The Titanic Disaster of 1912 Part 1

About the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, history of the disaster where 1,493 people died when the unsinkable ship sunk.

THE UNSINKABLE Titanic

It was on a Friday afternoon that the Titanic, newest luxury-liner addition to Britain's White Star Fleet, departed from Queenstown, Ireland, on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. It carried 1,290 passengers, a crew of 903, and 3,814 sacks of mail. There was great excitement aboard as the big ship knifed its way through the Atlantic at 23 knots, a speed certain to set a new crossing record. A few hundred miles past the halfway point, lookouts in the crow's nest sighted an iceberg less than a quarter mile away. There was no time to stop or to swerve. The muffled grinding on impact gave little indication that the unsinkable Titanic had been fatally wounded.

When: At 11:59 P.M. on Monday, April 15, 1912. Shortly after 2 A.M. the Titantic slid to its watery grave.

Where: 1,191 mi. from New York.

The Loss: 1,493 passengers and crewmen perished. The Titanic had cost more than $8 million.

The Cause: Even hindsight isn't infallible in trying to pinpoint the cause of a disaster. After-the-fact experts agreed that the Titanic's captain, E. J. Smith, must have known of iceberg danger at least an hour before the disaster, yet there were no orders given to reduce speed. The weather was clear and cold with excellent visibility. Apparently, to achieve a record crossing was very important. The captain, passengers, and crew firmly believed the Titanic's publicity, that she was unsinkable. All were afflicted with the "full speed ahead" euphoria. What could possibly happen to an unsinkable ship?

The Disaster: It was just before midnight when the iceberg was spotted dead ahead, rising 100' above the surface. Seconds later the Titanic rammed with a solid crunch on the portside forward, then climbed the submerged iceberg, tearing out the forward end of the ship below the waterline. The sound was so muffled that no one was frightened. After a few minutes, the more curious passengers, in a happy mood, drifted on deck to look around and reach over the bow rail to touch the iceberg. They were unaware of a 2nd danger. A fire that had broken out in the coal bunkers before leaving Southampton was still not extinguished. At 12:25 A.M., after having the damage assessed, Captain Smith ordered all persons assembled on the upper deck. With everyone in good spirits, this was accomplished in 15 minutes. Passengers were informed of what had happened and of the captain's decision to abandon ship. There was no dissension or panic until at 12:50 A.M. Chief Officer Murdock ordered: "Crews to the boats! Women and children 1st."

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