Titanic – 1953

The RMS Note 1 Titanic is a British transatlantic liner of the White Star Line built at the initiative of Joseph Bruce Ismay in 1907. It was designed by architects Alexander Montgomery Carlisle and Thomas Andrews of the shipyards Harland & Wolff . Its construction began in 1909 in Belfast and ended in 1912. It was at the time the most luxurious and the largest liner ever built. He belongs to the Olympic class with his two sister ships , Olympic and Britannic . The hull ofTitanic is equipped with sixteen watertight compartments to protect the ship from waterways or major damage, giving it the reputation of being an “unsinkable” liner and, even today, the contemporary media to present it. as one of the safest ships.

On his maiden voyage, from Southampton to New York via Cherbourg and Cobh (Queenstown at the time), he sank by hitting with his hull before an iceberg to starboard , theat 23 h 40 (local time). He sinks theat 2 h 20 off Newfoundland . Between 1,490 and 1,520 people disappear, making this event one of the greatest maritime disasters in peacetime and the greatest for the time. The tragedy highlights the weaknesses of the ships of the day regarding the limited number of lifeboats and shortcomings in emergency evacuation procedures. The powerful TSF transmitter has called for help, but in controversial conditions, which add to a financial controversy . International conferences will then be organized,

The wreck of Titanic is located onby Professor Robert Ballard . It lies at a depth of 3,843 meters 650 km southeast of Newfoundland. The story of the ship marked the memories, causing the writing of many books (historical or fictional) and the realization of feature films including the film of the same name Titanic by James Cameron , released in 1997 and has produced a significant revival of interest in the liner and its history. The media is returning to the ship on the occasion of the centenary of the sinking in April 2012.


Project and design

The plans of the Titanic .

During the year 1907, to compete with Lusitania and Mauretania , two fast steamers of the Cunard Line , Lord William James Pirrie , associate of the shipyard company Harland & Wolff in Belfast , and Joseph Bruce Ismay , general manager of the company The White Star Line are making the decision to build a series of three cruise ships capable of surpassing those of other competing shipping companies, whether British or German , in comfort, safety and elegance 3 , 4 . Their names, Olympic , Titanicand Gigantic (name mentioned before it is renamed Britannic ) are chosen later 5 . The meeting took place around a dinner at London’s home of Lord Pirrie (in Downshire House, in the upscale neighborhood of Belgravia .

The plans of the Olympic and Titanic 6 (construction Gigantic scheduled to begin later) are drawn in the offices of the shipyard Harland & Wolff studies on Queen’s Island, Belfast , in Northern Ireland 7 . At the head of the operations are Alexander Montgomery Carlisle, General Manager of Shipyards and Manager of Ship Decks, Decorations and Lifesavers and Thomas Andrews , Head of Design and Naval Architect 8 . After Alexander Montgomery Carlisle retired in 1910, Thomas Andrews took his place and becamegeneral manager of construction sites and design d 1 .

This retirement of the architect is caused by a meeting between Lord Pirrie, Ismay and Carlisle on the number of lifeboats, Carlisle wanted 66 lifeboats notwithstanding the qualities and defects of the design of the system of the bulkheads, the The architect was aware that human fabrication could not be unsinkable. A refusal being served to him he slams the door of the building sites 9 .

The , Joseph Bruce Ismay approves the project during a trip to Belfast and signs a letter of agreement with the shipyards 8 . No formal agreement is signed, the links between the two companies is very strong for decades to 2 . Aware of the importance of the event, Pirrie hires the photographer Robert Welch who is responsible for immortalizing the highlights of construction in the progress of the work. Quality is not neglected, and the best materials are ordered d 3 .

Construction and tests

The shipyards Harland & Wolff in Belfast are responsible for the construction of the liner. It is docked next to his sister ship , the RMS Olympic , started four months earlier.

Hull construction

Shipyard employees Harland & Wolff are finishing their day’s work. We can see at the bottom the Titanic and its scaffolding. You can also see the bow of the Nomadic on the left.

In the fall of 1908, plans were completed and special supplies and equipment not available by Harland & Wolff shipyards were ordered. Lord Pirrie is expanding the shipyards, including the construction of a huge portico which is the largest scaffolding in the world at the time (256 m long, 28.50 m wide and 52.60 m high as well as cranes of 69.50 m ) c 1 . TheThe keel consists of many parts of the Olympic is laid on the slipway o 2. It bears the yard number 400, the 400 th command received by Harland and Wolff b 1 , c 2 .

The , The keel Titanic identical to the Olympic is placed on the shim o 3, the construction being the number 401 d 4 . The work progressed very quickly and two years later, in the spring of 1911, the hull of the Titanic was completed. It consists of 2,000 sheets 2.5 to 3.8 cm thick, 3.00 m long and 2.00 m high maintained by 3 million rivets 10 , d 3


Titanic profile .

The Olympic was launched October 20, 1910 and Titanic the, the day of the birthday of Lord Pirrie who attends the launching of the liner in the presence of 100 000 people: the employees of the shipyards and their families, visitors, some personalities and the press are present c 3 . To help the Titanic “slip” into the water, 20 tons of tallow, dung oil, whale fat and soap are spread out 2 cm thick along the holds 11 . The ship is not baptized with the traditional bottle of champagne: it is a habit within the shipyards, Pirrie considering that a problem in the ceremony can lead to superstitions among passengers and crews d 5 , Note 2 .

The Titanic , having successfully launched, is slowed down and stopped by six anchors , meanwhile retained by twenty-three hawsers steel 80 tons each, is towed and put at the dock by five tugs d 6 . After the launch, guests, press representatives and personalities are invited to a lunch at the Grand Central Hotel Belfast . On the menu, no less than six dishes and five desserts or appetizers of French cuisine are served. As for Joseph Bruce Ismay and John Pierpont Morgan Note 3 , they leave the meal to go to the Olympicwho must undergo sea trials d 7 .


The stern of the Titanic in the shipyards Harland & Wolff.

Between June 1911 and March 1912, more than 3,000 professionals (mechanics, electricians , plumbers , cabinet-makers , painters , decorators , etc. ) work and equip the Titanic with the latest naval techniques and decorate it with decorative elements and sumptuous furniture. On September 18, 1911, the date of the inaugural voyage of the liner, March 20, 1912 d 8 .

