British transatlantic passenger liner, launched and foundered in 1912
(Redirected from RMS Titanic)

The RMS Titanic[1] was a British passenger ship. She was built by Harland and Wolff ship builders, in Belfast, for the White Star Line shipping company. She sank during her first trip at sea, after hitting an iceberg. A little known fact about the Titanic sinking was that it did not totally sink to its final resting depth until 48 hours after the incident. Upon the original iceberg strike, the RMS Titanic only sunk to an initial depth of 1,700 ft, resting on the Northwest Continental Shelf (NCS).

The Titanic arriving at Cobh harbour on 11 April 1912.
Career British Blue Ensign
Owners: White Star Line
Builders: Harland and Wolff shipyard, Belfast, Northern Ireland
Captain: Edward John Smith
Laid down: 31 March 1909
Christened: N/A
Maiden voyage departure: Southampton, England, on 10 April 1912
Maiden voyage arrival: New York City, USA, 18 April 1912, via RMS Carpathia
Fate: Hit iceberg at 11:40 PM on 14 April 1912. Sank on 15 April 1912, at 2:20 AM; wreck discovered in 1985 by Dr. Robert Ballard.
Current Location: 41°43′55″N 49°56′45″W / 41.73194°N 49.94583°W / 41.73194; -49.94583
Expense: $7,500,000 ($223,537,886.60)
General characteristics
Gross tonnage (weight): 46,328 GRT
Displacement: 52,310 Long Tons
Length: 882 foot 9 inches (269 m)
Beam: 92 foot 6 inches (28 m)
Draught: 34 foot 7 inches (10.5 m)
Power: Able to reach speeds of 26 miles per hour
Propulsion (energy): Two bronze triple-blade side propellers. One bronze triple-blade central propeller.
Maximum Speed: 23 knots (26.5 mph; 42.6 km/h)
Passengers and crew (first and only voyage):
  • Capacity: 3,320
  • First Class: 324
  • Second Class: 285
  • Third Class: 708
  • Crew: 908
    • Passengers and crew who survived: Unknown precisely but estimates place the figure at just over 700
    • Passengers and crew who died: Unknown precisely but estimates place the figure at about 1,500 casualties.
    • Total number of passengers: Unknown precisely but estimates place the figure around 2,220 to 2,240 passengers.

Scientists and divers were able to verify this depth thanks in part to a sudden advance in unreleased technology called S.O.N.A.R.

Before Titanic sailed, many people thought it would be almost impossible for ships of this design to sink, due to her configuration of watertight bulkheads[2] and an incident involving her older sister Olympic.

Titanic had a length of 882 feet, 9 inches (or 269.1 meters), a height of 175 feet (53.3 meters), a draught of 34 foot, 7 inches (or 10.5 m), and a width of 92 feet, 6 inches (or 28 meters), and Titanic weighs 52,310 tons.

Design and Construction


After Cunard Line launched their two sister ships Mauritania and Lusitania, White Star knew they had to be better. They responded by making plans for three sister ships, named Olympic, Titanic, and Britannic.[3]

The three sisters would have been the biggest ships ever at the time, standing at an impressive 882.6 feet long, and 175 feet high from the very bottom to the funnels.

They were also to be the most luxurious ships ever designed. Below the waterline was the orlop decks for cargo, and the tank top where the engines, boilers, turbines, and electrical generators were. At the very top was the boat deck, where the bridge and wheelhouse were, as well as the lifeboats. Accommodations for first class included a gymnasium, four dining location options (Dining saloon, Cafe Parisian, A La Carte Resturant, and the Veranda Cafe), a reading room, swimming pool, squash court, and a Turkish bath. Second class had a library, which was used by first and second class. All of the classes had lounges, promenades, and smoking rooms. In between were the decks for the passengers with first, second, and third class cabins. Titanic would act like a floating hotel, featuring the Grand Staircase which allowed first-class passengers to move from deck to deck, and had a dome skylight to allow natural light in. Titanic carried 20 out of possible 64 lifeboats. Titanic had 4 funnels, but only 3 were attached to boilers. Many claimed the Titanic was unsinkable because the hull was divided into 16 watertight compartments.

