Many people have spent their entire lives trying to learn the truth about the Titanic. Although we may finally have those answers, the evidence might soon be gone for good.
There have been many major events throughout history. Some are passed down throughout the generations while others are so catastrophic that we learn about them in school. However, some have gone down as such a tragedy that it seems no one will forget the tales. The sinking of the Titanic is one of the few.
Thousands of ships travel all around the world every day, but most of us never learn their names. If there is one ship that most of us have memorized, it’s the Titanic. It was supposed to be the greatest moment of the time. That was until it hit an iceberg and plunged the passengers into the freezing waters below. Thousands of people were suddenly gone.
While we might have heard the tales and read the stories, it seems as though researchers could only now be one step closer to learning the truth about the Titanic. The ship has rested at the bottom of the ocean for decades, and it looks as though this will be its final resting place.
A weighty vessel
Believe it or not, but the Titanic was the largest ship on the planet by the time it left the docks for the first and final time. It measured in at a whopping 882 feet, which was an incredible milestone of the time. To top it off, the Titanic also weighed a colossal 52,310 tons.
Although many modern-day ships are now larger, we have more machines and factories that aid with building the vessels. The Titanic was crafted thanks to 3,000 workers and a budget of $7.5 million. It was named the “Unsinkable Ship” by the time it was completed in 1912.
The Titanic was supposed to be the most luxurious vessel on the water. After all, it was destined to carry some of the most important and famous people at the time in its first-class accommodation. The designers decided the best way to bring the interior of the ship to life was to base the look off the famous Ritz hotel in London.
This meant the Titanic was kitted with everything from a squash court to a Turkish bath, and luxury kennels for dogs in first class to a gym. As if that wasn’t enough, the Titanic even had its very own newspaper named the Atlantic Bulletin.
Keeping passengers entertained
There were plenty of wealthy individuals on board, and the company behind the Titanic wanted to make sure they were all greeted to the best service they could get throughout their journey. The ship was filled with plenty of drinking options as well as other pass times to keep the passengers entertained.
There were even unique rooms on the ship where the gentlemen could sit back and relax while they drank with their friends and enjoyed more luxuries of the Titanic. They could also enjoy the luxury newspaper that was released every night and some of the 10-course-meals that were served throughout the journey.
Recreating the magic
James Cameron was the director behind the movie based on the event, and it seemed as though he had a lot of knowledge about the wreckage before he created his vision on the big screen. One of the many aspects of the Titanic that James recreated was the Grand Staircase, which really was as grand as it seemed in the film.
It descended through seven of the ten decks onboard the ship and was made from oak paneling, paintings, and bronze cherubs that surrounded it on both sides. Now, there are a handful of replicas that can be found in Missouri at the Titanic Museum.
Learning the truth
Amazingly, the newspapers didn’t learn about the true number of casualties from the Titanic until a few days after the disaster. At first, they reported that no one had been injured or lost their lives. It wasn’t until they learned the true scale of the tragedy that the public tried to raise money for the survivors.
Although there were thousands of people on board the Titanic when it sunk to the bottom of the ocean, there were only 20 lifeboats on the ship. That meant they could save just 1,178 individuals. That number was only one-third of the people on the Titanic, but the number of lifeboats was legal for the time.
Off she goes
Although the Titanic hadn’t been fully finished when it first launched into the sea, over 100,000 people all gathered to see its first ventures into the water. The Titanic took to the sea on May 31, 1911, as it needed to have the interior completed before it could take passengers for its maiden voyage.
The sheer size of the Titanic and its sister ships meant that the dockyard had to construct new slipways to even get them into the water. They were the largest slipways ever made at the time. Plus, thousands of people had to use 22 tons of grease and soap to ensure there was enough lubrication to get the ship moving.
The final leg
It wasn’t until April 10, 1912, that the Titanic was ready to make its first trip across the ocean. It set off from Southampton, England, before it stopped off at Cherbourg, France later the same day. From there, the Titanic traveled one more day to Queenstown, Ireland before it was ready to make the final leg of its journey.
