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Titanic Overview and Introduction

April 27th, 2010

Titanic Model Ship

Titanic’s Construction

Built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, the Titanic, Olympic, and Britannic(originally Gigantic), were constructed to compete with Cunard Line’s Lusitania and Mauretani. The hull of Titanic underwent construction on May 31, 1911, and was completed on March 31, 1912. Equipped with two reciprocating four-cylinder, triple-expansion steam engines, and a low pressure Parsons turbine that entailed the operation of three propellers. In its completion, Titanic was the definitive ship in luxury and class. This was due to the many features that she had, including: a swimming pool, gymnasium, Turkish bath, Verandah cafe,squash court, and electric bath.

Titanic’s Maiden Voyage

The Titanic’s maiden voyage began in Southampton, England toward New York City on April 10, 1912. Captain Edward J. Smith commanded the Titanic for its maiden voyage. Foreshadowing the tragic destiny of Titanic was the near collision with SS New York when Titanic’s wake caused the New York to break free of her moorings and close within four feet of Titanic before being towed away. White Star Line’s managing director and ship builder, J. Bruce Ismay and Thomas Andrews respectively, traveled on board to assist in any problems in performance of the immense ship.

Sinking of the Titanic – Causes

Sunday, April 14, 1912. Captain Smith reacted to warnings of icebergs he received over the radio on the days before, and took Titanic on a new course that detoured further south. However, at 1:45 pm, a message relayed from steam ship Amerika warned of large icebergs ahead of Titanic, but Jack Phillips and Harold Bride, wireless radio operators employed by Marconi, did not relay this message, as they only would relay messages to and from the passengers. Yet another report of several large icebergs came in from Mesaba, but this message was not relayed either.

Sinking of the Titanic – Lifeboats

The Titanic prepared the launching of its lifeboats at around 12:40 am, with a total of 20 lifeboats capable of holding 1,178 people, not nearly enough for all passengers on board. At the time, lifeboats were determined by the ship’s gross register tonnage, rather than the human capacity. The first lifeboat lowered was Lifeboat 7 on the starboard side. However, even though the lifeboat could hold 65 people, only 28 people were on board the lifeboat. The disorganized nature of lifeboat boarding cost more than a few passengers their lives

Sinking of the Titanic – The Carpathia and The Rescue (Final Minutes)

By 2:10 am, Titanic’s stern began rising from the water, exposing its propellers, and the waterline had reached the boat deck by 2:17 am. The last two lifeboats were taken off the deck with Collapsible B upside down, and Collapsible A half filled with water. Soon, the forward funnel collapsed, and smashed into the bridge and onto many people frantically floating around the water. Panicked, several passengers on the deck began jumping overboard in attempts to reach lifeboats, while others made way for the stern.

Sinking of the Titanic – The Survivors

Out of the 2,223 people aboard Titanic, only 706 people survived the disaster. Most of the deaths were caused by hypothermia from floating around in the 28 degree water. With water at this temperature, the human body can usually withstand no more than fifteen minutes. The least likely to survive were the men of the 2nd and 3rd class, and 92 percent of male passengers in second class died. Overall, only 20 percent of men survived.

Sinking of the Titanic – Burials and Memorials

The White Star Line commissioned the cable ship CS Mackay-Bennett from Halifax, Nova Scotia to fish the dead bodies of Titanic victims still afloat in the water. Three other ships helped the search, including Minia, Montmagny, and Algerine. Each ship contained embalming supplies, undertakers, and clergy members to assist in retrieval and handling of the dead. 333 victims were recovered, of which 328 were retrieved by Canadian ships, and the other five by North Atlantic steamships.

Titanic – Investigating the Disaster

Investigations into the Titanic disaster were planned before the survivors were even brought back to New York. The United States Senate brought an inquiry about on April 19, just one day after Carpathia brought the survivors to New York. The inquiry chairman in the Senate, Senator William Alden Smith, decided to round up passengers and crew for their accounts of what happened while the incident was still freshly imprinted in their minds. Smith also subpoenaed British citizens who were still on American soil, keeping them from returning to the United Kingdom until the inquiry was over on May 25.

Titanic at the Bottom of the Ocean (Rediscovering the Titanic)

Attempting to find the wreckage of Titanic, and raise her from the ocean floor, had been an idea circulating around since shortly after the sinking. Until September 1, 1985, no attempts to do so were successful. The joint American-French expedition, led by Jean-Louis Michel (Ifremer) and Dr. Robert Ballard (WHOI), managed to find the wreck by way of a side-scan sonar from Knorr and Le Suroit. The French ship Le Suroit began searching a 150-square-mile target zone on June 1985 using a deep-search sonar.

Titanic – Salvaging the Remains

Large debris comprised of ship pieces, furniture, dinnerware, and personal items were scattered over a square mile. It seems that all wood, carpet, and human remains were consumed by undersea organisms. Dr. Ballard and his team refused to bring up any artifacts from their Titanic expedition, as they deemed doing so to be grave robbing. However, international maritime law permits that artifacts must be recovered in order to establish salvage rights to a shipwreck. Since then, the Titanic has underwent a number of court cases revolving around ownership of artifacts, and the wreck site. RMS Titanic, Inc. was given rights to ownership of salvaged artifacts, and became criticized for taking items from the wreck. Approximately 6,000 artifacts were removed from the sunken Titanic, where many were put on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England.

Titanic – Causes of the Disaster

The Titanic was originally thought to have sunk from the iceberg cutting a gash into Titanic’s hull. However, sonar technology has discovered from the buried impact point of the ship that the iceberg actually hit the hull causing it to buckle, and thus let water flow freely into Titanic. While the steel plating used for Titanic was arguably the best carbon ship plate available at the time, detailed analysis of small pieces of the steel plating from Titanic’s wreck hull discovered that the one to one and a half inch thick plates were composed of a metallurgy that loses elasticity in icy waters, thus becoming brittle and susceptible to cracks

Titanic – The Famous Band

The band of Titanic is one of the most mysterious and legendary tales that comes from the ill fated ocean liner. Titanic’s eight-member band was led by Wallace Hartley, and upon panic of the passengers during Titanic’s sinking, assembled in the first-class lounge to play in an effort to keep everyone calm. As the ship continued to plunge, the band moved to the forward half of the boat deck, and continued playing even when their doom became apparent. All members of the Titanic band died that night while playing. However, the final song they played is still up to much debate.

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