Tag Archives: RMS Titanic

Titanic chronology: april 24, 1912;Olympic departure halted over lifeboats

March 6, 1912: Titanic (right) had to be moved out of the drydock so her sister Olympic (left), which had lost a propeller, could have it replaced.
Robert John Welch (1859-1936), official photographer for Harland & Wolff
Public domain

RMS Olympic was barred by a shipworkers strike in Southampton, England from departing over insufficient lifeboats.  At issue were 40 collapsible boats that were thought not seaworthy. After a test that showed only one was unsuitable, the workers were offered to return but objected to non union workers brought aboard during this time.  After  54 sailors refused to work and left, the sailing was cancelled. The 54 sailors were arrested and charged with mutiny. They were found guilty but no penalty was imposed due to the circumstances of the case. They were allowed to rejoin the crew and Olympic set sail on 15 May.

RMS Olympic would be refitted in October and would incorporate lessons learned from Titanic. 64 lifeboats were added along with an inner watertight lining for the boiler and engine rooms. The watertight bulkheads were extended and an extra one added for a total of 17 watertight compartments. Olympic returned to service in March, 1913.

Titanic Chronology: April 15,1912;Titanic Sinks

Leaving the sinking liner, 27 April 1912
Charles Dixon
Public Domain

When it was determined Titanic would sink, it began transmitting signals by wireless telegraph, Morse lamp, and rockets. The ship nearest by most accounts was SS Californian. Her telegraph operator turned off his equipment at 11:30 pm and never heard the distress calls. Questions linger to this day whether or not they saw Titanic or her rockets being fired. The RMS Carpathia received the SOS and its captain, Arthur Rostron, immediately ordered to proceed directly to the last known coordinates to locate survivors despite having to navigate a dangerous ice field on a moonless night.

Titanic would sink on 15 April 1912 at 2:20 am. Although Titanic met the British Board of Trade regulations and exceeded it for the number of lifeboats required, it did not have enough for the full complement of passengers and crew. As a result over 1,500 men, women, and children would had no means of escape from the sinking ship.

RMS Carpathia (date unknown)
Image: public domain

Carpathia arrives at 4:10 am to rescue survivors who were in lifeboats or able to reach them. 710 survived the initial sinking but the final tally would be 705 due to  death from freezing cold. SS California would arrive later but would find no survivors. At 12 noon Carpathia sounded her horns and began heading back to New York.* It was the moment that many wives knew for certain their husbands had perished.

*It was the moment that many wives knew for certain their husbands had perished.

Titanic Chronology: April 14, 1912

Photograph of iceberg taken by chief steward of Prinz Adalbert on morning of 15 April 1912 near where Titanic sank. At the time he had not learned of the Titanic disaster. Smears of red paint along the base caught his attention. The photo and accompanying statement were sent to Titanic’s lawyers, which hung in their boardroom until the firm dissolved in 2002. Public Domain

Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 pm ship time on 14 April 1912. The night was moonless and the sea calm with temperatures at or below freezing. Titanic was moving quickly but did not see the iceberg until it was nearly upon them. An attempt to steer around it resulted in a collision on Titanic’s starboard side. The iceberg would puncture Titanic enough so that the first five compartments would flood. Since the compartments were not totally sealed all the way up, water would go from one compartment to the other making her sink at the bow.

CONTROVERSY-SHOULD THE MARCONI WIRELESS BE RETRIEVED BEFORE DECAY MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE?

Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)

I have been withholding posting on some new developments about Titanic until I was fully read up on it. Not too long ago a long dormant treaty to protect the wreck of RMS Titanic was agreed to by the United Kingdom and the United States. Both sides mutually agree that the wreck is to remain untouched. Canada and France have not signed the treaty but are in possible consultations to sign on as well.

Actual salvage ended some years ago when RMS Titanic Inc. (owned by Premier Exhibitions) said no further salvage expeditions were planned.  A salvage award was done and the entire collection is up for sale (it has to be sold as one unit). So far no one has put up a successful bid due to the high price and the strict conservation requirements the court imposed.

The state of the wreck is, well, it is a wreck that is going the way of most wrecks. It is steadily decaying and probably will be totally gone in a few decades (perhaps sooner or later but it is inevitable). That raises a concern that perhaps a valuable historical artifact will be totally lost forever if it cannot be recovered soon.

At least that is the concern of RMS Titanic Inc that now is petitioning the federal court for permission to retrieve the Marconi wireless transmitter from inside Titanic. Up until now, artifacts have been retrieved from the debris field and not from the ship itself. The argument is a simple one: it has to be retrieved before the ship decays further making it impossible. As can be expected, a storm of controversy has erupted. If it goes the course as before, the name calling and accusations of grave robbery will be thrown out.

