The Titanic

Titanic leaving Southampton on her maiden voyageTitanic leaving Southampton on her maiden voyage. Repro ID: 8169 ©National Maritime MuseumAt the beginning of the 20th century, anyone who wanted to travel between Europe and America had to go by ship. Aeroplanes did not begin trans-Atlantic passenger flights until the 1930s. Shipping lines competed for customers, so ocean liners like the Titanic were designed to be as fast, luxurious and safe as possible.

Why was Titanic built?

The Titanic and her sister ships Olympic and Britannic were built by the White Star Line to rival Mauretania and Lusitania – ships belonging to the competing Cunard line. When the Titanic was launched, it was the largest moving object ever built – 269 metres long and weighing 46,000 tons.

Why was Titanic described as a 'luxury hotel at sea'?

First Class Restaurant Reception Room on the TitanicFirst Class Restaurant Reception Room on the Titanic, 1912. Bedford Lemere & Co. Repro ID: G10671 ©National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, LondonThe accommodation on Titanic was luxurious and spacious. In First Class there were many new attractions such as squash courts, a Turkish bath, a gymnasium, a barber shop and also the first swimming pool on board a ship. Even the cheaper Third Class cabins were of a better standard than those on other liners.

Why was Titanic called unsinkable?

Atlantic liner Titanic sinking, bow first, 1912, with eight full lightboats nearby and an iceberg in the distanceAtlantic liner Titanic sinking, bow first, 1912, with eight full lightboats nearby and an iceberg in the distance by W. Pearson, 1912. Repro ID: PY5224 ©National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, LondonThe ship was fitted with a double-thickness bottom and was divided into 16 water-tight compartments. Even if two compartments were flooded, the ship should not sink.

What route did Titanic take on its only voyage?

On Wednesday 10 April 1912, Titanic departed from Southampton on its first, or 'maiden' voyage to the United States of America. The ship called at Cherbourg in France and the port of Queenstown in Cork, Ireland before starting its journey across the Atlantic Ocean. The ship travelled fast, at a speed of about 20 knots (nautical miles per hour), and was expected to arrive in New York on the following Wednesday morning.

What happened to Titanic?

A gold pocketwatch that belonged to Robert Douglas Norman, a passenger of the TitanicA gold pocketwatch that belonged to Robert Douglas Norman, a passenger of the Titanic. Repro ID: D8137 ©National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, LondonOn the night of Sunday 14 April, despite warnings of ice fields, the ship did not reduce speed and collided with an iceberg shortly before midnight. It seems that the iceberg must have ripped a long gash in the side of the ship, above the level of the double bottom, so that five compartments began to flood. Passengers were unaware that the ship was doomed and joked about the ice found on the deck. The Captain ordered the lifeboats to be made ready. More than two hours after hitting the iceberg, Titanic slipped under the sea and sank 4000 metres to the ocean bed.

If the ship sank slowly, why didn't everyone escape?

As no-one had seriously thought that Titanic could ever sink, there were only enough lifeboats for about half the people on board. To make matters worse, many of the lifeboats were not full when they left the ship. Of those on board, 705 people survived but 1503 others perished in the freezing ocean.

How was the wreck of Titanic found?

Titanic survivors photographOne of original set of 12 photographs taken by Louis Mansfield Ogden of the scene of the Titanic disaster, taken from the deck of the Carpathia, 14 April 1912. Repro ID: F5238 ©National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Lord-Macquitty Collection.In 1985, a joint team of American and French oceanographers searched the floor of the Atlantic in the area of Titanic's last reported position. They used sonar equipment, which uses acoustic pulses to plot the contours of the sea bed, and a deep-sea photo-imaging system. Once located, the wreck was explored by a video camera connected to a remote operated vehicle (ROV).

What is the wreck like?

The ship tore in half as it sank, so the bow and stern now lie about 600 metres apart. The steel of the ship is covered with trailing rust and the wood of the decks has been eaten away. Debris from the ship is scattered over a huge area of seabed about the size of the City of London. Objects lying in this field have been recovered by a submersible with people on board. After conservation the objects will be put on display to help tell the story of Titanic and the people who were on board in 1912.