"Unsinkable" Titanic sinks
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Titanic Historical Society

Titanic Historical Society | "Unsinkable" Titanic sinks | Scoop.it

Olympic and Titanic were built using Siemens-Martin formula steel plating throughout the shell and upper works. This type of steel was first used in the armed merchant cruisers, Teutonic and Majestic in 1889/90. This steel was high quality with good elastic properties, ideal for conventional riveting as well as the modern method (in 1912) of hydraulic riveting. Each plate was milled and rolled to exact tolerances and presented a huge material cost to both yard and ship owner. The steel was not a new type, as already stated, but shows that yard and owner only put material and equipment into these two giants that was tried and tested. Reports of Teutonic's and Majestic's hull condition 20 years after they entered service showed that both were in remarkable condition. The excellent properties of this steel and resistance to corrosion made it the natural choice for the new sisters.

Yard workers at the time referred to this steel as "battleship quality." I had several conversations with retired shipbuilders at Harland and Wolff and they confirm this. Harland and Wolff used larger sized plates to reduce the amount of butts and overlaps. The shells themselves were generally 6 feet wide and 30 feet long weighing between 2 1/2 and 3 1/2 tons depending on thickness. The double bottom plating was 1 1/2 inches thick and hydraulically riveted up to the bilge. Some of the largest plates were 6 feet wide and 36 feet long and weighed 4 1/2 tons.

White Star gave Harland and Wolff complete freedom to build the very best ships they could, adding a percentage profit to the final cost of the building. The so-called "cost-plus" arrangement was used on all but one of the company's ships. From 1869 until 1919, it was said that there was never a single day that Harland and Wolff was not working on one of the White Star Line's ships. White Star was Harland and Wolff's best customer and they undertook to build Olympic and Titanic on the same basis as before, cost-plus. The ships were the largest in the world and would require numerous calculations as to the strength of hull required at this size. Much of the ships' arrangement was tried and tested basic shipbuilding design -- just larger with greater added strength. The strength was entirely provided by the ship's shell plating and rivets. Hydraulic riveting was used for much of the 3 million rivets, in some places the hull quadruply riveted.

Titanic's impact with an iceberg caused the rippling and springing of the joints between plates. Rivet heads ripped off would not cause massive flooding, rather the long leaking that is recorded to have happened in her forward compartments. Science tells us that in order for steel of this quality to fracture due to cold and impact would mean the steel being brought down to below the temperature of liquid nitrogen. As the water in Titanic's ballast tanks had not frozen on the night she struck the iceberg, it's safe to say the steel was above the freezing point of ordinary seawater.

We discovered on the Arabic (White Star liner of 1903) dive the ship's shell plating was in remarkable condition, but the rivets had "let go." That is to say, sprung -- allowing the plates to come apart. In places the ship was like a stack of playing cards not relating to any structure. I have some of these and I'm organizing a scientific study of them and will keep you apprised of the results.

I think -- and this is just a theory -- the rivets were heated so they could be riveted into place by hand or by hydraulic riveter. The steel would have to be capable of easy heating, malleable, and perhaps weaker by design. Is this the Achilles' heel of the Titanic? So much time is spent looking at the steel but I think these 3 million mild steel rivets might hold the secret.

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sinking of the titanic

sinking of the Titanic

Date: 1912
Date: 1912
-->From: Disasters, Accidents, and Crises in American History.

Place: North Atlantic Ocean, southeast of Newfoundland
Date: April 14–15, 1912
Type: Ship accident
Description: The White Star liner Titanic, considered "practically unsinkable," foundered in the frigid North Atlantic Ocean after colliding with an iceberg, resulting in the loss of two-thirds of its passengers and crew.
Causes: Overconfidence in technology, lack of communication about ice warnings, errors in judgment about weather conditions and speed, and lack of enough lifeboats to accommodate those on board combined with striking an iceberg
Casualties: According to the U.S. Senate Inquiry: 1,517 passengers and crew members; according to the British Board of Trade Inquiry: 1,503 passengers and crew members
Cost: Titanic, fully outfitted, cost about $7.5 million and carried $5 million in insurance; $16,804,112 in claims for loss of life and property were made in the United States against its owners, but after lengthy legal action only $663,000 was paid out to claimants.
Impact: Major changes in safety regulations for shipping

