In Memory of R.M.S. Titanic



This page is dedicated to the 2,224 passengers and crew of the R.M.S. Titanic.  1,523 of those people perished in the early morning hours of April 15, 1912 when Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the middle of the North Atlantic.  This dedication is not for the movie "Titanic" but for the real ship.  Even though I think the movie was fantastic it was still a Hollywood production and just a recreation.  We sometimes tend to forget that the Titanic was real and carried real people who lost their lives on that fateful night all those years ago.

In 1898 a struggling author named Morgan Robertson concocted a novel about a fabulous Atlantic liner, far larger than any that had ever been built.  Robertson loaded his ship with rich and complacent people and then wrecked it one cold April night on an iceberg.  This somehow showed the futility of everything, and in fact, the book was called Futility when it appeared that year, published by the firm of M.F. Mansfield. Robertson called his ship the Titan; the White Star Line called its ship the Titanic.

Fourteen years later a British shipping company named the White Star Line built a steamer remarkably like the one in Robertson's novel.  The new liner was 66,000 tons displacement; Robertson's was 70,000.  Both could carry about 3000 people, and both had enough lifeboats for only a fraction of this number. The real ship was 882.5 feet long; the fictional one was 800 feet, the real ship was 92.5 feet wide, 60.5 feet from waterline to  Boat Deck, or 175 feet from keel to the top of her four huge funnels.  She was, in short, 11 stories high and four city blocks long. Titanic had two sets of four-cylinder reciprocating engines, each driving a wing propeller, and a turbine driving the center propeller.  This combination gave her 50,000 registered horsepower, but she could easily develop at least 55,000 horsepower.  At full speed she could make 24- 25 knots.  Perhaps her most arresting feature was her watertight construction.  She had a double bottom and was divided into 16 watertight compartments.  These were formed by 15 watertight bulkheads running clear across the ship.  Curiously, they didn't extend very far up.  The first two and the last five went only as high as D Deck, while the middle eight were carried only up to E Deck.  Nevertheless, she could float with any two compartments flooded, and since no one could imagine anything worse than a collision at the juncture of two compartments, she was labeled "unsinkable".  The "unsinkable" Titanic was launched at the Belfast shipyard of Harland and Wolff on May 31, 1911.  The next ten months were spent in fitting her out.  She completed her trials on April 1, 1912, and arrived in Southampton on April 3.  A week later she sailed for New York. 

On April 10, 1912, the real ship left Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York.  Her cargo included a priceless copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and a list of passengers collectively worth two hundred fifty million dollars.  On her way over she  struck an iceberg and sank to her grave 2 1/2 miles down into the frigid North Atlantic on that cold April night.

Here is a reconstructed log of the main events of her maiden voyage.

April 10, 1912

12 noon
Leaves Southampton dock; narrowly escapes collision with American liner New York.

7:00 P.M. 
Stops at Cherbourg, France for passengers.

9:00 P.M.
Leaves Cherbourg for Queenstown.

April 11, 1912

12:30 P.M.
Stops at Queenstown for passengers and mail.  One crewman deserts.

2:00 P.M. 
Leaves Queenstown for New York, carrying 1316 passengers and 891 crew.

April 14, 1912

9:00 A.M.
Caronia reports ice Latitude 42 N from Longitude 49 to 51 W.

1:42 P.M.
Baltic reports Latitude 40 51' N, Longitude 49 51 W.

1:45 P.M. Amerika reports ice Latitude 41 27 N, Longitude 50 8' W.

7:00 P.M. Temperature 43 degrees.

7:30 P.M. Temperature 39 degrees.

7:30 P.M. Californian reports ice Latitude 42 3 ' N, Longitude 49 9' W.

9:00 P.M. Temperature 33 degrees.

9:30 P.M. Second Officer Lightoller warns carpenter and engine room to watch fresh water supply--may freeze up; warns crow's nest to watch for ice.

9:40 P.M. Mesaba reports ice Latitude 42 N to 41 25' No. Longitude 49 to 50 30' W.

10:00 P.M. Temperature 32 degrees.

10:30 P.M. Temperature of sea down to 31 degrees.

11:00 P.M. Californian warns of ice but cut off before she gives location.

11:40 P.M. Collides with iceberg Latitude 41 46' N, Longitude 50 14 W.

April 15, 1912

12:05 A.M.  Orders are given to uncover the boats, muster the crew and passengers.

12:15 A.M. First wireless call for help.

12:45 A.M. First rocket fired.

12:45 A.M. First boat, No. 7, lowered.

1:40 A.M. Last rocket fired.

2:05 A.M.  Last boat, Collapsible D, lowered.

2:10 A.M. Last wireless signals sent.

2:18 A.M. Lights fail.

2:20 A.M. Ship founders.

3:30 A.M. Carpathia's rockets sighted by boats.

4:10 A.M. First boat, No. 2, picked up by Carpathia.

8:30 A.M.  Last boat, No. 12, picked up.

8:50 A.M. Carpathia heads for New York with 705 survivors.

The song playing is "Nearer My God to Thee".  The legend is, of course, that the band went down playing this song.  Many survivors still insist this was so, and there's no reason to doubt their sincerity.  Others maintain the band played only ragtime. One man says he clearly remembers the band in its last moments, and they were not playing at all.  In this maze of conflicting evidence, Junior Wireless Operator Harold Bride's story somehow stands out.  He was a trained observer, meticulously accurate, and on board to the last.  He clearly recalled that, as the Boat Deck dipped under, the band was playing the Episcopal hymn "Autumn"

As a result of the disaster, the first International Convention for Safety of Life at Sea was called in London in 1913. The convention drew up rules requiring that every ship have a lifeboat space for each person embarked (the Titanic had only 1,178 boat spaces for the 2,224 persons aboard; that lifeboat drills be held during each voyage; and, because the Californian had not heard the distress signals of the Titanic, that ships maintain 24-hour radio watch. The International Ice Patrol also was established to warn ships of icebergs in the North Atlantic shipping lanes.


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Most information about the Titanic from the book "A Night to Remember" by Walter Lord

Picture of Titanic courtesy of  Mary Jane's Titanic Page 

MIDI courtesy of  Remember the RMS Titanic