On April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic sank, taking over 1,500 people to a watery grave. Here are some shocking facts about that fateful date.
Not Enough Lifeboats
Scene from Roy Ward Baker’s 1958 film ‘A Night To Remember’, based on the sinking of the Titanic on 14th April 1912. Photo by John Pratt/Keystone Features/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
One of the most interesting facts about the Titanic is that, even if there had been enough time and organization to try and save every passenger, the vessel simply wasn’t equipped with enough lifeboats to carry them all. There was space aboard the Titanic for over 60 boats, but only 20 were fitted. Why? Well, the designers thought that many lifeboats would ruin the aesthetic of the deck.
The ‘Titanic’ colliding with an iceberg, 1912. The SS Titanic. Artist Unknown.. Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images
Between the time the iceberg was spotted and the moment it made contact with the Titanic, 37 seconds passed. This means that the crew had barely half a minute to react to the imminent danger and try to formulate some plan of action. In short, it was already too late. The officers on board attempted to steer away from the iceberg, but the ship was just too large and heavy to turn quickly enough.
The next fact demonstrates the unbelievable bravery of the crew…
Photograph of Titanic’s engineers, including 14 of the lost officers. Photo by Universal Images Group/Getty Images
The Titanic’s engineers were some of the bravest people on board and showed astonishing courage right down to the very last second. In a time of panic and crisis, they remained true to their duties, working hard to keep the ship’s power going for as long as humanly possible, giving everyone else up top the best chance of escape and survive. All of the engineers ended up sinking along with the boat.
Unheard Distress Calls
Photo by Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images
There are many ways in which the Titanic tragedy might not have been quite so terrible if only things had gone a little differently. As the Titanic sank, the SS Californian was just a short distance away. Unfortunately, the radio operator was sleeping when the distress calls came in, so he never heard the SOS from the Titanic. The only vessel that did respond, the SS Carpathia, was much further away and needed more than four hours to arrive at the site.
A priest kept a promise to God in the next fact…
Source: Encyclopedia Titanica
One of the most incredible stories about the Titanic’s passengers concerns a priest called Father Thomas Byles. He had the opportunity to get into a lifeboat and was offered a life-saving place on two separate occasions, but declined both times. Instead of thinking about himself, Father Byles preferred to stay on the ship and give people their last rights, listening to their confessions at a moment when many knew that death was only minutes away.
The Warmth of Whiskey
Source: History Daily
The waters into which the Titanic sank were at an extremely low temperature, leading to many people dying from hypothermia very quickly. One of them, however, credits the warming powers of whiskey for his survival. The Titanic’s baker, Charles Joughin, drank a lot of the alcoholic beverage on the night of the tragedy and was able to float in the waters for a couple of hours waiting for rescue without his body giving in to the cold.
The next fact shows how the disaster might have been averted…
Photo by The Print Collector/Getty Images
The arrogance of some of the higher-ranking crew members was a contributing factor in the scale of the Titanic disaster. Even after the ship made contact with the iceberg, the officials decided to wait for more than an hour before ordering any evacuation because they believed that the ship was simply “unsinkable.” Had they acted sooner, it’s possible that more lives could have been saved and the tragedy wouldn’t have been quite as dramatic.
Back to the Surface
John Parkinson, 98, from Belfast, who watched the Titanic sail as a young boy from Belfast, at the launch of Titanic memorabilia exhibition in Belfast. Photo by Paul Faith – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images
Since the Titanic went down, many researchers and historians have suggested different methods to potentially help the wreckage rise back up to the surface to be restored, studied, and more. It would be great for the vessel to rise back up and could contribute a lot to museums around the world. However, the fact that the ship was split into two pieces made it more or less impossible for any resurfacing mission to take place.
Drowned but not forgotten. Read on…
Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images
Over 1,500 people died when the RMS Titanic sank, but the vast majority of those souls have been lost to the ocean forever more. Only 306 bodies were actually recovered from the site, with hundreds more being lost without a trace. The bodies that were found were taken to Canada for a long, grueling process of identification, while many families of other victims were forced to accept that their loved ones would never be seen again.
An Unbalanced Workforce
Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
Now, more than ever, people are concerned with feminism and equality among genders, especially in the workplace, but that sort of thing wasn’t a significant concern in the early 20th century. Back then, women’s rights still had a long way to go. 885 people worked on the crew of the Titanic, but only 23 of them were women! That’s an astonishingly low percentage, and most of those women worked in housekeeping, with men generally being given the more critical roles.
