The Titanic is considered one of the most famous disasters to ever go down in history. The ship was deemed to be one of the most luxurious and safe ships ever built. While the ship was originally designed to take passengers from England, France, and Ireland to North America, unfortunately it never made it to shore.
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What caused the Titanic to sink down to the bottom of the North Atlantic has always been a very controversial topic. Could it have been from the design of the ship, poor materials, human naivety, or was it a combination of everything? The Titanic’s sinking was initiated by a combination of all these things. The ships designer, the quality of materials used in her construction, and the ignorance of both the captain and their crew is what concluded in 1,517 lives being lost at sea.
The Titanic left port to begin its voyage on April 10th, 1912. It left from Southampton, England and was scheduled to arrive in New York City on April 17th, 1912. Out of the 2,200 people on board, 1,315 were passenger, 885 being crew members. The Titanic was built by White Star Lines under the management of J. Bruce Ismay. The ship builders worked nine hours each day for six days out of the week until the Titanic was ready to begin her voyage. She was about 880 feet long, weighed about 52,300 tons, and had 4.6 million cubic feet of space. The designers of the Titanic had no consideration on how a ship of that size and magnitude would avoid collisions or navigate in case of an emergency. The Titanic was intended to be watertight, and had sixteen watertight compartments separated by doors that were automatic or could be controlled by any crew member. Most of the watertight compartments did not extend above E Deck causing water to spill over the tops of the compartments and into the rest of the ship during the collision with the iceberg. Had the ships designer taken precautions during her design, the crash could’ve been avoided.
The Titanic’s builder didn’t use the best quality of wrought-iron rivets when welding the vessel’s steel plates. The rivet heads were easily sheared off causing the plates that the rivets were holding, to separate when the ship struck the iceberg. The expansion joints were also poorly designed, which made the ship vulnerable. The Titanic’s steel had about one-third the impact strength of modern steel. This was later verified when samples of the steel were looked over by a microscope. The results they found were that the structure of the steel was very large making the coarse structure more vulnerable to cracks, which contributed to the overall breakup of the Titanic.
Considering the size, Alexander Carlisle wanted sixty-four lifeboats to be on the ship, but the White Star Line overruled him by deciding only twenty lifeboats would be carried on the Titanic so that they could save money. Considering her size they could easily have stored more. The Titanic even exceeded their lifeboat regulations by adding four collapsible lifeboats. The claim they stated was that lifeboats were too expensive to purchase and maintain. They also took up a lot of deck space, so having a lot of lifeboats and safety gear on board would give passengers the idea that the boat wasn’t safe and wouldn’t look presentable for their guests. They crew decided that appearances were more important than being cautious.
On board the night of the crash, the wireless radio operators were Jack Phillips and Harold Bride. During the majority of the voyage, they were getting iceberg warnings about icebergs in the area the Titanic was in. The wireless stopped working around midday and Phillips and Brides tried to locate the problem and make repairs. Once they got the wireless to function again, they were overwhelmed with messages coming in. Later the SS Mesaba sent out a warning that a large number of icebergs were in the Titanic’s path. One of the building operators was too occupied sending out the passenger messages from when the radio was down, that he never took the time to send the crucial warning to the bridge. This warning could’ve made a remarkable difference in the Titanic’s sinking later that night. At 10:55pm the Californian sent word to the Titanic that it had stopped moving because the ship had become surrounded by ice. Then at 11:30pm the Californian’s shut off their radio. As a result, they missed the wireless distress signals from the Titanic that were sent out after the ship collided with the iceberg. These mistakes from the crew members also helped impact the Titanic’s fate that night in crashing.
On April 14th, 1912 when the Titanic crashed into the iceberg. It caused the watertight compartments to start flooding. The collision caused at least five of the ships watertight compartments to be damaged. Since the watertight compartments did not extend above E deck, the water was spilling over, which in turn caused the front of the ship to begin sinking down into the ocean. Mr. Murdoch had the ship turn left and ordered for the engines to be stopped and put in reverse to attempt at lessening the impact of the iceberg. This caused the most damage to the ship, if Murdoch would have just kept the ships speed at the speed it was going and hit the iceberg head on, the Titanic probably wouldn’t have sunk. The ship would have been damaged either way, but not as badly as it was from hitting the iceberg on the side rather than head on. The Titanic was also designed to have a very small rudder so turning away from the iceberg was made even more difficult.
The Titanic’s sinking was caused by more than just the iceberg. Everything that could go wrong went wrong, and unfortunately it all tied together that night. From the design of the ship, low quality material, to poor communication of the wireless radio operators to the Captain. The iceberg was just the drop that overflowed the glass. The low quality materials that the ship was made of, design of ship and water compartments, to the ignorance of both the captain and crew. All of these things mixed together contributed to a great catastrophe that will go down in history as one of the most famous disasters in history.
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