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Told And Untold Stories Of R.M.S. TITANIC (Part II)

November 03, 2011  by: S. Chowdhury  Points: 12   Category: Others  Earning $0.45   Views: 789

Ignoring several Iceberg warnings R.M.S. Titanic continued to speed-up and eventually met her fatal destiny when she collided with an Iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912. Still that was not the death nail but some faulty designs of Titanic made sure that she would eventually sink.


(Continued from Part I)

After that 'R.M.S. Titanic' left the dock and commenced its travel on sea. In the next two days it first sailed to Cherbourg in France and subsequently to Queenstown in Ireland to pick up a few additional passengers. Then it was all open sea and uncharted territory ahead of her. The following two days were not that eventful even though one thing was constant that the speed limit of the ship was raised bit by bit till it reached top speed that was to prove disastrous afterwards. It is generally believed this was not the lone decision of the Captain of 'R.M.S. Titanic' Edward John Smith and that this was instigated by the pressings of Joseph Bruce Ismay, Managing Director of White Star Line, who was also traveling with the ship and wanted to stir the newspaper headlines by a faster arrival to New York. In oceanic waters normally populated by heavy pack of icebergs it is not natural to run at that speed (about 23knots) and it is still a mystery as to why Captain Smith didn't exercise his wisdom and over thirty years of experience at sea. As a Captain he had avoided major mishaps in other Ships earlier and combined with the 'unsinkable' tag of Titanic probably made him complacent enough to let his guard down.

Captain Edward John Smith

During this journey Titanic received a lot of iceberg warnings through wireless messages from several other ships running in the same waters but Captain Smith simply chose to ignore those. On April 14 - the day of the collision with the iceberg - Titanic received seven iceberg warnings in total at different times of the day including a very important iceberg warning message stating the exact location of the ice pack from the ship 'S.S. Mesaba' at 9.40 P.M. the Ship's time just a couple of hours before the fatal accident and unfortunately as per the reports it didn't reach the deck as the wireless operators were busy sending personal messages of the passengers. Just less than an hour before the accident at 10.55 P.M. the wireless operator of another vessel 'S.S. Californian' tried to contact the Titanic and let her know that there is a massive concentration of ice in the surrounding area for which it had decided to stop and wait out the night but was apparently rebuked by the Titanic wireless operator Jack Philips for jamming his signal as he was overloaded with pending requests of personal messages which couldn't be sent for the better part of the day due to breaking of the apparatus that was repaired after a lot of effort. Thus, 'R.M.S. Titanic' was right on course to meet with her fatal destiny lurking in the deceptive black waters of the North Atlantic Ocean in an apparently calm yet bitterly cold moonless night.

Two men, Reginald Robinson Lee and Frederick Fleet were perched in the Crow's Nest (Crow's Nest is a small enclosed space near the top of a ship's Mast from which a person can see in all directions) to lookout for icebergs or any danger ahead. Just few minutes before 11.40P.M. - the time of the collision - Fleet suddenly spotted a giant iceberg in the ship's path, clearing itself out of darkness. At that time Titanic was traveling at a speed of 22knots (approximately 41Km/hr). He immediately rang the alarm bell three times and then made a phone call to the deck mentioning the famous words: "Iceberg! Right Ahead." At that time First Officer William Murdoch was in control of the deck as Captain Smith was taking a break. He ordered to turn the ship away from the berg with a full reversal of the engine but since the ship had small propellers turning in an instant was not possible. Thus Titanic's starboard side (right side) collided with the iceberg. The shudder of the impact was felt by everyone in the Ship, either awake or sleeping, from top to bottom, such intense was its force.

Titanic colliding with the Iceberg

The steel plates used in the hull (the body or frame of a ship) of the Titanic was generally strong enough to withstand the impact but in those days the steel that was generally used had an weakness compared to the modern steel: it became brittle in freezing point, thus creating a perfect scenario for exposing its weakness. Also the rivets that were used to clamp the steel plates were inferior as in those days an excessive amount of slag, which is a glass-like substance that strengthened metals if used in less percentage, was used to manufacture the rivets that made it weak. Therefore the iceberg not only made the hull to buckle at the points of impact but also hundreds of rivets popped out instantly that were there to hold the steel plates together. The devastating result was the formation of gaps in the hull at the points of impact causing the flooding of lower section of the bow of Titanic. 'R.M.S. Titanic' had 16 watertight compartments fitted with steel doors that could be closed by pressing a button in 25 seconds to stop the ship from flooding, but the ship was made in such a way that it could stay afloat with first four flooded watertight compartments, not five. Sadly, the gushing of icy seawater through gaps in the hull opened up by the berg caused the first five compartments to be flooded almost immediately. Also as the bow of the Ship slants further under the weight of water accumulated already in the bow section, water would spill over the transverse bulkheads of the watertight compartments ensuring the continual flooding. Therefore it was a certainty that Titanic would eventually founder.

One of the doors of Titanic Watertight Compartments

Captain Smith, awakened by the impact, immediately ordered the engines to be stopped fully and summoned Thomas Andrews, Head Ship Building Designer, to carry out an inspection of the damages. This man - Thomas Andrews - has been with 'R.M.S. Titanic' since its inception and he knew every nook and corner of the ship like the back of his hand. He went to inspect the extent of the damage on the Captain's orders and what he saw that night was the shock of his life he had never thought of even in his wildest of imaginations. He came back and told the men who mattered on the ship, including Bruce Ismay, Managing Director, White Star Line and Captain Smith about the ultimate fate of 'R.M.S. Titanic'. It was tough for everybody to grapple with the ruthless reality of a supposedly 'unsinkable' Ship. Captain Smith immediately ordered his wireless operators to send distress signals to other ships and call for immediate assistance. Thus a new technology of the then time, S.O.S. was used for the first time.


Encyclopedia Titanica.
Several other websites.

(To be Continued)


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