The Sinking of the Titanic is one of the best-known maritime disasters ever. When the "practically unsinkable" liner hit an iceberg after a failed port-around maneuver, she sank in a little over 2 hours and 40 minutes, taking 1,496 souls with her. Only 712 passengers & crew survived. It is described in the following article and in a timeline.
On April 14th, 1912, at around 11:39 P.M., First Officer Murdoch and lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee spotted something in the darkness. Then, 500 yards away, a large 55-60 feet iceberg appeared directly in Titanic's path. Seeing the silhouette of the berg, First Officer Murdoch immediately ordered Quartermaster Hichens to put the helm "Hard to Starboard!" Hichens responded, and turned the wheel to port. Around the same time, Murdoch ordered the ship to turn away from the ice, Fleet instantly rang the bell three times and telephoned the bridge. Sixth Officer Moody answered the telephone on the bridge as Hichens was steering and heard Fleet's infamous words.
Moody: "Yes, what did you see?"
Fleet: "Iceberg, right ahead!"
Moody: "Thank you."
Moody informed Murdoch what the lookouts had spotted. Around that time, Murdoch saw how fast the ship was going and ordered to Moody, "All Stop!" Together, Moody and Murdoch rang the engine telegraphs to "ALL STOP". In the engine room and boiler rooms, the engineers and firemen responded by shutting the dampers, lowering the steam, and stopping the engines, slowing down the now adrift ship. The ship's helm had been turned as far as possible, the rudder steering the ship away to port, away from the ice. Murdoch, Moody, Hichens, and the Lookouts watched and waited to see if their work paid off. Luckily, instead of slamming straight into the iceberg, the ship managed to turn away, but unfortunately, not fast enough.
At around 11:40 PM, just 37 seconds after the iceberg was spotted by Murdoch and Fleet, the Titanic struck the iceberg on the starboard side. The ship grazed along the side of the berg, ripping and snapping open a series of small and large deformations below the waterline, over 300 ft. The rivets were scraped off the steel plating, and the metal was bent allowing 7 tons of water to flood into 5 or 6 watertight compartments. Chaos engulfed the boiler rooms and cargo holds as thousands of gallons of 28-degree water poured into the ship. The iceberg shuddered so violently during the crash, it jerked some ice loose, some of which fell into the ocean, and some smaller pieces fell on the Titanic's forward well deck. On the bridge, Murdoch hearing the loud scraping under the water and seeing the small amounts of ice falling on the deck, turned back to Hichens and ordered "Hard to Port!" in order to prevent the propellers from hitting the iceberg. Hichens responded and turned the wheel to starboard. The starboard turn managed to get the Titanic off the iceberg, with the back end of the ship clearing the berg. The ship had scraped along with it for 10 seconds. Fearing the ship was flooding, Murdoch ordered Moody to "Close the Watertight Doors!" Before Moody could flip the switch, Murdoch said, "Ring the warning bell first." Moody responded to this by turning on the door alarm, and Murdoch flipped the switch that activated the watertight doors, and ten seconds later, the doors sealed off the watertight compartments.
Hearing the warning bell, the firemen and engineers rushed through the freezing water to get through the watertight doors before they are sealed and closed off tight. Others climbed up emergency ladders and rushed out of the boiler rooms or to balconies above the flooding water. The engineers in the engine room were pretty much safe as the damage from the iceberg mostly concentrated at the forward end of the ship. Many passengers and crew felt only a slight jolt/bump, some didn't feel anything at all, and many over on the starboard side and at the bow could hear the ship scraping along the iceberg. The people that were awoken from a loud bang or thrown out of bed by the collision were third-class men, that were mostly concentrated at the bow of the ship. As the ship drifted away from the iceberg, Murdoch ordered Quartermaster Olliver to enter what had happened in the ship's log.
On April 14th, 1912, at around 11:39 P.M., lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee spotted something in the darkness. Then, 500 yards away, a large 55-60 feet iceberg appeared directly in Titanic's path. Instantly, Fleet rang the bell three times and telephoned the bridge. First Officer Murdoch hearing those bells, stared ahead in the darkness. There it was, a massive wall of ice, ready to destroy the brand-new White Star Liner. Sixth Officer Moody answered the telephone and listened to Fleet's infamous words, considering the emergency.
