The RMS Titanic is probably the most legendary ship that’s ever existed, thanks to the 1997 James Cameron film that showcased its rise and fall. But even though we know tons of facts about the ship—like how much coal it burned every day just to run (800 tons), and how big it was (882 feet in length, or almost three football fields)—we’re still constantly learning new things about the ship.
For instance, did you know that the Titanic might completely vanish from its shipwrecked location by 2030, thanks to a newly discovered bacteria discovered on its hull?
You probably knew that the ship’s interior was based loosely on the Ritz hotel in London’s interior, which has been up and running since 1906, but did you know the Titanic had its own newspaper? The Atlantic Daily Bulletin.
Here are 20 interesting facts about the Titanic that you might not have known.
20 Eerie Foreshadowing
It’s come to light that 14 years before the Titanic sank, back in 1898, Morgan Robertson wrote a book called “Futility.” It was about a fictional, “unsinkable” ship called the “Titan,” which hit an iceberg and sank in the Northern Atlantic. Like the Titanic, the fictional ship in the story sank because not enough lifeboats were available for the thousands of passengers on board.
19 The Fatal Flaw
The 15 bulkheads on the Titanic were what made it “unsinkable,” because they were each individually watertight. But studies have shown that the fatal flaw in the bulkheads had to do with water spilling from one compartment into the next. The weight of the water pulled the ship down into the ocean, despite the bulkheads.
18 Titanic-Eating Bacteria
In 2010, Cristina Sanchez-Porro discovered a new form of gram-negative, halophilic proteobacteria on the Titanic’s rusticles. Dubbed Halomonas titanicae, it’s been estimated that the microbes of the bacteria may bring about the total deterioration of the Titanic by 2030. In 2016, it was discovered that a molecule called ectoine is used by the bacteria to survive the osmotic pressure that saltwater causes on their membranes.
17 Most Lifeboats Weren’t Filled To Capacity
It’s been discovered that the Titanic was equipped to carry 64 lifeboats on board, but for some reason, it only had 20 on its voyage. And just to show how difficult it must have been to escape the sinking ship, it’s reported that most of the lifeboats weren’t even filled to capacity. Many more lives could have been saved.
16 Fake News
Even before the fiasco that’s surrounded the American press in recent years came about, there was a sense of “fake news” surrounding tragedies like the sinking of the RMS Titanic. The first newspapers to release the story of the Titanic sinking initially reported that no lives were lost! It took two full days before newspapers began accurately reporting the total death toll.
15 The Legend Of Chief Joughin
Chief Charles John Joughin was the chief baker aboard the Titanic, and he’s a real man’s man. Not only was he responsible for feeding the crew on the ship, but when it sank, he became a legend for swimming in the frigid waters for over two hours before being rescued. Unlike Jack from the movie, he had virtually no ill effects, and he attributed his survival to all the whiskey he’d drunk before the ship capsized.
14 Chaos On Board
It’s been noted that a span of 30 seconds could have saved the ship: the captain was told a minute before striking the iceberg that it was in the way. But he waited too long to give the order—had he had better split-second thinking, the iceberg might have been avoided. That being said, even when the ship started to sink, over 60 minutes passed before the first lifeboat was finally released!
13 The Liveliest Passenger
The Titanic was made for rich people—there were over 8,000 cigars, 20,000 bottles of beer, and 2,500 bottles of wine onboard for first-class passengers. But the richest of them all was John Jacob Astor IV, who had a net worth of $85 million ($2 billion in today’s money). He perished with the ship, and was last seen speaking on the deck with mystery writer Jacques Futrelle, as the two smoked a cigarette together.
12 Last Minute Heroes
James Cameron’s film does a pretty good job of showing the heroism that many of the crew aboard the Titanic undertook to make sure as many people got off safely as possible. For instance, there were dozens of engineers on the ship, but they all went down with her. They stayed behind to run the dying power so that others could have a chance to escape.
