It is Titanic Week. Today, April 10, 2020, marks the 108th anniversary of the maiden voyage and sinking of the RMS Titanic, the largest and most luxurious ship of its time. Titanic left Southampton on April 10, 1912 at 12PM and would be stopping at Cherbourg by 4PM and Queenstown (now Cobh) at 8:10PM to pick up more passengers before heading out to the open ocean on April 11. 1,496 people died from the sinking of the Titanic, while only 727 survived. Her sinking changed the way maritime organizations and ships operated. She was also the source for many books!
Since the tragedy, Titanic has been a huge focus for historians as they try to work out not only how she sank, but everything that happened before and during her maiden voyage. With that being said, here are nineteen Titanic facts that you can read about that you may not even know! I will also be linking five Titanic-related books that you can pick up and read!
image via wikimedia commons
1. titanic had to scavenge for coal to use
At the time of Titanic’s maiden voyage in 1912, there was a coal strike going on. The strike ended April 6, just four days before she was supposed to set sail and because of this, there wouldn’t be enough time to deliver enough coal to the dock for Titanic. As a result, coal for Titanic had to be scavenged from other company ships (which all belonged to White Star Line).
image via imgur
2. titanic was originally designed to have 64 lifeboats
Titanic’s chief designer, Alexander Carlisle, originally planned on Titanic having sixty-four lifeboats, but the International Mercantile Marine Company at the time decided that it would be more important for passengers to have more walking space on deck. Also, since the number of lifeboats needed was based on a ship’s weight, the design of sixty-four lifeboats was knocked down to forty, then thirty-two, and finally sixteen, which was the “right” amount based off Titanic’s weight. An additional four smaller lifeboats were added for a grand total of twenty.
image via daily mail
3. titanic almost collided with a ship when she left southampton
Titanic was about to leave port at Southampton for her maiden voyage when a ship named the USMS New York slowly inched closer to the liner! What caused this ship to almost collide with Titanic was her giant propellers underwater; the sheer size of the moving propellers caused the nearby USMS New York to break free of her mooring lines and get sucked toward Titanic! Luckily, Titanic avoided it, but her departure time was delayed by an hour.
image via quora
4. titanic had a smoldering coal fire inside her for most of her voyage
Titanic had six boiler rooms at the very bottom deck. A coal fire, which starts from spontaneous combustion of coal, lightly burned inside boiler room 5 before she even left port and was finally put out well into her maiden voyage.
image via kyle hudak and ken marschall on encyclopedia titanica
5. titanic sailed while leaning to her port side (the left)
The coal fire during the voyage forced people working in boiler room 5 to empty or move all the coal from the right side. This caused Titanic to lean to port about 2.5º.
image via andrew king on twitter
6. titanic’s fourth funnel was a “dummy” funnel
The last funnel on Titanic was a dummy funnel in that it did not release the black smoke that the first three did. Instead, the last funnel was used to ventilate the engine rooms and kitchens aboard Titanic. So, it was cosmetic and functional. Cool!
image via wikipedia
7. titanic’s bulkheads were pretty low for a ship her size
What bulkheads do on any ship is create divided spaces to contain flood water. On Titanic, some only rose nine feet from sea level, or about one floor of a house. So, Mr. Andrews in Cameron’s Titanic pointed out a huge problem while the ship was sinking: “The water will spill over the tops of the bulkheads, at E Deck, going from one to the next, back and back, there’s no stopping it.”. And nothing did.
image via pinterest
8. a strange atmospheric phenomenon could have been why titanic hit the iceberg
On the night Titanic hit the iceberg, a cold air mirage could have been the reason why no one saw the iceberg until it was really close. A cold air mirage bends the horizon line upwards. This meant that the iceberg was totally hidden in a fake horizon line that was above the real one, so no one spotted the iceberg until the ship was dangerously close to it!
image via j. cleary on pinterest
9. titanic had more time to turn than we thought
The lookouts spotted “an absence of stars” about ten minutes before Titanic hit the iceberg, but since nothing physical was made out, this was ignored. The lookouts then physically spotted the iceberg 55 seconds before hitting it, not what was thought to be 37. The ship turned to the left of the iceberg but, unfortunately, it just didn’t have enough time and hit it.
image via Quora
10. the iceberg only caused 12-13 sq. feet of damage, less than the area of two sidewalk squares
The iceberg didn’t cause one giant gash in the side of Titanic. It’s believed that the iceberg instead popped open some rivets holding Titanic’s hull plates together. This caused six small, but major, damaged areas along six watertight compartments where water was quickly entering.