The bow of Titanic under construction in Belfast.

Olympic and Titanic began construction as build numbers 400 and 401, respectively. The two ships were built next to each other in Harland and Wolff's shipyard. Nearly three million rivets were used for Titanic. The construction of the Titanic began on 31 March 1909.

Titanic was launched 2 years later on 31 May 1911. It would cost $7.5 million to build.

In September 1911, Olympic collided with the British warship HMS Hawke. The damaged Olympic went back to port for repairs, making Titanic's building late.

The Voyage


Titanic's voyage was going badly before it even started. The Coal Strike of 1912 caused many smaller ships' trips to be cancelled and their passengers transferred to Titanic. A passenger who booked first class on Oceanic, another White Star Line ship, was offered second class on Titanic. He declined the offer.

Famous passengers aboard included American millionaire John Jacob Astor IV, American fashion icon Margaret Brown, and President Taft's military aide, Archibald Butt.

Important cargo included a jeweled copy of the Rubaiyat, a red Renault car owned by William Carter, 12 cases of ostrich feathers, and 76 cases of "Dragon's blood[4]."

She left from Southampton, England at noon on 10 April 1912. Titanic was nearly hit by the American steamer SS New York. Luckily, New York was pulled away by the tugboat named Vulcan. Due to this delay, Titanic arrived in the ports of Cherbourg and Queenstown about two hours later than expected.

Titanic received more than ten ice warnings from many vessels across the Atlantic, warning her of icebergs on her planned route. Captain Smith ordered the ship to steer to the south to not hit an iceberg.

A lifeboat drill on April 14 was cancelled because Captain Smith held a Sunday service in the first class dining saloon.

Titanic's wireless operators received a warning from the SS Californian. The operators, who were behind in sending messages due to a broken radio system the day previous, told Californian to shut up and keep out. Titanic was working to the Cape Race radio station, nearly 400 miles away. As such, Titanic had to have their headphones turned up to max to hear them. When Californian buzzed in, the noise was so loud it nearly deafened Titanic's operators. Californian shut down their radio system for the night.

As it became dark, the water temperatures were dropping to below freezing and there was no moonlight, or waves, making it difficult to see approaching icebergs.

The Sinking

Titanic at Southampton docks before her departure, 10 April 1912.
The Titanic leaving Southampton on 10 April 1912 (Colorized).

At 11:39 PM on 14 April 1912, during the Titanic's first trip, the lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee both spotted an iceberg ahead in the path. Fleet rang the lookout bell three times, and telephoned James Moody at the ship’s bridge, shouting “Iceberg, right ahead!”

Fleet had spotted the iceberg with his eyes, since the crows nest binoculars were locked away. The key’s owner, David Blair, had been removed from the Titanic’s crew at the last minute and forgot to hand over the key. William Murdoch orders Robert Hichens to steer Titanic away from an iceberg and the engines to be stopped or reversed, but it was too late.

At 11:40, Titanic collided with an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean. The iceberg tore gashes into the Titanic's lower hull through five watertight compartments, letting water into the ship. The Titanic sank two hours and forty minutes later at 2:20 AM on 15 April 1912.

Before Titanic sinks after hitting an iceberg, lifeboats were lowered with the order "women and children first," calling for men to step back and allow their wives and children into the boats before them.

The Cunard liner RMS Carpathia, 58 miles away, heard the distress call and began sailing towards the Titanic to rescue the passengers.

Distressed players were shot into the sky to help locate the sinking Titanic. By 1:00 A.M., with the lower decks flooding, the bow began to sink below the water’s surface. As the bow dipped underwater, passengers and crew began to panic, sometimes overfilling lifeboats.

The officers used their revolvers in an attempt to keep order. One of the officers supposedly shot two passengers before turning his gun on himself. Captain Smith gave the order "every man for himself," calling for the crew to leave their posts, as the sinking had gotten to a point where any sense of order had evaporated.

