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My Heart Will Go On
Theme song from Titanic







Did you know ??

Titanic had lifeboat space for less than one third her
passenger capacity, but it was still more than the law required.

Transatlantic steamship travel was a ruthlessly competitive business in 1912.

Titanic was never christened.

Titanic never held a full lifeboat drill.

There was more ice afloat in the North Atlantic
in the Spring of 1912 than at any
time in the previous 50 years.

Titanic had a near-collision
as she left the dock in Southampton.

Titanic's passenger list included some
of the wealthiest people in the world.

The ship builders knew that
Titanic was not "unsinkable."

They knew they were taking a risk.

Standard practice for sailing through
ice was Full Speed Ahead.

After the collision, most passengers were not
aware that the ship was going to sink.

The band played light, cheerful music as the ship sank

Titanic recieved six ice-warnings
the day of the collision.

The lookouts had no binoculars.

Titanic's maneuverability had never been
tested at full speed.





Transatlantic steamship travel was a ruthlessly competitive business in 1912.

Transatlantic steamship travel was a ruthlessly competitive business in 1912. Steamship was the only way to cross the Atlantic, and the big companies fought for the patronage of the wealthy passengers who regularly traveled between England, France, and the American cities of the Northeast.

The rivalry was particularly intense between the two leading British lines, White Star and Cunard. Cunard boasted the two fastest ships in the world, the "greyhounds" Lusitania and Mauretania , both grand ships built in 1907 and capable of traveling at approximately 26 knots. White Star's answer was a trio of ships, not quite as fast, but far larger and more luxurious than anything that had ever been put afloat. Titanic , 883 feet long and rising approximately 70 feet above the water, displaced over 46,000 tons - 50% more than the Cunard greyhounds. Construction commenced on Olympic in late 1908, and on her slightly larger sister ship, Titanic , on March 31,1909.



Titanic was never christened.

Titanic was never christened. When the bare hull was completed, an enormous ceremonial event was held on May 31, 1911 at the Belfast shipyards of Harland & Wolff. Titanic had been built in a special slip employing the largest gantry in the world. The river had been dredged to accommodate the deep drafts of Titanic and Olympic . About 100 members of the press were present, many of whom had been brought to Belfast from England on a steamer specially chartered for the occasion by White Star Line. Along with dignitaries such as J.P. Morgan (who owned White Star Line), J. Bruce Ismay (White Star's Managing Director and son of its founder) and Lord Pirrie (partner in Harland & Wolff), thousands of people came out to see the great ship slide down the ways.

But there was no christening, no bottle of champagne smashed against her bow. White Star did not customarily indulge in such old-fashioned and superstitious practices. J. Bruce Ismay pressed a button, the electric rams shoved the 26,000 ton hull and, sliding on 23 tons of tallow, train oil and soft soap, Titanic slid into the harbor. Powered by her weight alone, she attained a speed of 12 knots, equal to the top cruising speed for many of the steamers that then worked the North Atlantic.



Titanic never held a full lifeboat drill.

Titanic never held a full lifeboat drill. On the morning the ship sailed, a perfunctory boat drill was conducted to satisfy legal requirements. Two boats were lowered to the water under the supervision of Fifth Officer Lowe and Sixth Officer Moody. The few crewmen who participated in the drill were probably the only ones who knew how to work the new davits. A boat drill with the passengers scheduled for Sunday morning, April 14 was canceled... the ship sank early the next morning.



There was more ice afloat in the North Atlantic in the
Spring of 1912 than at any time in the previous 50 years.

There was more ice afloat in the North Atlantic in the Spring of 1912 than at any time in the previous 50 years. Icebergs in the North Atlantic originate in Greenland, where the glaciers protrude out over the water's edge and eventually break off and are carried south by the Labrador Current. The great steamship companies had long established tracks for outbound (Europe to North America) and inbound (North America to Europe) ships. A special route was used from January 15 to August 14, the season when ice was an acknowledged danger, that allowed ships to avoid the most ice-prone regions by following a Great Circle track from Fastnet Light, off the Southwestern Irish coast, to a place in the North Atlantic called "the Corner" at 42°N 47°W, where the course was set straight towards the Nantucket Shoal lightship, and from there on to New York. The winter of 1912 had been unusually mild, and ice - not just bergs, but field ice, pack ice, and the low-lying bergs known as "growlers" - had broken free from the Arctic in large quantities. Even the oldest sailors could not recall having ever seen as much ice.



