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History of The Titanic


At the November meeting the audience was spellbound to listen to Rob Goldsmith tell how in 2005 he was fortunate enough to win a competition run by the History Channel to dive onto the wreck of The Titanic.


He spent some time telling us about the ship and its enormous size; one photograph taken from the dock showed a man on the top deck above looking miniscule.  It had three gigantic propellers and 29 boilers.  It cost £4.8 million to construct, the modern film cost £130 million to make!!!


There were 900 crew on board and 3,500 passengers with provisions to last until they reached New York when it set sail from Southampton on the 3rd April 1912.  Titanic was one of three sister ships, The Olympic, The Titanic and The Britannic in the White Star Line; two of them sank and one collided with another ship.  At her launch in Southampton, Titanic almost collided with another ship, the S.S. New York, which nearly finished her voyage before it had begun!

 

On the 14th April at 11-40pm she was sailing in a dead calm sea on a dark moonless night taking the southerly route through the iceberg field to reduce the risk when the lookout spotted an iceberg ahead.  They did not have any binoculars which might have helped give longer warning as an officer had left the ship in Southampton with the key to the binocular cupboard in his pocket.  The order was given   STOP!  Full speed astern.


There is debate about whether different orders could have been given, but the effect was that the plating buckled and the rivets popped allowing water to flood in.  The flood doors had only been built up to the level of the lower four decks not right up to the top deck.  The theory was that the ship would stay afloat if four of the compartments flooded but because of the ingress of water she tilted and the sea overlapped the flood doors into five compartments and she was doomed.

 

An S.O.S. signal was sent at 00.12 hrs but because of internal arguments between radio operators the nearest ship, the Californian, only 20 miles away had shut down his radio and when flares were lit on Titanic the crew of the Californian thought it was passengers on Titanic partying to excess.

 

At 00.40 hrs it was decided that Titanic could not be saved and orders were given to launch the lifeboats but because of the belief that Titanic was unsinkable many passengers ignored the order to abandon ship.  Most of the crew had only been on board for a few days and did not know their way around so launching the lifeboats was chaotic and although they could each hold 65 most left with just a few people on board resulting in a terrible death toll.

 

At 02.20 hrs Titanic broke in two pieces and sank 2.5miles down to the sea bed where she remained undiscovered until 1985.

 

Rob then showed us footage of the MIR submersible being checked and launched from a small boat in quite rough seas before explaining that he had had a full physical and mental check-up before being finally accepted to dive, obviously claustrophobia being an important item to eliminate as he would be in a very small enclosed space for 12 hours with only a small viewing window. It took 2.5 hours to reach the bow section and we saw some wonderful pictures of parts of the ship covered in “rusticles” the microscopic creatures which are gradually eating the metal.   It was possible to make out windows and door frames and even a light fitting with the bulb in situ.  At the stern section we could see the anchor chain and make out various other items.

 

On return to the surface it was an anxious time because they did not know what was happening outside to recover the submersible.  Although they knew they were at the surface it can take some time to reattach the MIR to the boat for return to the ship where they were greeted with a glass of champagne.

 

It was an excellent presentation with wonderful photographs of a unique expedition and was appreciated by everyone.


Jean White






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