Titanic received six warnings of sea ice on 14 April but was travelling near her maximum speed when she sighted the iceberg. Unable to turn quickly enough, the ship suffered a glancing blow that buckled her starboard (right) side and opened five of her sixteen compartments to the sea. Titanic had been designed to stay afloat with four flooded compartments but not more, and the crew soon realised that the ship would sink. They used rocket flares and radio (wireless) messages to attract help as the passengers were put into lifeboats. However, although not unlawfully, the ship was carrying far too few lifeboats for everyone, and many boats were not filled to their capacity due to a poorly managed evacuation.
The ship sank with over a thousand passengers and crew members still on board. Almost all those who jumped or fell into the water died from hypothermia within minutes. RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene about an hour and a half after the sinking and had rescued the last of the survivors in the lifeboats by 09:15 on 15 April, little more than 24 hours after Titanic's crew had received their first warnings of drifting ice. The disaster caused widespread public outrage over the lack of lifeboats, lax shipping regulations, and the unequal treatment of the different passenger classes aboard the ship. Inquiries set up in the wake of the disaster recommended sweeping changes to maritime regulations. This led to the establishment in 1914 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which still governs maritime safety today.Olympic had almost half again as much gross register tonnage as Cunard's Lusitania and Mauretania, the previous record holders, and were nearly 100 feet (30 m) longer. Titanic could carry 3,547 people in speed and comfort, and was built on a hitherto unprecedented scale. Her reciprocating engines were the largest that had ever been built, standing 40 feet (12 m) high and with cylinders 9 feet (2.7 m) in diameter, and she could generate more steam than any previous ship, requiring the burning of 600 long tons (610 t) of coal per day.
Her passenger accommodation was said to be "of unrivalled extent and magnificence". First Class accommodation included the most expensive seagoing real estate ever, with promenade suites costing $4,350 ($103,485 at 2012 prices) for a one-way passage. Even Third Class was unusually comfortable by contemporary standards and was supplied with plentiful quantities of good food, providing its passengers with better conditions than many of them had experienced at home.Titanic's maiden voyage began shortly after noon on 10 April 1912 when she left Southampton on the first leg of her journey to New York. A few hours later she reached Cherbourg in France, a journey of 80 nautical miles (148 km; 92 mi), where she took on passengers. Her next port of call was Queenstown (now Cobh) in Ireland, which she reached around midday on 11 April. She left in the afternoon after taking on more passengers and stores.
By the time she departed westwards across the Atlantic she was carrying 892 crew members and 1,320 passengers. This was only about half of her full passenger capacity of 2,435, as it was the low season and shipping from the UK had been disrupted by a coal miners' strike. Her passengers were a cross-section of Edwardian society, from millionaires such as John Jacob Astor and Benjamin Guggenheim, to poor emigrants from countries as disparate as Armenia, Ireland, Italy, Sweden, Syria and Russia seeking a new life in America.The ship was commanded by 62-year-old Captain Edward John Smith, the most senior of the White Star Line's captains. He had four decades of seafaring experience and had previously served as captain of Titanic's sister ship, RMS Olympic, from which he was transferred to command Titanic. The vast majority of the crew who served under him were not trained sailors, but were either engineers, firemen, or stokers, responsible for looking after the engines; or stewards and galley staff, responsible for the passengers. The 6 watch officers and 39 able-bodied seamen constituted only around 5 percent of the crew, and most of these had been taken on at Southampton so had not had time to familiarise themselves with the ship.
The ice conditions were attributed to a mild winter that caused large numbers of icebergs to shift off the west coast of Greenland. In addition, it is now known that in January 1912, the Moon came closer to the Earth than at any time in the previous 1,400 years, at the same time as the Earth made its closest annual approach to the Sun. This caused exceptionally high tides that may have resulted in a larger number of icebergs than usual reaching the shipping lanes a few months later. The weather improved significantly during the course of the day, from brisk winds and moderate seas in the morning to a crystal-clear calm by evening, as the ship entered an arctic high pressure system. There was no moon on the clear night.Just before the centenary of the sinking, Tim Maltin, an amateur historian, published a book of research, conducted with the aid of an academic expert, concluding that the weather conditions also favoured the creation of a mirage effect over the calm sea known as the Fata Morgana or cold water mirage optical phenomenon, and that this facilitated the tragedy. It theoretically would have limited the ability of the ship's lookouts to see an approaching iceberg, and the ability of observers on the nearby ship, the SS Californian, which could see the Titanic in the critical hours, to recognise the distress the Titanic was in due to the collision, and the ability of both ships to recognise the Morse signals they tried to send to each other. The scientific world has not weighed in on this new theory.
14 April 1912Edit
Iceberg warnings (09:00–23:39)EditDuring 14 April 1912, Titanic's radio operators received six messages from other ships warning of drifting ice, which passengers on Titanic had begun to notice during the afternoon. The ice conditions in the North Atlantic were the worst for any April in the previous 50 years (which was the reason why the lookouts were unaware that they were about to steam into a line of drifting ice several miles wide and many miles long). Not all of these messages were relayed by the radio operators.
The first warning came at 09:00 from RMS Caronia reporting "bergs, growlers and field ice". Captain Smith acknowledged receipt of the message. At 13:42, RMS Baltic relayed a report from the Greek ship Athenia that she had been "passing icebergs and large quantities of field ice". This too was acknowledged by Smith, who showed the report to J. Bruce Ismay, the chairman of the White Star Line, aboard Titanic for her maiden voyage. Smith ordered a new course to be set, to take the ship farther south.
At 13:45, the German ship SS Amerika, which was a short distance to the south, reported she had "passed two large icebergs". This message never reached Captain Smith or the other officers on Titanic's bridge. The reason is unclear, but it may have been forgotten because the radio operators had to fix faulty equipment.
SS Californian reported "three large bergs" at 19:30, and at 21:40, the steamer Mesaba reported: "Saw much heavy pack ice and great number large icebergs. Also field ice." This message, too, never left the Titanic's radio room. The radio operator, Jack Phillips, may have failed to grasp its significance because he was preoccupied with transmitting messages for passengers via the relay station at Cape Race, Newfoundland; the radio set had broken down the day before, resulting in a backlog of messages that the two operators were trying to clear. A final warning was received at 22:30 from operator Cyril Evans of the Californian, which had halted for the night in an ice field some miles away, but Phillips cut it off and signalled back: "Shut up! Shut up! I'm working Cape Race."
Although the crew was aware of ice in the vicinity, the ship's speed was not reduced, and she continued to steam at 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph), only 2 knots (3.7 km/h; 2.3 mph) short of her maximum speed of 24 knots (44 km/h; 28 mph). Titanic's high speed in waters where ice had been reported was later criticised as reckless, but it reflected standard maritime practice at the time. According to Fifth Officer Harold Lowe, the custom was "to go ahead and depend upon the lookouts in the crow's nest and the watch on the bridge to pick up the ice in time to avoid hitting it."
The North Atlantic liners prioritised time-keeping above all other considerations, sticking rigidly to a schedule that would guarantee their arrival at an advertised time. They were frequently driven at close to their full speed, treating hazard warnings as advisories rather than calls to action. It was widely believed that ice posed little risk; close calls were not uncommon, and even head-on collisions had not been disastrous. In 1907 SS Kronprinz Wilhelm, a German liner, had rammed an iceberg and suffered a crushed bow, but was still able to complete her voyage. That same year, Titanic's future captain, Edward Smith, declared in an interview that he could not "imagine any condition which would cause a ship to founder. Modern shipbuilding has gone beyond that."
"Iceberg, right ahead!" (23:39)Edit
Meeting with the icebergEdit
For more details on the missing binoculars, see David Blair (mariner).As Titanic approached her fatal crash, most passengers had gone to bed and command of the bridge had passed from Second Officer Charles Lightoller to First Officer William Murdoch. Lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee were occupying the crow's nest 29 metres (95 ft) above the deck. The air temperature had fallen to near freezing and the ocean was completely calm. Colonel Archibald Gracie, one of the survivors of the disaster, later wrote that "the sea was like glass, so smooth that the stars were clearly reflected." It is now known that such exceptionally calm water is a sign of nearby pack ice.
Although the air was clear, there was no moon, and with the sea so calm, there was nothing to give away the position of the nearby icebergs; had the sea been rougher, waves breaking against the icebergs would have made them more visible. Because of a mix-up at Southampton the lookouts had no binoculars; but reportedly binoculars would not have been effective in darkness which was total except for starlight and the ship's own lights. The lookouts were nonetheless well aware of the ice hazard, as Lightoller had ordered them and other crew members to "keep a sharp look-out for ice, particularly small ice and growlers".At 23:39, Fleet spotted an iceberg in Titanic's path. He rang the lookout bell three times and telephoned the bridge to inform Sixth Officer James Moody. Fleet asked "Is there anyone there?" Moody replied, Yes, what do you see?" Fleet replied: "Iceberg, right ahead!" After thanking Fleet, Moody relayed the message to Murdoch, who ordered Quartermaster Robert Hichens to change the ship's course. Murdoch is generally believed to have given the order "Hard a'starboard" which would result in the ship's tiller being moved all the way to starboard (the right side of the ship) in an attempt to turn the ship to port (left). He also rang "Full Astern" on the ship's telegraphs.
According to Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall, Murdoch told Captain Smith that he was attempting to "hard-a-port around [the iceberg]", suggesting that he was attempting a "port around" manoeuvre – to first swing the bow around the obstacle, then swing the stern so that both ends of the ship would avoid a collision. There was a delay before either order went into effect; the steam-powered steering mechanism took up to 30 seconds to turn the ship's tiller, and the complex task of setting the engines into reverse would also have taken some time to accomplish.Because the centre turbine could not be reversed, both it and the centre propeller, positioned directly in front of the ship's rudder, were simply stopped. This reduced the rudder's effectiveness, therefore impairing the turning ability of the ship. Had Murdoch simply turned the ship while maintaining her forward speed, Titanic might have missed the iceberg with feet to spare.
In the event, Titanic's heading changed just in time to avoid a head-on collision, but the change in direction caused the ship to strike the iceberg with a glancing blow. An underwater spur of ice scraped along the starboard side of the ship for about seven seconds; chunks of ice dislodged from upper parts of the berg fell onto her forward decks. A few minutes later, all of Titanic's engines were stopped, leaving the ship facing north and drifting in the Labrador Current.
Effects of the collisionEditThe impact with the iceberg was long thought to have produced a huge opening in Titanic's hull, "not less than 300 feet (91 m) in length, 10 feet (3.0 m) above the level of the keel", as one writer later put it. However, at the British enquiry following the accident, Edward Wilding (chief naval architect for Harland and Wolff), calculating on the basis of the observed flooding of forward compartments forty minutes after the collision, testified that the area of the hull opened to the sea was 'somewhere about 12 square feet'. He also stated that "I believe it must have been in places, not a continuous rip", but that the different openings must have extended along an area of around 300 feet, to account for the flooding in several compartments. However, the official findings of the enquiry simply state that the damage extended about 300 feet, and hence many subsequent writers followed this statement. Modern ultrasound surveys of the wreck have found that the damage consisted of six narrow openings in an area of the hull covering only about 12 to 13 square feet (1.1 to 1.2 m2) in total. According to Paul K. Matthias, who made the measurements, the damage consisted of a "series of deformations in the starboard side that start and stop along the hull ... about 10 feet [3.0 m] above the bottom of the ship.".
