Many people know the story of the Titanic through the movie, one of the biggest box office earners of all time. Separating fact from fiction can be hard when it comes to movies versus reality. There are also facts that weren’t told in the movie that are just plain amazing and will leave you saying, “Really?”
Fact #1 Titanic
The RMS Titanic was the world’s largest passenger ship of its time. It took a little over two years to build at a whopping cost of $7,500,000. It was built in Belfast, Northern Ireland and more men 15,000 worked on its construction.
The Titanic was 269.1 metres (882 feet) in length and the largest man-made moving object on Earth. The largest passenger vessel is now Harmony of the Seas, at 362.12 metres.
The top speed of the Titanic was 23 knots (more than 26 miles per hour).
There were 840 staterooms in all, 416 in First Class, 162 in Second Class, and 262 in Third Class.
Fact #2 30 Seconds Doomed the Titanic
When the captain of the Titanic received the warning about the iceberg the ship was already doomed. If the captain had received the warning 30 seconds earlier he would have had time to turn the ship and avoid the iceberg.
The ship as it was didn’t have enough time to turn around or stop. After hitting the iceberg, it took the Titanic 2 hours and 40 minutes to sink. It took just 37 seconds between the sighting of the iceberg and the collision.
The Titanic crew had no binoculars, which may have helped them see the iceberg. They were inside a locker and the key was lost.
The iceberg was around 100 feet tall and came from a glacier in Greenland. It began its journey somewhere around 1000 BCE
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Fact #3 The Scheduled Lifeboat Drill
One of the most tragic facts about the Titanic is that a lifeboat drill was scheduled for the day that the Titanic hit that fatal iceberg. If a lifeboat drill had been performed there is a chance that the crew and passengers would have reached their lifeboats in a more timely and organized manner.
Alas, the lifeboat drill was cancelled by the captain. No one knows why the drill was cancelled and at this point, it is likely that we will never know.
Fact #4 The Number of Lifeboats
Titanic was capable of carrying 64 lifeboats, a number which would have been sufficient for the ships maximum capacity of 3,547 people.
Alexander Carlisle, the chief designer of Titanic planned 48 lifeboats but the number of lifeboats was reduced to make the decks look less cluttered.
Titanic carried only 20 lifeboats: 2 wooden cutters, 14 standard wooden lifeboats and 4 collapsible canvas lifeboats. And these boats could accommodate only 1178 people, which was only one-third of Titanic’s total capacity. Strangely, that was more than the legally required.
Out of 20 lifeboats on board, only 18 could be launched and two left just floated away. Moreover, most of the lifeboats were not full and a good amount of them were half full.
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Fact #5 The Fourth Smokestack
Everyone looks at a ship and judges its impressiveness by the number of smokestacks it has, right? Well, the Titanic had three working smokestacks, the fourth was added to make the ship look more impressive.
While it might seem pointless to add a smokestack just to make a ship look more impressive the designers did put it to use. The fourth smokestack was used to ventilate parts of the ship below including the kitchen and smoking room. There is also a famed later that led to the top of the smokestack and in a picture of the Titanic at Queenstown, a stoker can be seen peeking over the top of the funnel.
The height of the funnels were 81.5 feet above the deck.
The ship burned around 825 tonnes of coal a day – hand shovelled into its furnaces by a team of 176 men. Almost 100 tonnes of ash was dumped into the sea every 24 hours.
Fact #6 No Lives Lost
Original news reports of the Titanic’s fate reported that the ship was sinking but that no lives were lost. People wanted to optimistic and the newspapers wanted to support that.
The British newspaper London Daily Mail reported “Titanic Sunk, No Lives Lost” in their initial April 16, 1912 story. Other newspapers reported the same, like this one below.
The New York Times was the first newspaper to hint that people may have been lost but they were about 260 people off in their estimates and they only declared those “probably” perished.
The New York Times devoted 75 pages to coverage of the Titanic in the first week after the disaster.
Some historians think that this report may also be due in part to the fact that the ship was widely believed to be unsinkable.
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Fact #7 The SS California
The SS California, another ship, was close to the Titanic when distress signals were sent out over the wireless radios. The operator for the SS California had already gone to bed. When the flares from the Titanic were seen the captain of the SS California was awoken but he gave no orders. It is thought that if it had responded more survivors would have been rescued.
