S.S. Titanic

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The S.S. Titanic was built on the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland. She was the second ship of the Olympic class liners of the White Star Line Company, built in that shipyard, but was the largest and most prestigious passenger liner of the day. 269 meters long, 28 meters wide, and 56 meters tall, the Titanic had 885 crewmen and was built for up to 3,300 passengers. Because she carried mail, she was also called RMS Titanic (RMS standing for Royal Mail Steamer.)

She was considered a pinnacle of technological achievement, and with her 16 watertight compartments she was thought to be unsinkable. A deckhand was even quoted as saying, "God Himself could not sink this ship." 1

On the night of April 14 1912 she struck an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. The iceberg punctured the hull, creating a long thin gash along the right side of Titanic, flooding six of the compartments. She sank at 2:20 the next morning. In this tragedy, the worst maritime incident during peacetime, only 705 passengers from a total of 2,222 survived. Among the victims were some famous people: John Guggenheim, Isodore Strauss, John Jacob Astor IV and Charles Hays. Famous survivors included Molly Brown (thus becoming the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown).

One crew member, Violet Jessop, survived not only the sinking of the Titanic, but an earlier accident involving the Titanic's sister ship Olympic, and finally, the later sinking of another of Titanic's sisters, the Britannic.

It was a shock to the whole international community because it proved that man and his technological achievements were inferior to powers of nature. This event had an enormous impact on ship construction and wireless telegraphy.

The wreck was finally located in 1985 by Dr. Robert Ballard, and lies at a depth of 3,800 meters, at 41° 43' 55" N, 49° 56' 45" W, near Newfoundland. The ship broke in two large pieces, which lie on the bottom a few hundred meters apart, separated by a debris field.

Dr. Ballard and his team did not bring up any artifacts from the site, considering it to be tantamount to grave robbing. Under international maritime law, however, the recovery of artifacts is necessary to establish salvage rights to a shipwreck. In the years after the find the Titanic has been the victim of numbers of court cases concerning ownership of artifacts and the wreck site itself. Lots of artifacts have been salvaged and are now permanently on display at the maritime museum in Greenwich, England.

"The official archive" for artifacts recovered from the shipwreck, maintained by RMS Titanic, Inc., is at http://www.rmstitanic.net/.

Another interesting, related site that stocks reprints of the rare book The Sinking of Titanic and Great Sea Disasters) is http://www.titanicsociety.com/.


[1] http://www.cog7.org/BA/NowWhat/Articles/SocietyCulture/Titanic.html