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RMS Titanic

RMS Titanic: The Ship of Dreams

We are proud to devoted this web page to the legendary sinking of the RMS Titanic, "The Ship of Dreams" and all who were lost.

East Coast Diving | Shipwreck Corner | Shipwreck Gallery


The Story of the Titanic

Music Enjoy listening "My Heart Will Go On" the famed Titanic song.

What is, perhaps, the single most famous shipwreck of all time, the wreck of the RMS Titanic. On the fateful night of April 15, 1912, the RMS Titanic collided with an iceberg that sent her to a deep and cold watery grave. Her wreckage lies in 12,460 feet of water in the North Atlantic, a lonely stretch of water several hundred miles east of Nova Scotia. In 1985, her remains were discovered by a Franco-American expedition led by the world-renowned oceanographer Bob Ballard.

Let’s discuss and look at the men and women, and their equipment, that made this discovery possible. We’ll also talk about more recent expeditions to the Titanic, and look at some of the artifacts that have been recovered from the site. We will also talk a little about the controversy over disturbing this wreck. But first, let’s review the story of this magnificent vessel and its horrific tragedy.

White Star Line LogoThe Titanic was built in Belfast, Ireland, under the direction of J. Bruce Ismay, co-owner of the White Star Line. On July 31, 1908, the final contracts were signed for the construction of Titanic and her sister ships the Olympic and the Britannic. The Titanic as her name implies was enormous. According to the original specifications, she would be 882 feet 9 inches in length, 94 feet wide and 100 feet high to the Bridge level. Construction continued in various phases until the Titanic was ready for her maiden voyage on April 10, 1912.

Let’s take a closer look at the activities of this fateful day.

At about 7:30 a.m., Captain Edward J. Smith boards the Titanic along with his crew. The Titanic is in Southampton, England, having made a short sail from the shipyards in Ireland as a test.

At 8:00 a.m., the crew is summoned and a brief lifeboat drill is conducted using only two starboard boats (number 11 and 15).

Between 9:30 and 11:00 a.m., passengers are permitted to board the ship. As depicted in the recent Movie “Titanic”, the boarding for first class passengers is quite a different process than for those destined for steerage. Wealthy people enjoyed lavish accommodations, fine food, recreation and breathtaking views of the Ocean. Second class and steerage passengers were boarded below decks, often in cramped quarters. Many were immigrants hoping to begin a new life in America.

At 11:30 a.m., the First class passengers are escorted to their cabins.

By noon on April 10, 1912, the Titanic sets sail. Casting off from the docks, she is towed by several tugboats and is escorted to the open ocean.

At 5:30 p.m., the Titanic arrives at Cherbourg, France to pick up more passengers. By 8:00 p.m., she takes on 274 additional passengers and sets sail for an overnight trip to Queensland, Ireland. By 11:30 a.m. the next day, 120 more passengers are boarded.

At 1:30 p.m., on April 11, 1912, the Titanic’ anchor is lifted for the final time. Once more several tugboats escort to the open ocean where she will depart on her first transatlantic voyage to New York. Of course, this will be the last time she will ever see port again.

An estimate of 2,227 people was believed to be aboard the Titanic before her ill-fated disaster. The exact number passengers are not known due to various discrepancies in the crew and passenger lists.

The story of Titanic’ final days at sea is legendary and of course, her sinking is one of the most captivating and tragic stories of modern times.

Between April 11 and 12, the Titanic covered 386 miles of open-ocean, the weather is calm and clear.

Between April 12 and 13, the Captain decides to increase her speed, which allows her to cover 519 miles. The crew started to receive ice warnings, but that was expected and was not considered unusual for April.

On Sunday, April 14, 1912, the Titanic began to pick up more frequent iceberg warnings being observed from nearby vessels. For instance, at 1:42 p.m., an iceberg warning from the vessel Baltic is received which tells of large quantities of field ice about 250 miles ahead of the Titanic. The message is given to Captain Smith, who later gives it to Bruce Ismay who was aboard for her maiden voyage. He puts the message in his pocket.

At 5:30 that evening, the captain slightly alters the ship’s course, perhaps to try to avoid the ice.

At 7:30 p.m., three warning messages from the Californian concerning large icebergs are received. The messages are once again relayed to the Captain, who is attending a dinner party. The ice is now only 50 miles ahead.

At 9:20 p.m., the Captain retires for the night, asking only to be wakened if necessary.

