The sinking of the Titanic was a major disaster that affected the whole world, and made many people think twice before they got on another ship. At the time, the Titanic was the biggest ship in the world. The creators of the ship said that it was unsinkable, and that God himself couldn’t sink it, which was probably their downfall. There is also a lot of controversy surrounding whose fault the tragedy really was. The tragedy happened on the Titanic’s very first ocean crossing. The Titanic was the biggest, and considered one of the most luxurious ships afloat. The Titanic had a total number of 2,207 people on board (1,309 passengers, and 896 crew members). The Titanic was 882 feet and 8 inches long, and weighed 46,328 tons. The Titanic’s sister ship, the Olympic, was identical in length to the Titanic, but extra features on the Titanic added extra weight (Norris 39-44). The Titanic was considered unsinkable because of its watertight compartment. The Titanic had 16 compartments, and would still be able to float unless five of those compartments would be punctured (Bromer 1-3). The Titanic’s keel was laid down in Belfast, Ireland at the Harland and Wolff Shipyard on March 31, 1909. On May 31, 1911, the Titanic was slid from her dry-dock into the water. The unusual thing about the launching of the Titanic was that it never had a christening ceremony, which after the tragedy was considered one of the causes for bad luck. The Titanic was actually launched before the propellers, smokestacks, or even the engines were added to the ship. What was interesting about the ship was that only three of the four smokestacks were operational, the fourth was added to make the Titanic look even more massive and impressive. The Titanic had massive chandeliers, and there was a lot of stained glass and carved wood decorations in the ship. The decks were cushioned with lush, thick carpet. While on the ship, passengers could enjoy time in a swimming pole, a gymnasium, a squash court, one of several libraries, a Turkish bath, comfortable lounges, or a replica Parisian sidewalk cafe. Over all, the Titanic was considered a floating palace, and could cross the Atlantic Ocean in as little as four days. The ship was commanded by Edward John Smith, and held many important people as well as many millionaires (Norris 39-44). On April 10, 1912 the Titanic left for Southampton and the ship was so large that suction it created pulled the ship, New York, from its moorings. The New York was on a collision course with the Titanic. The engines on the Titanic were reversed, and two tug boats rushed out to the New York. The quick action of all the crew members on the different ships prevented a serious collision, but looking back, if there would have been a collision, the Titanic probably wouldn’t have collided with the iceberg that ended up sinking the ship (Norris 39-44). At 11 p.m. on April 14, a radio message came into the radiomen on the Titanic that came from the California warning that ice had drifted into the shipping lanes. When the message came through, the radioman on the Titanic was sending out messages, and since he wasn’t planning on receiving any messages, he accidently had the volume on his headset turned up to loud, so the warning almost defended him and it made him very mad, so he told the radioman on the California to shut up. At the time that the message was sent, the California was estimated to be only ten miles from the Titanic (Norris 39-44). About forty minutes after the Titanic had received the warning from the California, the Titanic struck an iceberg. Right before the impact, a seaman in the crow’s nest noticed something in front of the ship. What the seaman actually saw was the iceberg that sent the Titanic to its watery grave. As soon as the seaman saw the iceberg, he pulled the alarm cord three times which signaled an emergency. After the bridge had been warned of the impending danger, First Office Williams Murdoch ordered that the Titanic be turned away from the iceberg and that the engines be reversed so they could avoid a collision (in hind sight, reversing the engines on the Titanic did not help the situation at all). Just 37 seconds after the seaman on the crow’s nest alerted the bridge of the danger, the Titanic struck the iceberg (Norris 39-44). At the time of impact, the Titanic was travelling about 22.5 knots (about 26 miles-per-hour). When the ship hit the iceberg, it did not hit it head-on, but the Titanic sideswiped an underwater part of the iceberg. The collision made a 300 foot gash that popped rivets, and buckled plates on the underside of the Titanic. The long gash on the underside of the Titanic punctured five of the sixteen watertight compartments. If the only four of the compartments had been punctured, the Titanic would have still been seaworthy (Bromer 1-3). Immediately two boiler rooms were flooded, and the pumps soon became overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the water (Brown 1). It did not take the crewman long to determine that the ship was doomed. At five minutes past midnight, Captain Smith had given orders to uncover the lifeboats and also to start gathering the passengers on the upper deck to get ready to abandon the doomed ship. Many of the passengers were awakened by stewards knocking on all of the doors, and many were crowded on the deck in their fancy clothes, in old clothes, or whatever they could throw over themselves in their haste to get to the upper deck (Norris 39-44). At 12:15, the captain told the wireless radio operators to start transmitting distress signals (Norris 39-44). The radio operator on the Titanic expected to pick up the California (the ship that warned the Titanic of the ice) quickly because they weren’t very fall from each other. As it turned out, the radio operator on the California had just gone to bed after switching off the radio equipment (Bromer 1-3). There were several ships within range of the powerful transmitter aboard the Titanic. The ship with the best chance of coming to the rescue of the Titanic was the Carpathia. At the time radio contact was made with the