rms titanic sinking

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In 1912 the RMS Titanic sank in the North Atlantic, killing more than 1,500 people, and becoming the most famous maritime accident in the 20th century. But unknown to many, Titanic’s sister ship met a similar fate as well. The HMHS Britannic was a hospital ship owned by the White Star Line and was active from the years 1914-1916. On November 21, 1916, she was carrying 1,065 people on board when the hull struck an underwater mine. Britannic leaned drastically to the starboard (right) side, and within 55 minutes was completely underwater. Unlike her famous sister Titanic, the Britannic did not break in half. In total 30 people were killed during the sinking. The wreck was discovered off the coast of Greece in 1975 and remains in wonderful diving condition. 

Here is another well-known aspect of the Edwardian Era; the RMS Titanic, a ship oftener known for her tragedy than her short life prior.


RMS Titanic (/taɪˈtænɪk/) was a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in the early morning of 15 April 1912, after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. Of the 2,224 passengers and crew aboard, more than 1,500 died, making it one of the deadliest commercial peacetime maritime disasters in modern history. The largest ship afloat at the time it entered service, the RMS Titanic was the second of three Olympic class ocean liners operated by the White Star Line, and was built by the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. Thomas Andrews, her architect, died in the disaster.

Under the command of Edward Smith, who went down with the ship, Titanic carried some of the wealthiest people in the world, as well as hundreds of emigrants from Great Britain and Ireland, Scandinavia and elsewhere throughout Europe seeking a new life in North America. A high-power radiotelegraph transmitter was available for sending passenger “marconigrams” and for the ship’s operational use. Although Titanic had advanced safety features such as watertight compartments and remotely activated watertight doors, there were not enough lifeboats to accommodate all of those aboard due to outdated maritime safety regulations. Titanic only carried enough lifeboats for 1,178 people—slightly more than half of the number on board, and one third of her total capacity.

After leaving Southampton on 10 April 1912, Titanic called at Cherbourg in France and Queenstown (now Cobh) in Ireland before heading west to New York.[2] On 14 April, four days into the crossing and about 375 miles (600 km) south of Newfoundland, she hit an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. ship’s time. The collision caused the ship’s hull plates to buckle inwards along her starboard (right) side and opened five of her sixteen watertight compartments to the sea; the ship gradually filled with water. Meanwhile, passengers and some crew members were evacuated in lifeboats, many of which were launched only partially loaded. A disproportionate number of men were left aboard because of a “women and children first” protocol for loading lifeboats.[3] At 2:20 a.m., she broke apart and foundered—with well over one thousand people still aboard. Just under two hours after Titanic sank, the Cunard liner RMS Carpathia arrived at the scene, where she brought aboard an estimated 705 survivors.

The disaster was greeted with worldwide shock and outrage at the huge loss of life and the regulatory and operational failures that had led to it. Public inquiries in Britain and the United States led to major improvements in maritime safety. One of their most important legacies was the establishment in 1914 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which still governs maritime safety today. Additionally, several new wireless regulations were passed around the world in an effort to learn from the many missteps in wireless communications—which could have saved many more passengers.[4]

The wreck of Titanic, first discovered over 70 years after the sinking, remains on the seabed, split in two and gradually disintegrating at a depth of 12,415 feet (3,784 m). Since her discovery in 1985, thousands of artifacts have been recovered and put on display at museums around the world. Titanic has become one of the most famous ships in history; her memory is kept alive by numerous works of popular culture, including books, folk songs, films, exhibits, and memorials. Titanic is the second largest ocean liner wreck in the world, only beaten by her sister HMHS Britannic, the largest ever sunk.

For Those In Peril On the Sea
US Marine Choir
For Those In Peril On the Sea

For Those In Peril On the Sea, also known as Eternal Father Strong to Save or The Navel Hymn, was the last song played during the church service on the RMS Titanic, Sunday April 14, 1912. Later that night she would sink in the North Atlantic with the loss of 1,500 people.    

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Sunday April 15th 1912, dawn breaks and the water begins to get choppy in the distance the survivors can see a ship, the Carpathia has finally arrived near the site of the sinking only to find 20 small life boats. When the Carpathia’s Captain Arthur Rostron learned of the distress signals he immediately set a course at maximum speed (17 kn(20 mph) to Titanic’s last known position, approximately 58 mi away. Rostron ordered the ship’s heating and hot water cut off in order to make as much steam as possible available for the engines. At full speed it took the Carpathia four hours to reach Titanic, Carpathia arrived At 4:00 am, after working her way through dangerous ice fields, and took on the 705 survivors all that was left from a ship that carried around 2,200 people.

