Welcome back, fellow humans!
Titanic was the world’s largest passenger ship when in-service from the 10th to 15th April 1912. During the time of peace on 14th April 1912, the Harland & Wolff, Belfast-built RMS Titanic struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage in the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean from its terminal port in Queenstown to New York and killing 1,516 of the 2,229 passengers and crew aboard. Titanic was one among “Olympic class” liners, its sister ships were the RMS Olympic and Gigantic, which was later rechristened as Britannic and sank in the Mediterranean during World War I, leaving 30 dead.
According to this conspiracy theory, millionaire banker J.P. Morgan owned the IMM, also owned the White Star line, had initially planned the Titanic disaster to exterminate Jacob Astor, Isidor Straus, and Benjamin Guggenheim because their deaths in the wreck allegedly eased the path for the Federal Reserve Bank in 1913. Other versions include the Rothschild banking family or the Jesuits were the ones who planned their deaths on the Titanic. J.P. Morgan stayed in Europe to shop for tapestries instead on travelling onboard Titanic. Bruce Ismay, the White Star Line managing director, alleged that J.P. Morgan forced them to sail at full speed, “reach New York before the inevitable explosions occurred.” However, these theories don’t offer any explanation for the wreckage and killing over 1,500 people.
Titanic spent 25 years as the Olympic, this was the most popular conspiracy theory. The Olympic was launched in October 1910. Two days of Olympic testing included high-speed runs, but Titanic had no high-speed runs and only lasted a day. Olympic crashed with HMS Hawke while crossing from Southampton, England to New York in September 1911, and returned to Harland and Wolff’s shipping yard in Belfast for repairs, then sailed to New York and back. In March 1912, it returned to Belfast for more repairs, a few weeks before the Titanic set sail. The damaged Olympic was converted at some point with the Titanic in order to collect insurance money. The inaction of the Californian ship can be explained by the dimmed IMM rescue ship which struck Titanic instead of an iceberg, some believe that an iceberg couldn’t inflict such serious damage to a steel double-hulled ship. The intention was never to harm anyone but to slowly sink the ship, and the lifeboats could make several trips to get all passengers to safety. The construction number 401 which was discovered on parts of the Titanic.
In 1886, the distinguished British writer William T. Stead published, “How the Atlantic Mail Steamer Went Down.” and in 1898, the American Morgan Robertson wrote a novel called Futility or The Wreck of the Titan. There were parallels between the Titanic and Titan being the largest man-made, passenger ship. The size of the Titan which was 800 feet long versus 882½ feet long for the Titanic and the speed was 25 knots for Titan versus 23 knots for Titanic. Titanic struck an iceberg in an ideal sailing condition on her maiden voyage while sailing from England to the USA, whereas the Titan struck the iceberg in miserable and misty conditions after several voyages later, travelling in the opposite direction. The unsinkable and indestructible Titan also sank, killing more than half of her 2500 passengers because there were not enough lifeboats. Titanic came close to an accident with the New York whereas the Titan sinks a ship before hitting the ice. More than a decade later, Stead perished as a passenger on the Titanic.
Titanic’s mummy curse is based on the Priestess of Amen-Ra who lived in 1050 B.C, after recovering in the 1890s in Egypt. One of the passengers, Stead claimed a cursed mummy was causing strange destruction and disaster in London. A survivor retold Stead’s claims about the cursed mummy to the New York World. In another version, Margaret Brown hid the mummy on the Titanic to deliver to a museum in Denver or was onboard because an American purchased it from the British Museum to bring it home. Official records affirmed that the British Museum never sold or held the mummy, only the lid of its sarcophagus was exhibited, labelled as “Unlucky Mummy”. Nevertheless, Titanic was sunk by an iceberg, not a curse.
The British Inquiry included testimonies of Charles Hendrickson about the coal fires in the bunkers as it left the port. This unprompted ignition of coal was a common phenomenon due to this, many marine vessels used oil from the early 1900s. Hendrickson and other men tried to extinguish by burning coal in the ship’s furnaces continuously for three days, this explained the speeding. However, the judge who moderated the case prioritized White Star line’s interests. An Irish journalist, Senan Molony, identified a diagonal black mark on the hull’s front starboard side, where the iceberg struck the ship. The fire science expert Guillermo Rein mentionted that the temperature of the fire could have reached about 982°C and debilitating the hull, this didn’t solely cause wreckage since the steel bunkers were constructed to suppress coal fires.