But on September 20, following a collision between the Royal Navy cruiser , Hawke and the Olympic during its fifth transatlantic crossing, the Titanic must be moved and put in dry dock. Some of the 14,000 construction workers are assigned to repair the hull of the Olympic , which considerably delays the construction of the ship c 4 . The White Star Line postpones the inaugural trip to April 10th . On the 30th of November, once the repairs of the hull of the Olympic finished, this one resumes its service and the Titanicjoined his quay where his armament continues. In January 1912, the 4 chimneys were installed and on February 3, the 3 imposing bronze propellers, bolted on a steel hub, were placed on the ship (2 side port and starboard three-bladed propellers of 38 tonnes and 7.20 m diameter, 1 quadrupal central propeller of 22 tons and 5.20 m in diameter). On March 24, 1912, the Titanic was registered in Liverpool , its home port, although it never sailed in the waters of it Note 4 , d 9 .


The Titanic leaves for his trials at sea on April 2, 1912.

The , 78 drivers and trimmers as well as 41 officers and crew members are on board. At 6 pm 0 , the Titanic left her dock, pulled by four tugs belonging to the Red Funnel Line, under the command of Edward Smith , former commander of the Olympic of 10 . All day the Titanic conducts speed and maneuverability tests (emergency stops on his wanders , measurements at different speeds maneuverability qualities). During these tests, the ship shows that it can stop a distance of only three times its length d 11 .

At noon, the engineers, the representatives of the yard and the representatives of the British Ministry of Commerce inaugurate it, having lunch in the dining room of first class . After further tests, the Titanic returns to Belfast to 18 pm . The new ship has fulfilled all the requirements of the British government, Francis Carruthers, the Inspector Board of Trade , signs the certificate of airworthiness o 131428, valid for a period of one year to 12 . At about 8 pm , the liner sails and heads for Southampton where it is expected on the night of April 3-4.d 13 .


After traveling the 570 miles separating it, the Titanic arrives at Southampton harbor just before midnight, where six tugboats from the Red Funnel Line await it. The ship docks dock o 44. To accommodate the new ships, the port city had to undergo numerous works c 5 . During the stopover, the chimneys are repainted as well as the port side of the hull. Once completed, the Titanic cost 1.5 million pounds, or 7.5 million US dollars at the time (150 million in the early 2000s ) b 1 .

Inaugural crossing

Main article: Cargo of the Titanic .

Boarding passengers

The Titanic and the City of New York.
Edward John Smith.

The At 12 h 15 , the Titanic sailed from Southampton in England with on board 953 passengers including 31 cross-channel and 889 crew members . There are no less than forty nationalities present aboard the ship. When he left, he almost hit the liner City of New York docked at Pier 38 e 1 . The turbulence caused by the propellers of the Titanic break the moorings of the City of New York , and it quickly approaches the Titanic to a distance of 2 meters e 1 . CommanderEdward Smith then gives the order to put the machines “back all”, which has the effect of pushing the New York e 1 . The Titanicfinally leaves Southampton an hour late c 6 . At 18 h 35 , the Titanic had arrived at Cherbourg in Normandy , 24 passengers disembark and cross-channel 274 ship, mostly st class. However the Titanic remains in the harbor because it can not reach the dock, the bottom is not deep enough for the size of the liner 2. So, as for other ships, two transloaders of the White Star Line , the Nomadic and the Traffic , are responsible for transhipping the 274 passengers who board the Titanic e 2 , c 7 . At 20 h 10 , the ship sailed from Cherbourg to Queenstown (now Cobh ) in Ireland 12 .

The At 11 h 30 , the Titanic arrives in Queenstown where land seven inter-port passengers. 120 passengers board d 14 . Passengers who board at that time are mostly passengers from th class emigrating to the United States . At 13 h 30 , the RMS Titanic leaves Queenstown for New Yorkwith on board 1,324 passengers and 889 crew members Note 5 , to 15 . It is sometimes said that Edward Smithplans to retire after this voyage and that he should therefore take command of the Titanic for this one time e 3 . However, it is sometimes considered that Smith had not yet decided anything 16 : sources suggest that the White Star wanted him to also command the Gigantic , whose commissioning was scheduled for 1914 to 1 .


On 12 April 1912, at 19 h 45 , the Titanic receives a message from Touraine pointing out a dense fog, a thick layer of ice, icebergs and a ship abandoned on several points of the North Atlantic. This message is immediately delivered to Commander Edward Smith d 17 .

In the day of April 13, 1912, the Titanic receives several messages indicating icebergs, growlers (small icebergs of 1 meter by 5) and some ice fields. In the afternoon, a fire is extinguished in the boiler room o 5. It raged for several days (maybe since April 2) and had been found the day of departure. It was not an unusual occurrence on the ships of the time but it was of a rare intensity (due to a firedamp on a coal of low quality delivered because of a strike of minors ) and a dozen men were needed to control it but this coal fire could weaken the walls of this room 18. At 22 h 30 , the ship receives notice from Rappahannock pointing out a thick field ice and several icebergs; the reception of this message is confirmed by an officer b 2 , c 8 .


Main article: Sinking of the Titanic .


Night of the collision
One of the icebergs suspected to be the one that was hit by the Titanic 13 .

The By 21:00, the Titanic has already traveled 1,451 miles (2,687 kilometers). On this day, the Titanic received a dozen messages from several ships, including the Baltic and the Californian , pointing out ice opinion 14 . At 22 h 55 , the Californian , then stuck in ice at 20 miles (about 36 km ) north of the Titanic , sends a message to all the surrounding ships, including the Titanic : it aboard, Jack PhillipsThe wireless operator, interrupts by asking him to shut up, pushing its corresponding cut its radio and go to bed for 19 .