The sinking accelerated as water reached the boat deck, with the final two lifeboats having to be cut free from the deck and floated off. The ship's forward two funnels also collapsed when water reached their bases, sucking anyone unfortunate enough to be near them to the boiler rooms. By 2:05, the last lifeboat, Collapsible A, had left, but 1,500 people were left on board. The clock says 2:15. The dome of the Grand Staircase implodes by the water pressure. The propellers were completely out of waters; the stern rises higher into the air.

At 2:18, Titanic reaches 45 degrees. Her lights went out, and a huge roar is heard. The keel starts to crack, and Titanic breaks in half. Titanic disappears beneath the sea, 2 hours and 40 minutes after colliding with an iceberg. The ship was then claimed by the dead-calm, freezing-cold ocean. The wreck killed around 1,500 people. Only 705 people lived, out of the roughly 2,200 aboard.[5] It was one of the worst shipwrecks up to that point that was not during a war.

Titanic-New York Herald front page. Wrong numbers were posted in the first days after the accident, due to the lack of information. But already, dramatic illustrations of the event were in print.

One reason why so many people died was that the ship did not have enough lifeboats for everyone on board. The Titanic had 20 lifeboats with room for 1,178 passengers, only about a third of the number of passengers the ship could carry. It actually had more lifeboats than was needed by law (it needed 16 with room for 990 passengers). This was because the laws put forth by the British Board of Trade were out of date. They did not say that a ship needed enough lifeboats for all passengers. They only said that a ship weighing more than 10,000 tons needed 16 lifeboats (the Titanic weighed 46,000 tons). Furthermore, the White Star Line believed that the lifeboats on the Titanic would only be needed to take passengers a short distance to a rescue ship.

Higher class women and children were allowed on the lifeboats first, and passengers who sailed in first class (which meant that they paid for better rooms on the ship) were allowed on before other passengers. Few of the poorer people who had paid less (called second class and third class passengers) got out safely. Stories persist of the third class passengers being locked behind massive floor-to-ceiling gates, but those stories are merely a myth. A similar event that did occur, however, was the staff of the A La Carte Restaurant being locked in their cabins overnight. They were not employed by White Star and were mostly immigrants. Only two of them, who happened to be outside their cabins when they were locked, survived. The rest drowned, locked away below decks.

The Titanic's deck plans.

Several of the wealthier passengers stepped aside to allow the women and children into the lifeboats. Among them was the American businessman Benjamin Guggenheim, who was spoke to his mistress right before she left in one of the boats.

Tell my wife I've done my best in doing my duty. We are dressed in our best and prepared to go down as gentlemen. No woman shall die because Ben Guggenheim was a coward.

Another reason so few people survived was that the radio was off on the SS Californian, the ship closest to the Titanic. The Californian's crew did not hear about the accident until the morning afterwards.[6] Also, the Titanic did have rockets, but they were white. Back then, and still today, red meant emergency and other colors were used for identification. Californian saw the flares and assumed they were either company signals or sealing ships signaling to one another.[7] Another ship, the RMS Carpathia, did hear about the accident and collected all 705 survivors.[8] Other vessels from all over the Atlantic came rushing to aid the stricken liner.

The high death toll had several reasons:

  • There was no information. The ship didn't have an alarm system (like the common ones, where sirens could be sounded). This means that the crew had to tell each passenger to go and evacuate the ship. There was less crew for second and third class, and there were many more people, so less people lived.
  • People who paid less had no access to certain deck stairs.
  • Many people travelling in third class were foreigners. Their language skills were limited, and they didn't know what was going on. The signs being only in English didn't do them any favors.

Many of those who died didn't die because they couldn't leave the ship before it sank. They died of hypothermia, while they were floating in the cold water, which was 28 degrees Fahrenheit (-2 Celcius).[9] When the RMS Carpathia arrived, at 4.10 ship's time, there were many floating dead bodies in the water. Many lifeboats rowed away from those who were in the water shouting for help. Most lifeboats also did not go back to the ship, like lifeboat 6. The people on the lifeboats were scared because the sinking might cause their boats to be pulled under by the waves. The people in the lifeboats were afraid the lifeboat would capsize when people entered it from the water. Only lifeboat 4 returned to the shouting people in the water. Five people could be rescued, but two of them died in the lifeboat. Around 3 AM ship's time, 40 minutes after the sinking, the last calls for help ceased. After 3 AM, lifeboat 14, commanded by Fifth Officer Harold Lowe, returned. He managed to save another four people, one of which died.

