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With Reuben Goossens

Maritime Historian, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer, Author & Lecturer

RMS Titanic Departs & The Tragedy

In Part Two of the rather sad Titanic story we will go through the voyage and its events, piece by piece. However unlike other writers, I will not be going through the great horrors of that dreadful evening, but I will describe mostly what led up to the events. And then concluded with some of the sad details of the end events in relation to the lifeboats and numbers saved and not, etc. I trust what follows will be more than interesting as I have ensured its accuracy to its utmost degree and I believe it will be interesting!

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Southampton:

On April 10, 1912 Titanic’s passengers began arriving in a well-organised fashion. It all commenced at 9.30 am when the London and South Western Railway's Boat Train from London Waterloo station reached Southampton Terminus railway station on the quayside, right alongside where the Titanic was berthed. Today some 922 passengers would be boarding and a large number would be Third Class passengers, who were the very first to board the ship. The reason they had to be first was that they all had to be inspected for ailments and for any possible physical impairments that could possibly have them being refused entry into the United States, meaning that White Star Line would have to transport them all the back across to England.

Both First and Second Class passengers boarded within an hour of departure and Stewards escorted them to their cabins, whilst First Class passengers were personally greeted by Captain Smith upon boarding.

The brand new and the pride of the fleet, RMS Titanic departed Southampton at 12 Noon on Wednesday April 10, 1912.

The great RMS Titanic is seen departing Southampton with its passengers full of anticipation!

Cherbourg, France:

After just seven hours sailing Titanic makes a stop at 7 PM at Cherbourg, France and rapidly takes on some passengers, for she will leave in just two hours.

A delightful postcard from my collection

She departs on time at 9 PM and she is bound for Queenstown (today’s Cobh) Ireland. She has a pleasant overnight voyage and her passengers are able to enjoy the ships excellent surroundings.

Queenstown Ireland:

After a peaceful morning on board, Titanic arrives on Thursday April 11, at 12.30 PM and she anchors off shore. She takes aboard further passengers that are brought from ashore by the tender, named suitably - the America.

Titanic departs Queenstown Ireland, as port official return to shore

As soon a very efficient boarding from shore to ship was completed at Queenstown, she departed at 2 PM and she heads west for the Atlantic bound for New York the United States of America, a destination she would never make!

Total Number of Passengers & Crew on the Titanic:

Having taken on her final passengers in Ireland, the Titanic had the following number of passengers aboard:

First Class: 322.

Men 173 – women 144 – children 5.

Second Class: 277.

Men 160 – women 93 – children 24.

Third Class: 709.

Men 454 – women 179 – children 76.

Crew: 898.

Total passengers 1,308 / Crew 898 = 2,206 people on board.

A painting of the Titanic off Queenstown with the tender America alongside boarding passengers

Painting by & the superb artist Ken Marshall - www.kenmarschall.com

 

Here we see several Second Class passengers who had just boarded in Queenstown Ireland

 

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The Peaceful Part of the Voyage:

The next few days are relatively uneventful as the weather being relatively good and the sea icalm. Passengers on board were enjoying the ships many features and venues in their respective classes, especially in First Class with its ultimate with all its luxury and Second Class was not far behind! As there were many more men on board the ship than women, they tended to first spend some time in the Main Lounge after the evening meal with the ladies, but they always headed for their beloved Smoking Room, which was more of a deluxe men’s club and there some would play a game of cards and drink very expensive Brandy and smoke the finest cigars, etc, which went on into the very early hours of the morning! The ladies enjoyed the Main Lounge and the Palm Court and the delightful Library and Ladies Room.

But as time went on slowly the temperature was getting colder and colder and things began to change! Thus whilst passengers had been enjoying the outdoors previously, now they spent more of it indoors, and just went out for a breath of air so to say!

The Titanic receives several wireless messages from other ships heading toward her reporting ice.

The vital 17 Hours and Twenty Minutes that now follows to her sinking:

Sunday April 14, 1912:

Early in the morning reports regarding icebergs started to come in.

At 9 AM - the Caronia reported ice at Latitude: 42 N and Longitude: 50 W.

At 1.42 PM - the Baltic reports ice.