At 23 h 40 , by 41 ° 46  N and 50 ° 14  O 15 , while the Titanic in advance 22.5 knots ( 41.7  km / h ) 16 , the watcher Frederick Fleet installed in the nest-de- The front mast peeps an iceberg straight ahead in the fog and signals it to the bridge . The st officer William Murdoch , then watch officer , trying to turn the ship into portand shut down the machines and demand a complete reverse 9 . Approximately 37 seconds later, the ship hits the iceberg but veers from starboard and the shock made tear sheets and jump rivets thus opening a leak in the hull below the waterline 17 . The watertight doors are then immediately closed by Murdoch to avoid a larger waterway. But the water begins to invade the first five compartments of the boat. But the Titanic can float with up to four of its compartments filled with water c 10 .

Evacuation of passengers

At 0 h 5 , the commander did remove covers boats and remind the crew of 20 . At 0 h 15 , the first emergency call is sent in signal DQA 18 by wireless on the wavelength of 600 meters 19 . At 0 h 25 , the order is given to raise the women and children first into the lifeboats b 3 . At 0 h 45 , the first boat with 28 passengers sprawled against possible 65 b 4 , d 21and the CQD signal is transformed into SOS d 22 . Officers take care of putting women and children first in canoes , and first and second classes, being closer to canoes, have more access to them. But the capacity of the canoesis only 1,178 in total 11 , Footnote 6, and there are about 2,200 people to be rescued.

The boats leave the Titanic at regular intervals, and are mostly half empty. On the port side, second officer Charles Lightoller and Captain Edward Smith only put women and children on board, while on starboard first officer William Murdoch often completed empty places with men. Only two of the twenty canoes will leave at full load. At 2 h 5 , the collapsible canoe D is the last put to sea successfully containing 24 people on board against 47 possible. At regular intervals, up to 1 h 40 , distress rockets are sent. It’s the same for SOS that are sent up to2 h 17 , at which time the water reaches the radio cabin of 23 . The remaining two boats after 2 h 5 , collapsible canoes A and B, located on the roof of the district, descended on the boat deck but the officers do not have enough time, they start to drift when the water invades the front of the bridge and swimmers settle there. About forty people on these last boats will be recovered by other boats b 5 , b 6 .

At 2 h 17 , the orchestra stops playing just before the fall of the chimney according to most accounts. Others, like Archibald Gracie , however, said the musicians stopped playing earlier in the evening b 7 . Shortly after, the large canopy breaks, causing the destruction of the Grand Staircase and giving access to the water to all the rooms in the front. At 2 h 18 , the lights of the Titanic blink one last time and then go off 20 . A moment later, the ship broke in two c 12. While the front sinks, the rear fleet for a few moments and fill with water until it dark at 2 h 20 21 , 22 , 23 . The temperature of the water is then -2 ° C b 8 . Around 3 pm, the boat o 14 controlled by the fifth officer Harold Lowe arrives at the wreck site after dumping its passengers into other boats. Arriving too late, he only fired four men, one of whom died on board the boat. Later, at 3 pm 30, the passengers of the canoes see the fires of Carpathia 24 . At 5 h 30 , the Californian accused by the Frankfurt arrives on the scene of the disaster. The last boat is recovered 8 h 30 , the second officer Charles Lightoller was the last to board. The Carpathia then sets sail for New York at 10 h 50 c 13 .

Arrival of survivors

On the morning of April 15, information on the wreckage arrived but we could not verify the details, so that the American newspapers remain on their reserve. Prudent, the “Herald” title: “The Titanic hits an iceberg and calls for help. Ships en route » 25 . Only the “Times” ad in his first editions that ship has certainly cast since we did nothing after receiving the first messages 25 .

At 8:00 am, a crowd of journalists rushes to the office of the White Star in New York at 9 Broadway. In front of the press, the vice-president, Philippe AS Franklin is reassuring: “We have absolute confidence in the Titanic. We believe this is a ship can not sink, “which does not prevent him from sending an alarming telegram to Captain Smith:” Let’s wait anxiously for news and information on ship passengers out ” 26 . As the relatives of the shipwrecked begin to arrive, the company does everything to reassure them.

At 6:15 pm, when a message from the liner Olympia arrives, it is the blow of club. The Titanic sank well at 2:20 am. The Carpathia, which had collected 675 survivors, goes to New York 27 . Therefore, doubt is no longer allowed. Pressed questions by the journalists, the vice president of the White Star is content at first to confirm the sinking, without giving more details. At 21h it crackles: “It’s a disaster … We could replace the ship, but never human lives” 27 .

3 days pass and little news arrives. In lack of information, some newspapers attack Carpathia. The “Evening Mail” denounces “the deafening silence of Caparthia”, while the “World” attack the crew who “do not want to send the list of missing” 28 .

On Thursday night, when the Carpathia finally arrived in New York, thirty thousand people massed along the waterfront to see it happen 29 . The survivors can therefore be questioned by journalists, which does not prevent the appearance in the press of incredible testimony. We learn that a second-class passenger would have stayed on horseback riding a piece of ice for four hours. A passenger would have seen the iceberg one hour before the collision. 29

Balance sheet

The sinking of the Titanic caused about 1,500 deaths, the number varying between 1,491 and 1,513 18 , 30 casualties. There are therefore about 700 survivors c 13 . The crew are the most affected with 76% of them died. 75% of the third classes also died 4 . More generally, the main difference is between men and women. Only 25% of women died in the sinking against 82% of male passengers. Proportionally, children are more victims than women, with 53 of 109 children on board having died, or 48.6% of them 4. However, 70% of women and children survived the sinking against just over 20% of men 31 , the (rule ‘ women and children first “) prevailed, unlike the majority of maritime disasters 32 .


The sinking of the Titanic has many causes, both natural and human. Its record, which is one of the heaviest in maritime history , is also due to several factors. The circumstances of the wreck are indeed peculiar. It is true that it is unusual to find icebergs in this region of the Atlantic in April, but the presence of many ice that year was due to a mild winter especially 33 . This explains why the Titanic , which sails further south than the recommended route 34, headed straight for a field of ice cream. In addition, the night is dark, moonless, windless, making it more difficult iceberg detection e 5 . This is compounded by the absence of binoculars in the crow’s nest , as a result of officer negligence: according to Frederick Fleet , the watchman who sighted and reported the iceberg, binoculars may have see it in time 35 .

