a British passenger ship


Titanic was a British passenger ship that struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean in 1912. The disaster occurred on the liner's first voyage, from Southampton, England, to New York City. The Titanic sideswiped the iceberg at about 11:40 p.m. on April 14. The impact caused a number of small cracks and failed riveted seams in the ship's hull. Seawater flooded through the bow of the ship. About 2˝ hours later, the vessel broke in two and sank.

The Titanic carried enough lifeboats for only about half of its approximately 2,200 passengers and crew. The first rescue ship to reach the site, the British liner Carpathia, arrived about 4:00 a.m. and picked up 705 survivors, most of whom were women and children. A total of 1,517 people died in the disaster. The Titanic's captain, Edward J. Smith, went down with his ship. Also among the dead were many wealthy and famous passengers, including millionaire John Jacob Astor and department store owner Isidor Straus.

The Titanic was the largest and most luxurious ocean liner of its time. It displaced (moved out of place) more than 52,000 long tons (53,000 metric tons) of water and measured 882˝ feet in length. Many people believed the ship was unsinkable because its hull was divided into 16 watertight compartments. Even if 2 of those compartments flooded, the ship could still float. As a result of the collision with the iceberg, 6 compartments initially flooded.

In 1985, a team of French and American scientists led by Robert D. Ballard of the United States and Jean-Louis Michel of France found the wreckage of the Titanic. The ship lay in two sections about 400 miles southeast of Newfoundland at a depth of about 12,500 feet.

For years, people thought that the Titanic sank because the iceberg cut a huge gash in its hull. But the wreck showed no sign of a gash. A study of steel samples from the ship concluded that the hull was made of a steel that became brittle in the frigid North Atlantic waters and fractured easily during the collision. Inquiries have also shown that the Titanic was traveling too fast for an area where there was danger of icebergs. The ship was traveling at about 21 knots (nautical miles per hour), nearly its top speed, when lookouts sighted the iceberg.

Contributor: William H. Garzke, Jr., M.S., Staff Naval Architect, Gibbs & Cox, Inc.

Additional resources

Ballard, Robert D. The Discovery of the Titanic. Rev. ed. Warner Bks., 1995.

Kent, Deborah. The Titanic. Childrens Pr., 1993. Younger readers.

Lynch, Donald. Titanic. Hyperion, 1992.


Use Browser « Back Button To Return To Last Page Visited
Copyright (1998 - 2000): Concord Learning Systems, Concord, NC.
All rights reserved. For details and contact information:
See License Agreement, Copyright Notice.