RMS Titanic

From Academic Kids

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The New York Herald reports the disaster.

RMS Titanic (also SS Titanic) was the second of a trio of superliners intended to dominate the transatlantic travel business. Owned by the White Star Line and built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard, Titanic was the largest passenger steamship in the world at the time of its launching. During Titanic's maiden voyage, it struck an iceberg at 11:40 PM (ship's time) on Sunday evening April 14, 1912, and sank two hours and forty minutes later at 2:20 AM Monday morning.

The sinking resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 people, ranking it as one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in history and, by far, the most famous. The Titanic used some of the most advanced technology available at the time and was popularly believed to be unsinkable. When the ship sank it was a great shock to many people that despite the advanced technology and experienced crew, the Titanic still sank with a great loss of life, bringing a close to the era of positivism. The media frenzy about Titanic's famous victims, the legends about what happened onboard the ship, the resulting changes to maritime law, and the discovery of the wreck in 1985 by a team led by Robert Ballard have made Titanic persistently famous in the years since.



RMS Titanic (left) undergoes sea trials on  .
RMS Titanic (left) undergoes sea trials on 2 April 1912.

The Titanic was a White Star Line ocean liner, built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ulster, designed to compete with rival company Cunard Line's Lusitania and Mauretania. The Titanic, along with its Olympic-class sisters, the Olympic and the soon to be built Britannic (originally named Gigantic), were intended to be the largest, most luxurious ships ever to operate. Construction of the RMS Titanic, funded by the American J.P. Morgan and his International Mercantile Marine Co., began on March 31, 1909. Titanic's hull was launched May 31, 1911, and its outfitting completed March 31 the following year. Titanic was 882 ft 9 in (269 m) long and 92 ft 6 in (28 m) wide, had a gross tonnage of 46,328 tons, and a height from the water line to the boat deck of 60 ft (18 m). Although it enclosed more space and therefore had a larger gross tonnage, the hull was exactly the same length as Titanic's sister ship Olympic. Titanic contained two reciprocating four-cylinder, triple expansion, inverted steam engines and one low pressure Parsons turbine which powered three propellers. There were 29 boilers fired by 159 coal burning furnaces that made possible a top speed of 23 knots (43 km/h). Only three of the four 63 feet (19 m) tall funnels were functional; the fourth funnel, which only served as a vent, was added to make the ship look more impressive. The ship could hold a total of 3,547 passengers and crew and, because it carried mail, its name was given the prefix RMS (Royal Mail Steamer) as well as SS (Steam Ship).

For its time, the ship was unsurpassed in its luxury and opulence. The ship offered an onboard swimming pool, gymnasium, a Turkish bath, library and squash court. First-class common rooms were ornately decorated with elaborate wood panelling, expensive furniture and other elegant decorations. The ship offered three elevators for use of first-class passengers and, as an innovation, offered one elevator for second-class passengers.

Titanic was considered a pinnacle of naval architecture and technological achievement. It was thought by Ship Builders magazine to be "practically unsinkable." Titanic was divided into 16 watertight compartments with doors that were held by a magnetic latch and would fall by moving a switch on the bridge; however, the bulkheads did not traverse the entire height of the decks (only going as far as E-Deck). The Titanic could stay afloat with any two of the middle compartments flooded or the first four compartments flooded; any more and the ship would sink.

Maiden voyage

The ship began its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, bound for New York City, New York, on April 10, 1912, with Captain Edward J. Smith in command. As the Titanic left its berth, the powerful suction it created caused the liner New York, which was docked nearby, to break away from its moorings and was drawn dangerously close to the Titanic. The Titanic was able to avoid a collision, but the near accident delayed departure for one hour. After crossing the English Channel, the Titanic stopped at Cherbourg, France, to board additional passengers and stopped again the next day at Queenstown (known today as Cobh), Ireland, before continuing towards New York with 2,223 people aboard.Template:Ref

The Titanic had three class sections segregating the passengers. Third–class, also known as steerage, comprised of small cabins on the lower decks, was occupied mostly by immigrants hoping for a better life in America. Second–class cabins and common rooms, located towards the stern, were equal to first–class accommodations on lesser ships. Many second–class passengers were originally booked first–class on other ships but, because of a coal strike, transferred to the Titanic. First–class was the most expensive and luxurious part of the ship.