Titanic had a near-collision as she left the dock in Southampton.

Titanic had a near-collision as she left the dock in Southampton. Guided by tugs through the harbor-waters, Titanic left the unusually crowded dock in Southampton, passing the steamer New York , which was double-berthed - tied up to another ship - at the docks. (A lengthy coal strike, settled only a few days before Titanic sailed, had caused severe fuel shortages, and delayed the departure of many ships.) As Titanic passed, her enormous displacement raised the water-level around her, causing the New York to rise and then abruptly drop, simultaneously snapping all six ropes securing the smaller ship. Her stern began to swing rapidly towards Titanic . (A similar phenomenon occurred some months before to Olympic when a naval vessel, the Hawke , actually rammed Olympic and opened an enormous hole in her hull. The subsequent inquiry determined that Olympic's moving hull had created a suction effect which drew the Hawke helplessly toward her. Repairs to Olympic had slowed work on Titanic , causing Titanic's maiden voyage to be moved from March 20 to April 10.) Only quick and concerted action prevented a collision. Titanic's engines were reversed, and a tug crew secured the New York with a cable and pulled her away. The tug captain later said the New York was four feet from Titanic when she was stopped.



Titanic's passenger list included some of the wealthiest people in the world.

Titanic's passenger list included some of the wealthiest people in the world. The cream of New York and Philadelphia society decided that passage on Titanic's maiden voyage would be "the thing to do." The wealthiest passenger was Col. John Jacob Astor IV, (grandson of the original John Jacob Astor who founded the family fortune). It was Col. Astor who, along with his cousin, created New York's opulent Waldorf Astoria Hotel. Col. Astor boarded in Cherbourg with his second wife Madeleine, then just 19 years old (younger than Astor's oldest son) and expecting her first child.

The Astors' American friends on the ship included George Widener, heir of the Philadelphia streetcar fortune, and his wife and son Harry; Isador Straus, the elderly founder of Macy's department store, and his wife Ida; and Benjamin Guggenheim, playboy heir of a mining and smelting fortune. Among the British nobility were the Countess of Rothes, and Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife Lucile, the high society fashion designer (who were traveling as "Mr. & Mrs. Morgan.")

Other passengers of note included Maj. Archie Butt, military aide to President Taft, and the very down-to-earth Colorado millionairess Margaret Brown, whose determination, spirit, and leadership during the disaster earned her a new level of social acceptibility, as well as the nickname "the unsinkable Molly Brown."

Ironically, J. Pierpont Morgan, whose conglomerate IMM owned White Star line, had booked the best suite on the ship, B52-54-56, but was unable to sail due to business delays. Lord William J. Pirrie, chairman of Harland & Wolff ( Titanic's builders) missed the sailing due to a cold, and sent in his stead his nephew Thomas Andrews, Harland & Wolff's Managing Director, who had overseen Titanic's construction from the keel up.



The ship builders knew that Titanic was not unsinkable.

The ship builders knew that Titanic was not "unsinkable." Titanic was designed to be a very safe ship, but its builders never advertised it as "unsinkable." That description was applied by the press while the ship was still under construction, and neither Harland & Wolff Shipyards nor White Star Line publicly corrected the statement. They publicized the presence of watertight compartments throughout the lower decks, and the watertight doors connecting them that could be closed automatically by activating a single electric switch on the bridge. The ship was designed to remain afloat with any four of its watertight compartments flooded. (One theory suggests that if Titanic had rammed the iceberg head on - as did the steamer Arizona in 1879 - instead of trying to turn, she might have survived in a badly damaged condition, or at least sunk slowly enough that most people could have been rescued.) The iceberg punctured the steel plating at various points along a length of about 200 feet, extending from compartment #1 through compartment #5 and a few feet into compartment #6. This damage made the sinking a mathematical certainty.



They knew they were taking a risk.

They knew they were taking a risk. On board Titanic , J. Bruce Ismay, Managing Director of White Star Line, strongly urged the captain to increase the ship's speed despite the fact that it was standard practice to "run the engines in" slowly, comparable to breaking in a new car. Ismay was eager to break Olympic's record in order to garner additional publicity. On Saturday, April 13, with 24 of the 29 boilers lit, Ismay was overheard in conversation with the captain, talking about improving the ship's performance from the previous day's. Ismay declared emphatically, "You see they are standing the pressure. Everything is going well. The boilers are working well. We will make a better run tomorrow." Ismay pointedly informed the Captain that they would get to New York a full day early.