Some unique treasures were found among the wreckage…
Lost And Found
Perfume bottles recovered from the Titanic. Photo credit should read ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images
One of the Titanic’s passengers was a German perfume salesman called Adolphe Saalfeld. He was traveling with some very samples of rare and expensive scents and concentrated oils, but he had to leave them behind while trying to escape. Adolphe did manage to get off the Titanic and, astonishingly, his perfume samples were found decades later when the wreckage was explored. The bottles of perfume were relatively untouched by the disaster and have been displayed in museums.
Lovers to the Last
Source: The Vintage News
There were many love stories on board the Titanic, and the sinking of the ship sadly ended many of them. Isidor and Ida Straus were two lifelong lovers on the famous liner. Isidor helped Ida find a spot on a lifeboat but declined to take place beside her, preferring to leave the spot for another woman or child. Ida, unable to leave her husband behind, got off the boat to spend her final moments with him.
You won’t believe what the newspapers said about the incident…
The printed media at the time reported some misinformation regarding the sinking of the Titanic as they were unclear on the facts of the case. Some newspapers even initially claimed that nobody on board had died, stating that everyone had been rescued and that the whole thing had just been a scary close call. Over time, however, the real gravity of the tragic event began to emerge, and the papers had to modify their reports.
An Official Enquiry
Pre-disaster postcard, dated 1907. Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images
In the wake of the tragedy, the US Senate launched a full-scale investigation into how so many lives had been lost and why there weren’t enough lifeboats on board. The conclusion of this report resulted in a new recommendation that all vessels should always be equipped with the right number of lifeboats to help every passenger evacuate. It seems logical now, but it wasn’t an official rule at the time.
The next passenger went out like a true gentleman…
A Classy End
Banking and mining millionaire Benjamin Guggenheim. Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
How would you react if you found yourself in the middle of such a scary event? Many people would scream and panic, stopping at nothing to save themselves, but some Titanic passengers somehow managed to keep calm. Benjamin Guggenheim was one of them. A businessman and gentleman, Guggenheim and his valet, Victor Giglio, simply got dressed in their best suits and decided to accept their fate. They were allegedly last spotted with cigars and glasses of brandy in their hands.
Poor Passengers Were Shown No Respect
Replica of a third class cabin onboard the Titanic Museum. Photo by Titanic Museum Attraction / Barcroft USA / Getty Images
Those who could afford tickets for the upper classrooms and decks were provided all of the ship’s luxuries, but those down in the third-class rooms had nothing but the basics. They only had two baths to share between 700 of them, and when the ship began to sink, the gates to the upper floors were locked, leaving all the poor people to drown. This shows the vast class divide on board the famous liner.
A very famous man was on board the Titanic…
Close Call for Chocolate King
Portrait of Milton S. Hershey. Photo by Bettmann / Contributor / Getty Images
In the wake of great tragedies, we often hear stories of close calls and people who narrowly missed out on being right in the middle of the catastrophe. In the case of the Titanic, the founder of the Hershey chocolate company, Milton S. Hershey, was set to be a passenger on the ship but ended up switching to another cruise due to conflicts in his schedule. Fate was certainly smiling on Mr. Hershey that day.
Split in Two
Source: UB Commons
It’s almost unthinkable to imagine such a massive construction breaking in half, but that’s precisely what happened to the Titanic shortly after 2 am on that fateful date. The vessel’s size worked against it, triggering the split and sending many of the passengers down into the freezing waters, where a lot of them perished within mere moments. Many would have experienced shock upon hitting the water and been unable to keep themselves afloat, while others would have suffered hypothermia.
Jack and Rose didn’t exist, but these lovers were on board…
A Disastrous Honeymoon
Source: RMS Titanic Hotel
What could be better for a couple of newlyweds than a wonderful trip aboard the world’s fanciest cruise liner? Naturally, the Titanic seemed like a super place to celebrate the first days of marriage, and 13 new husbands and wives were on board for the fateful voyage. Records don’t show how many of them made it off, but it’s likely that the majority perished, especially as most men couldn’t get onto the lifeboats.
A Little Piece of History
RMS Olympic Entrance. Photo via Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images
Many people assume that the Titanic was unique, but it did have an almost identical sibling in the form of the RMS Olympic, which was built before the Titanic. The two liners shared many of the same features and characteristics, including the iconic Grand Staircase. When the Olympic was out of service and scrapped, parts of it were auctioned off. The White Swan Hotel in Alnwick, England, purchased banisters from the staircase that can still be seen to this day.