Moody: "Yes, what did you see?"
Fleet: "Iceberg, right ahead!"
Moody: "Thank you."
Moody passed the word on to Murdoch. Now seeing the silhouette of the berg and hearing Moody's words, first officer Murdoch immediately ordered Quartermaster Hichens to put the helm "Hard to Starboard!" Hichens responded, and turned the wheel to port. Looking, Murdoch saw how fast the ship was going and ordered to Moody, "Full Speed Astern!" Together, Moody and Murdoch rang the engine telegraphs to "FULL ASTERN". In the engine room and boiler rooms, the engineers and firemen responded by shutting the dampers, lowering the steam, and reversing the engines, slowing down the now adrift ship significantly. The ship's helm had been turned as far as possible, the rudder steering the ship away to port, away from the ice. Murdoch, Moody, Hichens, and the Lookouts watched and waited to see if their work paid off. Luckily, instead of slamming straight into the iceberg, the ship managed to turn away, but unfortunately, not fast enough.
At around 11:40 PM, just 45-50 seconds after the iceberg was spotted by Fleet, the Titanic struck the iceberg on the starboard side. The ship grazed along the side of the iceberg, ripping and snapping open a series small and large deformations below the waterline, over 300 ft. The rivets were torn, and the metal was bent allowing 7 tons of water to flood into 5-6 watertight compartments. Chaos engulfed the boiler rooms and cargo holds as thousands of gallons of 28-degree water poured into the ship. The iceberg shuddered so violently during the crash, it jerked some ice loose, some which fell into the ocean, and some smaller pieces fell on the Titanic's forward well deck. On the bridge, Murdoch hearing the loud scraping under the water and seeing small amounts of ice falling on the deck, turned back to Hichens and ordered "Hard to Port!" in order to prevent the propellers from hitting the iceberg. Hichens responded and turned the wheel to starboard. The starboard turn managed to get the Titanic off the iceberg, with the back end of the ship clearing the berg. The ship had scraped along with it for 10 seconds. Fearing the ship was flooding, Murdoch ran to close the watertight doors, ringing the warning bell first. Murdoch successfully activated the watertight door switch, ten seconds later, the doors sealed off the watertight compartments.
Hearing the warning bell, the firemen and engineers rushed through the freezing water to get through the watertight doors before they are sealed and closed off tight. Others climbed up emergency ladders and rushed out of the boiler rooms or to balconies above the flooding water. The engineers in the engine room were pretty much safe as the damage from the iceberg mostly concentrated at the forward end of the ship. Many passengers and crew felt only a slight jolt/bump, some didn't feel anything at all, and many over on the starboard side and the bow could hear the ship scraping along the iceberg. The people that were awoken from a loud bang or thrown out of bed by the collision were mainly third-class men, that were mostly concentrated at the bow of the ship. As the ship drifted away from the iceberg, Murdoch ordered Quartermaster Olliver to enter what had happened in the ship's log.
Titanic Will Founder
Captain Smith & Bruce Ismay (the chairman of the White Star Line) were both awoken by the collision, Smith immediately arrived on the bridge at the same time as Fourth Officer Boxhall while Mr. Ismay dressed. He discussed the collision with first officer Murdoch. We do not know the exact words, but it might have been something like this:
Smith: "What have we struck?"
Murdoch: "An iceberg sir. I hard a-starboarded and reversed the engines and I was going to hard-a-port around it, but she was too close. I could not do any more."
Smith: "Are the watertight doors closed?"
Murdoch: "The watertight doors are closed, sir."
Smith, Murdoch, and Fourth Officer Boxhall go to the starboard bridge wing to see if they can spot the iceberg. While Smith and Murdoch discuss the collision, Boxhall on his own initiative decides to go forward and inspect the ship for damage himself. When Smith returned to the wheelhouse, he changes the engine room telegraph to 'HALF AHEAD' and the sinking Titanic started to steam again, then he ordered quartermaster Olliver to get Thomas Andrews and the carpenter to sound the ship for damage. Boxhall then returns from taking the trip forward and reports he cannot see any signs of damage (Smith does not trust his initial report and asks him to find the ship's carpenter). A minute or two later, the carpenter and one of the postal clerks bursts in. "She's taking on water and quickly", the carpenter warned "The mail hold is filling with water" told the postal clerk Jago Smith as well. Smith then sends Quartermaster Olliver with a note to Chief Engineer Bell, asking for a damage report, Smith also then changes the engine room telegraph to "STOP". Bruce Ismay at the same time arrives on the bridge and asked Smith why they have stopped and the captain tells him that they have struck ice and that it is serious.
