built to be a luxury ship for passengers. The first use of the word “cruise ship” or “cruise liner” was in 1900 with the luxury cruising ship, Prinzessin Victoria Luise. But many point to the fact that the Titanic is actually a Royal Mail Ship (which came with the benefits spoken about earlier), but that was not the original designation of the vessel. Originally, the Titanic was going to be called the SS Titanic. SS stands for Screw Steamer, also known as Steamship, but after carrying Royal Mail, it gained the RMS title.

Was it a cruise ship? That is up for debate. It wasn’t ever called a cruise ship, but it was also considered a luxury liner. Ultimately, the ship pulled double duty as an RMS and passenger luxury liner.

32. The Movie Cost More Than The Ship

via PopSugar

via PopSugar

James Cameron made a blockbuster of a movie with the 1997 release of Titanic. The cost of the movie was around $200,000,000 USD. The building of the Titanic was estimated to cost about $7,500,000 at the time. When converted for inflation, that would come out to be about $166,000,000 in 2016. So while the ship was fairly expensive to build, the movie was even more costly.

31. Why Build the Titanic in the First Place?

via E-monsite

via E-monsite

We often get so caught up in the big or interesting facts about the Titanic that we never ask why it was even built. It was costly, huge and a marvel at the time, but was it necessary? According to White Star Line it was. This was all because of competition with rivals Cunard, which owned the Lusitania, which was renowned as one of the most luxurious ships in the world, and Mauretania, which held the Blue Riband, the unofficial holder of the fastest Atlantic crossing.

White Star Line did not want to compete in speed, but it did want to build something more reliable and luxurious. Thus it started work on the Titanic, and her sister ships, the Britannic and Olympic. The idea spawned the start of what we see in cruise liners these days – each competing to offer more luxurious amenities than the next.

30. Cats Sank the Titanic

via YouTube

via YouTube

It is a common practice that cats are taken aboard ships. Not only do they help control pest issues, they are often seen as a sign of good luck. While it is widely believed that cats were taken aboard the Titanic, it would seem that there were none on the ship. So the iceberg may have sunk the Titanic, but the lack of cats is just another strange story that, looking back, adds to the unique nature of the ships sinking.

29. The Oldest and Youngest

via Biography

via Biography

The youngest female passenger on the Titanic was 2 months and 13 days old. She was a third class passenger named Millvina Dean and survived in Lifeboat 10. She died on May 31st, 2009. The youngest male was 4 months and 29 days old. Master Gilbert Sigvard Emanuel Danbom was a third class passenger who sadly died during the sinking.

At almost 65 years old, Mrs. Mary Eliza Compton survived the sinking in Lifeboat 14. She died on December 4th, 1930. Mr. Johan Svensson was the oldest male at almost 75 years old. He died in the sinking and his body was never recovered.

28. The Addergoole Fourteen

via Addergoole-Titanic

via Addergoole-Titanic

Fourteen passengers on board the Titanic were from the Addergoole Parish in County Mayo, Ireland. Of the fourteen, only three survived. The group became known as The Addergoole Fourteen. Each year, on April 15th, at 2:20 AM, a bell ringing service is held at Saint Patrick’s Church, Lahardane. The bells ring for one hour. The tradition was started in 2002.

27. Life (?) Jackets

via Smithsonian

via Smithsonian

While the Titanic was surely shorted enough lifeboats to accommodate all of the people on board, there were 3,500 cork-filled life jackets on the liner. Another 48 life belts were also available. While they kept people from drowning, it did little to save lives. The water was so cold that those not on a lifeboat were estimated to die within 5 minutes of entering the water. Others estimate 15-45 minutes as the maximum life expectancy. The sinking was a perfect storm, if the water was warmer, most would have likely survived. The same could be said about the number of lifeboats.

26. Those That Survived the Water

via Titanic Universe

via Titanic Universe

While it is a good estimate that most people would die within 5 minutes of entering the water after the collision with the iceberg, a few did beat the odds. Nine people were actually pulled from the water after the lifeboats had already launched, but only six survived after being rescued. Another 30 managed to survive by standing on the upturned hull of one of the collapsible lifeboats (B), which they were unable to right.

25. What Happened to the Lifeboats?

via Titanic-Model

via Titanic-Model

During the rescue of the Titanic survivors by the Carpathia, 13 lifeboats were brought back to Pier 59. Pier 59 is where the Titanic was scheduled to dock. Plates were removed from the lifeboats which had their numbers and the Titanic name. Lifeboat 8’s plate was removed by Able Seaman Tom Jones, a surviving crew member, and was sent to Lucy Noël Martha, the Countess of Rothes.

