Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Titanic Facts, Figures, and ... Debunked Myths

On my earlier post about Titanic Cabin Classes, I mistakenly suggested that after the third class accommodations, there was Steerage class. On further research, I discovered that 3rd class WAS Steerage, but upgraded from what Steerage class was on most ships of that time.

I also discovered a lot of other things, and thought I would share the links here.

Titanic Facts
The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic in Numbers

3,547 - the maximum number of people the Titanic could carry.

2,223 - the number of people aboard (passengers and crew).

13 - the number of honeymooning couples on the voyage.

Read more facts about the Titanic passengers -->

14,000 - the gallons of drinking water used every 24 hours.

40,000 - the number of fresh eggs in the ship's provisions.

1,000 - the number of bottles of wine taken aboard.

Read more facts about the food on the Titanic -->

64 - the number of lifeboats the Titanic was equipped to carry.

20 - the number of lifeboats she actually carried.

28 - the number of people on board the first lifeboat out of a capacity of 65 people.

Read more facts about the Titanic lifeboats -->

6 - the number of warnings of icebergs the Titanic received before the collision.

160 - the minutes it took the Titanic to sink after hitting the iceberg (2 hours and 40 minutes).

-2 - the temperature of the sea water in centigrade.

Read more facts about the Titanic sinking -->

31.6 - the total percentage of passengers and crew who survived.

53.4 - the percentage who could have survived, given the number of spaces available on the Titanic lifeboats.

2 - the number of dogs who survived (lapdogs taken aboard lifeboats by their owners).

That's just a sampling of data, from the front page. There are multiple links that will take you further into much more data. But if you want more than technical facts and figures, how about myth debunking:

Titanic Trivia: The Facts and the Myths

Common Myths and Facts

Myth: The Titanic was touted by the White Star Line as being unsinkable.

Though many experts at the time did proclaim the Titanic "practically unsinkable" because of the addition of the watertight doors, she was not described as unsinkable by anyone responsible for her creation until after the fact. When informed of the Titanic's predicament, White Star Line Vice President P.A.S. Franklin was quoted as saying, "We place absolute confidence in the Titanic. We believe the boat is unsinkable."

Alhough, one promotional brochure put out by the White Star Line did say, " far as it is possible to do, these two wonderful vessels are designed to be unsinkable."

Myth: The Titanic was trying to set a speed record, causing them to ignore the important warnings.

This was not true for many reasons, the first being that they had chosen a longer, more southern route. It was slower but they hoped to avoid ice. We also have to remember that travel and communication was not as it is today. An early arrival would have required that travel arrangements be made days or weeks in advance for the arriving passengers. If they arrived a day early, most of them would have been left standing at the docks for another day. In addition to this fact, the last boiler had never been lit. Even if it had been lit, breaking the record would have required a full 26 knots, but the Titanic's top speed was 21 knots. Even attempting to break the record would have risked severe engine damage.

Quote from an interview before launch: "'Will she ever dock on Tuesday?'
'No,' Smith said emphatically, 'and there will be no attempt to bring her in on Tuesday. She was built for a Wednesday ship and her run this first voyage has demonstrated that she will fulfill the expectations of the builders.' Mr. Ismay said that on her return trip she would steam at 21 knots the first day then gradually work her speed to see what her engines could do."

However, the captain was concerned with being on time, which most likely led to his failure to slow down in ice-laden waters.

Myth: Third class passengers were locked below deck to keep them from getting off the ship.

While 201 first class passengers survived and 173 second class passengers survived, far more third class passengers perished. However, there was actually no attempt to keep third class passengers from getting into the lifeboats, or to divide potential survivors by class in any way. The trouble for third class was from several factors. First of all, many of them did not speak English and did not understand the orders to go to the boat deck. They had to be led to the boats, and even then many refused to board. Most of the surviving third class passengers actually had English surnames, indicating that they understood the danger and weren't as suspicious about getting into the lifeboats. Third class passengers also had much further to go to get to the boat deck, leaving them last on deck, with many still arriving after the lifeboats had already launched.

Myth: The Titanic did not have enough lifeboats because the of the owners' pride and vanity.

Actually, the number of lifeboats on the Titanic met the legal requirements at the time. The trouble lay in outdated laws that did not account for a ship the sheer size of the Titanic. However, there were more passengers than the lifeboats could accommodate, and many were launched at less than full capacity. They had the capacity to save 1,178, but in the end the Carpathian rescued only 705 survivors.