Carpathia, the ship was about 60 miles from the crash site (Norris 39-44). Besides the Carpathia, the radio operators also made contact with the Olympic, the Baltic, and a German boat (Bromer 1-3). At 12:25, the captain ordered that the life boats be filled with women and children. The inexperienced crew on the Titanic was only filling the lifeboats half full, because they were concerned that the lifeboats might buckle or sink from being completely filled (Norris 39-44). The Titanic carried 20 lifeboats, and if all of them were filled, they would have been able to hold 1,178 people, instead of the mere 712 people that were saved (Brown 1). Also, some passengers refused to get on the lifeboats because they still didn’t believe that the Titanic was going to sink, so they didn’t want to spend hours in an uncomfortable little boat. After, many of the lifeboats were launched, the crew on the Titanic launched distress rockets into the sky, with hopes that another ship would see them. The crew on the California did in fact see the rockets, but since there was no universal agreement on what color and type the rockets should be, the crew on the California had no idea what they meant. As the Titanic sank lower into the water, and started to rise into the air, panic broke loose, and caused chaos on the deck. At 2:18, the ships lights went out, and also anything that was not secured to the floor was sent tumbling toward the end of the ship that was sinking into the water. After the lights finally went out, the boat snapped in half between the third and fourth smoke stack (Norris 39-44). At the time the Titanic sank, the temperature of the water was 29° F. The water was so cold, that many of the people in the water died within a few minutes. It was about 4:00 when the Carpathia finally arrived to pick up the survivors. Altogether, the Carpathia saved 712 people from the freezing water below. Unfortunately there were many false reports concerning the fate of the Titanic. The false reports were traced back to static, interference, garbled wireless messages, and multiple radio transmissions at the same time. Some of the false reports include that “no lives were lost,” “the ship sank, but only after all of the passengers were placed in lifeboats,” “the Titanic was coming into port under her own power,” and “the Titanic was damaged, and was being towed into port by the Carpathia.” With all of the false reports, it is easy to see why so many people were disappointed when they found out what really happened to the Titanic. The reports showed that there were 1,490 to 1,523 people died, but the widely accepted number is 1,496 deaths (Norris 39-44). Almost all of the men on the ship were missing, 805 of the 951 men drowned. Many millionaires who heard what had happened to the Titanic, wanted the officials of the Titanic’s company, the White Star line, to do something more, but their response was “We have done all we could, money can do no more.” What also didn’t help matters at all, was that there were thunderstorms and fog in the area where the Titanic sank, which would make it practically impossible to find any survivors still afloat (Sinking n.p.). In 1985 while on a secret mission for the United States Navy, Robert Ballard discovered the Titanic. The Titanic was at a depth of about 12,500 feet. There is now a company that that recovers items from the Titanic on the ocean floor. By 1997, the company had already brought up about 5,000 artifacts. The artifacts have been shown in many exhibitions throughout many different countries. Some people have different feelings on collecting artifacts from the wreck. Some people feel like bringing items to the surface and showing them will honor those who lost their lives on that that terrible day, and some others feel like the wreck should be left alone, and treated like a graveyard, not an archaeological site (Brown 1). Even though the Titanic was a major disaster, some very beneficial things have come from it. For example, when the Titanic was built, the number of lifeboats required was determined by the weight of the vessel, but now a ship must carry enough lifeboats so everybody onboard may fit onto them if needed. Also, before the sinking, there was not a standard for what a distress rocket should be, in fact, if there would have been a standard before the Titanic had sunk, the passengers most likely would have been saved. Now the radios on a ship must be manned, and turned on 24 hours a day. Another beneficial thing that was created was the International Ice Patrol, which was founded in 1914, was designed to monitor the icebergs in the North Atlantic (Norris 39-44). The fate of the Titanic proved than no ship, no matter how modern or advanced, is not unsinkable. The Titanic disaster was a huge disaster that could have easily been avoided, but because of the disaster, there are many new standards that improve the safety of the passengers should they ever face a disaster similar to that of the Titanic. A very true statement about the Titanic is; “The Titanic’s creation symbolized man’s achievement. Her sinking symbolized man’s arrogance. Annotated Bibliography Bromer, Rick. "Crewman Describes Wreck of the Titanic." Old News March 1992: 1-3. SIRS Researcher. Web. 01 October, 2009. This talks about a crewman who was on the Titanic, and gives a firsthand account of the disaster. Brown, Donald. "Titanic: Voyage to Infamy." Palm Beach Post (West Palm Beach, FL) April 13, 1997: 1D+. SIRS Researcher. Web. 01 October, 2009. This article talks about general information of the Titanic. Norris, David A. "We Have Struck a Berg!"." History Magazine (Toronto, Canada) Vol. 9 No. 4 April/May 2008: 39-44. SIRS Researcher. Web. 30 September, 2009. This article talks about almost every aspect of the Titanic disaster, from the building of the ship to its appearance in pop-culture. Unknown. "Sinking of the Titanic." UPI's 20th Century Top Stories April 16, 1912: n.p. SIRS Researcher. Web. 01 October, 2009. This is a newspaper article from the time when the Titanic was sunk.
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