|Titanic: The True Story
"Women and children first"
RMS Titanic was a passenger liner that struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City, and sank on April 15th, 1912, resulting in the deaths of 1,517 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.
The RMS Titanic was a British passenger ship built by Harland and Wolff ship builders, in Belfast, for the White Star Line company. Before it sailed, many people thought it would be almost impossible for it to sink.
The largest passenger steamship in the world at the time, the Olympic-class RMS Titanic was owned by the White Star Line and constructed at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland.
After setting sail for New York City on April 10th, 1912 with 2,223 people on board, she hit the iceberg four days into the crossing, at 11:40 pm on April 14th, 1912, and sank at 2:20 am the following morning.
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.
Titanic was designed by experienced engineers, using some of the most advanced technologies and extensive safety features of the time.
The sinking of a passenger liner on her maiden voyage, the high loss of life and media frenzy over Titanic's famous victims, the legends about the sinking, the resulting changes in maritime law, and the discovery of the wreck have all contributed to the enduring interest in Titanic.
Even before the survivors arrived in New York, investigations were being planned to discover what had happened, and what could be done to prevent a recurrence. The United States Senate initiated an inquiry into the disaster on 19 April, a day after Carpathia arrived in New York.
The chairman of the inquiry, Senator William Alden Smith, wanted to gather accounts from passengers and crew while the events were still fresh in their minds. Smith also needed to subpoena all surviving British passengers and crew while they were still on American soil, which prevented them from returning to the UK before the American inquiry was completed on 25 May.
The British press condemned Smith as an opportunist, insensitively forcing an inquiry as a means of gaining political prestige and seizing "his moment to stand on the world stage". Smith, however, already had a reputation as a campaigner for safety on U.S. railroads, and wanted to investigate any possible malpractices by railroad tycoon J. P. Morgan, Titanic's ultimate owner.
Lord Mersey was appointed to head the British Board of Trade's inquiry into the disaster, which took place between May 2nd and July 3rd. Each inquiry took testimony from both passengers and crew of Titanic, crew members of Leyland Line's Californian, Captain Arthur Rostron of Carpathia and other experts.
Last Mysteries of the Titanic
The investigations found that many safety rules were simply out of date, and new laws were recommended.
Numerous safety improvements for ocean-going vessels were implemented, including improved hull and bulkhead design, access throughout the ship for egress of passengers, lifeboat requirements, improved life-vest design, the holding of safety drills, better passenger notification, radio communications laws, etc.
The investigators also learned that Titanic had sufficient lifeboat space for all first-class passengers, but not for the lower classes. In fact, most third class passengers had no idea where the lifeboats were, much less any way of getting to the upper decks where the lifeboats were stowed.
U.S. immigration regulations of the time required complete isolation of third class passengers. As a result, the route to the boat deck through the higher classes of accommodation was quite inefficient—so much so that third-class steward John Hart had to guide E-deck passengers up to the boat deck in two trips, leaving many passengers still below decks when the ship sank.
At 12:13 pm on May 31st, 2011, exactly 100 years after Titanic rolled down her slipway, a single flare was fired over Belfast's docklands in commemoration. All boats in the area around the Harland and Wolff shipyard then sounded their horns and the assembled crowd applauded for exactly 62 seconds, the time it had originally taken for the liner to roll down the slipway in 1911.