In addition, the watertight compartments do not rise high enough to prevent water flow (these transverse partitions are interrupted at a height of 15 meters by the architects so that the passengers can use the upper deck 36 ). is double at the bottom of the ship (protecting only shallow water), and the steel component parts of the hull is very brittle at negative temperature (that of the water the night of the drama was -1 to – 2 ° C ) 37 although it is the best of the time produced in the Martin 38 furnaces , like the rivets that hold the plates of the hull together (the Harland and Wolff shipyardshave ordered 9 million rivets for the Titanic , Britannic and Olympic but a shortage of steel parts have prompted them to use wrought iron rivets 39 ). The speed of the ship at the moment of impact was also too high for the circumstances (although in accordance with the navigation rules of the time) e 6 . Despite an attempt by the US commission which investigated the wreck, it could not be proved that Ismay prompted the commander to go faster and 7 . Finally, the high number of deaths is explained by the small number of lifeboats on the ship, which could only contain 1,178 peopleb 9 , but also by the lack of organization in their loading and information of the passengers. This bad organization would have made additional canoes perhaps useless, since the officers did not have time to deal with the last two canoes. Some boats, like the n o 1 b 10 , leaving nearly empty and refuse to return to the scene of the sinking. This explains why canoes are, at the end, filled to less than two thirds of 24 .


Main article: Commissions of inquiry into the sinking of the Titanic .
The iceberg did not directly holes in the hull of the Titanic , but the shock wave blew the rivets , thus opening a waterway 40 .

The disaster is a shock to the international community because it proves to all that the man and his technological achievements may be overwhelmed by the forces of nature at a time when scientific progress seemed unstoppable e 8 . It also sheds light on the technical shortcomings of the time: modern exams show that the steel of the hull and even more rivets other than the central part of the hull contain too much sulfur and not enough manganese which makes them too brittle. The British commission of Lord Mersey made many proposals on safety at sea, as well as the US commission of Senator Smith. The casual and careless attitude of those who decide on the route and the speed of the ships has greatly contributed to the loss of the ship, according to the two commissions on the sinking. Note 7 , c 14 .

To prevent such a disaster from happening again, the international community is taking several steps. The first is the creation of the International Ice Patrol on. Since then, no death resulting from a shipwreck due to iceberg is regrettable e 9 . In addition, the procedure to be applied in case of collision with an iceberg is changed. From now on, it is considered that the damage will be less in the event of a frontal collision. The thing is proven in 1914 when the collision of the Royal Edward with an iceberg, which does not make any victim among the 800 passengers of 25 .

Concerning the means of communication, it is decreed that the radio watch must be provided 24 hours a day on the wavelength of 600 meters (500 kHz ) 41 (which was the case on the Titanic , but neither on the Californian nor on the Carpathia ) and will need backup batteries to power the emergency radio station 42 , 43 . The misuse of the recent progress of the TSFtriggers in the months that follow a controversy around the company Marconi, whose power emitters had first been hailed. However, the most important consequence of the sinking concerns the lifeboats. From now on, every ship must be equipped with enough boats. The law had hitherto required equipment according to tonnage, and had not followed the rapid increase in the size of ships. From the American Commission, Ismay says that all ships of the IMM Co will be equipped rafts in sufficient numbers to 26 . International conferences on safety at sea were held in 1914, 1929, 1948 and 1960 and in particular made it mandatory for all ships can be evacuated in a half hour c 15 .


Comparison of the size of the liner with different elements including the Queen Mary 2 and the Airbus A380 .
The Grand Escalier at the height of the B Bridge of the Olympic , identical to that (rear) of the Titanic .

The Titanic is 269 meters long, 28 meters wide and 53 meters high, from the keel to the chimneys. Its gross tonnage is around 46 000  GRT , which is 1 000 more than the Olympic 44 . It requires about 885 crew members and can carry 2,471 passengers in three classes c 16 . The liner also carries mail . It is for this reason that it bears the acronym RMS Note 8 , 45 . In all, the ship cost $ 7.5 million ( $ 150 million in the first years of 2000 46 ).


The ten bridges of the Titanic allow to raise it to the rank of largest ship ever built in his time 18 , 47 . Seven of its bridges (bridges housing cabins for passengers) are designated by letters, from A to G (A being at the top and G at the bottom). Above deck A is the boat bridge (or upper deck). The ballast bridge serves as a base for the vessel, as well as the boiler and machine rooms that extend to the Orlop and G bridges. These two bridges also include the ship’s holds and water and feed tanks. 48 .

Technical characteristics

Main article: Titanic Navigation Bridge .
The wheelhouse of the Olympic , similar in design to the Titanic .

The Titanic , like its sister ships of Olympic class , is powered by a combination of two types of machines. In the depths of the liner, 29 boilers are grouped together in six rooms of 27 , which supply steam with the triple expansion machines located in the engine room (at the rear of the boiler rooms), then the turbine in the next room. . The first actuate the two propellers side three blades of the liner, while the turbine rotates the central four-bladed propeller. At a speed of 21 knotsits consumption is estimated at between 638 and 737 tons of coal per day. At 22 knots, it is estimated at 720 to 808 tonnes per day, according to the statistics taken into account c 17 . The electrical energy necessary for the operation of the various equipment of the ship is provided by four dynamos of 400 kW 49 . The combustion fumes of the coal and the steam are then evacuated by the three front chimneys. The fourth, dummy, is used in turn to improve the aesthetics of the liner, ventilation of engine rooms and discharging steam kitchens b 11 , Note 9 .

The Titanic’s navigation bridge is on the upper deck, about 60 meters from the bow. It extends across the width of the ship, and includes two wheelhouses (one closed and one covered), two maneuvering fins, a navigation room and the map room. At the back of the bridge are the Officers’ Quarters, which benefit from housing proportional to their rank: Commander Edward Smith, for his part, has a suite with living room and bathroom b 12 . At the rear of the first chimney is a wireless radiotelegraphy room monitored by two radio operators (Jack Phillips and Harold Bride during the single voyage of the liner) whose adjoining quarters c 18 . The quarters of the drivers and trimmers are located in the bow of the ship, and they reach their place of work by a spiral staircase and a tunnel c 19 .

