The Titanic Has Seen It's Centennial

The Titanic

The Titanic Centennial is over but the horrible tale still remains an interest to those that follow history.

The RMS Titanic

The White Star Ocean Liner Line decided to build a ship to compete with some other liners built by the Cunard line namely the Lusitania and the Mauretania and it's sister ships Olympic and Britannic still to be built.

The design team was to be Lord William Pirrie who was a director of the shipbuilding company of Harland and Wolff and White Star. Alexander Carlisle would be the shipyard Chief draftsman and general manager. He was to design the superstructure seeing to the streamlined superstructure and also the joining of the hulls as well as designing more efficient lifeboat davits. Mr. Carlisle later left the the ships project and the company in 1910 before the Titanic was launched.

Some of the ships details

* Name: RMS Titanic

* Owner: White Star Line

* Port of Registry: Liverpool England

* Ordered: 31 July 1908

* Builder: Haarland and Wolff of Belfast, Ireland

* Keel laid down: 31 March 1909

* Launched: 31 May 1911

* Completed: 31 March 1912

* Maiden voyage: 10 April 1912

* Hull number: 131428

* Class: Olympic class ocean liner

* Tonnage: 46,328 gross registered tons

* Displacement: 52,310 tons

* Length: 882 ft 9 in

* Beam: 92 ft

* Height: 175 ft

* Decks: 9 lettered A-G

* Boilers: 9

* Engines 2 cylinder 15,000hp outboard engines 1 center engine of 16,000hp

* Speed: 21 knots or 24 MPH and 23 knots maximum

* Staterooms 840 @ 416 First class 162 Second class 262 Third class plus 40 open berthing compartments

As we approach one hundred years since Captain Edward J. Smith completed the shake downs and prepared for the Titanic's maiden voyage from Southampton, England in route to New York City we look back on history and still have many questions. When the Titanic had a close call by almost brushing up against the Liner New York that broke loose from it's moorings by the Titanic's wake and only with the help of tenders and tugs was it able to get under way a hour late on it's sailing date of 10 April 1912.

The Titanic began her maiden voyage from Southampton, England then crossing the English Channel it picked up passengers at Cherbourg, France and it's final stop at Queenstown, Ireland. The ships capacity was 3547 passengers and crew but the records showed 2,240 were on board. The passengers were comprised of a good number of European dignitaries as well as American. Many of the ships builders were aboard such as Star Line's managing director J. Bruce Ismay and ship's builder Thomas Andrews. The ships financier J.P. Morgan canceled at the last minute and one crew member a John coffey jumped ship and stowed away on one of the tenders that helped the Titanic clear the Steamship New York and it was reported he had a premination of the disaster.

On the night of 14 April 1912 while sailing South West toward the United States the temperature was falling near freezing and the ocean was calm. The Titanic's position was about 400 miles south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland and lookouts acknowledged the earlier warning of icebergs in the area. Captain Smith heeding wireless warnings altered the Titanic's course slightly to the south. That Sunday at 13:45 the Titanic had intercepted a message from the steamer Amerika warning that large icebergs lay in the Titanic's path. This message and later messages were inadvertently not sent from the radio room to the bridge as the radio operators were busy sending messages for the passengers.

At 23:40 lookout Fredrick Fleen and Reginald Lee reported a large iceberg directly ahead of the Titanic. Fleet sounded the ship's bell three times and telephoned the bridge exclaiming "Iceberg, right ahead!" First officer Murdoch gave the der "hard a starboard" to direct the tiller be put hard to port (left). The engines were ordered via engine order telegraph (a type of mechanical speed indicated controlled from the bridge to the engine room) to either stop or reverse in an effort to help turn the huge ship and slow it down.

The iceberg brushed the ship's starboard side (right side) buckling the hull in several places and popping rivets below the waterline over a length of 299 ft. Water started to enter the Titanic and soon flooding 5 compartments. It was believed the ship could survive 4 compartments flooded and if the water tight doors were closed in the other compartments the bilge and other pumps should be able to keep the ship afloat. But who would dare think of such a thing as the ship sinking after all it had only been under way for a couple days and on it's maiden voyage with all these important dignitaries on board.

Captain Smith being alerted by the impact of the collision took over command on the bridge and ordered all engines stopped. Shortly after midnight on the 15th of April the ship was inspected by officers and Thomas Andrews and the lifeboats were ordered to be readied and a distress call was sent out by radio operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride.

