By Paul Wein
I am not a scholar, historian or scientist, but there is one particular historical event that has always fascinated me. I have studied it, read books about it, and watched documentaries about it time and time again – the historical event I speak of is the doomed maiden voyage of the Titanic.
I have no idea why the Titanic infatuates me as much as it does. I just always remember having an interest in the ship. The fact that so many people died on a ship that those who built it declared “unsinkable” and were so sure of its indestructibility, they vowed that “not even God Himself could sink”, just is – to me – a clear example of man’s arrogance and self-superiority.
Almost everyone knows the story of how the Titanic struck an iceberg in 1912 and sank, costing the lives of over 1,500 people because there were not enough lifeboats on board and the Carpathia, the ship that came to Titanic’s aid, was hours away and reached the site of the wreck far too late to save those that didn’t go down with the ship. But for those of you that are also Titanic buffs like myself – here are some really interesting points about the ship that many people don’t know:
- The hull of the ship was the length of four City blocks.
- When built, it was the largest object ever built by man.
- If placed upright, Titanic would have been taller than any of the buildings of her day.
- Titanic’s main anchor had a mass of 15.5 tons. It took 20 horses to haul it through the streets of Belfast. Coupled with her other two massive anchors, the three together weighed a total of 31 tons.
- Each chain link weighed 175 lbs.
- Titanic’s four funnels were 175 feet high, and were so large, you could drive a locomotive through them. Only the front 3 were used, the stern funnel was used as ventilator.
- A work force of 15,000 forged more than two thousand one-inch plates to form Titanic’s hull, using more than three million rivets.
- When completed, the ship weighed some 46,000 tons and was 882 feet long.
- Titanic cost $7.5 million to build in 1912 – today, it would cost nearly $400 million.
- When completed, Titanic was as high as an eleven story building.
- Titanic was the first ocean liner to have both a swimming pool and a gym.
- Titanic had three propellers; the middle one was 16 feet across, and the other two were over 23 feet across.
- There was 29 boilers on Titanic; each were 15 feet high and weighed over 100 tons each.
- Titanic had a great triple-toned whistle. The largest ever built.
- Workers loaded 5,892 tons of coal aboard Titanic for her maiden voyage, and stokers were working day and night shoveling 690 tons of coal per day into her massive boilers.
- 23 tons of soap, grease, and train oil were used to slide Titanic into the water for the first and final time.
- For her maiden voyage, she carried enough food to feed a small town for several months. This is a small list of what Titanic took on her one – and only – voyage:
- 75,000 pounds of fresh meat.
- 35,000 eggs.
- 800 bundles of asparagus.
- 1,000 bottles of wine.
- 15,000 bottles of ale and stout.
- 12,000 dinner plates.
- 1,000 oyster forks.
- 15,000 champagne glasses.
- 40,000 towels.
- 45,000 table napkins.
And the worst fact of all…
- When Titanic first realized it was doomed, it sent an SOS to the Californian, a ship that was very close in distance to Titanic, much closer then the Carpathia. When the captain of the Californian got the news that Titanic was in need of help – he simply went back to sleep.
It’s very sad that such an incredible ship did not survive past her maiden voyage. Though both the ship and her crew did not return from their ill-fated maiden voyage – the memory of what Titanic was, is, and always will be – will never be forgotten.