The leyend of Titanic
The "unsinkable" ship
The birth of a legend
The legend of the Titanic began one summer night in 1907 in a mansion in London, United Kingdom. It was then that Lord James Pirrie, of Harland and Wolf shipbuilders, planned the construction of the three biggest, most majestic ships in the world, in conjunction with the Chairman of shipping operators White Star Line, J. Bruce Ismay: the Olympic, the Titanic and the Gigantic (which was renamed the Britannic after the Titanic tragedy).
The ships that Ismay and Pirrie would build were also to feature third-class travel, and at the same time would include unimaginably luxury; which was something that had never been done in the history of transatlantic steam ships at that time. The inside of the ships could compete and beat, by far, the best hotels and restaurants, and would be so safe that they would be declared "practically unsinkable", thanks to a novel system of waterproof doors fitted in the ships.
Construction of the "dream boat" commenced on May 31st 1909 and it became a legend even before setting sail.
The Titanic had, among many other things, comforts that many of its passengers had never been able to enjoy, not even in their homes, such as electric light and heating in all the bedrooms.
Even so, the ceremonies that many thought would take place with the launching of the Titanic on May 31st 1911, never took place. It was the second in line, and in spite of it being launched on a public holiday, the shadow of its sister ship once again overshadowed the Titanic. A lunch and then a dinner for the most distinguished guests was all that happened. Afterwards, everyone went home.
The maiden trip
The Titanic was ready to set sail from Belfast on April 1st 1912, but because of bad weather it sailed a day later. On April 3rd the ship reached the port of Southampton and stayed there for one week while supplies were brought on board: 40 oxen, 130 pigs, 150 turkeys, 35,000 eggs, 5 tonnes of vegetables, 12,000 bottles of mineral water, etc.
At 12:00 noon on April 10th 1912, the time to set sail finally arrived. The Titanic stopped off first at Cherbourg in France and then in Queenstown in Ireland. After picking up passengers at both cities it raised its anchors and the propellers began to slowly turn, and finally it set off on its transatlantic journey to New York.
The first three days on board went past free of incidents. In spite of the Titanic having received five warnings about ice on April 14th, Captain Edward Smith decided not to slow down and continued sailing at 21 knots.
Shortly after midnight on April 14th the passengers were enjoying a pleasant, although somewhat cold night aboard the ship. There was no wind and the sea was calm under a moonless but starlit night sky.
It was then that the lookouts spotted an enormous iceberg drifting towards the Titanic. The First Officer, William Murdoch, ordered the engines to be reversed to stop the ship, but despite his efforts he was unable to avoid the starboard side of the ship striking the enormous mass of ice.
After a situation assessment by the Titanic's construction engineer, Thomas Andrews, the captain was informed about the seriousness of the accident: the Titanic was sinking, and there was nothing anybody could do to avoid it.
SOS. Women and children first
An SOS distress call was rapidly put out, received by the Carpathia… 58 miles (107 kilometres) away. It would take 4 hours to arrive and by then it would be too late for most, hundreds of souls who, panicking, fell or leaped into the icy waters of the North Atlantic, at a temperature between 0 and 2 degrees centigrade.
Twenty-five minutes after the accident the crew started to float the lifeboats, which were insufficient to save the 2207 people travelling aboard, among passengers and crew.
The ship listed increasingly as did panic, but acts of heroism also took place on and beneath decks of RMS Titanic, where, as the water flooded into the rooms, the passengers who were initially reluctant to leave the ship thinking it unnecessary, began to understand the gravity of the accident.
When the last lifeboat had left, over 1500 people remained on the Titanic. As the lifeboat sailed away from the ship, the prow of the Titanic sank beneath the water and the stern lifted, to reach a tilt of 45 degrees. Many fell or jumped into the icy waters, and into their terrible fates. And the end unavoidably arrived.
The Titanic broke in two and the prow sank to bottom of the sea. The stern, in a final effort to stay afloat, remained vertical for several minutes. And then darkness and a deafening silence, only broken by the increasingly weak cries of a few survivors.
The Carpathia arrived at four o'clock in the morning and immediately began to rescue passengers from the lifeboats.
A total of 712 people managed to survive. 1495 were unable to do so.
Recovery of the remains
Ever since the ship disappeared beneath the waters of the North Atlantic, the search for the "dream boat" became the objective of oceanographers, historians, treasure hunters, researchers and even businessmen from around the world.
After a lot of research, on the first of September 1985 at 1:05 in the morning, the Titanic was located in its tomb on the bottom of the sea, nearly four kilometres down in the North Atlantic, some 800 kilometres southeast off the Nova Scotia coast in Canada.
A combined French / American expedition led by Jean Jarry from the French Institute for Maritime Research and Robert Ballard from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute managed to film the Titanic lying in its grave for the first time.
The following year research and recovery expeditions began, thanks to which we have been able to recover and preserve a large number of original objects to put on display to the public.
The first objects were recovered in 1987, although it was not until 1993 when George Tulloch's company, RMS Titanic Inc, was legally authorised to continue salvage operations on the ship, with the condition that nothing was to be sold for profits by the company.
In one, or perhaps two generations, erosion and bacterial activity have taken their toll and the remains disappear, forging the myth and the legend with them.
It is precisely the work of Titanic The Exhibition that preserves that magic, the beauty, the history and the integrity of the Titanic, taking its memory around the continent with the dignity and respect it deserves, and the maritime, historical and above all the human significance of the ship.