The RMS Titanic was the largest ship in existence in its time. The British passenger liner was believed to be unsinkable, at least until it did exactly that. On April 15, 1912, during its maiden voyage from Southampton, England, to New York City, USA, it hit an iceberg and plunged to the depths of the ocean, taking the lives of over 1,500 passengers.
We all know the story, how could we not? It was, after all, the inspiration for a hugely successful Hollywood movie. The 1997 Titanic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet is one of the saddest love stories out there and it sure left a lasting impression on everyone who ever saw the film.
But let’s take a closer look into the real story. Here are 20 eerie facts about what happened the night the RMS Titanic sank, courtesy of Aunty Acid.
1. Coincidence or…?
American author Morgan Robertson wrote a novella titled Futility fourteen years before the Titanic sank. The story was about an unsinkable ship, called the Titan, that hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic Ocean and sank. There are many other similarities between the Titanic and the Titan: they both had insufficient lifeboats, both were similar sizes, and they both sank on an April night.
2. The true love story
There really was an amazing love story aboard the ship: that of Isidor and Ida Strauss. They were the owners of Macy’s department store and had been married for 41 years. When the Titanic started sinking, Isidor gave up his seat on the lifeboats in favor of the women and children. But Ida wouldn’t go without her husband, so they died together, arm in arm. In the movie, there is a couple who dies together in bed – this is a reference to the Strausses.
3. Out of the frying pan
There was a passenger on board who had previously survived another shipwreck. This person managed to save themselves when this other ship sank as a result of a fire, only to die a few years later when the Titanic sank.
4. Where did the rum go?
Charles Joughlin, the Titanic‘s chief baker survived two hours in the frigid waters before he was rescued. It is believed that the only reason he did not freeze to death was the copious amount of alcohol he had previously consumed.
5. So c-c-cold
The temperature of the water was 28 degrees Fahrenheit. That is -2 degrees Celsius, which is two degrees below freezing. The extremely cold water was another factor that contributed to the number of casualties.
6. Dust in the wind
In 20 years the remains of the Titanic will be completely gone. They will be consumed by the rust-eating bacteria Halomonas titanicae.
7. Unaware and underprepared
The Titanic had the capacity of carrying 64 lifeboats, but it had only 20. The number of people who knew how unequipped the ship was for any sort of emergency was very small. The lack of lifeboats and the fact that the few lifeboats they had weren’t filled to capacity were also huge contributors to the death toll.
8. Blind faith
The crew was so convinced that the ship couldn’t sink, that they were certain the lifeboats wouldn’t be necessary. The first lifeboat was released after a whole hour had passed since the collision with the iceberg.
9. The sweet music of life
One of the most heartbreaking scenes in the movie is actually based on a true fact. As the ship sank, the musicians did not stop playing. They played for over two hours, trying to boost the passengers’ morale, as they awaited their own deaths.
10. A watery grave
The remains of the Titanic were only discovered in 1985 – 73 years after the ship sank. Since then a great many artifacts have been retrieved from the wreck.
11. Disaster’s leisurely pace
It took the Titanic 2 hours and 40 minutes to sink. It broke in two parts and sank with over 1,000 passengers still on board.
12. News travels slowly
According to the initial newspaper reports, no lives were lost in the accident. The truth only became known two days later.
13. An unfortunate decision
There was supposed to be a lifeboat drill aboard the ship the same day it sank. It was canceled for unknown reasons. If they’d gone through with it, maybe countless lives would’ve been saved.
14. Five-star service
There were many first-class facilities on the Titanic, including a Parisian cafe and a squash court. Among the rest, there were also a barbershop, kennels, tea gardens, a gym and a library.
15. Just married
13 couples on board were on their honeymoons. Whether any of them survived is unknown.
16. The underprivileged
First class passengers had access to a Turkish bath. However, the 700 passengers in third class had to share only two bathtubs.
17. Lost at sea
Out of the estimated 2,224 passengers, 705 survivors were rescued by a nearby ship, the RMS Carpathia. More than 1,500 people died, but only 306 bodies were recovered.
18. Money can’t buy everything
The richest person on the Titanic was American businessman John Jacob Astor IV. He was worth $85 million; today that would be $2 billion. The last time he was seen, he was on the deck of the ship, smoking a cigarette with journalist and mystery writer Jacques Futrelle.
19. Everything is relative
The Titanic was 882 feet and 9 inches long. That’s equal to the length of two and a half football pitches put together. It seems huge, but it’s nothing in comparison with today’s ships.
20. The fatal flaw
The fifteen bulkheads of the ship were individually watertight. But water could spill from one compartment to the next. This is what caused the ship to sink: the weight of the water finally pulled it under.