Facts and Images We're Just Now Finding About the Titanic
The Titanic sinking is one of the most significant disasters of the 20th century. Not only were there a tremendously large number of people killed in the disaster, but the ship itself had a whole lot of hype surrounding it at the time—it was the largest ship ever built, and no one had ever seen anything like it.
Believed to be unsinkable at the time, the tragic irony was that it was perhaps the most sinkable ship ever built. It sank unprecedentedly quickly and there was almost no time for rescue ships to arrive. Now laying at the bottom of the Atlantic, it is a tomb for countless victims.
Even after 100 years, the Titanic has remained a subject of much interest. There have been numerous books and publications written about the Titanic and several films as well. The James Cameron blockbuster raked in $2.202 billion at the box office and brought in a renewed interest in the Titanic, almost 80 years after the incident occurred.
While at this point, you might think you know everything there is to know about that fateful ship and its maiden voyage, there’s still some information out there that may surprise you. Because there is plenty we sure were surprised to learn!
Where the Name Originates
The RMS Titanic is one of the most recognizable ship names in history, but where does it come from and why is it named that? The first reason is because of its size. It was the biggest vessel for its time and was noticeably larger than any other ship at bay. It was 882 feet long and 175 feet high. Additionally, the name is derived from the Titan of Greek mythology.
But even if you knew that first part, you may not know about the RMS part, which we have always wondered about. Interestingly, it stands for Royal Mail Ship and that is because the luxury liner had partnered with Royal Mail. It's also worth noting that there was a Sea Post Office located on the ship’s G Deck with five postal clerks that sorted through mail 7 days a week.
The Prices were Exorbitantly High
White Star Line, the owner of the Titanic, had designed their ship to be more luxurious and spacious than anything before it and that meant the ticket prices were much higher to offset the costs to build it and maintain it. So just how expensive were the tickets? Probably more than you are thinking.
First-class tickets at the time were being sold anywhere from $30 to $4,350. Taking into account inflation, adjusted rates for today would be between $775 and $112,000. Second-class tickets were sold between $12 and $60, which would be the equivalent of $300 to $1,500 today. Third-class tickets were sold between $8 and $40, which would be between $200 and $1,100 now.
The Number of Survivors
The exact number of passengers aboard the Titanic is estimated to be around 2,224. However, due to some confusion over the passenger list, the exact number cannot be known. The death toll at the time of its sinking is estimated to be between 1,490 and 1,635 passengers. But it could have been a lot worse if the ship had been at full capacity.
So how many survived? Only 710 were reported to have survived the RMS Titanic sinking, which is definitely low, but considering there were not enough lifeboats aboard, it was inevitable. There nine dogs aboard the Titanic and only two of them survived: a Pomeranian and a Pekinese. It was truly one of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century.
The Ship Was Modeled After the Ritz Hotel
Some ships at the time were designed to be smaller and faster. But the RMS Titanic and its sister ships were not designed to be fast at all. The goal was to be bigger and more luxurious than any other ship at sea and of course, that meant more time to enjoy the luxury! That is unless your ship sinks mid-voyage…
The interior of the ship, at least as far as the first-class areas, were designed to look much like the Ritz Hotel in London. The rooms were designed in the Empire style with décor inspired by everything from the Renaissance to Louis XV. And all of that with plenty of first-class amenities.
The Captain Planned to Retire
Edward J. Smith was chosen as the Captain for the Titanic’s maiden voyage because he was one of the best. In part due to his experiences as a British Merchant Navy Officer, he quickly earned prestige and rose through the ranks of the White Star Line company. By 1904, he had been promoted to commodore.
After being appointed captain for the Titanic’s maiden voyage, Edward J. Smith had planned to retire after the assignment. But he would not. Despite his plans, he did his duty as captain, staying with the ship in its last moments. His final words, he spoke to his men, saying “Well boys, do your best for the women and children, and look out for yourself.”
They Were Warned About Icebergs Several Times
While there is sometimes the misconception that the people operating the Titanic had no idea about the icebergs in their path and were caught off-guard, that could not be further from the truth. It was actually reported by several ships that there were icebergs present in the area. However, this was common.
The captain did not believe that ice in the area would prove to be a problem, and so, he commanded the ship to sail at full speed. Upon seeing the ship was about to hit an iceberg, Chief Officer William McMaster Murdoch commanded a hard turn to avoid it but it was too late.
It Sank Faster Than Any Other Ship
About 37 seconds after the iceberg was sighted, the Titanic made contact with it. Upon hitting the iceberg, the officers and crew members knew that the ship would sink, but what they could not have anticipated was how quickly it would sink. In fact, it sank in a record-setting time.
