The “Unsinkable” Titanic Remains a Part of the American Narrative

Many have heard of the infamous Titanic, but few may know of the recent theories emerging about how this great ship sank.

The Titanic sank on April 15, 1912, in the North Atlantic Ocean while traveling from Southampton, England to New York City. Instead of reaching New York City, the Titanic hit an iceberg. More than 1,500 of the ship’s passengers died in this tragedy. Only about 700 lived. Even though the Titanic’s lifeboats were each designed to hold 65 people, most only ended up bringing 28 passengers to safety.

At the time it was built, the Titanic inspired awe in the public because of its huge size. It was also designed to be the best in luxury travel experiences. The ship included a gymnasium, swimming pool, libraries, restaurants, and amazing cabins. It also boasted first class, second class, and third class cabins. First-class tickets aboard the ship cost $2,500, while third-class tickets were $40. Second-class tickets ranged between the two. In modern currency, these prices would be $103,000 and $900, respectively. As such, the Titanic’s passenger list included some of the wealthiest people of the era.

So what caused this great ship's demise? Researchers recently came forth with new evidence surrounding a small coal fire that occurred in one of the ship’s bunkers—a scary but common occurrence in steam ships of the day. In fact, steam ships often employed stokers , also known as “firemen,” to hose down a ship’s smoldering coal and shove it aside. However, after reviewing the situation, the Titanic’s Captain and chief engineer asserted at the time that it was unlikely the fire caused any damage to the ship's hull structure.

Researchers now suggest that the Titanic’s Captain and chief engineer were likely incorrect. Specifically, some experts believe that the once-small coal fire probably became uncontainable after the ship left Southampton, thus forcing the Titanic’s staff to travel full speed to reach their destination quickly. Moving at such a face pace, they were then unable to avoid impact with the lethal iceberg.

The sinking of the Titanic was so shocking because of its outstanding reputation. At the time it was built, it was the largest ship adrift at 882.5 feet long, 92.5 feet wide, and 175 feet high. The ship was constructed with newly-designed, watertight compartments and remotely-operated electronic watertight doors. Engineers hailed the mighty ship as “unsinkable!”

The Titanic’s sinking was such an American tragedy. Many know the story because it was turned into an award- winning film in the late 1990’s. Though the sinking of the Titanic took place so long ago, it remains in the collective American consciousness. People still honor the memory of this steam ship to this day.

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Great work, Avery. I love learning about the history of the Titanic! Keep it up! – Mckenna , Madison, WI (2017-04-18 18:44)