The End of an Era

Titanic's General Arrangement Plans

General arrangement plans showing the layout of the various decks and rooms. Used as a standard map of the ship. In corridors, companionways and lobbies, sections of this plan were reprinted to guide passengers around the ship. This particular section of the plans show the layout from the Boat Deck to C-Deck. Also shown is a starboard profile of the ship. Published under public domain, provided to the Titanic Archive Project courtesy of the National Archives of the United States.

Titanic under construction in Belfast, Ireland

When the Olympic class liners were first ordered, there was no shipyard on Earth with a gantry and slipway large enough to build them. Prior to their construction, the Harland and Wolff shipyard demolished their old gantries and slipways and replaced them with the Arrol Gantry. At the time, this gantry and the slipways beneath it were the largest in the world.

Photo Credit: Official Harland and Wolff Collection (Photographer Robert Welsh)

May 31st, 1911

Shortly after noon on May 31st, 1911, A crowd of over 100,000 people gathered in Belfast to watch the launch of Hull #401 - Titanic. At 12:13, the hydraulics holding the ship in place were released. The colossal ship began to slide backwards into the Victoria Channel over the lubricated slipway, slowed down by heavy chains which provided friction. It took just over a minute for the ship to travel the length of the slipway and enter the water, reaching an estimated speed of 12 knots before she entered the channel.

Fitting Out

When Titanic was launched, she was little more than an empty shell. She weighed under 25,000 tons, just under half of what her completed weight would be. She was towed to the Thompson Graving Dock, where she would remain from June of 1911 until April of 1912. There, the empty shell became an ocean liner. Her engines, boilers, passenger accommodations, woodwork, public spaces, electrical systems, and everything in between was installed here.

Olympic and Titanic in Belfast

Titanic and Olympic side by side in Belfast, March 1912. Titanic on the right, Olympic on the left being pulled into the drydock in the foreground. Note the extended cargo booms on the foremast of both ships.

Photo Credit: Official Harland and Wolff Collection (Photographer Robert Welsh) Image H1637.

Sea Trials

Originally scheduled for April 1st, Titanic's sea trials were postponed until the April 2nd due to weather concerns. Around 6:00 AM, the ship was pulled away from the dock and taken out to Belfast Lough. During her 12 hour long sea trials, Titanic was put through tests that determined her speed, turning radius, stopping distance, and seaworthiness. After the trials she was signed over to the White Star Line and sailed for Southampton, England.

Titanic during sea trials

Another view of the ship during her sea trials, note that the starboard anchor is partially lowered.

April 10th, 1912 - Departure

Titanic is eased away from Berth 44 in Southampton just after 12:00 PM, April 10th, 1912.

Queenstown - The Last Stop

After sailing across the English Channel from Southampton to Cherbourg, France, Titanic made the overnight trip from Cherbourg to Queenstown, Ireland (now known as Cobh). On April 11th, Titanic arrived in Queenstown where she picked up her final load of passengers and mail before leaving for New York.

As the Irish coast disappeared over the horizon, a group of third class passengers gathered on the fantail of the ship to get one last look at land before the week long voyage ahead. Among these passengers was Eugene Daly, an Irish immigrant who had spent years saving up to move to America. Daly had brought a set of Uilleann Bagpipes with him, and as the group bid farewell to their homeland, he played a traditional Irish Hymn named Erin's Lament.

Titanic's First Class Swimming Bath

The title of the first ship to carry a recreational pool does not belong to Titanic. A plunge bath had been installed on a previous liner, and Olympic had a swimming pool nearly identical to Titanic's and was in service for a year prior. Titanic's swimming bath, however, was still a novel luxury for the time. The pool was filled with saltwater during the voyage and was heated for passenger comfort. The pool was located on F-Deck, very near to the Turkish Bath facilities.

A Third Class Cabin

By today's standards, a third class cabin on Titanic would be an appalling experience. Many third class tickets were booked on a bed by bed basis, and a person traveling alone in third class might find themselves bunking with strangers. Families and couples, however, were given their own cabins. Third class only had two bathtubs to share between the entire class, and as with all other classes, bathrooms were public.