The White Star Line did not want the open, watertight compartments to go upwards because this lessened the living area for first-class passengers. Titanic was built with sixteen compartments, segregated by bulkheads below the waterline which could have been secured to keep the ship afloat even if all four forward compartments were flooded, as a result the ship designers declared that the ship was unsinkable. Mr Andrews and the ship’s architect should have demanded the correct height for the watertight compartments then maybe the Titanic could have remained afloat. The impact from the iceberg damaged the hull portion, six out of sixteen compartments, and even if these compartments were instantly locked, the ship began to plunge forward from the weight of the water. Titanic would have stayed horizontal if there were no compartments as the approaching water would spread out. The ship would remain afloat for another six hours allowing the nearby ships to reach the scene of the disaster to save all passengers and crew.
The meteorologist Edward Lawrence stated the phosphorescent plankton radiates excessively when disturbed thus highlighting the iceberg ahead for the lookouts on the Titanic. Charles Lightoller, the second officer, disclosed that there was no presence of glowing plankton. A supermoon materializes when the Moon reaches nearest to the Earth simultaneously as a full moon. The Moon and the Sun were also lined up, causing severe tide placing icebergs that were lingering at the intersection of the Gulf Stream and Labrador Current, in the course of Titanic. The Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico were faced with an uncommonly warm summers.
On April 15, the photo was captured by the chief steward of the German SS Prinz Adalbert, which was passing through the North Atlantic where the Titanic hit the iceberg the night before. He noticed a ray of red paint on the base, therefore concluding that a ship had crashed into it the last 12 hours. The following photo was captured by Captain De Carteret of the Minia, declared that there was red paint on the iceberg.
Titanic possessed the most robust radio telegraph system of any ship in 1912. The wireless operators’ Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were maximizing on the many private telegraphs being sent from the wealthy passengers. Titanic received at least six messages from other ships warning of floating ice. An hour before the crash, Phillips disregarded “dense field ice” warning from S.S. California, since he knowingly relayed as “non-urgent” message because the message began with the prefix ‘MSG’ (Master’s Service Gram), this would have demanded the attention of the Captain. Also, the Second officer David Blair held onto the key that opened the locker containing the binoculars, and he forgot to transfer the key to the crew before the ship set off to New York. Binoculars could have assisted the lookouts to see the iceberg, while others claim that binoculars would not have helped that fateful night.
Both Ismay and Smith decided that in such ideal conditions that the ship should not be slowed. The Cunard liners Lusitania and Mauretania frequently race through the same waters at higher speeds and carried onto doing so even after the Titanic catastrophe. Captain Smith cannot be wronged any more than every other captain, he was the unfortunate one. However, Smith failed to order an “abandon ship” order. Smith actually failed the preliminary navigation exams but finally passed in 1888 and earned the title of “the millionaire’s captain.” Ismay helped in the loading of the lifeboats and also calmed the passengers. Ismay left on Lifeboat Collapsible C and had endured an irreversible injury to his reputation by both the American and British Inquiries for not foundering with the ship. Thomas Andrews was helping passengers into the lifeboats and later tossing deck chairs to assist people floundering in the icy waters. Steward Cecil William N Fitzpatrick claimed that he saw Andrews and Captain Smith moving forwards the rails just before the ship was being flooded. Fitzpatrick jumped into the water before climbing aboard the nearest lifeboats.
By 8:55pm, Captain Smith arranged to rest for the evening and informed Lightoller to lower the speed if the conditions are undesirable and to notify the lookout for icebergs. By 9:30pm, Bride made a terrible decision to disregard iceberg warnings from the nearby steamer Mesaba and SS Californian. At 11.15pm, Californian’s wireless operator retired for the night and switched off the radio. After midnight, the crew reported seeing the rockets in the sky from Titanic. If the Californian had switched on the radio they would have heard the distress messages from Titanic and arrived in time to save Titanic passengers and crew. Californian‘s Captain Stanley Lord was fired over the disaster, as many claimed that he had intentionally neglected the rockets. Titanic was crossing an area of thermal inversion, where layers of cold air are under the layers of hot air, thus causing light to refract irregularly, making objects materialising higher and nearer than they are, on a distorted outlook. The Morse lamp signals were disrupted by the distorted air between the Titanic and the Californian, so neither ship could discern the other’s signals. Californian believed that Titanic was sailing away or having a party. A historian, Tim Maltin addressed that several vessels recorded mirages on the night of the disaster.
