Selection by: Farhan Ahmed
Had the destiny not played its nasty game, Titanic would not have been placed atop the world’s most awful examples of ironies – the unsinkable ship that sank on its maiden voyage! Titanic, which was the epitome of luxury, was a prestigious possession to its owner J.P Morgan and his White Star Line shipping company. Advertised as ‘designed to be unsinkable’, Titanic was on her way to create a record — the fastest and safest ship plowed through the sea — when it collided with a huge iceberg and sank to the depth of icy Atlantic 100 years back on 15th April 1912. Captain Edward Smith, who was on command, became a part of history, not as an adept captain as he might have wanted, but as the most ill-fated captain. The diaries of the passengers who marched into history for being a part of the most devastating tragedy, revealed the upsurge of various emotions like thrills, terror, tragedy, despair, sacrifice and selfishness. It is true that no other ship has evoked as much curiosity as Titanic has. Read further to know more interesting facts about Titanic.
Amazing and Interesting Facts about Titanic
• The idea of constructing world’s largest luxury liner ever taken to sea was first conceptualized in 1907. The construction started on 31 March 1909 in Belfast (Ireland) by Harland and Wolff, an Irish shipbuilding company.
• Titanic was built in 3 years at an excessive cost of $7.5 million. More than 3000 men were employed for the construction of this ship. Throughout its construction, it was marketed as a ship “designed to be unsinkable”.
• There were sixteen watertight compartments in the ship. Besides, the ship was also equipped with steel doors capable of being shut in 25 seconds or even less, providing safety to the ship and its passengers from any water that gushes in.
• Passenger facilities in Titanic were at the highest end of luxury. Its interiors were designed in English country house style. Cabins were designed in Renaissance to Victorian styles whereas the first-class cabins were designed in Empire style. Telephone system, library, barber shop, swimming pool, squash court, electric bath, Turkish bath, Verandah cafe etc. were other important amenities provided on-board. Café Parisien offered the best French haute cuisine for the First Class passengers.
• Liverpool was Titanic’s home port. Its maiden voyage was from Southampton, UK to New York in USA.
• It is assumed that many of the three million rivets employed to hold the hull plate, got loose and popped together when the ship hit the iceberg. This allowed water to gush into the watertight compartments that made sinking start immediately after the collision.
• It is also believed that the iron used in the construction contained high sulfur which made the ship vulnerable to the icy water of the Atlantic Ocean.
• Reports say that Bruce Ismay, the chairman and managing director of White Star Line the shipping company to which Titanic belonged, wanted this prestigious ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean in record time. Struck with this dotty idea, he instructed Captain Smith to increase the speed beyond the permitted limit.
• Other ships, voyaging through Atlantic the same day, had reported the presence of icebergs but, in spite of that, Titanic’s staff did not even care slowing down. It was too late to slow the ship down when they spotted the iceberg; they tried their best but in vain.
• When it became obvious that the ship was going to collide with the iceberg, they attempted to turn the ship but that too led nowhere. The ship suffered from numerous gashes along its hull, through which water gushed into the airtight cabins.
• Theorists speculate that had the ship hit the iceberg head-on, it would have suffered much less damage and many lives would have been saved.
• Many passengers remained unaware about the gravity of the situation even though they felt an unusual quivering. The passengers were quite confident and convinced that the ship is unsinkable and those who were suspicious were assuaged with the intimation that the ship will continue its journey shortly. However, some passengers, especially those who were in the strategic points of the ship, knew that whatever happened was devastating.
• It is believed that bad omens appeared from the beginning itself; Titanic collided with a smaller vessel ‘the New York’ and was about to collide with two other ships shortly after she was launched in the sea on her maiden voyage.
• The ‘unsinkable’ Titanic didn’t even carry enough lifeboats; the 20 lifeboats with her could only accommodate half of the passengers aboard. The ship was capable of carrying 64 wooden lifeboats—capable of accommodating 4000 people—which, if carried, would have been more than enough to save all lives in the ship! Of the 20 lifeboats it carried, 14 where standard wooden lifeboats with a capacity to accommodate 64 people each, while the rest were collapsible with the capacity of 47 each.
• Majority of the passengers belonged to the elite class and the wealthiest people in the world. Obviously, one had to be multimillionaire to purchase Titanic’s first-class ticket that cost £23 (£1,688 today) while its first-class suite cost a whopping £870 (£63,837 today).
• Some of the important passengers of Titanic were American millionaire John Jacob Astor IV (the wealthiest passenger of the ship) and his wife Madeleine Force Astor, Sir Cosmo Duff Gordon and his wife, couturier Lucy (Lady Duff-Gordon), cricketer and businessman John Borland Thayer and family, the Countess of Rothes, author and socialite Helen Churchill Candee, journalist and social reformer William Thomas Stead, silent film actress Dorothy Gibson, White Star Line's managing director J. Bruce Ismay and Titanic's designer Thomas Andrews.
• J. P. Morgan, owner of the ship, was supposed to be aboard during the maiden voyage however, he dropped the idea at the last minute.
• It is said that 3000 letter bags and an automobile sank along with the Titanic.
• The ship sank in the Atlantic Ocean, to the south of Newfoundland, Canada, on 15th April 1912. It had about 885 crew members and 1,317 passengers aboard of which about 710 survived the disaster while the remaining 1514 lost their lives. It is one of the world’s greatest marine disasters.