The tragic story of the RMS Titanic continues to captivate the world's imagination, more than a century after it sank on its maiden voyage. The colossal ocean liner, once deemed unsinkable, met its untimely demise on April 15, 1912, after colliding with an iceberg in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.
The Titanic's wreckage, lying at a depth of 12,600 feet off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada, has been the subject of extensive exploration, revealing remarkable insights and shedding light on the events that unfolded that fateful night. In this article, we delve into 40 intriguing facts about the Titanic, from its construction to its final moments, uncovering the lesser-known details that continue to intrigue and resonate with people around the world.
1. The Titanic sits 12,600 feet below the ocean's surface
Over two miles below the waters she traveled, the ruins of the Titanic shipwreck were discovered more than seven decades after it sank. The wreckage lies off the coast of Newfoundland, Canada. Although it has been aggressively explored, the Titanic wreck still holds a treasure trove of secrets that keeps the world interested in her. This is largely because the wreck is both difficult and dangerous to get to.
2. We know which iceberg sank the Titanic
The iceberg at fault likely originated from southern Greenland about three months before the ill-fated collision. Captain de Carteret of the Minia photographed the suspected iceberg during the rescue and recovery mission at the site of the wreck. It had a streak of red paint and was around 60 feet in height above the water. This means the huge island of ice was likely 400 feet long and between 300 and 600 feet deep under the water's surface.
3. Full Lifeboat Use Could Have Saved 472 More on Titanic
Contrary to popular belief, the Titanic did have the required number of lifeboats according to the requirements of the British Board of Trade. There were 16 regular lifeboats and four collapsibles. The boats were only partially loaded in the false belief that relief would come before the Titanic sank and the boats would only be needed to ferry passengers to the safety of another boat. Sadly, the first rescue did not arrive until many hours after the sinking, and an additional 472 lives were lost by not fully loading the lifeboats.
4. One of Titanic’s four funnels was a “dummy”
Not only did one of the four huge funnels atop the ship not work as a chimney for the coal engines, but it was never meant to. The fourth funnel was added to make the look of the ship competitive with the great German ocean liners of the day and it was used for ventilation purposes only.
5. Titanic was the largest sea-faring vessel of its time
In the one hundred years leading up to the building of the Titanic, the title of the world’s largest ship changed hands dozens of times, with each new vessel beating out the last. When Titanic was built she took the title from her sister ship the Olympic. The Titanic measured 882 feet long, just short of a full 1,000 feet. The largest ship today is Symphony of the Seas which is a full 302 feet longer than the Titanic was.
6. The ship was not at full capacity during the maiden voyage
While the number of people who perished in the Titanic sinking is absolutely astounding, it is even more shocking that the ship was not even at full capacity during that voyage. With a capacity of 3,500, there were actually 1,260 seats on the voyage that were unfilled.
7. It took over an hour to launch the first lifeboat
The reason it took an hour to launch the lifeboats had nothing to do with any difficulty with those boats. First, time was taken to assess the condition of the Titanic. Initially, the crew and even Captain were still going on the erroneous assumption that the ship was unsinkable. They also believed that help would be on the way soon and the lifeboats would only be needed to move the passengers to the rescuing vessel.
8. Roughly one-third of the population of Belfast, Ireland attended the launch
The White Star Line commissioned Harland & Wolff to build the doomed vessel and she was built in Belfast over a period of three years. The community felt invested in the ship. In fact, many residents had a part in working on her construction. The launch took around one minute and was a spectacular sight to see. It was viewed by nearly 100,000 people.
9. Milton Hershey missed the boat
There were many famous and wealthy people aboard the White Star ocean liner. One person who was not on that voyage was Milton Hershey. Mr. Hershey (of the candy company fame) was initially supposed to be on the Titanic. He had paid a deposit for the trip, which was non-refundable. He had more pressing matters arise and decided to forgo the trip, which ended up likely saving his life.
10. The shipwreck will soon disappear into history
The ship sits deep under the Atlantic Ocean and is being slowly destroyed. Its steel surfaces are being eaten away by rust-eating bacteria called Halomonas titanicae. Other pollutants and expeditions to the wreck have also done damage by helping to break up the site. UNESCO says the wreck will be nothing but dust and small debris and will have all but disappeared by 2050.
11. Coal from the Titanic is the most marketed souvenir available to the general public
It carried enough coal to burn 600 to 825 tons of coal per day. There were 159 furnaces and 29 boilers. Tiny fragments of coal and wood from the wreckage are sold with certificates of authenticity for as little as $25 USD. It is estimated that the ship sank with at least 2,500 tons of coal onboard. What is available for purchase was brought up in expeditions in the early 2000s.
12. During the construction of the ship, two workers lost their lives
Although we have confirmed the deaths of two workers, it remains possible that there were additional fatalities. Samuel Joseph Scott, a 15-year-old, tragically fell from a ladder, resulting in a fatal skull fracture. Meanwhile, James Dobbins met his untimely demise when he was crushed by timber during the transportation of the Titanic from the shipyard to the launching dock.
