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    The History of the Titanic and the Details of Its Demise

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    The Titanic was the largest luxury steam liner to set sail on the high seas, whose tragic sinking has claimed a tender place in our hearts for more than a hundred years. The infamous sinking of the RMS Titanic is a historic tragedy that has forever improved the world’s outlook on maritime safety. Through thorough research on the topics of its construction, passengers, the night of the disaster, and the survivors, one can fully understand why this famous shipwreck is still remembered today. The vital details of this disaster are hidden deep within the intricacies of the ship’s construction.

    The notion of constructing the Titanic was an idea first presented in 1907; however, the construction of this glorified vessel was not officially launched until March 31, 1909 (construction of the titanic). Titanic and her sister ship, Olympic, were both world-class luxury liners owned by the White Star Line. Titanic’s third sister, Britannic, was a medical ship that claimed the lives of thirty people when it sank in the Aegean Sea in 1916. The legendary ship was constructed by shipbuilding company, Harland and Wolff, in Belfast, Ireland, 1909 (construction of the titanic). Lord Pirrie, the company owner, was both a friend and colleague to the managing director of the White Star Line, Bruce Ismay. It was Pirrie’s son-in-law, Thomas Andrews, who became the primary designer of Titanic (construction of the titanic).

    This ship was configured to be the largest to set sail on the high seas. The White Star Line decided that any investment would be appropriate for the construction of Titanic, and therefore concentrated 7.5 million dollars for that purpose (construction of the titanic). The White Star Line took great pride in their new ocean liner. The largest ship in the world introduced a new breed of luxury never before seen on any ship of that time. The three-year production of Titanic required the grueling labor of over three thousand workers (construction of the Titanic). During this time, the White Star Line reported claims classifying the ship as unsinkable (construction of the titanic).

    The workers were paid sufficient wages, but worked long, tiresome hours. The men who built Titanic labored a total of forty-nine to sixty hours each week. An average workday would begin at approximately 6:00 AM and continued until 5:30 PM (Aldridge 17). Workers received about ten dollars per week; the equivalent of two-hundred thirty dollars in modern day. Nevertheless, if they disobeyed company rules, broke equipment, or showed up late for work, their pay was shortened. These men brought their own meals to the worksite and had to eat on the docks.

    The company dining room was exclusive for the people in superior management (17). They were given days off sparingly. With only one week off during the summer months and two off at Christmas and Easter, the life of a Titanic worker was often difficult and laborious (18). As working conditions have dramatically improved since the time of Titanic, most people look down upon the treatment of these workers as unfair. Out of all the painstaking jobs involved in building the ship, riveting was undoubtedly the hardest. This team had to insert more than three million rivets; each of which was three inches long, and one inch thick. Some men died on the job. It is difficult for many to imagine working twelve hours each and every day, for three years of one’s life.

    The possibility of death only makes the thought exponentially worse. Photographic evidence proves that the majority of the three million rivets used to keep the hull plates intact were lost after the iceberg collision. The loss of these rivets caused the hull plates to collapse, giving way to the thousands of gallons of water that sank the extravagant steamship (construction of the titanic). The massive ship extended over eight-hundred and eighty feet in length, and weighed forty-six thousand tons, making it the largest locomotive to be built (19).

    The dimensions of the ship are often described in this manner: Titanic’s width was 92.5 feet…, and its height from the bottom of the keel to the top of the funnels was 175 feet. The ship’s initial design had three funnels, but, since the more powerful steamships of that time usually had four, a fourth funnel was added just for looks… When it was in the sea, Titanic displaced…more than fifty-two thousand tons of water. Titanic’s three massive anchors weighed a total of thirty-one tons. Installed on board were more than two-hundred miles of electrical cable, and passengers could look out at the sea through approximately two thousand windows and portholes (Aldridge 21.)

    Further specifications regarding the structure of Titanic give one a fuller understanding of what really sank the world’s largest ship. The ship was well-developed, featuring sixteen leak-resistant divisions. Each chamber was equipped with doorposts that would shut in the event that the water accumulated to above a defined level (construction of the titanic). The vessel was built with steel doors that could be closed in under twenty-five second, erasing the threat of dangerous leaks (construction of the titanic).

    Most of the safety precautions taken to ensure the safety of the ship were found faulty after the terrible collision. A double- bottomed hull gave additional strength to a Harland and Wolff design known as the “Belfast Bottom” (McCarty and Foecke 13). This hull had a primarily even underside with a “squared off bilge” (13). This design made it easier to produce more space for cargo as well as travelers without expanding the ship’s width. “The [ship] could attain speeds up to 21 knots under optimum conditions. Steam was generated from 29 boilers enabling [its engine] to develop 15,000 horsepower in total. To make it easier to work in the boiler rooms, the double bottom was not continued up the sides of the hull. This would prove to be disastrous later” (construction begins). Stiff steel “ribs” were crossed over one another to serve as a support for the ship’s hull. “The sections that were created, called frames, started at the double bottom and extended up eight decks to a height of sixty-six feet, spaced at regular intervals of three feet” (McCarty and Foecke 13).

