Titanic The Unsinkable Ship that shattered the owners arrogance

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Anupama Nair

www.mediaeye.com

 

The sinking of the “unsinkable ship” became famous after the blockbuster James Cameron movie “Titanic”. Jack Dawson and Rose became so famous after the movie. Leonardo Di Caprio as Jack and Kate Winslett as Rose became my favorite actor and actress. The move is one of my favorite movies till date. I could hardly control my tears after watching the movie. They became symbol of love like Romeo and Juliet. It was a real event that happened on 15th April 1912 i.e., 120 years before. In those days ships were the means of transportation. International travel was done through luxury ships as international flights had not yet started. The inaugural international flight was between London and Paris in 1919. I remember my grandmother telling me, that in the early 50’s, just at the time my mom was born, there was not much flights then. They used to take a liner between Kuala Lumpur and Madras via Colombo.

In the early part of 20th Century, the trans-Atlantic passenger trade was highly profitable and competitive, with ship lines competing with each other to transport wealthy travelers and immigrants. Two of the rival companies were White Star and Cunard. By the summer of 1907, Cunard controlled to increase its share of the market with the debut of two new ships, the Lusitania (the ship sunk by the Germans in 1915 during the First World War, that changed the course of the War) and the Mauretania, which were set to sail, later that year. The two passenger liners were garnering much attention for the expected speed. The White Star chairman Bruce Ismay reportedly met Harland and Wolf, the Irish company that constructed most of White Star’s vessels. The two men devised a plan to build a luxury cruise liner, that would be known for their comfort instead of their speed. It was eventually decided that three vessels would be constructed and called the Olympic, the Titanic (derived from Titans of Greek mythology), and the Britannic.

The Olympic and the Titanic were built side-by-side. In addition to ornate decorations, the Titanic had an immense first-class dining salon, four elevators, and a swimming pool. Its second-class accommodations could be compared to first-class features on other ships, and its third-class surrounding, although modest, were still noted for their relative comfort. The Titanic was thought to be the largest ship in the world. The owner claimed the Titanic was ‘unsinkable’ and the rest as they say is history.

After the completion of the hull super-structure, the Titanic was launched on May 31, 1911. Then began the ‘fitting-out phase’ as it was called, as machinery was loaded into the ship and then interior work began. After the Olympic’s maiden voyage in June 1911, some minor changes were made to the Titanic’s design. In early April 1912 the Titanic underwent its sea trials, after which the ship was declared seaworthy.

On its first journey across the highly competitive Atlantic ferry route, the ship had around 2,200 passengers and crew. As it prepared to embark on its maiden voyage, the Titanic was one of the largest and most luxurious ships in the world. On April 10, 1912, the Titanic set sail on its maiden voyage, traveling from Southampton (England), to New York City (United States). Titanic was suitably nicknamed the “Millionaire’s Special,” and she was appropriately captained by Edward Smith, called as the “Millionaire’s Captain” because of his popularity with wealthy passengers. Indeed, onboard were a number of prominent people, including American businessman Benjamin Guggenheim, British journalist William Stead, and Macy’s co-owner Isidor Strauss and his wife, Ida, along with Ismay were also traveling on the Titanic.

The voyage nearly began with a minor disaster that was averted, when suction from the Titanic caused the docked New York to swing into the giant liner’s path. After an hour of maneuverings to prevent the accident. After two hours the Titanic resumed its journey. On the morning of April 11, the liner made its last scheduled stop in France and Ireland. In the afternoon she began her journey to New York.

Throughout the voyage, the wireless radio operators on the Titanic, had been receiving iceberg warnings, most of which were passed along to the captain. The two operators worked for the Marconi Company, and much of their job was relaying passengers’ messages. On the evening of April 14, the Titanic began to approach an area known to have icebergs. Captain Smith slightly altered the ship’s course to head farther south.

The Titanic began to turn, but it was too close to avoid a collision. At least five of its supposedly watertight compartments toward the bow were ruptured. After assessing the damage, it was determined that, as the ship’s forward compartments were filled with water, its bow would drop deeper into the ocean, causing water from the ruptured compartments to spill over into each succeeding compartment, thereby sealing the ship’s and her passenger’s fate.

Distress Signals were sent to nearby ships on the same route. A message reached the Carpathia at midnight of April 15, and the Cunard ship immediately headed toward the Titanic. However, the Carpathia was more than three hours away from the Titanic. Other ships also responded, including the sister ship Olympic, but all were too far away to help. A vessel was spotted nearby, but the Titanic was unable to contact it.

Then the lifeboats began to be launched, with women and children first. Although the Titanic’s number of lifeboats exceeded that required by the British Board of Trade, its 20 boats could carry only 1,178 people, far short of the total number of passengers. In the end, only 705 people would be rescued in lifeboats. The disaster was met with worldwide shock and outrage at the huge loss of life, as well as the regulatory and operational failures that led to it. Public inquiries in Britain and the United States led to major rules for safety

The wreck of the Titanic, was discovered in 1985 by a Franco-American expedition, which was sponsored by the US Navy. The ship was split in two and was gradually disintegrating at a depth of 12,415 feet under the Atlantic Ocean. Thousands of artefacts have been recovered and displayed at museums all around the world. Titanic has become one of the most famous ships in history, depicted in numerous work of art, films, folk music etc.

Titanic is the second largest ocean liner wreck in the world, only being surpassed by her sister ship Britannic, however, she is the largest ship sunk while in service as a liner, as Britannic was used as a hospital ship at the time of her sinking. The final survivor of the sinking, Milvinia Dean, (aged two months at the time), died at the age of 97 years in 2007

This is the story of the ‘unsinkable ship’ that sunk. In the technology that was available in those days nobody could save the ship and she met her fate.

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