The vessel was loaded with passengers who were all excited to be the first passengers making the journey. Amazingly, the ship was a lot closer to its final stop in New York City than many people first believed. However, the Titanic was still 400 miles from land.
A strange ratio
There were thought to be approximately 2,224 passengers on board the Titanic by the time it was ready to head across the world to New York City. However, they weren’t alone. It’s believed there were over 885 members of crew all aboard the ship. The majority of the team were men as only 23 women served aboard the ship.
Most of them were all from Southampton where almost 700 members of crew boarded the ship, with the rest of them making their way to work in Ireland. The team were primarily there to serve people in first-class as they believed these passengers needed to have the most important treatment throughout the voyage.
Plenty to remember
Thankfully, the 1997 version of the movie gave the musicians the credit they deserve from their time on the ship. Not only were they there until the very end, but these musicians also had a huge job before they boarded the ship. It turned out they were instructed to learn all of the music off by heart before they could be a part of the band.
The best bit? There were more than 350 songs in their book. Amazingly, they all memorized each one. This is because they didn’t want the musicians to be looking at any pieces of paper, and they wanted them to be prepared in case guests has any requests.
The richest of the rich
There were first-class passengers on the Titanic, and then there was John Jacob Astor IV. He was easily the wealthiest passenger on board as he had a net worth of approximately $85 million, which is thought to be around $2 billion in today’s money. He was born in New York where he quickly made all of his money in real estate.
Some of John’s greatest achievements were helping to build the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel and many other notable hotels throughout the city. Some believe that he told the waiter “I asked for ice, but this is ridiculous” as he went down with the Titanic. His body was later identified thanks to initials sewn into his jacket.
Going down as the best
Benjamin Guggenheim is one of the many names that has lived on since the sinking of the ship. The wealthy businessman had grown apart from his wife and was busy living with his mistress when he boarded the Titanic with his driver, valet, and maid. He was awoken in the night and learned the ship was going down.
Benjamin helped his mistress and her maid onto a lifeboat before helping others to safety. It wasn’t until later that Benjamin realized the scale of it all, so he changed into his best suit with his valet so they could “go down like gentlemen.” They were never found in the wreckage.
A brave soul
Noël Leslie, Countess of Rothes, was one of the few who managed to survive the Titanic. She was supposed to be traveling to Canada when she was caught up in it all. However, being one of the first-class passengers and a woman meant that Noël and her maid earned their spots on the lifeboats.
Amazingly, Noël remained calm and collected throughout the sinking of the ship as she helped to organize people onto the rafts. As if that wasn’t enough, Noël was even one of the few who returned on the Carpathia, the rescue ship, trying to find anyone else in the water.
Plagued from the start
It wasn’t just the sinking of the ship that took people’s lives. It turns out that building the Titanic also saw many people injured or worse along the way. The builders were busy working on two pretty much identical ships at the same time: the Titanic and the Olympic.
However, the Titanic was always designed to be the most luxurious of the two. It’s reported that there were 246 injuries while the Titanic was built, but the list could be a lot longer thanks to those who may have never reported their injuries. To top it off, at least two people lost their lives throughout the 26 months it took to complete the ship.
The Titanic ran on nothing but coal and people power. Being so large meant that it needed to be fueled continuously throughout the journey, and it was the job of 146 men to shovel it into the burners 24 hours a day. Incredibly, the Titanic used 600 tons of coal a day that made more than 100 tons of ash that it left in its wake.
It turns out that one of the smokestacks was fake as the designers thought four made the ship look more impressive than three. Some theories state that a fire started in the coal room and weakened the side of the vessel, which meant it easily broke when it hit the iceberg.
It wasn’t just people who went down with the ship. Passengers in first class were allowed to bring their four-legged friend along for the ride, too. Even the dogs were treated to the best of the best. In fact, there are even some reports that state there was supposed to be a dog show onboard the Titanic the day after it hit the iceberg.
Tragically, most of the nine dogs on board ended up losing their lives as they were deemed too large to take onto the lifeboats. Thankfully, one Pomeranian and one Pekinese survived the tragedy. Some of the dogs are thought to be a Great Dane, a chow chow, and a French bulldog.
