In the Bookcase


The sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic (Part 2)

April 15, 1912
It was midnight; or in other words, the earliest morning hours of April 15th.

20 minutes prior to midnight, the R.M.S. Titanic had struck an iceberg. The night that lasted between April 14th and 15th were some of the longest hours that the people aboard the vessel had ever endured.

A single fact glowered at them all:
The unsinkable ship was now sinking.

R.M.S. Titanic launching distress rockets.

12:05am - The lifeboats were being uncovered. Women and children were called to leave the Titanic and get on the lifeboats. At first, this was only for those in First Class. These passengers felt no urgency. Not everyone had been told yet that the Titanic was sinking, and what is more, the few who knew couldn't really believe it. They didn't care to leave the warm & cozy ship to go down 60 feet below into the dark, icy waters inside of a small lifeboat.

12:10am - At this point (30 minutes after the impact), the first wireless distress message from the Titanic was sent out. From this point on, the radio-transmitted signals continued in Morse code, trying to contact other ships. The only way to gain rescue is if another ship would come take on the passengers. CQD and SOS were the main distress signals sent out.

The commotion on the Titanic's deck. 12:45am - The first lifeboat was finally lowered down into the water below. However, only 19 passengers had been encouraged to get in it, leaving 46 empty seats. About this same time, the first distress rocket was sent into the sky, exploding like a firework. For some passengers, this was the first instance of alarm.

1:30am - 11 of the 20 lifeboats had been lowered into the water with passengers by this time. Altogether, the available capacity of these launched boats would have equaled 690---however, only 421 people had been persuaded to get in these boats. Currently, this leaves about 1,802 people still on the Titanic, and half the lifeboats are gone.

2:00am - The Titanic has been in telegraphic contact with other ships, and the general alarm is out there on the radio waves. The steamer Carpathia has heard the distress calls. This is the ship that comes to the rescue, but the only problem is that she is 58 miles away. It will take 4 hours for the Carpathia to arrive, and the Titanic will not last that long.

2:05am - 18 of the 20 lifeboats had been launched. They are not filled to capacity, but rather, while a few hundred drift away in the small boats, more than 1500 still stand on the Titanic, with nowhere to escape from the fate that has now been sealed. The 2 lifeboats that remain on the deck have run into problems and cannot be loaded with passengers right away. These boats never get launched until the last frantic seconds before the ship would completely be overtaken by water.

In only a quarter of an hour the ship would be sinking. For now, this is the end of my post, but the tragic night hasn't ended yet, for the disaster has yet to reach its climax. The rest of the night's story continues tomorrow in part 3 of the sinking. Remember that April 15th is the morning it all happened on, but I felt like I should split it up for easier reading.

As one New York reporter wrote later that week of April 1912:

"It is a story which can hardly be told in a single chapter, but must be painfully unfolded page by page in all its dramatic and piteous detail and agony, in order to be fully understood and adequately pictured."

1 comment:

  1. Wonderlilly9/14/2012

    Reading about the Titanic always fascinates me. Thanks for sharing this information!