Several ships responded including the Mount Temple, Frankfurt and the Titanic's sister ship Olympic but they were not lose enough to make it to the scene before disaster struck. The closest ship was the Carpathia of the Cunard line at 58 miles istance and estimated four hours which was too late to rescue all the Titanic's passengers and crew. A shore station radio at Cape Race, Newfoundland also received the the distress message.

Lights from a nearby ship could be seen from the bridge on the port side but no one knows the identity of this ship and it didn't answer the distress call. Light morse code and emergency flares failed to be acknowledge from the nearby ship. It was believed that the ship may have been a small freighter or seal harvesting ship and the crew were probably all asleep. It was later learned the Californian had it's wireless radio turned off and the operator had gone to bed but that operator had called the Titanic to warn it of icebergs in it's path but it's signal had been cut off by the Titanic radio operator indicating he was trying to communicate with Cape Race. The Californian also indicated it had tried to communicate with the Titanic earlier with it's morse lamps. They noticed the distress signals over the lights and informed Captain Stanley Lord. The Californian failed to heed the distress call or thought it had misread the call and proceeded without waking up their radio operator until the next morning. This one incident probably caused the deaths of hundreds of the Titanic's passengers as it was only about a half hour away.

The actual abandon ship command time was not located in our research but the first lifeboat number 7 was launched at 00:40 with 28 people on board out of a capacity of 65. It was followed by lifeboat 5 and 6 minutes later. Lifeboat 1 was the fifth lifeboat to be launched with 12 people. Lifeboat 11 was overloaded with 70 people. Collapsible lifeboats were to be launched. In total the Titanic carried 20 lifeboats with a capacity of 1,178 people even though this was far short of what would have been needed it was more than what was required at the time.

Being the ship was so large and the bands kept playing music many folks failed to heed the early warnings to abandon ship. Being all passengers were not ordered off the ship and that many tried to get below decks to retrieve valuables only to find folks from 2nd and 3rd class still trying to get onto above water decks. This was a shame as many lifeboats were launched with those available at the time such as one lifeboat with a capacity of 40 only held 12. The boarding officers were instructed to load only woman and children and not load men unless oarsmen were needed and many went out with empty seats that men could have occupied.

Approximately 02:10 the stern rose out of the water exposing the propellers and by 02:17 the waterline had reached the boat deck and the remaining life boats drifted off the deck unoccupied and one even capsized. Now people were scrambling to get off the ship as there was no question it had only minutes or even seconds before it sank. All power was out and the funnels had collapsed on the bridge and everything not anchored down was flying through the air. As the stern continued to rise the Titanic finally broke in two. The bow was submerged and the stern righted itself momentarily as it slid under the surface at 02:20. The Great Titanic Had Sunk were to be the headlines in newspapers for days and weeks to follow.

Only two lifeboats picked up any survivors after the ship sank. Lifeboat number 4 being close picked up 5 survivors of which 2 later died. Some time later lifeboat 14 going back and picked up 4 people one of which died later.

The steamship MS Carpathia arrived after steaming at 17.5 knots for just under four hours at 04:10 and began rescuing survivors. By 08:30 she picked up the last of those located and left the area at 08:50 bound for New York.

The Carpathia docked at pier 54 in New York on the 18th of April. It was late at night but thousands of people were on hand to meet the ship and it's cargo of Titanic survivors as well as those other folks aboard. Actually the Carpathia dropped off the recovered lifeboats of the Titanic at pier 59 prior to unloading the survivors at pier 54.

Many people world wide hearing of the tragedy had believed the Titanic was unsinkable even though the White Star Line had never indicated or printed that at any time. Many could not believe that so many people could be and were lost in the accident. There was a great loss of life and many survivors had lost everything they owned when it went down with the ship. 500 families lost a member and almost 1,000 households were directly affected.

Branson Titanic MuseumBranson Titanic Attraction

Those lost by class of passage.

* First class: of 329 on board 199 saved or 60.5 % 130 lost or 39.5 %

* Second class: 285 on board 119 saved or 41.7% 166 lost or 58.3%

* Third class: 285 on board 174 saved or 24.5% 536 lost or 75.5%

* Crew: 899 on board 214 saved or 23.8% 685 lost or 76.2%

* Total 2,223 on board 706 saved or 31.8% 1,517 lost or 68.2%

This article author Donald Raether made the following observations from his research of the disaster and from his 22 years of personal experience while serving in the US Naval Reserve.

