Monday, October 27, 2008

Titanic’s Departure

Sailing day! On Wednesday April 10th, 1912, the Titanic would depart from Southampton to Cherbourg, then from Cherbourg to Queenstown, stopping at these places to pick up passengers and mail. Then from these different places to New York.
We can only imagine the excitement of the owners and the officers about to take the biggest ship in the world across the Atlantic for the first time. Lord Pierre would not be able to make this trip because of poor health. J.B. Ismay would go in his place, with the chief designer, Thomas Andrews.
The passengers were amazed at the size and luxury of the Titanic, one person said “we were just dazzled when we got on this big lovely boat, it seemed like a floating palace.” Third class accommodations were the same as second class aboard other ships, and second class was just as nice, if not nicer than first class on other ships, and first class was equal to the best hotels of the day. It was a class of it’s own, nothing else could compare to it.
Like the Olympic, the Titanic had carpet in most first class rooms, but one passenger who had sailed on the Olympic, and sailed on the Titanic’s first voyage said “the Olympic had fine carpet, but the Titanic ahhh, you sank up to your knees in it.”
Leaving Southampton and rounding a bend, the Titanic was traveling at a slow speed when she went by the New York (a small steamer) tied to her moors. The suction from the Titanic went by the liner and snapped the thick ropes like dry vines, whipping them into the face of the crowed that had gathered for the occasion. As the New York pulled closer, Captain Smith ordered astern all engines hoping to push the smaller liner away, but she was too close. Collision mats were hung over the side of the Titanic to soften any collision that might happen. Two tugs (Samson and Hercules) were able to hold the New York back. This misfortune caused the Titanic’s progress to be pushed back by an hour. This also caused commotion with the passengers. Would these new leviathans be too big to handle? Were they a hazard to other ships? This was the second time that Captain Smith had been on the bridge something like this had occurred.
Some said it was a bad omen for the ship!
When she was sailing down a river in Southampton on her maiden voyage her suction was so powerful that a barge that had sunk a while back, was dragged by the Titanic for 800 yards under the water.
Everything else was uneventful leaving Queenstown with the total number of crew and passengers being 2,340 people.

Unknown to the passengers there was a coalbunker fire raging in No. 6 where hundreds of tons of coal were stored. When the coal was being stored, it was not wetted down properly and thus caught fire. The stokers worked in 4-hour shifts trying to get the fire under control, but to no avail. It was said that when they reached New York that the bunkers would have to be emptied out and have fireboats help put out the fire. Sadly enough, the fire was put out the night it sank.
On leaving Queenstown, the Titanic departed, never to see land again. She bid farewell to the land where she was born. As she sailed away, she would take many to their premature deaths.
Her maiden voyage had begun!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Yet, another dream

The sinking of the Titanic has been a magnet to underwater ship-explorers. Even in 1912, after the Titanic sank, there was talk of trying to find her. They soon found out they really didn’t know where she was when she sank, nor how deep it was where she hit bottom.
But as the years went on, so did technology towards underwater exploration. Many different groups of people set out to find the great wreck, but all still came back empty-handed.
Not until July of 1985 did the American and French research team find the wreck. Once again the Titanic made world news, and once again she was in the spotlight. Now that the ship was found, it raised possibilities of going down in a small submarine that could withstand the deep-sea pressure. Exactly one year later, Bob Ballard and two other undersea explorers went, for the first time, down to the wreck. There was doubt in the minds of those going down to the wreck; they still didn’t know that the ship had broken in two. They didn’t know what to expect, what if all the rigging was intact, that would create a great hazard to maneuvering about the ship. Would the Titanic even be recognizable? Or would she be sitting perfect on the ocean floor?
As Bob Ballard and the other researchers reached the ocean floor, they tried to locate the Titanic. The submersible they were using, the Alvin, sprang a leak in her batteries. Now they only had a couple of minutes on the ocean bed and they had not seen the Titanic. Peering through the small portholes of the Alvin, a massive wall of black steel loomed up right in front of them, that was the only glimpse of the ship they got that time. The leak in the batteries would become critical if they didn’t surface.
Since July 1986, numerous dives have been made to the Titanic. Several people have spent more time with the Titanic underwater, than the Captain spent with her on the seas.
One thing is certain; the Titanic is in a state of complete devastation. The ship broke in two in between the third and fourth funnels; and all of those funnels are gone. In one square mile there are boilers, teacups, beds, tables, engines, wine bottles, suitcases, chairs, and the list could go on.
The beauty of the ship is now gone, her once proud hull glimmering in the bright sunlight, now is encrusted in rusting steel. Where her four behemoth funnels stood are now just gaping holes on top of the ship. Her once proud stern, the beauty of the ship, where at the end of Titanic’s short life, men and women alike met their fate, now lays almost unrecognizable due too the impact that she suffered when she hit the ocean floor.
There she will sit until countless ages have taken their toll on her, and there is nothing left but small piles of dust in the salty water.
Men will probably always go to her to seek just one more fact, something nobody else knows. Titanic may be sitting 2 ½ miles below the surface of the sea, but ask anyone what the most well known and famous shipwreck is, and they’ll tell you, it is the Titanic.
The Titanic will never be forgotten. She will always be alive in history.
Even though the Titanic is one among the many sea wrecks that litter the ocean floor, she still, to this day captivates the minds of underwater explorers, historians, and people like me. What more can be said? Titanic is still truly a great ship.