The Titanic was a luxury vessel and the largest moveable man-made object of its time. It sank on April 15, 1912 off the coast of Newfoundland in the North Atlantic. Over 1,500 of the 2,240 passengers and crew lost their lives in the disaster. It remains a cautionary tale of the arrogance of builders than their creation could ever be flawless or impervious to harm.
Scroll down to read more about the Titanic, its construction, crew, passengers, theories of its sinking, and its legacy.
(See main article: Titanic Timeline)
|29th July 1908||The design for the Titanic was approved.|
|31st March 1909||The keel of Titanic was laid|
|31st May 1911||12 noon||The hull of Titanic was successfully launched|
|January 1912||Sixteen wooden lifeboats were fitted on board the Titanic|
|31st March 1912||The fitting of Titanic was completed|
|2nd April 1912||6:00||Titanic began sea trials|
|3rd April 1912||Titanic arrived in Southampton|
|10th April 1912||9:30-11:30 a.m.||Passengers arrived in Southampton and began boarding the ship.|
|10th April 1912||Noon||The Titanic set sail and began her maiden voyage.|
|10th April 1912||18:30||Titanic reached Cherbourg, France and picked up more passengers|
|11th April 1912||11.30 am||Titanic reached Queenstown, Ireland|
|12th, 13th April 1912||The Titanic sailed through calm waters.|
|14th April 1912||Throughout the day seven iceberg warnings were received|
|14th April 1912||11:40 p.m.||Lookout Frederick Fleet spotted an iceberg dead ahead. The iceberg struck the Titanic on the starboard (right) side of her bow.|
|14th April 1912||11:50 p.m.||Water had poured in and risen 14 feet in the front part of the ship|
|15th April 1912||12:00 a.m.||The captain was told the ship can only stay afloat for a couple of hours. He gave the order to call for help over the radio.|
|15th April 1912||12:05 a.m.||The orders was given to uncover the lifeboats and to get passengers and crew ready on deck. There was only room in the lifeboats for half of the estimated 2,227 on board.|
|15th April 1912||12:25 a.m.||The lifeboats began being loaded with women and children first. The Carpathia, southeast of the Titanic by about 58 miles, picked up the distress call and began sailing to rescue passengers.|
|15th April 1912||12:45 a.m.||The first lifeboat was safely lowered away. Although it could carry 65 people, it left with only 28 on board. The first distress rocket was fired. Eight rockets were fired the whole night.|
|15th April 1912||2:05 a.m.||The last lifeboat left the ship. There were now over 1,500 people left on the ship. The tilt of Titanic's deck grew steeper and steeper.|
|15th April 1912||2.17 am||The last radio message was sent. The captain announced 'Every man for himself'|
|15th April 1912||2:20 a.m.||The Titanic's broken off stern settled back into the water, becoming more level for a few moments. Slowly it filled with water and tilted its end high into the air before sinking into the sea. People in the water slowly froze to death.|
|15th April 1912||3.30 am||Carpathia's rockets were spotted by the survivors|
|15th April 1912||4:10 a.m.||The first lifeboat was picked up by the Carpathia.|
|15th April 1912||8:50 a.m.||The Carpathia left the area bound for New York. She had on board 705 survivors of the Titanic disaster|
|18th April 1912||9:00 p.m.||The Carpathia arrived in New York.|
|19th April to 25th May||American enquiry into the disaster was held|
|22nd April to 15th May||Several ships were sent to the disaster site to recover bodies. A total of 328 bodies were found floating in the area.|
|2nd May to 3rd July||British Board of Trade enquiry into the disaster was held|
The White Star Line
(See main article: The White Star Line)
The White Star Shipping Line was founded in 1850 to take advantage of an increase in trade following the discovery of gold in Australia.
In 1867, the White Star Shipping Line was purchased by Thomas Ismay and set up to rival Cunard in Trans-Atlantic passenger traffic. Thomas's son, Bruce, became a partner in the firm and took over as company director in 1899 when his father died.
