15 Facts About The Titanic

Video highlights from Drain the Titanic

15 things you may not have known about the famous ship.

1. The official number of lives lost on the Titanic has never been agreed upon universally due to the original passenger and crew list having misspellings, aliases, and omissions, as well as failure to count certain contracted employees, including the musicians on board, as either crew or passengers. Since the liner was American-owned, but British-registered, and carried over 2,000 passengers and crew from many different nationalities, that made it harder still to come to agreement. During initial hearings, the US Senate committee listed that 1,517 lives were lost, but the British Board of Trade listed the number at 1,503.

2. Phil Gowan, a Titanic historian who was interviewed by National Geographic for Save the Titanic, has spent decades tracking down descendants of passengers and putting together a database. His tally: 1,496 died. 712 survived. 2,208 on board.
3. White Star Line, the company that owned the Titanic, was one of the first to offer not only first and second-class, but third class accommodations as well. To compete with its rival, Cunard, who focused on building fast ships, White Star Line focused more on reliability, size, and comfort. Titanic, and her sister ships, Olympic and Britannic were a result of that choice.

4. The most expensive one-way ticket on Titanic was $4,350 – more than $97,000 in today's dollars.

5. The first life claimed by Titanic was that of Samuel Joseph Scott, a 15-year-old rivet catcher, almost 2 years before the ship hit an iceberg. Samuel died from a fractured skull after he fell from a ladder on the ship's scaffolding.

6. Work conditions and safety standards in early 20th century shipyards were such that injuries were common and deaths were expected. Only 5 days before Titanic sank, on April 10, 1912, a report was presented detailing the deaths and accidents that had occurred during the ship's construction: 8 fatal accidents, 28 severe accidents and 218 slight accidents.
7. Interest in finding Titanic's wreck began almost immediately. Just days after the sinking, Vincent Astor, son of the wealthy John Jacob Astor, announced his intention to send an expedition to blow a hole in the side of the ship and recover his father's body. The Astor, Widener and Guggenheim families got as far as hiring a wrecking company to locate and retrieve the ship before admitting that they lacked the technology to succeed.
8. Prior to Ballard's discovery of the wreck in 1985, the most ambitious attempts to find Titanic were organized by Jack Grimm, a Texas oilman already known for his attempt to find Noah's Ark in Turkey. Grimm raised millions of dollars, hired scientists and led three expeditions to the North Atlantic. A 1981 expedition produced a grainy photograph that Grimm long maintained was of the Titanic's anchor.
9. Experts worried that a major underwater earthquake in 1929 had covered up the Titanic and that the wreck would never be found. Underwater landslides caused extensive damage to transatlantic cables and Ballard feared there might be nothing left to find.

10. After the sinking, the chairman of the White Star Line, J. Bruce Ismay, was singled out as an emblem of greed and poor leadership. Ismay was a passenger aboard Titanic when it hit the iceberg and, unlike other "gentleman", managed to find a spot on a lifeboat. As a result, the towns of Ismay, Texas and Ismay, Montana wanted to change their names.

11. Deep water docks were specially constructed to be able to accommodate White Star Line's large new ships. Titanic was destined for Pier 59 in New York City. Today that pier has been converted into a golf driving range as part of the Chelsea Piers Sports & Entertainment Complex. Just south of there is Cunard's Pier 54, where survivors of the Titanic disaster arrived on the Carpathia.

12. In 1912, Harland & Wolff employed almost 15,000 workers for the construction of Olympic and Titanic. Workers had a 9 hour day, 49 hour work week with 4 unpaid holidays off each year and one unpaid week in July.

13. Titanic was launched on May 31, 1911 and became the largest man-made moving object in the world. 100,000 people are said to have watched the launch. Slipping the ship into the water required 22 tons of grease and soap.

14. One Harland & Wolff worker, 43 year old James Dobbin was seriously injured during Titanic's launch, by some falling timber. He died the next day from his injuries.

15. Titanic was originally intended to have 32 lifeboats, but an anticipated change to the British Board of Trade lifeboat regulations never occurred, so the number was reduced to 20. This was four more than the legally required number of lifeboats for a ship its size.

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