Everyone knows about Titanic—and no, I’m not talking about James Cameron’s box-office hit. Sorry to ruin the movie for you, but there was never a Jack and Rose who boarded Titanic. So, let me tell you what really happened that night—don’t worry, the story is just as sad as the movie.
Known as ‘The Ship of Dreams’, Titanic was going to bring thousands of people to America, the land of opportunity. Many passengers aboard Titanic just had a one-way ticket. Those who marvelled at the huge iron beast went so far as to call her ‘The Unsinkable Ship’.
"There is no danger that Titanic will sink. The boat is unsinkable and nothing but inconvenience will be suffered by the passengers." -Phillip Franklin, White Star Line vice-president, 1912
Others called Titanic unsinkable because it was such a leap forward in engineering. Titanic had 16 ‘watertight’ compartments which were meant to help the boat stay afloat. The world was confident that Titanic would never sink. The shipbuilding company Harland & Wolff hired thousands of people to build them a ship that would shock the world—and shock it did. Nearly 3000 workers, including engineers, plumbers, and electricians, were hired for the job. The ship was built in five years.
So why did Titanic sink then?
If anything could go wrong that night, it did.
Firstly, it was a quiet and dark night with only stars in the sky. The ocean water was still, so no one could see the water break on the iceberg. Secondly, for some reason, Captain Smith chose to ignore the iceberg warnings sent to the ship. Thirdly, a fire broke out in one of the boiler rooms, weakening the steel of the hull, making it easier for the iceberg to pierce trough the ship.
Timeline of the sinking:
11: 40 PM—Titanic hits an iceberg.
12:25 AM— Lifeboats begin to be lowered. The captain orders woman and children be loaded first.
2:05 AM—The last lifeboat leaves the ship.
2:23 AM— Titanic splits in two and sinks to the bottom of the ocean.
It took 2 hours and 40 minutes for Titanic to sink.
If the events of the night weren’t already bad enough, there were not enough lifeboats to support all people on the ship. Even when they were launched, many were not filled to capacity because people did not believe the ship was sinking.
Over 2,000 passengers and crew were aboard Titanic. Roughly 1,500 of them went down with the ship. Rescue efforts were only able to find 328 bodies floating near the sinking—the rest were never found.
Fast forward 73 years later, the Titanic was discovered. In 1985, American and French scientists found the gravesite of the ship that took with it so many lives. The Titanic is assumed to be completely destroyed within the next 20 years. There are currently rust-eating bacteria eating the iron of the ocean liner. Unfortunately, preserving the ship is not even an option.
In the next couple decades, the only memory of the Titanic will leave us, will be a rust stain on the sea floor.