In 1902 the company was bought by wealthy American, J Pierpoint Morgan. Ismay retained his position within the firm as managing director. Morgan's money meant that the company could build large luxury liners to attract the wealthy passengers.
In 1907 Ismay suggested that the company build two liners which were heavier, bigger and more luxurious than any other ship in the World. They were to be called Olympic and Titanic. If these were successful a third, Gigantic, later renamed Brittanic, would follow.
(See main article: Titanic Construction: Building the Unsinkable Ship)
The Titanic construction took place in Belfast by the shipbuilding company Harland and Wolff. The company was owned by Lord Pirrie, a friend of Bruce Ismay, managing director of the White Star Line (pictured below, left). The chief designer of the Titanic was his son-in-law, Thomas Andrews.
Construction of the Titanic began in 1909. Harland and Wolff had to make alterations to their shipyard (larger piers and gantries) to accommodate the giant liners, Titanic and her sister ship Olympic. The two ships were to be built side-by-side.
The giant gantries constructed by Harland and Wolff
Titanic was constructed with sixteen watertight compartments. Each compartment had doors that were designed to close automatically if the water level rose above a certain height. The doors could also be electronically closed from the bridge. Titanic was able to stay afloat if any two compartments or the first four became flooded. Shortly after Titanic hit the iceberg it was revealed that the first six compartments were flooded.
There were twenty-four double ended boilers and five single ended boilers which were housed in six boiler rooms. The double ended boilers were 20 feet long, had a diameter of 15 feet 9 inches and contained six coal burning furnaces. The single ended boilers were 11 feet 9 inches long with the same diameter and three furnaces. Smoke and waste gasses were expelled through three funnels.
Titanic's four funnels were constructed away from the site and were then transported to the shipyard for putting on the Titanic. Only three of the funnels were used to expel smoke and waste gasses. The fourth was added to make the ship look more powerful.
Titanic had three propellers which were powered by steam. The rotation of the propellers powered the ship through the sea.
Titanic was launched in 1911. The next ten months were spent completing the interior of the ship. Details and pictures of the interior can be viewed on the layout page of this site. The total cost of the RMS Titanic was $7.5 million (1912).
(See main article: Titanic Amenities)
The Crow's Nest
The Crow's nest was used by the ship's lookouts. It was from here, at 11.40 pm on April 15 1912, that lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee first spotted the iceberg that caused the Titanic to sink.
The Titanic's officer quarters were located just below the boat deck so that they could quickly reach the bridge in case of emergency. Captain Smith retired to the officers' quarters about an hour before the ship hit the iceberg.
The Bridge was the place where the ship was operated from. There was always a senior officer on the bridge and it was first officer Murdock who ordered the Titanic 'hard a starboard' when the iceberg was spotted.
First Class Grand Staircase
The two first class staircases were very grand indeed. Over the top of both were glass domes which allowed sunlight to pass through.
The two wireless operators, Harold Bride and John Philips were employed to send telegrams on behalf of the passengers. They also received and sent messages to other ships. It was here that the messages warning of icebergs were received on the afternoon of 14th April 1912 and the SOS messages were sent when it was realised that the Titanic would sink.
The Titanic's gymnasium had all the latest exercise equipment - a bicycle, rowing machine and electric horse. Separate sessions were available for men, women and children.
First Class Staterooms
The first class staterooms were luxuriously furnished with curtained beds and tables and chairs. The most expensive even had their own private balcony.
A la Carte Restaurant
The Titanic's a la carte restaurant served the finest food. Passengers could reserve tables and book areas for private parties.
First Class Smoking Room
The First Class smoking room was open for most of the day. Passengers could purchase the most luxurious cigarettes and tobacco here.
This cafe was designed to look like a Paris street cafe and the waiters were French.
Third Class Smoking Room
This was one of the leisure rooms provided for the use of third class passengers.
Second Class Staterooms
Second class staterooms were occupied by up to four people. By the standards of the day they were luxurious with mahogany furniture and linoleum floors.
In order to ensure that food served at tables was as fresh as possible, the Titanic was fitted with a refrigerated storage area. There were different areas for meat, cheese, flowers and wines and champagne.