The gaps, the longest of which measures about 39 feet (12 m) long, appear to have followed the line of the hull plates. This suggests that the iron rivets along the plate seams snapped off or popped open to create narrow gaps through which water flooded. An engineer from Titanic's builders, Harland and Wolff, suggested this scenario at the British Wreck Commissioner's inquiry following the disaster but his view was discounted. Titanic's discoverer Robert Ballard has commented that the assumption that the ship had suffered a massive breach was "a byproduct of the mystique of the Titanic. No one could believe that the great ship was sunk by a little sliver." Faults in the ship's hull may have been a contributing factor. Recovered pieces of Titanic's hull plates appear to have shattered on impact with the iceberg, without bending.
The plates in the central 60% of the hull were held together with triple rows of mild steel rivets, but the plates in the bow and stern were held together with double rows of wrought iron rivets which were – according to material scientists Foecke and McCarty – near their stress limits even before the collision. These "Best" or No. 3 iron rivets had a high level of slag inclusions, making them more brittle than the more usual "Best-Best" No. 4 iron rivets, and more prone to snapping when put under stress, particularly in extreme cold. But Tom McCluskie, a retired archivist of Harland & Wolff, pointed out that Olympic, Titanic's sister ship, was riveted with the same iron and served without incident for nearly 25 years, surviving several major collisions, including being rammed by a British cruiser. The Olympic even rammed and sank the U-boat U-103 with her bow. Thereby, the stem was twisted and hull plates on the starboard side were buckled without impairing the hull's integrity.
Above the waterline, there was little evidence of the collision. The stewards in the first class dining room noticed a shudder, which they thought might have been caused by the ship shedding a propeller blade. Many of the passengers felt a bump or shudder but did not know what it was. Those on the lowest decks, nearest the site of the collision, felt it much more directly. Engine Oiler Walter Hurst recalled being "awakened by a grinding crash along the starboard side. No one was very much alarmed but knew we had struck something". Fireman George Kemish heard a "heavy thud and grinding tearing sound" from the starboard hull.
The ship began to flood immediately, with water pouring in at an estimated rate of 7 long tons (7.1 t) per second, fifteen times faster than it could be pumped out. Second Engineer J. H. Hesketh and Leading Stoker Frederick Barrett were hit by a jet of icy water in No. 6 boiler room and escaped just before the room's watertight door closed. This was an extremely dangerous situation for the engineering staff; the boilers were still full of hot high-pressure steam and there was a substantial risk that they would explode if they came into contact with the cold seawater flooding the boiler rooms. The stokers and firemen were ordered to reduce the fires and vent the boilers, sending great quantities of steam up the funnel venting pipes. They were waist-deep in freezing water by the time they finished their work.
Titanic's lower decks were divided into sixteen compartments. Each was separated from its neighbour by a bulkhead running the width of the ship; there were fifteen bulkheads in all. Every bulkhead extended at least to the underside of E Deck, nominally one deck, or about 11 feet (3.4 m), above the waterline. The two nearest the bow and the six nearest the stern went one deck further up.
Each bulkhead could be sealed by watertight doors. The engine rooms and boiler rooms on the tank top deck had vertically closing doors that could be controlled remotely from the bridge, lowered automatically by a float if water was present, or closed manually by the crew. These took about 30 seconds to close; warning bells and alternate escape routes were provided so that the crew would not be trapped by the doors. Above the tank top level, on the Orlop Deck, F Deck and E Deck, the doors closed horizontally and were manually operated. They could be closed at the door itself or from the deck above.
Although the watertight bulkheads extended well above the water line, they were not sealed at the top. If too many compartments were flooded, the ship's bow would settle deeper in the water, and water would spill from one compartment to the next in sequence, rather like water spilling across the top of an ice cube tray. This was what happened to Titanic, which had suffered damage to the forepeak tank, the three forward holds and No. 6 boiler room, a total of five compartments. Titanic was only designed to float with any two compartments flooded, but it could remain afloat with certain combinations of three or even four compartments (the first four) open to the ocean. With five compartments, however, the tops of the bulkheads would be submerged and the ship would continue to flood.
Captain Smith felt the collision in his cabin and came immediately to the bridge. Informed of the situation, he summoned Thomas Andrews, Titanic's builder, who was among a party of engineers from Harland and Wolff observing the ship's first passenger voyage. The ship was listing five degrees to starboard and was two degrees down by the head within only a few minutes of the collision. Smith and Andrews went below and found that the forward cargo holds, the mailroom and the squash court were flooded, while No. 6 boiler room was already filled to a depth of 14 feet (4.3 m). Water was spilling over into No. 5 boiler room, and crewmen there were battling to pump it out.
Within only 45 minutes of the collision, at least 13,500 long tons (13,700 t) of water had entered the ship. This was far too much for Titanic's ballast and bilge pumps to handle; the total pumping capacity of all the pumps combined was only 1,700 long tons (1,700 t) per hour. Seawater was pouring into Titanic 15 times faster than it could be pumped out. Andrews informed the captain that the ship was doomed and that she could remain afloat for no longer than about two hours.
From the time of the collision to the moment of her sinking, at least 35,000 long tons (36,000 t) of water flooded into Titanic, causing her displacement to nearly double from 48,300 long tons (49,100 t) to over 83,000 long tons (84,000 t). The flooding did not proceed at a constant pace, nor was it distributed evenly throughout the ship, due to the configuration of the flooded compartments. Her initial list to starboard was caused by asymmetrical flooding of the starboard side as water poured down a passageway at the bottom of the ship. When the passageway was fully flooded, the list corrected itself but the ship later began to list to port by up to 10° as that side also flooded asymmetrically.
Titanic's down angle altered fairly rapidly from 0° to about 4.5° during the first hour after the collision, but the rate at which the ship went down slowed greatly for the second hour, worsening only to about 5°. This gave many of those aboard a false sense of hope that the ship might stay afloat long enough for them to be rescued. By 1:30, however, the sinking rate of the front section increased until Titanic reached a down angle of about 10°.
15 April 1912Edit
Preparing to evacuate (00:05–00:45)Edit
At 00:05 on 15 April, Captain Smith ordered the ship's lifeboats uncovered and the passengers mustered. He also ordered the radio operators to begin sending distress calls, which wrongly placed the ship on the west side of the ice belt and directed rescuers to a position that turned out to be inaccurate by about 13.5 nautical miles (15.5 mi / 25 km). Below decks, water was pouring into the lowest levels of the ship. As the mail room flooded, the mail sorters made an ultimately futile attempt to save the 400,000 items of mail being carried aboard Titanic. Elsewhere, air could be heard being forced out by inrushing water. Above them, stewards went door to door, rousing sleeping passengers and crew – Titanic did not have a public address system – and told them to go to the Boat Deck.
The thoroughness of the muster was heavily dependent on the class of the passengers; the first-class stewards were in charge of only a few cabins, while those responsible for the second- and third-class passengers had to manage large numbers of people. The first-class stewards provided hands-on assistance, helping their charges to get dressed and bringing them out onto the deck. With far more people to deal with, the second- and third-class stewards mostly confined their efforts to throwing open doors and telling passengers to put on lifebelts and come up top. In third class, passengers were largely left to their own devices after being informed of the need to come on deck.
Many passengers and crew were reluctant to comply, either refusing to believe that there was a problem or preferring the warmth of the ship's interior to the bitterly cold night air. The passengers were not told that the ship was sinking, though a few noticed that she was listing. Around 00:15, the stewards began ordering the passengers to put on their lifebelts, though again, many passengers took the order as a joke. Some set about playing an impromptu game of football (soccer) with the ice chunks that were now strewn across the foredeck.
It was difficult to hear over the noise of high-pressure steam being vented from the boilers. Lawrence Beesley described the sound as "a harsh, deafening boom that made conversation difficult; if one imagines 20 locomotives blowing off steam in a low key it would give some idea of the unpleasant sound that met us as we climbed out on the top deck." The noise was so loud that the crew had to use hand signals to communicate on the deck.
Captain Smith was faced with the fact that there were too few lifeboats to save everyone on board. Titanic had a total of 20 lifeboats, comprising 16 wooden boats on davits, 8 on either side of the ship, and 4 collapsible boats with wooden bottoms and canvas sides. The collapsibles were stored upside down with the sides folded in, and would have to be erected and moved to the davits for launching. Two were stored under the wooden boats and the other two were lashed atop the officers' quarters.The position of the latter would make them extremely difficult to launch, as they weighed several tons each and had to be manhandled down to the boat deck.
On average, the lifeboats could take up to 68 people each, and collectively they could accommodate 1,178 – barely half the number of people on board and only a third of the number the ship was licensed to carry. The shortage of lifeboats was not because of a lack of space nor because of cost. Titanic had been designed to accommodate up to 68 lifeboats – enough for everyone on board – and the price of an extra 32 lifeboats would only have been some $16,000, a tiny fraction of the $7.5 million that the company had spent on Titanic. The White Star Line had, rather, wished to have a wide promenade deck with uninterrupted views of the sea, which would have been obstructed by a continuous row of lifeboats.
The company never envisaged that all of the crew and passengers would have to be evacuated at once, as Titanic was considered almost unsinkable. The lifeboats were instead intended to be used in the event of an emergency to transfer passengers off the ship and onto a nearby vessel providing assistance. It was commonplace for liners to have far fewer lifeboats than needed to accommodate all their passengers and crew, and Titanic had more lifeboats than the outdated British regulations required. Out of 39 British liners of the time of over 10,000 long tons (10,000 t), 33 had too few lifeboat places to accommodate everyone on board.Captain Smith was an experienced sailor who had served for 40 years at sea, with 27 years in command. He would certainly have known that even if all of the boats were fully occupied, a thousand people would remain on the ship as she went down. As Smith began to grasp the enormity of what was about to happen, he appeared to have become paralysed by indecision. He did not issue a general call for evacuation, failed to order his officers to load the lifeboats, did not adequately organise the crew, withheld crucial information from his officers and crewmen, and gave sometimes ambiguous and impractical orders. Even some of his bridge officers were unaware for some time after the collision that the ship was sinking; Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall did not find out until 01:15, barely an hour before the ship went down, while Quartermaster George Rowe was so unaware of the emergency that after the evacuation had started, he phoned the bridge from his watch station to ask why he had just seen a lifeboat go past. Smith did not advise his officers that the ship did not have enough lifeboats to save everyone. He did not supervise the loading of the lifeboats and seemingly made no effort to find out if his orders were being followed.
The crew was likewise unprepared for the emergency, as lifeboat training had been minimal. Only one lifeboat drill had been conducted while the ship was docked. It was a cursory effort, consisting of two boats being lowered, each manned by one officer and four men who merely rowed around the dock for a few minutes before returning to the ship. The boats were supposed to be stocked with emergency supplies but Titanic's passengers later found that they had only been partially provisioned. No lifeboat or fire drills had been conducted since Titanic left Southampton. A lifeboat drill had been scheduled for the Sunday morning before the ship sank, but was cancelled for unknown reasons by Captain Smith.
Lists had been posted on the ship assigning crew members to specific lifeboat stations, but few appeared to have read them or to have known what they were supposed to do. Most of the crew were, in any case, not seamen, and even some of those had no prior experience of rowing a boat. They were now faced with the complex task of coordinating the lowering of 20 boats carrying a possible total of 1,100 people 70 feet (21 m) down the sides of the ship. Thomas E. Bonsall, a historian of the disaster, has commented that the evacuation was so badly organised that "even if they had the number [of] lifeboats they needed, it is impossible to see how they could have launched them" given the lack of time and poor leadership.