After that, the fate of the 13 ships is a bit of a mystery. Most assume they were put to use on the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic, but there is no confirmation as to what truly happened to the 13 that made it back. The other seven floated in the Atlantic, which included 3 wooden boats, 4, 14 and 15, as well as four collapsible boats, A through D. It was only a few days later that a Canadian ship by the name of Mackay-Bennett, saw collapsible lifeboat B floating in the water and tried to bring it on board, but was unsuccessful.

24. The Millionaire’s Boat

via legag

via legag

Lifeboat Number 1, only held a 12 passengers when it was lowered into the water, 5 of which were first class passengers aboard the Titanic. While 7 crew members were on the boat, so was Sir Cosmo and Lady Lucy Duff Gordon. It was named the “Millionaire’s Boat” by the press and was accused of ignoring cries for help from the people in the water.

One Titanic Survivor, Jack B. Thayer, was quoted as saying:

The partly filled lifeboat standing by about 100 yards away never came back. Why on Earth they never came back is a mystery. How could any human being fail to heed those cries.

Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon later gave each of the 7 crewmembers aboard the lifeboat 5 pounds. He claimed the payment was to compensate them for the loss of their kit, but he was heavily criticized for the payment. Some felt it was a payoff for keeping the two first class passengers alive.

23. The Mysteries of the Titanic

via Ancestry Blog

via Ancestry Blog

While the Titanic is one of the most famous ships to ever sail, the hard facts and numbers are still somewhat uncertain. Death counts and passenger counts are often debated. What is clear is the timing of the ships sinking. It is strange that we have such hard documentation of every minute of the sinking, but muddy numbers when it comes to how many people were actually on the ship, how many survived and how many died. It is likely one of the reasons the Titanic is still talked about today. The mysteries keep it alive in our minds.

Some of the confusion may come from the reports that were published shortly after the sinking. Many didn’t know the exact numbers or were misinformed. That information then became factual later on or at least added to the debates that are still held today.

22. The Titanic is Not the Worst Maritime Disaster

via History In An Hour

via History In An Hour

Many think of the Titanic as the worst maritime disaster in modern history, but that simply isn’t true. In 1945, on January 30th, a German flagship called the MV Wilhelm Gusloff was torpedoed near the coast of Poland. More than 9,000 people lost their lives, many of which were refugees. The torpedo came from a Soviet S-13 submarine in the Baltic Sea.

The ship was used as a cruise ship for the Nazi Kraft durch Freude (Strength Through Joy) organization and later requisitioned by the German navy in 1939. From 1939 to 1940 she was a hospital ship, then became a floating barracks. By 1945, the ship was used to transport evacuees.

20. The Final Resting Place

via Ultimate Titanic

via Ultimate Titanic

The Titanic rests about 2.4 miles under the surface of the Atlantic. The stern and bow rest about 1,970 feet apart. The bow penetrated the floor of the seabed 60 feet and rises 40 feet above the seabed. It took until September 1st of 1985 for the wreckage of the Titanic to be found. It was discovered by an American-French team including Robert Ballard and Jean-Louis Michel. Argo, the remote-controlled deep-sea submersible gave the first images of the ship. The Titanic lay on the seabed alone for 73 years before finally being discovered.

20. The Last Meal

Ajarn Donald's Blog

Ajarn Donald’s Blog

The last meal served to first class passengers consisted of 11 courses. There were three classes of passengers, first, second and third, and the final meal for the first class passengers was an extravagant meal unlike anything we would likely see today.

19. The White Swan Hotel, Alnwick

Pinterest

Pinterest

Banisters from the Grand Staircase of the Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic are found there. They are apparently identical to the Titanic Banisters. While these are not the actual banisters from the Titanic, they are built from the same three Olympic-style ships and taken from the namesake as a way to honor that particular point in time. They show the elegance that the ship had and reason for the high prices paid to take part in the maiden voyage.

18. So Much Soap

Pixxcell

Pixxcell

22 tons of soap and tallow (rendered beef or mutton fat) were smeared on the slipway to assist its unhindered passage into River Lagan. The ship was so large that it needed to ensure it was able to smoothly exit into the River Lagan as it moved on to the Atlantic. The soap and tallow ensured this was possible.

17.  The Richest Passenger

VanderbiltCupRaces

VanderbiltCupRaces

John Jacob Astor IV was worth $85 million, which is about $2 billion today. Astor was a prominent member of the Astor family, a real estate builder, investor, inventor, businessman and writer as well as a lieutenant colonel. He died in the sinking of the ship as one of the 1,514 people never to return home. He was not only the richest passenger on board, he was one of the wealthiest people in the world at the time.