A shocked world learned on April 15, 1912, that the RMS Titanic, the newest, largest, and most luxurious ship ever built, had struck an iceberg on its maiden voyage en route from Southampton, England, to New York. Late on the cold clear night of Sunday, April 14, 1912, Titanic was steaming westward at 21–22 knots. For the previous four days, some of North America's richest people, as well as some of Europe's humblest emigrants, had enjoyed a transatlantic crossing of unprecedented comfort. Suddenly, lookouts spotted an iceberg dead ahead. The first officer ordered the engines reversed and tried to steer around the berg, but the ship was too close to avoid it. At about 11:40 P.M., Titanic struck what seemed to have been a glancing blow to the iceberg. Most passengers and crew felt no concern about the collision, having faith in their "unsinkable" ship. However, on inspection, it became clear that the ship's first five watertight compartments were rapidly flooding and that the ship would founder.

Captain E. J. Smith ordered the lifeboats uncovered and distress signals sent out by wireless in the hopes of finding a nearby vessel to come to Titanic's aid. He was well aware that there were only enough lifeboats for 1,178 of Titanic's more than 2,200 passengers and crew. Almost half would die in the frigid water if it sank before help arrived. About an hour after striking the iceberg, the first lifeboats were launched, but many were only partially filled. The ship's engineers worked desperately to keep the great vessel afloat as long as possible, but the pumps could not keep up with the volume of water rushing in. At 2:20 A.M. on Monday, April 15, Titanic sank, drowning more than two-thirds of its passengers and crew. Several hours later, the Cunard liner Carpathia picked up 705 survivors from the lifeboats. A $7.5 million ship had sunk after only four and one-half days in service. Prominent multimillionaires like John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim perished alongside working-class immigrants from all over Europe. The Senate investigation that followed failed to find evidence of negligence but recommended that new regulations be introduced governing passenger ship structure, safety equipment, and navigation in order to increase the safety of the transatlantic crossing.

At four city blocks long and 11 stories high, Titanic was the biggest ship ever built when it was launched at the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Belfast, Ireland. The White Star Line wanted Titanic and its sister ship Olympic built to carry passengers between Europe and the United States in unprecedented comfort and safety. Titanic, the newer and more luxurious of the two, had a gymnasium, Turkish bath, squash court, and shipboard swimming pool. It also had a hospital and a darkroom for developing shipboard photographs. The opulently decorated staterooms, lounges, and dining areas, as well as the attentive service, reminded first-class passengers of staying in one of the finest hotels. Even third-class accommodations far surpassed those of Titanic's rivals.

White Star ordered Harland and Wolff to build these ships for safety. Theorizing that running aground and collisions were the greatest dangers a ship could encounter, Harland and Wolff engineered Titanic to withstand these two types of damage. The craft had a double-bottomed hull and its interior was divided by transverse bulkheads into a series of 16 watertight compartments. According to its designers, in a collision with the bow of the ship, Titanic could stay afloat with the first four compartments completely flooded, and in the event of a broadside collision, the ship could stay afloat with any two central compartments completely flooded. It was inconceivable to its owners and builders that Titanic would ever encounter a greater threat than this. These features caused Shipbuilder magazine to call Titanic "practically unsinkable."

Overconfidence in this technology led the builders and owners to send Titanic into service with only enough lifeboats for about half of those on board. Although in early plans Titanic was to have 32 lifeboats for her full capacity of more than 3,000 passengers and crew, they did not consider it necessary to provide lifeboats for all aboard; they believed that in the event of a mishap passengers would be safer staying on the big ship than getting into small lifeboats on the ocean. Additionally, the outdated regulations of the British Board of Trade, the agency that governed safety matters for British ships, required only 16 lifeboats on ships weighing more than 10,000 tons. Although Titanic weighed more than 46,000 tons, its total of 20 boats exceeded the board's minimum requirements.

The shortest route between Great Britain and the United States was a "great circle" that took ships far north in the Atlantic Ocean to take advantage of the curvature of the earth. Ice was a well-known navigational hazard on this route. In fact, from January 15 to August 14, ships used the "summer route," which was farther south and longer than the "winter route" but provided protection from the icebergs and field ice that would drift south from late winter to late summer. In April 1912, however, Titanic's use of this summer route was not sufficient to avoid encountering ice. It had been an unusually mild winter and ice had drifted much farther south than usual, into the shipping lanes.