During the first salvage, the Titanic community was divided.  Flame wars erupted on the Internet that were so nasty, so personal, and took no prisoners that it drove many from Titanic online communities to never return.  Anyone that was pro-salvage was vilified personally and without remorse. One notorious anti-salvager is rumored to have faked his own death to avoid facing his victims.

The essential argument is that with the ship in a rapid state of decay, retrieving this one artifact for history ought to be allowed. It is a compelling argument but so is letting Titanic being left alone as a memorial to those who have perished. A reproduction could serve the same purpose without having to disturb the wreck further.

Still had Howard Carter took pictures and sealed up the tomb of a virtually unknown pharoah, we would never have seen how ornate the tombs of pharoahs really were (most were looted and ransacked) in the Cairo museum today. Both sides have merit and a court in Virginia will make that decision. The treaty may or not play a role in this but it will be interesting to watch.

UK and US agree ‘momentous’ deal to protect the sunken wreck of the Titanic (Daily Mail, 21 Jan 2020)

Relic hunters plan to retrieve Titanic radio that relayed the ship’s final pleas for help (Washington Post, 22 Jan 2020

Titanic news for veterans day

Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)

Unsinkable Metal Could Lead to Unsinkable Ships. Now Where Have We Heard That Before? (Popular Mechanics, 7 Nov 2019)

The material, which the researchers etched with designs at the nanoscale that allow it to trap air bubbles, could theoretically lead to a truly unsinkable ship or a perfect life preserver, according to Chunlei Guo, a professor of optics and physics at the University of Rochester who coauthored a paper on the new metal in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces. The research was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.S. Army Research Office, and the National Science Foundation.

Metro Atlanta Woman Owns Collection She Says Belonged To Couple Who Died On Titanic (WSB-TV Atlanta, 6 Nov 2019)

Laub’s collection includes three small women’s handbags, a pair of spectacles and a lady’s makeup compact. “When I’m handling it, the purses and such, I feel like I’m almost there,” Laub said. “There’s a little ‘window.’ And you open it up and it has the most beautiful red lipstick I’ve ever seen in my life still in there.” Laub received the items from the great-granddaughter of the Straus family’s personal assistant. The assistant often traveled with the couple and Laub believes she was supposed to take the items to them.

The funerary mask of Tutankhamun
Roland Unger (via Wikimedia Commons)

How King Tut Exhibitions Became a Multimillion Dollar Industry (Artsy.net, 30 Oct 2019)

An ongoing show, which started at the California Science Center in 2018, moved on to Paris’s Grande Halle de La Villette in Paris, where it broke attendance records for a French art show—the previous record-holder was also a King Tut exhibition—and sold around 1.3 million tickets. The show will open at London’s Saatchi Gallery in November; the Australian Museum in Sydney will be its final stop. The general public’s embrace of the Boy Pharaoh shows no signs of relenting, but issues of ownership and repatriation surrounding Tut-related objects still rage.

The Daughter Of A Titanic Survivor Buried In Lannon Shares Her Mom’s Story For The Village’s 90th Anniversary (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 28 Oct 2019)

She calls herself a child of a Titanic survivor. Randall’s mother and grandparents survived the sinking of the Titanic on April 15, 1912. But Randall’s great- aunt and uncle Maria and Vincenz Kink were among the more than 1,500 who died. Randall’s mother, grandparents and great- aunt and uncle ventured to Milwaukee in April 1912 for a better opportunity. They traveled by train from Zurich, crossed the English Channel by boat and then took another train to South Hampton, England, where they boarded the Titanic. “My mother says they were looking for a better life,” said Randall.

10 Mistakes That Sunk Titanic: Crew Were Left Without Binoculars As Iceberg Approached (Belfast Telegraph, 26 Oct 2019)

The documentary reveals that before the Titanic left Southampton Captain Henry Wilde swapped places with Captain Edward Smith of sister ship the RMS Olympic. As a result of this Second Officer David Blair also left the Titanic and it is believed he took a key to a cabin with him which contained the officer’s binoculars. Simon Mills, owner of the HMS Britannic wreck, said officers could have used the binoculars to help spot the iceberg. “The best way of spotting an iceberg was basically using your natural eyesight as wide as possible on the horizon,” he told the documentary.

