As this week is the 104th anniversary of the tragic sinking of the Titanic, we decided to scrounge around for some facts about the ship and her demise. We aren’t talking the usual facts that almost everyone knows, either. We dug a little deeper, and are hoping these are some that you’ve never heard before!
1. The lifeboat drill was scheduled for April 14, but was cancelled for unknown reasons.
What perfect timing!
2. In the original design plan, there were 48 lifeboats. However, because it was thought that this amount made the deck too “busy,” only 16 ended up in the final design and construction of the ship.
This was really not a smart move on the designers’ and White Star Line executives’ part. While they still did have the required amount of lifeboat space for a ship, human life isn’t something to mess with. This fact shows that there easily could have been a lot more lifeboats; meaning a lot more lives ultimately saved.
3. Musicians onboard were required to know an entire book of 352 songs, in case one of the passengers requested one. First-class guests were given copies of the book as well.
I wonder how long it took those musicians to memorize every single song in that book?!
4. 22 tons of soap and tallow (mutton fat or rendered beef) were smeared on the slipway (a ramp by the water where ships are built and launched) to help the Titanic get into the River Lagan in northern Ireland.
I literally cannot comprehend that much substance being smeared all over just to assist in a ship sliding down a ramp. Literally. Can’t. Comprehend. Thankful there are other ways of getting a ship into the water nowadays!
5. The ship featured watertight bulkheads (dividing walls) which could be operated individually or by a switch in the bridge. Because of this, Shipbuilder Magazine deemed Titanic “practically unsinkable.” However, there was a major flaw. While the bulkheads indeed were watertight, they didn’t reach to the ceiling, so water could spill from one compartment to the next. This could have potentially saved it from sinking, or from sinking as fast.
This really was a crucial design flaw that easily could have been done right. Based on the knowledge I have gathered, especially from National Geographic’s ‘Titanic: How it Really Sank’, I can see how this mistake played a huge role in the ships’ quick sinking. Originally, the bulkheads were designed to be taller, but throughout the editing and reconfiguring of the designs throughout the process, they were lowered, and ended up being only 10 feet high.
6. Captain Edward John Smith was White Star Line’s most experienced captain, and was chosen for the maiden voyage of Titanic. It was to be his last sailing before retiring.
He was known as the millionaires’ captain, and some of the richest and most famous guests in the world would change their travel plans and itineraries just to ensure they could sail on a ship under the command of Captain Smith.
7. The Titanic’s sister ship, The Olympic, docked for repairs, right before Titanic’s maiden voyage. Because of this, some of her officers came to work onboard the Titanic, knocking the second officer off the ship for that sailing. While packing his things, he accidentally took the key to his locker, which contained the binoculars for the lookout.
It’s like all of the circumstances just lined up for the Titanic’s first voyage to be her last!
8. The iceberg was over four times the size of the Titanic when the ship struck it.
And it was much larger when it originally broke off of its glacier, a couple years earlier.
9. The last survivor of the disaster was Millvina Dean. She died in 2009 at the age of 97, and was only two months old when she sailed on – and survived – the Titanic.
While she didn’t remember anything from the accident, she was told all about it by other survivors, and ended up living a long life! (at the time of the National Geographic documentary, she was still alive and they actually interviewed her for the film)
10. The ship’s baker, Charles Joughin, reportedly tread water for two hours before being rescued. He was so drunk on whiskey, he claimed he couldn’t even feel the cold of the water.
This is very unusual, because the temperature of the water was around 28 degrees Fahrenheit, and usually about 1 in 5 people would die from cold shock in that temperature.
11. The wreck was found in 1985, about 2 miles below the surface of the water. The bow of the ship penetrated a very deep 18 meters into the sea bed.
It was a very long way down for the unfortunate Titanic, and the depth of the bow shows how quickly it went down, and how massive and heavy it was.