RMS Titanic ship – the birth of a legend
RMS Titanic world’s probably most famous ship was built in 1912. At this time she was the biggest vessel in the world. Her gross tonnage was 46 328 tons. Titanic was 882 feet long and 92 feet broad. She was owned by White Star Line and was intended to stole the initiative from the main rivals Cunard’s Mauritania and Lusitania. RMS Titanic was slower, but her gross tonnage exceeded her competitors’ by around 30%. Construction of Titanic started in 1909 in Northern Ireland at the Harland & Wolff shipyard and was completed in 1912.
On April 2, 1912 RMS Titanic left the docks for speed test, turns and emergency stop. At around 20:00 Titanic, set sail to Southampton. By the 10th of April supplies were stored and crew was recruited. On April the 10th, afternoon the Titanic ship departed for her maiden voyage. Titanic first stopped at Cherbourg, then turned back to Irish port Queenstown (nowadays Cobh) and headed to his final destination New York, through the North Atlantic. Titanic had 2224 passengers on board.
Warning of Icebergs
The first two days in the Ocean were quite calm. Passengers were having nice time enjoying the journey and crew was working hard to please its guests. On the 14th of April Titanic radio operators began to receive messages warning of icebergs. Not all of them reached the Titanic ship bridge. Radio operators were Marconi Company employees and respectively not members of the crew. Their main assignment was to send passengers’ messages, and weather details were of lesser importance.
The first message came from RMS Caronia at 9 o’clock and cautioned of “bergs, growlers and field ice” and it reached Titanic’s experienced captain Edward J. Smith. New message was received at 13:42. RMS Baltic retransmitted a report from Greek ship called Athenia. Athenia informed of icebergs and vast quantities of floating ice. Edward J. Smith presented the report to Joseph Bruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line, who was on board for the maiden voyage of RMS Titanic ship. The captain commanded to take a southern course in search in order to minimize the risk. New messages kept going during the day. Titanic ship however was steaming at the speed of 22 knots (25mph) only two knots less of the maximum 24 knots. This was later defined as reckless, but it was just the common maritime practice at the time.
Titanic ship hits the iceberg
Captain Edward J. Smith passed the command of the Titanic ship to first officer William Murdoch and retired to his cabin at 21:20. Most passengers also went to bed.
Crew was aware of the possible danger ahead. Lookouts were instructed to watch out for ice and growlers. The air was clear but the night was moonless and the ocean freezing waters were rather calm. This made the icebergs much more difficult to spot as there were no waves to make the icebergs more visible.
At 23:30 slight haze on the horizon drove the attention of lookouts Reginald Lee and Frederick Fleet, but this was followed by no action. Nine minutes later Fleet saw the iceberg in the path of Titanic ship. He rang the lookout bell three times and telephoned the bridge. Murdoch ordered a left turn maneuver. Titanic avoided frontal collision but just 37 seconds after Fleet’s call, the iceberg hit the ship with its underwater spur scraping along starboard side for about 7 seconds.
Captain Smith realized something was going wrong and went to the bridge. Smith launched a survey and found out that the ship was taking two much water. Titanic ship was constructed to float even with 3 of his 16 bulkheads filled with water, but that night six of them were filling dangerously fast. The captain soon got to the conclusion that Titanic ship was sinking and at 00:05 ordered to uncover the lifeboats. Wireless operators sent their first distress call after just five minutes.
Sinking of the Titanic
At the beginning most of the passengers could not realize the scale of the disaster. Many of them thought Titanic was a safer place were reluctant to abandon the ship in the chilly night. Lifeboat number No 7, actually the first boat to be launched was filled with just 28 people having a capacity of 65. The second boat to be rowed away from Titanic was boat No 6, also with only 28 people onboard. As water was pouring inside the ship however passengers’ desire to get to the boats gradually grew.
By 01:30 vessel’s downward angle had increased by 5 degrees. Panic was spreading. The fact that there weren’t enough boats for everybody only fueled it. Women and children were privileged, but earlier some men also got into the boats. Titanic was projected with 16 standard lifeboats and 4 collapsible boats only. More boats were considered to clutter the deck. Nonetheless if all of them were properly filled 1 178 would have been saved instead of just 710.
The last life boat was lowered at 2:05 am and people left on board the Titanic struggled for their lives in various ways. Some threw floatable objects in the water and jumped in, trying to take hold of them. Water was freezing and people froze to death in a couple of minutes. Comprehensively third class passengers suffered the most. It lost about 530 lives. The crew however suffered even greater casualties with men showing real chivalrous dignity. The crew lost about 13% percent of its female members and 693 men, about 78% of the male crew.
Ten minutes after the last boat was lowered, at 2:15 Titanic’s sloping came more and more obvious as water was pouring in. The angle came close to 45 degrees and Titanic split into two and completely sank at about 2:20. This caused huge waves that capsized some of the boats around.
The passengers could only watch the terrifying scene and pray for their survival. Not faraway from the wreck place of Titanic was the ship SS Californian, that earlier the same day had sent warning messages. Unfortunately only about nine minutes before the hit at 23:30 the radio operator there switched off his set and went to sleep. Because of the too much ice the SS California’s captain order the ship to stop and to wait for daylight.
Rescuing the survivors of Titanic
Help calls were received by the ship RMS Carpathia. Carpathia was approaching at a high speed, taking the risk of moving through dangerous waters at night. Carpathia’s lights were noticed at around 3:30 and this gave the survivors a great share of hope. Approximately at 4:00 am Titanic survivors began boarding Carpathia. By 9:00 all of them were on board. After the sun rose people on Carpathia were shocked by the sight. It look to them they were surrounded by a field of ice. The captain of RMS Carpathia. Arthur Rostron counted 20 icebergs higher than 61m (200 feet) and many other smaller bergs and remains of Titanic.
SS Californian arrived at the place at around 9:15, after radio operator went back to work and got the message but there were no more people to rescue. Approximately at the same time the ship Mount Temple also passed by.
RMS Carpathia had a course to Rijeka, Croatia, but because of the few medical and other supplies she headed back to New York. The way back was also rather difficult with ice, rough seas and thunderstorms but on the evening of the 18th of April Titanic survivors reached New York.
Titanic – the outcomes of the legendary voyage
The exact number of people on board the Titanic and the casualties is still a matter of discussion. Some people canceled their trip just before the departure of Titanic, other traveled on board with false names and were added twice in the list of casualties. Still others died soon after the disaster due to their injuries, hypothermia and other illnesses. It’s usually estimated that Titanic left Ireland with 2224 passengers. About 1514 of them lost their lives and 710 were saved.
The sinking of Titanic had a great impact. New legislation and safety standards were voted in the US and in Britain and consecutively all around the world to guarantee a higher degree of security for passengers. This event was reflected in literature, music, cinema. James Cameron’s movie Titanic was actually the first film to exceed the amount of 1 $ billion at the box office.