When the Titanic launched in 1912, it was considered to be the largest man-made object ever built to float on water. It was an incredible engineering achievement since modern technology was still in its infancy at the beginning of the twentieth century.
The idea of the Titanic was first conceived in Lord and Lady Pirrie’s Downshire home in London, six years before its fateful maiden voyage. Bruce Ismay and Lord Pirrie wanted to build the largest luxury ship ever built. How large was this ship? Was it about the size of the modern day cruise ships some of us are familiar with, or does its size pale in comparison?
Let me begin with the fact that the Titanic was a large ship for its time. It was longer than the famous Lusitania (1906) by more than a 100 feet. The Lusitania itself was 790 feet in length. Before construction of the ship, three berths at the Belfast shipyard had to be modified to accommodate the Titanic and its two sister ships, the Britannic and the Olimpic. Also across the Atlantic, modifications had to be made to the pier in New York City harbor to receive these larger ships.
Construction of the Titanic officially began on March 31, 1909, and continued for approximately two years until May 31, 1911, when the hull was completed. It took another ten months to put the final touches (fitting-out) on the ship before it sailed to Belfast on April 2, 1912, for her sea trials—eight days before her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.
The Titanic and its sister ships did not hold the distinction of being the largest ships for long, even though they were 883 feet from bow to stern. By 1934, the luxury cruise ship the Queen Mary took the honor of being the longest and largest ship. It beat the Titanic’s length by 136 feet—it was 1,019 feet long. That’s the equivalent of more than three football fields laid end-to-end. It was not until the 1990s that another cruise ship was built longer than the Queen Mary.
Many of the Royal Caribbean cruise ships today have lengths greater than the Queen Mary. Believe it or not, they are only about 160 feet longer than the Queen Mary. The newest ships, the Allure of the Seas and the Symphony of the Seas, launched in 2010 and 2018 respectively, are considered the largest cruise ships in the world with a length of over 1,180 feet—about 304 feet longer, or another entire football field longer, than the Titanic.
After the Titanic was built with a beam of 93 feet, the beam of later cruise ships stayed relatively the same until 2004 when the Queen Mary 2 was launched. It had a beam of 148 feet, which is about 55 feet wider than the Titanic’s beam.
Currently, the beam of Allure of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas is almost double the width of the Titanic. Another way of looking at this is to imagine two Titanics side-by-side as one ship. That is a significant increase in width.
When the Titanic was built, it had nine decks for a total height of 175 feet, which is equivalent to the height of an eleven story building. The Symphony of the Seas has 18 decks, with the ship towering at the height of 238 feet. That is about 22 stories high.
Gross tonnage is the overall internal volume of a ship as measured from its keel to the funnel, from stern to bow, and the outside of the hull of the ship. It is a measurement without units and is used to set port fees, safety rules, etc.
Today’s cruise ships obviously have a much greater internal volume than the Titanic’s 46,328 GRT. With a gross tonnage of 228,081, the Symphony of the Seas is five times larger than the Titanic.
Everyone who has been on a cruise ship knows that speed is not a desirable quality. This is what cruising is all about; moving along slowly from one port to another in days instead of hours. The Titanic was designed by Lord Pirrie and Ismay with luxury and comfort in mind rather than speed. As a result, the Titanic’s maximum speed was limited, by design, to about 22 knots. At that time, competing ship designers’ goals were to break the speed record crossing the Atlantic.
Today, cruise ships are still designed for the same classic reason as the Titanic—to cruise at roughly the same maximum speed established in 1912. In 1934, the Queen Mary had a top speed of 29 knots, and the Queen Mary 2 in 2004 had a maximum speed of 30 knots. But generally, most cruise ships still cruise around 22 knots for safety reasons, and to minimize fuel consumption. Even the largest ship, Symphony of the Seas, cruises around 22 knots despite its power and size.
As stated before, it is not about speed in the cruising industry. It is about luxury and comfort. This is what Pirrie and Ismay started 100 years ago. Unfortunately, the officers aboard the Titanic violated the main reason why this magnificent ship was built—for luxury and comfort, not for speed. This contributed to the series of events that led to the sinking of the Titanic on April 14, 1912.
The Titanic had four elevators to move 2,500 passengers about from one deck to another. Three elevators were for the first class passengers, and one elevator for the second class passengers. In comparison, the Symphony of the Seas has a total of 24 elevators aboard to move more than 6,000 passengers from one deck to another.
With all these decks comes ample space for amenities such as pools, gymnasiums, spas, dining areas, theaters, etc. When the Titanic was first designed, there was only one pool on the ship. The Oasis of the Seas has 21 pools and jacuzzis on board for passengers. One of the main, and unique, features of the Oasis of the Seas is the living park made of more than 12,000 living plants and trees, with some of them as tall as 24 feet in height. However, there were real palm trees on the Titanic in the Veranda Cafe making it the first ship to have real trees on its deck.
When was the Titanic Built?
- Construction started March 31, 1909.
Where was the Titanic built?
- It was built in Belfast, United Kingdom.
When did the Titanic sink?
- The night of April 14, 1912, into the early morning hours April 15, 1912.
How long did it take the Titanic to sink?
- It took 2 hours 40 minutes after the ship struck the iceberg at 11:40 PM.
Where did the Titanic sink?
- It sank in the North Atlantic Ocean.
What is the exact location of the Titanic wreck on the ocean floor?
- The location is 41 degrees 43.5 minutes North, 49 degrees 56.8 minutes West, about 370 miles south-southeast of Newfoundland.
How many passengers were on the Titanic?
- There were 2229 passengers onboard the ship.
How many survivors were rescued from theTitanic?
- There were 713 survivors after the sinking.
- The Titanic was registered as a British ship despite the fact that it was owned by an American. John Pierpoint Morgan was the owner of the White Star Line. In 1902, when he brought the White Star Line in Britain, it was originally called the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company. Its office was located at 9 Broadway, New York City.
- The Titanic was not christened by breaking a champagne bottle against its hull. The movie A Night To Remember had it wrong. The White Star Line did not believe in this practice. The sister ships of the Titanic were not christened during their launches either.
- When the Titanic sank, there were no priceless pieces of jewelry aboard. However, a Renault sports car went down with her.
- There was no 300 foot-long gash along the hull of the ship from the collision with the iceberg. A 1996 expedition used a sonar device to scan the hull of the ship buried in 60 feet of sand. They found that the damaged area was actually only 12 square feet.
- The Titanic had enough boats for 1,178 passengers. The requirement at the time was that there needed to be enough boats to ferry people back and forth to a rescue ship. They also figured that the Titanic’s watertight compartments would keep the ship afloat for long enough to complete the transfer of passengers to a rescue ship. If the Carpathia had arrived in time, everyone on the ship could have been rescued before it sank. It took two hours and 40 minutes for the ship to sink after it collided with the iceberg. This length of time indicates that there was plenty of time to rescue nearly everyone aboard, and furthermore, 465 (of the available 1,178) lifeboat seats went unfilled during that fateful night.