By about 00:20, 40 minutes after the collision, the loading of the lifeboats was under way, though it was perhaps symptomatic of Captain Smith's apparent indecisiveness that it was at the suggestion of Second Officer Lightoller. As the latter recalled afterwards, "I yelled at the top of my voice, 'Hadn't we better get the women and children into the boats, sir?' He heard me and nodded reply." Smith ordered Lightoller to put the "women and children in and lower away". Lightoller took charge of the boats on the port side while Murdoch took those on the starboard side. The two officers interpreted the evacuation order differently; Murdoch took it to mean women and children first while Lightoller took it to mean women and children only. Lightoller lowered lifeboats with empty seats if there were no women and children waiting to board, while Murdoch allowed a limited number of men to board if all the nearby women and children had embarked. Neither officer knew how many people could safely be carried in the boats as they were lowered and erred on the side of caution by not filling them. They could have been lowered quite safely with their full complement of 68 people. Had this been done, an extra 500 people could have been saved; instead, hundreds of people, predominantly men, were left on board as lifeboats were launched with many seats vacant.
Few passengers at first were willing to board the lifeboats and the officers in charge of the evacuation found it difficult to persuade them. The millionaire John Jacob Astor declared: "We are safer here than in that little boat." Some passengers refused flatly to embark. J. Bruce Ismay, realising the need for urgency, roamed the starboard deck and urged passengers and crew to evacuate. A trickle of women, couples and single men were persuaded to board starboard lifeboat No. 7, which became the first lifeboat to be lowered.
Departure of the lifeboats (00:45–02:05)EditFurther information: Lifeboats of the RMS TitanicAt 00:45 lifeboat No. 7 was rowed away from Titanic with 28 passengers on board (despite a capacity of 65). Lifeboat No. 6, on the port side, was the next to be lowered at 00:55. It also had 28 people on board, among them the "unsinkable" Margaret "Molly" Brown. Lightoller realised there was only one seaman on board and called for volunteers. Major Arthur Godfrey Peuchen of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club stepped forward and climbed down a rope into the lifeboat; he was the only male passenger whom Lightoller allowed to board during the port side evacuation. Peuchen's role highlighted a key problem during the evacuation: there were hardly any seamen to man the boats. Some had been sent below to open gangway doors to allow more passengers to be evacuated, but they never returned. They were presumably trapped and drowned by the rising water below decks.
Meanwhile, other crewmen fought for their lives as water continued to pour into the ship below decks. The engineers and firemen worked to vent steam from the boilers to prevent them from exploding on contact with the cold water. They set up extra pumps in the forward compartments in a futile bid to reduce the torrent, and kept the electrical generators running to maintain lights and power throughout the ship. Steward F. Dent Ray narrowly avoided being swept away when a wooden wall between his quarters and the third-class accommodation on E deck collapsed, leaving him waist-deep in water. Two engineers died in boiler room No. 5 when, at around 00:45, the bunker door separating it from the flooded No. 6 boiler room collapsed and they were swept away by "a wave of green foam".
In boiler room No. 4, at around 01:20, water began flooding in from below, possibly indicating that the bottom of the ship had also been holed by the iceberg. The flow of water soon overwhelmed the pumps and forced the firemen and trimmers to evacuate the forward boiler rooms. Further aft, Chief Engineer William Bell, his engineering colleagues, and a handful of volunteer firemen and greasers stayed behind in the unflooded No. 1, 2 and 3 boiler rooms and in the turbine and reciprocating engine rooms. They continued working on the boilers and the electrical generators in order to keep the ship's lights on and to power the radio so that distress signals could be sent. They apparently remained at their posts until the very end, thus ensuring that Titanic remained lit until the final minutes of the sinking. None of the ship's 35 engineers and electricians survived. Neither did any of the Titanic's five postal clerks, who were last seen struggling to save the mail bags they had rescued from the flooded mail room. They were caught by the rising water somewhere on D deck.
Many of the third-class passengers were also confronted with the sight of water pouring into their quarters on E, F and G decks. Carl Jansson, one of the relatively small number of third-class survivors, later recalled:
- Then I run down to my cabin to bring my other clothes, watch and bag but only had time to take the watch and coat when water with enormous force came into the cabin and I had to rush up to the deck again where I found my friends standing with lifebelts on and with terror painted on their faces. What should I do now, with no lifebelt and no shoes and no cap?
The lifeboats were lowered every few minutes on each side, but most of the boats were greatly under-filled. No. 5 left with 41 aboard, No. 3 had 32 aboard, No. 8 left with 39 and No. 1 left with just 12 out of a capacity of 40. The evacuation did not go smoothly and passengers suffered accidents and injuries as it progressed. One woman fell between lifeboat No. 10 and the side of the ship but someone caught her by the ankle and hauled her back onto the promenade deck, where she made a second successful attempt at boarding. First-class passenger Annie Stengel broke several ribs when an overweight German-American doctor and his brother jumped into No. 5, squashing her and knocking her unconscious. The lifeboats' descent was likewise risky. No. 6 was nearly flooded during the descent by water discharging out of the ship's side, but successfully made it away from the ship. No. 3 came close to disaster when, for a time, one of the davits jammed, threatening to pitch the passengers out of the lifeboat and into the sea.
By 01:20, the seriousness of the situation was now apparent to the passengers above decks, who began saying their goodbyes, with husbands escorting their wives and children to the lifeboats. Distress rockets were fired every few minutes to attract the attention of any ships nearby and the radio operators repeatedly sent the distress signal CQD. Radio operator Harold Bride suggested to his colleague Jack Phillips that he should use the new SOS signal, as it "may be your last chance to send it". The two radio operators contacted other ships to ask for assistance. Several responded, of which RMS Carpathia was the closest, at 58 miles (93 km) away. She was a much slower vessel than Titanic and, even driven at her maximum speed of 17 kn (20 mph; 31 km/h), would have taken four hours to reach the sinking ship.Much nearer was the SS Californian, which had warned Titanic of ice a few hours earlier. Apprehensive at his ship being caught in a large field of drift ice, the Californian's captain, Stanley Lord, had decided at about 22:00 to halt for the night and wait for daylight to find a way through the ice field. At 23:30, only 10 minutes before Titanic hit the iceberg, Californian's sole radio operator, Cyril Evans, shut his set down for the night and went to bed. On the bridge her Third Officer, Charles Groves, saw a large vessel to starboard around 10 to 12 mi (16 to 19 km) away. It made a sudden turn to port and stopped. If the radio operator of the Californian had stayed at his post fifteen minutes longer, hundreds of lives might have been saved. A little over an hour later, Second Officer Herbert Stone saw five white rockets exploding above the stopped ship. Unsure what the rockets meant, he called Captain Lord, who was resting in the chartroom, and reported the sighting. Lord did not act on the report, but Stone was perturbed: "A ship is not going to fire rockets at sea for nothing," he told a colleague.
By this time, it was clear to those on Titanic that the ship was indeed sinking and there would not be enough lifeboat places for everyone. Some still clung to the hope that the worst would not happen: Lucien Smith told his wife, "It is only a matter of form to have women and children first. The ship is thoroughly equipped and everyone on her will be saved." Charlotte Colyer's husband Harvey called to his wife as she was put in a lifeboat, "Go, Lottie! For God's sake, be brave and go! I'll get a seat in another boat!"
Other couples refused to be separated. Ida Straus, the wife of Macy's department store co-owner Isidor Straus, told her husband: "We have been living together for many years. Where you go, I go." They sat down in a pair of deck chairs and waited for the end. The industrialist Benjamin Guggenheim changed out of his life vest and sweater into top hat and evening dress, and declared his wish to go down with the ship like a gentleman.At this point, the vast majority of passengers who had boarded lifeboats were from first- and second-class. Few third-class (steerage) passengers had made it up onto the deck, and most were still lost in the maze of corridors or trapped behind barriers and partitions that segregated the accommodation for the steerage passengers from the first- and second-class areas. This segregation was not simply for social reasons, but was a requirement of United States immigration laws, which mandated that third-class passengers be segregated to control immigration and to prevent the spread of infectious diseases. First- and second-class passengers on transatlantic liners disembarked at the main piers on Manhattan Island, but steerage passengers had to go through health checks and processing at Ellis Island. In at least some places, Titanic's crew appear to have actively hindered the steerage passengers' escape. Some of the barriers were locked and guarded by crew members, apparently to prevent the steerage passengers from rushing the lifeboats. Irish survivor Margaret Murphy wrote in May 1912:
Before all the steerage passengers had even a chance of their lives, the Titanic's sailors fastened the doors and companionways leading up from the third-class section ... A crowd of men was trying to get up to a higher deck and were fighting the sailors; all striking and scuffling and swearing. Women and some children were there praying and crying. Then the sailors fastened down the hatchways leading to the third-class section. They said they wanted to keep the air down there so the vessel could stay up longer. It meant all hope was gone for those still down there. A long and winding route had to be taken to reach topside; the steerage-class accommodation, located on C through G decks, was at the extreme ends of the decks, and so was furthest away from the lifeboats. By contrast, the first-class accommodation was located on the upper decks and so was nearest. Proximity to the lifeboats thus became a key factor in determining who got in them. To add to the difficulty, many of the steerage passengers did not understand or speak English. It was perhaps no coincidence that English-speaking Irish immigrants were disproportionately represented among the steerage passengers who survived. Many of those who did survive owed their lives to third-class steward John Edward Hart, who organised three trips into the ship's interior to escort groups of third-class passengers up to the boat deck. Others made their way through open barriers or climbed emergency ladders.
Some, perhaps overwhelmed by it all, made no attempt to escape and stayed in their cabins or congregated in prayer in the third-class dining room. Leading Fireman Charles Hendrickson saw crowds of third-class passengers below decks with their trunks and possessions, as if waiting for someone to direct them. Psychologist Wynn Craig Wade attributes this to "stoic passivity" produced by generations of being told what to do by social superiors. August Wennerström, one of the male steerage passengers to survive, commented later that many of his companions had made no effort to save themselves. He wrote:
Hundreds were in a circle [in the third-class dining saloon] with a preacher in the middle, praying, crying, asking God and Mary to help them. They lay there and yelled, never lifting a hand to help themselves. They had lost their own will power and expected God to do all the work for them.
Launching of the last lifeboatsEdit
By 01:30, Titanic's downward angle in the water was increasing and the ship was now listing slightly more to port, but not more than 5 degrees. The deteriorating situation was reflected in the messages sent from the ship, which carried a tone of increasing desperation: "We are putting the women off in the boats" at 01:25, "Engine room getting flooded" at 01:35, and at 01:45, "Engine room full up to boilers." This was Titanic's last intelligible signal, sent as the ship's electrical system began to fail; subsequent messages were jumbled and broken. The two radio operators nonetheless continued sending out distress messages almost to the very end.