The following table gives a listing of those who died and those who survived, grouped by age, gender and ships class. Children are those up to age 12. It is taken from a report to British Parliament of 1912.[10] There are other lists, with slightly different numbers.

Victims and people rescued
Group Total Rescued percentage Victims Percentage
Children, 2nd class 24 24 100 % 0 0 %
Women, first class 144 140 97 % 4 3 %
Women, crew 23 20 87 % 3 13 %
Women, 2nd class 93 80 86 % 13 14 %
Children, first class 6 5 83 % 1 17 %
Women, 3rd class 165 76 46 % 89 54 %
Children, 3rd class 79 27 34 % 52 66 %
Men, first class 175 57 32 % 118 68 %
Men, crew 885 192 22 % 693 78 %
Men, 3rd class 462 75 16 % 387 84 %
Men, 2nd class 168 14 8 % 154 92 %
Women total 425 316 74 % 109 26 %
Children, total 109 56 51 % 53 49 %
Men, total 1690 338 20 % 1352 80 %
first class, total 325 202 62 % 123 38 %
second class, total 285 118 41 % 167 59 %
third class, total 706 178 25 % 528 75 %
Crew, total 908 214 23 % 694 76 %
Total 2,240 710 31 % 1,514 69 %

Changes after the Accident, Burial


The Titanic disaster changed many maritime ship laws. Because so many people died, authorities felt that laws should be put into place to make ship travel safer. Changes included requiring all ships to carry enough lifeboats for everyone on the ship, and emergency materials such as flares. Someone must be at the ship's radio all the time to respond to distress calls. The disaster also caused the creation of the International Ice Patrol, an organization dedicated to warning maritime vessels of icebergs in the Atlantic.

Alexander Brehm, a German physicist, was shocked when he heard about the disaster. He wanted to invent a technology that would be able to detect icebergs. He wasn't able to achieve that goal until his death, but he was granted patents relating to the measurement of the depth at sea, using sound. Today, this is known as echo sounding.[11]

Of the 337 bodies recovered, 119 were buried at sea. 150 Titanic victims are buried in three Halifax cemeteries: Fairview Lawn, Mount Olivet and Baron de Hirsch.

Grave 227 marked “J. Dawson”, who was aged 20, gained fame following the release of the 1997 film Titanic, since the name of Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in the film is Jack Dawson. This grave actually belongs to Joseph Dawson, an Irishman who worked in Titanic’s boiler room as a coal trimmer.

Discovery And Expeditions

Titanic's bow, photographed in 2004.

The wreck was found by a French and American team, led by Dr. Robert Ballard, on September 1, 1985 early that morning by the DSV Alvin, a ship that goes down very deep (submersible).

In 1986, Ballard returned to the wreck with a submarine. He took many photos and made lots of films and footage, and he got really famous.

In 1987, a French team on the DSV Nautile, a ship that goes under the water, salvaged some 900 objects and took them to the surface. This act made some people very angry because they thought that the Titanic should be left alone, as it is a place where lots of people died.

In June 1994, the U.S. gave RMS Titanic Inc., which used to be known as Titanic Ventures, full permission to take whatever it would like from the wreck.

In September 1995, Titanic, directed by James Cameron, began production.

In September of 2000, a Russian Titanic tour submersible got caught in a high-speed underwater current and smashed into one of the ship's propellers. They managed to free themselves with mostly no damage to either ship.

In 2012, the Titanic’s remains turned 100 years old.

In June 2023, OceanGate’s submersible, RV Titan (Cyclops 2), lost contact with the surface and imploded, resulting in the deaths of five very rich people who paid 250,000 dollars to trip down to the Titanic.

