100th Anniversary of the Titanic Disaster

“Remember, amateurs built the Ark; professionals built the Titanic.”

One hundred years ago at 11:40 pm on April 14, 1912, RMS Titanic, dubbed the “unsinkable ship,” struck an iceberg while on her maiden voyage. The ill-fated vessel slowly slid beneath the water and finally sank at 2:20 am on April 15,  landing at the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. More than 1,500 people lost their lives, which was nearly 70% of those aboard the ship. Only 710 people – mostly women and children – survived.

The Titanic was 882 feet 9 inches long (as long as three football fields), with a maximum breadth of 92 feet 6 inches. Her total height, measured from the base of the keel to the top of the bridge, was 104 feet (as tall as a 10-story building). At the time, Titanic was the world’s largest moveable man-made object. In comparison, the largest transatlantic ocean liner in service today is the RMS Queen Mary 2 at 1,132 ft. in length. (Some cruise ships have surpassed the traditional ocean liners in size. However, Queen Mary 2 remains the largest transoceanic passenger ship in the world.)

The wreck of the Titanic remains on the seabed, gradually disintegrating at a depth of 12,415 feet. While it was known where the Titanic went down, the wreckage was not discovered until the summer of 1985, nearly 73 years after the tragedy. The ship rests on the ocean bottom in two large pieces about a third of a mile apart at a depth of nearly 12,500 feet (2½ miles underwater). Dr. Robert Ballard found the wreck after painstakingly combing a 100-mile-square area of seabed with a French colleague. “We saw the cemetery there, marked by shoes,” he said.

Ballard is using the 100th anniversary of the ship’s sinking to bring attention to what he says is the unnecessary destruction of the historic site by tourists. “They are landing on it, crushing the deck, knocked off the crow’s nest, leaving all sorts of garbage,” he said. “But you don’t go to Gettysburg with a shovel. You don’t take belt buckles off the Arizona. So, visit, but don’t touch,” he said. If a good faith effort to keep visitors off the deck doesn’t work, Ballard said “robot sentries” could be deployed to alert authorities to trespassers.

The oceanographer advocates painting the remains of the ship’s hull with preservative to prevent further corrosion and hold the ship together. Sediment is protecting the bow and he opposes excavating it. “If we can hold it together you are creating an underwater museum,” he said. “I also went to the survivors, there were 24 of them alive when I found it. They said leave it. It’s the graveyard of my parents.” But thousands of artifacts have been recovered from the wreckage and put on display at museums around the world.

The Titanic has become one of the most famous ships in history, her memory kept alive by numerous books, folk songs, documentaries, exhibits, and memorials. The disaster even spawned one of the highest-grossing movies of all time – James Cameron’s Oscar-winning Titanic. In Belfast, Northern Ireland, where the White Star Line’s most infamous ship was built, the Titanic Belfast Museum opened last month complete with interactive, hands-on exhibits, catering to the public’s ongoing fascination with the Titanic.

The Titanic Memorial Cruise, organized by a British travel agency, is following the route the Titanic took, and was scheduled to be in the exact spot at the exact time Titanic hit the iceberg. Besides a memorial service, the cruise features history lectures and Edwardian period costumes. “The people on the ship represented a lifestyle that disappeared when the ship sank,” cruise passenger Tom Byron says. “It was the end of the Gilded Age — the Edwardian period where the rich people got off the ship, mostly, and the third class of people mostly perished.”

Visit the links below for more info:

http://www.britannica.com/titanic/ – Encyclopedia Britannica Presents Titanic: The Unsinkable Ship – The story of the Titanic, from its construction to its early demise to its lasting influence on popular culture, told through articles, photographs, and interactive features.

http://www.the-titanic.com – Tourism Ireland’s official website about the Titanic – which was built in Belfast, Ireland – contains many pages of stories, facts, pictures, news, and Titanic FAQs.

http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/titanic.htm – Eyewitness to History: The Sinking of the Titanic, 1912.

http://adventure.howstuffworks.com/titanic4.htm – An Ill-fated Voyage: Truly Titanic Mistakes.

http://news.yahoo.com/100th-anniversary-titanic-10-things-didn-t-know-232200873.html – The 100th Anniversary of the Titanic: 10 Things You Didn’t Know.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZFrDhpzigug – The only existing film footage of the Titanic.

http://youtu.be/xD9-z6Nw2FM – Video montage of photos showing the Titanic from before its departure to its final journey. (Ends with scenes from the Titanic movie.)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjKGYJac0GU – Video re-creation of How the Titanic Sank.

http://ocean.nationalgeographic.com/ocean/photos/discovering-titanic/ – National Geographic Photo Gallery: Discovering the Titanic.

http://www.nejman.com/todiefor/halifax.htm – Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where many of the Titanic victims are buried.

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