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Campaign is under way to have Catholic priest Fr. Thomas Byles, who stayed on RMS Titanic instead of fleeing on a lifeboat, made a saint. He boarded the ship at Southampton to attend his younger brother’s wedding in New York.
But when it sank in 1912 he twice refused to join a lifeboat and instead remained with passengers to pray.

Top image from 1997 film: Fr. Thomas Byles giving confession as RMS Titanic sinks 

Made with Flickr
In Defense of the Titanic

There’s a common perception that Titanic had some sort of fatal flaw or poor design. How else could a ship marketed as the peak of shipbuilding technology sink on her maiden voyage? For whatever reason, I feel a need to defend the ship I love so much and clarify for non-Titanic obsessives that she was, indeed, incredibly well-made and a remarkable feat of human ingenuity. 

1) Contrary to popular misperception, Titanic did not have sub-par rivets. Her rivets were standard and were the same ones used on Olympic, which had a long and illustrious career for over two decades in which her nickname became “Old Reliable.” Olympic did undergo a few tweaks after the Titanic disaster but by and large they were near-identical ships. The biggest difference between Titanic and Olympic is that Titanic hit an iceberg and Olympic didn’t. 

2) “Why did it sink so fast?” I’ve heard this question a million times but the thing is - Titanic DIDN’T sink quickly. Her own builder, Thomas Andrews, estimated she had an hour to live, two at most. She survived for two hours and forty minutes, allowing time for all of her lifeboats to be deployed. Considering the extensive damage the iceberg caused, she stayed afloat a surprisingly long time. 

3) Titanic went down by the head and never rolled over. Look at most shipwrecks - again and again you’ll see that the ship rolled over on her side, causing lifeboats on one or both sides to become impossible to launch. Titanic had only a slight (6-8 degree) list to port, due to her construction and/or the ongoing efforts of her engineers, none of whom survived the sinking because they stayed at their posts until the very end. 

Why did Titanic sink? Because she hit an iceberg. We can talk about what could have been done to avoid the accident in the first place, but once she hit, any ship would have gone down. Most probably would have gone down more quickly and with less opportunity to launch their lifeboats. Yes, certain measures could have been taken (that were later added to Olympic). Watertight bulkheads could have extended to the upper decks. There should have been enough lifeboats for everyone aboard. But as of April 14, 1912, no ship in the world was as well-constructed or magnificent as Titanic. 

Titanic suffered a fatal blow from an iceberg. She managed to stay evenly afloat for hours as all of her lifeboats were launched. The iceberg caused the deaths of 1,503 people that night. Titanic saved the other 705. 

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Titanic Survivors: Michel Navratil (1908 - 2001) and Edmond Navratil (1910 - 1953) AKA “Louis & Lola”/”Titanic Orphans”

Michel and Edmond Navratil were the youngest survivors with the loss of a parent(s) on board. The two boys have a very interesting story. Their parents, Michel Navratil Sr. and Marcelle Navratil, seperated shortly prior to the infamous ship’s departure. Marcelle allowed the boys to stay with their father over Easter, but she became concerned when he had not returned with her children. Michel bought tickets for himself and his two young sons to immigrate to the US without Marcelle’s knowledge. During the sinking, the toddlers were placed onto Collapsible D. Mr. Navratil perished in the sinking of Titanic. The toddlers could not speak a word of English, so they were labelled the “Titanic Orphans”. Upon arrival to New York, Marcelle was contacted and came to New York to pick up her sons. 

In later years, Michel spoke out about his experience on Titanic;

 “I don’t recall being afraid, I remember the pleasure, really, of going plop! into the lifeboat. We ended up next to the daughter of an American banker who managed to save her dog–no one objected. There were vast differences of people’s wealth on the ship, and I realized later that if we hadn’t been in second-class, we’d have died. The people who came out alive often cheated and were aggressive. The honest didn’t stand a chance.” - Michel Navratil’s account of the sinking

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At 1:30 am Sunday April 15th the first rockets are launched and the S.O.S distress signal is being typed out. The first lifeboats are being lowered. About 400 tones of water is pouring in every minute by this time. there are 20 lifeboats with a capacity of 30 men which is roughly 1,178 people, even though there were about 2,223 on board. Titanic had a maximum capacity of 3,327 passengers and crew.