Some of the most prominent people in the world were travelling in first–class. These included millionaire John Jacob Astor and his wife Madeleine Force Astor; industrialist Benjamin Guggenheim; Macy's owner Isidor Straus and his wife Ida; Denver millionairess Margaret "Molly" Brown; Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and his wife couturiere Lady Lucille Duff-Gordon; George Elkins Widener and his wife Eleanor; John Borland Thayer, his wife Marian and their seventeen-year-old son, Jack; journalist William Thomas Stead; the Countess of Rothes; U.S. presidential aide Archibald Butt; author and socialite Helen Churchill Candee; author Jacques Futrelle, his wife May, and their friends, Broadway producers Henry and Irene Harris; silent film actress Dorothy Gibson; and others. Also travelling in first–class were White Star Line's managing director J. Bruce Ismay who came up with the idea for Titanic and the ship's builder Thomas Andrews, who was onboard to observe any problems with the new ship.


An iceberg near Newfoundland, similar to the ones seen on April 14, 1912
An iceberg near Newfoundland, similar to the ones seen on April 14, 1912

On the night of Sunday, April 14, the temperature had dropped to near freezing and the ocean was completely calm. There was no moon out and the sky was clear. Captain Smith, in response to iceberg warnings received via wireless over the last few days, altered the Titanic's course slightly to the south. That Sunday at 1:45 PM, a message from the steamer Amerika warned that large icebergs lie in the Titanic's path, but inexplicably, the warning was never relayed to the bridge. Later that evening, another report of numerous, large icebergs, this time from the Mesaba, also failed to reach the bridge.

At 11:40 PM while sailing south of the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, lookouts Fredrick Fleet and Reginald Lee spotted a large iceberg directly ahead of the ship. Fleet sounded the ship's bell three times and telephoned the bridge exclaiming, "Iceberg, right ahead!" First Officer Murdoch ordered an abrupt turn to port (left) and full speed astern, which stopped and then reversed the ship's engines. A collision turned out to be inevitable, and the iceberg brushed the ship's starboard (right) side, buckling the hull in several places and popping out rivets below the waterline over a length of 300 ft (91 m). The watertight doors were shut as water started filling the first five watertight compartments, one more than the Titanic could stay afloat with. The weight of five watertight compartments filling with water weighed the ship down past the top of the watertight bulkheads, allowing water to flow into the other compartments. Captain Smith, alerted by the jolt of the impact, arrived on the bridge and ordered a full stop. Following an inspection by the ship's officers and Thomas Andrews, it was apparent that the Titanic would sink, and shortly after midnight on April 15, lifeboats were ordered to be readied and a distress call sent out.

The first lifeboat launched, boat 7, was lowered at 12:40 AM on the starboard side with 28 people on board. The Titanic carried 20 lifeboats with a total capacity of 1,178 persons. While not enough to hold all of the passengers and crew, the Titanic carried more boats than required by the British Board of Regulations. At the time, the number of lifeboats required was determined by a ship's gross tonnage, rather than its human capacity.

First and second–class passengers had easy access to the lifeboats with staircases that led right up to the boat deck, but third–class passengers found it more difficult. Many found the corridors leading from the lower sections of the ship difficult to navigate and had trouble making their way up to the lifeboats. Not helping third–class passengers were gates kept locked by crew members waiting for orders to let the passengers up to the deck.

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The Titanic reported its location at 41 46′ N, 50 14′ W. The wreck was found at 41 43′ N, 49 56′ W.

Wireless operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were busy sending out CQD, the universal distress signal. Several ships responded, including the Mount Temple, the Frankfurt and Titanic's sister ship, the Olympic, but none were close enough to make it in time. The closest ship was Cunard Line's RMS Carpathia 58 miles (93 km) away and would arrive in about four hours—too late to get to the Titanic in time. The only land–based location that received the distress call from the Titanic was the wireless station at Cape Race, Newfoundland.

