The sinking of the RMS Titanic is one of the worst nautical tragedies to ever happen.
Despite happening 110 years ago, stories of what it was like to board the magnificent ship and watch it meet its tragic demise still fascinate and horrify people to this day.
This international tragedy was filled with miscalculations, improper preparation, and poor communication.
The only survivor remaining of that terrible night of April 14th in 1912 is the ship itself, but even the RMS Titanic’s time may soon come to an end.
How Long Did It Take The Titanic To Sink?
The Titanic sank over the course of 2 hours and 40 minutes after hitting the infamous iceberg.
There was a 60-minute delay between when the massive ship crashed and when the lifeboats began to be deployed.
At about 11:35 am, the vessel’s lookouts had spotted the fatal iceberg about ¼ mile ahead of the ship.
After an unsuccessful attempt at a sharp-turning maneuver, the ship hit the iceberg which put a massive hole in the ship’s hull.
By 1:20 am, the bow of the Titanic began pitching violently and water began flooding through the anchor-chain holes of the vessel.
Only 40 minutes later, the front of the ship began its plunge into the water as the propellers were lifted out of the water and faced the night sky.
It only took 10 minutes for the Titanic to tilt to a 45° angle, which caused massive strain on the upper structural steel.
Two minutes later, the stern had completely risen out of the water and the boat became even heavier because of all the water inside.
The Titanic would get ripped violently into two separate pieces due to the sheer amount of weight caused by the ocean that had gone into the bow and stern of the ship.
As the stern tore apart, its position became fully vertical, and it sunk into the water’s depths all in the span of two minutes.
By 2:30 am, the Titanic was nowhere in sight and its location remained a mystery until 1985.
Prior to the Titanic being found, nobody knew what happened to the vessel for 73 years.
Although people of the time may not have known the exact details of what happened to the RMS Titanic, many nautical safety regulations were put into place because of the international disaster.
How Far Away From Land Was The Titanic When It Sank?
The Titanic was only about 400 miles away from land when it hit the iceberg, and the rescue vessel, Carpathia, was 58 miles away when its crew began receiving distress signals from the Titanic.
If some small features of the Titanic’s design had been changed, it may have lasted long enough to get much closer to the shores of Newfoundland.
When the wreckage was found by Dr. Robert Ballard and the United States Navy, it was about 400 miles east of Newfoundland.
Ballard may have been a marine biologist by trade, but he always saw himself as a marine archeologist and had made a name for himself finding underwater wrecks.
Ballard and his crew were able to identify the Titanic using blueprints and unmanned ROV drones to search the deep ocean.
They were able to confirm that they were looking at a piece of the Titanic by matching portholes, cabins, and other items with their blueprints.
The underwater drone gave the researchers 2.5 hours’ worth of footage before the weather and technical issues cut the expedition short.
There have been many research groups that have studied the wreck site for a multitude of studies, including everything from nautical history to microbiology.
Although the Titanic may never see the light of day again, thousands of artifacts have been recovered from the ship.
However, expeditions must get permission to touch anything near the Titanic from multiple countries’ governments because it is now a historical site.
How Big Was The Hole That Caused The Titanic To Sink?
The hole created by the impact with the iceberg was estimated to be anywhere between 220 feet to 245 feet in length and about 12 cubic feet in width.
During an expedition to the Titanic wreck site in 1991, scientists discovered a massive chunk of the Titanic’s hull that settled away from the stern and bow.
While looking at the thick, frisbee-shaped piece of metal, they found three rivet holes that were each 1.25 inches in diameter.
The scientists quickly realized what they were looking at was the chunk of the hull that the iceberg had torn off.
The material was an inch thick and was eventually retrieved by researchers from the icy depths it had lain in for nearly a century.
After examining the broken piece of the hull, the researchers found that the steel used to create the exterior of the Titanic was full of sulfur.
When poor quality steel is exposed to low temperatures and hits something with a high amount of force, it causes brittle fracture.
Brittle fracture can completely compromise a piece of material because the damage spreads out in a web of thin string-like shapes.
On the night of the historic sinking, the waters were below freezing temperatures and the Titanic hit the fatal iceberg at a fairly high speed.
How Much Water Caused The Titanic To Sink?
It took approximately 38,000 tons of water to sink the “unsinkable” ship, which means that 400 tons of water filled the Titanic every minute after it began taking in water.