    Fifteen one-inch-thick bulkheads, which were devised particularly to resist extreme force, were used as the traverse potency of Titanic. The lengthwise support of the ship was created by the outer hull plates, the interior base plates, the deck plates, and a sequence of beams set at equal distances, traveling from the front to the back along the extent of Titanic’s hull. Large crutch posts, or stanchions, were used to uphold these beams. This layout was designed by Thomas Andrew to reinforce the exceptional vigor of the forefront. The center keel grinder, or the vertebrae of the hull, steadied Titanic throughout her length. The vertebrae was built using a steel plate of one-and-a-half-inch thickness, a three-inch pure steel rod, and a five-foot three inch cube of steel. The part closest to the hull was the strongest to prevent shaking in the plates and beams of the bow, and breaking in the event of collision with ice (14).

    Titanic’s shell was made of three-hundred sixty by six-foot steel plates, each of which was one to one-and-a-half inches in thickness. “The plates were attached to the internal frame in vertical sections called strakes that ran along the length of the ship” (15). These plates overlapped one another along the side of the ship, creating what shipbuilders call joggles. The strakes, which were used to keep the ship afloat, were riveted directly on top of the joggles (15).

    Two types of joint variations were used in the construction of Titanic. These joints were called lap joints and butt joints. Lap joints are composed using two overlapped plates and riveting them together in the center. This type of joint creates joggles (16). Lap joints were triple riveted in the amidships, or the region between the ship’s fore and aft (15). Butt joints are built by adjoining the ends of two plates and attaching another plate to the back of them by riveting. Unlike lap joints, butt joints result in a smooth surface (16). After the completion of the hull and keel, Titanic was lowered into water for the remainder of the construction process. The “fitting out” of Titanic was the final step to building the world’s biggest ocean liner. As was practice for most ships, the fitting out of Titanic covered installing decks, propellers, walling, and carpeting.

    This process took ten months to finish. Ten thousand observers were present as Titanic was placed in the River Lagan (19). Before passengers were allowed on, Titanic underwent a series of precautionary safety trials. Among them were stopping, left-turns, right-turns, full-circle turns, and moving at varied speeds. Although originally scheduled for departure on March 20, 1912, Titanic did not leave the docks until April 10 due to an incident on Olympic (21). Just as import as the itself were the passengers on it, who experienced first-hand the luxury of the world’s largest ship.

    The majority of the ship’s voyagers traveled long by train; departing from the Waterloo Station in London and ending at the White Star Dock in Southampton, England (Aldridge 23). The idea that so many people traveled from places far and wide to board Titanic was, and still is, directly symbolic of how special this ship was. Of the two-thousand two-hundred twenty-eight people aboard the ill-fated Titanic, three- hundred thirty-seven were first class, two-hundred eighty-five were second, and seven- hundred twenty-one were in third class. The remaining eight-hundred eighty-five were crew members (passengers of the titanic). In her book “The Sinking of the Titanic”, Rebecca Aldridge describes the ship in this manner: “When passengers boarded the giant ship, they were met by unparalleled luxury—from first class mirrors, crystal, and plants, even to the less expensive and more modest third class, people were surrounded by fine things” (Aldridge 23).

    Most majestic were the four decks at the apex of the ship. These decks were made primarily for the affluent first-class travelers (23). One of the most astounding attributes of the Titanic was its grand staircase, spanning from the E deck up the boat deck (24). It was on this majestic staircase that customers could take pleasure in the warmth of the sunlight or observe the two bronze statues reflecting the principles of glory and honor (24-25). Titanic and her sister ship, Olympic, were some of the steamships to include a swimming pool. For a twenty-five cent charge, adults could obtain access to swim in the exclusive heated saltwater pool (26).

    Titanic was also the first ship to introduce mini-golf (28). There were many new ideas brought about with the Titanic that few, if any, people had ever seen before. The most expensive first-class tickets were forty thousand dollars (eighty-four thousand dollars in today’s money). However, tickets for third class accommodations were only thirty-six dollars (seven hundred sixty dollars now). Though it may seem a small price to pay, thirty-six dollars was, for most people, the salary of two months’ work (30). Only first- class customers were given exquisite.

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    The History of the Titanic and the Details of Its Demise. (2022, Nov 29). Retrieved from https://artscolumbia.org/the-history-of-the-titanic-and-the-details-of-its-demise/

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