16. Noel Leslie, the Countess of Rothes

Frames

Frames

Noel Leslie was on board the ship when it sank, but she survived. Likely less to do with her being a countess and having more to do with the fact that the “women and children first” rule still applied at the time. She was mentioned in Downton Abbey. “Isn’t this terrible? When you think how excited Lucy Rothes was at the prospect,” remarks the Countess of Grantham when she hears of the disaster.

15. Only 37 Seconds

ExploreTitanic

ExploreTitanic

37 seconds separated the sighting and collision of the iceberg. This was mainly due to the fact that the lookout had no binoculars, and considering how late it was at night, there was little light to see far ahead. To add to that, only a portion of the iceberg was visible. Little time was available to make any adjustments ensuring that the ship was going to collide no matter what.

14. The Iceberg

Blogspot.com

Blogspot.com

The iceberg was 100 feet tall and came from Greenland. More interesting is the fact that the journey that it made from Greenland was very unlikely. It likely started life somewhere around 1,000 B.C. and after snowfall built up it would compact to become firn. Decades later it would become ice due to the weight of the snow that would top it. It would take centuries for the iceberg to break free and start its journey to infamy. After leaving the Greenland coast it probably went from Baffin Bay to Davis Strait, then to the Labrador Sea and finally the Atlantic.

Here is the crazy part of the whole story of the iceberg, though, of the 15-30,000 that break from Greenland each year, it is estimated that only about 1% ever make it to the Atlantic. Upon being hit, the iceberg would have lasted maybe another year at most before becoming just another freshwater addition to the Atlantic.

13. First Officer William McMaster Murdoch

Pinterest

Pinterest

He ordered the ship to turn, but it was too large to do so in time. If the ship would have collided head on it would have possibly survived the crash. The theory is that because of the size and timing of the sighting that the ship sank because of where the iceberg hit and not due to the fact that the Titanic hit an iceberg.

When the iceberg hit the Titanic, it crushed two panels that were protecting many of the watertight sections of the ship. This is what allowed the water to flow into the ship so easily. If they would have plowed through the iceberg, the ship would have had some dings and scratches but would have most likely survived without any significant damage.

12. Edward Smith

Felsofokon.hu

Felsofokon.hu

The ship’s captain went down with the ship saying  “Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you. You know the rule of the sea. It’s every man for himself now, and God bless you.” There are more facts about the captain that will be covered shortly, but Smith accepted his fate with grace and composure, trying to bring comfort to those in his employ. This is what we often idealize a ship’s captain to be, but it is what Smith actually was.

11. Not The Best Honeymoon

BlitzLift

BlitzLift

26 of the people on board were honeymooners. While this was a perfect choice for a honeymoon, this is likely one of the biggest tragedies of the entire sinking.

10. Californian Karma

Vancouver.ca

Vancouver.ca

The SS Californian was criticized for ignoring the Titanic’s signals of distress. A German submarine later sunk the ship. That is the long and short of how karma works if you believe in it. While there are questions as to whether the Californian actually received the distress calls, partly due to the reduction in power as the Titanic sank, the criticism is still a big sticking point as it seems that the Californian did not make any efforts to lend assistance which may have saved hundreds of lives.

Another argument is that the ship would have created more problems and put itself in danger if it had been too close to the sinking. When the ship sank it created a near vacuum in the water, which, considering the lack of real understanding of what was going on, could have made a bad situation worse if the ship was too close. Life rafts could have been hit and in the darkness of the middle of the night, it is unclear what help the Californian could have provided.

9. Of All The Films Goebbels Was The Worst

NewYorkPost

NewYorkPost

Joseph Goebbels of Nazi infamy created a film about the Titanic. It was created in 1943 and was propaganda to discredit the British and American businessmen as well as featuring key German passengers. In the epilogue, the movie states “the deaths of 1,500 people remain unatoned, forever a testament of Britain’s endless quest for profit.” Fortunately, Goebbels got his comeuppance later after the war.

8. The Postal Titanic

Smithsonian Fire and Ice Exhibit

Smithsonian Fire and Ice Exhibit

RMS stood for Royal Mail Steamer and Royal Merchant ship because it carried mail under the auspices of His Majesty’s postal authorities. This gave the ship British protection as an attack on it was an attack on Britain. While the ship was looked at as a cruise ship, it also carried mail across the Atlantic. Doing this was not only a great way to double up on the usefulness of the ship, but gave the ship the protection of the British empire. It was a wise choice, but all things considered, it did nothing for the ships fate.