At 11:40pm, “Iceberg right ahead” signalled the death of the most magnificent ship ever built in the 1900s. Frederick Fleet raised the first verbal alarm, immediately rang the ship’s bell three times and phoned the bridge to alert them. During the 37 seconds, Officer Murdoch ordered the helmsman, Robert Hitchins to “Hard a Starboard” driving the rudder hard right and sidestroke the iceberg, destroying 300 feet of the righthand side of the hull above and below the waterline. In 2010, the granddaughter of Charles Lightoller, Louise Patton suggested that the ship could have prevented the crash entirely if Hitchins turned in the opposite direction. Lightoller schemed to conceal the human error during both the British and American inquiries, to protect the reputation and interests of the White Star Line. However, Murdoch wasn’t able to fathom the last ordeal of freezing to death or drowning, perhaps he feared or felt guilty, so he decided a “self-execution” was rationalised. The iceberg was approximately 100 feet tall and derived of a glacier in Greenland around 1,000 BCE. The iceberg passed from Greenland in 1910 or 1911, and forever disappered by the end of 1912 to 1913.
The impact caused the rivet heads in the damaged areas to simply open up the first five compartments and any sailors in these areas drowned. The flooded compartments caused the Titanic to sink lower due to the extra weight. Materials scientists Tim Foecke and Jennifer Hooper McCarty deduced the steel from the Titanic contained significant levels of both oxygen and sulfur, it was made using the open-hearth process, the low-carbon forward hulls were semi-kilned and were not uniformly inserted. High sulfur content disrupts the grain structure of steel, sulfur combines with magnesium, leading to an increase in its brittleness, and with freezing water temperatures, thus increasing the fragility. In the early 1900s, most steel utilised for ship manufacturing had a significantly high sulfur content, especially Titanic’s steel which was noticeably high. High oxygen content increased ductile-to-brittle gradation temperature, estimated at 25°C to 35°C for Titanic’s steel. Modern times, steel needs to be chilled below -60°C before it exhibits any parallel conduction to Titanic’s steel.
Captain Smith inspected the damage below the deck and notified the wireless operators to call for assistance. He personally supervised and aided in loading the lifeboats, socialising with passengers, and attempting to find a balance between infusing haste to attend to evacuation orders while simultaneously deterring chaos. Thomas Andrews evaluated the ship had an hour and a half and the pumps could only handle 2,000 tons of water per hour, but this quantity was flooding the Titanic every five minutes.
At 12:05am, Captain Smith ordered that lifeboats should be deployed, the “women and children first” should take priority and seats that are leftover are designated for men. Titanic’s boilers were fully switched off and the build-up of steam could have caused an explosion in the boiler rooms. By 12:45am, Lifeboat 1 left the Titanic with only 12 people and Lifeboat 7 was lowered first on the starboard side with only 28 people on board (26 people were first-class passengers), in spite of being trialled with a weight of 70 men. Titanic was built to hold 32 lifeboats but carried only 20, more than the British Board of Trade law required, but the passenger capacity had increased rapidly but the law was never updated to regulate the changes. One row of lifeboats was discarded beforehand to attain space and aesthetically tasteful deck. The newly confirmed safety laws included lifeboats must retain oars, sails, a compass, signalling devices, food, and water, also extra lifeboats must be placed under other lifeboats and as well as, adding another layer of steel to the hull sides of the ship. The gates were following American immigration laws, separating third-class passengers so that the ship could drop them off at Ellis Island before docking in Manhattan and no passengers were locked below the deck, however, many found it difficult to navigate their way up to the decks. Lifeboats were supposed to be haul down from the deck but with no boat drill or training, the boats never stopped on the below decks. Only one out of the 29 children travelling in first and second-class perished in the disaster, (a two-year-old Canadian girl, Lorraine Allison) compared to 53 children lost in third-class.
Phillips and Bride were occupied with transmitting distress messages, the message was initially “CQD-MGY, sinking, need immediate assistance,” later Bride recommended to diversify with the newer “SOS.” Many ships acknowledged the circumstance, including the Mount Temple, Frankfurt, and Olympic, but none of these ships was able to reach the scene of the disaster in time. The wireless station at Cape Race, Newfoundland, and a Marconi telegraph station in New York City received the distress signals from the Titanic. Many of these signals were being transmitted from one ship to another, through Halifax to New York. Several people started to turn up at White Star Line offices in New York. At 12:25am, the Cunard liner Carpathia received the distress message and it was 107 km away, it would arrive in about four hours, still too late to reach Titanic.