By 1912's standards, however, Third Class on Titanic was a vast improvement over other liners. Most liners of the day required third class passengers to bring their own food and drink for the crossing, but on Titanic food was provided. Most liners also didn't have the luxury of on board plumbing for third class, which, given the time period, was fairly standard. As many of the third class passengers were unlikely to have ever had the luxury of indoor plumbing. Stories told by stewards on board RMS Olympic were indicative of this problem, as even though there was plumbing on board for all classes, some third class passengers didn't know about it and would sometimes relieve themselves in a corridor. Much to the dismay of the crew members who would have to clean it up. Other liners of the era also required many of their third class passengers to sleep in dormitories where as many beds as possible were crammed into large open spaces with no doors, no walls, and no privacy. As is likely evident, these cramped quarters with a wash basin and an attempt to give families their privacy were a luxury compared to what most companies provided to third class.

Marconi Wireless Room

Wireless Room on board RMS Olympic, sister ship to Titanic circa 1913. While not completely identical, the layout of this room is very similar to what would have been on board Titanic.

A map indicating the preferred shipping routes for steamships beginning January 1899.

The route Titanic was intended to travel is marked, but a course correction mid voyage was made in an effort to avoid the ice fields on the more northerly routes given the time of year.

First Class Lunch Menu - April 14th, 1912

Second Class Lunch Menu, April 14th, 1912

Third Class Breakfast Menu, April 14th, 1912.

Collapsible D

Launched only 10 minutes before the ship sank, Collapsible D was the last lifeboat launched succesfully from the port side of the ship. Between 15-20 people are believed to have been on board when it was launched, though that number was estimated to be around 22 people when it reached Carpathia. One of the people on board was Frederick Hoyt, the husband of Jane Hoyt, who he had escorted to Collapsible D before it was launched. Hoyt had to step back into the crowd before the boat was launched, but shortly after it was launched he jumped from the ship and swam to meet the boat as it pulled away.

Recovery of Collapsible A

After the survivors were taken off of Collapsible A, the decision was made to leave the boat adrift. 3 of the passengers on board had passed away during the night, and their bodies were also left adrift. Almost a month later, Collapsible A was rediscovered by the crew of the White Star Liner's Oceanic. The 3 bodies were still on board. The lifeboat was recovered, and the bodies were given a funeral service and buried at sea.

Lifeboat 6

Boat 6 had a capacity for 65 people, but when it was launched it only carried 29. As the boat was lowered, it was realized only one experienced seamen was on board to assist in rowing. Quartermaster Robert Hichens, along with several of the passengers pleaded with Second Officer Lightoller to send more experienced seamen. Lightoller halted the boat while he scoured the deck for anyone who could assist. Major Arthur Peuchen, a yachtsman and First Class Passenger asked if he could board to assist. The boat had been lowered a significant distance, and Lightoller replied that if Peuchen was seaman enough to climb down the lifeboat falls into the boat, he could go. Peuchen succeeded, and in doing so became the only adult male passenger Lightoller willingly let into any lifeboat that night. Also aboard Lifeboat 6 were notable figures such as Margaret T. Brown, Helen C. Candee and Lookout Frederick Fleet.

Another view - Boat 6

Boat 6 was the location of one of the disasters more notable stories. Margaret Brown and Robert Hichens spent the night famously at odds with each other over whether or not they should row back to the ship to pick up survivors, and in regards to how the boat should be handled. The story of the disaster in Boat 6 turned Margaret into a legend and earned her the monicker "The Unsinkable Molly Brown," though she herself never went by the name Molly. She would go on to found the Titanic Relief fund and become a noted philanthropist in her later years.

Lifeboat No. 14 and Collapsilbe Lifeboat D

Taken by a photographer on board Carpathia, this photo shows Boat 14 and Collapsible D approaching the ship. Boat 14 has managed to get its mast put up, though the lack of wind had rendered it somewhat useless. Boat 14 is notable as the only lifeboat to go back to the wreck site and search for survivors. Exact numbers are unclear, but it's believed they found between 4-6 still alive in the water, though around 2 more of those would die of exposure waiting for rescue.

Recovery of Collapsible B

After the sinking, the C.S. Mackay-Bennet was chartered by the White Star Line to sail to the wreck site. Their mission was to recover bodies and debris that may pose a hazard to shipping. Here, a launch from Mackay-Bennet works to recover the overturned Collapsible B, which floated off the deck upside down shortly before Collapsible A.

The Next Morning

As lifeboats were found and survivors were brought on board, Carpathia became a chaotic scene. Survivors attempted to find loved ones, lifeboats were scattered around the deck, and the reality of what had happened began to sink in.