7. I’m About To Retire

TITANIC: History's Most Famous Ship

TITANIC: History’s Most Famous Ship

Captain Smith had planned to retire after the maiden voyage. Like any great film, the central character is about to retire and things go south from there. Lethal Weapon has used this point to great effect throughout its films, and as funny as it is there, it is actually somewhat heartbreaking when you consider how honorable of a man Captain Smith seemed to be and that this was his final voyage in more ways than one. The only comfort found in his death is that he died doing what he loved.

6. Largest and Loudest

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

The ships whistles were the largest ever made at the time, they could be heard for 11 miles. This was just another one of the interesting facts about the size of the Titanic. Nothing was small on the ship, and the whistles that announced its location could be heard for miles around. Again, a estimate to the true marvel of this engineering feat.

5. The Long Way Down

YouTube

YouTube

It took the Titanic around 15 minutes to reach the ocean floor. That means she sank at a rate of 10 miles per hour. Many passengers describe the sound of the ship sinking and that they heard when it hit the ocean floor. While videos have been available for years that explore the ship in its final resting place, the horror of hearing that ship hit the floor must have been devastating.

To make matters even more difficult to imagine, survivors were able to hear the ship imploding under the pressure of the water as it descended. Finally, (and not to ruin your day, but to put light into how tragic this was) air pockets allowed some passengers to stay on the ship as it flooded. This means that they journeyed to the ocean floor with the ship, experiencing the pressure until they found their final resting place as well. That is as graphic as it will get here.

4. An Expensive Trip

Fox News

Fox News

First class tickets were $4,350, second class were $1,750 and third class were $30. This was a luxury cruise and the tickets for first and second class were anything but cheap. Remember this is 1912, and even $30 was a good chunk to be able to enjoy the maiden voyage of one of the most historic ships in history. First class, as you read earlier, did get the finest accommodations from room to food and must have enjoyed their five days before the sinking immensely.

3. Bad News

Ye Olde News

Ye Olde News

As news trickled in the original reports said things like “TITANIC REPORTED TO HAVE STRUCK ICEBERG. NO LIVES WERE LOST” or “PASSENGERS SAFELY MOVED AND STEAMER TITANIC TAKEN IN TOW”. As news continued it became less optimistic. “NEW LINER TITANIC SINKING BY THE BOW AT MIDNIGHT. WOMEN PUT OFF IN LIFEBOATS. LAST WIRELESS AT 12.27 AM BLURRED.” Finally the news broke, “TITANIC SINKS FOUR HOURS AFTER HITTING ICEBERG; 866 RESCUED BY CARPATHIA, PROBABLY 1250 PERISH; ISMAY SAFE, MRS. ASTOR MAYBE, NOTED NAMES MISSING.”

2. The Music

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

The musicians did play as the boat sank, they did not survive. The James Cameron adaptation of the film by the same name was often completely wrong on many of the facts of the ships sinking, but it did get this part right. Many of the survivors can remember the musicians playing until their final moments, giving some peace (hopefully) to those that were experiencing one of the most terrifying ways to meet their end. The musicians do not get enough credit for their heroics and bravery, but hopefully they will continue to be remembered.

1. Morgan Robertson’s Futility

iCollector.com

iCollector.com

 

Futility or The Wreck of the Titan was a novel written in 1898 by Morgan Robertson. This was released 14 years prior to the sinking of the Titanic. The fictitious novel told the story about the largest ship ever built hitting and iceberg and sinking in the Atlantic ocean on a frigid April night. The fictional ship, which was named Titan and the real Titanic were very similar in design. The book describes how the SS Titan did not carry enough lifeboats (just like the Titanic) which led to the loss of almost everyone on board. The similarities between the book and the actual events lead to conspiracy theories regarding the Titanic’s sinking. Some of which included conspiracies such as using a sister ship to sink an insurance scam by the owners J.P Morgan, and the International Mercantile Marine Group.

The eerie part is that their end is almost identical and both ships were labeled “unsinkable.” This is one of those moments that you consider whether we have premonitions of the future at times, or if coincidence is something that is just a part of the world in which we live. The book is an interesting read if only to see how similar it is to the actual events. If you do read the book, try to put yourself in a place of knowing nothing of a future ship called the Titanic being built. Then try to consider how freaked out you would have been a decade and a half later when the book came true. Even worse, try to consider how surreal it must have been if you wrote the book.