titanic sinkingbw

The 103rd Anniversary of the Sinking of the Titanic

The sinking of the Titanic took place over a century ago and as its 103rd anniversary is here on April 15, effects are still being felt from this traumatic event in history.

Titanic’s sinking in the early 1900s had a number of far-reaching consequences. Almost immediately, the governments of the United States and Britain would convene formal inquiries into the disaster. These inquiries resulted in a number of recommendations for the improvement of safety protocols to prevent such a massive loss of life from occurring again. 

The greatest effect the Titanic has had is its grasp on the public’s fascination. The reasons for this interest are varied. Cristin Bosko, a senior chesmitry student described her interest in the Titanic story, “I think the public is so fascinated with it because of the mystery behind it. The fact that the wreck wasn’t found until 1985 and how difficult it was to find adds to this.” 

 Melissa Ziobro, an instructor of  history and anthropology, offered another explanation, “The experience of the Titanic also warns us that no matter how advanced our technology, we must check our hubris and show proper respect for nature.” 

The University even has connections to the disaster. Guggenheim Library was owned by the family of Meyer Guggenheim whose son, Benjamin perished in the disaster. Major Butt Day, a benefit for the American Cancer Society, held by WMCX in the past is named in honor of Major Archibald Butt, military aide to Presidents Roosevelt and Taft, who also died in the sinking. 

Some of the recommendations adapted into law included regular lifeboat drills being held while the ship is at sea, ships having enough lifeboats for all on board, and enough radio operators to allow effective operation of a ship’s wireless communication equipment around the clock. These recommendations are still in force today. 

Grayce Stalowski, a senior computer science student, described a typical lifeboat drill. “It takes place before the ship sails,” he said.  “Everyone goes to the muster station, where they’d go in case of a real emergency. You have to stand at your station and they have someone describing safety procedures, and demonstrating how to put on a life vest, showing you the safety whistle and the light on the vest,” said Stalowski. Stalowski also explained how the passengers are alerted, saying that the crew announces the drill multiple times and even send ssomeone to make sure everyone is out of the room. 

Titanic’s loss also served as the motivation for countries to come together to improve safety for ships.  In particular, it helped establish the International Ice Patrol, an organization that monitors and reports ice activity in the Atlantic and Artic oceans. It also served as the impetus for the passing of the first International Convention for the Safety of Life At Sea in 1914. 

According to the International Marine Organization Website, “The main objective of the Safety of Sea at Life (SOLAS) Convention is to specify minimum standards for the construction, equipment and operation of ships, compatible with their safety.” 

This brief timeline summarizes the date and time of when the incident of the Titanic sinking occurred:

April 10, 1912: Noon. RMS Titanic, the biggest and most luxurious ocean liner yet built departs Southampton England on her maiden voyage to New York City. On board are some of the richest people of their day, John Jacob Astor IV of the Astor Hotels with his wife Madeline, almost 30 years his junior, Isidor Strauss, cofounder of Macy’s and his wife Ida, and William Carter and his wife Lucille, owner of a car amongst the ships’ cargo. Also on board were hundreds of immigrants leaving behind Europe for a new life in America. Many of these passengers would never see that dream. 

April 14, 1912: 11:40 pm.  RMS Titanic, the largest moving object built by man, strikes an iceberg. Officers rush to asses to the damage, and the Captain orders the lifeboats lowered, knowing the liner is doomed. Ida Strauss refuses a place, choosing to die with her husband of more than 40 years. Lucille Carter survived the sinking, taking an oar along with several other women to row her boat when no crew members were on board. Many third class passengers however, do not reach lifeboats and comprise the majority of passenger casualties. 

April 15, 1912: 2:20 am. Titanic gives a deafening roar as she splits in two and disappears into the calm abyss of the Atlantic. 20 Lifeboats, carrying only 705 passengers of the more than 2200 on board, are left alone to wait for rescue. Here, Titanic’s brief life ends, but an immortality in the public consciousness begins. 

PHOTO TAKEN from actionlite.com