Minor disorganization and occasionally shaky communications, attributable to the unfamiliarity of the crew with each other and the new ship, contributed to the accident. For example, the lookouts stationed high up in the crow's nest had no binoculars. At Southampton, some of the binoculars for the officers of the bridge (the ship's command center) were lost when the senior officers were shuffled at the last minute to bring in more experienced men. The officers kept the remaining pairs on the bridge, leaving the lookouts without any for the duration of the voyage. Binoculars might have enabled the lookouts to spot the iceberg sooner and let the ship avoid it altogether. In addition, although Titanic carried a state-of-the-art, long-range Marconi set—an early two-way radio capable of transmitting telegraph communications—two critically important messages, which would have warned Titanic's officers about ice directly in its path that Sunday, did not reach the bridge at all. During the voyage, Titanic's wireless operators relayed and received several messages from ships encountering ice on the route, but there was no protocol giving priority to picking out messages with navigational information from wireless traffic and delivering them immediately to the bridge. This lack of information led to a key error in judgment. Unaware of how close the dangerous ice field was, Titanic's captain saw no reason to slow down or post extra lookouts on a clear night.

Weather conditions that night added to the danger. Visibility was clear, but there was no moon, and the sea was dead calm. Both these factors made it more difficult than usual to spot icebergs a long way off.

Once Titanic hit the iceberg and Captain Smith knew the ship would sink, confusion and lack of communication hampered the evacuation and increased the number of fatalities. Neither the passengers nor all of the officers initially knew the full gravity of the situation, so assembling passengers and readying and loading lifeboats at first went slowly. Many of the boats were lowered half empty by officers who, not having been informed that the boats had been tested fully loaded by Harland and Wolff, did not trust them to hold the stated capacity. The fact that there were no assigned places in the boats and that there had been no boat drill for either passengers or crew during the voyage added to the confusion of the loading and launching process, as did an apparent lack of seamen experienced in lowering and handling small boats. Of a crew of nearly 900, less than 70 were seamen. Most were the stewards, cooks, waiters, bellboys, janitors, and other service workers needed to run a floating five-star hotel. Without a drill and with too few crewmen to help guide them, third-class passengers found it especially difficult to make their way to the lifeboats. As a result, poorer passengers suffered the highest rate of losses. Only a few of the third-class male passengers, and less than half of the third-class female and child passengers survived, despite the officers' emphasis on putting "women and children first" into the lifeboats.

At the beginning, there was little sense of urgency. Passengers, confident of the giant ship's safety, proved reluctant to be lowered some 70 feet down to the surface of the icy water, and the crew did not force them. It was warmer inside the ship and, at least in the first-class lounge, a band played music to keep spirits up. As the bow sank lower and lower in the water, it finally became clear to all that the ship would sink. By this time, most of the lifeboats were launched. As the final boats were loaded, the officers had to use the threat of firearms to keep order among tense and panicky passengers.

As Titanic made its final plunge into the depths, some 1,500 souls were cast into the sea. Survivors remembered that the air was filled with their cries for help. Yet only one of the underfilled boats went back to pick up people in the water. Had a rescue ship arrived before Titanic sank, most lives could have been saved. But Titanic's passengers and crew were not that lucky. Although the running lights—the illumination required when a boat was underway at night—of a distant ship were seen roughly five to 10 miles away, the vessel did not respond to the wireless messages sent or the distress rockets fired by Titanic. It remains unclear why this mystery ship, subsequently identified by the British Board of Trade as the Californian although its captain denied it, did not assist the Titanic. Carpathia, the closest ship that did respond, was 58 miles away. It arrived after those in the freezing water had long since succumbed to hypothermia. Carpathia's crew rescued only 705 survivors. Adding to the tragedy was the fact that most of the bodies were carried away by the current and never recovered despite several expeditions sent by the White Star Line to do so.

Fed by inaccurate newspaper reports, all day long on April 15 there was hope that Titanic was damaged but under tow and that all passengers and crew would be safe. Finally, a short message to White Star's New York office from the company's managing director, himself a survivor on the Carpathia, dashed these hopes.

