Illustration of Titanic. Copyright: Dorling Kindersley
The RMS Titanic was a passenger liner that struck an iceberg in the north Atlantic Ocean on her maiden voyage from Southampton , England, to New York City , United States, and sank on 15 April 1912 , resulting in the deaths of 1,517 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history. The Titanic was designed by experienced engineers, using some of the most advanced technologies and extensive safety features of the time. That she sank on her maiden voyage and that many lives were lost resulted in a media protest which led to changes in maritime law . Another consequence was that the Titanic , which had been touted as the "unsinkable ship", went down in history as a symbol of human arrogance and the limitations of technology.
The largest passenger steamship in the world at the time, the Olympic -class Royal Mail Ship RMS Titanic was owned by the White Star Line and constructed at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast , Ireland , UK . After setting sail for New York City on 10 April 1912 with 2,223 people on board, she hit an iceberg four days into the crossing, at 11:40 pm (UTC-3 ) on 14 April 1912, and sank at 2:20 am on the morning of 15 April. The ship did not sail into the iceberg head-on but rather suffered a glancing blow in a manoeuvre trying to avoid it. Further the iceberg did not open her plates like a can opener but rather tore them apart in the riveted joints. The Titanic was designed to survive a head-on collision that would flood the first four of her water tight compartments or a collision from another ship that would ram her in the middle and flood maximum two compartments; however, this long opening in the hull was not foreseen and the crew soon realised that the ship was going to sink.
The high casualty rate resulting from the sinking was due in part to the fact that, although complying with the regulations of the time, the ship carried lifeboats for only 1,178 people. A disproportionate number of men died due to the "women and children first" protocol that was enforced by the ship's crew. This procedure meant that many boats were only half filled. Since the sea was calm, it would have been safe to fill all boats to capacity and thereby rescue an additional 500 persons. Further, only a few were picked up from the water after the sinking out of fear of the boats being overfilled or capsizing. Another factor that contributed to the high death rate was the failure of the nearby ship the Californian to come to the rescue even though she was within visible range. In the end it was the Carpathia which came to the rescue and picked up the 710 survivors from the lifeboats but not until the Titanic had been sunk for almost 2 hours.
In the aftermath of the sinking, the White Star Line's chairman, J. Bruce Ismay , was criticised for having left the ship while there were still passengers on board who could have been saved and the same was the case for the captain of the Californian for failing to assist the sinking ship. In navigation, the disaster led to new safety regulations especially regarding the number of lifeboats which were increased to provide room for everyone on board. Further, wireless telegraphs were to be manned at all hours to make sure a ship could be called to assistance. Since the sinking, the memory of her has been kept alive by books and films. Though the wreck itself has never been recovered, nearly 6,000 artefacts have been lifted from it and are on exhibition today. Memorials of the victims have also been created, mostly in towns associated with the ship and her people.
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