32 Incredible Titanic Facts You Won’t Believe
The Titanic is without question the most iconic ship of all time. The largest ship in the world at the time and thought by many to be practically unsinkable, the ship’s demise ensured its passage into the realm of legend.
Here are some mind-bending facts about the ship and the tragedy that befell it on its maiden voyage.
When it entered service in 1912, the R.M.S. Titanic was the largest passenger ship in the history of the world. It measured 883 feet long and was the largest man-made moving object on Earth.
(Image: Titanic prepares to launch, courtesy of Belfast Telegraph)
The numbers of those who did not survive the sinking of Titanic are staggering:
Onboard: 2,224 total, 710 survived, 1514 lost (32% survived, 68% lost)
Crew: 908 total, 212 survived, 696 lost (23% survived, 77% lost)
Passengers: 1,316 total, 498 survived, 818 lost (38% survived, 62% lost)
The numbers by passage class (remember that First Class cabins were higher up and Third Class cabins were near the bottom of the ship):
First Class: 325 total, 202 survived, 123 lost (62% survived, 38% lost)
Second Class: 285 total, 118 survived, 167 lost (41% survived, 59% lost)
Third Class: 706 total, 178 survived, 528 lost (25% survived, 75% lost)
There were 109 children onboard Titanic. 56 of them survived and 53 lost (51% survived, 49% lost).
Merseyside Maritime Museum
The price of a ticket on Titanic in 1912:
First Class: $4,350
Second Class: $1,750
Third Class: $30
Take this fact for what it’s worth: In 1898, 14 years prior to Titanic, author Morgan Robertson wrote a novel called Futility: The Wreck of the Titan.
His story was about the largest ship ever built hitting an iceberg in the Atlantic ocean on a cold night in April. The fictional ship was named Titan, and his description of the ship and its circumstances were incredibly close to the real-life Titanic. Both ships were called “unsinkable”.
R.M.S. stands for both “Royal Merchant Ship” and “Royal Mail Steamer”. At that time, all ships that sailed under the British flag, both military and civilian, carried the letters “R.M.S.”
Of the 885 officers and crew on board, just 23 were female.
Library of Congress
The wealthiest passenger onboard was John Jacob Astor IV, whose net worth was estimated at $85 million (approximately $2 billion today). Astor was traveling with his pregnant wife, who he helped onto a lifeboat but did not board himself. He died when the ship sank.
J.P. Morgan (Library of Congress)
Numerous people purchased tickets for the journey but did not actually sail. These included Hershey’s chocolate founder Milton S. Hershey; Guglielmo Marconi, inventor of the telegraph; J.P. Morgan, the American banking and steel magnate; and Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt, one of the richest men in America.
Titanic’s massive engines were powered by burning over 600 tons of coal per day. The ship left Southampton with more than 6,000 tons of coal on board.
The coal was shoveled by hand into massive boilers, each containing 3 furnaces. These 159 total furnaces were filled by hand, 24 hours a day, by 176 “stokers” or “firemen”. Each fireman was assigned one boiler and three furnaces. Coal was deposited next to the boiler via a shoot, and the fireman would constantly shovel that coal into the furnace.
Firemen worked in 4-hour shifts in incredibly hot, dirty conditions. They would get an 8-hour break between shifts. Because it was so hot (120 °F or 49 °C), most would work in undershirts and shorts. The few that made it off the ship had to brave the 28 °F (−2 °C) weather in just those scanty clothes.
Titanic boasted four massive funnels or stacks from which the engines expelled smoke. Only three of these funnels were operations–the fourth only operated as an air vent and was added to a few ocean liners to make them look more powerful.
Surviving crew members arriving back in England
421 men and women were employed as stewards in the Victualling Department on the Titanic. These stewards are what today we would refer to as waiters, waitresses and maids. Of the 421, only about 60 survived.
Bellboys on the ship helped carry passenger luggage and perform various other functions. Most were teenage boys, some as young as 14. Figures vary, but there were as many as 50 bellboys aboard Titanic. Not one of them tried to enter a lifeboat–many survivors gave accounts of the bellboys smoking and joking with passengers. None survived.
On the B Deck of the ship, Italian businessman Luigi Gatti owned the à la Carte Restaurant which catered to Titanic’s first class passengers. Gatti also owned the same restaurant on Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic, as well as two other restaurants in London. He was aboard Titanic for its maiden voyage.
Of his full staff of 66 people, only one male clerk and two female cashiers survived. Gatti himself was among those who were lost.
According to some reports, employees of the restaurant had been locked in their quarters by the ship’s stewards to prevent them from rushing to the lifeboats. However, this has never been confirmed.
The Ritz hotel in London is thought to be the inspiration for Titanic’s interior, which included a Turkish bath, gym, pool, squash court, and kennel for first class dogs.
The ship’s two grand staircases were some of its most prominent features and were only accessible to first class passengers. These gorgeous staircases descended an incredible five levels into the ship, plus two more as regular staircases.
Much of the loss of life resulted from the fact that Titanic only carried enough lifeboats for 1,178 people, less than half the number of people onboard. However, that was more lifeboats than were legally required at the time.
