RMS Titanic, the largest ship in the world at the time, claimed to be unsinkable, and became one of the most awful tragedies of all time. Despite what was depicted in Cameron's famous movie, here are 20 historical facts you may not know!
1. She Was Called 'RMS Titanic' For A Reason
When it was first introduced to the public in 1912, the RMS Titanic was the biggest passenger vessel in the world. She fully deserved the name as she measured around 882 feet in length, 92 feet in breadth, 104 feet in height and weighed 46,328 tons. The prefix RMS, which stood for Royal Mail Ship, was to be known as a sign of distinction and quality.
2. Things Could Have Been Worse
The disaster cost the lives of more than 1,500 out of the estimated 2,224 passengers and crew aboard. However, it could have been a lot worse since, for her maiden voyage, Titanic held much less than her maximum total capacity, which was 3,547.
3. Tickets Were Incredibly Expensive
The sky-high ticket price for Titanic really matched her fame. First-class tickets ranged from $30-$4,350 ($774-$112,274 today). Second-class tickets ranged from $12-$60 ($310-$1,549 today). Even third-class tickets ranged from $3-$40 ($77-$1,032 today).
4. The Ship Depended On Coal Fuel
It needed to burn about 600 tonnes of coal a day, which required a team of 176 men to hand shovel the coal into the furnaces. Many of these men were among the first to die since their working area was automatically sealed after the floodwater came in so that the rest of the ship could be kept safe.
5. The Extravagant Interior & Eateries
Titanic's interior design was loosely inspired by the Ritz Hotel in London, which included a gym, pool, Turkish bath, a kennel for first-class dogs, a squash court, and even its own onboard newspaper. For first-class passengers, the ship was stocked with 20,000 bottles of beer and stout, 1,500 bottles of wine and 8,000 cigars. Their last dinner was comprised of 11 courses.
6. The Captain Was About To Retire
The ship's captain, Edward Smith had had a long and successful career. Before he went down with the vessel, he said to the crew: "Well boys, you've done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you. You know the rule of the sea. It's every man for himself now, and God bless you." He was going to retire after the voyage.
7. The Disaster Was Somehow Prophetic
14 years before the Titanic sank, Morgan Robertson, published a novel called Futility, which told an almost identical story. It was about the largest ship ever built, Titan, claimed itself "unsinkable" but later struck an iceberg and sank, which caused more than half the passengers to die in the North Atlantic due to the lack of lifeboats. No explanation was made for such a prophetic coincidence.
8. Several Warnings Got Neglected
There were actually 6 ice warnings from other ships during the voyage. However, the ship continued to steam ahead at full speed, which was standard practice at the time to maintain prompt timekeeping. The tragedy of the Titanic was the catalyst for several major changes to maritime regulations, to ensure there would be no repeat of the awful tragedy.
9. Only Seconds Before The Collision
There were just 37 seconds from lookout's first sighting to the impact with the iceberg, which didn't leave much time for the crew to decide what to do, not to mention how much pressure they were under when they had to take action.
10. Third Class Died Fast
In comparison to the first-class luxurious experience, the third-class passengers stayed at the bottom of the ship where they could hear the roar of engines all the time. According to some firsthand reports, gates separating the third-class areas from other classes were kept shut even after the impact, and only about 25% of third-class passengers survived.
11. Insufficient Lifeboats For Everyone
There weren’t enough lifeboats prepared for the Titanic. In fact, there were only 16 wooden lifeboats and 4 collapsible boats onboard, which was only enough for one-third of the total capacity, not to mention the fact that the crew hadn't been adequately trained for such an evacuation. However, it was already more than what was legally required, which is why there are stricter regulations regarding lifeboat provision today.
12. The Richest Sunk With The Boat
John Jacob Astor IV was the richest among the passengers on board. He went down with the ship with an estimated net worth of $85 million (over $2 billion today). One legend claimed that after hitting the iceberg, he quipped to a waiter: "I asked for ice, but this is ridiculous."
13. The Ship Broke Into Two Halves
For many years, it was believed that the ship sank in one piece, but the truth was it broke into two major parts between the second and third funnels, which was not depicted correctly in the Titanic movie. However, it was properly represented in the older version of the Titanic movie, "A Night To Remember"(1958).
14. The Unimaginably Quick Sinking
It took only a little over 2 hours for the large vessel to sink completely. The accelerated sinking was later considered as the result of an "event cascade", which means a series of factors caused its tragic demise, including a fire inside one of the coal bunkers. It also didn't leave them much time to be rescued.
15. The Orchestra Stayed
As seen in the movie, the orchestra kept playing during the sinking, and they did so for 2 hours and 5 minutes on board. The 8 musicians tried their best to console the passengers by playing some happy tunes at first and only played hymns when their doom was certain.
16. The Wreck Was Discovered 73 Years Later
The wreck of the Titanic was finally discovered in 1985, which was 73 years after the sinking. It was found lying 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, about 12,500 feet below the surface.
17. Many Remained Unfound
There were more than 1,500 people died as a result of the sinking, yet only 333 bodies were found. Some of the dead were buried in a dedicated section in Fairview Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Some items were taken into the Maritime Museum there for display as a way to remember the tragedy.
18. The Youngest Passenger Survived
Millvina Dean from England was the youngest passenger on board, and she was only 9 weeks old at that time. She was placed in Lifeboat 10 with her mother and brother and was among the first third-class passengers to escape. As the last living survivor, she passed away on 31 May 2009, which means there is no Titanic survivor left.
19. Some Almost Went Down
There were many people who had the tickets for that maiden voyage but didn't actually make it, such as the founder of chocolate firm Hershey, Milton S. Hershey; the pioneering inventor, Guglielmo Marconi; the American banker, J.P. Morgan; American steel tycoon, Henry Clay Frick; and one of the richest men in America back then, Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt (who died on the RMS Lusitania 3 years later).
20. Paperwork Saved His Life
Among those who luckily escaped the tragedy, Guglielmo Marconi became a noted telegraph inventor who later won the Nobel Prize. He was given a ticket for free, but decided to travel on the Lusitania instead. His daughter later said that it was because he had paperwork to do, and Marconi preferred the telegraph operator on the Lusitania than the one on the Titanic.