From the bridge, the lights of a nearby ship could be seen off the portside. Not responding to wireless, Fourth Officer Boxhall and Quartermaster Rowe attempted signalling the ship with a Morse lamp and later with distress rockets, but the ship never appeared to respond. The SS Californian, which was nearby and stopped for the night because of ice, also saw lights in the distance. The Californian's wireless was turned off, and the wireless operator had gone to bed for the night. When the Californian's officers first saw the ship, they tried signalling it with their Morse lamp, but also never appeared to receive a response. Later, they noticed the Titanic's distress signals over the lights and informed Captain Stanley Lord. Even though there was much discussion about the mysterious ship, which to the officers on duty appeared to be moving away, the Californian did not wake its wireless operator until morning.

At first, passengers were reluctant to leave the ostensibly safe Titanic, showing no outward signs of being in imminent danger, and board small lifeboats. As a result, most of the boats launched partially empty; one boat meant to hold 40 people left the Titanic with only 12 people on board. With "Women and children first" the imperative for loading lifeboats, Second Officer Lightoller, who was loading boats on the port side, allowed men on only if oarsmen were needed and for no other reason, even if there was room. First Officer Murdoch, who was loading boats on the starboard side, let men onboard if women were absent. As the ship's tilt became more apparent, people started to become nervous, and some lifeboats began leaving fully loaded. By 2:05 AM, the entire bow was under water, and all the lifeboats, save for two, had launched.

Around 2:10 AM, the stern rose out of the water exposing the propellers, and by 2:17 the waterline had reached the boat deck. Events began to transpire rapidly as the last two lifeboats floated right off the deck, one upside down, the other half–filled with water. Shortly afterwards, the forward–most funnel collapsed, crushing part of the bridge and people in the water. On deck, people were scrambling towards the stern or jumping overboard in hopes of reaching a lifeboat. The ship's stern slowly rose into the air, and everything not secured crashed towards the water. While the stern rose the electrical system finally failed and the lights went out. Shortly afterwards, the stress on the hull caused Titanic to break apart between the last two funnels, and the bow went completely under. The stern righted itself on the water slightly and then rose back up vertically. After a few moments, at 2:20 AM, this too sank into the ocean.

Of a total of 2,223 people, only 706 survived; 1,517 perished.Template:Ref The majority of deaths were caused by victims succumbing to hypothermia in the 28F (-2C) water. Only two of the 18 launched lifeboats rescued people out of the water after the ship sank. Lifeboat 4 was close by and picked up five people, two of whom later died. Close to an hour later Lifeboat 14 went back and rescued four people one of which died afterwards. Other people managed to climb onto the lifeboats that floated off the deck. There were some arguments in some of the other lifeboats about going back, but many survivors were afraid of being swamped by people trying to climb into the lifeboat or getting pulled down by the suction of the Titanic sinking, though it turned out that there had been very little suction.

Survivors aboard a lifeboat.
Survivors aboard a lifeboat.

As the ship fell into the depths, the two sections ended their final plunges very differently. The streamlined bow planed off approximately 2,000 feet (609 m) below the surface and slowed somewhat, landing relatively gently. The stern, however, fell violently to the ocean floor, the hull being torn apart along the way from massive implosions caused by the air still trapped inside. The stern smashed into the bottom at high speed, grinding the hull deep into the silt.


Almost two hours after Titanic sank, the RMS Carpathia arrived on scene and picked up its first lifeboat. Over the next several hours, the remainder of the survivors were rescued. On board the Carpathia, a short prayer service for the rescued and a memorial for the people who lost their lives was held, and at 8:50 AM, Carpathia left for New York, arriving on April 18.

Once the loss of life was verified, White Star Line chartered the ship MacKay-Bennett to retrieve bodies. A total of 338 bodies were eventually recovered. Many of the bodies were taken to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the majority of the unclaimed were buried in Fairview Cemetery.

Aftermath and consequences

Extract from US Navy memorandum concerning Titanic.
Extract from US Navy memorandum concerning Titanic.

As news of the disaster spread, many people were shocked that the Titanic could sink with such great loss of life despite all of its technological advances. Newspapers were filled with stories and descriptions of the disaster and were eager to get the latest information. Many charities were set up to help the victims and their families, many of whom lost their sole breadwinner, or in the case of third–class survivors, lost everything they owned.

