Today In History: The Giant Ship “Titanic” Sinks In The North Atlantic, Killing 1,500 Passengers And Crew

British luxury passenger liner, “RMS Titanic” sank on April 15, 1912, during its maiden voyage, en route to New York from Southampton, England, killing about 1,500 passengers and crew. One of the most famous tragedies in modern history, it inspired numerous stories, several films, and a musical and has been the subject of many scholarship and scientific speculation.

The Ship was largely designed Thomas Andrews of Harland and Wolff. In addition to ornate decorations, the Titanic featured an immense first-class dining saloon, four elevators, and a swimming pool. Its second-class accommodations were comparable to first-class features on other ships, and its third-class offerings, although modest, were still noted for their relative comfort.

In terms of safety elements, the Titanic had 16 compartments that included doors which could be closed from the bridge, so that water could be contained in the event the hull was breached. Although they were presumed to be watertight, the bulkheads were not capped at the top. The ship’s builders claimed that four of the compartments could be flooded without endangering the liner’s buoyancy. The system led many to claim that the Titanic was unsinkable.

The RMS Titanic

As it prepared to embark on its maiden voyage, the Titanic was one of the largest and most opulent ships in the world. It had a gross registered carrying capacity of 46,328 tons, and when fully laden the ship weighed more than 52,000 tons. The Titanic was approximately 882.5 feet (269 metres) long and about 92.5 feet (28.2 metres) wide at its widest point.

On April 10, 1912, the Titanic set sail on its maiden voyage, travelling from Southampton, to New York City. Nicknamed the “Millionaire’s Special,” the ship was fittingly captained Edward J. Smith, who was known as the “Millionaire’s Captain” because of his popularity with wealthy passengers.

On the evening of April 14, the Titanic began to approach an area known to have icebergs. Smith slightly altered the ship’s course to head farther south. However, he maintained the ship’s speed of some 22 knots. At approximately 11:40 pm, about 400 nautical miles (740 km) south of Newfoundland, Canada, an iceberg was sighted. The Titanic began to turn, but it was too close to avoid a collision. The ship’s starboard side scraped along the iceberg. At least five of its supposedly watertight compartments toward the bow were ruptured.

As passengers waited to enter lifeboats, they were entertained the Titanic’s musicians, who initially played in the first-class lounge before eventually moving to the ship’s deck. Sources differ on how long they performed, some reporting that it was until shortly before the ship sank. Speculation also surrounded the last song they performed—likely either Autumn or Nearer My God to Thee. None of the musicians survived the sinking.

In the end, more than 1,500 perished. Aside from the crew, which had about 700 fatalities, third class suffered the greatest loss: of approximately 710, only some 174 survived.

 

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