Smith then visits the Marconi room to tell the wireless operators Jack Phillips and Harold Bride to get ready to send out a call for assistance, but not to send it until he tells them to. Then he and Andrews (who just arrived at the bridge) go down to inspect the ship. They concluded that the damage was in the forepeak, the first three cargo holds, and boiler room 6. There also was minor damage in a coal bunker at boiler room 5, and a small crack in the double bottom in boiler room 4. The two then headed back onto the bridge, where Andrews mapped out the damage that the Titanic had suffered during the collision. Based on that damage, and the fact that the water had risen 14 feet above the keel in ten minutes, Andrews concluded that the Titanic could only stay afloat for an hour to an hour and a half. After hearing this terrible news, Smith orders the officers to uncover the lifeboats, swing them out and have passengers wearing lifebelts. Chief Officer Wilde is ordered to muster the deck crew and uncover the boats, First Officer Murdoch to rouse the passengers and Sixth officer Moody to to find the list for the lifeboat stations. Smith then visits the Marconi room and orders the wireless operators to "Send the call for assistance…the regulation international call for help." He supplies the position 41°,44'N, 50°, 24'W.
Minutes after midnight, Smith gave the order to prepare the 16 lifeboats and abandon ship. The now aware Second Officer Lightoller oversaw the lowering of the port side lifeboats, while Murdoch oversaw the starboard ones, with Fifth Officer Lowe (who just woke up) and Moody helping wherever they could. While Chief Officer Wilde oversaw the lowering process on both sides. Meanwhile, G Deck started to flood. At the same moment, a build up of steam starts to escape the funnels after the safety mechanisms are engaged. This steam was normally used to feed the engines, but now it was excess and it blew off halfway up to the funnel with an ear-deafening noise that lasted over an hour, causing some pipes to break. Firemen desperately extinguished the fires in the furnaces to cool down the steam (and avoid an explosion)
At about the same time, several passengers and crew saw the lights of another ship as close as 10 miles away (This we now know was the Leyland Line steamer SS Californian). After clearing the portside lifeboats officer Boxhall asks if he should send a distress signal after noticing the light on the horizon. Captain Smith explains that he's already sent one over the wireless. Boxhall asks Smith which position he used for the signal and Smith responded with the 8 o'clock DR (dead reckoning) And Boxhall surmises that the position being sent over the wireless is incorrect, Smith then orders Boxhall to recalculate their current position (which he calculates at 41°,46'N, 50°,14'W.)
Officer Boxhall has completed his calculation of the ship's position via DR. He gives the position to Captain Smith who orders him to deliver it to the wireless room. Meanwhile the RMS Carpathia's wireless operator Harold Cottam was about to shut down his device when he heard the presence of the Titanic and sent her a message: "Did you know Cape Cod has a number of messages for you?" When he was undressing, Officer Boxhall at the same time arrives at the wireless room of Titanic, seeing Phillips bent over his instrument, Phillips tells him that they made contact with the Carpathia, he tries to tell Phillips the new position but with no luck, instead having to write it down on a piece of paper. Titanic then burst into a yell: "Come right away! This is a C.Q.D, old man! Position 41°,46'N, 50°,14'W." Cottam could not believe what he was hearing. A message like this from the unsinkable Titanic? "Should I notify our captain?" "Yes, immediately!"
Moments after, the Carpathia was now sailing in a northwestern direction. Her cruising speed was 14 knots, but Captain Rostron informed of the wireless message pushed her limits, she speeded up to 17 knots (?). It would take four hours to reach the Titanic, so there was no time to spare. At this point, F Deck started to flood, and all passengers and crew were still on board of Titanic. The women and children were now ordered into the lifeboats. No. 7 was the first boat to leave with 28 passengers and crew on board, while there was room for more than 65. The reason was that many passengers were not well aware and not truthfully informed, thus disbelieved Titanic was in trouble and preferred to stay on board the comfortable ship. At 12:40 A.M, the lifeboat was lowered from the ship under the supervision of Murdoch, Pitman, and Ismay. They then went to Lifeboat 5 where Ismay started to panic and grabbed one of the davits screaming "Lower Away, Lower Away, Lower Away!" he was pulled away by Lowe who scolded him afterwards, the boat was lowered away at 12:43 A.M. however was disrupted when the front of the boat dipped and lowering was halted, she finally launched properly at 12:45 A.M.