Standard practice for sailing through ice was Full Speed Ahead.

Standard practice for sailing through ice was Full Speed Ahead. Ice is commonly encountered in the North Atlantic in the spring and summer. Aside from switching to a more southerly route during this season, the only accommodation most steamers made was to keep lookouts posted so that floating ice could be spotted in a timely fashion and steered around.



After the collision, most passengers were not aware that the ship was going to sink.

After the collision, most passengers were not aware that the ship was going to sink. Determined to avoid a panic, Captain Smith instructed crew members to calmly inform the passengers to put on their lifejackets and report to the boat deck. Many were told that entering the boats was merely a precaution, and they would return to Titanic by morning. These reassuring words persuaded many reluctant wives to leave their husbands and board the lifeboats. Third class passengers were not even advised to report to the boat deck. They were simply assembled below and told to await instructions. It was commonly reported that, most likely in an effort to manage the crowd, many staircases and passageways leading from lower sections of the ship were locked off, thus preventing escape to all but the most intrepid. (Since there was virtually no testimony taken from third class passengers in either of the two official investigations of the disaster, these reports did not come to public attention until years later.) One steward, John Hart, escorted two groups of third class women and children up through the tortuous route from the base of the third class stairwell to the boat deck. Aside from Hartıs heroic efforts, the third class passengers were left to find their own way, and most of them did not succeed.



The band played light, cheerful music as the ship sank.

The band played light, cheerful music as the ship sank. There were actually two bands on Titanic , the standard 5-piece group, plus a special 3-piece string ensemble (violin, cello and piano) that played in the reception room outside the Palm Court and Cafe Parisien. The musicians were technically traveling as second class passengers - the bizarre result of a labor dispute - but they were effectively members of the crew. At the Captain's request, the musicians assembled on deck and played upbeat music to help keep people calm and avert panic as the lifeboats were being loaded. Two of the popular tunes recalled by survivors were "Alexander's Ragtime Band" and "Autumn." Numerous people recounted that the band played until very shortly before the ship went down, although one survivor, Col. Archibald Gracie, said they laid down their instruments at about 1:50 AM. None of the musicians survived the tragedy.



Titanic recieved six ice-warnings the day of the collision.

Titanic received six ice-warnings the day of the collision. Radio (then known as "wireless") was a brand new contraption. The signal was limited to Morse code - voice was not yet possible. Titanic had an unusually powerful Marconi wireless system, and was able to send and receive much farther than most other ships on the Atlantic. But as the messages about ice came in throughout the day, there was no standard procedure to ensure that they reached the appropriate ship's officers. The most crucial message, at 9:45 PM, told of field ice and large ice bergs directly ahead of Titanic ... but that message was never delivered to the Captain or his officers. The wireless operator was too busy sending out personal Marconigrams for the passengers.



The lookouts had no binoculars.

The lookouts had no binoculars. White Star Line employed professional lookouts, seamen specially trained and specially compensated for the job. Binoculars were essential to their task. Unfortunately, the binoculars employed during the sea trials on April 2 were apparently misplaced between that time and the sailing. Using only the naked eye, lookout Frederick Fleet did not see the iceberg until it was a mere 500 yards ahead, only 37 seconds from impact. (Shortly before the collision, Fleet remarked to the other lookout, Lee, that one can ³smell ice² when itıs near. While this sounds outlandish, it is sometimes possible. Icebergs acquire a certain amount of marine life attached to their undersides, shrimp and so forth. If progressive melting causes the berg to become unbalanced and turn over, those animals die and produce a significant odor.)



Titanic's maneuverability had never been tested at full speed.

Titanic's maneuverability had never been tested at full speed. Titanic's sea trials were accomplished in a few hours, and included some maneuvering tests, but most were conducted at speeds of 20 knots or less. When the engines were reversed to "full speed astern" from a forward speed of 20 knots, it took 850 yards - almost half a mile - for the ship to come to a complete stop. She attained a speed slightly in excess of 21 knots only briefly during the day of the trials. Titanic was never sailed at 22 knots (her speed at the time of the collision) until she was on the open ocean, so it was unknown how long it would take the ship to respond at the higher speed.





Newspaper clipping from Titanic



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