Torn Apart

Survivors of the disaster took refuge on board Carpathia wherever possible. Some families were lucky and hadn't lost anyone, but these families were the exception to a grim rule. The crowd on Carpathia on the morning of the 15th of April, 1912, was a crowd of the widowed, orphaned, and despaired.

Titanic's lifeboats in New York Harbor

After survivors had disembarked, the lifeboats recovered by Carpathia were lowered and brought to an anchorage. While the fate of Titanic's lifeboats is unknown, it's likely that many of them were taken back to England, repaired, and reused on other ships. No lifeboats belonging to Titanic are known to currently exist.

Edward John Smith - Captain - Victim

Captain E.J. Smith, Photographed on board RMS Olympic.
E.J. Smith was a well respected member of the White Star Line, colloquially known as "The Millionaire's Captain."

Smith joined the White Star Line in 1880 at the age of 30. His first assignment was as the fourth officer of the Oceanic class liner SS Celtic. He was a devoted seaman and rose through the ranks at a decent pace. He was promoted to the rank of Captain in 1888 and placed in command of the SS Republic. He held this command until 1889, when Republic was sold to the Holland-America Line.

In 1895, Smith was given command of the SS Majestic, which he captained both in peacetime and as a member of the Royal Navy Reserve. While serving on Majestic, Smith worked alongside Charles Lightoller, who would be the Second Officer during his command of Titanic. Smith commanded Majestic during the 1899 Boer war as a troopship and was awarded a Transport Medal by the King of England.

Smith would command three more ships before Titanic, the Baltic, Adriatic, and Olympic. In 1912, Smith was assigned to Titanic. It was to be his final assignment before he retired.

Captain E.J. Smith, RNR and Commodore of the White Star Line passed away in the sinking at the age of 62. He was loved by those who had sailed with him. He even gained a following with some who would refuse to sail across the Atlantic unless he was in command of the ship they sailed on.

Dorothy Gibson - First Class - Survivor

Dorothy Gibson was 23 years old when she sailed on Titanic. She was a well known silent film actress, at the time the highest paid actress in the world.

Gibson survived the sinking in Lifeboat #7, the first to leave the ship. In May of 1912, she starred in "Saved From the Titanic." It was the first film ever produced about the sinking. She played herself in the film, and wore the clothes she had been wearing the night of the sinking.

The photo at left shows Gibson in a promotional photo for the film, which has unfortunately been lost to history. The only copy of the film was destroyed in a fire in 1914.

Later in life, Gibson wound up on the wrong side of history as a Nazi sympathizer during World War 2. She renounced the party entirely in 1944, but this may be attributed to the significant change in the balance of power after the Allied invasion of Nazi occupied France. She died in 1946.

Ida & Isidor Straus - First Class - Victims

Isidor Straus, along with his brother, Nathan, were the co-owners of R.H. Macy's, which would later become Macy's department store. Isidor and his wife, Ida, had been on vacation in Southern France and were returning to America on Titanic.

On the night Titanic sank, Isidor and Ida Straus were on the boat deck, initially unconcerned. Once the reality of the situation started to become clear, Isidor had hoped Ida would board a lifeboat. Ida refused to leave the ship without him. After a brief debate, Colonel Archibald Gracie offered to ask an officer if Isidor could be allowed to board in order to persuade Ida, but Isidor insisted that he would remain on board. He refused to take a place that a woman or child would otherwise take. Isidor asked Ida once more to board lifeboat #8, and she replied - "As we have lived, so shall we die - together." Isidor relented, and the couple took their place in the crowd. Both Ida and Isidor died in the sinking.

Isidor was found, and his body was recovered by C.S. Mackay-Bennet. He was taken to Nova Scotia, where his body was identified and returned to his family. Ida's body, if found, was never identified. Isidor was buried in the Straus Mausoleum in New York.

Milvina Dean - Third Class - Survivor

Bertram Jr. and Milvina Dean were the children of Bertram Sr. and Eva Dean. When they sailed on Titanic, Bertram was almost two years old, while Milvina was only two weeks old. Milvina is pictured here on the right while Bertram Jr. is on the left.

The Dean's were immigrating to America with the intent to move to Wichita, Kansas and open a shop to support their family. Originally, the Dean's booked passage on board the RMS Adriatic, but due to a national coal strike, Adriatic's sailing was cancelled and the Dean's were transferred to Titanic. They boarded as third class passengers in Southampton on April 10th.