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Friday Titanic News

J. Bruce Ismay, president of the White Star Line, in 1912
Public Domain(Wikipedia)

Titanic Survivor’s Guilt Over Escape From The Sinking Ship Revealed In Messages Set To Sell For £50,000 (Telegraph, 10 Oct 2019)

Mr Harrison was Mr Ismay’s personal valet and the collection includes a four page letter he wrote home to his wife Ann Harrison about how he was “fed up” with spending hours writing letters to post for Mr Ismay. Days after the tragedy Mr Ismay wrote to Mrs Harrison via telegram: “Words fail to express my sorrow at your terrible loss. “Am overwhelmed by this frightful calamity.”

Once Halloween season kicks in, it is inevitable you get stories with a supernatural tilt to it. The folks who run the Scottsdale, Arizona Titanic Exhibit are no exception. For the Halloween season they are adding a “ghost walk.” According to AzFamily,  on select days “visitors can walk around the haunted galleries and hear the ghost stories from the exhibit’s staff about the artifacts.” Apparently there have been claims of spirits and other things alleged to have occurred at the exhibit. A local psychic is also going to be on hand to add more ambience to the event. About the only thing missing is a ouija board.

Source: Scottsdale Titanic Exhibit Near Scottsdale To Feature The Ghost Walk (AzFamily.com, 10/8/19)

Sunday Titanic News

HMHS Britannic seen during World War I.
Image:public domain

Summer is here and Titanic news tends to be thin except for the occasional item auctioned off or something interesting going on. Back in May, there was an auction of fittings from Britannic, sister ship of Titanic that sank in the Aegean in World War I. When the war started, the ship was put into service as a troop ship and most of her fittings were removed. Most were auctioned off and went into private hands.

One of the items sold was maple paneling in the “colonial style” became part a bar in a private home in Dublin, Ireland. According the BBC, there was a lot of interest in the auction and many came to view the items being auctioned. The auction fetched £257,000 ($327,000)at the auction. Names of the bidders and where they reside has not been publicly disclosed.

Source: Titanic sister ship Britannic’s fittings sold at auction (BBC, 1 May 2019) https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48112113

Titanic 2017

New York Times Front Page 16 April 1912
Public Domain (Wikimedia Commons)

In April 1912 the unthinkable happened: Titanic sank taking over 1500 lives to the cold North Atlantic. People were stunned. With the headline Titanic Sunk blazing across newspapers around the globe, it made people wonder what had happened to a ship that defined an age of progress. For those with family, either passengers or crew, it was even more dire. Did my husband live? What happened to that family down the road that decided to go to America for a new life?

In the aftermath two investigations would seek to answer the question of what happened. A short concise statement is that Titanic collided with an iceberg that punctured the hull in many places causing water to enter the forward compartments causing her to founder and sink. Yet the investigations showed all kinds of things that were not right: out of date government regulations about lifeboats, the lack of manning wireless communications during all ship watches, the inattention given to numerous ice warnings, the lack of binoculars for the lookouts and much more. Captain Rostron of Carpathia would be labeled a hero for racing to the scene and retrieving the survivors. Captain Lord of California would come under criticism for his indifference to rockets being seen and failing to investigate.

The world of 1912 was a world on a precipice. Ominous clouds were already gathering over Europe. Titanic represented perhaps the pinnacle of the dying Edwardian age. It had everything that a person of means wanted: a comfortable way to cross the Atlantic in style. Down below was the other side, immigrants desperate to leave home and find a new life in the United States. And sadly many of those third class (or steerage as they were called)would perish.  Titanic sinking left a mark on many that something was wrong and would be confirmed when war broke out in 1914. And that war would cut a wide swath in the upper classes that would have lasting effects.

The lessons of Titanic are many. The most important of all is to never become complacent nor think you are so clever as to be divine. It is a lesson that is sometimes forgotten resulting in tragedies like the Challenger explosion. Sometimes Greek mythology delivers warnings about complacency. Icarus forgot his wings were made of wax when he flew up to the sun resulting in his death. And saying Titanic was practically unsinkable comes pretty darn close as well.

Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition Opens In South Africa

Titanic:The Artifact Exhibition opened this week at V&A Waterfront in Cape Town, South Africa. This is the first time the exhibition has been in South Africa and expectations are high that it will draw large crowds. The exhibition is open 9am to 6pm daily and will run until March 2016. To purchase tickets and further information, go to http://titanicexpo.co.za/.
Source: CT To Host Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition(Eyewitness News,22 Nov 2015)

https://youtu.be/RWez8lhTqEg

In Memoriam, Titanic

Front Page, New York World, 16 April 1912 Photo:Public Domain (U.S.Library of Congress, digital id# cph 3c16257)
Front Page, New York World, 16 April 1912
Photo:Public Domain (U.S.Library of Congress, digital id# cph 3c16257)