Second Class Dining Room
This large, pleasantly furnished room was where second class passengers took their meals. Food served to second class passengers was cooked in the first class kitchen.
First and Second Class Galley
Food for both first and second class passengers was prepared in the same galley. There was a large ice-cream maker as well as refrigerated rooms for storing meat and perishable goods.
First Class Dining Room
The First Class Dining room was beautifully decorated with a huge glass dome roof and could seat over 500 people.
Third Class Dining Room
This was where the third class passengers took their meals. It was said to be like second class dining rooms on other ships.
The Titanic had 24 boilers each containing 6 furnaces and 5 boilers containing 3 furnaces. Coal was burned in the boilers to power the ship and the steam and smoke was released through the four funnels.
Bruce Ismay, of the White Star Line, hoped that the Titanic would make the fastest ever crossing from Southampton to New York.
First Class Reception Room
First class passengers met in the first class reception room. They would often enjoy a cocktail together before going into dinner.
The Titanic's turkish baths was one of the most luxurious to be found in Europe.
First Class Elevator
The Titanic's four electric lifts were one of the new features that made the Titanic special. Designed for use by first and second class passengers only, they each had their own lift attendant. None of the four lift attendants survived.
The Titanic was on of the first ships to have a swimming pool on board. It was filled with sea water which was heated by the boilers. There were separate times for men and women.
As part of it's recreational facilities for passengers, the Titanic had a full-size squash court.
Because the squash court was located just below the bridge but above the watertight compartments, it was used by the ship's officers to monitor the rise of the water.
The Post Office
The Titanic had a fully equipped post office staffed by five mail clerks. Over three thousand mail bags were lost when the ship sank and over 7 million items of mail never reached their destination.
Passengers' cargo was loaded into the cargo room by crane. Among the items lost when the Titanic sank were:
- A Renault 35hp car
- A Marmalade machine
- 50 cases of toothpaste
- 5 grand pianos
- Four cases of opium
- A jewelled copy of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
Third Class Berths
Third Class berths on the Titanic were used by up to eight people. As you can see in the picture above, they slept in bunks and used a communal sink.
This was the passage between the boilers that was used by the firemen. In the film, Rose and Jack run through the fireman's passage to the cargo room. However, on the Titanic the fireman's passage was on the deck below the cargo room.
The Titanic had a crew of some 890 men and women of whom only 212 were saved. The crew's quarters were located at the rear of the ship on decks D, E and F.
This was a lifting device to enable large objects to be lifted onto ships. In the film Titanic, a cargo crane is seen lifting crates and a car onto the ship.
Total Number Onboard
(See main article: How Many People Were on the Titanic?)
Exact numbers of those traveling on the Titanic is not known, but the official total of all passengers and crew is 2,229. The number of survivors varies from 701-713.
The table below features a detailed breakdown of passengers in each class and the crew, and the number who survived. It is compiled from the most widely used figures for passengers and crew. The numbers are for passengers in first, second, and third class.
|1st Class On Board||1st Class Survived||2nd Class On Board||2nd Class Survived||3rd Class On Board||3rd Class Survived||Crew On Board||Crew Survived|
|Total Passengers = 1316||Total Crew = 913|
|Total Survived = 498||Total Survived = 215|
|Total On Board Titanic = 2229|
|Total Survivors = 713|
Many are taught that in the sinking of the Titantic, third-class passengers were locked into flooding passages so as to preserve lifeboats for the first class, most famously in James Cameron's depiction of the Titanic sinking in film. Dramatic embellishment certainly occurred, but the fact remains that first-class passengers were more likely to survive than second or third-class passengers.
In terms of a percentage breakdown of number of survivors based on their class, here are the relevant statistics.
- 37 percent of all passengers survived
- 61 percent of first-class passengers survived
- 42 percent of second-class passengers survived
- 24 percent of third-class passenger survived
(See main article: Titanic - Crew)
In all, the crew of the Titanic comprised some 885 people:
- Deck Crew - Officers, Masters at arms, Storemasters and able bodied seamen.
- Engineering Department - Engineers, Boilermen, Firemen and Electricians.