On the night of the sinking, their father was awakened by the sound of the collision. He went up on deck to investigate before rousing the rest of the family. Eva, Bertram Jr. and Milvina boarded a lifeboat (most likely Lifeboat #10) but Bertram Sr. remained on board and perished in the sinking. On reaching New York, Eva learned that her husband had not survived and made plans to return to England. White Star Line gave the family free passage on board the Adriatic.

Bertram Jr. and Milvina both lived long lives. Bertram was involved in many Titanic related organizations and activities, but Milvina largely avoided the subject until her seventies. Bertram passed away in 1992 as the last male survivor from third class. Milvina Dean lived to be the last survivor of the Titanic disaster, but passed away in May of 2009. She was also the youngest survivor of the disaster.

Margaret T. Brown - First Class - Survivor

Margaret Brown was 45 years old when she sailed on Titanic. She was born in Hannibal, Missouri in 1867 to a relatively poor family. When she was 18, she moved to Denver, Colorado. Here, she met her husband, James Joseph "J.J." Brown. They found wealth in 1893 with a success in the mining industry.

In 1912, the Brown's had been traveling in France with the Astor's when Margaret was informed her sister had become seriously ill. She booked passage home on the first liner she could board for New York, which happened to be Titanic.

Margaret survived the sinking in Lifeboat #6, famously clashing with Quartermaster Robert Hichens over whether or not they should return to the wreck site and pick up survivors. On board the Carpathia, Margaret worked with other First Class passengers to organize a relief fund to help the Second and Third Class survivors who had, in many cases, lost everything. The relief committee also provided informal counseling to survivors wherever they could.

Margaret would spend a majority of the rest of her life as a philanthropist. At one point she forfeited a campaign for US Senate in order to assist the American Committee for Devastated France which was providing relief for France as it was torn apart by World War 1.

Margaret passed away in New York City in 1932. She was 65 years old. After her death, her story became a legend. Her obituaries gave her the moniker "The Unsinkable Molly Brown." In 1960, a musical premiered on Broadway under the same name, and was developed into a movie of the same name in 1964. While this nickname has followed her since her death, she never went by this name during her life.

Michel and Edmond Navratil - Second Class - Survivors

Michel Jr. and Edmond Navratil were the children of Michel Sr. Navratil and Marcelle Caretto. The family lived in France, but Michel Sr. and Marcelle had a troubled marriage. The couple divorced in the spring of 1912. Marcelle was given full custody, but allowed the boys to stay with their father over Easter weekend. Michel Sr. took advantage of the time he had with them and fled to Monte Carlo. There, he decided to immigrate to America with the boys. He booked passage on Titanic and fled to Southampton, where they boarded Titanic in Second Class. He and the boys used false names on the ship. Michel Sr. used the name Louis Hoffman, and he referred to the boys as Lola and Momon. He claimed his wife had died and kept the boys close. On the night of the sinking, Michel Sr. placed the boys in Collapsible Lifeboat D - the last boat to be successfully launched from the ship. (Though Collapsibles A and B floated off the deck shortly after) Michel Sr. died in the sinking, both of the boys survived.

They were reunited with their mother in May of 1912 and went back to France with her aboard the Oceanic. Edmond Navratil fought in the French Army during World War II but was captured by the Germans. He was held in a POW camp, but managed to escape. His health had been seriously affected by his internment and he passed away in 1953 at the age of 43.

Michel Jr. would attend university, marrying a fellow student in 1933. He became a professor of philosophy with a doctorate in his field. In his later years, Michel Jr. was active in Titanic related events, even joining the 1996 expedition which recovered The Big Piece. He passed away at the age of 92 as the last male survivor of the disaster.

Frank Goldsmith Jr. - Third Class - Survivor

Frank Goldsmith Jr. is perhaps one of the most human stories connected to the disaster, and one of the more well documented stories from Third Class. He is pictured here on the far left side.

The Goldsmith family had been touched by tragedy before Titanic. In 1911, Bertie Goldsmith, the youngest son, died of diphtheria. Following his death, the Goldsmiths decided to move to America and booked passage in Third Class aboard Titanic. They boarded in Southampton with two other people accompanying them in their party. Thomas Theobald was sailing with them as a friend, but was emigrating to join his wife who had already made the trip to Detroit, Michigan. Alfred Rush, a young boy of 15 at the time of boarding was being sent to join his brother in Detroit by his parents.

