On 10 April 1912, the RMS Titanic finally departed from the Southampton docks, after being first being laid down on the 31 March 1909, and set off on its maiden voyage to New York City, across the Atlantic Ocean.
What was the RMS Titanic?
The RMS Titanic was a passenger liner operated by the White Star Line (of which my great-grandfather was its last Chairman) and built by Harland and Wolff in Belfast.
Titanic was 882 feet 9 inches (269.06 m) long with a maximum breadth of 92 feet 6 inches (28.19 m). Her total height, measured from the base of the keel to the top of the bridge, was 104 feet (32 m). She measured 46,328 gross register tons and with a draught of 34 feet 7 inches (10.54 m).
The ship had nine decks with the top one being the boat deck where all the lifeboats were housed. It must be noted that there was a maximum capacity of 48 lifeboats but instead only installed 20 on the ship, as it was thought to be too cluttered and thought the Titanic would float long enough for rescue to arrive. The other decks from A to G would house and comfort the passengers. And the lowest level was the Orlop Decks, which was used for cargo space and the Tank Top housed the generators, boilers, engines and turbines.
Why was the RMS Titanic made?
In the early 1900s the transatlantic passenger trade was becoming highly profitable and competitive, with more ship liners foreseeing the market to transport more wealthier travellers and immigrants. Two of the chief lines were the White Star Lines and Cunard. By the summer of 1907, Cunard desired to increase its share of the market with the debut of two new ships, the Lusitania, and the Mauretania, which were scheduled to enter service later that year. The two passenger liners were garnering much attention for their expected speed; both would later set speed records crossing the Atlantic Ocean.
Looking to answer his rival, White Star Line Chairman J. Bruce Ismay reportedly met with William Pirrie, who controlled the Belfast shipbuilding firm Harland and Wolff, which constructed most of the White Star Line’s ships. The two men then devised a plan to build a set of large liners that would be known for their comfort instead of their speed. It was eventually decided that three liners would be constructed to fulfil this aim, one of which was the Titanic.
On 10 April 1912, the Titanic set sail on its maiden voyage, traveling from Southampton, England, to New York City. Nicknamed the “Millionaire’s Special,” the ship was captained by Edward J. Smith, who was known as the “Millionaire’s Captain” because of his popularity with the wealthier passengers. Onboard this voyage there were several prominent people, including American businessman Benjamin Guggenheim, British journalist William Thomas Stead, and Macy’s department store co-owner Isidor Straus. In addition, Ismay and Thomas Andrews, who was the naval architect in charge of the plans of the Titanic, were also traveling on the Titanic.
The future of this ship may have been foreshadowed by a near collision, when suction from the Titanic caused the docked New York to swing into the giant liner’s path. After an hour of manoeuvrings to prevent the accident from taking place, the Titanic was under way once again. On the evening of the 10 April, the ship stopped at Cherbourg, France to take on more passengers. However, the city’s dock was too small to accommodate the Titanic, so passengers had to be ferried to and from the ship in tenders. Among those boarding was John Jacob Astor IV, an American business magnate and Molly Brown, an American philanthropist. After some two hours the Titanic resumed its journey. On the morning of 11April, the liner made its last scheduled stop in Europe, at Queenstown, Ireland, for yet more passengers. At approximately 1:30 PM the ship set sail for New York City. Onboard were some 2,200 people, approximately 1,300 of whom were passengers.
Unfortunately, it was only four days later, at 11:40pm ship’s time (local mean time of the meridian where a ship is located) on 14April 1912 the RMS Titanic was hit by an iceberg. The collision led to five of the sixteen watertight compartments being breached, the ship would have been kept afloat if only four were affected. Then by 2:20am on 15April, just over two hours later, had been completely claimed by the sea taking 1514 lives with it.