Rich people stopped at nothing to escape…
A Heinous Crime
Photo by Underwood & Underwood/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
The wealthy passengers on board the Titanic were used to getting what they wanted with the power of money. In the wake of the tragedy, Lady Duff Gordon and her husband were accused of a terrible crime. It was alleged that they had offered to pay the crew to let their lifeboat leave despite having lots of spaces still left. The couple were investigated and eventually cleared, but there were several other stories of wealthy people trying to pay their way off the sinking ship.
Source: Ultimate Titanic
The Titanic was a luxury liner and had some beautifully decorated rooms and lounges to match, but the interior design wasn’t all original. Many ideas were copied from the famous Ritz Hotel in the British capital city of London. As well as deluxe rooms and facilities, the liner also had its fitness center, swimming pool, Turkish bath, and more. There was even a newspaper published on board each day for the guests called the Atlantic Bulletin.
The next fact is all about whiskey…
Titanic’s lifeboats on their way to the Carpathia. Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images
We’ve already seen how whiskey allegedly saved one passenger aboard the Titanic, and it might have saved another life too. An Italian passenger was floating in the water when he yelled out that he had some whiskey to share around, leading to one of the lifeboats heading over to save him. The bottle was then shared among the people on the boat, helping them all stay a little warmer while waiting for rescue.
Baby On Board
90 year old Titanic survivor Millvina Dean. Photo by GERRY PENNY/AFP/Getty Images
Millvina Dean was only a baby when she was carried aboard the Titanic. She’d just spent two months on this world before unknowingly becoming part of one of history’s greatest tragedies. Fortunately for Millvina, women and children were given priority on the lifeboats, and she managed to get a spot on one. Millvina’s father couldn’t get off the ship in time, but her mother and brother escaped by her side, and she ended up living to the age of 97.
Could there be a Titanic II? Read on to find out…
Source: Traveller AU
A millionaire called Clive Palmer decided to honor the famous vessel by ordering the construction of an identical replica, which would be called Titanic II. The first work on this project was supposed to start quite recently in 2012, but the project saw several delays and was eventually called off altogether. Palmer originally planned for the vessel to travel along the same route as the original Titanic for its first-ever voyage.
The Last Meal
Source: Domain Michael
The final meal enjoyed by the first class guests on board the Titanic was a remarkable one. Of course, nobody knew that it would tragically be the last meal that many of the passengers would ever eat, but it was a real banquet. Ten different courses were served in total, including much seafood like oysters and salmon. This is just one example that shows the sort of opulence enjoyed by the wealthy passengers on board.
The crew got everything wrong in the next fact…
Sending the Wrong Message
Source: Encyclopedia Titanica
The crew of the ship must have been so panicked that they forgot what they were doing when firing out distress signal rockets. The rockets have to be fired in specific patterns that each convey specific messages. The pattern that was used on the Titanic simply said that the vessel was having issues with navigation, rather than notifying any onlookers that it was going down. Smarter use of signals could have led to a speedier recovery effort.
A Calm Night
Photo by: Carl Simon/United Archives/UIG via Getty Images
When we think of accidents and tragedies at sea, we often imagine big storms and crazy waves, but the conditions on the night of the Titanic’s sinking were very calm. Unfortunately, this turned out to be a contributing factor in the tragedy. The calm conditions made it hard for the lookouts to spot the iceberg as they wouldn’t have seen the waves smashing against it. This shows that still nights aren’t as safe as they seem.
One big part of the Titanic was just for show…
The Useless Smokestack
One of the most striking and imposing aspects of the Titanic’s construction is its four enormous smokestacks. Funnily enough, only three of them were functional, meaning that the fourth was utterly useless. The creators of the ship knew that only three smokestacks would be needed, and a fourth would have no utility apart from looking impressive, but they decided to add it anyway to make the ship seem even more significant and more unique.
A Leap of Faith
The poorer passengers on the Titanic had an even smaller chance of survival than everyone else. Not only were they housed low down on the vessel, but they also didn’t have the same means as the wealthier passengers up top. One of the third-class passengers, Rhoda Abbott, took her two sons up to the deck and decided to jump off into the water and hope for the best. Rhoda’s boys sadly perished, but she survived long enough to be rescued.