The day before is ensured from the nest on the mast, and the ship also has a docking bridge, on the stern deck b 12 . A telephone line allows communication between the crow’s nest, the wheelhouse, the aft deck, the engine room and the aft compartment, improving the speed of maneuvering the ship. Another line allows some passengers first class to communicate with various departments, including offices b 13 .

Security devices

Main article: Lifeboats of the Titanic .

The hull of the Titanic is divided into sixteen watertight compartments e 10 . The closure of the twelve watertight doors, located at the places where a passage is necessary to the smooth running of the ship, can be done by means of a switch located on the bridge c 20 . It can also be done automatically in case of waterway. However, if the front and rear compartments rise to the D to B decks, the central compartments do not extend beyond the E deck. Thus, it is considered that if two adjacent compartments are flooded, the vessel can remain afloat. This limit is up to four compartments if it is the front compartments of the vessel Note 10 , c 21 .

The vessel is also equipped with a double-bottomed Note 11 . In addition, eight pumps capable of evacuating 400 tons of water per hour on board 50 . All this leads to rumors of an alleged “unsinkability” of the ship that the company does not deny. However, such rumors are far from concerning the Titanic : the company had already qualified the Cedric , nine years earlier, as “practically unsinkable” c 22 . It is also rumored that at the time of its launch, an employee stated, “God himself could not sink this ship” 51 .

The Titanic is also equipped with 20 lifeboats: 14 canoes with a capacity of 65 people, two “rescue” canoes for 40 people Note 12 and four folding rafts of type Engelhardt also having a capacity of 47 people. The 20 boats can hold a total of 1,178 people, a third of the capacity of the ship b 9 . This small number, however, is greater than what is required by the laws of the time who consider that these boats have time to make several shuttles between a large ship that takes time to sink and the lifeboats 52 . The idea of putting extra canoes was considered by Alexander Carlisle, one of the designers of the ship, but Ismayrejected the idea, not to clutter the upper deck, and not to weaken the image of reliability of the company Note 13 . However, to avoid additional costs during a possible change of regulation, Carlisle convinced Ismay install davits type Welin able to turn down several canoes of 28 . At the time of the sinking ,lifeboats only board 711 of the 2,200 people on board. Subsequently, the laws were amended to require all shipping companies to have lifeboats in sufficient number 29 , the birth of the international convention SOLAS ( Safety of Life at Sea ), two years after the tragedy.

Passenger facilities

Main articles: First class facilities , second-class systems and third-class facilities .
A first class cabin aboard the Titanic.

The Titanic presents a luxury and comfort unequaled for the time. The first class facilities extend from the boat deck to deck E, and include gym, smoking, Restaurant a la Carte, Cafe veranda, pool, steam room and reading lounge and correspondence as well as a covered walk. Some cabins are equipped with bathrooms, and two of them even have a private walk Note 14 , b 14 . All these cabins and facilities are connected by two sumptuous staircases , the one located at the front being associated with three elevators serving bridges A to E. The large first-class dining room is located on deck D e 11.

The second class passengers are not left out and enjoy cabins often equivalent to the first class of other vessels in the back of the bridges D to G. A staircase and a lift serving the entire height of the ship, their giving access to the boat deck, their smoking room (deck B), their library (deck C), and their dining room (deck D). They also have a covered walk e 12 .

The third class also offers a good level compared to other ships, with cabins offering 4 to 8 berths, and small dormitories for single men, at the front. Single women travel in the back, and families are grouped in the center. The dining room of third class is the F deck and has its own kitchen (the other two classes share their own), and passengers have two common areas and a smokehouse, and the stern deck e 12 .

Aboard the Titanic


Main article: Passengers of the Titanic .
John Jacob Astor and his wife Madeleine are the most fortunate passengers.
Titanic passenger ticket, 1912.

Of the 1,316 passengers, 325 are in the first class, 285 in the second, and the last is 706. 922 passengers board in Southampton ( England ), 274 in Cherbourg ( France ) and 120 in Queenstown ( Ireland ).

The first class welcomes the most fortunate passengers of the ship. They are businessmen, artists, senior military officers and politicians, among others. They are often accompanied many luggage and one or more domestic of 30 . A number of personalities travel in first class for the inaugural crossing of the Titanic , starting with Joseph Bruce Ismay , president of the international Mercantile Marine Company and the White Star Line at 2 and Thomas Andrews , the designer of the ship at 3 . Both travel in order to observe the defects that the ship might have. TheJohn Jacob Astor IV , colonel, writer, inventor and owner of American hotels has 4 . Other great fortunes are also on board, such as Benjamin Guggenheim or Margaret Brown , as well as scholars such as Jacques Futrelle at 5 and Archibald Gracie at 6 , or athletes such as Richard Norris Williams at 7 . Archibald Butt , the aide-de-camp of US President William Howard Taft, also makes the crossing aboard the Titanic to return to the United States prepare thepresidential elections of the following autumn at 8 . John Pierpont Morgan , American billionaire owner of many trusts, as well as the ship, was also supposed to make the crossing, but finally prefers to celebrate his birthday with his mistress in Aix-les-Bains at 9 .

The second class, more heterogeneous, includes entrepreneurs, teachers, clergymen and sometimes affluent immigrants, or return to their country of origin 53 . The comfort they have often equals the first class of contemporary liners. Among them is Lawrence Beesley , a British academic who, after the sinking , paints a detailed account of the events in his book The Loss of ss Titanic at 10 . A family is also attracting attention, the Hoffman family. For their traveling companions, it is a loving father and two young children, but it appears after the sinking and the death of the father that it was the Navratil family. Michel Navratil had taken his children away from his wife in early April in the hope of living a new life in America. The story of these “orphans of the Titanic ” goes around the world to 11 .

The third class, finally, is the class of immigration. People traveling on are often family, sometimes in groups of ten people, the Wise family image composed of eleven members 54 . They come from many parts of the world, from Scandinavia, Eastern Europe, Ireland and sometimes even Asia 13 . Before embarking and arriving in New York , they are subject to strict health checks and are strictly separated from other passengers. The US regulations are very strict indeed to avoid contamination of 31 .


