Today in History


On this day, in 1912, the building and fit out of the RMS Titanic was completed, and she commenced sea trials.

One of three sister ships with Olympic and Britannic, Titanic was the largest moving thing on the planet when she was built. ?The sea trial lasted for about 12 hours, which included a test of her handling characteristics and a ‘crash stop’ taking her from full ahead to full astern.

This emergency stop took more than 700 meters, and over 3 minutes!

After a mere 12 hours of trials, Titanic berthed for the first time in Belfast, and an hour later, sailed for Southampton where on 4 April she berthed for the second and last time. ? She would only stay afloat for another 11 days.

There were concerns that the size of the vessel underway could create a suction that may draw other vessels towards the Titanic when in narrow waters, as had occurred with the Olympic. ?This did happen when Titanic left Southampton. ? Titanic also had a fire in her coal bunkers that at the time of sailing had not been extinguished, however it is accepted that this did not contribute to the sinking.

One of the survivors of the sinking, Violet Jessup, had been on board Titanic’s sister ship, Olympic, when the vessel was rammed by HMS Hawke. ? After Titanic, Violet went to work on the final of the three sisters, Britannic, which was converted for use as a hospital ship in World War One, and was onboard when she struck a mine and also sank. ? Although Violet survived the Titanic, 1517 souls did not.

Even at the time of her sinking, Titanic was not the largest loss of life attributed to a maritime disaster. ? In 1885, a Mississippi Steamboat, the Sultana, suffered a series of boiler explosions, killing in excess of 1800 people. ?Also, in 1822, a Chinese junk, the Tek Sing, sank with the loss of over 1600 lives.

The single largest loss of life attributed to a maritime disaster in history ?is the sinking of the Doria Paz in 1987. ? The overloaded ferry collided with an Oil Tanker, MV Vector, in the Tablas Strait in the Phillipine Archepelago. ?Only 24 survived from the ferry, and two of the 13 man crew of the Vector, but the estimated loss of life was 4386 lives, almost three times as many as Titanic.