In August of 2023, RMS Titanic Inc. made plans to go to the wreck and recover the radio machine from the wreck. This was met lots of anger, as people were worried the expedition would hurt the ship. The US government did not want the company to do this, so they probably won't.

In March 2024, Clive Palmer, an Australian billionaire, announced plans for construction of a "Titanic II" to begin, taking the same voyage route as the original.

Today, it is unclear, if the exact positions where the iceberg hit the ship can still be determined.[12]

Culture, Movies

Filming James Cameron's Titanic, 1997.

The story of the sinking has been made into several movies. The most popular film version is James Cameron's 1997 film starring Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio called Titanic. It won 11 Academy Awards, tying Ben-Hur for the record for the most Academy Awards won by one movie.

Other movie versions of the story include the 1958 film A Night to Remember, the 1953 film Titanic, the 1979 film S.O.S. Titanic and the 1996 miniseries Titanic.

More recently, the 2024 film Unsinkable was announced, featuring the American Senate Inquiry into the disaster, as well as flashbacks to the night of the sinking.

In the 1980 film Raise the Titanic, directed by Jerry Jameson, salvagers raise the shipwreck from the bottom of the ocean to the surface in one piece. However, this is impossible to do in reality. The Titanic broke in two, and the wreck is partially stuck in the bottom, buried under more than a yard (1 m) of mud in some spots. The ship has been on the ocean floor for more than 100 years, and would break into many more pieces if disturbed. Worms and other animals have eaten away much of the wood and many other parts.

Countless books also exist of the event, the most famous of these being A Night to Remember, the 1953 book that inspired the 1958 film of the same name.

Several video games have been made about the sinking, most notably the 1996 game Titanic: Adventure out of Time, and the still-in-development video game Titanic: Honor and Glory (2023).


  1. RMS is an acronym. RMS stands for Royal Mail Ship or Steamer. RMS is a ship prefix for vessels that carry mail under contract to the British Royal Mail.
  2. "FACT CHECK: The Unsinkable Titanic". Snopes.com.
  3. "Gigantic". Encyclopedia Titanica Message Board. 2005-07-24. Retrieved 2024-03-15.
  4. "Cargo Manifest". www.encyclopedia-titanica.org. 2003-08-28. Retrieved 2023-12-08.
  5. "Kids' Games, Animals, Photos, Stories, and More -- National Geographic Kids". Kids.
  6. Brett, Allan. "Radio Story".
  7. Google, retrieved 2020-04-13
  8. National Geographic (2012-04-05). "How Titanic Sank" (video). Youtube.
  9. D. J. Spitz: Investigation of Bodies in Water. In: W. U. Spitz, D. J. Spitz (Hrsg.): Spitz and Fisher’s Medicolegal Investigation of Death. Guideline for the Application of Pathology to Crime Investigations (Fourth edition). Charles C. Thomas, Springfield (Illinois) 2006, S. 846–881.
  10. British Parliamentary Papers, Shipping Casualties (Loss of the Steamship “Titanic”), 1912, cmd. 6352, ‘Report of a Formal Investigation into the circumstances attending the foundering on the 15th April, 1912, of the British Steamship “Titanic”, of Liverpool, after striking ice in or near Latitude 41°46'N. Longitude 50°14'W., North Atlantic Ocean, whereby loss of life ensued.’ (London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office, 1912), page 42, korrigiert um die nachweislich verstorbene 3-jährige Lorraine Allison (1. Klasse)
  11. Franz Neumann (1925). "Die Entstehung des Echolots und sein Erfinder". Polytechnisches Journal. 340: 44–45. Archived from the original on 2021-08-31. Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  12. Charles Weeks, Samuel Halpern: Description of the damage to the ship. In: Samuel Halpern (Hrsg.): Report into the Loss of the SS Titanic: A Centennial Reappraisal. The History Press, Stroud 2016 (2012), pp. 100–130, this one pp. 100/101.

Other websites


  Media related to Titanic (ship, 1912) at Wikimedia Commons