Shortly before midnight on 14 April 1912, the "unsinkable" SS Titanic struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage to New York. She sank less than three hours later. The causes of such a disaster were numerous. A blaze, started by the friction of coal descending at speed into the boilers, had accelerated before the ship left Belfast - in spite of this, a certificate of seaworthiness was issued before her departure from Southampton; the fire continued for two days into the voyage, no doubt weakening the metal structure of the vessel; there was an insufficient number of lifeboats, and the crew had not been drilled in the correct release and management of those available; although other ships in the Atlantic had slowed on account of reports of icebergs, Captain edward J Smith ordered full speed ahead.Intimations of the tragedy to follow began in the first -class salon. The ice cubes in a poker player's glass tinkled as though shaken by an unseen hand. That was the moment when pieces of the visible iceberg, shaved off when sliding alongside the Titanic, bounced upon her lower decks. The gigantic, invisible and destructive mass drifting beneath the waterline sliced a huge gash in the liner's side and consigned her to the deep.The water rose approximately l4ft above the keel. The watertight bulkhead between boiler rooms Nos 6 and 5 extended only as high as e deck. The first five compartments filled and the weight of the water pulled the Titanic down at the bow. As she sank lower, the water from No 6 boiler room swamped No 5 boiler room and flooded Nos 4,3,2--and soon. Captain Smith, with the help of Bruce Ismay, managing director of the ship's owners, calculated the extent and outcome of the damage at two minutes to midnight. The Titanic had an hour and a half, possibly two, before she sank.
The creators of the Titanic wanted to focus on passenger accommodations and speed, as they wanted to exceed all the ships that came before (Foster 11). The shipbuilding company of Harland and Wolff took on the task of building the Titanic. Shortly after her sister ship the Olympic was completed, the Titanic was moved to a different location at the company and improvements were made according to Ismay's standard (Wade 18). The official number given to the ship was 3909 04, which spells NO POPe when held up to a mirror. Many say this is the reason that the ship sank (Lord 17).There were approximately 2240 passengers on the ship (Foster 28-29). Of these 2240 people, only 337 of them were members of the first class, therefore only occupying forty six percent of the available first class accommodations. On the second class deck, there were 271 passengers, filling up forty percent of the capacity. Almost all emigrants, the third class riders of the Titanic came to a grand total of 712 passengers (Wade 25-26). Included in the riders, there were 860 crew members (Foster 28). The first class riders had many special accommodations. Some of these included a promenade, a bridge, and a saloon. The dining experience was a quite fine one (Foster 28-42). The Titanic had an extravagant dining saloon that was carpeted and a grand reception room that contained wicker furniture and hard wood floors (Wells 36). Also on the Titanic was a French cafe which was run by actual French waiters (Lord 24). The first class menu included dumplings, custard pudding, apple meringue, salmon, and shrimp (Foster 42). The accommodations for first class riders were also very luxurious, with the Titanic often being referred to as "the last word in luxury" (Wade 19). On the B deck, there were twenty-eight staterooms, each of which was decorated with its own style from different time periods (Lord 23). Two of these staterooms cost $4350 (Wade 18). These two very lavish suites had private decks for walking (Lord 23). Another amenity given to the first class passengers were Turkish baths. These baths were steam rooms located on F deck decorated in an Arabian seventeenth century style (Foster 33). The voyage of this floating town seemed to be going along quite smoothly, but in the office of the captain, several warnings of ice were received on the afternoon of April 14. Around noon, a message was received about a heavy patch of icebergs appearing about 250 miles ahead of the Titanic (Lord 49). By the end of the night, six messages had been received and ignored concerning icebergs clear ahead of the Titanic. Around 11:40 PM, two lookouts spotted an iceberg right ahead of the Titanic and were unable to avert the catastrophe (Foster 43-60). The Titanic struck this iceberg about thirty seven seconds after it was spotted while traveling at twenty and one half knots (MacInnis 20). The iceberg made a gash in the size of the Titanic that was about three hundred feet long (Lord 62). The crew of the Titanic remained calm, and they coolly placed women and children in the first lifeboat around 12:45 AM (MacInnis 20). Captain e.J. Smith soon realized that there were only enough lifeboats for 1178 people on the ship, which was not enough for everybody (Lord 72). ...
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