Today is the 99th anniversary of the Titanic disaster. Although it didn’t actually sink until the very early hours of April 15th, it struck the iceberg that started the whole mess in the waning hours of April 14th 1912.
Most of you probably know the story – or have at least seen the 1997 movie Titanic. The ship sideswiped an iceberg in the middle of the north Atlantic Ocean. While from the deck the damage didn’t look to bad, upon further inspection they found that water was leaking into the pump rooms below and was not going to be able to be abetted (despite all of the new technology installed to prevent such a sinking). After this was determined the crew set about sending out distress signals and deploying the lifeboats (which of course there were not enough of).
Many lifeboats were under loaded and people were less concerned at the beginning of the disaster because it didn’t seem so bad. Mostly first class and women and children were loaded into the boats. There were some men that were loaded if they needed manpower and some of the other classes as well – but there were only enough boats for 1,178 people if loaded properly, and that was more than was required.
By 2:10 AM the ship had taken on so much water toward the front of the ship that the stern lifted up out of the water. Eventually the weight broke the ship in two with the bow gently falling to the bottom. The stern again tipped up out of the water, became vertical, and then fell to the ocean floor below.
All but two lifeboats were launched, only two went back to pick up survivors. Many people were afraid of their boat being pulled down by the sinking ship and others didn’t want to have their boats swamped by those trying to get in it. Of those that went back, only 9 survivors were plucked from the water. The lifeboats would wait for the RMS Carpathia to arrive around 4 in the morning to rescue them and take them back to New York.
Take a minute today or tomorrow to remember those who were lost in this disaster. In all, 1,517 people were lost. This is one of the deadliest peacetime disasters to happen on the water. There are no longer any survivors of the Titanic disaster – the last survivor, Millvina Dean, who was only 2 months old at the time of the accident, passed away in 2009.
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