gif via samuel halpern on titanicology
11. titanic was taking on 400 tons of water every minute after striking the iceberg
After Titanic hit the iceberg, she began taking on a lot of water. Like, a lot. After twenty minutes, she had almost two million gallons of water on-board. To put this into perspective, that amount could fill four olympic-sized pools!!!
image via Titanic:H&G on gigazine
12. titanic had a gangway door opened during her sinking
There is evidence to suggest that while Titanic was sinking, one of her commanding officers had a gangway door opened on D Deck to make it easier to board passengers onto lifeboats! This door was used to board first class passengers (the super rich) on the ship, but during her sinking, the open door was forgotten about and it only allowed more water inside the ship! #OOPS
image via titanic:H&G on encyclopedia titanica
13. titanic listed pretty badly while she sank
While Titanic was nearing her end, the ship leaned around 11º to her left side. Why did this happen? It’s believed that when Scotland Road flooded (a very long corridor for poor passengers onboard) the water forced the ship to lean to the left.
image via encyclopedia britannica
14. james cameron’s titanic improperly portrays bruce ismay
Bruce Ismay, the owner of White Star Line, was shown in the movie to cowardly jump into a lifeboat and escape the sinking Titanic. In real life, Ismay wasn’t a sleaze ball liked he appeared in the movie. Rather, he was actually very active in persuading and assisting passengers to get on the lifeboats as he knew the ship would sink. He only survived because First Officer William Murdoch ordered him into a boat. And no, Ismay never told Captain Smith to make Titanic go faster so they could make newspaper headlines like he did in the movie.
image via wikipedia
15. william murdoch didn’t actually commit suicide by shooting himself in the head
The movie also inaccurately portrays Officer Murdoch shooting himself in the head after he fatally shot Jack’s friend, Tommy, in his stomach. There are no survivor accounts of him shooting anyone, nor himself. Like others, he probably froze to death in the freezing North-Atlantic water.
image via wikipedia
16. the captain of titanic did not ignore any ice warnings
A popular myth is that the captain of Titanic, Edward J. Smith, ignored all incoming warnings from other ships about a huge ice field ahead of Titanic. Contrary to the myth, Captain Smith actually listened to them by having Titanic sail further south than her original route in an attempt to get ahead of the ice field. The captain wasn’t trying to break any world speed records.
image via Titanic:h&g on our planet
17. cameron’s titanic inaccurately portrays the way titanic sank
In the movie, we see at the end of the sinking the stern of Titanic towering high out of the water, with dramatic music and a shot of a horrible, death-filled spectacle with people screaming and jumping to their deaths in the icy water below. As engaging as that may have been on a theater or t.v. screen, the stern did not rise that high out of the water. In the movie, the stern was 45º out of the water, but in real life, it was half that at a max of 23º.
18. the way the ship split in cameron’s titanic was incorrect
After that scene of the stern with the dramatic shot and music, we see the ship split in half. It’s even more dramatic than the previous scene. However, this too isn’t accurate. That giant split we see form in the ship actually happened forward of the third funnel, which was the one that was practically touching the water. A second and third split came later behind that same third funnel, thus creating four broken pieces instead of two we see in the movie.
image via titanic: h&G on encyclopedia titanica
19. titanic still had some lights on after she split in half
As shown in the movie, the lights on Titanic went out at or around the time she split in half. However, after she did break up, a few emergency lights, like those you’d find in a building nowadays, kicked on, slightly illuminating the decks, though they didn’t stay on for long as the stern went quickly under water. Now, imagine seeing that terrifying sight from a lifeboat!
Image via amazon
This book series was written by Gordon Korman and places readers right into the heart of Titanic. The story follows four young passengers, Paddy, Sophie, Juliana, and Alfie, in the background stories of how they got on Titanic and who they are and the one looming event that will link them all together into one tragic survival story: the sinking of the RMS Titanic.
image via amazon
This lavishly illustrated book was written by Hugh Brewster and illustrated by a very popular Titanic artist, Ken Marschall (he has some amazing paintings of ocean liners you can look up). This book tells the gripping story of the Titanic in a visual way that can make you feel like you’re inside the vessel. It also has two stories of children who sailed on the ship, as well as featuring a giant four-page cutaway of the entire ship. Whoa!
Image Via amazon
Inspired by true events, Hazel Gaynor writes about a story of a group of Irish immigrants aboard the RMS Titanic. The family in the book consists of fourteen members from a small villager, and they board Titanic in steerage in hopes of finding a better life in America. The main character, Maggie Murphy, records her bittersweet journey as she knows her future lies in an unknown land while her heart remains in Ireland along with her lover. Maggie is one of the lucky few survivors in steerage who survive, never to speak of the disaster ever again. In the future, Maggie finally decides to share her painful story with her granddaughter, Grace Butler.
featured image via wikipedia
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