What could have been
People were doing anything they could to get their hands on a ticket for the Titanic, but some people never used their passes. It turns out that a selection of famous and wealthy folk of the time were supposed to be onboard the ship. However, for various reasons, they never took their room.
Milton S. Hershey, the creator of the famous chocolate company, was one of the many as well as Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt. One theory states that businessman J.P Morgan planned for the ship to sink as his three biggest rivals were passengers on the Titanic, but he never boarded – even though he had a ticket and a suite that had been designed especially for him.
The wrong move
The night the Titanic met its end was one of the worst for trying to spot icebergs. It’s said the air was clear and there was no moon or water movement. Although icebergs don’t always look dangerous, they often have 80% of their mass lying beneath the surface of the water.
Frederick Fleet was the one to sound the alarm that the iceberg was straight ahead. Amazingly, Frederick survived the sinking of the ship as he was granted a spot on a lifeboat and later went on to work as a lookout on other ships before he signed up to the forces in World War II.
The iceberg was spotted at 11.40pm. However, it was too late by the time the alarm was raised as the Titanic was heading into the path of the iceberg. It’s believed the ice was more than 100-foot tall. Although it would have been clear to spot in the day, the lack of light and movement of the waves meant that the iceberg was hiding in plain sight.
The rescue crew later determined which one was the iceberg to sink the Titanic thanks to the strip of red paint that was along the side of the ice. They then learned that it was one of the only icebergs in the area and that it had traveled all the way from Greenland.
Turning too late
It took just seconds from spotting the iceberg to the Titanic colliding with the ice. In fact, it is reported that it was only 37 seconds. Frederick sounded the alarm, and First Officer William McMaster Murdoch ordered that the Titanic turned to get out of the way. After all, the ship was about to hit it head-on.
However, it seems as though hitting it in such a way could have saved everyone’s lives. The ship was too large to turn, and it ended up scraping along the side of the Titanic. William was one of the thousands to go down with the ship.
Plenty of theories
It’s thought the Titanic would have only suffered damage to one or two compartments if it had stayed on its original course. Anything less than four damaged compartments would have been salvageable. However, there are many theories about what really could have happened to the Titanic that night.
Some believe that there was a hidden part of the iceberg under the water that actually caused most of the damage. Others think that it was taken down by a hidden submarine. Some even believe it was already flooding and the iceberg merely made it worse. Either way, 400 tons of water per minute flooded into the ship after the collision.
Down with the ship
There is the rule that the captain always goes down with the ship, and it turned out that Captain Edward Smith was a man of his word. He had built a huge reputation for himself over the years as several millionaires would only travel on ships if they were captained by Edward.
It’s believed that Edward was supposed to retire when he took one last role for the Titanic. Many say that his last words included “I release you” to his crew and that it was “every man for himself now.” His body was never recovered, but many believe Edward locked himself in the wheelhouse.
Plenty of warning
It’s believed that the Titanic had six iceberg warnings before it ultimately hit the one that took it down. Some think that the Titanic wanted to be the fastest ship to ever make it across the ocean and that the captain was told to take the quickest route possible. However, there are also reports that Edward reached out to the land to warn of the icebergs in the area.
Although the rescue ships were able to find the damage on the surface, it took years for research crews to locate the wreckage at the bottom of the ocean. In fact, it wasn’t discovered until 1985 by Robert Ballard.
A canceled drill
The Titanic only had 20 lifeboats, but this was already a lot more than the ship was legally required to have at the time. The vessel had previously been named the “Unsinkable Ship,” and many people thought the crew were going over the top. Many people blamed the lack of organization as to why so many people lost their lives.
It’s believed the captain never informed all of the staff, and most people were sleeping at the time. However, there was supposed to be a lifeboat drill before the Titanic set sail. No one has any idea why it was canceled, with some believing the crew thought that it was unnecessary.
Splitting in two
For many years, it was believed that the Titanic only split in two once it hit the bottom of the ocean. However, the ship actually broke at the surface of the water, with the back of the vessel sinking first. It took nearly three hours before it all sunk below the surface.