Meanwhile, on the other side, Lightoller was busy taking care of number 6, and he strictly followed the 'women and children first' order without any exception. Near this boat was the Unsinkable Margaret "Molly" Brown who helped encourage ladies to board, ironically enough she herself didn't want to get onboard but was picked up by a large crewman and put in. Later at 1:10 as the boat with only 22 occupants was half-way into it's descent, it tipped by the bow, after being levelled Hichens calls up to Lightoller that there are no seaman to man the oars in the boat, a yachtsman steps forward and volunteers to lower himself via the fall lines.
During the lowering of lifeboats 5 & 7, Fourth Officer Joseph Boxhall fired the first of eight distress rockets and repeated this act every five minutes to contact the SS Californian, Boxhall earlier repeatedly tried to make contact with the Morse lamp to no avail. Around 12:45 A.M, the forward slant of the front section became more noticeable (3-degrees). The ships' bow lay very deep and quartermaster Rowe, by the order of Boxhall (Captain Smith?), had started shooting rockets every 5 minutes with him to attract the attention of a ship that was spotted earlier in the horizon. Some people who knew Titanic was a loss cause hoped this would make the passengers less reluctant to board the lifeboats, however it did not. Now 12:54 A.M. Lifeboat 3 was lowered away with only 32 of the 65 seats occupied, a few minutes later lifeboat 8 was launched with only 27 occupants, the same boat that Ida Straus rejected to enter without her husband of 40 years. After the crowd gathered around the lifeboats and saw the rockets, they responded with an anxious chatter. Thus came the realization that they were in danger.
My God, We Are Lost
Another event strengthened this realization. The sinking situation changed dramatically at 1:10 A.M. Fireman Fred Barret rushes to climb the escape ladder of the pump room when a wave of seawater comes rushing up between the boilers. The Non-Watertight door separating a coal bunker and boiler room no.5 is tested by the pressure on the other side and has finally given way killing 2 men Jonathan Shepherd and Herbert Harvey (the first victims of the disaster). When Chief Engineer Bell heard about this, he uttered this famous quote: "My God, we are lost." The sinking process increased rapidly that by 1:19 the ship has sunk down so much that the waterline has reached the portholes under the Titanic's nameplate and as the water reached E Deck, Scotland Road gave the incoming water-free play, but only on the port side.
This caused Titanic to slowly stop lurching her four degree list to starboard and now to port, from two degrees at 1:35 A.M. and always increasing until the ship sank. The lifeboats were getting released more rapidly now. Lifeboats 1, 2, 4, 9, 10, 11, 13, 14, 15, and 16 were all lowered in less than 45 minutes. The order is shown in the lifeboat launching sequence. With this hurry and hundreds of panicking passengers, some incidents happened. Boat 13 was almost crushed under boat 15 as it was being lowered away. A lady was pushed from the deck, fortunately her foot was grabbed before she continued her fall. Officer Lowe fired his gun after a group of Italian men (?) tried to board boat 14 on A deck.
By 1:37, Titanic's watertight compartments began to fail, causing the ship to sink far faster than from the last hour.
At 1:40, when John Stewart entered the First Class Smoking Room, he saw Thomas Andrews staring at a painting of "Plymouth Harbour", above the fireplace, his life jacket lying on a nearby table. He asked: "Aren't you going to try for it, Mr. Andrews?" Andrews didn't reply and apparently didn't even hear the question, it seems like he needed to gather his thoughts.
At 1:45, the ship had already suffered a nine degree list to port.