By 1:25am, the loading of lifeboats became growingly sped up and disordered as lifeboats were now deployed overcrowded. The crew was incompetent and progressively lost control of the situation at hand. Fifth Officer Harold Lowe was in charge on the port side when Lifeboat 14 was being lowered. Lifeboat 11 was nearly lowered directly into the direction of one of the Titanic’s pumps, it was saved by using the oar to prod the boat away from the pump, otherwise, there would have been a further 70 death. By 01:35am, Lifeboats 15 and 16 left the ship, all the lifeboats on the second-class boat deck were gone. Six lifeboats remained in the first-class portion which had a capacity of 293 for the estimated 1,800 people who remained on the ship. At 01:40am, the bow anchors were submerged underwater induced by the crumbling of the watertight bulkhead between boiler rooms 6 and 5, which was weakened by coal bunker fire during the expedition. The elevated position further tilted the ship, startling passengers and crew about the looming doom, resulting in pandemonium. Around 02:00am, Collapsible C lifeboat was lowered into the waters and D left five minutes later as the ship was floundering.
At first, passengers were reluctant to leave warm, illuminated, and seemingly unsinkable Titanic, which showed no physical symptoms of being in impending peril and to jump on board cramped, and unstable lifeboats. Captain Smith ordered the lifeboats to launch half-emptied and then return to save people in the water. Father Thomas Byles helped the women and children into lifeboats. Bride helped with Collapsible B and Phillips ran aft. Collapsible A was half-submerged with water and Collapsible B was upside down with at least 30 men clinging to it. Shortly afterwards, the funnel fell crushing parts of the starboard deck. In the final moments, Father Byles recited the rosary, heard confessions, and gave absolutions to many people. Around 2:00am, the propellers in the stern were lifted out of the water. Collapsible B had 3 empty seats, this was the last lifeboat to be lowered. At 2:10am, the stern was lifted almost 45 degrees because of the massive weight of the three bronze propellers, in front of Lifeboat 2. At 2:18am, all the power failed, the bow retained a weight of 16,000 tons, which tore from the stern, soared sharply to a vertical position. At 2.20am, the stern settled to the bottom of the North Atlantic. At 2:29, the bow hauled down the bottom of the ocean while crushing hundreds of people, two hours and 40 minutes after the collision. The White Star Line tried to persuade survivors never to mention the breaking point of the hull splitting when it was at 12 degrees to the seafloor.
After chaining four lifeboats together, Fifth Officer Harold Lowe was in charge of Lifeboat 14 and returned to search for survivors and rescued four people, including first-class passenger William Hoyt, later died. Lifeboat 4 was nearby to rescue eight people, two died aboard the Carpathia. Collapsible B had 27 people, included Charles Lightoller, Harold Bride and Charles Joughin and floated upside-down all night. Many survivors were terrified by being swallowed from the foreseeable vacuum created from the sinking ship or flooded by desperate people trying to swarm up into the lifeboat. Only 10 survivors were saved from the freezing waters into the lifeboats.
By 4am, Captain Arthur Henry Rostron was in charge of the Carpathia approached the scene of the catastrophe and the crew launched rockets and Roman candles to capture the attention of the survivors, but there was nothing to be seen on the surface of the water aside from wood components. At 04:10am, they started to board Titanic’s first lifeboat. Onboard the Carpathia, a prayer service was held for the lives lost. Among the survivors, a Pomeranian and a Pekingese brought aboard by the first-class passengers.
On April 17, 1912, the Mackay-Bennett was sent from Halifax, Nova Scotia to find bodies and quickly ran out of its embalming supplies. They made attempts to identify 306 bodies found, 116 were too badly damaged thus were buried at sea. The Women’s Relief Committee, the Travelers Aid Society of New York, and the Council of Jewish Women offered clothing and transportation to survivors. At 08:50 am, Carpathia left for New York, arriving on 18 April and 214 surviving crew were taken to the SS Lapland. The last survivor of the Titanic, Millvina Dean, was two months old at the time, died on May 31, 2009, aged 97.
The ship’s orchestra and 35 engineering staffs were lost. The violinist Wallace Hartley and others played popular ragtime music for two hours and five minutes as the ship sank to calm the passengers. Hypothermia was the main cause of death in the freezing waters (−2°C). The lifeboats had space for 1,178 people, if lifeboats were filled to full capacity, 534 women and children, and 644 men could have been saved. First-class men were more likely to survive as second and third class men. Nearly every first-class woman survived, compared to second and third class women. Also notable is the fact that even third-class women were significantly more likely to survive than first-class men, as a result the women and children first policy.
Countess of Rothes recalled that the musicians were playing The Tales of Hoffman which was the last music she heard on the night of 14th April 1912 on Titanic when she was out with friends a year after the tragedy, “suddenly felt the awful feeling of intense cold and horror.”
