Loss of RMS Titanic (1912): Significant Events of the 20th Century

Introduction

The Loss of RMS Titanic occurred on 15th April 1912 when it sunk within three hours after it struck an iceberg on 14th April 1912 at 11:40 pm. The loss occurred while the ship was on its Maiden voyage from Southampton, United Kingdom to the New York City in the United States causing one of the deadliest maritime disasters of the 20th century.

The Titanic started its maiden voyage at Southampton to New York on 10th April 1912. RMS Titanic was the largest passenger vessel at the time. It was constructed by Harland and Wolff Shipyard in Belfast Ireland from 1909 to 1911 (The Library of Virginia, n. p.). Titanic had 2,223 people on board during the accident causing death of 1178 people (Hill, 1996).

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When The Virginia Newspaper examined events of sinking RMS titanic (n. p.), it was founded that it was licensed to carry 2603 passengers. The design of the Titanic was done using the best standards to conform to safety regulations. This made the engineers believe that Titanic was unsinkable and secure. The events that led to loss of RMS Titanic have changed ship design, navigation regulations and affected lives of many who survived to date.

What are the Causes of Loss of RMS TITANIC?

The loss of Titanic was caused by a number of reasons varying from design, regulations to operation. The main reason for the loss was the collision between the Titanic and an iceberg. This destroyed about two hundred and ninety nine feet of the ship’s steel hull allowing sea water to flow to some of its sixteen compartments.

However, its construction and the kind of materials used are believed to have contributed greatly to its rapid loss. The main design of Titanic was done by Lord Pirrie. A team of engineers helped him in the design and construction including Alexander Carlisle who was in charge of decorations, general arrangement and several other duties.

The hull steel which was used to construct the ship was brittle and easily broke due to impact of collision. Test done on the steel retrieved by scientists from wreckage indicates that the metal was brittle rather than ductile as required (Gannon, 1995). This was caused by high content of oxygen and sulfur. The collision with the iceberg caused a great impact due to the speed of the ship and low water temperature.

The rivets used to fasten hull plates broke down too. Being made from wrought iron and exposure to very low temperatures in water, the rivets succumbed to the impact of the collision. The rivets broke because they were brittle and encounter with the cold water increased the chance of breaking (Gannon, 1995).

This opened inlets for water to flow into water tight compartments of the ship through traverse bulkhead which were poorly designed (Broad, 2008). The water tight compartments kept water instead of spreading around making it to pitch. Water in the damaged compartments entered other compartments very fast when the ship pitched forward because they were watertight horizontally only. The topside of all the sixteen watertight compartments was open allowing water to enter easily making the ship to sink faster than anticipated.

Who Are Key Players In The Loss Of RMS TITANIC?

The captain of the ship Edward J. Smith ignored warnings about ice received from other ships through wireless operators. His crew was not in a position to change the course of the ship when they spotted a massive iceberg 500 yards ahead due to the size of the ship and its speed which was almost at full steam (Gannon, 1995).

Second officer David Blair left the ship when Charles Lightoller was made second officer. He stored five pairs of lookout binoculars in his cabin and did not inform Lightoller of its where about. Blair’s actions caused enormous repercussions. Lack of the binoculars resulted in watering of their eyes within every few seconds due to low temperatures.

However, it is Captain Smith who initiated these series of activities when he requested that Henry Wilde be made chief officer of MRS Titanic. This resulted in William Murdoch being demoted to first officer and Charles Lightoller to second officer both of who where officers in Titanic. Blair left the ship and resigned without formally handing over (Rogers et al, 1998).

According to Titanic Disaster Historical Documents Archive (1998), during the time of the disaster, British Board of Trade had regulations which were outdated requiring ships with over ten thousand tons to carry sixteen lifeboats only. Although, British Board of Trade regulations required 16 lifeboats for Titanic, White Star Line provided 20 lifeboats which were more than the number required by four lifeboats.

Bruce Ismax manager of White Star Line objected to the number of life boats recommended by Alexander Carlisle after his calculations. Bruce considered the British Board of Trade regulation which required it to have sixteen life boats which were sufficient for about 960 people while the vessel had a capacity of more than 2000 passengers.

Lord Pirrie, Alexander Carlisle, Thomas Andrews and other engineers designed and constructed titanic using assumptions based on their experience. The metals used where tempered with temperatures not suitable use in low temperature situations (Hill, 1996).

The engineers and designers left the topsides of the compartments open and the sides made watertight but walls made up to only a small distance above the highest level of water. The design team was compromised by the White Star Management hence reducing the number of life boats from the initial 64 to 20.

What are The Effects and Repercussions of the Loss of RMS Titanic?

Immediate Repercussions of Loss of RMS Titanic

Massive loss of life occurred due to the sinking of the Titanic. A total of 1178 people lost their lives. Thousands grieved their loved ones while a number of people loosing their entire families.

The company which owned titanic, White Star Line, modified its existing ships to avoid any subsequent loss caused by design problems which contributed to the Titanic disaster.

Together with Harland and Wolff Shipyard the company that constructed Titanic and other shipbuilding companies, White Star Line started to follow all the regulations which had been put in place by United Kingdom and United States governments before the Titanic disaster occurred.

Other safety regulations for the ships at sea were discussed and put in place which included ship design, and regulations for passenger and cargo ships. The number of lifeboats was also increased to fit the number of passengers in each ship.

Current Repercussions of the Loss of MRS Titanic

Safety of Life at Sea convention was organized in 1948 to discuss and come up with regulations which would ensure no such disaster occur in future. The convention was used to establish specifications to be used in designing of ships and their watertight compartments. The design was to be based on size of ships and the compartments were to limit flooding in ships and ensure that they must stay afloat with two water tight compartments flooded (Basset, 1998).

Safety regulations including mandatory increased lifeboat capacity were established and are in use to date. Use of wireless communication and ice patrols regulations were also established to avoid repeat of the Titanic disaster.

Works Cited

Basset, Vicky. “Causes and Effects of the Rapid Sinking of the Titanic”. Undergraduate Engineering Review, 1998. Web. 1 Jan. 2012

Broad, William J. “Why did it really sink?” The New York Times, 15Apr. 2008 . Web. 1 Jan. 2012

Gannon, Robert. “What Really Sank the Titanic?” Popular Science 246.2 (1995): 49-55. Web. 1 Jan. 2012

Hill, Steve. “The Mystery of the Titanic: A Case of Brittle Fracture?” Materials World 4.6 (1996): 334-335. Web. 1 Jan. 2012

Rogers, Patrick, Anne-Marie O’Neill, and Sophfronia Gregory, S. “Sunken Dreams,” People 49.10 (1998): 44-51. Web. 2 Jan. 2012

The Library of Virginia. “The Virginia Newspaper Project examines the news covering the sinking of R.M.S. Titanic”. R.M.S. Titanic: Ninety nine Years Later. 2009. Web. 1 Jan. 2012.

“Titanic Disaster Historical Documents Archive”. paperlessarchives.com. 1998. Web. 1 Jan. 2012.