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.
15 RMS Titanic Facts
- The Titanic was the biggest man-made moving object in the world at the time of her launch
- The ship was constructed in Belfast, Northern Ireland
- RMS stands for “Royal Mail Steamer”
- She began her voyage from Southampton, England
- The ship was designed to carry a maximum of 3,547 people
- The ship had 4 huge funnels, but only 3 of them released steam
- The ship’s top speed was 23 knots, the equivalent of over 26 miles per hour
- Four days into the crossing, Titanic hit an iceberg
- Six ice warnings were received by Titanic on the day of the collision, all were ignored
- After the lookouts sounded the warning, there were only 37 seconds to react
- The ship was originally designed to carry 64 lifeboats, but only had 20 on her maiden voyage
- It took Titanic two hours and forty minutes to sink after it hit the iceberg
The protocol of "women and children first" was generally followed
- Out of the 2,224 people on board, it is thought that 719 were saved and 1514 were lost
- It took seventy-four years before the wreck of RMS Titanic was found
I will give more detail below on each of the facts listed.
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).
2. The ship was constructed in Belfast, Northern Ireland
She was built by the Harland and Wolff shipyard and cost $7.5 million. 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. She began her voyage from Southampton, England
Setting off 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.
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.
6. The ship had 4 huge funnels, but only 3 of them released steam
The fourth funnel was mainly for show, but also provided some ventilation for the kitchen. Each funnel was painted buff with a black top. There were also two 155 foot (47 m) high masts.
7. The ship’s top speed was 23 knots, 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, Titanic hit an iceberg
The impact was at 11:40 pm ship's time. The ship 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 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.
11. The ship was originally designed to carry 64 lifeboats, but only had 20 on her maiden voyage
This was 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.
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.
13. The protocol of "women and children first" was generally followed
This 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.
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.
"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
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.
- 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.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2013 Paul Goodman