The Titanic held a world record at the time it sank…
Bigger Than the Rest
Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images
During its fateful 1912 voyage, the RMS Titanic was the largest passenger ship on Earth and was the biggest liner to sink while in service. It measured up at 882 feet (269.1 m) in length and had a tonnage of 46,328. In the years that have followed, many larger ships have been created. The biggest passenger ship at the moment is the MS Symphony of the Seas, which has a length of 1,188 feet (362 m) and an enormous tonnage of 228,081.
The Mystery of the Iceberg
The iceberg that sank the RMS Titanic. Photo by Universal History Archive/Getty Images
For many years in the wake of the Titanic’s sinking, researchers and scientists worked hard to try and figure out how that famous iceberg had even ended up in the vessel’s path. For a while, nobody could figure out quite where it had come from, but it was eventually discovered that the iceberg had broken off from the coast of Greenland. If only it had moved in a slightly different way, the whole incident might have been avoided.
If only the crew had listened in the next fact…
An Avoidable Tragedy
Photo by Massimo Rumi / Barcroft Media / Barcroft Media via Getty Images
One of the most frustrating things about the story of the sinking of the Titanic is that, in hindsight, it’s easy to see how the whole thing might have been prevented. The crew received six warnings about icebergs along the ship’s route, but the captain simply ignored them, assuming that everything would be fine as he attempted to complete the trip in record time. Had he listened, so many lives might have been saved.
Humans weren’t the only victims of the Titanic disaster. Many pet pups were taken on board by wealthy passengers, but only three of them survived in the end. The dogs that made it off were a couple of Pomeranians and a Pekinese, with many of the rest being left in the onboard kennels to drown. At a time of crisis, many dog owners simply forgot about their furry friends or didn’t have the time to try and rescue them.
The next fact shows that the ship was doomed from the start…
A Flawed Safety Feature
When the Titanic was constructed, the designers did consider the possible eventuality of flooding. They installed a safety system with a series of watertight compartments that were supposed to keep the vessel floating even in the worst possible scenario. Unfortunately, they didn’t account for the fact that when those compartments filled with water, they overflowed into the rest of the ship, effectively meaning that the whole system simply delayed the inevitable, rather than preventing it.
There Was a Lot of Alcohol On Board
Source: BAMF Styles
There were a lot of different passengers aboard the Titanic. They were separated by class and wealth, with the first class passengers being known for their elegant clothes and fancy rooms, but one thing that brought them all together was the love of a drink. 20,000 beers were taken on the voyage, along with 1,500 bottles of wine. The lower class passengers would have drunk the beers, while the elite first class ticket holders would have enjoyed the wine.
The next fact shows us how environmentally unfriendly the Titanic was…
A Menace for the Environment
Source: The History Press
Green energy and eco-friendly ideas are all the rage right now as humanity races to save the planet and undo decades of human-made destruction, but back at the time of the Titanic’s creation, protecting the environment was the last thing on ship-maker’s minds. The Titanic used up to 600 tons of coal and shot out 100 tons of ash into the ocean each day, with more than 170 mean being employed to operate the vessel’s furnaces.
An Ignored Warning
Source: Find A Grave
What if someone forewarned you of a deadly event in your immediate future? Would you listen, or just ignore them? One of the Titanic’s passengers, William Edward Minahan, had visited a fortune teller before taking his place on board the vessel. She told him that he would die on the boat, but he ignored her. Her eerie prediction proved to be accurate as Mr. Minahan died with many of the other passengers.
The next fact focuses on an extraordinary feature…
A Special Staircase
Staircase to Restaurant on the Titanic. Photo by Ralph White/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images
Anyone who saw James Cameron’s movie or has done a little digging into the history of the Titanic will be familiar with the Grand Staircase. There were two of these staircases, one at the front and one at the back. The front one is the most iconic, being one of the most aesthetically impressive structures on the whole vessel, made of English oak and featuring various ornate carvings and paintings decorating the ascent.
A Very Wealthy Man
John Jacob Aster IV. Photo by George Grantham Bain/Library of Congress/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images
The Titanic played host to a lot of wealthy passengers, but one man stood out above all the rest. John Jacob Astor IV was by far the wealthiest person on the ship and had an estimated wealth of $85 million. All that money couldn’t buy him a ticket off the ship, however, as women and children took up most of the lifeboat space. His body was found later on, and a gold watch he’d been wearing was recovered and given to his son.