At 11:40 p.m., the Titanic is moving at 20 knots (23.59 mi/hr). The air temperature is close to 32 degrees under a cloudless sky. The water temperature is 31 degrees. Suddenly, the Titanic’ lookouts spot an iceberg, towering 50-60 feet above the water only 500 yards away. Immediately, the warning bells are sounded and messages relayed to the bridge.

Sixth officer Moody is on the bridge at the time and acknowledges the warning. The order to turn the ship “hard-a-starboard” is given along with the order to stop the engines. The levers to close the watertight doors below the waterline are activated. The Titanic begins to veer to port but it is too late. Titanic strikes the iceberg along the starboard bow side of the ship. The iceberg retreats into the night, having inflicted a mortal wound on this great ship. A mere 37 seconds have elapsed from the moment the iceberg was sighted.

The Titanic is DOOMED!

In ten minutes, water has risen 14 feet above the keel. The first five compartments are taking on water. Boiler room number 6 is flooded in eight feet of water.

By midnight, the mailroom, 24 feet above the keel, begins taking on water. The captain asks for and receives an assessment of the situation: The Titanic will stay afloat for 1 to 1 hours only.

The Captain orders a distress signal sent out over the wireless. The ship’s position: 41 degrees 46 minutes North, 50 degrees 14 minutes West.

Map of Titanic' Location
Diagram Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons
By 12:05 a.m., April 15, 1912, the Squash court, 32 feet above the keel, is awash. Orders are given to uncover the lifeboats. The grim reality of the situation is beginning to take shape. There is only enough room for 1,178 passengers in the lifeboats, but there are 2,227 people on board.

Between 12:15 and 2:17 a.m., several ships report having heard the Titanic’ distress signals. These include the Titanic’ sister ship the Olympic, who is 500 miles away. The Mount Temple, Frankfort, Birma, Baltic, Virginian and the Carpathia all attempt to come about and render assistance.

At around 12:15 a.m., the ship’s band begins to play music in the first class lounge on “A deck”…this of course, is a famous and ultimately surrealistic image!

At 12:25 a.m., the order to begin loading lifeboats is given and by 12:45, the first boat is lowered away. It leaves with 28 people, but it has a capacity to hold 68.

The loading of passengers into lifeboats soon degenerates into chaos. More and more lifeboats leave, most of them are less than fully loaded. Panic now grips the passengers as many begin to realize the desperate situation at hand.

At 1:45 a.m., the last words ever heard from the titanic are received by the Carpathia, which is steaming at full speed to try to render assistance. These words are: “Engine room full up to the boilers”

At 2:10 a.m., with water now only ten feet below the promenade deck, Captain Smith relieves the wireless operators from their duties. One of them, a man by the name of Phillips, continues to send messages. The last message was sent at 2:17 a.m.

The Captain finally states that “Its every man for himself” and retreats to the bridge to await the end.

At this time, the Titanic’ bow plunges underwater. By 2:20 a.m., the broken off stern section settles below the water and the ship begins its long, lonely descent into the darkness of the icy Atlantic. The Times Dispatch Newspaper - Titanic Headlines

Out of 2,220 that booked passage, 1,500 die as a result of the sinking, with 705 people surviving.

The Times Dispatch: Click here to see a larger view of the image... zoom image

There are hundreds of individual stories linked to this tragic event:

  • The band who played bravely into the night while the ship was sinking around them.
  • The brave men who ushered “women and children first” onto the lifeboats, knowing they themselves would not be saved.
  • The Captain who reluctantly ordered the ship’s speed increased…and who was destined to go down with his ship.
  • The second class and steerage passengers who were locked below decks until the First class passengers were taken care of.
  • Husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, children who would forever be separated by death.
  • Bruce Ismay, who managed to save himself aboard a lifeboat and who originally, managed the construction of titanic.
  • The survivors, all of whom must carry the memory of this night with them all the rest of their lives.
  • And of course, the 1500 people who died in the North Atlantic early in the morning April 15, 1912.

As a result of this sinking, several profound changes were made in the shipping industry. Of course, the most significant was the pronouncement from the British Board of Inquiry that from then on there would be enough life boats for all passengers on board. In addition, in April of 1913, an International Ice Patrol was established which, under the direction of the US Coast Guard, would guard the sea lanes of the North Atlantic.

The tragic story of the sinking of the Titanic has become legendary. Through books and movies, generations have come to know and understand her final days at sea. However, it wasn’t until 1985, when Dr. Robert Ballard, using state of the art technology, finally discovered the final resting spot of this once proud luxury liner.