At 1.45 PM - the Amerika reports 2 large icebergs at Latitude: 41 27’ N and Longitude: 50 08’ W.

However, this message was not sent directly to the Titanic, but was supposed to be passed on to her as soon as the Titanic came within range of a transmitter.

At 7.30 PM - the Californian reports passing 3 large icebergs at Latitude: 42 03' N and Longitude: 49 09' W.

At 9 PM temperature was dropping rappidly.

The crow’s nest is ordered by Second Officer Lightoller to “keep a sharp lookout for ice.”

At 9.20 PM - Captain Smith retires to his cabin.

At 9.40 PM - the Mesaba reports pack ice, field ice and icebergs in the location of where the Titanic was sailing. However, there is no evidence that this message ever reached Captain Smith or the bridge.

Apparently, wireless operator Jack Phillips was so preoccupied with sending messages that had accumulated during the day to the land station at Cape Race, he placed the ice warning from Mesaba aside. Sadly A DEADLY MISTAKE!

10:00 PM - Temperatures are getting colder and colder. The Titanic was still sailing at full speed at 22.5 knots. The sea is calm, the skies are perfectly clear and the stars appear as brilliant points of light. But there is no moon.

At this time Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee take over lookout duty in the crow's nest. But for some reason, they are not provided with binoculars.

10.50 PM - the Californian sends an urgent wireless message directly to the Titanic telling them that they have stopped and surrounded by ice.

However before the Californian could relay their position, being about 20 miles north of Titanic, the Titanic’s wireless operator Jack Phillips angrily responded, “Shut up, shut up. You're jamming my signal. I'm busy. I'm working Cape Race.” The Californian's wireless operator, Cyril Furmstone Evans, waited patiently and then he finally gave up and turned off his equipment and went to bed.

11.30 PM – the lookouts in the Crows Nest, Fleet and Lee notice some low-lying mist ahead, but they do not see an iceberg. But they would have sighted the iceberg had they been issued binoculars.

Titanic heads directly for an Iceberg

10.39 PM - lookout Frederick Fleet picks up the phone that is directly connected to the bridge. Sixth Officer Moody answers the call and he is told, “Iceberg Right Ahead!”

The bridge immediately sends a “Stop” signal to the engine room, and this is followed up by a “Full Astern.

Quartermaster Robert Hitchins is urgently ordered to turn the ship “Hard-a-starboard” and the Titanic turns to the left.

However as we all know, the Titanic struck the iceberg on the starboard bow and the underwater section of the berg cut a long slice into her hull, on Sunday, April 14 at 11.40 PM and sadly the ship commences to flood.

A special comment:

Please note, although I will present an accurate timeline of events as the occurred, but I will not be going into all the horrid details of the death and tragedies that happened during that sad, sad night, be on the ship, in the water or in lifeboats, etc, for I am well aware that you may well have read much about that in the past, alternatively you will have seen much about it in movies, regardless the many inaccuracies.

However, there is one things we will always remember and that is the very brave band playing on Promenade Deck and they continued to do so until they just could do it anymore!

The question is; was their final piece, “Nearer to God to Thee” orSonge d’Automne,” also known asAuthum.

But did you know that these eight superb musicians were not actually employed by the White Star Line. The truth is, they all worked for Messers C.W. and F.N. Black of Liverpool in England and thus they were Second Class passengers and they had been doing a guest appearance that night in First Class.

Band Members Names:

Wallace Henry Hartley - Band leader.

Theodore Brailey – Keyboards.

Roger Bricoux – Cellist.

Fred Bass Clarke – Violist.

John (Jock) Hume - First violinist.

George Krins – Violist.

Percy Taylor – Cellist.

J. W. Woodward – Cellist.

Timeline of the Tragic Ending of this Great Ship!

Midnight - Thomas Andrews the ships designer, who was on board, informed Captain Smith that the first 6 watertight compartments had been breached and that he predicts that Titanic will stay afloat at the most for no more than two hours. And as water began to stream into the ship, she slowly began to tip her bow down into the sea.