Myth: J. Bruce Ismay was a coward who saved himself, while allowing so many others to die.

Chief Executive of the White Star Line, J. Bruce Ismay was accused by many of being a selfish man who took a seat on one of the remaining lifeboats, leaving women and children to die. He was vilified by the American press for his decisions, but the press doesn't always get things right.

Ismay was described as an extremely shy man by people who knew him, a trait that was often mistaken for arrogance. During the inquiry into the Titanic disaster, a number of women came forward saying that it was Mr. Ismay himself who convinced them to board the lifeboats. Only after all of the surrounding women and children were boarded did he take his seat. [...]

And there is more, such as what was the cost of tickets in today's dollars, some premonitions people had who chose not to go, what was found on the wreck on the ocean floor, etc.

And speaking of premonitions, here is some weird stuff:

Titanic Weird Stuff
Astonishingly, the tragedy of Titanic was anticipated in stories written before the ship set sail. The most striking is “The Sinking of a Modern Liner” written in 1886 by W.T. Stead, the famous English journalist and spiritualist. By a macabre coincidence, Stead went down with Titanic. In his story, a liner leaves Liverpool, picks up passengers and mailbags in Queenstown and on its journey to New York is in a collision. There are too few lifeboats, panic ensues and the Captain brandishes a revolver to keep steerage passengers from storming the lifeboat deck. [...]

There were also other premonitions. If you follow they link, they offer a video too.

One other odd thing I found, was a growing interest in the food on the Titanic:

Study of food eaten aboard Titanic a window into passengers' lives, class system
LONDON, Ont. - In the total scope of what happened to the Titanic, it is curious that so many people seem fascinated by what its passengers ate. A century after the disaster, numerous websites are devoted exclusively to the subject and elaborate Titanic dinners are staged to recreate the final meal on the doomed ship.

About 2 a.m. on April 15, 1912, the “unsinkable” White Star Line ocean liner went down in the North Atlantic on its maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg, killing 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers and crew. Yet just three years later, on May 1, 1915, RMS Lusitania, another luxury British passenger ship, was torpedoed by a German U-boat just off the coast of Ireland with a loss of 1,200 lives and nobody writes about what those people had for dinner.


For "Last Dinner," Archbold studied the passengers themselves, particularly the illustrious first class, set the scene and recreated events of the final evening based on archived accounts. McCauley, a Stratford Chef School-trained French chef who was working at Canadian Living magazine, was called upon to research the food.

Three menus that survived the sinking were her starting point. One was the first-class dinner menu from the night of April 14 — the final meal. The second was a second-class dinner menu from the same night. The last was a badly water-damaged third-class breakfast menu from April 12 recovered from the jacket of a deceased passenger.

"Because we've got first-, second- and third-class food, we know a little bit about what the people were like," McCauley says. Head chef Charles Proctor, who went down with the ship, "really tried to make the food match the people.

"In second class, there were many people who raved about how fancy it was. It was like birthday celebration-type dining for them every night."

The second-class menu for the three-course meal served April 14 indicates the passengers had a choice of four main dishes: baked haddock with sharp sauce, curried chicken and rice, lamb with mint sauce or roast turkey with savoury cranberry sauce.

In third class, according to a White Star Line sample bill of fare reproduced in the book, dinner was served at noon and featured items such as roast pork, beefsteak and kidney pie, fricassee rabbit and corned beef and cabbage.

With the third-class menu, Proctor "did a great job of epitomizing what a British person's diet would be at that time," McCauley says. "In the end they had (third-class) passengers from a lot of different countries who were probably a little confused by it, but his heart was in the right place."

But with first class, she says, "he hit the nail right on the head" with a staggering 11-course gourmet banquet. Nine of those courses were accompanied by appropriate wines.


She says what impressed her most was "the productivity of that kitchen. They did 6,000 meals a day on the Titanic with only 80 chefs. It was a 24/7 job. Everything was made from scratch and this was highly stylized food. It took incredible skill." [...]

If you read the whole article, you'll see, among other things, that it mentions that the book is being used by some people to create "Titanic Dinner Parties", recreating the last meals, in detail.

Gosh. Whatever floats yer boat, I guess.

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