At 2:00 A.M., Collapsible boat C was two-thirds full when a group of passengers tried to storm it, somebody fired his pistol twice. It is not known if this shooting caused any casualties. Bruce Ismay, President of the White Star Line, climbed aboard the boat as it was lowered with 44 people on board, an action that brought harsh criticism towards him later, at the same time Thomas Andrews was seen back on the boat deck. The crowd had begun to stir, but there were still women reluctant to leave the ship. To be heard and to draw attention to himself, Andrews waved his arms and announced to them in a loud voice. He then continued with the evacuation, assisting Lightoller with the final lifeboat, Collapsible D. To avoid a rush, Lightoller ordered the crew to form a ring and link arms around the boat. The boat was later lowered at 2:05- with 20 women and children. Lightoller drew his revolver and shot in the air to keep the men from rushing the boat. As the boat lowered down two passengers Hugh Woolner and Mauritz Hakan Bjornstrom-Steffanson on A Deck decided to make a jump for it, taking places 21 and 22 of the 45 available on the boat. The Boat Deck of the sinking Titanic was almost completely empty for a while. There were two more collapsible lifeboats, but they were both lying on top of the officers quarters without a single tool to get them to the davits. Murdoch, Lightoller, Moody, lamp trimmer Hemming, Dining Room Steward Edward Brown, fireman Walter Hurst, and others climbed onto the officers quarters to free the boats when they are suddenly released by Captain Smith, who just came from the Marconi Room to release Phillips and Bride as well. Phillips, however, continued to work while Bride started gathering their papers. As Bride was gathering documents in the other room, a large stoker enters the room and tries to steal Phillips' lifejacket, they fight and ultimately Phillips bashed the head of the stoker with something.
Captain Smith then walked onto the bridge alone. It was the last reliable sighting of Smith. When Hemming entered the bridge seconds later, he did not see Smith. Historian Daniel Allen Butler has an explanation for the seeming disappearance. He writes: "If Smith did indeed go to the bridge around 2:10 a.m. as Steward Brown said and took refuge inside the wheelhouse, that would explain why Trimmer Hemming did not see him when he went onto the bridge a few minutes later. Earlier, at nightfall, the shutters on the Titanic's wheelhouse windows would have been raised, to prevent the lights of the wheelhouse from interfering with the bridge officers’ night vision: Trimmer Hemming would have been unable to see Captain Smith had the captain indeed been inside the wheelhouse, awaiting his end." Another explanation is from the account of Cecil Fitzpatrick who saw Captain Smith by the bridge wing talking with Thomas Andrews, one of them were reported saying 'We cannot stay any longer; she is going!' before they jumped over board.
The Final Moments
Panic struck all the passengers on the ship. As Titanic went down and the water sabotaged the lighting, the lights became increasingly "redder." They casted an eerie, dull-rose color over the decks of the otherwise pitch-dark ship. The crowds were dividing into smaller groups; standing at the muster stations near the collapsible boats; small groups scattered across the deck; a mass gathering at the stern.
Collapsible Boat A reached the Boat Deck on the starboard side, but the Titanic was heavily listing to port and the crew failed to push up the boat to the edge successfully. Both boats went over roughly simultaneously; A slammed into the deck and buckled, B landed on the deck upside-down without any form of getting them back upright. People were now using davits as a measurement for how fast she was sinking; at this rate, it seemed the deck was plummeting. It was at this time that Jack Philips and Harold Bride were forced to abandon the Marconi room.
Then, it went to hell; the ship righted herself for a moment, and it seemed like the ship was stable once more. Then, with a loud crash and two distinct explosions from inside the ship, something gave out and Titanic plunged into the sea and took on a slight list to starboard. The water immediately rushed to the based of the 1st forward funnel, and at this time there was a terrible scream of metal grinding. The first funnel keeled over and fell into the water, crushing several people and generating a large wave which washed the two collapsible lifeboats away from the sinking Titanic. The momentum of the plunge and the falling funnel caused a massive wave to sweep across the boat deck and this wave crashed over the wheelhouse, bridge wings, Collapsible boats and people in seconds. Collapsible A got swamped with water and swimmers, and Collapsible B floated off upside-down. Harold Bride managed to get trapped under the boat in the air pocket that kept it afloat. Men in the water began to flock onto the keel of the overturned lifeboat, as nothing could get the boat away from the ship. At this point, the displacement of water from the plunge had settled, completely submerging the bridge.
At this time, or just before, the second funnel sprays out cloud coal and sparks and seemed to be thrown from its uptake into the water on the starboard side. The Titanic now begins to sink faster as it slowly returns back to its port list. Chaos broke out as the sinking sped up. It is rumored that around this point, the water pressure caused the dome casing and the ornate dome itself to collapse above the Grand Staircase, sending a torrent of water in, that (supposedly) caused the stairwell to collapse. The motion of the water rapidly increased.
