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Historic photograph of Captain Arthur Henry Rostrom of the rescue ship RMS Carpathia

Titanic Information

The remains of the RMS Titanic lay two miles deep at the bottom of the sea, entombed by the frigid waters of the northern Atlantic 380 miles to the southeast of Newfoundland. Until its April 14, 1912 sinking following a collision with an iceberg, RMS Titanic was the biggest and most luxurious of the Olympic-class ocean liners built during the prosperous Edwardian era around the turn of the 20th century. It measured eight hundred eighty-two feet nine inches in length, ninety-two feet six inches in width, and had a height from water line to boat deck of sixty feet. At 46,328 gross tons, the Titanic was slightly larger than its older sister ship RMS Olympic (largely due to Titanic's enclosed A-deck) and slightly smaller than its younger sister ship HMHS Britannic, which was the last of the three ships of its class to see active service and also tragically sank in 1916 following an impact with a mine.

The RMS Titanic's 8 passenger decks (not including the Orlop Deck, and Tank Top) were segregated into first, second, and third class sections. The steerage, or third-class sections, were located on the lower decks (primarily E, F and G) adjacent to cargo holds, pantries, and engine casings, and were mostly occupied by low-income European immigrants en route to America. The third-class passengers made up the largest group of non-crewmember passengers aboard the ship on its fatal maiden voyage, and who, along with the crewmembers, suffered a disproportionate percentage of the 1495 fatalities in the ship's sinking.

Second-class cabins, which equaled first-class accommodations on other ships, were adjacent to recreation areas and common rooms and located towards the stern on decks C, D, E, and F. The first-class cabins were located in the most luxurious sections of the ship, mostly on the A, B, and C Decks, with some rooms on the D and E Decks as well but mostly towards the bow of the ship on these lower floors. Some of the ship's luxury amenities included a specialty restaurant called The Parisian which included a sunlit veranda, numerous promenades, a swimming pool and a squash court (on the lower decks), a gym, a Turkish Bath, libraries, many reception rooms, ballrooms, and grand staircases. First-class accommodations were adorned with mahogany paneling and furniture, and on the fatal maiden voyage were filled with some of the wealthiest people in the world.

The RMS Titanic featured numerous cutting-edge technological advances of the period, including a full electrical subsystem and two wireless Marconi radio sets. She was propelled by two bronze triple-blade propellers and one massive quadruple-blade propeller, all connected to two reciprocating four-cylinder, triple expansion inverted steam engines, as well as a single low pressure Parsons Turbine. These were powered by 159 coal burning furnaces and 29 boilers, venting through three of the four funnels (the fourth was decorative). With this engine set-up, a top speed of 23 knots was theoretically possible even while the ship was at its capacity of 3,547 passengers and crew '€“ its main rudder, however, was undersized and antiquated in style, making precise maneuvering difficult.

The Titanic's collision with an iceberg resulted in a catastrophic buckling of the hull that allowed water to enter between the steel plates. As the ship had a double bottom but no double hull, which was especially vulnerable to damage due to a variety of steel used which becomes brittle in icy water, the iceberg's brush with the ship on the starboard side resulted in a chain reaction which caused the rivets to pop out over a length of 300 feet. As the ship sank, it broke into two pieces between the last two funnels on the stern side and the two pieces sank very differently. The bow landed right side up and somewhat gently while the stern was torn apart along the hull from implosions due to air trapped inside; it buried itself deeply in the silt after smashing into the bottom at a high speed. New evidence suggests that part of the hull may have split apart into small pieces and sunk even before the stern and bow separated, which may have hastened the ship's demise and caused it to sink in as little as five minutes. Today, the bow and stern of the wreck lay on the ocean floor half a mile apart, separated by a field of debris from the wreck. No bodies, or bones, were found, most likely having deteriorated by the 1940's along with the majority of wood and found aboard the ship. Interestingly, some clothes in near-perfect condition have been found.

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