Some instant observations are present.

The ice cold water of 28 degrees F would and did kill those in the water in less than 15 minutes. Due to the company trying to keep the passengers calm and not admitting the ship could and would sink caused many passengers to delay their attempt to abandon ship. This was really evident when many of the early lifeboats were launched with way too few souls on board. This caused a huge majority of the passengers and crew to abandon ship into the water where they were overcome by hypothermia.

By class the saved were greatly diminished as they were in lower classes and restricted to lower decks. Men in second class perished at 92% and less than 50% of 3rd class survived. 6 of 7 children in first class survived and all the children in 2nd class survived but only 34 % survived in 3rd class. Those lost by class of passage.

* First class: of 329 on board 199 saved or 60.5 % 130 lost or 39.5 %

* Second class: 285 on board 119 saved or 41.7% 166 lost or 58.3%

* Third class: 285 on board 174 saved or 24.5% 536 lost or 75.5%

* Crew: 899 on board 214 saved or 23.8% 685 lost or 76.2%

* Total 2,223 on board 706 saved or 31.8% 1,517 lost or 68.2%

This article author Donald Raether made the following observations from his research of the disaster and from his 22 years of personal experience while serving in the US Naval Reserve.

Some instant observations are present.

The ice cold water of 28 degrees F would and did kill those in the water in less than 15 minutes. Due to the company trying to keep the passengers calm and not admitting the ship could and would sink caused many passengers to delay their attempt to abandon ship. This was really evident when many of the early lifeboats were launched with way too few souls on board. This caused a huge majority of the passengers and crew to abandon ship into the water where they were overcome by hypothermia.

By class the saved were greatly diminished as they were in lower classes and restricted to lower decks. Men in second class perished at 92% and less than 50% of 3rd class survived. 6 of 7 children in first class survived and all the children in 2nd class survived but only 34 % survived in 3rd class. 4 first class women died and 86 % of the women in 2nd class survived and less than half in third class survived. Overall only 20 percent of the men survived but nearly 75 percent of the women survived. Of the men 4 times more of those in 1st class would survive than those in 2nd class where 92% were lost. Less than half of 3rd class passengers survived.

The author having sailed on dozens of Naval ships and also Cruise line ships has noticed how unconcerned everyone attends the abandon ship drills that are meant to better prepare you for the inevitable. I have observed passengers on cruise ships, with absolutely no sailing experience, standing around with a drink in their hand talking with other passengers while they are receiving abandon ship drill instructions. This is not the only time passengers and sailors should be aware of their surroundings. They should say to themselves at various times and places aboard ship what would I do if we collided with something or had an explosion at this very second "Where am I, Where would I go, What would I take with me, Who could I help or how could I be of help to others, Where can I find survival items like a life jacket-flashlight-warm clothing, Where is my family etc.? You never know if you will be able to get to your assigned lifeboat and where is the best direction to head from where you are now.

Having seen many ships sink in documentaries we should have noticed that they don't just settle into the water on a even keel but usually list to one side or another and many times the bow or stern will sink first. This causes the lifeboat davits to become very hard or impossible to be used as they will not clear the ship hull below. In that case only the lifeboats on the one side (the lower side) will swing free of the ships side and can be lowered with passengers on board. If you cut the lines on the lifeboats on the upper side with the idea that those jumping into the water can use them once they are in the water you must realize you might be dropping them on survivors already in the water and they will be injured or killed. If you are in cold water you will stand a much better chance of survival if you have a life jacket on for buoyancy and warmth even though it is wet. In tropical water it will also help you from getting sunburned as badly.

Before retiring for the first night aboard be sure to find the closest gangway to the upper deck. Climb the stairs and see if their are any hatches you would have to go through and how to open them if you have to in order to proceed. You should always remember that in an emergency and you must dress quick and grab what you can especially your survival equipment and proceed on deck. Remember the power could very well be out and you should not use the elevator because if the power goes out while you are between floors you will be stuck and you will be many decks down in the dark as those in the lower classes of the Titanic found themselves. They probably were aware of the ships collision and water coming in much sooner that those at parties above deck but they were restricted to the lower decks and the passages topside were secured and would not allow them to proceed. If this was not the case many, many more lives would have been saved especially those with small children. In the investigation section to follow I will see that these and many other changes in the way the ships are set up today and are required to meet minimum standards by the naval authorities.