- Victualling Department - Stewards and Galley staff.
- Restaurant staff
- Post Staff
Captain Edward John Smith
Monthly wage: £105
The maiden voyage of the Titanic was to be 62-year-old Captain Smith's last voyage before he retired. Smith was married with a young daughter. Very little is known about his actions on the Titanic after the collision - he was last seen on the bridge of the sinking ship. Captain Smith went down with his ship and his body was never recovered.
Chief Officer Henry Wilde
Monthly wage: £25
Henry Wilde was serving as Chief Officer on the Olympic but was transferred to the Titanic for her maiden voyage. Wilde was off duty when the ship hit the iceberg. He took control of the even numbered lifeboats and was last seen trying to free the collapsible lifeboats. Wilde's body has never been recovered.
First Officer William Murdoch
William Murdoch, 39 years old, had served on a number of White Star ships. He joined the Titanic as first officer and was on the bridge at the time of the collision and gave the order to turn the ship. He helped to load women and children into the lifeboats. He did not survive the disaster and his body was not recovered.
Second Officer Charles Lightoller
Charles Lightoller had begun his sailing career at the age of 13 and had been involved in a shipwreck before. Lightoller was keen to load the lifeboats as quickly as possible and was still trying to free the collapsible lifeboats when Titanic sank. He was sucked under the sea but blown to the surface by air escaping from a vent. He managed to climb onto the overturned collapsible lifeboat B. He survived the disaster and as the most senior surviving officer testified at both inquiries.
Third Officer Herbert Pitman
Herbert Pitman was in his bunk when Titanic hit the iceberg. After helping to uncover lifeboats he was put in charge of lifeboat number 5 by William Murdoch. After Titanic had sunk, Pitman wanted to return for more passengers but others in the boat persuaded him that they would swamp the boat and they would all die. Pitman was called to give evidence during the inquiry into the disaster.
Fourth Officer Joseph Boxall
Joseph Boxall, aged 28, had been at sea for 13 years. After the collision Boxall helped to fire the distress rockets and to signal the nearby ship with a morse code lamp. Boxall was put in charge of lifeboat number 2 and like Pitman was persuaded not to return for more survivors after the ship had sunk. Boxall also gave evidence at the inquiry.
Fifth Officer Harold Lowe
Lowe was fast asleep when the Titanic hit the iceberg. When he eventually woke up, disturbed by noise, the ship was already at an angle. Lowe helped to load women and children into the lifeboats and took charge of lifeboat 14. After the cries and screams from the water had died down, Lowe put passengers from his lifeboat into others nearby before returning to pick up survivors. Lowe only found 4 people alive and one died before being rescued by the Carpathia. Lowe gave evidence at the inquiry.
Sixth Officer James Moody
James Moody was on duty at the time of the collision and took the phone call from Frederick Fleet warning of the iceberg. He helped to load the lifeboats and was last seen trying to launch the collapsible lifeboats. Moody did not survive the disaster.
Chief Baker Charles John Joughin
Monthly wage: £12
After the collision Joughin fortified himself with a quantity of alcohol before throwing deckchairs into the ocean for people to hold on to. As the ship neared its final moments Joughin climbed over the stern rails and 'rode' the ship into the ocean. He managed to reach collapsible B and because there was no more room to climb on, spent several hours in the freezing water. Joughin survived and was rescued by the Carpathia.
Lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee
Monthly wage: £5
Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee were on duty in the crow's nest and were the first to sight the iceberg. Fleet radioed the information to the bridge. Fleet survived in lifeboat 6, Lee in lifeboat 13. Both men were called to give evidence at the inquiry.
Radio Operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride
Monthly wage: £2.2s.6d
The two radio operators' main duty was the sending of private telegrams for passengers. However, they also received seven iceberg warnings from other ships on the 14th of April. After the collision they were asked to send the distress signal CQD (Come Quick Disaster). The signal was changed to the new distress code SOS. After contacting the Carpathia both operators stayed at their post until water poured into the Marconi room. Bride survived by climbing onto the overturned hull of collapsible B. Phillips also reached collapsible B but died sometime before dawn.
