This April is the one hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic and the world’s interest in the most famous shipwreck of all time is stronger than ever. On April 10, 1912 the steamship Titanic set out on its doomed maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City. On board were 2227 excited passengers and crew members. There were 20 lifeboats onboard, more than the number required by law, but not enough for all passengers and crew. No lifeboat drills were conducted. Only 705 would survive the ship’s collision with an iceberg four days later.
The Titanic was intended to be the largest and most luxurious passenger liner of her time. Construction of the ship that was designed to be unsinkable began March 31, 1909. It took three years and more than 3000 men and 3 million rivets to build the 882 ½ foot long ship. At that time it was the largest vessel afloat. Some of today’s cruise ships are over 1000 feet long.
The most deluxe staterooms on the Titanic were reserved for first class passengers. They had a private deck, two bedrooms, a sitting room, two wardrobe rooms and a private bathroom and cost $4,350. Today that ticket would cost $100,034. Cabins for third class passengers were one room with bunk beds and cost about $40. Today the cost would about $793. While everything on the ship was new and modern there were only two bathtubs for 700 third class passengers to share.
Among the supplies onboard when the Titanic set sail were 40,000 eggs, 75,000 pounds of fresh meat , 36,000 apples, and 1,750 quarts of ice cream as well as 3,000 tea cups and 7,500 blankets.
You may already know that the Titanic hit an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. at night on Sunday, April 14, 1912 and sunk just over two-and-a-half hours later. Several things may have contributed to the tragedy that claimed 1,500 lives. Though
the damage in the hull was 220 to 245 feet long, the most recent evidence shows that there was only a 12 square foot opening (the size of a refrigerator) in the hull allowing water inside the ship. Was the ship traveling too fast for the weather conditions? Did the collision with the iceberg cause the rivets to pop out of the hull? Should the ship have hit the iceberg head on instead of trying to steer around it? We may never know if there was a way to prevent the Titanic from sinking. The Titanic was rediscovered on the ocean floor on July 14th, 1986, 74 years after it sank.
After the sinking of the Titanic new safety regulations were recommended. Ships were soon required to carry enough lifeboats to hold everyone onboard and that that lifeboat drills were properly performed.