The remaining boats were filled much closer to capacity and in an increasing rush. No. 11 was filled with five people more than its rated capacity. As it was lowered, it was nearly flooded by water being pumped out of the ship, but made it safely to the sea. No. 13 narrowly avoided the same problem but those aboard were unable to release the ropes from which the boat had been lowered. It drifted astern, directly under No. 15 as it was being lowered. The ropes were cut in time and both boats made it away safely.The first signs of panic were seen when a group of passengers attempted to rush port-side lifeboat No. 14 as it was being lowered with 40 people aboard. Fifth Officer Lowe in charge of the boat fired three warning shots in the air to control the crowd, without causing injuries. No. 16 was lowered five minutes later. Among those aboard was stewardess Violet Jessop, who would repeat the experience four years later when she survived the sinking of one of Titanic's sister ships, Britannic, in the First World War. Collapsible boat C was launched at 01:40 from a now largely deserted area of the deck, as most of those on deck had moved to the stern of the ship. It was aboard this boat that J. Bruce Ismay, Titanic's most controversial survivor, made his escape from the ship, an act later condemned as cowardice.
At 01:45, lifeboat No. 2 was lowered. While it was still at deck level, Lightoller had found the boat occupied by a number of men who, he wrote later, "weren't British, nor of the English-speaking race ... [but of] the broad category known to sailors as 'dagoes'." After he evicted them by threatening them with his revolver, he was unable to find enough women and children to fill the boat and lowered it with only 25 people on board out of a possible capacity of 40. John Jacob Astor saw his wife off to safety in No. 4 boat at 01:55 but was refused entry by Lightoller, even though 20 of the 60 seats aboard were unoccupied.
The last boat to be launched was collapsible D, which left at 02:05 with only 25 people aboard; two more men jumped on the boat as it was being lowered. The sea had reached the boat deck and the forecastle was deep underwater. First class passenger Edith Evans gave up her place in the boat, and ultimately died in the disaster. She was one of only four women in first class to perish in the sinking. Captain Smith carried out a final tour of the deck, telling the radio operators and other crew members: "Now it's every man for himself."
As passengers and crew headed to the stern, where Father Thomas Byles was giving absolutions and hearing confessions, Titanic's band continued to play outside the gymnasium. Part of the enduring folklore of the Titanic sinking is that the band played the hymn "Nearer, My God, to Thee" as the ship sank, but this appears to be dubious. The claim surfaced among the earliest reports of the sinking, and the hymn became so closely associated with the Titanic disaster that its opening bars were carved on the grave monument of Titanic's bandmaster, Wallace Hartley, one of those who perished. Violet Jessop said in her 1934 account of the disaster that she had heard the hymn being played. In contrast, Archibald Gracie emphatically denied it in his own account, written soon after the sinking, and Radio Operator Harold Bride said that he had heard "Autumn", by which he may have meant Archibald Joyce's then-popular waltz "Songe d'Automne" (Autumn Dream). George Orrell, the bandmaster of the rescue ship, Carpathia, who spoke with survivors, related: "The ship's band in any emergency is expected to play to calm the passengers. After Titanic struck the iceberg the band began to play bright music, dance music, comic songs – anything that would prevent the passengers from becoming panic-stricken ... various awe-stricken passengers began to think of the death that faced them and asked the bandmaster to play hymns. The one which appealed to all was 'Nearer My God to Thee'." According to Gracie, who was near the band until that section of deck went under, the tunes played by the band were "cheerful" but that he didn't recognise any of them, claiming that if they had played ‘Nearer, My God, to Thee’ as claimed in the newspaper "I assuredly should have noticed it and regarded it as a tactless warning of immediate death to us all and one likely to create panic."
Bride heard the band as he left the radio cabin, which was by now awash, in the company of the other radio operator, Jack Phillips. He had just had a fight with a man who Bride thought was "a stoker, or someone from below decks", who had attempted to steal Phillips' lifebelt. Bride wrote later: "I did my duty. I hope I finished [the man]. I don't know. We left him on the cabin floor of the radio room, and he was not moving." The two radio operators went in opposite directions, Phillips aft and Bride forward towards collapsible lifeboat B.
Archibald Gracie was also heading aft, but as he made his way towards the stern he found his path blocked by "a mass of humanity several lines deep, covering the boat deck, facing us" – hundreds of steerage passengers, who had finally made it to the deck just as the last lifeboats departed. He gave up on the idea of going aft and jumped into the water to get away from the crowd. Others made no attempt to escape. The ship's designer, Thomas Andrews, was last seen in the first-class smoking room, without a lifebelt, staring at the painting above the fireplace. Captain Smith's fate is unclear, but he was reportedly seen in the wheelhouse on the bridge as the ship went down, though Bride saw him jump in the water from the bridge.
Last minutes of sinking (02:15–02:20)EditAt about 02:15, Titanic's angle in the water began to increase rapidly as water poured into previously unflooded parts of the ship through deck hatches. Her suddenly increasing angle caused what one survivor called a "giant wave" to wash along the ship from the forward end of the boat deck, sweeping many people into the sea. The parties who were trying to lower collapsible boats A and B, including Chief Officer Henry Wilde, First Officer Murdoch, Second Officer Charles Lightoller and Colonel Archibald Gracie, were swept away along with the two boat (boat B floated away upside-down with Harold Bride trapped underneath it, and boat A ended up partly flooded and with its canvas not raised). Bride, Gracie and Lightoller made it onto boat B, but Murdoch and Wilde perished in the water. Lightoller opted to abandon his post to escape the growing crowds, and dived into the water from near the bridge. He was sucked into the mouth of a ventilation shaft but was blown clear by "a terrific blast of hot air" and emerged next to the capsized lifeboat. The forward funnel collapsed under its own weight, crushing several people as it fell into the water and only narrowly missing the lifeboat. It closely missed Lightoller and created a wave that washed the boat 50 yards (46 m) clear of the sinking ship. Those still on Titanic felt her structure shuddering as it underwent immense stresses. As first-class passenger Jack Thayer described it:
Occasionally there had been a muffled thud or deadened explosion within the ship. Now, without warning she seemed to start forward, moving forward and into the water at an angle of about fifteen degrees. This movement with the water rushing up toward us was accompanied by a rumbling roar, mixed with more muffled explosions. It was like standing under a steel railway bridge while an express train passes overhead mingled with the noise of a pressed steel factory and wholesale breakage of china. Eyewitnesses saw Titanic's stern lifting high into the air as the ship tilted down in the water. It was said to have reached an angle of 30–45 degrees, "revolving apparently around a centre of gravity just astern of midships," as Lawrence Beesley later put it. Many survivors described a great noise, which some attributed to the boilers exploding. Beesley described it as "partly a groan, partly a rattle, and partly a smash, and it was not a sudden roar as an explosion would be: it went on successively for some seconds, possibly fifteen to twenty". He attributed it to "the engines and machinery coming loose from their bolts and bearings, and falling through the compartments, smashing everything in their way".
After another minute, the ship's lights flickered once and then permanently went out, plunging Titanic into darkness. Jack Thayer recalled seeing "groups of the fifteen hundred people still aboard, clinging in clusters or bunches, like swarming bees; only to fall in masses, pairs or singly as the great afterpart of the ship, two hundred fifty feet of it, rose into the sky." Titanic was subjected to extreme opposing forces – the flooded bow pulling her down while the air in the stern kept her to the surface – which were concentrated at one of the weakest points in the structure, the area of the engine room hatch. Shortly after the lights went out, the ship split apart. The submerged bow may have remained attached to the stern by the keel for a short time, pulling the stern to a high angle before separating and leaving the stern to float for a few minutes longer. The forward part of the stern would have flooded very rapidly, causing it to tilt until it reached its final near-vertical position. The stern began to settle back before rising again to a nearly vertical 90 degree angle, where it remained for a few moments. Thayer reported that it rotated on the surface, "gradually [turning] her deck away from us, as though to hide from our sight the awful spectacle ... Then, with the deadened noise of the bursting of her last few gallant bulkheads, she slid quietly away from us into the sea."
Titanic's surviving officers and a number of prominent survivors later testified that the ship had sunk in one piece, a belief that was affirmed by the British and American inquiries into the disaster. Archibald Gracie, who was on the promenade deck with the band (by the second funnel), stated that "Titanic's decks were intact at the time she sank, and when I sank with her, there was over seven-sixteenths of the ship already under water, and there was no indication then of any impending break of the deck or ship". However, Ballard argued that many other survivors' accounts indicated that the ship had broken in two as it was sinking. As the engines are now known to have stayed in place along with most of the boilers, the "great noise" heard by witnesses and the momentary settling of the stern were presumably caused by the break-up of the ship rather than the loosening of her fittings or boiler explosions.
After they went under, the bow and stern took only a few minutes to sink 3,795 metres (12,451 ft), spilling a trail of heavy machinery, tons of coal and large quantities of debris from Titanic's interior. The two parts of the ship landed about 600 metres (2,000 ft) apart on a gently undulating area of the seabed. The streamlined bow section continued to descend at about the angle it had taken on the surface, striking the seabed prow-first at a shallow angle at an estimated speed of 25–30 mph (40–48 km/h). Its momentum caused it to dig a deep gouge into the seabed and buried the section up to 20 metres (66 ft) deep in sediment before it came to an abrupt halt. The sudden deceleration caused the bow's structure to buckle downwards by several degrees just forward of the bridge. The decks at the rear end of the bow section, which had already been weakened during the break-up, collapsed one atop another.
The stern section seems to have descended almost vertically, probably rotating as it fell. Empty tanks and cofferdams imploded as it descended, tearing open the structure and ripping off the poop deck. The section landed with such force that it buried itself about 15 metres (49 ft) deep at the rudder. The decks pancaked down on top of each other and the hull plating splayed out to the sides. Debris continued to rain down across the seabed for several hours after the sinking.
Passengers and crew in the water (02:20–04:10)Edit
In the immediate aftermath of the sinking, hundreds of passengers and crew were left dying in the icy sea, surrounded by debris from the ship. Titanic's disintegration during her descent to the seabed caused buoyant chunks of debris – timber beams, wooden doors, furniture, panelling and chunks of cork from the bulkheads – to rocket to the surface. These injured and possibly killed some of the swimmers; others used the debris to try to keep themselves afloat.
The water was lethally cold, with a temperature of 28 °F (−2 °C). Second Officer Lightoller described the feeling of "a thousand knives" being driven into his body as he entered the sea. Some of those in the water would have died almost instantly from heart attacks caused by the sudden stress on their cardiovascular systems. Others progressed through the classic symptoms of hypothermia: extreme shivering at first, followed by a slowing and weakening pulse as body temperature dropped, before finally losing consciousness and dying.
Those in the lifeboats were horrified to hear the sound of what Lawrence Beesley called "every possible emotion of human fear, despair, agony, fierce resentment and blind anger mingled – I am certain of those – with notes of infinite surprise, as though each one were saying, 'How is it possible that this awful thing is happening to me? That I should be caught in this death trap?'" Jack Thayer compared it to the sound of "locusts on a summer night", while George Rheims, who jumped moments before Titanic sank, described it as "a dismal moaning sound which I won't ever forget; it came from those poor people who were floating around, calling for help. It was horrifying, mysterious, supernatural."
The noise of the people in the water screaming, yelling, and crying was a tremendous shock to the occupants of the lifeboats, many of whom had up to that moment believed that everyone had escaped before the ship sank. As Beesley later wrote, the cries "came as a thunderbolt, unexpected, inconceivable, incredible. No one in any of the boats standing off a few hundred yards away can have escaped the paralysing shock of knowing that so short a distance away a tragedy, unbelievable in its magnitude, was being enacted, which we, helpless, could in no way avert or diminish."
