Monday, May 7, 2007

Sea Trials

The Titanic’s sea-trials were to commence on April 1st, 1912 at 10:00 am, but strong winds delayed it until the next day. The ship’s officers had spent a few days in Belfast making sure that everything was going to be ready for the sea-trials.

A coal strike had taken place a few months earlier, which means there was a shortage of coal. So in order for the Titanic to undertake her maiden voyage, the White Star Line had coal brought from other ships and canceled their routes. They moved passengers from those steamers to the Titanic at no extra cost.
The Titanic used a vast amount of coal every day, 850 tons to be exact.
So on April 2nd the Titanic’s sea-trails began, for the first time at Captain’s orders, the Titanic was put at full speed, and for the first time the ship’s system came to life and started to pound. The crew was eager to see what the Titanic was capable of. First she was to drift to a stop, then at 20 knots, the order for full speed astern was requested, it took her 850 yards to come to a complete stop. After that, various maneuvers were conducted to see and test what she was capable of. At top speed she reached 24.5 knots, more than her planned 21 knots. At full speed she made a circle in 3,850 feet diameter. The Titanic’s sea-trials lasted only 6 hours, same as the Olympics, and passed with flying colors. So with the official papers signed, stating that she met the requirements for the British Board Of Regulations, “making her good for one year” it allowed her to carry passengers, and to take on the endless sea.
So with sea trials quickly over, the Titanic sailed at midnight to Southampton where her maiden voyage would begin 8 days later.
The Titanic doesn’t just represent the skills and labor of men, but their hopes and dreams.
So now, the greatest ocean liner the world had ever seen, with the best crew and officers the world practically had to offer, would depart Southampton bound for New York, but would never make it. In just a matter of days the most famous shipwreck of all time was about to take place. Sometimes I wonder if Sea Trials were as strict as they should have been, considering how big these new class of ships were.


Anonymous said...

Sort of interesting that I'm stumbling into this post tonight. I was leisurely reading about this very topic this afternoon in Walter Lord's The Night Goes On and thinking, it's a shame they didn't consider more extensive sea trials over a longer period. They really underestimated what it would take to stop and turn, etc. And they certainly weren't getting the kind of experience they would need to sail such a HUGE ship.

Meanwhile, I really feel for those poor passengers who ended up transferred. They probably thought they were the luckiest people in the world, finding themselves on the Titanic. But for at least most of them, it really was a cruel twist of fate.

Anonymous said...

Okay, correction... the book is called The Night Lives On. (well, so much for saying I can read!)

Daniel said...

That was a good way to put it,
"a cruel twist of fate."
We can only imagine the happiness that was in their hearts when they found out that they actually got to sail on the Titanic!!!
I really feel that they should have made the new class of ships go through a more demanding set of trials. They were brand new to the ocean, and nobody really knew how they would respond!!!