Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Titanic, 100 years on

The Titanic sank 100 years ago today, on 15 April 1912.  Of the 2,223 passengers on the Titanic, only 706 survived, leaving 1,517 dead. The 100th anniversary of the sinking has sparked numerous television specials and coincides with the re-release of the James Cameron pic, this time in 3D.  Following are some interesting facts and trivia about the ship and its sinking . . .

Some Titanic Facts and Trivia
A greater percentage of British passengers died than American passengers; some sources claim this could be because many Britons of the time were too polite and queued for the lifeboats rather than aggressively boarding.  The captain, Edward John Smith, shouted out: “Be British, boys, be British!” as the ocean liner went down, according to witnesses.
Automatic flushing toilets were in use on the Titanic, but they were not in first class as one would expect. Instead they were installed in third class, because many of the steerage passengers were unfamiliar with indoor plumbing, and the designers felt they might not remember or even understand that they needed to flush the toilets themselves.
Violet Jessop was aboard all three of the Titanic-style White Star Liners on their final voyages... She was a stewardess aboard the Titanic, and survived the sinking. She went on to become a nurse aboard Titanic's sister ship, the Brittanic until it sank during WWII. In 1911. She then served as a stewardess on the Olympic, which collided with H. M. S. Hawke.
Charles Joughin was the only person to survive the frigid water that night. He was a very overweight man and reportedly had been drinking heavily. These facts likely saved his life.
One family was notified of the death of their son, and had already held his funeral when the young man walked through the door. He said he had boarded the Titanic, but got a bad feeling so he went ashore and waited for the next boat.
Masabumi Hosono, a Japanese citizen, survived the sinking of the Titanic only to return home and be labelled a coward for living when so many others died; many Japanese felt he should have chosen to die an honourable death. He was fired from his job, newspapers openly suggested he should commit ritual suicide, and his name was included in textbooks as an example of shameful behaviour. In actuality, he was a hero who had helped many survivors into the lifeboats. When a Japanese ship sank in 1954, Hosono was again dishonoured when he survived.
Millvina Dean, who was only two months-old at the time of the sinking, was the last living survivor of the Titanic. She died peacefully in the spring of 2009 at the age of 97.
No insurance settlements were offered because at the time the only claim that could be made was for the value of salvaged materials. The only material salvaged were the lifeboats. The families of deceased crew members were later billed for their loved ones' uniforms and supplies by White Star Line.
The first body recovery ship to reach the site of the sinking, the cable ship CS Mackay-Bennett found so many bodies that the embalming supplies aboard were quickly exhausted. Health regulations required that only embalmed bodies could be returned to port.  Captain Larnder of the Mackay-Bennett and undertakers aboard decided to preserve only the bodies of first class passengers, justifying their decision by the need to visually identify wealthy men to resolve any disputes over large estates. As a result, third class passengers and crew were buried at sea. Larnder himself claimed that as a mariner, he would expect to be buried at sea.
At 12:13 pm on 31 May 2011, exactly 100 years after Titanic rolled down her slipway, a single flare was fired over Belfast's docklands in commemoration. All boats in the area around the Harland and Wolff shipyard then sounded their horns and the assembled crowd applauded for exactly 62 seconds, the time it had originally taken for the liner to roll down the slipway in 1911
Originally, the Titanic's design only included 3 funnels (smokestacks). The aftmost funnel (towards stern) was added to make the Titanic look more impressive-it gave the feeling of "power and grace". It only functioned as an air vent.
No one ever claimed that the Titanic was "unsinkable". The quote, "practically unsinkable" was taken out of context. In 1911, Shipbuilder magazine published an article describing the construction of the Titanic. The article stated that when the watertight doors were closed, the ship would be "practically unsinkable".
The time interval from first sighting of the iceberg to impact was a little over 30 seconds.
The Titanic sank 2 hours and 40 minutes after hitting the iceberg.
It probably took Titanic about 15 minutes to sink to her final resting place on the ocean floor. That means that Titanic sank at a rate of 10 miles per hour (or 16 km per hour).
The following excerpt is from an interview with Captain Smith (captain of the Titanic) in 1907 after he brought the Adriatic to New York on its maiden voyage: "When anyone asks how I can best describe my experience in nearly 40 years at sea, I merely say, uneventful. Of course there have been winter gales, and storms and fog and the like, but in all my experience, I have never been in any accident of any sort worth speaking about. ...... I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked, nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort".
Of the 1517 who perished in the sinking of the Titanic, only 306 bodies were recovered.
Captain Smith had made plans to retire after seeing the Titanic safely across the Atlantic on her maiden voyage.
Out of a crew of 900, only eighteen were women. This was said to be rooted in a longstanding superstition that women brought bad luck to ships. Seventeen of the stewardesses made it on lifeboats and survived the disaster.
300 men worked in shifts around the clock to shovel coal into boilers. This ensured the engines ran at top speed.
The ship cost an unprecedented $7.5 million to build, about $172 million today. The film cost an unprecedented $250 million and has grossed more than $600 million domestically and more than $1.8 billion worldwide.

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