Only a few of those in the water survived. Among them were Archibald Gracie, Jack Thayer and Charles Lightoller, who made it to the capsized collapsible boat B. Collapsible B originally had around 12 crew on board who rescued those they could until some 35 men were clinging precariously to the upturned hull. Realising the risk to the boat of being swamped by the mass of swimmers around them, they paddled slowly away, ignoring the pleas of dozens of swimmers to be allowed on board. In his account, Gracie wrote of the admiration he had for those in the water; "In no instance, I am happy to say, did I hear any word of rebuke from a swimmer because of a refusal to grant assistance... [one refusal] was met with the manly voice of a powerful man... 'All right boys, good luck and God bless you'." Several other swimmers reached Collapsible boat A, which was upright but partly flooded, as its sides had not been properly raised. Its occupants (estimated to be between less than twenty and more than thirty) had to sit for hours in a foot of freezing water, and many died of hypothermia during the night.
Farther out, the other eighteen lifeboats – most of which had empty seats – drifted as the occupants debated what, if anything, they should do to rescue the swimmers. No. 4 boat, having remained near the sinking ship, seems to have been closest to the site of the sinking at around 50 metres away; this enabled two people to swim over and be picked up before the ship sank (a third jumped on board the boat). Six or seven more men were pulled from the water after the sinking, though two later died. Collapsible D rescued one male passenger who jumped in the water and swam over to the boat immediately after it had been lowered. In all of the other boats, the occupants eventually decided against returning, probably out of fear that they would be capsized in the attempt. Some put their objections more bluntly; Quartermaster Hichens, commanding lifeboat No. 6, told the women aboard his boat that there was no point returning as there were "only a lot of stiffs there."
After about twenty minutes, the cries began to fade as the swimmers lapsed into unconsciousness and death. Fifth Officer Lowe, in charge of No. 14 lifeboat, "waited until the yells and shrieks had subsided for the people to thin out" before mounting the night's sole attempt to rescue those in the water. He gathered together five of the lifeboats and transferred the occupants between them to free up space in No. 14. Lowe then took a crew of seven crewmen and one male passenger who volunteered to help, and then rowed back to the site of the sinking. The whole operation took about three-quarters of an hour. By the time No. 14 headed back to the site of the sinking, almost all of those in the water were already dead and only a few voices could still be heard.
Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, recalled after the disaster that "the very last cry was that of a man who had been calling loudly: 'My God! My God!' He cried monotonously, in a dull, hopeless way. For an entire hour there had been an awful chorus of shrieks, gradually dying into a hopeless moan, until this last cry that I speak of. Then all was silent." Lowe and his crew found four men still alive, one of whom died shortly afterwards. Otherwise all they could see were "hundreds of bodies and lifebelts"; the dead "seemed as if they had perished with the cold as their limbs were all cramped up."
In the other boats, there was nothing the survivors could do but await the arrival of rescue ships. The air was bitterly cold and several of the boats had taken on water. The survivors could not find any food or drinkable water in the boats, and most had no lights. The situation was particularly bad aboard collapsible B, which was only kept afloat by a diminishing air pocket in the upturned hull. As dawn approached, the wind rose and the sea became increasingly choppy, forcing those on the collapsible boat to stand up to balance it. Some, exhausted by the ordeal, fell off into the sea and were drowned. It became steadily harder for the rest to keep their balance on the hull, with waves washing across it. Archibald Gracie later wrote of how he and the other survivors sitting on the upturned hull were struck by "the utter helplessness of our position." Some swimmers who had reached collapsible A had not strength enough to come aboard, and had to cling to the boat's sides. The bodies of the majority of the people who died during the night were lowered into the sea to make more room for the survivors.
Rescue and departure (04:10–09:15)Edit
Titanic's survivors were finally rescued around 04:00 on 15 April by the RMS Carpathia, which had steamed through the night at high speed and at considerable risk, as the ship had to dodge numerous icebergs en route. Carpathia's lights were first spotted around 03:30, which greatly cheered the survivors, though it took several more hours for everyone to be brought aboard. The 30 or more men on collapsible B finally managed to board two other lifeboats, but one survivor died just before the transfer was made. Collapsible A was also in trouble and was now nearly awash; many of those aboard (maybe more than a half) had died overnight. The remaining survivors – an unknown number of men, estimated to be between 10–11 and more than 20, and one woman – were transferred from A into another lifeboat, leaving behind three bodies in the boat, which was left to drift away. It was recovered a month later by the White Star liner Oceanic, with the bodies still aboard.
Those on Carpathia were startled by the scene that greeted them as the sun came up: "fields of ice on which, like points on the landscape, rested innumerable pyramids of ice." Captain Arthur Rostron of Carpathia saw ice all around, including 20 large bergs measuring up to 200 feet (61 m) high and numerous smaller bergs, as well as ice floes and debris from Titanic. It appeared to Carpathia's passengers that their ship was in the middle of a vast white plain of ice, studded with icebergs appearing like hills in the distance.
As the lifeboats were brought alongside Carpathia, the survivors came aboard the ship by various means. Some were strong enough to climb up rope ladders; others were hoisted up in slings, and the children were hoisted in mail sacks. The last lifeboat to reach the ship was Lightoller's boat No. 12, with 74 people aboard a boat designed to carry 65. They were all on Carpathia by 09:00. There were some scenes of joy as some families and friends were reunited, but in most cases hopes died as loved ones failed to reappear.
At 09:15, two more ships appeared on the scene – Mount Temple and Californian, which had finally learned of the disaster when her radio operator returned to duty – but by then there were no more survivors to be rescued. Carpathia had been bound for Fiume, Austria-Hungary, (now Rijeka, Croatia) but as she had neither the stores nor the medical facilities to cater for the survivors, Rostron ordered that a course be calculated to return the ship to New York, where the survivors could be properly looked after. Carpathia departed the area, leaving the other ships to carry out a final, fruitless, two-hour search.
Further information: Changes in safety practices after the sinking of the RMS Titanic and RMS Titanic in popular cultureCarpathia arrived at Pier 34 in New York on the evening of 18 April after a difficult voyage through pack ice, fog, thunderstorms and rough seas. Some 40,000 people stood on the waterfront, alerted to the disaster by a stream of radio messages from Carpathia and other ships. Due to communications difficulties, it was only after Carpathia docked – a full three days after Titanic's sinking – that the full scope of the disaster became public knowledge. The heaviest loss was in Southampton, home to most of the crew; 699 members of the crew gave Southampton addresses, and 549 Southampton residents, almost all crew, were lost in the disaster.
Even before Carpathia arrived in New York, efforts were getting underway to retrieve the dead. Four ships chartered by the White Star Line succeeded in retrieving 328 bodies; 119 were buried at sea, while the remaining 209 were brought ashore to the Canadian port of Halifax, Nova Scotia, where 150 of them were buried. Memorials were raised in various places – New York, Washington, Southampton, Liverpool, Belfast and Lichfield, among others – and ceremonies were held on both sides of the Atlantic to commemorate the dead and raise funds to aid the survivors. The bodies of most of Titanic's victims were never recovered, and the only evidence of their deaths was found 73 years later among the debris on the seabed: pairs of shoes lying side by side, where bodies had once lain before eventually decomposing in the sea waters.
The prevailing public reaction to the disaster was one of shock and outrage, directed against a number of issues and people: why were there so few lifeboats? Why had Ismay saved his own life when so many others died? Why did Titanic proceed into the icefield at full speed? The outrage was driven not least by the survivors themselves; even while they were aboard Carpathia on their way to New York, Beesley and other survivors determined to "awaken public opinion to safeguard ocean travel in the future" and wrote a public letter to The Times urging changes to maritime safety.
In places closely associated with Titanic, there was a deep sense of grief. Crowds of weeping women, the wives, sisters and mothers of crew members, gathered outside the White Star Line's offices in Southampton to find out what had happened to their loved ones – most of whom had perished. Churches in Belfast were packed and shipyard workers wept in the streets after the news was announced. The ship had been a symbol of Belfast's industrial achievements and there was not only a sense of grief but also of guilt, as those who had built Titanic came to feel that they had in some way been responsible for her loss. In the aftermath of the sinking, public inquiries were set up in Britain and the United States. The US inquiry began on 19 April under the chairmanship of Senator William Alden Smith, while the British inquiry commenced in London under Lord Mersey on 2 May 1912. They reached broadly similar conclusions: the regulations on the number of lifeboats that ships had to carry were out of date and inadequate; Captain Smith had failed to take proper heed of ice warnings; the lifeboats had not been properly filled or crewed; and the collision was the direct result of steaming into a danger area at too high a speed. Captain Lord of the Californian was strongly criticised by both inquiries for failing to render assistance to Titanic.
The disaster led to major changes in maritime regulations to implement new safety measures, such as ensuring that more lifeboats were provided, that lifeboat drills were properly carried out and that radio equipment on passenger ships was manned around the clock. An International Ice Patrol was set up to monitor the presence of icebergs in the North Atlantic, and maritime safety regulations were harmonised internationally through the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS); both measures are still in force today.
Titanic's sinking became a cultural phenomenon, commemorated by numerous artists, film-makers, writers, composers, musicians and dancers from the time immediately after the sinking to the present day. On 1 September 1985 a joint US-French expedition led by Robert Ballard found the wreck of Titanic, and the ship's rediscovery led to an explosion of interest in Titanic's story. In 1997, James Cameron's eponymous film became the first movie ever to take $1 billion at the box office, and the film's soundtrack became the best selling soundtrack recording of all time. Numerous expeditions have been launched to film the wreck and, controversially, to salvage objects from the debris field.
Although many artefacts have been recovered and conserved, the wreck itself is steadily decaying, as iron-eating microbes consume the hull at an estimated rate of 100 kilograms (220 lb) a day. In time, Titanic's structure will collapse into a pile of iron and steel fragments. Eventually she will be reduced to a spot of rust on the seabed, with the remaining scraps of the ship's hull mingled with her more durable fittings, like her propellers, the bronze capstans and the telemotor.
Casualties and survivorsEdit
The number of casualties of the sinking is unclear, due to a number of factors, including confusion over the passenger list, which included some names of people who cancelled their trip at the last minute, and the fact that several passengers travelled under aliases for various reasons and were double-counted on the casualty lists. The death toll has been put at between 1,490 and 1,635 people
Wreck of the RMS TitanicEditThe wreck of the RMS Titanic is located about 370 miles (600 km) south-southeast of the coast of Newfoundland, lying at a depth of about 12,500 feet (3,800 m). Over the years since the sinking of Titanic on 14/15 April 1912, many impractical, expensive and often physically impossible schemes have been put forward to raise the wreck from its resting place. They have included ideas such as filling the wreck with ping-pong balls, injecting it with 180,000 tons of Vaseline, or using half a million tons of liquid nitrogen to turn it into a giant iceberg that would float back to the surface.
