15 Interesting Facts About the RMS Titanic
Without a doubt, one of the most famous ships in nautical history, the RMS Titanic was built in Belfast. She set sail from Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York on the 10 April 1912.
The ship called at Cherbourg in France and Queenstown, Ireland (now known as Cork or Cobh), then headed out across the Atlantic towards North America.
On the night of 14 April 1912, the ship struck an iceberg, and within 3 hours, she had sunk beneath the waves, resulting in many lives being lost.
There has been much speculation raised over the years as to why exactly the ship sank so fast and why so many lives were lost, with blame being apportioned in differing portions to the ship's design, its construction, the behavior of the captain, the crew, and the passengers.
Below are 15 interesting facts about the RMS Titanic.
1. RMS Titanic was the biggest man-made moving object in the world at the time of her launch. She measured 882 feet 9 inches (269.06 m) long with a maximum breadth of 92 feet 6 inches (28.19 m) and had a height of 104 feet (32 m).
“Titanic started a voyage through history when it sailed away. One century later, there is still no port at sight.”— Marina Tavares Dias
2. The ship was constructed in Belfast, Northern Ireland by the Harland and Wolff shipyard. She cost $7.5 million to build. Two workers died during her construction. Thomas Andrews, the ship's architect, would end up dying in the disaster.
3. RMS stands for “Royal Mail Steamer.” As well as carrying an estimated 2,224 passengers and crew, the ship was also delivering 3,423 sacks of mail (7,000,000 individual pieces) for the British postal service.
4. RMS Titanic began her voyage from Southampton, England on 14 April 1912. The plan was for her to land at New York Pier 54 on the morning of 17 April after calling in at Cherbourg and Queenstown and crossing the Atlantic. It was widely believed at the time that large vessels faced negligible threat from icebergs.
I was absolutely obsessed with the Titanic - not the film, the actual boat. I'd draw diagrams about it and theorise that if it was built in a different way, it wouldn't have sunk.— Margot Robbie
5. The ship was designed to carry a maximum of 3,547 people. There were an estimated 2,224 passengers and crew on her maiden voyage, including 13 honeymooning couples. There were 324 passengers in First Class, 284 in Second Class, and 709 in Third Class. Sixty-six percent of the passengers were male and thirty-four percent female. One hundred and seven children were aboard her.
"I cannot imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. I cannot conceive of any vital disaster happening to this vessel. Modern ship building has gone beyond that."— Captain Smith, Commander of Titanic
Facts About Edward Smith, Captain of Titanic
Edward Smith, the captain of the Titanic, was born in Hanley, Staffordshire, England on 27th January 1850. Smith joined the White Star Line in 1880 and quickly rose in status. In September 1911, Smith was in command of Olympic, at that time the biggest vessel in the world, when it collided with a British warship, HMS Hawke. Smith died, along with around 1,500 others, after Titanic hit the iceberg and sank. His body was never recovered.
"When anyone asks how I can best describe my experience in nearly 40 years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog the like, but in all my experience, I have never been in any accident of any sort worth speaking about. ...... I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked, nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort. You see, I am not very good material for a story"— Captain Smith, Commander of Titanic
6. Titanic had 4 huge funnels, each painted buff with black tops, but only 3 of them released steam. The fourth one was mainly for show, but also provided some ventilation for the kitchen. There were also two 155 foot (47 m) high masts.
7. The ship’s top speed was 23 knots, which is the equivalent of over 26 miles per hour. She had three main engines, two reciprocating four-cylinder, triple-expansion steam engines and a low-pressure Parsons turbine. Each engine powered its own propeller.
8. Four days into the crossing, 11:40 pm ship's time, Titanic hit an iceberg. She was 375 miles (600 km) south of Newfoundland at the time. Although the hull wasn't punctured by the iceberg, the seams were pulled apart by buckling, letting water seep in.
9. Six ice warnings were received by Titanic on the day of the collision, all of them were ignored. It was a moonless night and the waters were still, making the iceberg difficult to spot. The iceberg was also a “blackberg”, which meant that due to continuous melting, it looked more dark and mirrored in its appearance, rather than white – the phenomenon is similar to the black ice found on roads.
"Come at once, we have struck a berg, it's a CQD old man."— Jack Phillips, Wireless Operator
10. After the lookouts sounded the warning, there were only 37 seconds to react. First Officer Murdoch ordered the ship to turn left and for the engine room to put the engines in reverse, but it was not enough to avoid the iceberg, and a number of holes developed below the waterline.
Titanic, The 1997 Movie
In 1997, James Cameron wrote and co-produced a movie of the shipping disaster. The fictional account of the event starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and was an enormous commercial and critical success.
Cameron used footage of the actual Titanic wreck for the movie, and a reconstruction of the ship was constructed at Playas de Rosarito in Baja California. The movie also used computer graphics, which were highly advanced for the time to show the ship sinking.
The movie cost $200 million to make and was the most expensive film ever made at the time. Costs were more than recouped, however, and it is still the highest grossing movie ever made.
11. The ship was originally designed to carry 64 lifeboats, but only had 20 on her maiden voyage in order to lower the amount of clutter on the decks. A lifeboat drill was supposed to take place on the day of the disaster, but for some reason, the captain had cancelled it. The crew had not been properly trained to deal with an evacuation and many of the lifeboats were barely half full when launched.
"Many brave things were done that night but none more brave than by those few men playing minute after minute as the ship settled quietly lower and lower in the sea...the music they played serving alike as their own immortal requiem and their right to be recorded on the rulls of undying fame."— Lawrence Beesley, Titanic Survivor
12. It took Titanic two hours and forty minutes to sink after it hit the iceberg. She began sinking bow first, and as the angle became steeper more and more cabins were flooded with water.There were only enough lifeboats for half of the people on board.
“No matter how much water a sink takes on, it never lives up to its name. The Titanic would never have sunk if it were made out of a sink.”— Jarod Kintz
13. The protocol of "women and children first" was generally followed, which is why a larger percentage of adult men died. Many of the third class passengers were left below decks as the ship filled with water and so consequently more of them died proportionately, than second class ones.
14. Out of the 2,224 people on board, it is thought that 719 were saved and 1514 were lost. Two dogs also survived the disaster. There is some confusion about the exact numbers of people on board, however. This is due to the passenger list being inaccurate, as some people cancelled at the last minute due to a coal strike, and a smaller amount of people traveled under aliases for various reasons.
"To my poor fellow-sufferers: My heart overflows with grief for you all and is laden with sorrow that you are weighed down with this terrible burden that has been thrust upon us. May God be with us and comfort us all."— Eleanor Smith, wife of the late Captain Smith
15. It took seventy-four years before the wreck of RMS Titanic was found. The ship had split in two at the time of sinking and was at a depth of 12,600 feet below the surface of the ocean. There is now a permanent exhibition of artifacts from the ship at the Luxor Las Vegas hotel and casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
- Brewster, Hugh; Coulter, Laurie (1998). 882½ Amazing Answers to your Questions about the Titanic. Madison Press Book. ISBN 978-0-590-18730-5.
- Crosbie, Duncan; Mortimer, Sheila (2006). Titanic: The Ship of Dreams. New York, NY: Orchard Books. ISBN 978-0-439-89995-6.
- Merideth, Lee W. (2003). 1912 Facts About Titanic. Sunnyvale, CA: Rocklin Press. ISBN 978-0-9626237-9-0.
© 2013 Paul Goodman