Sunday, July 21, 2024

After the Titanic disaster…

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The Titanic was a British luxury liner that sank on its maiden transatlantic voyage

The Titanic was a British luxury liner that sank on its maiden transatlantic voyage. 740 km from Newfoundland on the east coast of Canada. On April 14, 1912, at 11:40 p.m., a huge iceberg hit the starboard side of the Titanic.

Several watertight chambers burst in the collision. Water began to enter the ship but the lifeboat was not launched for an hour. About two-thirds of the ship’s passengers and crew lost their lives. The sinking of the Titanic is particularly notable and tragic among the greatest maritime disasters. This tragedy remains firmly embedded in popular culture today, etched in our history.

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Voyage of the Titanic:
Titanic sailed to Southampton, Hampshire, where she spent six days resupplying additional crew (including Captain Edward Smith), and gathering coal and provisions. On April 10, 951 passengers boarded the ship, which then sailed for Cherbourg, France to pick up more passengers. Then Titanic sailed for Queenstown, Ireland, where she arrived at 11:30 am on 12 April.

Two hours later, the Titanic set sail for New York. According to the best estimate, there were 1,316 passengers on board and a crew of 913, making the Titanic’s total number 2,229. Fortunately, the ship was not filled, if it had been, there would have been a greater loss of life.

Disaster:
Three days after leaving Queenstown on April 14 at 11:30 p.m., Titanic struck an iceberg. it is believed that Captain Smith had received six warnings from other ships about icebergs in the area but apparently ignored them. When the giant ship hit the iceberg, it was going 0.5 knots faster than its maximum speed.

Titanic was built with 16 supposedly watertight chambers on both sides, but they weren’t really watertight in practice. The bulkheads dividing the compartments did not reach completely to the upper deck but were left slightly open at the top. If one chamber is filled with water, it can then spill and flood the next.

The iceberg bursts into five or six chambers as a result of the collision and water rushes in. Titanic would have stayed afloat if only four compartments were flooded, but cracks in five or six compartments contributed to the ship’s sinking. As each front chamber filled, water flowed over the bulkhead, much like water in a tilted ice cube tray. Very slowly the bow of the Titanic began to descend.

At first, most passengers were unaware of the collision, but those who knew about it were not concerned. After all, they believed they were on the largest and possibly safest ship in the world. Many also called it “submersible”. The iceberg was looked down upon as an object of curiosity.

Shortage of number of lifeboats:
Titanic carried 20 lifeboats; 14 wooden (each carrying 65 persons), four with canvas sides (47 persons each) and two wooden emergency boats (40 persons each). They could carry a total of 1,178 men, which was only one-third of the ship’s maximum capacity. This was legal at the time because lifeboat numbers were based on a ship’s total registered tonnage and not the number of people on board.

Captain Smith ordered a distress call sent at 12:15 on 15 April, but did not order the lifeboats to be loaded until 12:35. The first was launched at 12:40 Lifeboat number seven. But with far fewer people than it could hold, only 28 people were carried. The same story was repeated as other lifeboats launched; None were full, although the last few were almost full. The last two lifeboats were launched at 2:15, just five minutes before the Titanic sank.

A further 472 lives could have been saved if all the lifeboats were full, including all women and children and about 650 men. But many men and older boys were fearfully refused entry to lifeboats by one of the ship’s officers, who interpreted the order as “women and children only” rather than “women and children first”.

Active role of Canadian ships in rescue:
And. M. S Carpathia, a rival of White Star Lines, a Cunard passenger ship, was en route from New York to a Mediterranean port when her wireless operator heard Titanic’s distress call. Captain Arthur Rostron immediately changed course to the location of the sinking ship. After about four hours he came to that area. Titanic’s lifeboats were scattered over a wide area, and it took Rostron another four and a half hours to pick up the 713 passengers and crew, only one-third of all Titanic’s passengers survived. He then turned around the Carpathia and headed back to New York. Upon arrival on 18 April, Carpathia was met by large crowds. Hospitals and other facilities were provided to the survivors as per their needs.

Relatives, the press and members of the public soon demanded the White Star Liner retrieve the body. The company contracted four Canadian vessels for this purpose. The ships recovered a total of 328 bodies, including 306 by the Canadian Halifax-based cable ship McKay-Bennett. Of the 328, 119 were buried at sea for various reasons and 209 were taken to Halifax. Relatives requested that 59 bodies be sent home for burial, while the remaining 150 were buried in three Halifax cemeteries. Nine more bodies were buried at sea over the side of the ship.

Titanic is still remembered in Canada today:
A number of films, books, exhibitions and other forms of education have been produced on the experience of the Titanic tragedy, making it something to cherish. Canadian oceanographer RG Brown wrote the novel from the perspective of an iceberg. Meredith Oolson’s musical ‘The Unsinkable Molly Brown’ (Margaret Brown survived the sinking of the ‘Titanic’ and was inspired by the tragedy, which inspired many fictional stories, including musicals) as Canadian poet E.J. Pratt’s long narrative poem, “Titanic”.

James Cameron’s blockbuster hit Titanic in 1997 has produced several documentaries, exhibitions and songs. It is noteworthy here that Canadian singer ‘Ceylon Dion’ has gained worldwide fame by singing the Titanic song, “My heart will go on..” Cameron resurrected his hit movie in 3-D in 2012 to mark the centenary of the sinking. Canada Post has also released a series of stamps commemorating the centennial of the tragedy.

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