The people of Southampton were deeply affected by the sinking. According to the Hampshire Chronicle on April 20 1912 almost 1,000 local families were directly affected. Almost every street in the Chapel district of the town lost more than one resident and over 500 households lost a member.

Before the survivors even arrived in New York, investigations were being planned to discover what had happened to Titanic, and what could be done to prevent a recurrence. The United States Senate initiated an inquiry into the Titanic disaster on April 19, a day after the Carpathia arrived in New York with the survivors. Chairman of the inquiry, Senator William Alden Smith, wanted to gather accounts from passengers and crew while they were still fresh in their minds. Smith also needed to subpoena the British citizens while they were still on American soil. The American inquiry lasted until May 25. Lord Mersey was appointed to head the British Board of Trade's inquiry into the disaster. The British inquiry took place between May 2 and July 3. Each inquiry took testimony from both passengers and crew of Titanic, members of Californian's crew and other experts.

The investigations found that many safety rules were out of date and as a result numerous safety measures were enacted. Both inquires into the disaster found the Californian and its captain failed to give proper assistance to the Titanic. The inquires found that the Californian was closer to the Titanic than the 19 miles (31 km) that Captain Lord had figured and that Lord should have awaken the wireless operator after the rockets were first reported to him. As a result of Californian's off duty wireless officer 29 nations ratified the Radio Act of 1912, which streamlined radio communications, especially in the event of emergencies.

The disaster also led to the convening of the first International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea in London, England, on November 12, 1913. On January 20, 1915, a treaty was signed by the conference and resulted in the formation and international funding of the International Ice Patrol, an agency of the United States Coast Guard that to the present day monitors and reports on the location of North Atlantic Ocean icebergs that could pose a threat to trans–Atlantic sea lane traffic. It was also agreed in the new regulations that all passenger vessels would have sufficient lifeboats for everyone on board, that appropriate safety drills would be conducted, and that radio communications would be operated 24 hours a day along with a secondary power supply, so as not to miss distress calls. In addition, it was agreed that the firing of red rockets from a ship must be interpreted as a distress signal.

Legends, myths, and controversy

Use of SOS

Despite popular belief, the sinking of Titanic was not the first time the internationally recognised Morse code distress signal "SOS" was used. The SOS signal was first proposed at the International Conference on Wireless Communication at Sea in Berlin in 1906. It was ratified by the international community in 1908 and had been in widespread use since then. The SOS signal was, however, rarely used by British wireless operators, who preferred the older CQD code. First Wireless Operator Jack Phillips began transmitting CQD until Second Wireless Operator Harold Bride suggested half jokingly, "Send SOS; it's the new call, and this may be your last chance to send it." Phillips, who later died, then began to intersperse SOS with the traditional CQD call.

Titanic's rudder and the ship's turning ability

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The memorial to the Titanic's engineers in Southampton.

Although Titanic's rudder was not legally too small for a ship its size, the rudder's design was hardly state-of-the-art. According to researchers with the Titanic Historical Society: "Titanic's long thin rudder was a copy of an 18th century steel sailing ship. Compared with the rudder design of the Cunard's Mauretania or Lusitania, Titanic's was a fraction of the size. Apparently no account was made for advances in scale, and little thought given to how a ship 882 1/2 feet (269 m) in length might turn in an emergency, or avoid a collision with an iceberg. This was Titanic's Achilles heel."Template:Ref

Perhaps more fatal to the design of the Titanic was its triple screw engine configuration, which had reciprocating steam engines driving its wing propellers, and a steam turbine driving its centre propeller. The reciprocating engines were reversible, while the turbine was not. When First Officer Murdoch gave the order to reverse engines to avoid the iceberg, he inadvertently handicapped the turning ability of the ship. Since the centre turbine could not reverse during the "full speed astern" manoeuvre, it simply stopped turning. Furthermore, since the centre propeller was positioned forward of the ship's rudder, the effectiveness of that rudder would have been greatly reduced. Had Murdoch simply turned the ship while maintaining its forward speed, the Titanic might have missed the iceberg with metres to spare.