The SS Californian was criticised for ignoring the Titanic’s distress signals.
Fact #8 Alcohol, The Savior
The chief baker on board the Titanic, Charles Joughin, was one of the most famed survivors of the Titanic. He survived 2 whole hours in the water without any ill effects from the freezing water. It is rumoured that he survived the water in part due to the copious amounts of alcohol that he drank.
Fact #9 22% Of The Bodies
Only 22% of the bodies of those who died were found. 1514 people died in the water around the Titanic that means that they only found 336 bodies. That leaves a lot of bodies that were never found in the frigid water.
After the Titanic’s sinking, almost all of those in the water died of cardiac arrest or other bodily reactions to freezing water, within 15–30 minutes.
The co-owner of Macy’s died on the Titanic. He refused to get in a lifeboat before women and children, and his wife refused to leave without him. They were last seen standing on the deck, arm in arm.
Fact #10 Life On The Titanic
Its interiors were loosely inspired by those at the Ritz hotel in London. Facilities on board included a gym, pool, Turkish bath, a kennel for first class dogs, and a squash court.
There were four restaurants on the Titanic. First class dining saloon could cater 550 people at any one time.
There were 20,000 bottles of beer on board, 1,500 bottles of wine and 8,000 cigars – all for the use of first-class passengers.
It even had its own onboard newspaper – the Atlantic Daily Bulletin.
There were over 700 third-class passengers, how many bathtubs do you think that they were provided with? For all of the third-class passengers, there was a total of two bathtubs to be shared. Of those two bathtubs one was for males and the other for females.
Captain Smith’s private bathtub still survives today and was found at the bottom of the ocean intact in 2011.
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Fact #11 The Wealth of First Class
The first class passengers of the Titanic were very rich. $150 (about $1700 today) was the average cost of a First Class berth on the Titanic; First Class parlour suite, on the other hand, cost $4,350 (about $50,000 today).
The average cost of a Standard or second Class berth was $60 (about $700 today) and the average cost of a Third class berth was between $15-$40 (about $170 – $460 today).
The estimated value of the cash, bonds and jewellery carried by The Titanic’s passengers was US$6,000,000
#12 Captain Edward Smith
Edward Smith, the ship’s captain, also went down with the vessel. His last words were: “Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you. You know the rule of the sea. It’s every man for himself now, and God bless you.” A statue of him can be seen in Lichfield, Staffordshire.
The second officer of the Titanic, who survived by swimming from the sinking ship to a capsized raft, later in life sailed his civilian craft to Dunkirk and helped evacuate over 130 men.
Not a single engineer, out of the 30, made it off the Titanic: they stayed and kept the power on so others could escape.
Some More Random and Interesting Facts about Titanic
- The Titanic is the only ocean liner to ever be sunk by an iceberg.
- The Musicians of the Titanic kept playing music for hours as the ship sank.
- After the Titanic sank, the families of the band members were billed By White Star Line for the cost of the uniforms worn as the band members died.
- Chocolate magnate Milton Hershey cancelled his reservations for the Titanic due to last minute business matters.
- The Japanese who survived the Titanic crash was called a coward in his country for not dying with the others.
- Nearly a dozen couples were celebrating their honeymoon on the Titanic.
- The last remaining survivor of the disaster, Millvina Dean, died on May 31, 2009, aged 97. She was two months old at the time.
- A man who survived the sinking of a ship in 1871 was finally able to overcome his fears and decided to sail again in 1912: he died in the sinking of the Titanic.
- A priest on the Titanic refused to board a lifeboat twice. Instead, he stayed behind to hear confessions and give absolution to the people left on the ship.
- 29 days after the Titanic sank, a movie about it was released. It featured an actress who was actually on the Titanic and survived.
- The budget for the Movie “Titanic” was higher than the Titanic itself.
- James Cameron sought Hollywood funding for the movie “Titanic” not because he wanted to make the movie, but because he wanted to dive to the shipwreck.
- The movie “Titanic” won 11 Oscars, but none for acting.
- The White Star Line’s Titanic and her sister ship Olympic were designed to compete with the famous Cunard liners Lusitania and Mauretania.
- There’s a conspiracy theory saying the Titanic never sunk. Instead, it was her sister ship, the Olympic, and it was an insurance scam.