Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Sinking of the Ocean Queen: Titanic

"We have struck iceberg ... sinking fast ... come to our assistance..." The last SOS message from the Titanic crew since it rested into the watery grave.

Touted as the Unsinkable, the luxury cruise-liner RMS Titanic, during its maiden voyage, met its catastrophic end in the North Atlantic, taking lives of more than 1500 people, before reaching New York, its final destination. The disaster happened on April 15, 1912. In 1985, the wrecks of this ships were discovered. April 15, 2012 marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic disaster.

Let's take you on a journey on Titanic...10th 1912 to 15th April 1912.

The journey of a lifetime...

Construction of the Unsinkable

One of the biggest luxurious ship built by White Star Line, the RMS Titanic, took nearly three years to get completed. The biggest movable object ever made, the ship was 882 feet long, 93 feet wide and 175 feet high. Over 11,000 employees were involved in the construction. Thomas Andrews, Lord Pirrie's nephew, was in-charge of its design. The ship was composed of ten decks including the Orlop Deck. The Decks were lettered A-G. Below Deck-G were the Boiler Rooms. The whole design was created in a way that the ship would stay afloat with any three water-tight compartments flooded. The crew consisted of 860 people: 320 working the ship, 475 stewards and 65 navigators.

The Splendid Journey
Passengers boarded the Titanic on 10th April 1912 in the morning and the ship went on sail in the afternoon. The ship made a quick stop at Queenstown, France and a few more passengers boarded the ship. On her way to New York on 11th April 1912, she was carrying 2200 people including the crew and the passengers. The journey went smoothly for the next two days as well.
Crew was working hard and people were enjoying their luxurious stay. No one in their wildest dreams must have thought that fate was holding the cards of death and suffering for them.

The Warnings

After sailing smoothly for three days, came the inauspicious day which was going to be written down in the history, not because it was a day when something great happened, but for the bitter memories which it embarked in the hearts of those who survived the disastrous day of 14th April, 1912.
Throughout the day, Titanic received a number of wireless messages from other ships warning about iceberg on its path. Not all of these warnings made it to the bridge. At 9:20 pm, Captain Edward J. Smith, unaware of the seriousness of these warnings, returned to his room. Titanic was still steaming full speed ahead!

How Titanic Met Its Fate
Lookouts were asked to be more diligent in their observations. But since they had no access to binoculars, they saw iceberg only when it was in front of the Titanic.
11:40:00 pm- The lookouts issued a warning using a bell and then used the phone to call the bridge. First Officer Murdoch ordered 'hard-a starboard', to take a sharp left turn, and asked the engines to be put in the reverse. Titanic did bank a bit left, but that wasn't enough.

11:40:37 pm- Thirty-seven seconds later Titanic's starboard on the right scraped along the iceberg. Most of the passengers were already in deep slumber when this happened, but then relying on the fact that the ship was unsinkable, they went back to sleep. Captain Smith knew that something serious has happened and he came back to the bridge. The ship was built to stay afloat even if 3 out of its 16 bulkheads were filled with water. Captain realized that 6 of it were already full.

Elizabeth Shutes, aged 40, governess to nineteen-year-old Margaret Graham who was traveling with her parents shares her experience of the deadly night as, “Suddenly a queer quivering ran under me, apparently the whole length of the ship. Startled by the very strangeness of the shivering motion, I sprang to the floor. With too perfect a trust in that mighty vessel I again lay down. Some one knocked at my door, and the voice of a friend said: 'Come quickly to my cabin; an iceberg has just passed our window; I know we have just struck one.'”

12:05 am- Realizing that Titanic was sinking, Captain ordered the lifeboats to be uncovered.

12:10 am- Wireless operators begin to send the distress calls. Fireworks were used as a signal to gain the attention of the operators at shore or of any other ship passing by, but it was considered that a party was going on at the ship.

The Titanic Sinks
12:45 am- The first lifeboat was launched. Many of the passengers did not realize the severity of the situation and were not ready to get into the lifeboats as Titanic seemed like a warm and comfortable place on a cold, freezing night. There were only 16 standard sized lifeboats and four collapsible lifeboats on the deck as during the process of building Titanic, it was considered that too many lifeboats will make the deck look cluttered.
Women and children were to board the lifeboats first. If the only few available lifeboats were filled properly, more than 1700 lives could have been saved which is just half more than the number of the people aboard.

2:05 am- On April 15, 1912, last lifeboat was lowered. People who were still aboard and saw no other option but to die, reacted in different ways. Some grabbed an object that might stay afloat, threw it in the water and then jumped after it. The water was so freezing that anyone who would have jumped into it froze in two minutes. Whereas, some decided to stay aboard and die with dignity.

2:18 am- The end was near. The mighty vessel, the unsinkable Titanic broke into two and drowned into the North-Atlantic Ocean forever with more than 1500 hundred people, in two minutes.

A Dawn of Sorrows and Rescue

3:30 am- On receiving distress calls from the Titanic, many ships changed their route to help the survivors. Carpathia was the first one to seen by the survivors.

4:10 am- The first survivor stepped aboard the Carpathia. By the next four hours, all the survivors were aboard and the Carpathia headed towards New York, reaching the destination on the evening of April 18, 1912. Only 705 people survived and more than 1500 died.

2012: After a Century

It's been a century since that disaster happened, but it still makes chill run through the spine whenever someone thinks of that crystal-clear silent night which took the lives of so many people away.
The saga has inspired countless books and films. James Cameron's legendary film 'Titanic' has been recently adapted into 3D format on the silver screen.

This year, a centennial cruise, MS Balmoral will tread the journey of Titanic from Queensland till New York and will stop at the place where ship sank at 2:20 on April 15, 2012, for a memorial service.