Among the 889 people making up the crew of the Titanic , 66 belong to the deck crew ( officers , seaman , watchmen, district master ) b 15 , 325 are mechanics (stokers called miners , drivers , grease, mechanics all banned contact with passengers) b 16 , and 471 men and 23 women are part of the hotel staff of the ship ( commissioners , stewards, radio operators , etc. ) b 17 , b 18 .

The Titanic is commanded by Edward John Smith who, by his popularity, is assigned to the inaugural crossings of the great ships of the White Star Line since 1904 c 23 . His second-in-command, Henry Tingle Wilde , was posted on the eve of departure, resulting in a shift in the ship’s staff hierarchy to 12 . This makes it possible to have an experienced staff, the three highest officers of the ship who served previously on the Olympic 55. The officers are at the head of the deck crew, who is in charge of steering the ship and ensuring its smooth running. They are assisted by the quarter-masters, who are in charge of the helm, the watchmen, posted in the crow’s nest, and the sailors who watch over and take care of the maintenance of the apparatus at 13 , 14 .

The mechanic is working for the bowels of the ship. Under the direction of Chief Engineer Joseph Bell, there are about 15 mechanic assistants. None of them survived the sinking c 24 . The 29 boilers the ship are supplied by some 300 drivers and stokers working in appalling conditions 56 .

Finally, hotel staff, which is the most diverse, is also the most widespread. We find a majority of stewards, accompanied by some hostesses. These are assigned to cabins or ship facilities, and serve the passengers . This staff also includes a large number of cooks at 16 . The direction of the hotel staff came to the purser Hugh McElroy who must also address the grievances of passengers to 32 , 17 . John George Phillips 18 and Harold Sydney Bride 19 , the two radio operators of the vessel, are also affiliated to this category of 32 .

The Titanic also employs a quintet and trio orchestra under the direction of Wallace Hartley . Musicians perform in first and second class , and entered into legend for their heroic behavior during the wreck 57 . However, they do not form part of the crew, but are counted as second class passengers 58 .


Discovery of the wreck

Main article: Wreck of the Titanic .

Many projects expeditions to find the sunken ship were created without knowing the success for years to c 25 .

The wreck is finally located on to 1 pm 5 by a French-American expedition led by Jean-Louis Michel of IFREMER and Dr. Robert D. Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution 59 . The original purpose of this expedition was to cover the research of two US nuclear submarines. Note 15 , d 33 . It is located at a depth of 3821 60 at 41 ° 43 ’55 “N, 49 ° 56′ 45” W 650 km southeast of Newfoundland b 19. The ship is broken down into two parts, which rest on the bottom about 800 meters apart, separated by a debris field 14 . At the time of the sinking, the hull broke where the (bending) stress was greatest, in the engine room and the Great Staircase e 15 .

The Dr. Ballard and his team have removed any objects on the site, considering that this amounted to a looting of graves e 16 . For international maritime law, however, the recovery of objects is necessary to establish the safeguard rights for a wreck. In the years following the discovery, the Titanic is the subject of numerous legal judgments concerning the ownership of objects and the site of the wreckage itself. Many objects have been saved and are exposed to the public e 17 . Scientists say the many wreck expeditions have accelerated its degradation and estimate that it will have disappeared around 2050 BC.. During the summer of 2016, using a neutron beam imaging technique, a team of researchers from the Laue-Langevin Institute highlights that a molecule called ectoin is used by the bacteria Halomonas titanicae in the wreck of Titanic to survive the osmotic pressure caused by the salt of water on its membranes 61 , 62 . This bacterium eating away at the remains of the ship should gradually make the wreck disappear by 2030 63 .

The discovery and the scientific study of the wreck allow a better understanding of the exact circumstances of the wreck, first by giving reason to the few witnesses who claimed to have seen the ship break in half just before the final dive. More recently, in 1996, a sonar saw the damage caused by the iceberg in the hull at the front of the ship. Contrary to what was previously believed, it is not a breach 100 meters long but six small notches barely thicker than a human arm, distributed approximately along the first third of the ship, which caused his loss 34 . A more recent study conducted by two US metallurgists , (in) and D r Jennifer McCarty (in) , based on scientific analysis of pieces (plates and rivets) extracted from the wreckage and examining archives shipyard Harland & Wolff stored at Belfast , puts in question the quality of the rivets used to fix the steel plates of the hull at the front of the ship. Indeed, these are made of iron and not steel as in the central part, because of the impossibility of suppliers to follow the rhythms and quantities imposed by the manufacturer. The authors of the study assume that stronger steel rivets might have, if not saved the ship, at least given sufficient time to37 , 64 . However, new tests performed under different conditions by the Woods Hole (USA) laboratory in 2010, have shown the opposite. The study, for which a piece consisting of two riveted steel plates such as those made up of the hull was submitted for testing, subjected the rivets and plates to different pressures, and demonstrated that the structure and composition of these the last were not responsible 65 . It is therefore difficult to have a clear opinion on the issue, especially since very weak rivets could have saved the Titanic: a real tear better absorbed the shock with the iceberg and can not be damaged 5 compartments [ref . necessary].

The centenary of the Titanic wreck site under the protection of the Convention on the Protection of Underwater Cultural Heritage of UNESCO 66 .

A curse “

Main article: Legends and alternative theories about the sinking of the Titanic .

There are a number of legends about the Titanic . Some are probably only invention or “madness”, but others are coincidences that have lent to controversy b 21 .

Thus, some have noted the existence of several writings sometimes considered premonitory. Fourteen years before the sinking, Morgan Robertson writes The Shipwreck of the Titan . After the sinking of the Titanic , this book regains reputation, appearing as astonishingly prescient and reissued the same year c 26 . There are indeed great similarities between the story of the book and the reality: the ship, named Titan , is the largest in the world and presented as unsinkable. In fact, it only has the minimum number of lifeboats required by law. It hits an iceberg, sinks and the majority of the passengers are victims of the sinking of 35 .