As the reality set in, waves of grief and anger rolled across the United States. How could the "unsinkable" Titanic sink? What negligence or incompetence had cost so many innocent lives? By the time Carpathia docked in New York on Thursday, April 18, the U.S. Senate had already formed a subcommittee to investigate the disaster. The hearings began the next morning in New York but soon were transferred to Washington, D.C. The committee's final report, issued six weeks later, noted the misguided assumptions, errors in judgment, and disorganization. However, because of the lax regulations in effect in 1912, these problems did not constitute legal negligence under either U.S. or British law. Thus the Senate report made numerous recommendations to increase regulation to better protect the safety of passengers at sea. From May to July 1912, the British Board of Trade held its own inquiry, chaired by Lord Mersey. Its findings exonerated the owners and crew; it also made recommendations to increase safety on the high seas.

In response to the Titanic disaster, the U.S. Congress enacted legislation requiring enough lifeboats for all persons on board ships and 24-hour manning of wireless equipment at sea. In 1915, Congress made lifeboat drills mandatory. Another response was the United States's participation in the International Conference for the Safety of Life at Sea held in London in 1913. It resulted in an international agreement that adopted the requirement of lifeboats for all; mandated moderation of speed and/or alteration of course in the event of ice reports; forbade the use of distress signals for any other purpose; laid down wireless and structural requirements; and provided for the creation of an International Ice Patrol to warn ships of ice and other navigational hazards in the North Atlantic.

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Titanic Facts

Titanic Facts | "Unsinkable" Titanic sinks | Scoop.it

April 15, 1912, The Sinking of the Titanic - When the Titanic embarked on her maiden voyage the world was filled with hope and awe. In just a few short days those emotions turned to horror and grief. Find out what really happened that day in 1912: the sinking of the Titanic.

Passengers on the Titanic- One of the most fascinating aspects about the tragic history of the Titanic, is the eclectic mix of passengers onboard the ill fated luxury liner. When the ship sank, the lives of both the famous and the unknown were lost as well. Spend a few moments learning about the famous and not so famous passengers on the Titanic. Look here for a Titanic passenger list with the names of first, second and third
class passengers and survivors.

Titanic Ship - While the Titanic ship initially earned fame as the largest luxury liner on the open seas, she would obtain enduring distinction for the tragedy that took the ship to her watery grave. Return to the Titanic and discover the surprising facts that led to the ship's destruction from the moment she set sail.

Titanic Facts - It has been almost 100 years since the Titanic sank. During that time a number of myths and legends have grown up around the sinking of the now infamous ship. Take a few moments to read about some of the more interesting and true Titanic facts.

Titanic Movie -The 1997 release of 'Titanic' renewed the world's interest in a bygone era and the fate of the Titanic's maiden voyage. Find out more about the Titanic movie that captured the world's interest and won a ton of Academy Awards.

Titanic Pictures - For years the world pondered what the 'ship of dreams' might have really looked like and wondered if any part of the ship still remained to be seen somewhere below the icy depths of the Atlantic Ocean. In 1985 the first pictures of the wreck were taken. Immerse yourself in pictures of the Titanic's grave and find out what role those pictures have made in discovering the truth about the ship's tragic end.

Titanic Construction - The White Star Line billed the Titanic as 'unsinkable' months before the ship ever embarked on her maiden voyage. Her construction was reputed to have been the best of the best. So, why did she sink and did the ship's construction have anything to do with the tragedy?

Titanic Manifest - The manifest of the maiden, and only, voyage of the Titanic provides a fascinating look into life aboard the famous luxury liner during her brief few days at sea. Find out why the Titanic was called 'the ship of dreams'.

Titanic Wreck - Following the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, various groups and individuals searched for the Titanic wreck for decades. Many had started to believe the ship's grave would never be found. Become immersed in the search for the Titanic wreck.

Titanic Artifacts - The artifacts recovered from the Titanic wreck are a sad reminder of what happened that April morning of 1912.
Menus, clothes, jewelry, bottles of wine, letters from passengers on the Titanic, etc. were salvaged from the depths of the ocean and put on display in museums and exhibits or auctioned.