It’s thought the weight of the water at the back of the ship caused it to break off and plummet straight to the floor. The front then slammed back into the water and sunk as it filled with water. However, it spun all the way to the floor before it impaled into the ocean floor.
Colder than it seemed
It wasn’t just being lost in the middle of the ocean that caused such an issue for anyone stuck on the ship, it turns out the temperature of the water also played a big part on how long people could survive. The water at the time was a mere 28 degrees Fahrenheit. This meant that it was dangerous for anyone who fell into the ocean.
It’s thought that it would have taken most people no longer than 15 minutes before they lost their lives to the cold, with most giving up after just two. To top it off, the people in the lifeboats were cautious to help people as they didn’t want to be overrun and sink themselves.
Only a few
Only 705 people survived the sinking of the Titanic. However, no one is really sure about how many people lost their lives. This is because many people used fake names and it’s thought that some could have snuck onto the ship. Plus, not finding the wreckage for so many years means that the exact number of people dragged down with it all have been lost to the waters.
There was one person who survived: Charles Joughin. He was the baker on the Titanic and was in the water for two hours before he was pulled onto a lifeboat. Charles reports that he had been drinking before the tragedy, so he didn’t feel the cold of the water.
The musicians went above and beyond what anyone ever believed as soon as they learned the ship was sinking. They gathered together and decided to play for over two hours as they wanted to try and help the remaining passengers keep as calm as possible among all the chaos.
These incredible souls were Roger Bricoux, Theodore Brailey, John Clarke, John Woodward, Georges Krins, Wallace Hartley, Percy Taylor, and John Hume. They all eventually lost their lives to the Titanic, and only three were ever found. Amazingly, 473 musicians gathered one month later to remember their fallen friends with a concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London.
Understanding the scale
It’s believed there were 2,224 passengers alone on the Titanic. People in New York had heard the news of the disaster, but everyone was led to believe that the passengers were on their way to safety. It wasn’t until the survivors on the lifeboats touched land that everyone understood the true scale of it all.
Most of the people who lost their lives were men and crew who had been left behind. However, it was soon discovered that first-class passengers had been given more priority. This led many to question why the lower-class passengers were left to fend for themselves.
Outliving the rest
Not only was Millvina Dean the youngest passenger on the Titanic, but she was also one of the few who were saved that night. Millvina was traveling with both of her parents and her brother in third-class, but being so young meant that she got a spot on the lifeboat.
Millvina, her mother, and brother were all taken to safety while her father was left behind. Amazingly, she was just nine weeks old at the time, but Millvina’s mother didn’t tell her about their trip on the Titanic until she was eight years old. She passed away in 2009 as the oldest and only survivor from the tragedy.
Changing the law
So many things about the way the Titanic handled the tragedy have been questioned over the years. The owner of the ship was one of the few to make it onto a lifeboat even though others were stuck on the Titanic, and the number of rafts and how they were given to people seemed to go against many people’s beliefs.
Although the Titanic was a huge tragedy for so many, the disaster did help to change maritime laws. Just two years after it sunk, the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea was born. Now, ships must carry enough lifeboats for everyone, among other new laws.
Bringing secrets to the surface
As soon as the wreckage of the ship was discovered, people set about finding what they could find. Many gathered what they could, including personal items from the passengers such as their diaries and clothing that had been preserved at the bottom of the ocean for so long.
Many of these artifacts are now in museums, but people are forbidden from taking any more. Plus, there were once tours to the wreckage that have since come to an end. The Titanic wreckage is now a memorial for those who lost their lives. Sadly, it might not be around for much longer.
Gone for good
The Titanic is likely to completely disappear by 2030 thanks to bacteria that covers the wreckage. It is known as Halomonas titanicae that has adapted to the harsh underwater conditions. Unfortunately, those adaptations mean that it’s now eating through the iron from the wreckage.
It has been preserving the Titanic against the current and environment at the bottom of the ocean for so long, and now it has become its undoing. If their estimates are correct, it means the remaining shell of the ship will start to collapse into itself before it falls victim to the bacteria once and for all.