The RMS Titanic (RMS = Royal Mail Ship) hit an iceberg on April 14th, 1912. It sank in the early hours of April 15th. More than 1500 people died.

Maiden Voyage of the Unsinkable Ship

The boat sank on its maiden (first) passenger voyage. It was heading to New York, via Ireland.

It was believed to have had 2224 people on board. This was only half of its full capacity.

Sinking

The iceberg the ship struck was close to Canadian waters.

The Titanic did not fully hit the iceberg; instead the berg scraped holes along the side. Water began to fill the different sections, and eventually the Titanic could no longer float.

The boat hit the iceberg at 23 40 on the 14th; the Carpathia arrived on the scene at around 4am.

Safety Failings

Many errors accounted for the high death toll, most importantly that, despite several other boats radioing in large ice flows in the area, the Titanic did not slow its speed

Another error is believed to be that Titanic tried to avoid the iceberg by a more complicated process than needed, by reversing its engines; it is thought that if the ship simply tried to steer past the berg at its speed, it might have missed the iceberg.

Some other major safety procedures were overlooked: there were not enough lifeboats; a safety drill was cancelled on the very day the boat hit the iceberg; and binoculars for the look-outs were left in Southampton due a mix-up with keys.

Half-filled lifeboats were a famous problem: it is reported that the first lifeboat left the Titanic with only 12 people.

Bad luck was also a major factor: although the Carpathia came to the ship’s aid, it was not the closest ship. The California was closer, but its radio signaler had gone to bed and it did not investigate the lights it saw (Titanic’s distress flares)

Approximately 92% of people in second-class accommodation died. Only 328 bodies were recovered the next day.

Aftermath

The Titanic is seen as a sad example of hubris (extreme pride or arrogance coming before a fall). The largest boat in the world at the time, it was famously declared ‘unsinkable’.

The Titanic disaster changed the rules for shipping, adding more safety measures.