It all began in 1907 when a man named Lord Pirrie, Harland & Wolff and J.Bruce Ismay of White Star line planned to build 3 giant ships. They were destined to become the most luxurious and largest steamers in the world. The ships were to have the finest furnishings that money could buy. These ships would sail around the world. They were intentionally thought to cater only to the rich. In March 1909 a lot (#401) was purchased by the men in order to start building their dream machines. “Titanic” was going to be her name and she was going to be the largest moving object moving. Titanic was the second of three “sister ships”. (Olympic, Titanic and Brittanic) .
Building began immediately and the Titanic was completed by April 1st 1912. She was fitted 16 lifeboats and 4 collapsible boats for a total of 20 boats. Titanic’s length 882.9 feet. Her overall weight was 46,329 gross tons. Her capacity for passengers & crew was 3320. (2200 + for the maiden voyage). She had a 50 telephone switchboard.
It also had a “swimming bath” (heated pool ). Some of the first class staterooms had running hot water and private bathrooms. On April 1st the sea trails were postponed due to high winds and rough sea. She was tested from April 2nd – April 10th before her maiden voyage One major problem that was never corrected was the cabin numbering, especially in second and steerage class. Some staterooms were numbered wrong and some had no numbers at all. This made things difficult for the passengers to find their cabins. At noon on April 10th 1912 Titanic was off on her first voyage ever. She was leaving South Hampton, England and was on her way to New York.
As she was set into the waters, her massive size caused two other liners tied up at their docks to break loose. Some people on board considered it to be a “bad omen” and it was also a sign of “bad luck”. Little did the passengers know that they were right.
On the evening of April 14th , crew members claimed to have seen something in the water that looked like an iceberg and informed both Mr. Smith and Mr. Andrews. Both men agreed to keep on going and have Titanic push through the iceberg. They had no idea that the appearance of the iceberg above the water was tiny in comparison to The size beneath.
At 11:40 p.m on April 14th 1912 the collision occurred. The iceberg bumped into the Titanic and then ran along the ship for approximately 300 feet just along the plate seams, slightly bending the duel plates and popping a few rivets. Only 12 cubic feet was opened to the sea, but that was enough damage already done to cause the greatest historical disaster. The Unsinkable ship was about to do the unthinkable.
Thomas Andrews checked the underwater damage and found to his horror that the pride of White Star line was so badly damaged that the ship would not stay afloat. The basement cabins which belonged to most of the third class passengers were quickly filling up with water and causing a major panic and frantic passengers began to run for their lives. Above, the first and second class passengers were not aware of the trouble Titanic was going through. They were informed that the engine was being re-started and that everyone had nothing to be worried about and to keep calm.
By midnight it was apparent to Captain Smith that this ship, his last command before retiring was indeed going to sink. He ordered passengers to begin entering the lifeboats, and he began the calls for help. Passengers were so frightened they began pushing and shoving in order to get a seat on the lifeboats. The crew members then ordered a only “women and children” first rule. The crew had great difficulty separating the women from their husbands. It took a lot of convincing and reassuring. First class was loaded on the lifeboats first, then second class and finally only very few third class passengers made it onto the boats. The rest perished into the icy waters.
This was Titanic’s first lifeboat drill. There was no explanation to why that there never had been a practice in case of an emergency, but it was later believed that people actually thought that Titanic was unsinkable and there was no need for the drill.
Titanic was firing off rockets and sending messages for help. The Carpathia replied to one of the first calls, ” We are coming, as hard as possible, should be there in 4 hours”. As the situation became more desperate, the calls for assistance became more insistent. Lifeboats were leaving the ship not-quite half-full. No one on board knew of the extreme shortage of boats and the majority of them would never make it off the ship alive. They also did not realize that the water was freezing and help was 4 hour away. There was very few lifeboats left.
As the ship sank lower, more water entered the ship through open portholes and the anchor chain openings. This increased the intake of water by 12 square feet for each anchor opening.
The pumps could not keep up with that amount of water coming in. As the stern rose higher, the bow sank lower. As the slant of the ship grew steeper, everything that was loose started crashing forward creating a roar to be heard from the lifeboats.
At 2:20 am on April 15th 1912 after 2 hours and 40 minutes, the Titanic was indeed sinkable. The stern actually “righted” herself which gave false hope to the remaining passengers and crew. The stern was afloat for around 15 minutes it started to sink taking along 1500 souls with her. The brave engineers, workers , loved ones and the orchestra were among the 1500. The water was around 28 degrees. Most of the people in the water did not last much longer than 15 minutes.
Only one lifeboat came back to rescue the freezing swimmers. There was a real fear of “swamping” if the boat went back immediately. By the time the boats turned back to save people, it was too late. Only a little few were alive.
The lifeboats had ben adrift for a little over 2 hours when a rocket was sighted. The Carpathia’s captain, Arthur H. Rostron kept his word, he and his crew had arrived in less than 4 hours. The Carpathia was initially on the scene. She still had to cross the icefields, but was ready to pick up survivors. The rescue began a little after 4:00 a.m and the last lifeboat was picked up at approximately 8:00 a.m. Only 705 passengers and crew survived.
She went down in the international waters just off the east coast of Canada.
New York awaited the arrival of Titanic but only greeted the Carpathia.
Almost 3000 people are now laid to rest at the bottom of the ocean along with the “Unsinkable Ship of Dreams”. Many families went on in their lives without husbands, wives, children, parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and grandparents.
New theories blame Captain Smith for the sinking of the Titanic because he ignored the emergency call from his crew workers.
How could something so admired and anticipated not make it to it’s destination on her first maiden journey? It truly was a “night to remember”.