The Clock said 2:17 A.M.
The propellers were now completely out of the water; the stern started to rise at a steady pace like an elevator. In three minutes it reached an angle of 23-28 degrees. An increasing roar was heard by those in the boats, it seemed as if everything movable in the ship broke loose and crashed forward against walls and bulkheads. Gradually, the ship began to give up, bit by bit imploding. In a chain reaction, Titanic bends further causing cracks to form on the upper decks near the 3rd funnel and the aft expansion joint. Then there was a rising roar. with the the titanic bending, the keel is pushed upwards Cracks open more and the Titanic broke in half. Despite a bright flash and a wave of sparks when Titanic broke, the lights still burned for a moment. The stern slowly settled back down into the sea. The power went out as a mushroom cloud of steam rose above the chaos.
The Bow Section sails away heading to the ocean floor 2 1/2 miles down . The stern naturally flooding above the surface, speeds up in sinking making it go down faster than it was flooding. A giant air bubble was now trapped in the stern, which was slowly descending like a giant primitive wet bell. Meanwhile, the pitch was also increasing again, up to 89 degrees. Titanic's stern was now descending, but many areas inside stayed dry. The wet bell effect allowed the pitch to increase again, up to 89 degrees. The overall extra weight accelerated the stern's descent, now it reached the Aft Grand Staircase. The rooms burst as pressure built up within the angling stern, which was ready to blow. The broken windows allowed the water to flood the Aft Grand Staircase, reaching B & C Deck; winding down corridors and viciously consuming air pockets, causing more pressure to give out.
Next, the water reached the base of the collapsing fourth funnel, flooding it, adding even more weight. Next, the entrance to the Second Class Staircase submerged. The Second Class Promenade on B Deck submerged at the same moment, the Veranda Café and Palm Court flooded. The Second Class Staircase flooded next, allowing the water to reach down to E Deck. All this water made the stern descend so quickly that a bit of swell formed. Then, the ship up righted herself, leaning forwards and stopping; then she dropped vertically down to the sea, submerging in seconds. When the stern was about 10m under water, the hull itself imploded, ending the diving bell effect and flooding all other sections of the stern.
A Cold Death
In the immediate aftermath of the sinking, hundreds of passengers and crew were left dying in the icy sea, surrounded by debris from the ship. Titanic's disintegration during her descent to the seabed caused buoyant chunks of debris – timber beams, wooden doors, furniture, paneling and chunks of cork from the bulkheads – to rocket to the surface. These injured and possibly killed some of the swimmers; others used the debris to try to keep themselves afloat.
With a temperature of 28 °F (−2 °C), the water was lethally cold. Second Officer Lightoller described the feeling of "a thousand knives" being driven into his body as he entered the sea. Some of those in the water would have died almost instantly from heart attacks caused by the sudden stress on their cardiovascular systems. Others succumbed to hypothermia: extreme shivering at first, followed by a slowing and weakening pulse as body temperature dropped, before losing consciousness and dying.
Those in the lifeboats were horrified to hear the sound of what Lawrence Beesley called "every possible emotion of human fear, despair, agony, fierce resentment and blind anger mingled – I am certain of those – with notes of infinite surprise, as though each one were saying, 'How is it possible that this awful thing is happening to me? That I should be caught in this death trap?'
The noise of the people in the water screaming, yelling, and crying was a tremendous shock to the occupants of the lifeboats, many of whom had up to that moment believed that everyone had escaped before the ship sank. As Beesley later wrote, the cries "came as a thunderbolt, unexpected, inconceivable, incredible. No one in any of the boats standing off a few hundred yards away can have escaped the paralyzing shock of knowing that so short a distance away from a tragedy, unbelievable in its magnitude, was being enacted, which we, helpless, could in no way avert or diminish."