Diagram Courtesy: JASON Press Office

The quest to find the Titanic was made up of a joint American-French expedition team. On paper, their strategy sounded simple. The French would tow a deep-sea sonar device in a grid pattern over the general area of the sinking until the wreck was found. Dr. Ballard would deploy Argo, a deep-towed, deep-sea video vehicle.

Of course, despite Titanic’ immense size, she would merely be a speck in the vast North Atlantic Ocean. Days and weeks went by, and the difficulties of towing a heavy device 12,500 below the surface became evident. If the ship towing the video sled moved too fast, the friction of the water would cause Argo to “kite” in the water, losing its ability to focus its cameras properly.

Then, early in the morning of September 1, 1985, as Argo was being towed over endless stretches of featureless mud, the weary operators suddenly began to see something. It was close to 1:00 a.m. when they finally got what they were looking for:

Wreckage!

In fact, the first recognizable piece was one of the ship’s boilers. Still, no Titanic…just a small, tantalizing piece!

However, the scientists and engineers aboard all knew they were close. As Argo continued its vigilant search above the ocean floor, larger and larger pieces of wreckage began to appear. They were over the “debris field”, a section of ocean floor covered with loose items from the Titanic. The time now was approaching 2:00 a.m.…almost the same time as when the ship actually sank!

For the safety of the vehicle, Argo was pulled up from the bottom. The main wreck had not yet been found, but everyone knew it was very nearby. Ironically, it was not the fancy deep sea technology that actually pinpointed the main wreck, but an old fashioned echo sounder on board the research vessel which did the trick the next day. With the exact location found, Argo was re-deployed and video images of the wreck seen for the first time since its sinking decades earlier began to return to the surface.

Alvin Submersible
ROV Called JASON Jr.

The expedition of 1985 ended shortly thereafter. Ballard returned the following year to conduct a more exhaustive study of the wreck. In 1986, a manned submersible named Alvin, would be used to take men down and view the actual wreck and for the first time since its sinking. Aboard Alvin would be Jason Jr., a remotely operated vehicle, which could be deployed from the sub to penetrate deeper inside the wreck itself. Of course, with the exact site of the wreck known, finding the Titanic was easy this time.e.

Alvin & ROV Images: Courtesy: JASON Press Office
Click here to see a larger view of the image... zoom image: Alvin | Click here to see a larger view of the image... zoom image: Jason Jr

Descending 12,000 feet in a submersible like Alvin is no picnic! Cramped quarters make the job difficult, not to mention the long time it takes to descend to the bottom. Travel time from the surface to the bottom averages about 1 1/2 hours. Still, using the combination of submersible technology and ROV equipment, a stunning array of images of information about the wreck have now been brought to the surface for all the world to see. Ballard has since focused his energies on furthering the cause of science and education.

Others, however, have returned to the Titanic.

In 1994, United States Federal Court granted “salvor-in-possession” rights to RMS Titanic, Inc. The court award includes the exclusive rights to own objects recovered from the wreck as well as exclusive rights to photograph the site.

During expeditions conducted in 1987, 1993, 1994 and 1996, RMS Titanic, Inc. has recovered more than 5,000 artifacts from the wreck site. These artifacts were carefully preserved and have been put on display for the public in several locations. Some of these artifacts are photographed here and it is quite sobering to see these items, knowing the tragedy that has befallen their original owners.

Recently, RMS Titanic, Inc. actually sponsored a cruise to the wreck site where paying customers could actually witness the raising of a large piece of the Titanic from the bottom. With the cruise ship on site, passengers waited eagerly to catch a glimpse of the recovered artifact. But efforts failed, and the piece that was to be recovered returned to the bottom after the cables holding it in place snapped.

There is some controversy raging over the recovery of these artifacts.

Some, Bob Ballard included, feel that the Titanic is a graveyard and a memorial to all those who died on the evening of April 15, 1912. By disturbing the site and removing artifacts, they feel that the sanctity and dignity of the Titanic is being compromised. Others, like RMS Titanic, Inc., feel that the wreck is an artifact of history and the pieces recovered only help to further educate others about the Titanic. They also maintain that the sea is slowing destroying these artifacts and that left in place, over time they will vanish forever. They also feel their efforts to salvage these artifacts will help to preserve the Titanic and its memory forever.

Regardless of your position on this, the story of the Titanic is a compelling one. Today, with the release of the hugely successful movie and Broadway musical, Titanic fever has gripped the public like never before. We only ask that you remember the victims of this tragedy as you enjoy these recent works of art.