Madeleine Astor was travelling on the Titanic with her husband, John Jacob Astor, an American businessman. Madeleine survived and inherited a $5m trust fund (equivalent to $114m today). She decided to renounce the fortune and married a childhood friend, William Dick. Madeleine often felt her existence was “invalid” and the Titanic had “ruined her nerves.”
Jack Thayer, a 17-year-old, was travelling as a first-class passenger, he jumped from the rails until the ship was fully enveloped by the sea. He lost his father in the wreck. his mother, Marian, another Titanic survivor, returned to America and tried to move forward with their lives as though nothing had happened. Thayer’s daughter, Julie Vehr says, “Like he never talked about the Titanic. In those days, a man did not talk about his feelings.”
Dorothy Gibson, a silent movie actress who survived the Titanic with her mother Pauline. She showed signs of survivor syndrome while filming on a movie set, perhaps she did feel guilty that she survived. She had to listen to the screams of fellow passengers while they were freezing to death in the icy water and she refused to return to the scene of the disaster to save others.
The only Japanese passenger was Masabumi Hosono on board the Titanic. He went to the main deck when he realised Titanic was sinking. With the “women and children first” policy, he still looked for ways to get to safety, especially when the crew called out that there were two spaces left in a lifeboat. At the time, it was better for a man to suffer a righteous death than to survive disgracefully. In Japan, he was also fired from his government job because he was seen as a weakling and outcast, although he was later rehired. In 1997, a letter was discovered addressed to his wife, Hosono pointed out the fact that he was in lifeboat 10, thus he couldn’t have been the asian man in lifeboat 13 mentioned in the negative reports.
Henry Morley presented Kate Florence Philips a precious sapphire necklace. The couple eloped on board the Titanic and to begin a new life in California. Kate was taken on the last lifeboat but Morley lost his life. After the tragedy, Kate had a daughter named Ellen. In 1989, Ellen was looking for a picture of her father and revealed that she had her mother’s necklace, and also a cabin key from the Titanic.
Elizabeth Shutes survived the disaster and wrote a captivating narration of the sinking, she wrote that she was on a lifeboat with only 36 people. Elizabeth was attending to a 19-year-old Margaret Graham on the Titanic. Elizabeth only realized the seriousness of the situation when they started gathering the first-class passengers to the upper deck. She was so traumatised by the smell of ice that she couldn’t sleep.
Isidor Straus, the owner of R. H. Macy & Co, and his wife Ida were passengers on the Titanic. Isidor was offered a seat on a lifeboat due to his old age but declined special care. Ida didn’t want to abandon him on a sinking ship, so they went to their room and died together.
Eugene Patrick Daly, a third-class passenger, was travelling to America to start a new life. Titanic struck an iceberg, he was forced to jump into lifeboat 15 at the final moment, he and George Rheims, a first-class passenger, watched helplessly as an officer fired his gun, killing two men and then shot himself in the head.
Colonel Archibald Gracie identified First Officer William Murdoch, Second Officer Charles Lightoller and Fifth Officer Harold Lowe firing their guns to stop people from climbing into the lowering lifeboats as it passed by the different decks.
The Scotland-built Lusitania owned by Cunard completed its 202nd Atlantic crossing. On 7 May 1915, at 2:10 pm, the torpedo hit the ship’s starboard side and a second explosion erupted from inside, sank off the coast of Ireland in 18 minutes amid WWI British and German hostilities. Only six out of 48 lifeboats were deployed, while the boats were beyond reach by the explosion. Close to 1,200 people died and 763 were rescued by the fishing vessels nearby. There were 128 American lives lost on the Lusitania which played a part in the US joining WWI in 1917. The Lusitania lies 11 and a half miles off the coast of Co. Cork, whereas, the Titanic lies 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland.
Italian liner Costa Concordia struck the rocks, both the Titanic and Concordia catastrophes were blamed on human error and for speeding. Captain Schettino and the second officer were remembered for being a coward and selfish as they departed the ship before all the passengers could be saved, whereas Captain Smith of the Titanic was widely recognised as a hero who went down along with his ship.
Many people were unselfish and honourable, while others, just saved themselves. Titanic was on fire, ill-equipped with lifeboats, travelling at full speed surrounded by ice fields and icebergs, the risk-taking and negligence of ones in charge prevented them from stopping the ship until morning. Following the Titanic disaster, construction and safety regulations of the ships were changed to lessen the casualties at sea, for example, 1600 passengers and crew were saved from Andrea Doria in 1956, 700 passengers from Prinsendam in 1980, and all passengers and crew from Mikhail Lermontov in 1986 and Oceanos in 1992.
Thank you for reading, fellow humans.