Similarly, the journalist William Thomas Stead commits himself against the lack of means of rescue aboard the ships. In a short story, he tells a collision between two ships whose passengers are not all saved, for lack of means of rescue. Stead concludes: “This is exactly what will happen if the ships are launched with too little boats’ 67 . Six years later, he published From the Old World to the New , new, in which he recounts a fictional journey on the ship (real) Majestic of the White Star Line under the command of Edward Smith . During the crossing, the ship stops to rescue the castaways of a ship that has struck aiceberg 67 . The, Stead is aboard the Titanic , commanded by Edward Smith, and dies in the sinking.

Panic effects are also noted during the crossing. When he left Southampton , the Titanic failed to collide with New York . This event resulted, as Lawrence Beesley (a second-class passenger who later told his story in a book) tells , of rumors and superstitions among passengers and some crew members. These are amplified during the stopover of Queenstown by the appearance of a sooty souie at the top of the fourth chimney. However, he writes himself that these are only “unhealthy superstitions” 68 .

Other legends are fantasy. One of them says that John Jacob Astor IV would have brought his honeymoon in Egypt a mummy on board the Titanic , triggering the anger of the gods 69 . A variant of the legend says that a cursed mummy was, after being hidden in an attic for a while, sold to a rich American who would have embarked on the Titanic , resulting in its loss. However, no mummy is mentioned in the manifest of the ship: historians therefore agree that this is only a later legend c 27 .

The centenary of the sinking

Main article: Centenary of the sinking of the Titanic .

Life-size replicas

China’s Seven-Star Energy Investment Group is investing $ 170 million to build a full-size replica of the liner to be docked in a port on the Qi River by 2020, with construction starting in 2016 70 . This replica will have a tourist and didactic purpose thanks to a museum and a simulator of sinking 71 . Australian billionaire Clive Palmer also planned to build an exact replica of the 72 , the Titanic II , which was scheduled to open in 2018 but the project was abandoned.


In 2018, OceanGate organizes, for tourists wishing to visit the wreck (priced at $ 100,000), submarine descents, at the same time serving a scientist who maps the ship in three dimensions, in order to to study the speed with which it breaks down 73 .

The Titanic in fiction

Movies, TV movies and documentaries

Main article: Titanic at the cinema and the Titanic in movies .

The history of Titanic has been illustrated in a very large number of films and TV movies. The first is Saved from the Titanic , an American film by Étienne Arnaud starring Dorothy Gibson , survivor of the sinking. Released in 1912 , there is no trace of it following the fire of the studios where it was stored, in 1914 b 22 , d 36 . That same year, In Nacht und Eis , a German silent film 74, was released .

In 1943 , Joseph Goebbels request filming Titanic , a blockbuster for the Nazi propaganda, conducted by Werner Klingler and Herbert Selpin with Sybille Schmitz and Hans Nielsen 75 . The shooting is marked by the imprisonment and death of its first director, Herbert Selpin. The movie finally comes out not in Germany , Goebbels feared to demoralize the population that suffers many British bombardment of 37 .

1953 sees the arrival of the liner in Hollywood with the exit Titanic of Jean Negulesco with Barbara Stanwyck and Clifton Webb 76 . The year 1958 sees the arrival on the screens of the film Atlantic, latitude 41 ° ( A Night to Remember ), British film Roy Ward Baker with Kenneth More and Ronald Allen 77 . Adapted from the book The Night of the Titanic historian Walter Lord , it is done with the help of some actors in the drama making it one of the closest movie reality of 38.

In 1979 released SOS Titanic , American-British TV movie William Hale 78 . The following year spell Wars abyss ( Raise the Titanic ), Jerry Jameson American film adapted from the novel by Clive Cussler , who is a commercial and critical failure 79 .

In 1989 , brief appearance of the ” ghostly Titanic ” in the port of New York in the film SOS Ghosts 2 80 .

In 1996 , the Robert Lieberman miniseries The Titanic with Peter Gallagher , Eva Marie Saint and Catherine Zeta-Jones restores the story of the liner in two parts of one hour and twenty each. If the story follows fictional characters, the backstory tells some real stories, like the story of the family Allison Note 16 .

The most famous films about the Titanic is the film James Cameron , Titanic , released in 1997 . Starring Leonardo DiCaprio , Kate Winslet and Billy Zane , the film won 11 Oscars and 1,845,034,188 $ in worldwide box office 81 . It becomes, for the time, the film that has garnered the biggest recipes in history. The film revives interest in the Titanic , resulting in the release (and sometimes the reissue) of numerous books and exhibitions, and the creation of numerous websites of 39. Cameron also produced, in 2003 , Titanic’s The Ghosts documentary on the wreckage of the ship 82 .

In 1999 , episode 10 of the first season of the series Futurama entitled Titanic 2 ( A flight to remember in the original version, the name inspired by the film of Roy Ward Baker , A Night to Remember ) was inspired by this incident. In this episode, the Titanic 2 is a spaceship “inspired by an old film of the XX th century” piloted by Captain Zapp Brannigan sees born identical to that idyll of the characters of Rose and Jack in the film James Cameron but between two robots: poor Bender and a rich duchess. This ship knows the same fate as the liner from which it is inspired.

In 2007 , the special Christmas episode of season 3 of the English series Doctor Who evokes the Titanic . In this episode, which is called A Cruise Around the Earth , the Titanic takes the form of a gigantic space liner.

In 2012 , the series Titanic: Blood and Steel recounts in 12 episodes of the building to the launch of the ship, while describing life in Belfast in the early xx th century, taking many historical liberties.


The sinking of the Titanic has also inspired many novels inspired more or less strongly from its history.