U.S. moves to protect Titanic wreckage -- Treaty would regulate future visits to historic hulk  (Full Story)
The treaty is the result of negotiations involving the United States, Britain, Canada and France -- four of the prominent governmental players in the Titanic's fate. Posted: MSNBC, 5:58 p.m. ET, Friday, June. 18, 2004

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1998 Expedition
Research & Recovery

RMS Titanic, Inc. is conducting its fifth expedition to the wreck of the Titanic. Follow their journey during the expedition, view daily reports and exclusive photos from the wreck site. An online calendar is available to help plan your own journey in your quest to discover the mysteries of the Titanic!

  • View the BIG PIECE, a broken portion of the ship’s hull that had fallen into the debris field near the stern section of Titanic' wreck. more...

Photomosaics(TM) are mosaics made from photographs rather than solid colored tiles. There are many versions of Titanic PhotomosaicsTitanic Photomosaic - Stamp Commemorative Sheet on the web today and can be seen as posters, framed pictures as well as stamp commemorative sheets.

This eight-stamp commemorative sheet features the Titanic in a photomocaic collage. Photomosaics is a method of arranging thousands of tiny photographs that when viewed from a distance, combine to form a singler larger image. The photographs used for this pieces consists of marine life, ocean and beach shots to make up the Titanic.

Stamp Commemorative Sheet Photomosaic
Click here to see a larger view of the image... zoom image

Special Notice: As for you camera buffs, you may have to leave your camera at home. Photography is not permitted in the exhibition area where the artifacts are displayed.

The Titanic whistles have sounded again.
For more information visit the RMS Titanic, Inc. website.

Hear the whistles
Courtesy of RMS Titanic, Inc.

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In Memoriam:
Ralph B. White

In Memoriam: On February 4, 2008, Ralph Bradshaw White died in Glendale, California from complications of an aortic aneurysm. He was 60.
White was an award winning cinematographer with hundreds of movies and television programs to his resume, but he is perhaps most famous for his ground breaking experiences diving and filming the wreck of the RMS Titanic in 12,000 feet of seawater.

After documenting the expedition that found the wreck of the Titanic, he participated in, and co-directed, a subsequent expedition to photograph the wreck more extensively and to recover over 5,000 artifacts from the wreck’s debris field. He would return again in 1991 as the submersible cameraman for the IMAX film "Titanica" and was the expedition leader and second unit cameraman for James Cameron’s Oscar winning film "Titanic". All told, White made 35 dives to the wreck of the Titanic in his long and storied career.

Ralph White was a true pioneer in the science of deep water cinematography. Through his work, and his captivating personal appearances at various conventions and dive conferences, Ralph White’s lifelong devotion to capturing the mysteries of the deep ocean have enlightened millions to the fascinating environment at the true bottom of the sea.

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Multimedia Programs

These programs are generally provided for the New York area. Contact Eco-Photo Explorers for more detailed information about available programs outside the New York area or the programs listed below. These programs can also be custom tailored to your needs.

  • The RMS Titanic…Her Final Days - Join Eco-Photo Explorers as they recall the tragic history of the RMS Titanic and the exciting search for her remains. The show will also feature discussions on the technology used to find the wreck and will examine the current controversy over the recovery of artifacts from this site.
  • Long Island Shipwrecks - Special Edition - This special edition program blends "Long Island Shipwrecks" as well as the "The RMS Titanic...Her Final Days" program into a well rounded presentation of some of the most well know shipwrecks in the New York area as well as touching on the most famous shipwreck of all time. 

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Titanic Links:

Titanic Stories
RMS Titanic News
Titanic Layout
The 3D Titanic
Titanic's Lost Sister
RMS Titanic
Titanic Historical Society
Titanic Research and Modeling Association
The Grave of the Titanic
Explore the Titanic - Pilot your own sub
WebTitanic - HMHS Britannic | RMS Olympic | RMS Carpathia | RMS Lusitania | Californian

RMS Titanic - from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
RMS Titanic Archive - Search Newspaper Articles about Titanic in more than 15,000 Historical Newspaper Pages.

Encyclopedia Titanica - features illustrated biographies of thousands of passengers and crew, with photographs, supporting documents, films, and recordings.
Online Titanic Museum - memorial items as well as authentic artifacts removed from the ship prior to her sailing and ultimate demise.

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Available Books & Videos

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      Titanica IMAX Video

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Last update on: December 26, 2011

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