Until 1 September 1985, the location of the wreck was unknown. Various expeditions tried using sonar to map the sea bed in the hope of spotting the wreck, but failed due to a combination of bad weather, technological difficulties and poor search strategy. The wreck was finally located, 13.2 miles (21.2 km) from the inaccurate position transmitted by Titanic's crew while the ship was sinking, by a joint French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. The key to its discovery was an innovative remotely-controlled deep-sea vehicle called Argo (ROV), which could be towed above the sea bed while its cameras transmitted pictures back to a mother ship.The wreck lies in two main pieces about a third of a mile (0.6 km) apart. The bow is still largely recognizable, in spite of its deterioration and the damage it suffered hitting the sea floor, and has a great deal of preserved interiors. The stern is completely ruined due to the damage it suffered hitting the ocean floor and the violence it suffered when sinking 12, 000 feet (3,000 metres) to the ocean floor, and is now just a heap of twisted metal, which may stem from the fact why it is barely explored in expeditions to Titanic. A substantial section of the middle of the ship broke apart and is scattered in chunks across the sea bed. A debris field covering about 5 by 3 miles (8.0 km × 4.8 km) around the wreck contains hundreds of thousands of items spilled from Titanic as she sank, ranging from passengers' personal effects to machinery, furniture, utensils and coal, as well as pieces of the ship herself. The bodies of passengers and crew once also lay in the debris field, but have been entirely consumed by sea creatures, leaving only their shoes lying together in the mud.
Titanic's wreck has been the focus of intense interest since its discovery and has been visited by numerous expeditions, including salvagers who have controversially recovered thousands of items which have been conserved and put on public display. The wreck is much too fragile to be raised because its condition has shockingly deteriorated in the century it has spent on the sea bottom, and the deterioration has been speeding up since its discovery. Lots of animals have made the Titanic their home, such as rattail fish, spider crabs and brittle starfishes, and Titanic also plays host to great communities of metal-eating bacteria, which, as they feast on Titanics iron, have created rusticles blanketing most of the hull. The bacteria are slowly devouring Titanic and will gradually reduce her to a spot of rust on the ocean floor, with the remaining scraps of her hull intermingled with her more durable fittings, like the propellers, the Telemotor and the Capstans, which can resist attack by microbes.
Salvaging TitanicEditSoon after Titanic sank on 15 April 1912, proposals were advanced to salvage her from her resting place in the North Atlantic Ocean, as soon as a day after the disaster, despite her location and condition being unknown. The families of several wealthy victims of the disaster – the Guggenheims, Astors, and Wideners – formed a consortium and contracted the Merritt and Chapman Derrick and Wrecking Company to raise Titanic. The project was soon abandoned after being deemed impractical. The divers could not even reach a fraction of the necessary depth, where the pressure is over 6,000 pounds per square inch (410 bar). The company considered dropping dynamite on the wreck to dislodge bodies which would float to the surface, but finally gave up after oceanographers suggested that the extreme pressure would have compressed the bodies into gelatinous lumps. (In fact, this was incorrect. Whale falls, a phenomenon not discovered until 1987 – coincidentally, by the same submersible used for the first manned expedition to Titanic the year before – demonstrate that water-filled corpses, in this case cetaceans, can sink to the bottom essentially intact. The high pressure and cold temperature of the water would have prevented significant quantities of gas forming during decomposition, stopping the bodies of Titanic victims from rising back to the surface.)
In later years, various proposals were put forward to salvage Titanic. However, all fell foul due to practical and technological difficulties, a lack of funding and, in many cases, a lack of understanding of the physical conditions at the wreck site. Charles Smith, an architect from Denver, proposed in March 1914 to attach electromagnets to a submarine which would be irresistibly drawn to the wreck's steel hull. Having found its exact position, more electromagnets would be sent down from a fleet of barges which would winch Titanic to the surface. An estimated cost of $1.5 million (£34,380,399 today) and its impracticality meant that the idea was not put into practice. Another proposal involved raising Titanic by means of attaching balloons to her hull using electromagnets. Once enough balloons had been attached, the ship would float gently to the surface. Again, the idea got no further than the drawing board.
The first serious attempt to salvage Titanic took place in July 1953 when Risdon Beazley Ltd, a Southampton-based salvage company, chartered the Admiralty Coastal Salvage vessel Help to carry out a secret expedition in the area where Titanic went down. The ship was reported to have carried out underwater blasting, dropping explosives overboard to detonate on the sea bed. It was equipped with deep-sea cameras and remote-controlled machinery for retrieving submerged objects. The expedition's objectives were not publicly disclosed, but its intention seems to have been to blow open the hull of Titanic and retrieve objects from the interior. However, Risdon Beazley failed to find the ship either in 1953 or in a second attempt in 1954.
Note: Risdon Beazley's visit to the Grand Bank in 1953 had nothing to do with Titanic, even though various newspapers reported that it did. They used their newly built salvage vessel Twyford to locate the bow section of the "Empire Manor" intending to recover gold bullion from that wreck. The wreck was upside down and it was not until 1973 that they recovered 62 bars of gold, which they delivered to the Bank of England. The company's Droxford recovered cargo from 'Helga Smith in the same area in 1964.
Salvage proposals in the 1960s and 1970sEdit Titanic surfacing in the film Raise the Titanic; the scene depicted was physically impossible.In the mid-1960s, a hosiery worker from Baldock named Douglas Woolley devised a plan to find Titanic using a bathyscaphe (like Trieste, used to reach the bottom of the Mariana Trench in 1960) and raise the wreck by inflating nylon balloons that would be attached to her hull. The declared objective was to "bring the wreck into Liverpool and convert it to a floating museum." The Titanic Salvage Company was established to manage the scheme and a group of businessmen from West Berlin set up an entity called Titanic-Tresor to support it financially. It fell apart when its proponents found they could not overcome the problem of how the balloons would be inflated in the first place. Calculations showed that it could take ten years to generate enough gas to overcome the water pressure.
A variety of audacious but equally impractical schemes was put forward during the 1970s. One proposal called for 180,000 tons of molten wax (or alternatively, Vaseline) to be pumped into Titanic, lifting her to the surface. Another proposal involved filling Titanic with ping-pong balls, but overlooked the fact that the balls would be crushed flat by the pressure long before reaching Titanic's depth. A similar idea involving the use of Benthos glass spheres, which could survive the pressure, was scuppered when the cost of the number of spheres required was put at over $238 million. An unemployed haulage contractor from Walsall named Arthur Hickey proposed to turn Titanic into an iceberg, freezing the water around the wreck to encase it in a buoyant jacket of ice. This, being lighter than liquid water, would float to the surface and could be towed to shore. The BOC Group calculated that this would require half a million tons of liquid nitrogen to be pumped down to the sea bed. In his 1976 thriller Raise the Titanic!, author Clive Cussler's hero Dirk Pitt repairs the holes in Titanic's hull, pumps it full of compressed air and succeeds in making it "leap out of the waves like a modern submarine blowing its ballast tanks", a scene depicted on the posters of the subsequent film of the book. Although this was an "artistically stimulating" highlight of the film, made using a 55 ft (17 m) model of Titanic, it would not have been physically possible.
Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution had long been interested in finding Titanic. Although early negotiations with possible backers were abandoned when it emerged that they wanted to turn the wreck into souvenir paperweights, more sympathetic backers joined Ballard to form a company named Seasonics International Ltd as a vehicle for rediscovering and exploring Titanic. In October 1977 he made his first attempt to find the ship with the aid of the Alcoa corporation's deep sea salvage vessel Seaprobe. This was essentially a drillship with sonar equipment and cameras attached to the end of the drilling pipe. It could lift objects from the seabed using a remote-controlled mechanical claw. The expedition ended in failure when the drilling pipe broke, sending 3,000 feet (910 m) of pipe and $600,000 worth of electronics plunging to the sea bed.
In 1978, The Walt Disney Company and National Geographic magazine considered mounting a joint expedition to find Titanic, using the aluminium submersible Aluminaut. Titanic would have been well within the submersible's depth limits, but the plans were abandoned for financial reasons.
The following year, the British billionaire financier and tycoon Sir James Goldsmith set up Seawise & Titanic Salvage Ltd with the involvement of underwater diving and photographic experts. His aim was to use the publicity of finding Titanic to promote his newly established magazine, NOW!. An expedition to the North Atlantic was scheduled for 1980 but was cancelled due to financial difficulties. A year later, NOW! folded after 84 issues with Goldsmith incurring huge financial losses.
Fred Koehler, an electronics repairman from Coral Gables, Florida, sold his electronics shop to finance the completion of a two-man deep-sea submersible called Seacopter. He planned to dive to Titanic, enter the hull and retrieve a fabulous collection of diamonds rumored to be contained in the purser's safe. However, he was unable to obtain financial backing for his planned expedition. Another proposal involved using a semi-submersible platform mounted with cranes, resting on two watertight supertankers, that would winch the wreck off the seabed and carry it to shore. A proponent was quoted as saying, "It's like the Great Wall of China – given enough time and money and people, you can do anything." Time, money and people were not forthcoming and the proposal got no further than any of its predecessors.
Jack Grimm's expeditions, 1980–83Edit
On 17 July 1980, an expedition sponsored by Texan oilman Jack Grimm set off from Port Everglades, Florida, in the research vessel H.J.W. Fay. Grimm had previously sponsored expeditions to find Noah's Ark, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and the giant hole in the North Pole predicted by the pseudoscientific Hollow Earth hypothesis. To raise funds for his Titanic expedition, he obtained sponsorship from friends with whom he played poker, sold media rights through the William Morris Agency, commissioned a book, and obtained the services of Orson Welles to narrate a documentary. He acquired scientific support from Columbia University by donating $330,000 to the Lamont–Doherty Geological Observatory for the purchase of a wide-sweep sonar, in exchange for five years' use of the equipment and the services of technicians to support it. Drs. William B. Ryan of Columbia University and Fred Spiess of Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California joined the expedition as consultants. They nearly stayed ashore when Grimm introduced them to a supposed fellow consultant – a monkey called Titan, which was trained to point at a spot on the map to supposedly indicate where Titanic was. The scientists issued an ultimatum: "It's either us or the monkey." Grimm preferred the monkey, but was prevailed upon to leave it behind and bring the scientists instead.
The results were inconclusive, as three weeks of surveying in almost continuous bad weather during July and August 1980 failed to find Titanic. The problem was exacerbated by technological limitations; the Sea MARC sonar used by the expedition had a relatively low resolution and was a new and untested piece of equipment. It was nearly lost only 36 hours after it was first deployed when the tail was ripped off during a sharp turn, destroying the magnetometer, which would have been vital for detecting Titanic's hull. Nonetheless it managed to survey an area of some 500 square nautical miles and identified 14 possible targets.
Grimm mounted a second expedition in June 1981 aboard the research vessel Gyre, with Spiess and Ryan again joining the expedition. To increase their chances of finding the wreck, the team employed a much more capable sonar device, the Scripps Deep Tow. The weather was again very poor, but all 14 of the targets were successfully covered and found to be natural features. On the last day of the expedition, an object that looked like a propeller was found. Grimm announced on his return to Boston that Titanic had been found, but the scientists declined to endorse his identification.
In July 1983, Grimm went back a third time with Ryan aboard the research vessel Robert D. Conrad to have another look at the "propeller". This time nothing was found and very bad weather brought an early end to the expedition. It later turned out that Sea MARC had actually passed over Titanic but had failed to detect it, while Deep Tow passed within 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of the wreck.
