These 23 Titanic Facts That Will Make You See the Tragedy in a New Light

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The Titanic, perhaps the most legendary ship ever, was a masterpiece of early 20th-century engineering, funded by American tycoon J.P. Morgan and constructed at the Harland and Wolff Shipyard. Thanks to the movie and other works of popular fiction, any people think they know everything there is to know about the Titanic, but they’re wrong.

The Titanic Had Two Sister Ships

Image Credit: Public Domain, W. H. Rau via Library of Congress

The Titanic wasn’t alone; it was part of a trio of vessels. Its sister ships were the Olympic and the Britannic. The Olympic set sail first in 1910 and served for many years before it was scrapped in 1935. The Britannic, however, had a short journey; it launched in 1914 and was destroyed by a mine in 1916.

Maiden Voyage

HMS Titanic
Image Credit: Public Domain via Wiki Commons.

The Titanic embarked on its first and only voyage from Southampton, England, on April 10, 1912. This journey was highly anticipated and watched by people all around the world.

A Powerful Departure

HMS Titanic 1912
Image Credit: Public Domain via Wiki Commons

The Titanic’s departure was so forceful that it accidentally caused damage to another boat nearby. This was due to the strong waves created by the Titanic as it moved.

Size and Construction Costs

HMS Titanic being fitted out in 1911-1912
Image Credit: Public Domain via Wiki Commons.

Stretching 882 feet in length and 92 feet wide, the Titanic was a giant on the seas. Building such a massive ship was expensive, costing over $7.5 million at the time. That’s $236,615,151 in today’s money.

The Price of Luxury

The Forward First Class Grand Staircase of Titanic's sister ship RMS Olympic. Titanic's staircase will have looked nearly identical.
Image Credit: Public Domain via Wiki Commons.

A first-class ticket on the Titanic was not cheap. Traveling in style would set you back $4,700, quite a hefty sum in those days. That’s the equivalent of $148,278.83 today.

Speed Sealed the Titanic’s Fate

Titanic in Queenstown harbour, 11 April 1912.
Image Credit: Public Domain image via Wiki Commons

The Titanic nearly reached its maximum speed of 23 knots. However, it’s believed that the ship was moving too fast given the icy conditions of the North Atlantic—this speed likely contributed to the tragic events that followed.

The Myth of the Unsinkable Ship

Titanic departing Belfast for sea trials on 2 April 1912
Image Credit: Public Domain image via Wiki Commons.

The Titanic was often said to be ‘unsinkable’ but in reality, it was described by its builders as ‘practically unsinkable’. This was a cautious phrase compared to later exaggerated claims. At its launch, it was the largest movable object on water, although not the fastest compared to ships like the Lusitania and Mauretania.

Luxury Amenities

The First Class Turkish baths, located along the Starboard side of F-Deck of RMS Titanic.
Image Credit: Public Domain image via Wiki Commons.

Onboard the Titanic, passengers could enjoy luxurious amenities including the first swimming pool on a ship, a gym, squash courts, and a Turkish bath. Even third-class accommodations were notably superior to those on many other ships at the time.

Postal Services

The only known picture of Titanic's wireless radio room, taken by the Catholic priest Francis Browne. Harold Bride is seated at the desk.
Image Credit: Public Domain image via Wiki Commons.

The Titanic was also a Royal Mail Ship, indicated by its RMS designation. It carried mail along with passengers and crew, serving as a floating post office as well as a liner.

Insufficient Lifeboats

A collapsible lifeboat with canvas sides
Image Credit: Public Domain image via Wiki Commons.

Despite its size, the Titanic did not have enough lifeboats for everyone on board; there were only 20 lifeboats, which could accommodate 1178 people—just a third of the total number of passengers and crew. This shortage was one of the tragic flaws of the Titanic.

Tragic Loss of Life

John Jacob Astor IV in 1909. He was the wealthiest person aboard Titanic; he did not survive.
Image Credit: Public Domain image via Wiki Commons.

On that fateful night, 1503 people lost their lives, including passengers, crew members, and the band that played bravely until the very end.

A Lone Survivor in the Water

love survivor in the frigid water, with the Titanic in the background.
Image Credit: Katy Willis.

Charles Joughan was the sole survivor who endured the freezing Atlantic waters and lived to tell the tale.

Survivors of the Catastrophe

Titanic survivors on the Carpathia, 1912
Image Credit: Public Domain Image via Wiki Commons.

There were 705 individuals who survived the disaster. Among them was Millvina Dean, just nine weeks old at the time, who became the disaster’s longest-living survivor until her death in 2009.

Resting Place of the Titanic

The bow of Titanic, photographed in June 2004
Image Credit: Public Domain Image via Wiki Commons

The Titanic rests 12,600 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. It was found in 1985 by Dr. Robert Ballard. The once majestic ship is now broken, with its bow and stern dramatically separated on the seabed.

A Permanent Underwater Memorial

part of the Titanic wreckage, covered in rusticles.
Image Credit: Public Domain via Wiki Commons.

The Titanic will remain under the sea forever as a memorial to those who died. It stands as a somber reminder of the tragic events of that night.

Centennial Remembrance

TItanic centennial ceremony
Image Credit: Public Domain Image via Dvidshub

A hundred years later, in 2012, people around the world paid tribute to the victims. They floated wreaths over the ship’s wreckage by moonlight and candlelight to honor those who perished.

Ignored Iceberg Warnings

SS Californian, which had tried to warn Titanic of the danger from pack-ice
Image Credit: Public Domain Image via Wiki Commons.

Just four days into its journey, the Titanic ignored six warnings about icebergs. It was moving fast when it had to swerve to miss an iceberg. Experts think if it had changed course even later, the damage might not have been as bad.

Collision with an Iceberg

The iceberg thought to have been hit by Titanic, photographed on the morning of 15 April 1912. Note the dark spot just along the berg's waterline, which was described by onlookers as a smear of red paint thought to be of a ship.
Image Credit: Public Domain Image via Wiki Commons.

At 11:40 p.m., the Titanic hit an iceberg about 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. This crash tore a hole in the ship’s side that was up to 245 feet long.

Flooding of Compartments

Titanic Sinking, engraving by Willy Stöwer.
Image Credit: Public Domain Image via Wikimedia.

Water rushed into five of the Titanic’s watertight compartments through the hole. It’s believed that the ship would not have sunk if only four compartments had been flooded.

Distress Signals Too Late

The Cunard Line's RMS Carpathia, which rescued the survivors of the RMS Titanic's sinking
Image Credit: Public Domain Image via Wiki Commons.

The first ship that could help, The Carpathian, was more than 58 miles away and took four hours to reach the Titanic after it sent out distress signals.

Lifeboat Shortages

Edward Smith, captain of Titanic, in 1911
Image Credit: Public Domain via Wikipedia.

There were 1178 seats available on the Titanic’s lifeboats, but many left the ship only half-full. Captain Edward J. Smith had ordered that women and children be saved first.

A Desperate Disguise

Lifeboat 6w, April 15, 1922
Image Credit: Public Domain via Wiki Commons.

In a daring move, a passenger named Daniel Buckley dressed as a woman to escape on a lifeboat. His quick thinking saved his life.

The Titanic’s Final Hours

Representation of the sinking of the Titanic
Image Credit: Katykreates.

The great ship took just three hours to sink after the collision. It vanished beneath the waves at 2:20 am on April 15, 1912.

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