One hundred years ago, the ship that couldn’t sink sank. It’s the centennial anniversary of RMS Titanic’s ill-fated end on its debut transatlantic crossing.
On April 10, 1912, the Titanic, largest ship afloat, left Southampton, England on her maiden voyage to New York City. The White Star Line had spared no expense in assuring her luxury. A legend even before she sailed, her passengers were a mixture of the world’s wealthiest basking in the elegance of first class accommodations and immigrants packed into steerage.
She was touted as the safest ship ever built, so safe that she carried only 20 lifeboats – enough to provide accommodation for only half her 2,200 passengers and crew. This discrepancy rested on the belief that since the ship’s construction made her “unsinkable,” her lifeboats were necessary only to rescue survivors of other sinking ships. Additionally, lifeboats took up valuable deck space.
At the time of her construction, the Titanic was the largest ship ever built. She was nearly 900 feet long, stood 25 stories high, and weighed an incredible 46,000 tons. With turn-of-the-century design and technology, including sixteen major watertight compartments in her lower section that could easily be sealed off in the event of a punctured hull, the Titanic was deemed an unsinkable ship. According to her builders, even in the worst possible accident at sea, two ships colliding, the Titanic would stay afloat for two to three days, which would provide enough time for nearby ships to help.