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Unsinkable Titanic sinks- The ocean disaster

Young Bites. Dated: 4/16/2018 11:13:07 AM


On April 15, 1912, the British ocean liner Titanic sinks into the North Atlantic Ocean about 400 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada. The massive ship, which carried 2,200 passengers and crew, had struck an iceberg two and half hours before. The RMS Titanic, billed as unsinkable, sinks into the icy waters of the North Atlantic after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage, killing 1,517 people. On April 10, 1912, the Titanic, largest ship afloat, left Southampton, England on her maiden voyage to New York City. The White Star Line had spared no expense in assuring her luxury. A legend even before she sailed, her passengers were a mixture of the world’s wealthiest basking in the elegance of first class accommodations and immigrants packed into steerage. It was touted as the safest ship ever built, so safe that she carried only 20 lifeboats - enough to provide accommodation for only half her 2,200 passengers and crew. This discrepancy rested on the belief that since the ship’s construction made her “unsinkable,” her lifeboats were necessary only to rescue survivors of other sinking ships. Additionally, lifeboats took up valuable deck space.
The United Kingdom’s White Star Line built the Titanic to be the most luxurious cruise ship in the world. It was nearly 900 feet long and more than 100 feet high. The Titanic could reach speeds of 30 knots and was thought to be the world’s fastest ship. With its individualized watertight compartments, which was seen as virtually unsinkable.
On its first voyage, from Southampton, England, to New York with stops in Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown, Ireland, the Titanic was carrying 2,206 people, including a crew of 898. A relatively mild winter had produced a bumper crop of icebergs in the North Atlantic, but the crew, believing their ship was unsinkable, paid scant attention to warnings.
On the night of Sunday, April 14, other ships in the area reported icebergs by radio, but their messages were not delivered to the bridge or the captain of the Titanic. The iceberg that struck the ship was spotted at 11:40 p.m. Although a dead-on collision was avoided, the Titanic‘s starboard side violently scraped the iceberg, ripping open six compartments. The ship’s design could withstand only four compartments flooding.
Minutes later, the crew radioed for help, sending out an SOS signal, the first time the new type of help signal was used. Ten minutes after midnight, the order for passengers to head for the lifeboats was given. Unfortunately, there were only lifeboats for about half of the people on board. Additionally, there had been no instruction or drills regarding such a procedure and general panic broke out on deck.
Titanic received six warnings of sea ice on 14 April but was travelling near her maximum speed when her lookouts sighted the iceberg. Unable to turn quickly enough, the ship suffered a glancing blow that buckled her starboard side and opened five of her sixteen compartments to the sea. Titanic had been designed to stay afloat with four of her forward compartments flooded but no more, and the crew soon realised that the ship would sink. They used distress flares and radio (wireless) messages to attract help as the passengers were put into lifeboats. In accordance with existing practice, Titanic’s lifeboat system was designed to ferry passengers to nearby rescue vessels, not to hold everyone on board simultaneously; therefore, with the ship sinking rapidly and help still hours away, there was no safe refuge for many of the passengers and crew. Compounding this, poor management of the evacuation meant many boats were launched before they were completely full.
An International Ice Patrol was established to monitor icebergs in the North Atlantic shipping lanes. It was also required that ships maintain a 24-hour radio watch. A fire had begun in one of Titanic’s coal bunkers approximately 10 days prior to the ship’s departure, and continued to burn for several days into its voyage, but it was over on 14 April. RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene about an hour and a half after the sinking and rescued the last of the survivors by 09:15 on 15 April, some nine and a half hours after the collision. The disaster caused widespread outrage over the lack of lifeboats, lax regulations, and the unequal treatment of the three passenger classes during the evacuation. Subsequent inquiries recommended sweeping changes to maritime regulations, leading to the establishment in 1914 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which still governs maritime safety today. 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 served as captain of 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 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 Green. On September 1, 1985, a joint U.S.-French expedition located the wreck of the Titanic lying on the ocean floor at a depth of about 13,000 feet , after many attempts over many years, divers were finally able to locate the wreckage of the Titanic on the floor of the North Atlantic.Because of a shortage of lifeboats and the lack of satisfactory emergency procedures, more than 1,500 people went down in the sinking ship or froze to death in the icy North Atlantic waters. A number of notable American and British citizens died in the tragedy, including the noted British journalist William Thomas Stead and heirs to the Straus, Astor, and Guggenheim fortunes. The Carpathia arrived about an hour later and rescued the 705 people who made it onto the lifeboats. The people who were forced into the cold waters all perished.The survivors in the lifeboats were brought aboard, and a handful of others were pulled out of the water. It was later discovered that the Leyland liner Californian had been less than 20 miles away at the time of the accident but had failed to hear the Titanic‘s distress signals because its radio operator was off duty. Elizabeth Shutes, aged 40, was governess to nineteen-year-old Margaret Graham who was traveling with her parents. As Shutes and her charge sit in their First Class cabin they feel a shudder travel through the ship. At first comforted by her belief in the safety of the ship, Elizabeth’s composure is soon shattered by the realization of the imminent tragedy.

 

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