11 Women And Children First
Part of the reason why so many engineers and rich men died aboard the Titanic was because of the “women and children” first policy, which was truly how they acted after striking the iceberg. Studies have shown that the survival rate for men was only 20%, while the overall survival rates for women and children was 74% and 52%, respectively.
10 Finally Found
It took 73 years for the remains of the RMS Titanic to finally be found. From 1912 to 1984, it was practically a ghost ship—a legendary tale of caution. But in 1985, it was finally discovered near the coast of Newfoundland, over 12,500 feet under the ocean depths. Twelve years later, its story became the biggest film of all time, to make sure that the legend was never forgotten.
9 First-Class Amenities
There were 13 honeymooners aboard the Titanic when it sank. Since it was the largest ship ever built at the time, rich people yearned to be on its maiden voyage. Some of the first-class amenities on the ship included: a Parisian café, tea gardens, a gymnasium, a library, reading and writing rooms, a squash court, a barbershop, kennel, elevators, smoking room, a heated swimming pool, and more.
8 More Illogical Foreboding
In another eerie twist, similar to that of the book about the “Titan” being written 14 years prior and reflecting the Titanic’s fate—a lifeboat drill was actually scheduled on the day the ship sank. But, for unknown reasons, the drill was canceled by Captain Edward John Smith. Who knows how many lives that drill could have saved, in the midst of all the chaos.
7 Listen To The Operators
A whole lot of negligence caused the Titanic to sink, and for so many people to perish. The lack of lifeboats, for one, the captain’s poor decision-making skills that led to hitting the iceberg in the first place. But also, on April 14th, 1912, it was reported that the Titanic operators were warned SIX times of drifting ice in the North Atlantic. Undoubtedly, the captain was too cocky about the resilience of his ship to worry about measly “floating ice.”
6 The Real Love Story
Even though Jack and Rose weren’t real people, there was a true love story aboard the sinking Titanic. Isidor Straus, the co-owner of Macy’s, and his wife Ida, were first-class passengers. Isidor declined one of the last lifeboats to allow his wife to be saved, insisting that all women and children board first. Ida stepped off the lifeboat, refusing to leave her husband. The two were last seen walking to the opposite end of the ship, where they held each other and peacefully awaited the sinking of the ship.
5 More Negligence
In today’s world, you might think that the Titanic catastrophe could never happen. We have too much technology. But human error caused most of the chaos. For instance, the SS Californian was less than 20 miles out when the Titanic hit an iceberg and sent out multiple distress signals. Unfortunately, the Californian’s wireless operator had gone to bed, and only the RMS Carpatheia responded, which was 58 miles away. It took them four hours flying at full speed to reach the Titanic’s surviving passengers.
4 Not So Lucky
If you’re ever unreasonable frightened of something, like heights, fire, a sinking ship... there might be a good, justifiable reason for it. But one passenger who lived through the traumatic fire and sinking of a ship in 1871 faced his fears and boarded the Titanic in 1912. He ended up sinking with the ship. It’s really like getting struck by lightning twice.
3 Construction Of The Ship
We all know that the Titanic was the biggest, baddest ship of the era (or so people thought). But just how big and bad was it? Well, it cost $7.5 million to build, or nearly $200 million in today’s money. Oddly enough, the production budget of the Titanic film was $200 million. Also, it took 3,000 Harland & Wolff shipbuilders to construct the massive ship.
2 Looks Are Deceiving
It’s clear that the Titanic is the epitome of “it looks better than it is.” It was supposed to be indestructible, but we all know how that turned out. Another interesting tidbit that was added just to make it look more impressive was the third giant smokestack. Only three of the four smokestacks actually functioned—the fourth was just added for an aesthetic appeal!
1 Maiden Voyage Send-Off
The Titanic was a big deal back in its day, before TV and movies and such. Over 100,000 people attended the ship’s launch out of Belfast, Ireland. The ship’s maiden voyage was meant to be the first of many trans-Atlantic crossings between Southampton and New York. In fact, the entire schedule of voyages through December 1912 (it sank in April) still exists!
References: allthatsinteresting.com, goodhousekeeping.com, telegraph.co.uk