Guest Author - Vance R. Rowe
On Sunday night April 14th, 1912, the RMS Titanic hit an iceberg and the “unsinkable” ship, sank into the waters of the Northern Atlantic Ocean at 2:20 AM on April 15th. This was the Titanic’s first voyage and just over 1500 people had died when the ship met its watery grave. This tragedy could have been avoided as other ships had sent radio messages, warning the Titanic about the icebergs ahead, however, there was no radio operator on duty and the warnings went unheeded.
It was 11:40 PM when the iceberg was spotted and the captain tried to steer the ship clear of the iceberg and did avoid a head-on collision, but, the iceberg tore into the side of the ship, filling six compartments with water. The ship was built to safely fill four compartments of water. Moments later the crew of the Titanic had sent an SOS distress signal. At 12:10 AM the alarm was given for the passengers to head for the lifeboats; lifeboats that were available for only about half of the passengers. Panic had broken out on deck because there had been no instructions for this system of disembarking passengers in an emergency like this.
The weight of the water in the six compartments had forced the Titanic to almost stand up on end which caused the ship to break in half and sink at 2:20 AM. It would be another hour before the ship Carpathia could arrive and 705 people in the lifeboats were saved. The rest of the passengers had perished in the frigid waters of the Atlantic. 705 people were rescued out of 2,208 passengers and a crew of 898 people.
Ironically, as the Titanic left the docks in the harbor of Southampton, England, the wake of the ship had caused the moorings to snap of two other ships in the harbor, the City of New York and the Oceanic. The captain was able to steer the Titanic away from the City of New York, missing it by only two feet. Had the two ships collided, the maiden voyage of the Titanic would have been halted and more than 1500 people would not have lost their lives.
It wouldn’t be until 1985 that the wreckage of the Titanic would be discovered, some 12,000 feet below the Atlantic. Manned and unmanned subs investigated the wreckage and many artifacts were recovered from the wreckage and are on display in museums around the world.
Blame for the tragedy was officially placed on the captain and the bridge crew of the ship, all of whom had perished in the accident. The accidental sinking of the Titanic resulted in more stringent safety measures were made, including the requirements of the number of lifeboats to coincide with the number of passengers aboard a ship. It is too bad that it takes a tragedy to fix things that should not have to have been fixed in the first place.
The sinking of the Titanic will be forever immortalized in books, movies, and folk songs.