In the Bookcase


Why was the Titanic so different?

The Titanic was the biggest ship out there. It created a whole new category all on its own. Some people might wonder what really set it apart from other ships, and why does the Titanic stand out as a historical tragedy, when no one ever knows anything of the other dozens of ships that have wrecked in that same area near Newfoundland? Needless to mention the other hundreds of vessels that have sunk at sea all throughout history?

Here are some answers.

The Titanic was called The Ship of Dreams for good reason.

As of 1912, she was the largest ship ever built. People around the world marveled at the immense size. Reaching almost 900 feet in length, she was as long as some of the biggest skyscrapers out there are tall. Imagine a huge skyscraper floating on its side out in the ocean.... the Titanic was gigantic.

She was declared unsinkable. This was because of the ship's unique hull design. A hull is the lower section of the ship which touches the water---and on the inside, it is a working part of the ship used by the crew. The Titanic's hull was divided into 16 watertight compartments, which could each be closed in case of emergency at the touch of an electric button. If the hull were to slit open from an outside impact, the compartments would start filling with water, but could immediately be closed off from the rest of the ship by closing the compartments, so that the water would be trapped while the automatic pumps started pushing the water out. The way in which the Titanic was ingeniously designed, any 2 of these compartments could potentially be filled up with ocean water and the ship would still float. It was safest closer to the front of the hull, where in this spot, 3 or even 4 of the compartments could be flooded with water, and the Titanic could still float. No one had ever dreamed that such a disaster could happen that would cause 5 of the front hull compartments to rip open.

The Titanic's watertight compartments

The ship was so dazzling and decked out with the finest things, that the newspapers called it The Millionaires' Special. In fact, the millionaires were plentiful aboard. It seemed like anybody who was anybody would be a passager on the Titanic's maiden voyage. They thought they were riding on the safest ship ever built. They were almost correct... yet so, so wrong.

Some of the grand features that the passengers would enjoy include: a gymnasium, a saltwater swimming pool, 3 First Class elevators and 1 Second Class elevator, electric baths and Turkish baths, a barbershop, a library each for both First Class and Second Class passengers, a squash court, First Class dog kennels, an open walking promenade, an enclosed promenade, and a mail room (which contained over 300,000 pieces of mail that was supposed to be delivered in America).

The passengers aboard expected every convenience that they would generally have at home. This meant communicating with friends, family, and conducting business, even while in the middle of the ocean. This option was available because of the wireless room, where 2 men kept the telegraph going 24 hours a day. The telegraph's morse code signals would be received by other ships in the same area of the Titanic, and the messages would be relayed on until they reached their destination. These 2 same men also had to keep up with all incoming messages, like weather reports, iceberg warnings, etc.

The Titanic was powered by 3 engines which were each in charge of one of the triple-screw propellers, as shown below. Over 600 tons of coal had to be shovelled by hand into each of the 3 furnaces every day to keep the ship going. This was a day-and-night job kept by 176 firemen. With all this coal, the Titanic had the equivalent of 50,000 horsepower conducting the ship's speed!

The Titanic's triple-screw propellers

You'll notice that the Titanic has 4 funnels. Only a couple other ships had ever featured 4 smokestacks before. 1 or 2 funnels were sufficient for some, and most ships were definitely not large enough to need more than 3. In fact, the Titanic did not quite need the fourth smoke funnel for the intense venting purposes, but it was added to give the ship an overpowering majestic appearance. This fourth funnel was a dummy, but was utilized to vent the engine room and kitchen galleys.

Illustration of the mighty Titanic

Why is the Titanic such a famous shipwreck?
Because it took 3 years of manual labor to build the ship---not to mention the time prior to that which required all the planning of the unique design.
Because when she set out on her maiden voyage---supposedly the first of many voyages---she sunk.
Because $7.5 million dollars and years of time were lost.
Mostly importantly because 1,517 irreplaceable lives that depended on her "unsinkability" were taken away in an instant.

1 comment:

  1. James Cameron's movie stands as the only movie that I ever saw twice in a theatre and now I'll be seeing it for a third time this month, but in 3D. There certainly is something about the ship and its story that still holds our fascination.

    What great, in-depth information you are presenting. As a former English teacher, it's never a surprise when homeschooled students surpass those in the classroom.

    Happy April NaBloPoMo!