OK, these are what the investigations have had to say about the sinking of the Titanic on it's maiden voyage.

Investigator Chairman Senator William Alden Smith made an effort to take testimony from as many survivors as he and his helpers could. They had to subpoena the British citizens while they were still in America. This interview process took until the 25th of may before the foreign passengers were allowed to leave. It was felt that they wanted to get as much information from the survivors as soon as possible when it was fresh in their minds.

The British Board of Trade inquiry appointed Lord Mersey as their head of investigation and it went on from May 2nd to July third. Passengers as well as the crews of the Titanic and the vessel Leyland Line's Californian and Captain Arthur Rostron of the Carpathia and many others.

Their findings were that many safety rules were out of date and new laws were recommended. Many safety improvements of ocean-going vessels were implemented, including improved hull and bulkhead design. It faulted the hull plate overlap and riveting design of the Titanic as this is where the 300ft seam failed letting 5 compartments flood. Photographs taken during the next daylight period of the iceberg showed red paint that would have come from colliding with the side of the ship below the waterline. On. The Titanic there were two 10 in. main ballast pipes that ran the length of the ship and manifolds controlled the distribution of water and were operated from the bulkhead deck. The total discharge of all the pumps operating together could displace 1,700 tons of water per hour. It was noted that the hull being either 1 or 1 1/2 thick was made of a metal that became very brittle and could break easily when subjected to cold temperatures so new steel, seam design and rivet patterns and quality have been implemented. Lifeboat and davit design has been changed in fact one of the original Titanic designers that left the project in 1910 became a shareholder in the Welin Davit and Engineering company and they had manufactured the original lifeboat davits. Life jackets have even be redesigned and we now have better radio and signal capability. Being many of the lower classes of passengers had never seen one of the lifeboats to say anything about being allowed on deck where they are located all that had to be changed.

It was found the Captain Stanley Lord of the SS Californian failed to give proper assistance and was closer than first thought at about 19.5 miles and that the radio operator should have be wakened so they would have been more aware of the tragedy going on just minutes away. It was also reported that if the Titanic's radio operator hadn't rebuked the Californian radio operator when he called to warn them of the iceberg just ahead of the Titanic maybe they would have been more cooperative to helping them in it's peril.

After this type of tragedy there are always things folks think and wonder about. Was it bad luck that the ship was never christened? Did others such as maybe J.P. Morgan, beside the crew member that jumped ship, have 2nd thoughts? If the Titanic's radio operator had not rebuked the SS Californian when it sent the iceberg warning message would they have paid more attention to the Titanic's distress signals. Was the near miss of a collision with the steamship New York a bad omen as it took it's first parting from the dock at Southampton? These and many other questions probably never be completely answered.

The wreck was located on the 1st of Sept.1985 in a joint American-French Expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel and Dr. Robert Ballard using side-scan sonar and it's position is well documented. Many salvage companies have been trying to get salvage permits however the rights to the wreck has been awarded to the RMS Titanic Inc. even though it is said other salvage companies have removed aprx.. 6,000 artifacts from the wreckage which lies on the sea floor at 12,450 below sea level. The courts are still deciding who owns the articles already removed from the ships wreckage. 4 first class women died and 86 % of the women in 2nd class survived and less than half in third class survived. Overall only 20 percent of the men survived but nearly 75 percent of the women survived. Of the men 4 times more of those in 1st class would survive than those in 2nd class where 92% were lost. Less than half of 3rd class passengers survived.

The author having sailed on dozens of Naval ships and also Cruise line ships has noticed how unconcerned everyone attends the abandon ship drills that are meant to better prepare you for the inevitable. I have observed passengers on cruise ships, with absolutely no sailing experience, standing around with a drink in their hand talking with other passengers while they are receiving abandon ship drill instructions. This is not the only time passengers and sailors should be aware of their surroundings. They should say to themselves at various times and places aboard ship what would I do if we collided with something or had an explosion at this very second "Where am I, Where would I go, What would I take with me, Who could I help or how could I be of help to others, Where can I find survival items like a life jacket-flashlight-warm clothing, Where is my family etc.? You never know if you will be able to get to your assigned lifeboat and where is the best direction to head from where you are now.

