The RMS Titanic was a British cruise ship that sank on April 15, 1912 during its first voyage from England to New York. Over 1,500 people died.
The World's Biggest Ship
When the Titanic left England, it was the largest ship in the world. It was 882 feet long, over 100 feet tall, and had 10 levels. It was so large and well-built that it was touted as being "unsinkable."
Was it safe?
At the time, the Titanic was considered one of the safest ships ever built. It had all sorts of safety features. Its hull had two layers of steel to help prevent leaks. It also had 16 compartments that could be sealed off using watertight steel doors. If the ship sprung a leak, the doors would close keeping the ship from sinking.
Building the Titanic
The Titanic was built using the best technology of the time including two giant steam engines and a turbine that provided 46,000 horse power. It took over two years and 15,000 workers to build the Titanic.
The ship had the facilities to support up to 2,453 passengers and 900 crew. The first class area was decorated more like a fancy hotel than a ship. There was a swimming pool, gymnasium, barber shop, library, several cafes, and a squash court.
Route taken by the Titanic. Approximate location of where the ship sank. Source: Wikimedia Commons
The Maiden Voyage Begins
The Titanic departed from Southampton, England on April 10, 1912. It then stopped at the French port of Cherbourg and the Irish port of Queenstown to pick up more passengers. It left Queenstown and began its fateful trip across the Atlantic Ocean on April 11, 1912.
Despite being warned of the potential of icebergs in the northern waters, the Titanic continued across the Atlantic at full speed. However, a giant iceberg was spotted by a lookout in the path of the Titanic on the night of April 14. The captain tried to steer around the iceberg, but it was too late. The iceberg hit the side of the ship.
The Ship Begins to Sink
The Titanic had been designed to withstand almost anything. However, the designers didn't consider what would happen if an iceberg hit the side. As the ship scraped along the side of the iceberg, it ripped several holes into the side the ship. Five of the ships 16 compartments began to fill with water. This was too many. It soon became clear that the ship would sink.
Not Enough Life Boats
The ship's crew began to get people aboard the lifeboats. They quickly discovered that there were not enough lifeboats for all the passengers. The ship was designed to carry 32 lifeboats, but there were only 20 on board. Also, in their panic, many of the lifeboats left the Titanic only half full. Women and children were put on the lifeboats first, leaving many fathers and husbands behind on the sinking ship.
Newspaper report on the distaster Author: New York Herald
Did anyone survive?
A life vest from the Titanic at the Smithsonian Photo by Ducksters
The Titanic sank at 2:20 AM on April 15, 1912. It took quite a while for the closest ships to come to their rescue. The waters were very cold and some people who didn't drown ended up dying from exposure. While over 700 people did survive, more than 1,500 died.
Interesting Facts About the Titanic
One famous survivor was Molly Brown. She helped others throughout the tragedy and earned the nickname the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown.
The captain of the Titanic was Edward J. Smith. He stayed on board and went down with the ship.
The wreck of the Titanic was discovered by Robert Ballard in 1985.
New safety rules were put into place after the sinking of the Titanic that required all ships to carry enough lifeboats for everyone on board.
The 1997 movie Titanic starred Leonardo DiCaprio and became the highest-grossing film of all time until it was passed in 2009 by Avatar.