Sunday, 20 April 2014

Titanic

The RMS Titanic sunk on 15 April carrying 2,224 people, 1,517 of whom died when the hull of the ship hit an iceberg and sunk in water that was minus two degrees celsius; a temperature at which a human body will perish in fifteen minutes or less.

RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton, UK to New York City, US. It remains one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in modern history. The RMS Titanic, the largest ship afloat at the time it entered service, 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.

The ship's passengers included 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. The first class accommodation was designed to be the pinnacle of comfort and luxury, with an on-board gymnasium, swimming pool, libraries, high-class restaurants and opulent cabins. A wireless telegraph was provided for the convenience of passengers as well as for operational use. Though 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and remotely activated watertight doors, there were not enough lifeboats to accommodate all of those aboard due to outdated maritime safety regulations.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 her total capacity.

Titanic's passengers only numbered around 1,317 people, considerably under capacity as the ship could accommodate 2,566 passengers. Usually, a high prestige vessel like Titanic could expect to be fully booked on its maiden voyage. However, a national coal strike in the U.K. had caused considerable disruption to shipping schedules in the spring of 1912, causing many crossings to be cancelled. Many would-be passengers chose to postpone their travel plans until the strike was over. The strike had finished a few days before Titanic sailed; however, that was too late to have much of an effect. Titanic was able to sail on the scheduled date only because coal was transferred from other vessels which were tied up at Southampton, such as City of New York and Oceanic as well as coal Olympic had brought back from a previous voyage to New York and which had been stored at the White Star Dock. John Jacob Astor IV was the wealthiest person aboard Titanic.

On 14 April 1912, four days into the voyage the ship hit an iceberg at 11:40 pm ship's time. The collision caused Titanic's hull plates to buckle inwards along her starboard 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 partly loaded. A disproportionate number of men were left aboard because of a "women and children first" protocol followed by some of the officers loading the lifeboats. By 2:20 am, the ship had broken apart and foundered, with well over one thousand people still aboard. Just under two hours after Titanic sunk, filled with water, the Cunard liner RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene of the sinking and rescued 705 people, taking them on to New York.

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.

The wreck of Titanic 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 artefacts have been recovered and put on display at museums around the world. Titanic has become one of the most famous ships in history.