The RMS Titanic

The RMS Titanic was one the three 'Olympic Class' liners that was commissioned by the White Star Line to be built in Belfast by the shipbuilders Harland and Wolff. The sheer size of the Titanic and her sister ships posed a major engineering challenge, however its success was short lived as the ship sunk on April 15th 1912, claiming more then 1,500 lives after colliding with an iceberg. In the following decade, the sinking of the Titanic had inspired a number of book and movies, and propelled the development of naval safety regulations. [1]

The construction of the Titanic began on March 31st, 1909. The Royal Mail Steamer Titanic was the product of intense competition among rival shipping lines in the first half of the 20th century. The White Star Line found itself in opposition to the British ship firm Cunard and various German companies that dominated the international seas with their large passenger ships. Cunard, the main rival of White Star Line, constructed a new line of luxury liners. The same year Cunard did so, the chief executive of White Star began to discuss the construction of three large ships with William J. Pirrie, chairman of the Belfast-based shipbuilding company Harland and Wolff. Part of the "Olympic" class of liners, they would measure 882 feet in length and 92.5 feet at their broadest points, making them them the largest ships of their time. [2]

On May 31st, 1911, the Titanic had launched and entered into the Victoria Channel. It was the largest man-made passenger ship of its time and more than 100,000 people attended the launching. Taking over 26 months to construct, the estimated costs of building the Titanic was $7,500,000, based on inflation and modern exchange rates, this would bring the 2016 cost equivalent to roughly $166,000,000. Over 15,000 men were employed in its construction, and during construction 246 were injured and 8 were killed. Over 3,000,000 rivets were used in the construction of the hull, and over 20 horses were required to pull the main anchor. [3]

White Star Line wanted to make the Titanic the epitome of modern technology, a symbol of engineering, safety, and luxury. Concerned with safety, engineers had designed the Titanic with a double steel hull and 16 separate compartments capable of being sealed off from one another in the event of an emergency. It was also capable of carrying 64 lifeboats, however, White Star Line only choose to carry 16, meeting the minimum requirements to hold lifeboats for at least 75 percent of the ship's passengers. Believing the Titanic was the model of safety, the ship was promoted as being "unsinkable."

On April 10th, 1912, the Titanic set sail for New York City from Southampton, England. After two stops in France and Ireland, the Titanic began its transatlantic crossing with 2,216 passengers. During the trip the Titanic had received numerous iceberg warnings via wireless telegraph. In response, Captain Edward Smith altered the ship's course. Due to weak communication between the radio operators and the bridge, there was a lack of updates given to the bridge regarding icebergs. Four days into their journey, on April 14th at approximately 11:40 p.m., lookouts spotted an iceberg directly in the path of the ship. Evasive actions were taken to avoid it, but the iceberg struck the right side of the hull. Captain Smith ordered the ship to stop movement to address the damages. Initially only five compartments were flooded, and watertight doors were closed to prevent the spread. However, water began to flow and expand through various other cracks that caused the Titanic to sink. [4]

Due to the lack of lifeboats, it became obvious that many would not be able to escape. While each passenger was given a life jacket, the primary danger wasn't drowning, but hypothermia from the water's temperature at four degrees below freezing. Only after two hours and 40 minutes, the ship was consumed by the the Atlantic. The next morning, the Carpathia rescued 705 passengers, and 1522 passengers and crew had died.[5]