A night to remember- RMS Titanic
The ship deemed to be ‘unsinkable’, which met with a premature and tragic end.
It took 2 years and a work force of 15,000 to build RMS Titanic and her sister ships: RMS Britannic & RMS Olympic. She was built at the Hartland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland. RMS Britannic was used as a hospital ship during WWI and RMS Olympic as a troop ship during WWI. RMS stands for ‘Royal Mail Ship’ and the shipping line that owned Titanic and her sister ships was White Star Line which later merged with Cunard Line in 1934.
it was considered to be safest, largest and most luxurious ocean liner. The 9 decks were constructed using the latest technology and contained modern amenities including a cinema, swimming pool, gymnasium, refrigerators and even automated shampoo machines. The final cost of building and equipping: One and half million pounds. It was also the first British ship to send a SOS message. 250 telegrams were sent and received during the short-lived maiden voyage.
When the building was complete, she successfully completed her sea trails in Belfast Lough and Irish Sea. After being certified seaworthy, she set sail for Southampton where she docked in Berth 44 to await the passengers and crew. On her way she called in at Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland before setting a westerly course across the Atlantic.
On the evening of April 13th and throughout the day of April 14th, Titanic received 7 warnings of icebergs and ice mass from other ships. Captain Smith ignored the warnings as there were ‘no set procedure’ and a belief that the ship was ‘unsinkable’, due to the fact that it had 16 watertight compartments.
At 11:40 pm she collided with an iceberg, damaging her hull and starboard side. At 2;20 pm on 15th April 1912, the Titanic sank from view to begin her long decent to the ocean floor about 400 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada. It had logged 2115 miles and the wreck was found only on 1st September 1985.
Eight distress flares were fired from Titanic after the accident, but then accepted maritime procedure required that distress flared be fired at one-minute intervals. The Titanic crew fired eight flares over an hours’ time, with an average of 6-8 minutes between flare. Because of the timing of the flares, the crew of the nearby ship Californian mistook the flares for entertainment and did not respond.
It was RMS Carpathia that responded to Titanic’s distress call. She was sailing from New York to Flume, 80 kms away from the location. Its Wireless Operator Harold Cottam was about to turn in for the night, as his shift ended, received the Titanic SOS message by chance and happed to listen in to calls for a bit. He immediately informed Captain Arthur Rostron who ordered the ship, turned and headed to the location. It had to steer around 6 icebergs and reached the location at 4:00 am. The ship rescued 706 survivors.
Later four Canadian ships recovered the bodies for burial. The ships had members of the clergy on board, and undertakers to embalm the bodies. In all, 333 bodies were recovered, of which 150 were buried in 3 cemeteries in Halifax Nova Scotia, Canada. Others were claimed by their relatives and transported elsewhere for burial according to their wishes.
The official enquiries into the disaster were held in USA and Britain concluded that the Titanic had enough lifeboats to comply with safety requirements. The regulations stated that any vessel of over 15,000 tons must carry a minimum of 16 lifeboats, the Titanic carried 20 allowing space for 1178 people but there were over 2200 passengers and crew on board.
After the enquiry it was recommended that all ships should be equipped with radio transmitter as the standard of communication, number of lifeboats should be adequate to accommodate all passengers & crew travelling on board and establishment of International Ice Patrol- a organization with the purpose of monitoring the presence of iceberg in the Atlantic and Arctic. It is operated by the United States Coast Guard but is funded by 13 nations.
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