13. Constructing the 26,000-ton hull, crews used an astounding 3 million rivets
These rivets have been the center of controversy. Over the years many arguments have been made that faulty or weak rivets may have been partially to blame for the allowance of such extraordinary damage to the ship that it sank.
14. The ship had a 16-ton anchor
In 1911, the transportation of the ship's main anchor proved to be quite an undertaking. Weighing over 30,000 pounds or 16 tons, the anchor required the assistance of 20 horses. These horses were tasked with hauling the anchor over a distance of two miles, from its casting site in the town of Netherton to the train station in Dudley.
15. The chief baker may have survived because he was drunk
The chief baker, Charles Joughin, managed to stay afloat in the water for a remarkable two hours before his eventual rescue. Despite the freezing conditions, he credited the copious amounts of whiskey he had consumed prior to the ship's sinking for helping maintain his body warmth.
16. The construction of the ship cost $7.5 million in 2011
This is an equivalent of $183.4 million in present-day currency. Today’s most expensive cruise ship, Royal Caribbean's Allure of the Seas, costs 1.43 billion dollars. Many of today’s largest cruise liners cost a billion dollars to construct.
17. The Titanic's last lunch menu sold for almost $100,000
It was purchased by a private collector in 2015. They paid $88,000 USD in an online auction. The menu advertised items from the grill, including grilled mutton chops and mashed, fried, and baked jacket potatoes. It also listed buffet items like potted shrimp, roast beef, and Cumberland ham among other dishes.
18. Most female crew members on the Titanic lived
Only three of the 23 female crew members on the Titanic died. The male crew members did not have such a good fate. There were 885 male crew members. 693 male crew members, or 78 percent, were lost with the ship.
19. Less than a third of the total passengers managed to survive
Out of the 2,223 passengers and crew members on board, only 705 were fortunate enough to make it back home. Among those who survived, a significant 61% were first-class guests, while less than a quarter of the third-class passengers managed to survive the ordeal.
20. As the ship sank, the temperature of the seawater plummeted below freezing
Captain Stanley Lord of the SS Californian, which was in proximity to the Titanic at the time, recorded bone-chilling water temperatures as low as 28 degrees Fahrenheit. According to the Life Jacket Association, the human body can endure freezing water for a maximum of 45 minutes. Most of the passengers who fell into the ocean died within minutes.
21. 14,000 gallons of water were used every day on the ship
It might seem weird since they were floating in a vast ocean, but fresh water was very important onboard the Titanic. It was used for drinking and cooking as well as filling the pool and other necessary items.
22. Lifeboats were removed from the Titanic before the maiden voyage
There was room for 64 lifeboats initially, but there were never that many on board. In fact, some lifeboats were even removed from the ship. They were removed for a better aesthetic and to improve the view for the passengers.
23. The ship carried a total of 40,000 fresh eggs
The equivalent of approximately 3,333 dozen eggs was used to create everything from breakfasts to exquisite meals for the thousands of people onboard. Many of the eggs onboard likely went down with the ship.
24. Another ship was less than 20 miles away when the Titanic sank
The SS Californian was believed to have been only 19 to 21 miles away when the Titanic struck an iceberg. It did not come to the doomed ship's rescue because they had already turned off communications for the night by the time of the collision.
25. As the iceberg collided with the boat's hull, it created a massive 300-foot gash
Initially, Captain Edward Smith believed that the ship had merely grazed over the top of the iceberg. However, the true extent of the damage became evident when the crew examined the impact area. Five compartments were already flooded with water, and the bow was gradually submerging, giving the captain a startling realization.
26. Two kidnapped children were on the Titanic
In a remarkable tale, two young brothers, Edmond and Michel Navratil, managed to survive the Titanic tragedy without the presence of a guardian. They became renowned as the sole children to make it through the disaster without a parent. With a two-year age gap between them, they became known as the "Titanic Orphans." Their father, Michel Sr., had abducted them from their mother, from whom he was estranged, with the intention of taking them to America. The final sighting of their father was when he placed the children in a lifeboat before disappearing from view.
27. The ship's official name was Royal Mail Steamer (RMS) Titanic
The designation RMS (Royal Mail Steamer) has been in existence since the mid-19th century. This prestigious title signified a commitment to timely mail delivery, as ships that carried mail were subjected to penalties for any delays. As a result, being granted the RMS designation was a testament to a ship's exceptional quality. Numerous vessels, including the Titanic, proudly held this distinction, with nearly 200 ships bearing the prestigious RMS title.
28. The ship’s whereabouts were unknown for 73 years
It wasn't until 1985, more than 70 years after the sinking of the Titanic, that the remains of the ship were finally discovered. Dr. Robert D. Ballard and a team of American and French researchers, hailing from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts, played a pivotal role in this remarkable feat. Utilizing a robot submarine, they could locate and explore the wreckage of the Titanic.
29. The first-class promenade was styled as a Parisian cafe
Passengers who were able to afford first-class tickets on the Titanic enjoyed the luxurious treatment and a plethora of indulgences. Among the perks was the opportunity to taste delicacies at Parisian cafés, relax in tea gardens, play tennis in a squash court, read in the library, and even take a dip in a heated swimming pool. The first-class experience was truly a haven of opulence and comfort for the wealthy patrons.
