Many events planned to remember the tragedy, all over the world. Does that sound a little strange to you?
Why such a fascination with this occasion? Over the past thousands of years there’ve been countless numbers of ships lost to the oceans and seas; so why does the sinking of the Titanic plays such an important role in our history? And why should it be celebrated?
More than likely had a lot to do with the wealth represented on that maiden crossing. It was the first time in modern history of the sinking vessel affected the rich and powerful on such a large scale on both the old and new continent.
It is also possible that these amazing ships were to usher in a new age of luxury liners that were considered extremely safe. According to an article written in a shipbuilding magazine, “the Olympic and Titanic are so well designed that they are practically unsinkable”
This seems to me, the night the largest moving object in the world sank; the end of the period of innocents began and cast a dark shadow over the Western world.
With over 1500 souls were lost the night of April 15, 1912, I like to think this tragedy, as horrible as it was, has provided some positive outcomes
Let me share with you a few examples:
The lifeboats. While the Titanic and her sister ship, Olympic, were being built in Belfast, Alexander Carlisle, Harland and Wolff’s general manager and chairman of the managing directors, suggested that Titanic use a new, larger type of lifeboat crane which could give the ship the potential to carry 48 lifeboats. This would have provided enough seats for everyone on board. However, the White Star Line decreed that only 20 lifeboats would be carried, which could accommodate only 52% of the people aboard.
So why would they do this?
At the time, the British Board of Trade’s regulations stated that British vessels over 10,000 tons must carry 16 lifeboats with a capacity of 5,500 cubic feet, plus enough capacity in rafts and floats for 75%, unless, the vessel had watertight bulkheads. In that case only 50% capacity was necessary.
Therefore, the White Star Line actually provided more lifeboat accommodation than was legally required. The regulations made no extra provision for larger ships because they had not been changed since 1894, when the largest passenger ship under consideration was only 13,000 tons.
On the night of the sinking, Titanic’s lifeboat complement was made up of three types of boats. The most numerous were the 14 standard wooden lifeboats, with a capacity of 65 persons each. Forward of them, one on each side of the ship, two smaller emergency boats, had a capacity of 40 persons each. Four Englehardt collapsible lifeboats that had a capacity of 47 persons each; they had canvas sides, and could be stowed almost flat, taking up a comparatively small amount of deck space. Two were stowed port and starboard on the roof of the officers’ quarters, at the foot of the first funnel, while the other two were stowed port and starboard alongside the emergency cutters.
After the Titanic disaster, recommendations were made by both the British and American Boards of Inquiry stating, in part, that ships would carry enough lifeboats for those aboard, mandated lifeboat drills would be implemented.
Many of these recommendations were incorporated into the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea passed in 1914.
If you have taken a cruise, you know that the lifeboat drill still mandatory today and in many cases is your first social activity after boarding the ship.
24 hour radio watch and distress rockets acts were incorporated. This act, along with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, stated that radio communications on passenger ships would be operated 24 hours along with a secondary power supply, so as not to miss distress calls. Also, the Radio Act of 1912 required ships to maintain contact with vessels in their vicinity as well as coastal onshore radio stations
In addition, it was agreed an the International Convention that the firing of red rockets from a ship must be interpreted as a distress signal. This decision was based on the fact that the rockets launched from the Titanic prior to sinking were interpreted with a bit of ambiguity by the freighter S.S. Californian. Officers on the Californian had seen rockets fired from an unknown liner from their decks, yet surmised that they could possibly be “company” or identification signals, used to signal to other ships. At the time of the sinking, aside from distress situations, it was commonplace for ships without wireless radio to use a combination of rockets and Roman candles to identify themselves to other liners. Once the Radio Act of 1912 was passed it was agreed that rockets at sea would be interpreted as distress signals only, thus removing any possible misinterpretation from other ships.
Another innovation was the International Ice Patrol. After the disaster, the U.S. Navy assigned two ships to patrol the Grand Banks for the remainder of 1912. In 1913, the patrol duties were turned over to the Revenue Cutter Service (forerunner of the United States Coast Guard).
Again, at the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea in London, a treaty was signed that resulted in the formation and international funding of the International Ice Patrol, an agency of the United States Coast Guard that to the present day monitors and reports on the location of North Atlantic Ocean icebergs that could pose a threat to transatlantic sea traffic.
Since the mid 1940s, ice patrol aircraft became the primary ice reconnaissance method with surface patrols phased out except during unusually heavy ice years or extended periods of reduced visibility. The aircraft has distinct advantages for ice reconnaissance, providing much greater coverage in a shorter period of time.
A further change was ship designs. Following the tragedy, ships were refitted for increased safety. For example, the double bottoms of many existing ships, including the RMS Olympic, were extended up the sides of their hulls, above their waterlines, to give them double hulls. Another refit that many ships underwent was changes to the height of the bulkheads. The bulkheads on Titanic extended 10 feet (3 m) above the waterline. After the Titanic sank, the bulkheads on other ships were extended higher to make the compartments fully watertight.
These are changes and modifications are probably responsible for the lives of thousands upon thousands the last century, so I see there were some positives that came out of one of the worst maritime disasters of all time.
On a personal note, the Titanic disaster has affected my life immensely. This happened in 1996 wells working is a tour guide in Halifax, Nova Scotia. An attempt was going to be made to raise a part of Titanic’s midsection and the number of ships were making their way out to the site were Titanic sank. One of the ships was a cruise ship full Titanic enthusiasts and madeHalifaxa port of call before sailing to watch the attempted raising.
Halifax does have a connection with the Titanic disaster as 150 of the recovered victims were buried in the city. I was contracted as a guide to offer a city tour and was honoured to have two survivors, Edith Brown Haisman & Michel Navrital on the tour.
It may sound a little strange, but spending time with them literally changed my life. But that is a story for another time.
So is it all right to be celebrating the anniversary of the Titanic disaster; I say yes. It is important remember history and learn so we are not destined to make the same mistakes again.
I’m going to be celebrating the anniversary by spending time in Ireland and Halifax, for many the beginning and the end of that fateful journey.
We at Rhapsody Tours have designed a trip “Ireland, the birthplace of Titanic” tour that will be taking place next year. To find out more information about this tour visit us as Rhapsodytours.net.
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Until next time Safe Travel and Have Fun!