The ship made two stops after leaving Southampton: at Cherbourg in northern France, and Cobh (then Queenstown) in Ireland.
New York Times
The ship’s captain, Edward J. Smith, had captained several other White Star Line ships and was supposed to retire after this voyage. He went down with the ship. His last words to the crew were reportedly, “Well boys, do your best for the women and children, and look out for yourselves.”
In the four days after the ship left its final port of call, Titanic received multiple warnings about icebergs and sea ice in the north Atlantic.
The lookouts in the crow’s nest did not have binoculars with them–they had inadvertently been locked away and no key was onboard the ship. Some speculate binoculars would have helped avert the disaster, others say weather and temperature conditions would have rendered binoculars useless on the night Titanic sank.
This photo was taken on April 16, 1912, the day after Titanic sunk. It was shot by the chief steward of the Prinz Adalbert. The photo was accompanied by a written statement claiming there was red paint on the side of the iceberg.
The infamous iceberg was estimated to be 100 feet tall and probably originated from a glacier in Greenland and then floated south through the frigid Atlantic waters.
When the iceberg was spotted, First Officer William McMaster Murdoch ordered the ship to make an emergency turn, but the ship was too large and its momentum too great to turn in such a short time. Many experts speculate that if Titanic had hit the iceberg head-on, the ship would have survived the collision.
Replica of Titanic’s giant, beautiful clock (titanicclock.com)
Just 30 seconds elapsed between the time the iceberg was first spotted and the moment the ship made contact with it.
Willy Stöwer, Wikimedia Commons
The Titanic sank 2 hours and 40 minutes after hitting the iceberg.
The ship had an eight-man orchestra, which consisted of two separate ensembles: a quintet that played at mealtimes and other occasions, and a trio that played at the A La Carte and Cafe Parisian restaurants.
After Titanic struck the iceberg, the band members gathered and played music to help keep the passengers calm as they were loaded into the lifeboats. They played for more than two hours. Many survivors said the band continued to play until the very end.
According the account of one second-class passenger:
“Many brave things were done that night, but none were more brave than those done by men playing minute after minute as the ship settled quietly lower and lower in the sea. The music they played served alike as their own immortal requiem and their right to be recalled on the scrolls of undying fame.”
It’s estimated that once Titanic dropped beneath the water’s surface, it probably took about 15 minutes for her to sink to her final resting place at the bottom of the ocean.
Crowd awaiting Titanic survivors (Library of Congress)
There were 8 ships that assisted in gathering more than 300 of Titanic’s dead from the icy Atlantic waters:
CS Mackay-Bennett (307 dead)
CS Minia (17)
CGS Montmagny (4)
RMS Oceanic (3)
SS Algerine (1)
SS Ilford (1)
SS Ottowa (1)
Upon recovery, the bodies of 209 identified and unidentified victims of the sinking were brought back to Halifax, Nova Scotia. 59 were returned to their countries of origin, 121 were buried in Fairview Lawn Cemetery; 19 in the Roman Catholic Mount Olivet Cemetery; and 10 in the Jewish Baron de Hirsch Cemetery. The remaining bodies were either picked up by family members or buried at sea.
(Sault Ste. Marie Evening News)
Several local newspapers started a “Just Missed It Club” to gather reports of people who’d nearly sailed on Titanic. The exercise quickly turned into a macabre joke, with one Ohio paper claiming more than 118,000 people had “escaped death because they missed the Titanic or changed their minds a moment before sailing time.”
Titanic’s last living survivor died in 2009. Elizabeth Gladys Millvina Dean two months old when Titanic set sail and was the ship’s youngest passenger.
Millvina Dean was on the Titanic with her father, mother and brother. They traveled as third-class passengers and were emigrating to Kansas, where her father was to going to be co-owner of a tobacco shop with his cousin. Dean, her mother, and her brother were among the first third-class passengers to escape. Her father did not survive.
Dean’s brother died on April 14, 1992, the 80th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking. Millvina Dean died in 2009 at the age of 97. She was cremated and her ashes were scattered from a launch at the docks in Southampton where the Titanic set sail.
Cal State University, Fullerton
After an extensive search, the wreck of the Titanic was finally discovered in 1985 by Robert Ballard and his crew. The ship lies 370 miles off the coast of Newfoundland, under more than 12,000 feet of water. That’s more than 2 miles below the surface.
A private dive company, Deep Ocean Expeditions (DOE), used a Russian-built Mir submersible to take paying tourists down to see the wreck of the Titanic.
The company conducted more than 200 tours between between 1998 and 2012. The total trip took 12 days, and each dive lasted between 10 and 12 hours. That’s 2 hours to descend, 6-8 hours to tour the wreck, and 2 hours to return to the surface from the bottom of the ocean.
The price tag for this incredible journey? $59,000 per person.
Blue Star Line
An Australian billionaire named Clive Palmer has plans to build an exact replica of Titanic. The new ship will be slightly wider, have some modern technological updates–and obviously carry more lifeboats–but is otherwise planned to be identical to the original.
Titanic II is supposed to make its maiden voyage from China to Dubai in 2018.
If you like all things maritime, you will enjoy these underwater discoveries that are too bizarre to believe.