Only a few of those in the water survived. Among them were Archibald Gracie, Jack Thayer, and Charles Lightoller, who made it to the capsized collapsible boat B. Around 12 crew members climbed on board Collapsible B, and they rescued those they could until some 35 men were clinging precariously to the upturned hull. Realizing the risk to the boat of being swamped by the mass of swimmers around them, they paddled slowly away, ignoring the pleas of dozens of swimmers to be allowed on board. In his account, Gracie wrote of the admiration he had for those in the water; "In no instance, I am happy to say, did I hear any word of rebuke from a swimmer because of a refusal to grant assistance... [one refusal] was met with the manly voice of a powerful man... 'All right boys, good luck and God bless you'."
The Carpathia finally managed to reach the lifeboats at 4:00 AM, an hour and 40 minutes after the Titanic disappeared beneath the waves. The ship had to maneuver around several icebergs to reach survivors.
Once there, the Carpathia shot rockets in the air to signal that they were close. Survivors began to cheer when they saw the ship.
The Carpathia lowered down mooring ropes and ladders to get the passengers aboard. They pulled many of the lifeboats to lift a few life boats onto the ship. They used a boarding chute to help people on board, and people climbed out of lifeboats on ladders to emergency doors. Many of the lifeboats were left behind for salvagers. The Carpathia sent a message to other ships that they got the survivors.
The crew and passengers comforted saddened, injured, and shaken. They did a head count, and found out 712 people survived. They were then taken to New York to reunite with families and friends.
The United States Senate investigation reported that 1,517 people perished in the accident, while the British investigation has the number at 1,490. The actual number is 1,496. Hundreds of people died from drowning, though more than 1,000 died of hypothermia.
Regardless, the disaster ranks as one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in history and by far the best known.
Titanic's fame has always been sustained by:
- The media frenzy about the Titanic's famous victims
- The legend about what happened on board the ship
- The resulting changes to maritime law
- Walter Lord's 1955 non-fiction book, A Night to Remember
- The discovery of the wreck in 1985 by a team led by Robert Ballard and Dale Shivkumar, Sr.
- The 1997 film by James Cameron
The Break-Up Theory
For seventy years after the disaster, it was believed that the Titanic had sunk intact. Although there were several passengers who insisted that the ship had broken in two as it sank (including Jack Thayer, who even described it to Carpathian passenger L.D. Skidmore, who drew a set of sketches depicting the sinking), the inquiries believed the statements of the ship's officers and oh so few passengers that it had sunk in one piece.
In 1985, when the wreck was discovered by Robert Ballard and his crew, they found that the ship did in fact break in two as it sank. It was theorized that as the Titanic sank, the stern rose out of the water. It supposedly rose so high that the unsupported weight caused the ship to break into two pieces, the split starting at the upper deck. This became the most commonly accepted theory.
In 2005, new evidence suggested that in addition to the expected side damage, the ship also had sustained damage to the bottom of the hull (keel). This new evidence seemed to support a less popular theory that the crack which split the Titanic in two started at the keel plates.
The sinking of the Titanic has inspired popular culture ever since it happened. The first item to be released was Saved from the Titanic, only weeks after the sinking, starring a survivor who was wore the same outfit on set from that night.
Currently, the most anticipated item is Titanic: Honor and Glory, which strives to digitally recreate the entire ship as a PC/VR game and its sinking.
The sinking of Titanic has been the basis for many novels describing fictionalized events on board the ship. Many reference books about the disaster have also been written since Titanic sank, the first of these appearing within months of the sinking. Several films and TV movies were produced, one of the first being In Nacht und Eis as early as 1912. Others include the 1996 TV miniseries starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and the 1997 Film Titanic, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, which was a critical and commercial hit, winning eleven Academy Awards.
The Titanic sinking even appeared as a flashback in the 2000 movie Britannic.
The book A Night to Remember, was made into a movie in 1958 and was also transformed into Titanic The Musical, with a book by Peter Stone and music and lyrics by Maury Yeston. The musical ran from April 23rd, 1997 to March 31st, 1999 and won five Tony Awards for 1997, including Best Score, Best Book, and Best Musical. The production originally starred Michael Cerveris, John Cunningham, David Garrison, Victoria Clark, Brian d'Arcy James, Jennifer Piech, and Martin Moran.
The sinking of the Titanic also plays a major role in the old PC game: Titanic: Adventure Out of Time. The player must retrieve four items to change history before and during the sinking. Easy, right? Not at all.
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- Collins, L. M. The Sinking of the Titanic: The Mystery Solved Souvenir Press, 2003 ISBN 0-285-63711-8