The very famous RMS Titanic sank on this very day 104 years ago. It was the early morning of April 15, 1912, by when the gigantic ship was fully submerged. The largest passenger liner of its time, Titanic had an estimated 2,200 people on board when it struck an iceberg and sank two hours and forty minutes later, resulting in the deaths of more than 1,500 people. This was just four days into its maiden voyage, from Southampton to New York City. While the 1997 film Titanic by James Cameron is a poetic depiction of the entire episode, let’s have a look at ten facts you might not have known about the grand liner.
1. Weighing in at more than 52,000 tonnes, the ship was nearly 270m long and more than 50m high. The giant vessel burned around 600 tonnes of coal a day – shoveled manually into its furnaces. As you could expect, the liner required a huge crew to function – with more than 900 staff members on-board!
2. Expedition teams have used sonar imaging and taken thousands of photos with the help of drones. More than 5,000 other artifacts recovered from the vessel were/are up for grabs, with one menu card’s auction price expected to be more than a whopping 90,000 dollars – a lot to pay for a piece of paper soaked in water.
3. There were 20,000 bottles of beer on board, 1,500 bottles of wine and 8,000 cigars, for those who traveled first class. That defines luxury. And then sadly enough, there weren’t lifeboats on board and the ones available could only accommodate one-third of Titanic’s total capacity, which was still more than legally required. Thankfully the laws have changed since then.
4. The revenue that the 1997-film made worldwide is enough to build more than five Titanics. The film, which is 3 hours and 30 minutes long, features 2 hours and 40 minutes of the ship sinking, which is the exact amount of time the Titanic took to sink in reality.
5. Scientists discovered just last month that the iceberg that struck Titanic was more than 100,000 years old and only a fraction of its original size. When the iceberg hit the Titanic, it was estimated to weigh 1.5 metric tons, but its original size was calculated to be 75 metric tons. Yup, it was and probably is, one colossal chunk of ice.
6. Less than a minute elapsed between the sighting of the iceberg and the collision. Some researchers think that it could be the full moon and its tides that made the iceberg cross paths with the ship. They also say that it was the atmosphere on the tragic night that caused refraction, making it harder for the crew to spot the iceberg and even receive help.
7. This is how a survivor described the frigid water: "It hit like a thousand knives stabbing you all over the body. You can’t breathe. You can’t think. Least, not about anything but the pain." This quote was also included in the film.
8. A passenger called Benjamin Guggenheim dressed in his best to die like a gentleman. While the ship was sinking, he settled at the Grand Staircase, sipping brandy and smoking cigars, ready to descend.
9. Captain Edward Smith, before going down with the ship himself, reportedly told his team: "Well boys, you’ve done your duty and done it well. I ask no more of you. I release you. You know the rule of the sea. It’s every man for himself now, and God bless you."
10. A band of musicians actually played for as long as they possibly could (close to two hours), while the ship was going down, eventually perishing as well. They intended to calm the passengers and were hence recognized for their heroism, some calling the act as "their own immortal requiem".