D. Michael Harris and Jack Grimm had failed to find Titanic but their expeditions did succeed in producing fairly detailed mapping of the area in which the ship had sunk. It was clear that the position given in Titanic's distress signals was incorrect; the problem was finding the wreck, a relatively small target in a very large search area. Despite the failure of his 1977 expedition, Robert Ballard had not given up hope and devised new technologies and a new search strategy to tackle the problem. The new technology was a system called Argo / Jason. This consisted of a remotely controlled deep-sea vehicle called Argo, equipped with sonar and cameras and towed behind a ship, with a robot called Jason tethered to it that could roam the sea floor, take close-up images and gather specimens. The images from the system would be transmitted back to a control room on the towing vessel where they could be assessed immediately. Although it was designed for scientific purposes, it also had important military applications and the United States Navy agreed to sponsor the system's development, on condition that it was to be used to carry out a number of programmes – many still classified – for the Navy.
The Navy commissioned Ballard and his team to carry out a month long expedition every year for four years, to keep Argo / Jason in good working condition. It agreed to Ballard's proposal to use some of the time to search for Titanic once the Navy's objectives had been met; the search would provide an ideal opportunity to test Argo / Jason. In 1984 the Navy sent Ballard and Argo to map the wrecks of the sunken nuclear submarines USS Thresher and USS Scorpion, lost in the North Atlantic at depths of up to 9,800 feet (3,000 m). The expedition found the submarines and made an important discovery. As Thresher and Scorpion sank, debris spilled out from them across a wide area of the seabed and was sorted by the currents, so that light debris drifted furthest away from the site of the sinking. This "debris field" was far larger than the wrecks themselves. By following the comet-like trail of debris, the main pieces of wreckage could be found.
A second expedition to map the wreck of Scorpion was mounted in 1985. Only twelve days of search time would be left at the end of the expedition to look for Titanic. As Harris/Grimm's unsuccessful efforts had taken more than forty days, Ballard decided that extra help would be needed. He approached the French national oceanographic agency, IFREMER, with which Woods Hole had previously collaborated. The agency had recently developed a high-resolution side-scan sonar called SAR and agreed to send a research vessel, Le Suroît, to survey the sea bed in the area where Titanic was believed to lie. The idea was for the French to use the sonar to find likely targets, and then for the Americans to use Argo to check out the targets and hopefully confirm whether they were in fact the wreck. The French team spent five weeks, from 5 July to 12 August 1985, "mowing the lawn" – sailing back and forth across the 150-square-mile (390 km2) target area to scan the sea bed in a series of stripes. However, they found nothing, though it turned out that they had passed within a few hundred yards of Titanic in their first run.
Ballard realized that looking for the wreck itself using sonar was unlikely to be successful and adopted a different tactic, drawing on the experience of the surveys of Thresher and Scorpion; he would look for the debris field rather than the wreck itself, using Argo's cameras rather than sonar. Whereas sonar could not distinguish man-made debris on the sea bed from natural objects, cameras could. The debris field would also be a far bigger target, stretching a mile (1.5 km) or longer, whereas Titanic itself was only 90 feet (27 m) wide. The search required round-the-clock towing of Argo back and forth above the sea bed, with shifts of watchers aboard the research vessel Knorr looking at the camera pictures for any sign of debris. After a week of fruitless searching, at 12.48 am on Sunday 1 September 1985 pieces of debris began to appear on Knorr's screens. One of them was identified as a boiler, identical to those shown in pictures from 1911. The following day, the main part of the wreck was found and Argo sent back the first pictures of Titanic since her sinking 73 years before. The discovery made headlines around the world.
Following his discovery of the wreck site, Ballard returned to Titanic in July 1986 aboard the research vessel RV Atlantis II. Now the deep-diving submersible DSV Alvin could take people back to Titanic for the first time since her sinking, and the remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Jason Jr. would allow the explorers to investigate the interior of the wreck. Another system, ANGUS, was used to carry out photo surveys of the debris field. The results were spectacular. Jason Jr. descended the ruined Grand Staircase as far as B Deck, and photographed remarkably well-preserved interiors, including some chandeliers still hanging from the ceilings.
Between 25 July and 10 September 1987, an expedition mounted by IFREMER and a consortium of American investors which included George Tulloch, G. Michael Harris, D. Michael Harris and Ralph White made 32 dives to Titanic using the submersible Nautile. Controversially, they salvaged and brought ashore more than 1,800 objects. A joint Russian-Canadian-American expedition took place in 1991 using the research vessel Akademik Mstislav Keldysh and its two MIR submersibles. Sponsored by Stephen Low and IMAX, CBS, National Geographic and others, the expedition carried out extensive scientific research with a crew of 130 scientists and engineers. The MIRs carried out 17 dives, spending over 140 hours at the bottom, shooting 40,000 feet (12,000 m) of IMAX film. This was used to create the 1995 documentary film Titanica, which was later released in the US on DVD in a re-edited version narrated by Leonard Nimoy.
IFREMER and RMS Titanic Inc., the successors to the sponsors of the 1987 expedition, returned to the wreck with Nautile and the ROV Robin in June 1993. Over the course of fifteen days, Nautile made fifteen dives lasting between eight and twelve hours. Another 800 artefacts were recovered during the expedition including a two-tonne piece of a reciprocating engine, a lifeboat davit and the steam whistle from the ship's forward funnel.
In 1993, 1994, 1996, 1998 and 2000, RMS Titanic Inc. carried out an intensive series of dives that led to the recovery of over 4,000 items in the first two expeditions alone. The 1996 expedition controversially attempted to raise a section of Titanic itself, a section of the outer hull that originally comprised part of the wall of two First Class cabins on C Deck, extending down to D Deck. It weighed 20 tons, measured 15 by 25 feet (4.6 m × 7.6 m) and had four portholes in it, three of which still had glass in them. The section had come loose either during the sinking or as a result of the impact with the sea bed. Its recovery using diesel-filled floatation bags was turned into something of an entertainment event with two cruise ships accompanying the expedition to the wreck site. Passengers were offered the chance, at $5,000 per person, to watch the recovery on television screens in their cabins while enjoying luxury accommodation, Las Vegas-style shows and casino gambling aboard the ships. Various celebrities were recruited to enliven the proceedings, including Burt Reynolds, Debbie Reynolds and Buzz Aldrin, and "Grand Receptions" for VIPs were scheduled on-shore where the hull section would be displayed. However, the lift ended disastrously when rough weather caused the ropes supporting the bags to snap. At the moment the ropes broke, the hull section had been lifted to within only 200 feet (61 m) of the surface. It hurtled 12,000 feet (3,700 m) back down, embedding itself upright on the sea floor. Although the attempt was strongly criticised by marine archaeologists, scientists and historians as a money-making publicity stunt, a second, successful attempt to lift the fragment was carried out in 1998. The so-called "Big Piece" was conserved in a laboratory in Santa Fe for two years before being put on display at the Luxor Las Vegas hotel and casino.
In 1995, Canadian director James Cameron chartered the Akademik Mstislav Keldysh and the MIRs to make 12 dives to Titanic. He used the resulting footage to considerable effect in his blockbuster 1997 film Titanic. The discovery of the wreck in 1985 and a National Geographic documentary of Ballard's 1986 expedition had inspired Cameron to write a synopsis in 1987 of what eventually became the film Titanic: "Do story with bookends of present day scene of wreck using submersibles intercut with memories of a survivor and re-created scenes of the night of the sinking. A crucible of human values under stress." Cameron's expedition did not salvage anything from the ship.
2000 to presentEdit
The 2000 expedition by RMS Titanic Inc. carried out 28 dives during which over 800 artifacts were recovered, including the ship's engine telegraphs, perfume vials and watertight door gears. In 2001, an American couple – David Leibowitz and Kimberly Miller – caused controversy when they were married aboard a submersible that had set down on the bow of Titanic, in a deliberate echo of a famous scene from James Cameron's 1997 film. The wedding was essentially a publicity stunt, sponsored by a British company called SubSea Explorer which had offered a free dive to Titanic that Leibowitz had won. He asked whether his fiancée could come too and was told that she could – but only if she agreed to get married during the trip. The same company also brought along Philip Littlejohn, the grandson of one of Titanic's surviving crew members, who became the first relative of a Titanic passenger or crew member to visit the wreck. Cameron himself also returned to Titanic in 2001 to carry out filming for Walt Disney Pictures' Ghosts of the Abyss, filmed in 3D.
In 2003 and 2004, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration carried out two expeditions to Titanic. The first, carried out between 22 June and 2 July 2003, performed four dives in two days. Its key aims were to assess the current condition of the wreck site and carry out scientific observations to support ongoing research. The stern section, which had previously received relatively little attention from explorers, was specifically targeted for analysis. The microbial colonies aboard Titanic were also a key focus of investigation. The second expedition, from 27 May – 12 June 2004, saw the return of Robert Ballard to Titanic nearly 20 years after he discovered it. The expedition spent 11 days on the wreck, carrying out high-resolution mapping using video and stereoscopic still images.
2005 saw two expeditions to the Titanic. James Cameron returned to the Titanic for the third and last time to film Last Mysteries of the Titanic, as the Titanic, and has claimed that this will wrap up my 10-year odyssey with the Titanic, and I won't be coming back here, because the Titanic, having been underwater for 93 years, was showing very severe signs of deterioration in the foremast, the boat deck, the Marconi rooms, and the stern's condition was explained via NOAA, because in his 1995 and 2005 expeditions to the Titanic, Cameron did not explore the stern of the wreck due to this part of the Titanic being in more worse condition than the bow. It also saw another expedition, Titanic's Final Moments: Missing Pieces, which began looking for pieces of the Titanic never before seen in the debris field.
RMS Titanic Inc. mounted further expeditions to Titanic in 2004 and 2010, when the first comprehensive map of the entire debris field was produced. Two autonomous underwater vehicles – torpedo-shaped robots – repeatedly ran backwards and forwards across the 3 by 5 miles (4.8 km × 8.0 km) debris field, taking sonar scans and over 130,000 high-resolution images. This enabled a detailed photomosaic of the debris field to be created for the first time, giving scientists a much clearer view of the dynamics of the ship's sinking. Several hiccups happened during this expedition, as several hurricanes were passing over the wreck site, and the team got the Remora ROV caught in a piece of wreckage in the Titanics expansion joint, and carefully had to get the robot out of the expansion joint to avoid damaging the Titanic, as the Titanic, having been underwater for 98 years, was in very fragile condition, and on of the AUVs, Ginger, was weighed down by a piece of the lead anchor discovered in 2005. This same year same the discovery of the new bacteria living in the rusticles on the Titanic, Halomonas titanicae.
Tourist and scientific visits to Titanic are still continuing; by April 2012, 100 years since the disaster and nearly 25 since the discovery of the wreck, around 140 people had visited. On 14 April 2012 (the 100th anniversary of the ship's sinking), the wreck of the Titanic became eligible for protection as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in the same month, Robert Ballard, the wreck's discoverer, has announced of a plan to preserve the wreck of the Titanic by using deep-sea robots to paint the wreck with anti-fouling paint, to help keep the wreck in its current state for all time. The proposed plan that Ballard announced has been outlined in a documentary made to time with the Titanic's 100th sinking anniversary called Save the Titanic With Bob Ballard where Ballard himself talks about how this proposed paint job on the wreck will work. Ballard says that the reason he has proposed to robotically clean and repaint the Titanic with a colour scheme that mimics the rusticles is because when I visited the Titanic in 1986, I saw original anti-fouling paint on the ship's hull which was still working even after 74 years on the seabed.
Description of the wreckEdit
The position of the wreck is a considerable distance from the location transmitted by the ship's wireless operators before she went down.
