The hulk of the RMS Titanic slumbers at the bottom of the North Atlantic, just as it has for over a century. Like many, you might have first encountered the story of the Titanic through the award-winning movie. That, or perhaps you read about in a book, newspaper, or magazine. Either way, you know the gist of it — the Titanic embarked on her maiden voyage when the unsinkable happened. Even before she launched, the massive ship captured the imaginations of millions. That RMS Titanic sank, however, may have only added to her mystique.
For almost a century, the fate of the Titanic remained a mystery to some extent. Where did the hulk end up after the infamous sinking? What’ll interest you here is that the final resting place of the Titanic remained a state secret for 23 years. Robert Ballard discovered the wreck of RMS Titanic on an expedition with the US Navy in 1985. However, the mission remained classified until National Geographic broke the story in 2008.
The once-luxurious hull of RMS Titanic is now a rusting, tragically beautiful husk. Besides the forces of erosion, a bacteria named for the ship hastens the process. Researchers, including one Henrietta Mann, discovered Halomonas titanicae in 2010 at Dalhousie University. At the time, Mann predicted the collapse of the remains in 2030. New information and footage led her to push the rough date back to 2050.
If you experience a certain sadness at the decay of the Titanic, there's good news. Companies like Ocean Gate welcome citizen explorers on their expeditions. You have the opportunity to be part of their week-long missions to the historic site. Upon arrival, you’ll engage in wreckage exploration 2.5 miles under the sea alongside acclaimed Titanic researchers in the Titan submersible. When you stay aboard the surface supply ship, you’ll help with navigation, maintenance, and cataloging new discoveries.
The Titanic is still one of the largest ships ever constructed. It cost $7.5 million to build and dwarfed the battleships of the era. This space stored an onboard swimming pool, a gymnasium, a squash court, a Turkish bath, and two separate libraries. You won’t be surprised to know that the Titanic's wake was so huge that at its launch at Southampton, it sucked in another ship and almost caused a collision.
Edith Rosenbaum Russell retrieved her pig music box from her stateroom just before getting into a lifeboat. She played the pig to help calm children in the boat. The pig became part of many legends that sprung from the sinking of the Titanic, and it inspired the children's book "Pig on the Titanic: A True Story."
The story of Rigel is a popular myth that arose from the sinking of the Titanic. The story says that Rigel was a large, black Newfoundland dog, the pet of First Officer William McMaster Murdoch. From there, the dog boarded a lifeboat. Days dragged on, and the exhausted survivors found themselves under the bows of RMS Carpathia. None of the humans had the energy to make themselves heard, but Rigel's barking alerted the crew of Carpathia and saved them.
Even if you're not superstitious, the alignment between the fate of Titanic and the Morgan Robertson book 'Futility' is outright eerie. Published in 1898, the book predated the Titanic even on a conceptual level. However, the fictional ship Titan told of in the story, and the real-life Titanic shared many similarities:
- The largest ship ever built billed as “unsinkable”
- Similar size (800 ft long for Titan vs. 882 ft long for the Titanic)
- Struck an iceberg and sank in April in the North Atlantic
- Half of the passengers died due to a lifeboat shortage
The passengers drowned as equals, but they did not live as such. Titanic separated the lives of its passengers into first, second, and third-class groups. For the first class, evening meals could have as many as 13 courses. In contrast, the third class passengers only enjoyed breakfast, dinner, and a modest supper of cabin crackers and cheese. Class stratification was so severe that gates separating the third-class spaces from the other classes were kept locked even after the collision, according to some firsthand reports.
It wasn’t a single factor that sunk the RMS Titanic. It was a complex web of less-than-good conditions. The rivets at the bow and stern `were not hydraulically inserted. This is an example of poor quality control with dire consequences. Additionally, adverse weather conditions created an unusually larger barrier of icebergs. The North Sea was akin to a minefield at that time.
Australian millionaire Clive Palmer announced his intention to build a successor to the Titanic in 2012. Christened the Titanic II, the project aimed at building a 56,000-ton cruise liner, whereas the original weighed 46,000 tons. Additionally, the estimated cost stood at $500 million. While intended for launch in 2016, it was not to be. The ambitious project was fraught with delays and pushed back first to 2018, then to 2022.