It has also been speculated that the ship could have been saved if it had rammed the iceberg head on. It is hypothesised that if Titanic had not altered its course at all and had ran head on into the iceberg, the damage would only have affected the first or, at most, first two compartments. This would have disabled it severely, but would not likely have resulted in its sinking since Titanic was designed to float with the first four compartments flooded.

Titanic's band

One of the most famous stories of Titanic is of the band. On 15 April, Titanic's eight member band, led by Wallace Hartley, had assembled in the first-class lounge in an effort to keep passengers calm and upbeat. Later they would move on to the forward half of the boat deck. The band continued playing music even when it became apparent the ship was going to sink.

None of band members survived the sinking, and there has been much speculation about what their last song was. Some witnesses said the final song played was the hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee." Hartley reportedly said to a friend if he was on a sinking ship "Nearer, My God, to Thee" would be one of the songs he would play. Walter Lords book A Night to Remember popularised wireless operator Harold Brides account that he heard the song "Autumn" before the ship sank. It is considered Bride either meant the hymn called "Autumn" or "Songe d'Automne," a popular song at the time.

David Sarnoff

An often-quoted story that has been blurred between fact and fiction states that the first person to receive news of the sinking was David Sarnoff, who would later found media giant RCA. Sarnoff was not the first to hear the news (though Sarnoff willingly promoted this notion), but he and others did man the Marconi wireless station atop the Wanamaker Department Store in New York City, and for three days relayed news of the disaster and names of survivors to people waiting outside.Template:Ref

The "Titanic curse"

When Titanic sank, claims were made that a curse existed on the ship. One of the most widely spread legends linked directly into the sectarianism of the city of Belfast, where the ship was built. It was suggested that the ship was given the number 390904 which, when read backwards in a mirror, was claimed to spell 'no pope', a sectarian slogan attacking Roman Catholics that was (and is) widely used provocatively by extreme Protestants in Northern Ireland, where the ship was built. In the extreme sectarianism of north-east Ireland (Northern Ireland itself did not exist until 1920), the ship's sinking, though mourned, was alleged to be on account of the sectarian anti-Catholicism of its manufacturers, the Harland and Wolff company, which had an almost exclusively Protestant workforce and an alleged record of hostility towards Catholics. (Harland and Wolff did have a record of hiring few Catholics; whether that was through policy or because the company's shipyard in Belfast's bay was located in almost exclusively Protestant East Belfast — through which few Catholics would dare to travel — or a mixture of both, is a matter of dispute.)

The 'no pope' story is in fact an urban legend, with no basis in fact. RMS Olympic and Titanic were assigned the yard numbers 400 and 401 respectively. The source of the story may have been from reports by dock workers in Queenstown (Cobh) of anti-Catholic graffiti that they found on its coal bunkers when they were loading coal.

The rediscovery of Titanic

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Titanic's bow as seen from the Russian MIR I submersible.

The idea of finding the wreck of Titanic, and even raising the ship from the ocean floor, had been around since shortly after the ship sank. No attempts were successful until September 1, 1985, when a joint American-French expedition, led by Jean-Louis Michel and Dr. Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, located the wreck. It was found at a depth of 2 miles (3,800 m), south-east of Newfoundland at Template:Coor dms, 13 miles (22 km) from where Titanic was originally thought to rest.

The most notable discovery the team made was that the ship had split apart, the stern section lying 1,970 feet (600 m) from the bow section and facing opposite directions. There had been conflicting witness accounts of whether the ship broke apart or not, and both the American and British inquires found that the ship sank intact. Up until the discovery of the wreck, it was generally assumed the ship did not break apart.

The bow section had imbedded itself 60 feet (18 m) into the silt on the ocean floor. Besides parts of the hull having buckled, the bow was mostly intact, as the water inside had equalized with the increasing water pressure. The stern section was in much worse condition. As the stern section sank, water pushed out the air inside tearing apart the hull and decks. The speed at which the stern hit the ocean floor caused even more damage. Surrounding the wreck is a large debris field with pieces of the ship, furniture, dinnerware and personal items scattered over one square mile (2.6 km²). Softer materials, like wood and carpet, were devoured by undersea organisms. Human remains suffered a similar fate.

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The iceberg buckled Titanic's hull allowing water to flow into the ship.

