The Chronicles

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Passengers

Titanic People of Color Joseph Laroche, born in Haiti, trained as an engineer in France. Unable to work in Europe because of his interracial marriage, he and his family were returning to Haiti. He perished but saved his family. Click here for Untold Stories of the Titanic: The Only Black Passenger....

Titanic Veiled LivesIn the early 20th century, non-traditional relationships, although not openly recognized, were quietly accepted in the upper classes; prodding into the personal lives of brilliant and distinguished people was considered unseemly....
Violet JessopViolet Constance Jessop worked as a stewardess on all three White Star liners, Olympic, Titanic and Britannic. After Titanic’s collision, she was ordered into a lifeboat to look after passengers and a seemingly abandoned baby, whose mother was later found aboard the rescue ship Carpathia....

William Stead, Reformer William Stead was an investigative journalist who worked for justice for women and children. President William Howard Taft invited him to speak at the International Conference on World Peace and International Arbitration on April 21, 1912. Stead accepted and boarded Titanic in Southampton….

Crew & Clergy

The Victualling Crew The needs of a transatlantic liner are similar to those of a small town--but one that is being steered and driven through the sea at over 25 miles per hour. Titanic’s victualling crew of more than 500 stewards and stewardesses was the largest department aboard ship. It took care of the crew and all three classes of passengers....
Titanic Black GangIt took the skill and brawn of the men firing the boilers to keep coal-powered transatlantic liners on schedule. The ship’s speed depended on the endurance of the men who made steam. Known as the “black gang,” this group, working 4 hours on, 8 off, consisted of trimmers, coal passers, water tenders and firemen (or stokers)....
Titanic ClergySome in religious quarters claimed that pride in a material object resulted in God teaching men how weak they really are. But the clergy on the ship, faced with the awful reality on board, courageously comforted and gave absolution to those at their time of death....

Officers

Becoming an OfficerYoung Britons seeking to become ship Masters in the British Merchant Marine first had to serve as indentured apprentices. To learn their profession, apprentices as young as 13 or 14 went to sea in deep-water sail—a dangerous environment....
Captain SmithEdward J. Smith was born in 1850 in Staffordshire, England, to a working-class family that owned a pottery shop. Drawn to the sea, he left the steam forge that he'd joined after school to become an apprentice on the full-rigged ship Senator Weber....

Chief Officer WildeHenry T. Wilde was an officer in the Royal Naval Reserve in 1902, specializing in gunnery and torpedo tactics. He served on a number of warships and, widely considered an exemplary officer, he served as Second Officer on the liner RMS Cedric, the largest ship in the world in 1903....

 

First Officer MurdochWilliam M. Murdoch's sea-faring grandfather, James Murdoch, was swept off his ship by one wave and deposited back on board by the next. He lived until 1900, but the sea took the lives of two sons and two grandsons, including William on April 15, 1912, aboard Titanic....

Second Officer LightollerWhen Charles H. Lightoller turned 14, he signed aboard the big, three skysail yarder Primrose Hill. As a young apprentice, he was given the highest and lightest sails to set and furl. His first trip introduced him to the difficulties of handling a big square rigger....

Third Officer PitmanAs Third Officer aboard Titanic, Herbert J. Pitman’s duties included helping supervise the deck crew and the quartermasters and relieving senior watch officers. Like other officers, he also was responsible for determining Titanic’s position during his watch....

 

Fourth Officer BoxhallThe wireless operators needed an accurate position to send a distress call. Joseph G. Boxhall calculated Titanic’s location by dead reckoning, estimating the distance traveled using the stellar position taken earlier that evening and the time multiplied by the ship’s speed....
Fifth Officer LoweHarold G. Lowe ran away from home at about age 14, when his father tried to apprentice him to a business man. Saying, “I wouldn’t work for nobody for nothing,” he went to sea aboard coastwise sailing vessels as an ordinary seaman....
Sixth Officer MoodyEarly in his career, James P. Moody wrote, "Lots of people have put in their letters how they would love to be seeing all the beautiful places I am seeing, but I tell them to stop at home or else invent a floating palace which doesn't roll and can't possibly sink."

Building the Titanic

Titanic ClergyWhen a ship, making her way through heavy seas, is supported by waves at bow and stern, the hull sags midships. When the wave is midships, the bow and stern sag. As ships became larger, stresses are amplified, making good riveting paramount....
Titanic Funnel ProfileA subtle characteristic of RMS Titanic and her sisters is that the two middle funnels were about a foot taller than the two end funnels. This was to compensate for the sheer of the hull and avert an uneven profile when the ship was viewed broadside....
Turbulent timesThe Titanic was built in Belfast, Ireland. Most of the 20,000 workers were Protestant, with only about 300 Catholics, who were generally in menial positions. After the disaster, Protestants claimed credit for building Titanic, while blaming Catholics for the tragedy, while Catholics considered Titanic a wholly Protestant debacle....
Titanic LaunchingAt the time of launch, the hull is structurally complete but empty. It must be as light as possible, yet be strong enough to withstand the stresses imposed on it by its first trip into the water. Only after the ship is safely waterborne can workers begin to install the machinery, accommodations and other systems....
The Guarantee GroupHarland & Wolff of Belfast employed about 15,000 workers with 3,000 engaged in building Titanic. Eight exceptional employees were chosen to tend to the ship on her maiden voyage. Known as the Guarantee Group, they were headed by Thomas Andrews, one of the principle naval architects responsible for designing Titanic....
Thomas Andrews, Naval Architect Thomas Andrews wanted to improve survivability of the ships he designed and suggested a double hull and watertight bulkheads that extended higher in the hull. However, these suggestions were overruled. Ironically, they were incorporated into Titanic’s sister ship, Olympic, when she was rebuilt after the disaster....

Technical Matters

Titanic Bulkhead Spacing“The captain can, by simply moving an electric switch, instantly close the doors throughout and make the vessel practically unsinkable.” The midsummer issue of the 1911 British publication, The Shipbuilder, was dedicated to the new White Star superliners Olympic and Titanic....
The Titanic and Her Sisters, ManeuverabilityOne of the inquiries after the accident addressed was how quickly Titanic needed to turn to avoid the iceberg. Their hurried investigation determined that Titanic had insufficient rudder area and inadequate maneuverability to avoid the collision....
Steering SimulatorThe technical portion of A Quiet Sea will incorporate a steering simulator to reproduce Titanic’s steering and engine response characteristics. Wartsila Manufacturing has provided initial pricing for the unit and Webb Institute, a local naval architectural university, has been asked to provide further data....

 

Titanic Hull FailureIt wasn’t until Titanic was discovered in 1986 by a Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute expedition, led by Robert Ballard, that it became known for certain that the ship experienced a total structural failure and broke in two....

Aftermath

Titanic CarpathiaThe Carpathia avoided six large icebergs and never slowed. She lunged ahead at 17 knots, shuddering with the effort, faster than she would ever go again. At 4 am, they reached the spot. A dazzling and empty sea lay before the captain, where Titanic should have been....

 

Fessenden AftermathThe loss of RMS Titanic sparked numerous ideas and inventions to make ship travel safer. They included detachable sections of deck that could be launched and serve as floating rafts, a string of large buoys chained across the Atlantic so ships in distress could tie up to them....
Fessenden AftermathPractically from the time the sea closed over RMS Titanic, the disaster was the source of countless articles, books, plays and films. Three famous writers addressed the tragedy in poetry and essays: Thomas Hardy, Joseph Conrad, and Ben Hecht....