The sinking of the RMS Titanic is one of the most famous maritime disasters in the world. It has become the subject of many books, films and articles. What led to this tragedy and how did it happen? Where is the wreckage of the ship?
The Titanic Disaster – Background Information
RMS Titanic was a White Star Line passenger ship that sank after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 1912. Over 1,500 people lost their lives and there were just over 700 survivors. How could this happen?
The Transatlantic vessel was the largest passenger ship that was built at that time. Hailed as “unsinkable”, the Titanic was divided into several watertight compartments that could be closed with electric doors. Those security measures were deemed sufficient to protect the ship from possible sinking. There were 20 lifeboats, which was more than required by standards at the time, but still not enough to save all the passengers.
Titanic was just over 269 meters long (882 feet), and its huge size allowed the creators to design a luxurious interior. There were, among others, baths and a gym. First-class passengers could count on comfortable cabins with luxurious beds and washbasins. The ship’s captain was Edward J. Smith, the most famous and experienced captain of the White Star Line company.
The Titanic departed Southampton on April 10, 1912, then stopped in Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland, where many passengers joined the voyage. There were a total of over 2,200 people. The first four days of the voyage were successful, after which the crew received information that there was ice in the Atlantic. The Titanic was traveling at the same speed all the time, and several people were assigned to observe the ocean. Around midnight, one of them noticed an iceberg looming over the horizon.
After information about the iceberg, an immediate left turn was ordered and all watertight doors were closed. Despite the reaction, the disaster could not be prevented. The ship hit the iceberg in such a way that initially the passengers did not even notice it. The several dozen meters long underwater part of the Titanic was destroyed, and the first people who experienced the effects of the event were the boiler room workers. It was into these rooms that the water penetrated the fastest. It quickly consumed additional compartments, and the crew realized that the disaster was inevitable. Shortly after midnight, Captain Edward J. Smith gave the order to abandon the ship. Torn from sleep, the passengers were stunned and rushed to the lifeboats in panic. First, women and children were rescued and separated from their husbands and fathers in despair. The Titanic was filled more and more by the icy waters of the ocean, however the musicians present on board played their instruments until the very end.
The crew sent distress signals, but the closest ship was the Californian passenger ship, more than 30 kilometers from the Titanic. Its crew did not receive radio signals at night, so it was decided on the Titanic to send the signals in Morse code. For several dozen minutes, attempts were made to notify about the incident and even rockets were launched. The passengers still on board gathered in the stern of the ship. By 1 a.m. most of the lifeboats were at a safe distance from the sinking ship. At around 2:18 the Titanic’s lights went out forever, and a few minutes later the ship began to disappear rapidly beneath the surface of the water. At 4:00 a.m., the Carpathia ocean liner arrived at the scene of the tragedy, the crew of which saved over 700 people on the lifeboats. There was no trace of the Titanic left.
As a result of the Titanic disaster, there were changes in the maritime security policy. The new rules concerned, which included increasing the number of required lifeboats and 24-hour radio communication on passenger ships. It was also ordered that the missile launch was to be perceived as a need for immediate assistance. When the rockets from the Titanic were launched, they were not identified as an alarm action. In addition, the International Ice Patrol was created to monitor icebergs on the sea routes.
Finding the Wreck
Reaching the wreckage of the Titanic was an extreme undertaking. The ship is resting several kilometers deep, where the water pressure is enormous. On September 1, 1985, a Franco-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel and Robert Ballard reached the wreckage of the most famous ocean liner in the world.
The stern was completely destroyed, but some fragments of the ship survived almost intact. Numerous elements of the ship are located in an area of several square kilometers. These include: furniture, dishes, clothing, etc. Over the years, scientists have been extracting items from the bottom of the ocean so that they can be found in exhibitions and museums around the world. Due to the bacteria that contribute to the corrosion, the wreckage is in deteriorating condition.
At what depth is the Titanic wreck?
Finding the shipwreck was very difficult mainly due to the depth at which the ship wreckage was located. The exact coordinates of the Titanic wreckage are 41 ° 43′55 ″ N 49 ° 56′45 ″W. It lies at a depth of approximately 3,800 meters (approx. 12 500 feet) in the Atlantic Ocean, 600 kilometers (approx. 370 miles) south of Newfoundland.
The future of the wreck
The future of the Titanic wreck is not optimistic. Certainly the ship will never be excavated again and will forever remain part of the ocean floor. Among the numerous microorganisms that live on it, there is the bacterium Halomonas titanicae. Research of scientists predict that the wreckage of the Titanic will completely disappear by 2030.
During one of the scientific expeditions that took place several years ago, researchers performed photogrammetric tests of the wreckage. Thanks to this, it is possible to recreate the structure of the ship in 3D. After the ship vanishes from the bottom of the ocean, this will be the only opportunity for a thorough understanding of the Titanic and its poignant history for generations to come.
OceanGate Expeditions, a scientific expedition company, organizes one-week sea excursions to visit the Titanic wreck. Qualified specialists examine the ship debris and control the rate of their destruction. Currently, anyone who wants to sail to the bottom of the Atlantic and see the remains of the ship can apply for the expedition. However, the ticket costs over $100,000 and due to the limited number of seats, few people can grab the opportunity. You can send your application for expeditions in 2022 on the official site of OceanGate Expeditions. Multiple interviews with candidates need to be conducted to determine who is the best addition to the crew.
Replicas of the Titanic
In 2012, Australian billionaire Clive Palmer announced that he was planning to build a replica of the famous Titanic. Work on Titanic II was postponed many times, and the project was often put into question. The ship is to accommodate over 2,400 passengers and will be an accurate representation of a liner from more than a century ago. The date of its scheduled maiden voyage has changed several times, and recent speculation is that the Titanic II is set to launch in 2022 (yeah, right…). For now, however, little is known about the work on the replica, so this date does not seem certain. It is not really known whether the controversial idea will even come to fruition.
In China, however, work is underway to develop a replica of the Titanic, which is to be visited by tourists at an amusement park in the city of Suining. The works were to be completed in 2021 after spending $155 million on construction. The creators predict that the facility will attract from 2 to 5 million tourists a year.
Now you know how the collision happened and where the Titanic wreck lies, which became the main theme of James Cameron’s 1997 film, numerous documentaries and books. Despite the passage of time, its tragic history fascinates and intrigues people all over the world. Maybe you know interesting facts about the most famous maritime disaster in history? If so, please share in the comment!