The massive hole in the boat caused the watertight compartments to begin filling by midnight and the entire boat sank to the ocean floor shortly after water started to fill the boat.
The flawed design of the watertight compartments allowed water to rush through the lower decks of the ship before the bottom deck crew could even pull the lever for the watertight doors.
Even when doors were closed, the water from neighboring compartments would burst them wide open and begin flooding the compartments all the same.
Modern engineers have discovered that if the bulkheads of the ship had been just a few feet taller, they may have been able to contain all the water rushing in.
Even if they couldn’t completely contain the tons of water flowing into the Titanic, it would have slowed the rate of sinking long enough for more rescue boats to save more passengers.
When the water first began flooding the boat, it was dragging the boat deeper below the waterline and proved that compartments had been rendered useless.
Some modern scientists have even concluded that the compartments were actually more of a hindrance and may have contributed to the sudden sinking of the Titanic.
After the sinking of the Titanic, the White Star Line decided to modify the Titanic’s sister ships that shared the same compartment technology.
The double bottoms of the sister ships were extended up the sides of the hull to offer more protection against holes, and bulkheads were raised.
There were many mistakes made with the Titanic that haunted the White Star Line and drove them to improve.
How Long Did It Take The Titanic To Reach The Bottom Of The Sea?
It only took five to 10 minutes before the bow and the stern of the Titanic reached the ocean floor, and the ship has remained in its watery grave ever since.
To reach the bottom of the ocean at this rate, the bow section of the Titanic would have had to be traveling downward at about 35 miles per hour.
Despite being split into two sections, the pieces weren’t even and actually tore apart right in front of the third funnel.
The stern of the ship is estimated to have traveled at a much faster speed of around 50 miles per hour towards the ocean floor.
When looking at what remains of the Titanic, researchers have been able to clearly spot additional crushing damage to the stern because of the rate it was traveling and the sudden impact of the solid ocean floor.
The Titanic would remain missing until September 1st of 1985 when marine biologist Dr. Robert Ballard used unmanned vehicles to search for the vessel.
The ROV drones were chosen for the “look, don’t touch” mission in order to preserve the rusting corpse of the famed ship.
When the wreck was revisited in 2019, rust had fully eaten away at different sections of the ship.
The Titanic is now just an extremely fragile surface covered in rusticles.
While the ship is still semi-recognizable, it lacks the detail it once had and is missing many famous sections of the broken vessel that were once clearly visible.
At this point, the Titanic is deteriorating so quickly that researchers doubt it will be visible for much longer.
Due to the short life expectancy of the Titanic, researchers have been flocking to the site of the wreck to better understand microbiology and how different materials deteriorate underwater.
Even the Titanic must come to an end.
How Many Days Did The Titanic Sail Before It Sank?
The Titanic was a fresh, new boat that had only been on the open sea for four days when disaster struck.
Although the days before had been filled with hope, excitement, and laughter, the sinking of the Titanic resulted in many families being torn apart and just as many dreams ruined.
Before the sinking of the Titanic, most of the guests aboard the Titanic were having a wonderful time enjoying what seemed to be the most luxurious ship ever created.
Across the 46,000-ton ship, there was a swimming pool, a gym, a photography darkroom, Turkish baths, ballrooms, and multiple cigar rooms.
The Titanic was also known for its exquisite interior design, first-class dining saloon, and four different elevators.
The majority of the Titanic had been designed by Thomas Andrews of Harland and Wolff.
Construction of the Titanic had begun on March 3rd of 1909 in Belfast in what is now Northern Ireland.
From the beginning, the Titanic was meant to be the biggest and most luxurious vessel to ever carry voyagers across the sea.
Word had spread quickly around the world about what was being built in Belfast, and the public was quick to decide whether it was the future of sea voyaging or a death sentence.
When it began to be described as “unsinkable,” many people saw it as tempting fate with terrible ideas.
On May 31st of 1911, the Titanic was launched and shipbuilders began the fitting-out phase.
The ship’s maiden voyage would start on April 10th of 1912 from Southampton, England.
That same day, the Titanic left England for Cherbourg, France.
The Titanic would make its final stop at Queenstown, Ireland on April 11th of 1912.
Jovial activities and relaxation didn’t immediately stop for everyone on the ship when the vessel crashed.
Although concerned passengers had been told everything was okay, that wasn’t the truth.
How Much Notice Did The Crew Have Of The Iceberg?
Only 30 seconds passed between the time when the iceberg was spotted and when the Titanic actually hit the iceberg.