James Cameron’s 1997 movie wasn’t the only film based on the Titanic…
The First Film
Source: Unbelievable Facts
Everyone knows James Cameron’s Titanic movie, but the famous director wasn’t the first person to attempt to put the shocking sinking story on the silver screen. A film called ‘Saved from the Titanic’ was released just a couple of weeks after the incident occurred. The silent film focused on Dorothy Gibson, who was a real Titanic survivor. Gibson co-wrote the script, and footage of icebergs and the RMS Olympic was used to complete the film.
Something Smelled Fishy to One Passenger
Scene from the film ‘Titanic’, 1953. Photo by 20th Century-Fox/Getty Images
One of the Titanic’s passengers, Miss Elizabeth Weed Shutes, had a funny feeling on the evening of the terrible incident. Allegedly, Miss Shutes said that there was a strange smell in the air that reminded her of an ice cave she’d been to in the past. Her keen nose put her in a state of heightened awareness on that fateful night, which led to her being one of the first passengers into the lifeboats.
The next fact might just break your heart…
Source: NY Mag
Everyone remembers the scene in the Titanic movie when the musicians carry on playing to try and calm the passengers and fulfill his or her duties, even as the liner is sinking. That did happen in reality, and all of the musicians went down with the ship, being honored as heroes for their bravery. Not only that, but the musicians employed on board had to have exceptional memories and know over 350 songs to be performed on demand.
A Terrible Decision
Photo by: Photo12/UIG via Getty Images
As fate would have it, a lifeboat training drill was scheduled on the exact day the Titanic went down. This would have allowed guests and crew members to be more prepared when the inevitable eventually occurred. However, for some reason or another, the drill was canceled at the last minute by the ship’s captain, Edward John Smith. We’ll probably never know why the exercise was called off, but it turned out to be a terrible decision that led to some lives being lost.
The next fact is a real shocker…
Soon, There’ll Be Nothing Left
Shipwrecks don’t survive forever and ever on the ocean bed. Erosion and bacteria gradually wear away at these once-mighty structures, and the Titanic is no exception. A particularly fast-acting form of bacteria called Halomonas Titanicae has been seen on the wreckage and will eat up the majority of the Titanic in the next couple of decades, leaving us with nothing but stories and historical records, as well as the physical evidence that has been recovered.
Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images
The captain of the Titanic, Edward Smith, famously went down with his ship. He felt that it was his duty to stay with the vessel as it sank into the depths. Allegedly, he gave one last little speech to his crew members, releasing them of their duties and giving them a chance to save themselves while he stayed on deck. Smith was born in the town of Hanley, in Staffordshire, and a statue of him has been erected in the local city of Lichfield.
Read on to learn about a new Titanic theory…
Was The Moon Involved?
Photo by Waring Abbott/Getty Images
There are countless theories about the Titanic, with lots of scientists and researchers doing all they can to figure out how everything fell into place on that fateful night. A relatively recent theory suggests that the moon, which influences the tides of the Earth’s oceans, might have played a part. The moon was very close in the early months of the year, creating strong tides that might have caused the iceberg to travel into the Titanic’s path.
A Fateful Finding
The Titanic would spend over seven decades unseen and untouched beneath the waves, with the wreck not being discovered until 1985! The remains of the vessel are located some 370 miles away from the Newfoundland coastline at a depth of approximately 12,500 feet. The wreck briefly became a tourist attraction for the wealthy, with an adventure company offering trips down to explore Titanic for around $59,000 each. Those trips have ceased running now but must have some magical memories for lucky participants.
One survivor got more than he bargained for when he went home…
Disgrace and Dishonor
There was one Japanese person on the Titanic. His name was Masabumi Hosono. He worked as a civil servant and managed to get a spot on a lifeboat to survive the ordeal. Unfortunately, his misfortune was only beginning. When he got back to Japan, because of the nation’s culture, he was accused of cowardice and dishonor, being fired from work. Japanese people argued that the right thing to do would have been to stay on board and accept his fate.
Scene from the film A Night to Remember. United Kingdom, 1958 (Photo by Mondadori Portfolio via Getty Images
We often hear about some people who seem to have the worst luck in the world, like they’ve got a curse on them. One of those people was on board the Titanic. A male passenger had already been on one sinking ship in the past and managed to survive, booking a ticket on the Titanic to overcome his terrifying memories. Unfortunately, he didn’t escape a second time and was one of the 1,500+ victims.