12.05 AM - Captain Smith orders his crew to prepare the lifeboats and requests that wireless operators Harold Bride and Jack Phillips send the "CQD" distress signal. The message "CQD" is a general call, similar to what we know as the SOS call, to all ships, indicating the ship sending it is in distress and requires immediate assistance!

12:15 -AM - Titanic's wireless distress signal is first received by the Cape Race wireless station and the ships Mount Temple and La Provence. The message gives Titanic's position as: Latitude: 41 44' N and Longitude: 50 24' W.

12:24 AM to 01:20 AM - Eight distress rockets are fired and although some of these were seen by a ship (name withheld, but well known) in the distance, it was thought that they were the ship having a party and that they were just flares for the occasion.

12:25 AM - Captain Smith realizes the ship is lost and gives order to start filling lifeboats “women and children first.

The distress signal is being sent again this time using a corrected position of: Latitude: 41 46' N and Longitude: 50 14' W. This time the call for help is received by the Cunard liner SS Carpathia.

SS Carpathia

Please Note: # = number.

12:45 AM - The crew launched the first lifeboat - boat #7. Also the first distress rockets are fired.

12:55 AM - Lifeboats #5 and 6 are launched.

01:00 AM - Lifeboat #3 is launched.

01:10 AM - Lifeboat #8 is launched.

01:12 AM - Lifeboat #1 is launched.

01:15 AM - The water has now reached the name Titanic on her bow.

01:20 AM - Lifeboat #9 is launched.

01:21 AM - Lifeboat #10 is launched.

01:25 AM - Lifeboats #11 and 12 are launched.

01:27 AM - Lifeboat #14 is launched.

01:30 AM - Lifeboats #13 and 15 are launched.

01: 35 AM - Lifeboat #16 is launched.

01:40 AM – That coward J Bruce Ismay Managing Director of White Star slips into Collapsible lifeboat “C” that is then launched.

01:45 AM - Lifeboat #2 is launched.

01:55 AM - Lifeboat #4 is launched.

02:05 AM - Collapsible lifeboat “D” is launched just as the bow of the Titanic is has almost completely submerged, for the water is almost right up to and is beginning to flow  up to Bridge deck.

The grand staircase floods

02:10 AM - The very last wireless distress signals were sent. “We are sinking fast cannot last much longer” The stern is now beginning to rise rapidly above the ocean and fear levels begins to rise

02:17 AM - Titanic's distress signals abruptly end as the radio room looses all power. Both Bride and Phillips leave the radio room.

Two Collapsible lifeboats “A” and “B” floats off as Titanic sinks further, bur “B” sadly flips over and looses it passengers as the Titanic’s bos is now plunging deeper and the stern is high above.

02:18 AM - All lights on board blink just once and then they all go out – forever! Her forward funnel breaks off and it falls forward, hits the water crushing everyone in its path.

02:19 AM – Suddenly the Titanic breaks into two pieces, which happens between the third and fourth funnels. As the bow sinks even further, the stern goes downward and for a short time it rests on the surface of the sea.

02:20 AM – It is now two hours and forty minutes after Titanic struck the iceberg and what was hailed as one of the Great Ships, the RMS Titanic slips into the sea and begins its descent to the ocean floor to her watery grave!

The ship that the people called unsinkable ship,” slips into the sea and to her watery grave

Remember that White Star Line NEVER made such a claim, in any shape or form!

04:10 AM - The Carpathia is now on the scene and her crews pick up the first of Titanic's lifeboats #2.

08:30 AM - Carpathia crew pick up the last of Titanic's lifeboats, which was #12.

08:50 AM - SS Carpathia now heads to New York with all the Titanic survivors on board.

Saved were 703 passengers and 210 crew members, being just 32% saved in all.

However, it must be said that Third Class passengers came off the worst as their numbers rescued was simply disgustingly atrocious! There are not enough words of disgrace and outrage to describe my anger of class distinction of the British, and what is so sad, I sail frequently with P&O UK from Australia to Southampton, and there are a good number of these arrogant stuck up Brit’s who dare to say to me, “Oh you are a colonialist” or “one of those convicts, eh.” Actually, no I happened to be living in Australia by choice for my Mother and I went to New Zealand to live in 1958, and I worked in the shipping industry, then in 1962 I decided to go and live in Australia, which I was able to do having obtained the New Zealand nationality, and we were never immigrants but arrived having paid our own fares. In Australia I soon managed a shipping company!