Monthly wage: £4.00
There were two bands on the Titanic. After the collision they grouped on the deck and played to keep the spirits of the passengers up. Some survivors state that the band played until the end and many claim that the hymn 'Nearer my God to thee' was the last song played. None of the bandsmen survived.
(See main article: The Titanic First Class: Profile of Passengers)
The maiden voyage of the Titanic had attracted a number of rich passengers, which made up the Titanic first class. A first class parlour suite cost £870 while a first class berth cost £30.
The following are some of the more well-known first class travellers.
John Jacob Astor
The richest passenger aboard was multi-millionaire John Jacob Astor. He was travelling with his second wife, Madeleine, who was five months pregnant. JJ Astor did not survive but his wife did.
Millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim was travelling on the Titanic with a lady friend. His wife and family were at home in New York. Guggenheim and his manservant helped women and children into lifeboats. When all the boats had gone they changed into their best clothes and prepared to “Die like gentlemen.”
Sir Cosmo and Lady Duff Gordon
Lady Duff Gordon was a notable dress designer whose clientele included Isadora Duncan, Oscar Wilde and the British royal family. The Duff Gordons both survived but were called to testify at the court of inquiry and explain why their boat contained only twelve people. During the inquiry they were accused and cleared of bribing crew members not to allow more people into the boat.
The 'Unsinkable' Molly Brown
Molly was the daughter of a poor Irish immigrant family whose husband struck rich when mining for silver. She was travelling home to America aboard the Titanic. She survived the disaster in lifeboat number 6 and earned her nickname because she took control of the boat, kept the women rowing for seven hours and gave her furs to keep others warm.
Isador and Ida Straus
Isador Straus was a partner of Macey's department store, New York. He and his wife were returning from a European holiday. Both died on the Titanic. Ida nearly got into lifeboat number 8 but refused saying to her husband “We have been living together for many years. Where you go, I go.”
There were 325 first class passengers on board - 175 men, 144 women and 6 children.
202 first class passengers survived - 57 men, 140 women and 5 children.
(See main article: Titanic Second Class Passengers)
The Titanic second class passengers enjoyed a level of luxury that rivaled that of first class on other liners. Titanic was also the first ship to have an electric elevator for second-class passengers.
A second-class ticket cost about £13
The following passengers are the most well known second-class travelers.
Lawrence Beesley was a public school teacher traveling to America for a holiday. He survived the disaster in lifeboat 17 and was one of the first people to publish an account of the sinking and rescue.
Seven year old Eva Hart was travelling to America with her parents. Eva's mother had a premonition and refused to sleep at night during the voyage. Eva and her mother were saved in lifeboat 14. Eva never saw her father again.
Juozas Montvila and Thomas Byles
These two men were Roman Catholic priests who conducted services for second class passengers. After the sinking they both helped other passengers to safety, heard confessions and prayed. Both died in the tragedy.
Charles Aldworth was first class passenger, William Carter's chauffeur. Carter's Renault 25 motor car was stored in the cargo hold. Charles Aldworth did not survive.
There were 285 second class passengers on board - 168 men, 93 women and 24 children/
118 second class passengers survived the disaster - 14 men, 80 women and 24 children.
(See main article: Titanic Third Class Passengers)
Many of the Titanic third class passengers traveling in rooms or steerage were emigrants traveling to the United States from Ireland and Scandinavia. In all some 33 nationalities were represented in the passenger lists. Accommodations were clearly more spartan than those for the first and second classes.
A ticket for Titanic third class passage cost between £3 and £8.
The information below contains statistics on some of the nationalities travelling in third class and survival accounts.
There were around 120 Irish passengers on the Titanic most of whom were emigrants hoping for a better life in America. Most of them did not make it. However, Anna Kelly who had gone up on deck to investigate what had happened, survived in lifeboat 16. She later became a nun.
There were 63 Finnish passengers on the Titanic of whom only 20 survived. Mathilda Backstr was travelling to New York with her husband and brothers. She survived in one of the last lifeboats to le