I spent my Easter Sunday at a Titanic exhibition. It was good — really good. And very sad. I have always been obsessed with the story of the Titanic. I remember in primary school we could pick any subject we wanted to do an assignment on and I picked — yep, you guessed it — the Titanic. I believe I got a B for that effort. I also believe the teacher couldn’t recognise a well researched, well put together assignment by an 8yr old if it bit her in the ass. That assignment was an A grade at the very least. But hey, that’s just my opinion.
I know I am not alone with my fascination for this doomed ship. We all know the story. It is a story the world still finds fascinating today. But why? At any given moment, there are cruise liners sailing the seas all over the world. They are carrying more passengers and are bigger and better than the Titanic could have ever dreamed of. They would put her to shame. Yet, our fascination still stays with the Titanic.
“The sounds of people drowning are something that I can not describe to you, and neither can anyone else. Its the most dreadful sound and there is a terrible silence that follows it.”
-Eva Hart, Titanic Survivor
There are so many contributing factors to this sad story. The sheer arrogance at the time — she was deemed unsinkable. I believe the quote was ‘God himself could not sink this ship’ . They just did not think it was possible. In the event that she did run into trouble, they had water tight compartments to stop her sinking. They just didn’t count on those compartments being ruptured after colliding with an iceberg. Despite several warnings about icebergs (6 in fact), they still pushed on — at speed — to make an early landing in New York. They wanted to wow the press, the passengers, the world at how fast she was. How magnificent was this ship — she had completed her maiden voyage early! They were totally unprepared for the unlikely event of sinking. They didn’t have enough lifeboats onboard and when she did start to sink, they launched them only half full — if that. Even when the call came that sinking was imminent, I think many passengers and crew refused to believe it was happening. It would have been total chaos and panic to be on board the Titanic when she went down. It would have truly been every man, woman and child for themselves. And God help you if you were in third class. How utterly horrifying.
In my research, I found these interesting tidbits:
- There were 13 couples honeymooning on the Titanic
- 30 seconds was the length of time they had from when the lookout spotted the iceberg to impact
- It was a full 60 minutes after impact before a single lifeboat was launched
- It took 160 minutes for the Titanic to sink (2 hours and 40 minutes)
- Passengers were greeted with a water temperature of -2 degrees when the ship finally sunk
- Once passengers hit the water, they had a 15–45 minute survival window
- 2 dogs survived the sinking. These lucky pooches were taken aboard lifeboats by their owners
- 125 bodies were buried at sea. This was due to being badly damaged, badly decomposed or not enough resources (such as lack of embalming fluid)
- 118 bodies — either taken ashore or buried at sea — remain unidentified
It is just a senseless loss of life. So many lives were lost — over 1500 — and for what? They were the unfortunate passengers of a ship so full of herself, she didn’t think sinking was possible, hence being so unprepared for it. These poor souls would have been heading to New York to start new lives, new jobs, new beginnings and instead they met a watery grave. It is so hard to fathom.
That is where part of the fascination lies I believe. This ship — this mighty, extravagant ship — that held so many souls along with their hopes and dreams, went down so tragically. She hit an iceberg, took on water, split in two and took over 1500 souls with her. This was not part of the grand plan.
I believe fate played a huge part in her demise. It’s almost like fate looked at the cockiness surrounding her and her ‘unsinkable’ title and sunk her so horrifically that the world would be sure to never be so arrogant again. It was a huge slap in the face that proves, be as prepared (or in this case as unprepared) as we like, at the end of the day it all comes down to fate. She holds all the cards; we must never forget that.
Or use the term ‘unsinkable’ for anything ever again. Ever.
If you would like to read some more about the story of the Titanic check out these great sites:
- This article has also been published on my Medium page