30. Drinking and smoking were allowed on the ship
The Titanic carried an abundant supply of liquor and cigars for its passengers. Onboard, there were a total of 20,000 bottles of beer and 1,500 bottles of wine available. Furthermore, first-class patrons had access to a staggering collection of 8,000 cigars. The ship ensured that its first-class passengers had ample provisions of both alcohol and cigars to enhance their onboard experience.
31. The sinking of the ship was a rapid and catastrophic event
As the boat fractured into two parts, the bow descended to the sea bottom at an estimated speed of 35 mph, while the stern descended even faster at approximately 50 mph. The vessel slipped beneath the ocean's surface precisely at 2:20 a.m. on April 15, 1912. The sinking of the Titanic, previously considered unsinkable, remains one of the most monumental disasters in the annals of commercial maritime history.
32. The last meal aboard the Titanic was 11 courses
First-class passengers were treated to a lavish final supper, comprising an extravagant 11-course meal. The menu featured delectable hors d'oeuvres, including succulent oysters, followed by a selection of sumptuous main courses such as filet mignon. To conclude the feast, a delightful assortment of desserts awaited, with tempting treats like chocolate and vanilla eclairs. The last supper aboard the Titanic was a culinary extravaganza fit for the most discerning palates of the first-class patrons.
33. There were 12 dogs on the ship
Among the assortment of dog breeds being transported on the Titanic, several notable ones included Airedales, a Fox Terrier, a King Charles Spaniel, a Toy Poodle, a French Bulldog, a Chow-chow, a Pekinese, and two Pomeranians. As the tragedy unfolded, three fortunate small dogs, specifically two Pomeranians and a Pekingese, managed to survive the disaster. They were tenderly held in their owners' arms as they sought safety in the lifeboats. The survival of these cherished companions amidst the chaos of the Titanic remains a remarkable testament to the bond between humans and their beloved pets.
34. Less than a minute passed between the sighting of the iceberg and the collision
As huge as the iceberg that sank the Titanic was, it was not easy to see in the dead of night and in the dark waters. The crew did not even have a minute to try to steer the ship to safety. Turning a vessel of that size is not a maneuver that could be done quickly and without ample space. Once the iceberg was visible, the ship was all but doomed.
35. The Straus’ love was as epic as the Titanic’s story
Ida and Isidor Straus, the owners of Macy's Department Store in New York, embody one of the most poignant love stories associated with the Titanic. When faced with the decision to board a lifeboat, Ida steadfastly refused to leave without her beloved husband. In a selfless act, Isidor declined a spot offered to him, recognizing that women and children were still awaiting rescue. Tragically, the devoted couple chose to remain together and ultimately perished side by side, their love, and loyalty unyielding even in the face of such a devastating circumstance.
36. They missed the message about icebergs
Prior to the collision, the crew received a total of six warnings about icebergs in the Titanic's path. Interestingly, the most crucial warning failed to reach Captain Edward Smith due to the absence of the prefix MSG, which denoted a Masters' Service Gram. This particular prefix would have required the captain's personal acknowledgment of the message. Unfortunately, lacking the MSG designation, the senior radio operator deemed the message as less significant, leading to the unfortunate oversight of its importance.
37. There was a lot of misinformation about the sinking
For three days after the sinking, newspapers ran stories with no real knowledge of what had happened. Most initially reported the ship was still on her way to New York. Soon, the headlines became much sadder with some saying there were no survivors. It took months to unravel the truth of what had happened. Even after investigations in multiple countries, all these years later, many conspiracy theories and a lot of false information still exist about the sinking of the unsinkable ship.
38. In 2012, underwater robots were used to capture over 100,000 photographs of the Titanic's wreckage
Utilizing advanced sonar imaging technology, these robots meticulously documented hundreds of objects believed to be remnants of the ill-fated ship. The extensive collection of photographs enabled researchers to create a detailed map of the debris field, spanning an area of approximately 3 by 5 miles. This unprecedented visual documentation provided invaluable insights into the scattered remnants of the Titanic on the ocean floor.
39. Dozens of movies and documentaries were made about Titanic
Some of the most notable were feature films like Roy Baker's "A Night to Remember'' (1958) and James Cameron's "Titanic" (1997) as well as documentaries like "Search for the Titanic" (1981) narrated by Orson Wells and Secrets of the Titanic (1986) which documents the discovery of the Titanic's wreckage. People have never lost interest in the ship or its terrible fate, as documentaries such as "Mysteries From The Grave: The Titanic'' (2022) are still being made.
40. The Titanic’s youngest passenger was just two months old
Millvina Dean was the youngest passenger on the Titanic and astoundingly she was the youngest survivor as well. She lived to the ripe old age of 97 years old. When Ms. Dean passed away in 2009, she was the last living Titanic survivor. There is no one left who remembers the actual sinking of the ship. We are very lucky that history has preserved so many accounts and interviews with the survivors.