Originally, historians thought the iceberg had cut a gash into Titanic's hull. Since the part of the ship the iceberg damaged was buried, scientists used sonar to examine the area and discovered the iceberg had caused the hull to buckle, allowing water to enter Titanic between its steel plates. During subsequent dives, scientists retrieved small pieces of Titanic's hull. A detailed analysis of the pieces revealed the ship's steel plating was of a variety that loses its elasticity and becomes brittle in cold or icy water, leaving it vulnerable to dent-induced ruptures. Furthermore, the rivets holding the hull together were much more fragile than once thought. It is unknown if stronger steel or rivets could have saved the ship.

The samples of steel rescued from the wreck hull were found to have very high content of phosphorus and sulfur (four times and two times as high as common for modern steels), with manganese-sulfur ratio of 6.8:1 (compare with over 200:1 ratio for modern steels). High content of phosphorus initiates fractures, sulfur forms grains of iron sulfide that facilitate propagation of cracks, and lack of manganese makes the steel less ductile. The recovered samples were found to be undergoing ductile-brittle transition in temperatures of 32C (for longitudal samples) and 56C (for transversal samples - compare with transition temperature of -27C common for modern steels - modern steel would became so brittle in between -60 and -70C). The anisotropy was likely caused by hot rolling influencing the orientation of the sulfide stringer inclusions. The steel was probably produced in the acid-lined open-heart furnaces in Glasgow, which would explain the high content of P and S, even for the times. [1] (http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/9801/Felkins-9801.html) [2] (http://dwb.unl.edu/Teacher/NSF/C10/C10Links/chemistry.about.com/library/weekly/aa022800a.htm)

Dr. Ballard and his team did not bring up any artefacts from the site, considering it to be tantamount to grave robbing. Under international maritime law, however, the recovery of artefacts is necessary to establish salvage rights to a shipwreck. In the years after the find, Titanic has been the object of a number of court cases concerning ownership of artefacts and the wreck site itself. In 1994 RMS Titanic, Inc. was awarded ownership and salvaging rights of the wreck, even though RMS Titanic Inc. and other salvaging expeditions have been criticized for taking items from the wreck.

Approximately 6,000 artefacts have been removed from the wreck. Many of these were put on display at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England, and later as part of a travelling museum exhibit.

Current condition of the wreck

Many scientists, including Robert Ballard, are concerned that visits by tourists in submersibles and the recovery of artefacts are hastening the decay of the wreck. Underwater microbes have been eating away at Titanic's iron since the ship sank, but because of the extra damage visitors have caused, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that "the hull and structure of the ship may collapse to the ocean floor within the next 50 years."

Ballard's book Return to Titanic, published by the National Geographic Society, includes photographs depicting the deterioration of the promenade deck and damage caused by submersibles landing on the ship. The mast has almost completely deteriorated and has been stripped of its bell and brass light. Other damage includes a gash on the bow section where block letters once spelled Titanic, and part of the brass telemotor which once held the ship's wooden wheel is now twisted.

Comparable maritime disasters

The Titanic was at the time one of the worst maritime disasters in history in terms of loss of life, a similar disaster of this scale having never happened out on the heavily travelled North Atlantic route. However, Titanic's death toll was exceeded by the explosion and sinking of the steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River in 1865, where 1,700 died.

The worst peacetime maritime disaster happened on 21 December, 1987, when the passenger ferry Doa Paz sank in the Philippines after colliding with the oil tanker Vector and catching fire. The sinking of Doa Paz claimed between 1,500 and 4,000 lives. However, the worst maritime disasters happened during wartime. The two worst were the German ship Goya in 1945 with an estimated 7,000 dead, and the German ship Wilhelm Gustloff which also sank in 1945, with an estimated death toll between 6,000 and 9,000.

The Titanic was not the first White Star Line ship to sink with loss of life. The RMS Tayleur, which has been compared to the sinking of the Titanic, sank after running aground in Ireland. The Tayleur was also technically innovative, and on its maiden voyage when it sank in 1854. Of its 558 passengers and crew, 276 were lost.

It has been noted that two-thirds of the passengers and crew were lost on the Titanic. The ratio has been repeated with the sinking of the RMS Lusitania and the sinking of the RMS Leinster.Template:Ref Both were sunk by German U-Boats in World War One.