Most ships that had hit icebergs in the past took around 12 hours before they became fully submerged. But the supposedly “unsinkable” ship sank in just 2 hours and 40 minutes. Had the ship taken longer to sink, there may have been more time for rescue ships to come to its aid.
There Are No More Survivors
Out of the 720 survivors of the Titanic, there are no longer any living, which having sank over 100 years ago is to be expected. But who was the last survivor? That would be Elizabeth Gladys Dean, who was just 2 months old at the time of the Titanic sinking.
She, of course, could not remember a thing about it and was only told about her experience when she was 8 years old when her mother was about to remarry. Elizabeth Gladys Dean took part in numerous Titanic-related events in her 80s. She died at the age of 97 on May 31st, 2009. Her ashes were spread at the docks of Southampton from where the Titanic set sail.
It Took 73 Years to Find the Wreckage
As the sinking of the Titanic for many aboard was sudden and completely unexpected, radio operators were caught completely off-guard. They panicked and ended up giving the wrong coordinates for their location. Combined with the fact that the ship sank 12,000 feet deep, this made finding the Titanic wreckage difficult.
It took a total of 73 years before the wreckage was actually discovered. It was found in 1985 during an expedition led by Robert Ballard. Attempts were made to raise the wreckage but were unsuccessful. The Titanic remains at the bottom of the sea to this very day and the only way to see it is if you happen to have a submarine.
Several Individuals Escaped Their Fate
Several notable individuals canceled their travel plans last-minute narrowly escaping the historical tragedy. One such individual, was George Washington Vanderbilt II, heir to the Vanderbilt fortune. He canceled his plans for travel with his wife when his mother-in-law expressed how adamantly against it she was, believing that maiden voyages were dangerous. And she was not wrong!
Theodore Dreiser, an American journalist and novelist, canceled his plans at the request of his publisher. Henry Clay Frick, an American steel tycoon, got a sprained ankle that killed his plans. And lastly, Guglielmo Marconi, an Italian inventor best known for his work on radio transmission, had to refuse a free ticket because he had paperwork to finish. He sailed on the Lusitania instead.
Only Two Bath Tubs for the Poor
The Titanic could accommodate up to 1,000 third-class passengers and for all those passengers there were only two bathtubs. Bathing was not a feasible option for third-class passengers, at least not every day. Things may have been made a little easier by the fact that there were actually only 700 first-class passengers onboard.
There was at least another bathing option and that was to use a wash bin. However, this was definitely not ideal for a long trip. But at the same time, can you imagine having to share two bathtubs among that many people? The results would have been chaotic to say the least.
The news of the disaster spread fast but did not necessarily spread accurately at first. As newspapers rushed to get the story out, there was little fact-checking from some publications. Newspapers like The World, The Daily Mail, and the Belfast Telegraph falsely reported that there were no fatalities in the Titanic disaster, giving false hope to friends and families.
However, American newspapers were much more accurate in terms of gathering and reporting information. New York Times reported that the Titanic sank in around four hours, that there were 866 Rescued by the Carpathia and that 1,250 had perished. While we know these numbers not to be completely accurate, it was still better than the British publications.
No Engineers Survived
The engineers of the Titanic are undoubtedly the unsung heroes of the disaster, but sadly, none of them survived. Not even one out of the 25 engineers aboard made it. They stayed at their posts up until the very last second, sinking with the ship to keep it running.
Engineers stayed behind not to keep the ship moving, of course, but to keep the electricity and pumps running. The lights ended up staying on until the very last part of the ship had finally sunk. Additionally, the work of the engineers was integral in keeping the radio working so that distress signals could be sent out.
This Line from the 1997 Movie was Spoken IRL
One line from the James Cameron film Titanic was actually spoken in real life. It is one of the more famous quotes from the movie that was spoken by the character Benjamin Guggenheim. The man was a real-life passenger aboard the RMS Titanic in 1912 and like in the movie, he refused his life vest.
Even as the Titanic was quickly sinking, Benjamin Guggenheim wanted to go out guns-blazing sort of speak. As he says in the movie, among his final words were “We are dressed in our best and are prepared to go down as gentlemen." Allegedly he had also told a steward to tell his wife in New York, "I've done my best in doing my duty."
This Woman Truly Was Unsinkable.
Among the 710 survivors was Rhoda Mary Abbott and she was not a first-class passenger. She was actually a survivor from third-class that was going down with the ship as it was sinking and narrowly escaped her almost certain death. She is the only female passenger to have done this.
Allegedly, she was on the stern of the ship when it sank and an ocean current had swept her away from the vacuum caused by the sinking ship. She was able to get back to the surface and swim to a lifeboat that was close by. Her two sons, however, did not make it out alive. Rhoda Mary Abbott died in 1946 as a result of heart failure.