It was the most luxurious cruise liner of its time, and it was said to be unsinkable. But on April 14, 1912, the unthinkable happened. The boat hit an iceberg, sank, and killed approximately 1,500 passengers. This doomed cruise liner was the Titanic.
Titanic was a passenger liner from England that was ahead of its time and included all the latest luxuries. At the time, it was the largest ship on water and was one of three Olympic class ocean liners from the company White Star Line.
The Titanic’s maiden voyage set sail on Wednesday April 10. There were approximately 2,224 people on board, 324 of which were in first class, 284 in second class, 709 in third class, and the rest were staff. At noon, the Titanic finally set sail from Southampton to its destination of New York City.
Around 11:40pm on April 14, 1912, Fredrick Fleet spotted an iceberg, and First Officer William Murdoch ordered the ship to be steered around it. Titanic collided with the iceberg on its starboard side. The hit caused many holes below the water line, which caused five of the ships water tight compartments to be breached, and the boat couldn’t survive with more than four compartments breached.
Passengers aboard the Titanic were not prepared at all for a situation on this scale, since most ships at that time were unsinkable, and people saw the lifeboats to transfer them to another awaiting vessel.
The Titanic only had enough lifeboats for about half of the passengers, and, if the boat was filled, only a third of the passengers could have been saved. Crew members were also not trained, so they did not know how to safely board people onto the lifeboats and didn’t know how many people the boats could handle.
Members of the crew ordered “women and children first” when they were loading up the 20 lifeboats. Third class passengers were left to fend for themselves, and most of them were trapped below decks due to the quickly rising water.
Two hours and forty minutes after the fatal collision, at 2:40 A.M on April 15, the Titanic’s sinking rate increased as her forward deck dipped underwater, and the sea swept through the open gates and compartments. The boat then broke into two between the third and fourth funnels, because of the force at the keel. It then rose to be completely vertical, with people still clinging to it as it sank.
Many people believed that the boat went down in one piece, but that was later proven wrong when the wreckage was found in two pieces.
The remaining passengers still left on the boat were then submerged into deathly cold water of about 28°F. Most of the people left in the water died from cardiac arrest or other reactions to the cold water. Distress signals had been sent out when the boat first hit, and none of the boats were close enough to have reached the boat before it completely sank.
The first boat, RMS Carpathia, arrived at the scene around 4:00am after seeing their earlier distress calls. The Carpathia took the 710 survivors onto its decks and then took them to their original destination.
On that fatal day in April, about 1,500 people lost their lives, and this accident is considered the deadliest commercial peacetime maritime disaster in modern history. The area around where the Titanic went down is now known as the Iceberg Alley, due to its vast number of icebergs as far as one can see.
Although almost all the survivors of the sinking are now deceased, their story of that fateful night live on.