Did you know that the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic could have ended right after it began? That some of her four funnels were not functional? That she did not have enough lifeboats for all the passengers? That the lookouts did not have binoculars? That the iceberg the ship collided with was “black”? These and other facts have been confirmed by investigators as well as surviving passengers and crew.
1) Several very wealthy persons – Titanic’s owner John Pierpont Morgan, Lord William James Pirrie, chairman of Harland and Wolff, which built the Titanic, and Mr. and Mrs. Alfred W. Vanderbilt – planned to board the Titanic on her maiden voyage but changed their minds.
2) As the Titanic was leaving port on April 10, 1912, it barely escaped a collision with an American liner, the New York.
3) The British investigative commission found out that the lookouts in the crow’s nest, the observation point atop the mainmast 30 meters above the deck, did not have binoculars. Someone had simply forgotten to place them on the ship.
4) The Titanic sent out two international distress signals, CQD and SOS, one of the first cases in history of a ship sending a SOS signal.
5) Only the first three of its steam funnels were in operation. The fourth funnel served as an exhaust ventilator unconnected with the furnaces. It is also believed that the funnel had been added to make the ship look more impressive and sturdier.
6) The Titanic had only enough lifeboats for 1,178 people, while there were 2,207 on board. Under the British Merchant Shipping Act 1894, it was a ship’s tonnage that dictated total lifeboat capacity. The biggest ships at the time had a displacement of about 10,000 tons as compared with the Titanic’s 46,000.
7) Only 706 people survived the Titanic disaster even though her lifeboats had seats for 1,178. The explanation is that some boats were overcrowded while others left half-empty.
8) Before 1985, when an expedition under Robert Ballard found the wreck of the Titanic in the Atlantic, there were differing views as to whether the ship had broken up during the sinking. Ballard discovered that the ship had indeed broken up, which explains the deafening crash heard by survivors in life-boats.
9) There were no red emergency flares on board the Titanic. Her white flares were not taken seriously by ships using the same route, which may have contributed to the high death toll.
10) The Titanic was not christened in accordance with the old naval tradition of smashing a bottle of champagne on her side. The White Star Line never christened its ships.
11) The Titanic collided with a so-called “black” iceberg that had only recently overturned in the water. The dark color made it hard to discern. Normally the chances of spotting such icebergs at sea are minimal, and the Titanic was no exception.