  • Walter Lord ( trans. Yves River), The Night of the Titanic , Paris, Robert Laffont ,
  • Jean-Pierre Keller, On the Titanic Bridge , Geneva: Zoé, 1994
  • Elisabeth Navratil , The Children of Titanic , Paperback,
  • Djana Pascal and Michel Pascal , Titanic: Beyond a Curse , Paris, Anne Carriere Eds,, 213 p. ( ISBN 978-2-84337-245-2 and 2-84337-245-3 )
  • Patrick Besson , The Titanic , Thousand And One Nights, coll.  “1001 Nights Petite Collection” ( o 511) ( ISBN 978-2-84205-954-5 and 2-84205-954-9 )
  • Max Allan Collins ( Translated by Catherine Cheval), The Murders of the Titanic , Paris, Rivages, coll.  “Black Shores” ( o 43), 261 p. ( ISBN 978-2-7436-0839-2 and 2-74360-839-0 )
  • Joelle Quentin-Doucet , The mysterious Titanic baby , Cheminements, coll.  “A History For The History”,, 624 p. ( ISBN 978-2-84478-484-1 and 2-84478-484-4 )
  • Philippe de Baleine , Last conversation on the Titanic , Paris, Renaissance Presses,, 127 p. ( ISBN 978-2-85616-717-5 and 2-85616-717-9 )
  • Didier Decoin , The maid of the Titanic , Paris, Points, coll.  “Grand Roman Points”, ( ISBN 978-2-02-090373-8 and 2-02090-373-3 )
  • Gert Hoffman ( Translator Bernard Kreiss), Conversation aboard the Titanic during his shipwreck between Sir John Jacob Astor and his hairdresser , Actes Sud,, 165 p. ( ISBN 978-2-86869-955-8 and 2-86869-955-3 )
  • Clive Cussler , bail out the Titanic! , Paris, Lgf, coll.  “LDP Thriller” ( o 17202)Pocket ( ISBN 978-2-253-17202-4 and 2-25317-202-2 )
  • Morgan Robertson , The Titan Shipwreck , Orleans, Corsaire Éditions,, 170 p. ( ISBN 978-2-910475-14-7 and 2-91047-514-X )
  • Danielle Steel ( translated by Vassoula Galangau), such a great love , France Loisirs,, 372 p.
  • Renaud Hadef , the gold of the Vikings, the memory of the Titanic , Manuscript,, 391 p. ( ISBN 2-7481-6946-8 )
  • (en) The Martin , Young Indiana Jones and the Titanic Adventure , Random House,, 153 p.
  • (en) The Martin ( trans. Jerome Jacobs ill. Erik Juszezak), Indiana Jones Jr. on the Titanic , Hachette,, 153 p. ( ISBN 2-01-020479-4 )


Two comics have also been written on the subject.

  • In search of Sir Malcolm , by Floc’h and Rivière , Dargaud.
  • Corpus Hermeticum: Titanic , album written by Richard D. Nolane and designed by Patrick Dumas, coll. Secret Lands, Sun Publishing, April 2009.

The Titanic also appears in the story of Scrooge , empire builder of the Calisota by Don Rosa , and The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec by Jacques Tardi 83 .

In the album Sophaletta tome 4, by Erik Arnoux and Dominique Hé The Tears of the Tzarine published by Glénat in 2000, several pages are aboard the Titanic during the sinking of the liner.

Other media

The Titanic has managed to win on other media than paper and screens. Thus, a musical held the poster between 1998 and 2000 . Some video games have also been built on and around it, like the Titanic: a timeless adventurethat offers a faithful reproduction of the ship 84 .

The Titanic story also inspired a work by British composer Gavin Bryars , The Sinking of the Titanic (1969). She also shares the hymn Autumn that may have been played by musicians when it sank 85 . A play by Jean-Pierre Ronfard , Titanic , tells the story of characters such as Adolf Hitler or Charlie Chaplin having never been on the liner. Titanic is finally the title of a poem by Benjamin Fondane, in the collection The Evil of Ghostsand inspired as a theme the famous song performed by Celine Dion My Heart Will Go On .

Notes and references


  1. ↑ Royal Mail Ship , carrying the British mail.
  2. ↑ Some later said that the Titanic was cursed because of the lack of baptism, but the idea does not hold to the extent that all the ships of the White Star Line were in the same case.
  3. ↑ Morgan is the owner of the International Mercantile Marine Company , a trust Ismay is the President and includes several shipping companies White Star.
  4. ↑ The port of Liverpool, long used by the White Star Line as port operations, was abandoned for Southampton in 1907, the latter being larger and allowing a profitable call at Cherbourg . Liverpool, however, remains the home port of the company’s ships, even when they do not serve it.
  5. ↑ These figures are however questionable, withdrawals could take place. Similarly, they do not take into account stowaways and drivers engaged at the last minute.
  6. ↑ Studies have shown, however, that the canoes could carry a dozen more passengers. The capacity could thus be increased to 1,318 passengers.
  7. ↑ However, most experienced sailors of the day consider that on a clear day it is safer to navigate fast
  8. ↑ RMS meaning Royal Mail Steamer , that is to say “Passenger Ship Royal Mail “.
  9. ↑ The number of chimneys on a liner gives indeed an impression of reliability in the imagination of the time. The first “four chimneys”, of German manufacture, actually needed only two, and ducts in the shape of “Y” allowed to feed the four chimneys in smoke. However, the fashion of the four chimneys passes quickly, and this concept is abandoned shortly before the First World War for the benefit of the three chimneys until the 1950s. It goes to two chimneys until the years 1960-1970 to arrive at the unique chimneys on the vast majority of today’s cruise ships.
  10. ↑ The sinking of the Titanic is therefore explained by the fact that the iceberg has opened several waterways in the five compartments before. Such an accident had simply not been considered by the designers.
  11. ↑ Do not confuse double bottom and double hull: the second behaves like a second skin of the ship (the submarines are for example equipped) while the double bottom is a double thickness in the bottom of the ship.
  12. ↑ These canoes, bearing the numbers 1 and 2, are located at the front of the upper deck and are suspended from their davits, discovered, ready to be used to catch a man fallen overboard for example.
  13. ↑ In addition, offering a sufficient number of canoes on the Olympic class vessels would have led to an awareness of the inadequacy of the means of rescue, and the need to add boats on all the ships of the company.
  14. ↑ These suites, located on the bridge B, are an exclusivity of the Titanic , resulting, as the Café Parisien , last minute changes.
  15. ↑ The true purpose expeditions were revealed in 2008 by Robert Ballard himself.
  16. ↑ Hudson, Bess and their daughter Lorraine Allison died in the sinking having tried in vain to find their baby Trevor, that their nurse Alice Cleaver  (in) had brought in a boat with her. Lorraine is in fact the only child of first and second class to have died in the sinking.

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