Having seen many ships sink in documentaries we should have noticed that they don't just settle into the water on a even keel but usually list to one side or another and many times the bow or stern will sink first. This causes the lifeboat davits to become very hard or impossible to be used as they will not clear the ship hull below. In that case only the lifeboats on the one side (the lower side) will swing free of the ships side and can be lowered with passengers on board. If you cut the lines on the lifeboats on the upper side with the idea that those jumping into the water can use them once they are in the water you must realize you might be dropping them on survivors already in the water and they will be injured or killed. If you are in cold water you will stand a much better chance of survival if you have a life jacket on for buoyancy and warmth even though it is wet. In tropical water it will also help you from getting sunburned as badly.

Before retiring for the first night aboard be sure to find the closest gangway to the upper deck. Climb the stairs and see if their are any hatches you would have to go through and how to open them if you have to in order to proceed. You should always remember that in an emergency and you must dress quick and grab what you can especially your survival equipment and proceed on deck. Remember the power could very well be out and you should not use the elevator because if the power goes out while you are between floors you will be stuck and you will be many decks down in the dark as those in the lower classes of the Titanic found themselves. They probably were aware of the ships collision and water coming in much sooner that those at parties above deck but they were restricted to the lower decks and the passages topside were secured and would not allow them to proceed. If this was not the case many, many more lives would have been saved especially those with small children. In the investigation section to follow I will see that these and many other changes in the way the ships are set up today and are required to meet minimum standards by the naval authorities.

OK, these are what the investigations have had to say about the sinking of the Titanic on it's maiden voyage.

Investigator Chairman Senator William Alden Smith made an effort to take testimony from as many survivors as he and his helpers could. They had to subpoena the British citizens while they were still in America. This interview process took until the 25th of may before the foreign passengers were allowed to leave. It was felt that they wanted to get as much information from the survivors as soon as possible when it was fresh in their minds.

The British Board of Trade inquiry appointed Lord Mersey as their head of investigation and it went on from May 2nd to July third. Passengers as well as the crews of the Titanic and the vessel Leyland Line's Californian and Captain Arthur Rostron of the Carpathia and many others.

Their findings were that many safety rules were out of date and new laws were recommended. Many safety improvements of ocean-going vessels were implemented, including improved hull and bulkhead design. It faulted the hull plate overlap and riveting design of the Titanic as this is where the 300ft seam failed letting 5 compartments flood. Photographs taken during the next daylight period of the iceberg showed red paint that would have come from colliding with the side of the ship below the waterline. On. The Titanic there were two 10 in. main ballast pipes that ran the length of the ship and manifolds controlled the distribution of water and were operated from the bulkhead deck. The total discharge of all the pumps operating together could displace 1,700 tons of water per hour. It was noted that the hull being either 1 or 1 1/2 thick was made of a metal that became very brittle and could break easily when subjected to cold temperatures so new steel, seam design and rivet patterns and quality have been implemented. Lifeboat and davit design has been changed in fact one of the original Titanic designers that left the project in 1910 became a shareholder in the Welin Davit and Engineering company and they had manufactured the original lifeboat davits. Life jackets have even be redesigned and we now have better radio and signal capability. Being many of the lower classes of passengers had never seen one of the lifeboats to say anything about being allowed on deck where they are located all that had to be changed.

It was found the Captain Stanley Lord of the SS Californian failed to give proper assistance and was closer than first thought at about 19.5 miles and that the radio operator should have be wakened so they would have been more aware of the tragedy going on just minutes away. It was also reported that if the Titanic's radio operator hadn't rebuked the Californian radio operator when he called to warn them of the iceberg just ahead of the Titanic maybe they would have been more cooperative to helping them in it's peril.

After this type of tragedy there are always things folks think and wonder about. Was it bad luck that the ship was never christened? Did others such as maybe J.P. Morgan, beside the crew member that jumped ship, have 2nd thoughts? If the Titanic's radio operator had not rebuked the SS Californian when it sent the iceberg warning message would they have paid more attention to the Titanic's distress signals. Was the near miss of a collision with the steamship New York a bad omen as it took it's first parting from the dock at Southampton? These and many other questions probably never be completely answered.

The wreck was located on the 1st of Sept.1985 in a joint American-French Expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel and Dr. Robert Ballard using side-scan sonar and it's position is well documented. Many salvage companies have been trying to get salvage permits however the rights to the wreck has been awarded to the RMS Titanic Inc. even though it is said other salvage companies have removed aprx.. 6,000 artifacts from the wreckage which lies on the sea floor at 12,450 below sea level. The courts are still deciding who owns the articles already removed from the ships wreckage. 

Check out our Branson Titanic Museum at this link.