The crew had received at least six different warnings about icebergs in the area and were encouraged to stop sailing for the night, but the warnings were brushed off as the Titanic had been known as the “unsinkable” ship.
The radio operators for the Titanic had been originally hired to work for the guests aboard the Titanic and preferred to focus on ensuring that the guests were able to call whomever they pleased while on their cruise.
When the radio operators got their first warning, they reported it to senior radio operator Jack Phillips, and he told the crew that there were icebergs in the area.
Putting their faith in the compartment technology that the Titanic was pioneering, the crew carried on.
As the radio operators began receiving more warnings from nearby ships, they began to get snippy with the other ships’ crews and informed them that their seemingly needless reminders were getting in the way of the operators doing their job serving guests.
The final warning that the Titanic received warned heavily of large icebergs surrounding the Titanic, so the radio operators decided this warning was important enough to inform their boss, senior radio operator Jack Phillips.
However, Phillips didn’t pass this warning on to the captain of the Titanic because it didn’t carry the prefix of MSG, or Masters’ Service Gram.
Instead, Phillips focused his attention on sending out the final few messages for the receiver at Cape Race, Newfoundland before they went out of range.
Due to the low-riding icebergs surrounding the ship and the dense fog that had formed, it was less than a minute before the Titanic struck the massive iceberg.
How Many Of The Compartments Were Ruptured?
Six out of 16 of the Titanic’s watertight compartments were ruptured when it crashed into the iceberg.
The designers of the Titanic had theorized that four of the vessel’s compartments could be ruptured without needing to worry about sinking, but the iceberg had caused more damage than anyone had planned the ship would take.
Each of the 16 compartments was labeled from A to P, with A starting at the bow and P beginning at the stern of the ship.
All of the lower compartments of the ship went up to the E deck of the ship.
Fifteen bulkheads separated the 16 compartments with watertight doors that could be opened and closed when needed to prevent flooding from spreading to the entire ship.
However, the doors were not able to contain the hundreds of tons of water that were pouring into the “unsinkable” vessel every minute.
In order to create a truly watertight compartment, the area must be completely closed off on all six sides.
The “watertight” doors may have made it easier for guests and crew to travel around the lower decks of the ship, but they ended up being the weakest spots in the compartments.
In addition to making the compartments weak, they were also a burden for the crew to close.
Normally, the doors were held open using a friction clutch and the crew would use a control panel on the bridge or wheelhouse to release the clutch.
Although each door could be opened by throwing a lever, it was a hassle to get to and required that bottom-level crew to have to travel a great distance.
When researchers traversed the sunken corpse of the Titanic, not a single one of these doors was closed.
How Big Was The Iceberg That Sank The Titanic?
The iceberg was recounted as being anywhere from 50 to 100 feet in height and 200 to 400 feet in length, according to collective accounts of the Titanic survivors.
Five days after the sinking of the Titanic, photographer Stephen Rehorek joined the MS Bremen and was able to get a photo of the iceberg.
Experts believed that the iceberg originated from the Ilulissat ice shelf near Greenland and had been around for about two years.
It was a mile in length when it was rediscovered, but it was most likely only half the size it had been due to its 40-mile journey across a long fjord.
It is unusual for an iceberg of that size to travel as low as it did, making this one of the 1% to 4% of all icebergs originating from the Ilulissat ice shelf that reach the shipping route.
Most Ilulissat icebergs will travel north along Greenland’s west coast before heading south towards the coast of Baffin Island.
They will then continue heading towards Newfoundland and Labrador before reaching the gulf streams towards the Atlantic.
The warmer waters of the gulf streams are what usually melt icebergs or at least heavily reduce their size.
Although we have been able to save the accounts of survivors, there is no way of knowing the size of the entire iceberg that sank the Titanic because the survivors were likely only seeing about 10% of its full size.
Only 10% of an iceberg actually sticks up out of the water and some experts theorize the total mass of the iceberg displaced about one billion tons of seawater.
The iceberg that sank the Titanic was only one of one or two icebergs that broke apart from the Ilulissat ice shelf in 1909.
How The Titanic Changed Everything
The sinking of the Titanic devastated citizens from around the world and was one of the first world events to bring countries from across the globe together to mourn.
Although the majority of passengers lost their lives, their memory lives on thanks to the historians and writers who kept the name of the RMS Titanic in the public eye.
No one will ever call a nautical vessel “unsinkable” again.