Titanic in popular culture

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Willy Stwer: Untergang der Titanic (Sinking of the Titanic)

The sinking of Titanic has been the basis for many novels describing fictionalized events onboard the ship. Many reference books about the disaster have also been written since the Titanic sank, the first of these appearing within months of the sinking. Survivors like Second Officer Lightoller and passenger Jack Thayer have written books describing their experiences. Some like Walter Lord, who wrote the popular A Night to Remember, did independent research and interviews to describe the events that happened onboard the ship.

Morgan Robertson's 1898 novella Futility, which was written 14 years before RMS Titanic's ill-fated voyage, was found to have many parallels with the Titanic disaster; Robertson's work concerned a fictional state-of-the-art ocean liner called Titan, which eventually collides with an iceberg on a calm April night whilst en route to New York. Huge amounts of people died because of the lack of lifeboats. Both Titan itself and the manner of its demise bore many striking similarities to the eventual fate of Titanic, and Robertson's novella remains in print today as an unnerving curiosity.

Titanic has featured in a large number of movies and TV movies, most notably:

The most widely-viewed is the 1997 film Titanic, directed by James Cameron and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. It became the highest-grossing film in history. It also won 11 out of 14 Academy Awards, tying with Ben-Hur (1959) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003) for the most awards won.

The story was also made into a Broadway musical, Titanic, written by Peter Stone with music by Maury Yeston. Titanic ran from 1998 to 2000. The 1960 Broadway musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown tells survivor Margaret Brown's life story, which included the events on Titanic. The musical was written by Richard Morris with music by Meredith Willson. A film version starring Debbie Reynolds was released in 1964.

Other media includes Titanic: Adventure Out of Time which was a 1996 computer game that took place on the Titanic. Starship Titanic was another computer game that takes place in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy universe and was a parody of the Titanic disaster. Many television shows have also referenced the Titanic disaster. The show The Time Tunnel featured a visit to the ship on its first episode and the animated series Futurama had the cast boarding a space-faring vessel called Titanic. The spaceship was torn in half by a black hole on its maiden voyage. In movies like Time Bandits and Cavalcade the Titanic has had brief appearences.

Using the Titanic as humor has not been exclusive to popular entertainment. The Intel Itanium microprocessor has often been jokingly called the "Itanic", since (as of 2005) its sales have fallen far short of expectations.



  1. Template:Note The exact number of casualties is unknown, because the only complete passenger and crew list was lost. These numbers were taken from the final report by the U.S. Senate Inquiry (http://www.titanicinquiry.org/USInq/USReport/AmInqRep03.html#a8).
  2. Template:Note Ibid.
  3. Template:Note Edward Kamuda, Karen Kamuda, and Paul Louden-Brown, comps., "Titanic Myths (http://www.titanichistoricalsociety.org/articles/titanicmyths.asp)," The Titanic Historical Society.
  4. Template:Note "More About Sarnoff, Part One (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/technology/bigdream/masarnoff.html)," PBS.
  5. Template:Note Roy Stokes, Death in the Irish Sea: The Sinking of the RMS Leinster (Chester Springs, PA: Dufour Editions, 1999).


  • Eaton, John P. and Haas, Charles A. Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy (2nd ed.). W.W. Norton & Company, 1995 ISBN 0393036979
  • Lynch, Donald and Marschall, Ken. Titanic: An Illustrated History. Hyperion, 1995 ISBN 1562829181
  • O'Donnell, E. E. Father Browne's Titanic Album. Wolfhound Press, 1997. ISBN 0863277586
  • Quinn, Paul J. Titanic at Two A.M.: An Illustrated Narrative with Survivor Accounts. Fantail, 1997 ISBN 0965520935

See also


External links

ca:Titnic cs:Titanic da:Titanic de:Titanic es:Titanic eo:Titanic fi:Titanic fr:Titanic gl:Titanic hr:Titanic it:Titanic (transatlantico) ja:タイタニック nl:RMS Titanic no:RMS Titanic pl:RMS Titanic pt:RMS Titanic ru:Титаник sl:RMS Titanic sv:Titanic zh-cn:泰坦尼克号 he:טיטניק


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