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Bowling, Beatniks, and Bell-Bottoms: Pop Culture of 20th-Century America , 2002

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The largest and most luxurious liner of the time, the R.M.S. Titanic was a wonder of its age. The ship was a vast symbol of the industrial age and an emblem of the power of the British Empire. But the fame of the Titanic before it sailed was nothing compared with what followed. Retold in numerous books, documentaries, and films, the story of the Titanic has become a modern folk tragedy. A warning against pride and overconfidence, it is also a fable of lost dreams, dignified bravery, and greedy self-interest.

The story of the Titanic begins in 1907. J. Bruce Ismay (1862–1937), head of the White Star shipping line, commissioned the shipbuilders Harland and Wolff of Belfast, Ireland, to create three new liners for the North Atlantic crossing. The Olympic, the Titanic, and the Britannic would carry passengers and mail between Britain and the United States. Built alongside the larger second vessel, the Olympic was the first to be finished. But the Titanic was the masterpiece. White Star's ships offered greater stability, luxury, and sheer size than rival Cunard's fleet. The Titanic, then the largest moving object ever made, was launched into the river Langan on May 31, 1911.

The ill-fated maiden voyage of the R.M.S. Titanic (the R.M.S. stands for Royal Mail Steamer) began from Southampton on April 10, 1912. The ship stopped at Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland. Then the Titanic left for New York carrying over 2,200 passengers and hundreds of mail bags on April 12. The Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14 and sank off Newfoundland with the loss of 1,513 lives. Considered unsinkable, the ship carried lifeboats for only half its passengers. The inquiries that followed pointed blame in many directions, including at Captain Edward John Smith (1850–1912) for hurrying through dangerous waters, and at White Star for ignoring the need for lifeboats. The sinking led to tougher safety rules for shipping, including instructions for dealing with disasters, and the establishment of the International Ice Patrol.

But while the Titanic disaster had an effect on rules for shipping, its influence on popular culture was profound. Some religious leaders claimed the wreck was a warning from God against the excesses of the "Gilded Age" (the period of rapid industrialization in the late 1900s). Some women survivors were criticized for not staying behind with their husbands. Groups campaigning for women's rights actually complained about the unfair treatment of men left behind on the sinking ship. At a time when the social classes were strictly divided, the Titanic revealed the different experiences of people from different backgrounds. Passengers in the cheaper "steerage" cabins were much less likely to have survived than first-class passengers. It was suspected that lower-class passengers were never meant to be rescued.

Just one month after the disaster, Saved from the Titanic was filmed on the Olympic, starring survivor Dorothy Gibson (1884–1946). Lawrence Beesley (1877–1967) published the first survivor's account of the tragedy, The Loss of the S.S. Titanic, six weeks after the event. Numerous books, magazine articles, and popular songs appeared in the aftermath of the disaster, but by 1913, Titanic mania had eased. Among the most interesting of the many early movies are Atlantic (1929) and Titanic (1943), a German propaganda film. The Titanic enjoyed renewed notoriety in the 1950s. The best of the films from that decade is A Night to Remember (1958). In 1960, there was even a popular Broadway musical telling the story of survivor Margaret Tobin Brown (1867–1932), entitled The Unsinkable Molly Brown. Titanic: A New Musical revived the story for the stage in 1997.

A second revival in the 1970s included the best-selling novel by Clive Cussler (1931–), Raise the Titanic (1976). Many real-life attempts have been made over the years to find and raise the Titanic. One of the more unlikely plans was to freeze the water inside the ship. It would then rise to the surface like, of all things, an iceberg. But it was not until September 1985 that American Robert Ballard (1942–) and Frenchman Jean-Louis Michel finally located the wreck. After much debate about whether the ship should be left untouched as a grave site, artifacts were finally recovered from the wreck. An exhibition of objects from the Titanic went on tour around the world.

In the twenty-first century, a Titanic industry produces everything from models of the ship to reproductions of china and silverware. There is a Titanic Historical Society dedicated to all things Titanic, and there are many small Titanic museums in Britain, Ireland, and America. Perhaps the most lavish tribute to the ship, its passengers, and its crew is the 1997 film by James Cameron (1954–), Titanic, co-starring teen heart-throb Leonardo DiCaprio (1974–). Using near-life-sized models and enhancing them with computer-generated images, Cameron's film was the most expensive ever made. Despite historical inaccuracies, Titanic the movie is as much a wonder of its own age as the ship was in 1912.

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