The two main parts of the wreck of Titanic present a striking contrast. Although fourteen survivors testified that the ship had broken apart as she sank, this testimony was discounted by the official inquiries, and it was supposed that the ship had sunk intact. It is now clear that the stresses on Titanic caused the ship to split apart between the second and third funnels at or just below the surface.
Bow sectionEditThe bow section, which measures about 470 feet (140 m) long, is thought to have descended at an angle of about
The bow hit the bottom at a speed of about 20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h), digging about 60 feet (18 m) deep into the mud, up to the base of the anchors. The impact bent the hull in two places and caused it to buckle downwards by about 10° under the forward well deck cranes and by about 4° under the forward expansion joint. When the bow section hit the sea bed, the weakened decks at the rear, where the ship had broken apart, collapsed on top of each other. The forward hatch cover was also blown off and landed a couple of hundred feet in front of the bow, possibly due to the force of water being pushed out as the bow impacted the bottom.
The area around the bridge is particularly badly damaged; as Robert Ballard has put it, it looks "as if it had been squashed by a giant's fist". Charles R. Pellegrino has proposed that this was the result of a "down-blast" of water, caused by a slipstream that had followed the bow section as it fell towards the sea bed. According to Pellegrino's hypothesis, when the bow came to an abrupt halt the inertia of the slipstream caused a rapidly moving column of water weighing thousands of tons to strike the top of the wreck, striking it near the bridge. The roof of the officers' quarters and the sides of the gymnasium were pushed in, railings were blown outwards and vertical steel columns supporting the decks were bent into a C-shape. Large parts of the bow's interior were demolished by surges of water and violent eddies kicked up by the wreck's sudden halt. The actual damage made by the iceberg is not visible at the bow as it is buried under mud.
Stern sectionEditThe stern section, which measures about 350 feet (110 m) long, suffered catastrophic damage during the descent and in landing on the sea bed. It had not fully filled with water when it sank and the increasing water pressure caused trapped air pockets to implode, tearing apart the hull. Data from a sonar map made during a 2010 expedition showed that the stern section rotated like a helicopter blade as it sank. The rudder appears to have swung over to an angle of about 30–45° during the stern's descent, causing the section to follow a tight spiral to the bottom. It probably struck rudder-first, burying most of the rudder in the mud up to a depth of 50 feet (15 m). The decks pancaked on top of each other and the hull plating splayed out to the sides of the shattered section. The pancaking is so severe that the combined height of the decks, which are piled up on top of the reciprocating engines, is now generally not more than about 12 to 15 feet (3.7 to 4.6 m) high. No individual deck is more than about 1 foot (30 cm) high.
Large sections of the hull plating seem to have fallen off well before the wreck hit the bottom. One such section, thought to have been from the galleys, separated from the stern in one piece and landed nearby. The force of the water tore up the poop deck and folded it back on itself. The center propeller is totally buried, while the force of the impact caused the two wing propellers and shafts to be bent upwards by an angle of about 20°.
A large V-shaped section of the ship just aft of midships, running from the keel upwards through Number 1 Boiler Room and upwards to cover the area under the third and fourth funnels, was believed to have disintegrated entirely when the ship broke up. This was one of the weakest parts of the ship as a result of the presence of two large open spaces – the forward end of the engine room and the aft First Class passenger staircase. The rest of this part of the ship are scattered across the seabed at distances of 130 to 260 feet (40 to 79 m) from the main part of the stern. During the 2010 expedition to map the wreck site, a major chunk of the deck house (the base of the third funnel) along with pieces of the third funnel was found. This showed that instead of simply disintegrating into a mass of debris, large sections of the ship broke off in chunks and that the ship broke in half between the second and third funnels, not the third and fourth funnels. Five of the boilers from Number 1 Boiler Room came loose during its disintegration and landed in the debris field around the stern. Experts believe that this tight cluster of the boilers marks the hypocenter (ground zero) of where the ship broke up 12,000 feet above. The rest of the boilers are still presumably located in the bow section.
As Titanic broke apart, many objects and pieces of hull were scattered across the sea bed. There are two debris fields in the vicinity of the wreck, each between 2,000–2,600 ft (610–729 m) long, trailing in a south-westerly direction from the bow and stern. They cover an area of about 2 square miles (5.2 km2). Most of the debris is concentrated near the stern section of Titanic. It consists of thousands of objects from the interior of the ship, ranging from tons of coal spilled from ruptured bunkers to suitcases, clothes, corked wine bottles (many still intact despite the pressure), bathtubs, windows, washbasins, jugs, bowls, hand mirrors and numerous other personal effects. The debris field also includes numerous pieces of the ship itself, with the largest pieces of debris in the vicinity of the partially disintegrated stern section.
Condition and deterioration of the wreckEditPrior to the discovery of Titanic's wreck, in addition to the common assumption that she had sunk in one piece, it had been widely believed that conditions at 12,000 feet down would preserve the ship virtually intact. The water is bitterly cold at only about 1–2 °C (34–36 °F), there is no light and the high pressure was thought to be likely to lower oxygen and salinity levels to the point that organisms would not be able to gain a foothold on the wreck. Titanic would effectively be in a deep freeze. The reality has turned out to be very different, and the ship has increasingly deteriorated since she sank in April 1912. Her gradual decay is due to a number of different processes – physical, chemical and biological. She is situated on an undulating, gently sloping area of seabed in a small canyon swept by the Western Boundary Current. Eddies from the current flow constantly across the wreck, scouring the sea bed and keeping sediment from building up over the hull. The current is strong and often changeable, gradually opening up holes in the ship's hull. Salt corrosion eats away at the hull and it is also affected by galvanic corrosion.
The most dramatic deterioration has been caused by biological factors. It used to be thought that the depths of the ocean were a lifeless desert, but research carried out since the mid-1980s has found that the ocean floor is teeming with life and may rival the tropical rainforests for biodiversity. During the 1991 IMAX expedition, scientists were surprised by the variety of organisms that they found in and around Titanic. A total of 28 species were observed, including anemones, crabs, shrimp, starfish and rattail fish up to a yard (1 m) long. Much larger creatures have been glimpsed by explorers. Some of Titanic's fauna has never been seen anywhere else; James Cameron's 2001 expedition discovered a previously unknown type of sea cucumber, lavender with a glowing row of phosphorescent "portholes" along its side. A newly discovered species of bacterium found on the ship has been named Halomonas titanicae, which has been found to cause rapid decay of the wreck. Henrietta Mann, who discovered the bacteria, has estimated that the Titanic will completely collapse in possibly 15/20 years. The Canadian geophysicist Steve Blasco has commented that the wreck "has become an oasis, a thriving ecosystem sitting in a vast desert."The soft organic material aboard and dispersed onto the seabed around the hull would have been the first to disappear, rapidly devoured by fish and crustaceans. Wood-boring molluscs such as Teredo colonized the ship's decks and interior in huge numbers, eating away the wooden decking and other wooden objects such as furniture, paneling, doors and staircase banisters. When their food ran out they died, leaving behind calcareous tubes. The question of the victims' bodies is one that has often troubled explorers of the wreck site. When the debris field was surveyed in Robert Ballard's 1986 expedition, pairs of shoes were observed lying next to each other on the sea bed. The flesh, bones, and clothes had long since been consumed but the tannin in the shoes' leather had apparently resisted the bacteria, leaving the shoes as the only markers of where a body had once lain. Ballard has suggested that skeletons may remain deep within Titanic's hull, such as in the engine rooms or third-class cabins. This has been disputed by scientists, who have estimated that the bodies would have completely disappeared by the early 1940s at the latest.
In any event, the molluscs and scavengers did not consume everything organic. Some of the wooden objects on the ship and in the debris field have not been consumed, particularly those made of teak, a dense wood that seems to have resisted the borers. The First Class reception area off the ship's Grand Staircase is still remarkably intact and furniture is still visible among the debris on the floor. Although most of the corridors have lost their walls, furniture is still in place in many cabins; in one, a mattress is still on the bed, with an intact and undamaged dresser behind it. Robert Ballard has suggested that areas within the ship or buried under debris, where scavengers may not have been able to reach, may still contain human remains. According to Charles Pellegrino, who dived on Titanic in 2001, a finger bone encircled by the partial remains of a wedding ring was found concreted to the bottom of a soup tureen that was retrieved from the debris field. It was returned to the sea bed on the next dive.
The longest-lasting inhabitants of Titanic are likely to be bacteria and archaea which have colonized the metal hull of the ship. They have produced "reddish-brown stalactites of rust [hanging] down as much as several feet, looking like long needle-like icicles", as Robert Ballard has put it. The formations, which Ballard dubbed "rusticles", are extremely fragile and disintegrate in a cloud of particles if touched. The bacteria consume the iron in the hull, oxidizing it and leaving rust particles behind as a waste product. To protect themselves from the seawater, they secrete an acidic viscous slime that flows where gravity takes it, carrying ferric oxides and hydroxides. These form the rusticles. When scientists were able to retrieve a rusticle, it was discovered that it was far more complex than had been imagined, with complex systems of roots infiltrating the metal, interior channels, bundles of fibers, pores and other structures. Charles Pellegrino comments that they seem more akin to "levels of tissue organization found in sponges or mosses and other members of the animal or plant kingdoms." The bacteria are estimated to be consuming Titanic's hull at the rate of 400 pounds (180 kg) per day. Roy Collimore, a microbiologist, estimates that the bow alone now supports some 650 tons of rusticles and that they will have devoured fifty per cent of the hull within 200 years.Since Titanic's wreck was discovered in 1985, radical changes have been observed in the marine ecosystem around the ship. The 1996 expedition recorded 75 per cent more brittle stars and sea cucumbers than Ballard's 1985 expedition, while crinoids and sea squirts had taken root all over the sea bed. Red krill had appeared and an unknown organism had built numerous nests across the seabed from black pebbles. The amount of rusticles on the ship had increased greatly. Curiously, the same thing had happened over about the same timescale to the wreck of the German battleship Bismarck, sunk at a depth of 4,791 metres (15,719 ft) on the other side of the Atlantic. The mud around the ship was found to contain hundreds of different species of animals. The cause of the sudden explosion in life around Titanic appears to result from something causing an increasing amount of nutrients falling from the surface; one possibility is that it is a result of human overfishing eliminating fish that would otherwise have consumed the nutrients.
Many scientists, including Robert Ballard, are concerned that visits by tourists in submersibles and the recovery of artifacts are causing the wreck to decay faster. Underwater bacteria have been eating away at Titanic's steel and transformed it into rust since the ship sank, but because of the extra damage caused by visitors, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates that "the hull and structure of the ship may collapse to the ocean floor within the next 50 years." The promenade deck has deteriorated significantly in recent years, partly because of damage caused by submersibles landing on the ship. The mast has almost completely deteriorated and has been stripped of its bell and brass light. Other damage includes a gash on the bow section where block letters once spelled Titanic, part of the brass telemotor which once held the ship's wooden wheel is now twisted and the crow's nest has completely deteriorated. The Canadian director James Cameron is responsible for some of the more significant damage during his expedition to the ship in mid-1995 to acquire footage for his 1997 film Titanic. One of the MIR submersibles used on the expedition collided with the hull, damaging both and leaving fragments of the submersible's propeller shroud scattered around the superstructure. Captain Smith's quarters were heavily damaged by the collapse of the external bulkhead, which exposed the cabin's interior.