105 years ago today, the 'unsinkable' did the unthinkable....
The sinking of the RMS Titanic occurred on the night of 14 April through to the morning of 15 April 1912 in the North Atlantic Ocean, four days into the ship's maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. The largest passenger liner in service at the time, Titanic had an estimated 2,224 people on board when she struck an iceberg at around 23:40 (ship's time) on Sunday, 14 April 1912. Her sinking two hours and forty minutes later at 02:20 (05:18 GMT) on Monday, 15 April resulted in the deaths of more than 1,500 people, which made it one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history.
Titanic received six warnings of sea ice on 14 April but was travelling near her maximum speed when her lookouts sighted the iceberg. Unable to turn quickly enough, the ship suffered a glancing blow that buckled her starboard (right) side and opened five of her sixteen compartments to the sea. Titanic had been designed to stay afloat with four of her forward compartments flooded but no more, and the crew soon realised that the ship would sink.
They used distress flares and radio (wireless) messages to attract help as the passengers were put into lifeboats. In accordance with existing practice, Titanic's lifeboat system was designed to ferry passengers to nearby rescue vessels, not to hold everyone on board simultaneously; therefore with the ship sinking rapidly and help still hours away, there was no safe refuge for many of the passengers and crew. Compounding this, poor management of the evacuation meant many boats were launched before they were completely full.
Thus, when Titanic sank, over a thousand passengers and crew were still on board. Almost all those who jumped or fell into the water drowned within minutes due to the effects of hypothermia. RMS Carpathia arrived on the scene about an hour and a half after the sinking and rescued the last of the survivors by 09:15 on 15 April, some nine and a half hours after the collision. The disaster caused widespread outrage over the lack of lifeboats, lax regulations, and the unequal treatment of the three passenger classes during the evacuation. Subsequent inquiries recommended sweeping changes to maritime regulations, leading to the establishment in 1914 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which still governs maritime safety today.