In the beginning of XX century passenger liners were associated with two lines: Cunard and White Star. Both companies built luxurious and modern ships. Cunard engineers designed fast ships and the Ismay family, owners of White Star attracted customers with grandness and elegance of there ships. With this aim, in 1908 at Harland and Wolff liner Olimpic was started and on 31" of March 1909 the keel for her sister ship was laid.
The ship was ready after three years and named Titanic. She was meant to be the biggest and safest transatlantic liner in the world. Newspapers of all countries wrote 'The unsinkable Titanic' - the hull was divided into sixteen water-tights compartments that could be closed manually or automatically. Most cabins of Titanic (333) were designed in different styles. Also comprising of 4 restaurants, library and smokers rooms were meant for 1st class passengers there were also tennis courts, swimming pool and gymnasium. If necessary the passengers could use hospital. 207 rooms of 2-berth or 4-berth cabins, each with WC were meant for 2nd class passengers. Passengers of 3rd class had 222 cabins on lower decks. The maiden voyage began on 10lh of April 1912. Titanic under command of experienced captain Edward J. Smith left Southampton for New York.
On board there were White Star Director, J. Bruce Ismay, Harland and Wolff Shipyard director and liner designer Thomas Andrews. The ship took 1,308 passengers and 898 crew. No one expected that in four days a tragedy would happen and 1,502 people would loose their lives. The early spring 1912 was unusual warm and ice in north part of Atlantic broke very often forming gigantic icebergs drifting in water. Four days after Titanic left Southampton, on 14lh of April at 9.40 pm the radio operator Jack Phillips received warnings about icebergs from Maseba and the Californian. Phillips ignored the warnings, the Titanic seemed to bee too mighty, to be beaten by ice.
The night was totally quiet and dark; the risk of not spotting an iceberg very big, but the crew believed it would be possible to notice the obstacles. One of the two seamen on the fore crow's nest observing the sea noticed an iceberg right in front of the ship and alarmed the bridge. The ship doing 22 knots made a quick left turn and rammed the
iceberg with starboard. The water-tight doors in machine and stokehold were closed immediately. It was 11.40 pm. 90 m of the starboard were torn. Titanic was designed to survive floating of four neighbouring compartments from bow, but the skin damage was longer. Stokehold was first place where water came and the stokers fought with water and danger of boiler explosion.
The ship called for help till last moment. SOS signal was answered by Carpatia - ship of rival lines Cunard. She was too far to come before Titanic sank, she appeared within 4 hours. It is worth mentioning that at this time the radiotelegraphy was still in her infancy and SOS signal was a novelty. Also the signal rockets for help were new - the Calif ornian going nearby ignored them taking them for fireworks on board. At 2.20 am the stern sank in the ocean. Carpatia took on board nearly 700 people. Only a few persons were taken by Parisian. 703 persons survived (that was 32,3% of all on board), 1,503 were deceased including the captain and the majority of the crew. 62,5% passengers of 1st class, 41,4% of 2nd class, 25,2% of 3rd class and 24% of crew survived. These disproportions resulted from the fact that 1st class passengers were the first to be places into life rafts and women and children next. 74,3% of women, 52,3% of children and only 20,3% of men survived.
Director J. Brace Ismay survived, but from that moment he lost respect off the professional world and because of all the negative publicity he resigned from his career, settled down in Ireland and died there in 1937.
This less than 3 hours tragedy caused numerous conferences about the safety on passenger liners. Decisions of improving the safety and increasing the amount of rescue boats for all passengers were made and the safety regulations were tightened.
Since then smaller ships were used on the way between Great Britain and United States. White Star Line built one more big transatlantic liner Britannic, but with the outbreak of 1st WW the unit was taken by the Navy and changed into hospital ship. She sank in 1915.
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