But it is this horrid stuck up attitude of so many of the British that still seems exist, but thankfully not in all, for I have wonderful English friends and they are totally different to those stuck up people, who generally are no-bodies in real life and are on their very first cruise ever, whilst I would have been on my 140th.or so! But the point is this, that it was CLASS DESTIBQTIONM that allowed Third Class to drown and die, for if we look at the Stat’s 63% of First Class was saved, but only 23% of Third Class. Second Class did reasonably well with 42%. Thus it is obvious that money spoke very loudly on the Titanic!

At a time unknown, Mr. Bruce Ismay, the Managing Director of the White Star Line, who just happened to be one of the lucky rich First Class men saved, and to be honest he should have stayed with his ship like the captain, sent a message from the Carpathia to the New York office, and it read;

Deeply regret to advise you Titanic sank this morning after collision with iceberg, resulting in serious loss of life. Full particulars later, Ismay.” This man was an utter fool as history proved, for he was responsible for removing the additional lifeboats and for enforcing Captain Smith to remain full speed when it was clearly not safe to do so!

September 1, 1985.

Amazingly, the wreck of the Titanic was found on this day. I will not go into all this, for the details are well known!

Unbelievable, but the wreck of the Titanic is found

Titanic’s Two Sisters:

For interest and before I close, the first of the trio built was the RMS Olympic and she was the only of the three identical sisters that sailed on successfully as a Trans-Atlantic Liner. Indeed, she did operate during the war for her country, but afterwards she quickly returned to her regular service and continued to do so, until she was eventually broken up in 1937.

Here we see an Olympic brochure cover

 

HMHS Britannic is seen in her only ever role, as a Hospital ship

Then there is the third sister the Britannic that only ever served as a hospital ship during WW1, she departed on her first voyage on December 23, 1915, but she struck a mine on November 21, 1916. She sank that day, being less than a year after entering service. She was the largest of the three ships! There was a loss of 21 lives, but this ship was well equipped!

But due to the findings of the Titanic disaster, they learned a great deal, but did the passenger shipping industry really learn in those early days? It certainly started a revolution in relation to passenger safety, especially when it came to lifeboat numbers. But there were still other problems to be taken care off and a ship much later in history would highlight this!

The Greek Cruise Ship Lakonia was built as the superb Dutch liner MS Johan van Oldenbarnevelt

This ship in the 1960s would be responsible for another big change to maritime regulations

It would be later in history that new and a very stringent fire regulations came into place! This was the result of a major fire onboard the Greek cruise ship TSMS Lakonia, which in December 22, 1963 caught fire in the hairdressing Salon and it spread rapidly, which resulted in the loss of 98 passengers and 30 of her crew. There was an attempt to tow the ship to port, but she sank several days later.

Photograph by & Gerhard Jourdan

The new regulation that resulted is called SOLAS, or “Safety Of Life At Sea.” Obviously SOLAS is regularly updated and it is one of the most difficult regulations to keep up with. That is why many of the beautiful classic ex liners that are now cruise ships have gone to the breakers rather than keep them sailing for the cost of upgrading them is vast.

Yet thankfully there are still a number of superb ex classic liners still sailing as cruise ships to this day and their owners ensure that they are kept up to date and superbly maintained to the very highest degree and everything I have seen whilst on board these ships are in perfect shape! It is due to ships like Titanic and Lakonia that the maritime/shipping industry has learned so much and we now safely sail the seven seas!

For interest, there will be a “Deck Plan” available at a later date

Remembering the RMS Titanic!

I felt that this was best served with this silhouette photograph of her as it is the very last photograph ever

taken of the RMS Titanic as she departs Queenstown (Cobh) Ireland and so sadly sails towards disaster

 

RMS Titanic Index:

Part One … From construction to her tragic day & sinking!

Part Two Follow her day-by-day story from departure to sinking - This Page.

Part One … The Ships Deck Plan.

Also visit the RMS Olympic & HMHS Britannic Pages

Return to the ssMaritime Main INDEX

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