During the voyage, Frank Jr. and Alfred made friends with a few other third class boys, playing on the cargo cranes and roaming the ship together. At one point, the group snuck down into the boiler rooms to watch the stokers at work.

Alfred Rush celebrated his 16th birthday on April 14th, 1912. That morning, he decided that his 16th birthday would symbolize his transition into manhood. That night, when the ship struck ice, he decided he would stay on board the ship with the other men. Frank Jr. was placed into Collapsible C with his mother, but Frank Sr., Thomas Theobald and Alfred were all asked to step back into the crowd. Before stepping away, Thomas handed his wedding ring to Frank's mother and asked her to give it to his wife in Detroit.

Frank Jr. and Emily Goldsmith survived the sinking in Collapsible C. Frank Sr., Thomas Theobald, and Alfred Rush all perished. The friends they had made during the voyage were Willie Coutts, Harold Goodwin, Albert Rice, George Rice, William Johnston, James Van Billiard and Walter Van Billiard. Out of this entire group, only Willie Coutts would survive.

On board Carpathia, Frank Jr. was understandably quite upset by the sinking and the loss of his friends and father. One of the ships stokers, Samuel Collins, made an effort to cheer the boy up. After learning of his fascination with the machinery on board, Collins took him down to Carpathias stokehold and offered to make him an honorary crewman by having him partake in the shipboard initiation ritual of drinking a glass of vinegar and water with a raw egg. Frank Jr. enthusiastically did so and from that point forward, he proudly considered himself a member of the crew. Collins continued to watch over Frank with his mother during the voyage to New York.

Frank Jr. later wrote a book about his experiences, the only third class survivor who did so. He lived out his life in Detroit near the baseball stadium. He would remark that the sound of the cheering whenever a home run was scored reminded him of the screams of the dying after the sinking. He passed away at the age of 79 in 1982.

John Jacob Astor IV- First Class - Victim

John Jacob Astor IV was the richest passenger on board Titanic, and at the time of his death he was one of the richest men on Earth. Astor had made his millions through several avenues. He'd written and published a science fiction novel, patented several inventions including the bicycle brake, and had significant investments in real estate. His family had also built and operated the luxurious Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City.

Astor had been on vacation in Europe with his wife, Madeline, in early 1912. Madeline had become pregnant during their travels and the couple decided they wanted to have the baby in America, and it was this goal that prompted Astor to book passage on board Titanic, boarding in Cherbourg, France. The Astor's also booked First Class passage for their valet, their maid, and their nurse, and a spot in the ships kennel was occupied by their dog, Kitty.

After Titanic struck ice, Mr. Astor was initially unconcerned. He woke his wife and the rest of their party, and they initially stayed inside in the gymnasium riding mechanical horses. At one point, Madeline became concerned that a life jacket might not be able to support her if she should end up in the water. To ease her mind, Astor used a pocket knife to cut a life jacket open and show her what was inside.

Later in the evacuation, Astor finally decided it would be best to have Madeline board a lifeboat. They made their way to Lifeboat #4 which had been lowered to the A-Deck promenade. J.J. helped Madeline through the window before turning to Second Officer Lightoller and asking if he could accompany her to ensure her safety, as she was in "delicate condition". Lightoller told him he would not be allowed to board until all the women and children had been evacuated. Astor simply replied "Well, alright. Will you tell me the number of this boat so that I might find her later?" Lightoller gave him the number, and Astor headed off.

He was last seen smoking a cigarette on the starboard bridge wing. It's believed he was killed by the #1 funnel when it fell, as when his body was recovered, it had been damaged heavily and was covered in soot. He was buried at Trinity Church in Manhattan.

The Goodwin Family - Third Class - Victims

Not much is known about the Goodwins. It's known that they were initially scheduled to sail on the S.S. New York but transferred to Titanic due to a coal strike. When Titanic sank, every single member of the Goodwin family died.

Where the story picks up is in the recovery of the body of an unknown child, estimated to be 2 years old by the crew of the Mackay-Bennet. This unknown child was buried in Halifax, Nova Scotia with a tombstone that reads: "Erected to the memory of an unknown child, whose remains were recovered after the disaster to the S.S. Titanic, April 15th, 1912."

In 2007, DNA evidence lead to the identification of the unknown child as Sidney Goodwin, pictured below prior to Titanic's voyage.

Sidney Goodwin - Third Class - Victim

Sidney Goodwin, remembered from 1912-2007 as the unknown child. Positively identified through DNA evidence in 2007.