Frequently Asked Questions  (FAQ)


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A steamship passes Ellis Island. Ships would dock at their New York piers and the 3rd class passengers would be transported by ferry to Ellis Island for processing. Titanic's surviving immigrants were granted permission to bypass this procedure. Medical exams and information was obtained by physicians on board Carpathia when she docked with the survivors in New York.
 

 

 

 


In an attempt to cut down on the delay to answer your most Frequently Asked Questions through e-mail, this website has an FAQ list. If you don't find the answer that you are looking for here, feel free to e-mail the webmaster and all attempts will be made to answer your questions.

Please check the site thoroughly before e-mailing questions. The majority of the questions received can be found on the site. Thank you.

* For Technical Questions about Titanic, (i.e. top speed, length, propulsion system, cutaway side profile diagram etc.) see the
TECHNICAL FACTS section on this site located in the TABLE of CONTENTS.

What exactly was the main cause of this disaster?

How true to actual events was the (James Cameron) movie Titanic?

Were there any other marine disasters equal to Titanic during peacetime?   

Will Titanic ever be raised?

Were any human remains found during the several expeditions to the site?

 

 

 


Q- What exactly was the main cause of this disaster?

A - Here is a concept that is sometimes hard to understand or accept until you think about it for a while. "All Accidents are Preventable." National Safety Council

Simply put; Titanic was traveling way too fast in an area known to contain ice; that's the bottom line, Whether that was the way ship captains handled situations like that in those days or not, * ("...the thinking is to put the danger behind you as soon as possible") she was simply going too fast for anyone to have taken any kind of reasonable evasive maneuvering for a vessel of that size. I (webmaster) personally own a 40 ft cabin cruiser. I know for a fact that if I travel over 10 knots and come up on a crab trap marker suddenly in the dark, it takes a few seconds for a boat even the size of mine for the helm to respond to a hard over maneuver on the wheel to swerve around it.

People have said that the tragedy was caused by overconfidence, arrogance, she was under ruddered, or even too high of a sulfur content in the steel hull for frigid water, Call it what you want, but she sank because she was going too fast and hit an iceberg at a speed that would result in enough damage to seal her fate. With no insult intended to the memory of Captain Smith or the respect held for him, it was nothing but negligence that allowed Titanic to travel as fast as she was that fateful evening.

* Witness testimony at the British Inquiry from a subpoenaed ship captain (of a ship the size of Titanic) as to why E.J. Smith would have been traveling at that speed in a known ice field.

Q- How true to actual events was the (James Cameron) movie Titanic?

A - The movie viewer must realize that in this movie, the Titanic story was simply a background of events for a fictitious romance. Jack Dawson and Rose were not aboard Titanic. (This webmaster gets a lot of e-mail asking why Jack and Rose don't appear on the passenger list; THEY WERE NOT REAL PASSENGERS folks) While an extensive amount of preparatory research with close attention to detail was conducted for the making of the movie, many facts and character portrayals were not accurate. Most likely due to production time constraints, many facts/events were omitted, such as the Californian incident. As Titanic producer James Cameron commented, "This is a fictitious love story, not a Titanic documentary." Although, Cameron has a real life fascination of Titanic. He has personally financed a couple of trips down to the wreck site and produced an excellent factual documentary exploring rooms and specific areas of the ship never before seen.


Q- Were there any other marine disasters equal to Titanic during peacetime?                    

              

A - Up to 1987, the Titanic disaster marked the Second greatest loss of life in peacetime maritime history. (over 1,500) On December 20, 1987, the overcrowded Philippine ferry boat, Dona Paz, collided with an oil tanker off the island of Mindoro (south of Manila) The Dona Paz flipped over and sank taking with it the lives of 4,536 passengers and crew.

 

 

 

Prior to the Dona Paz tragedy, the greatest maritime loss of life in peacetime is credited to the SS Sultana. The Sultana was assigned to bring home US soldiers liberated from the confederate run POW camp at Andersonville,Texas. She picked up her 2,200 passengers at Vicksburg, MS in August of 1865, On the way home one of her boilers exploded killing 1,547 passengers and crew.  

See: http://www.ezl.com/~fireball/Disaster01.htm

 Image credit: Library of Congress


 

Q- Will Titanic ever be raised?

A - Due to her fragile condition, the depth, and the immense cost involved, no. At least not intact. A lot of controversy surrounds the possibility of someone dismantling the ship and raising it piece by piece.

 

Image credit: Ken Marshall


Q- Were any human remains found during the several expeditions to the site?

A - Fortunately, no.


 Q- I think I may have had a relative that was a passenger on a White Star Line ship that immigrated to the United States. How would I go about researching this?

A - Most public libraries in large cities are a great place to begin your search. In the reserved sections they have passenger lists dating back to the Mayflower. The U.S. Dept. of Immigration and Naturalization (INS) has a web site and immigrant data base (for a nominal fee) where you can search all immigrants that were processed through Ellis Island from 1872 through 1931. There are also several genealogical and immigration websites posted on the Internet.


 Q- Can you give me any specific information on a passenger (or crew member) that traveled on Titanic?

Q - For that question the webmaster will refer you to Phillip Hind's site, "Encyclopedia Titanica", a very detailed site on passenger and crew information. the URL is:
http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/


 Q- What do the abbreviations "RMS" , "SS" , "HMS" and "HMHS" used before a ships name stand for?

A - "RMS" is the abbreviation for Royal Mail Steamship (or steamer), "SS" stands for steamship , "HMS" is designated to British military vessels, His (or Her) Majesty's Ship, and "HMHS"  is His (or Her) Majesty's Hospital Ship.


 Q-  Was there any treasure, gold bars etc. on board Titanic?

A - No. Titanic carried routine cargo and mail, 3,364 bags of mail and 650 parcels. (see cargo manifest on this site) Most of the passenger's jewelry was removed from the purser's safe during the loading of the lifeboats. One item of value on board was the famed copy of Rubyiat of Omar Khayiamm, a collection of poetry with illustrations by Eliku Vedder. It sold for 405 (about $631.00) at an auction in March of 1912 to an American bidder. The binding took two years to execute, and the decoration embodied over 1,500 precious stones, each separately set in gold. This was one of two known copies of this type. Other interesting items in the ship's cargo included a 35hp Renault automobile owned by passenger William Carter, and a marmalade machine owned by passenger Edwina Trout.


7.) Q - What did it cost to build the Titanic?

A - Titanic's building cost (in 1912) was $7.5 million. To rebuild the ship today would cost about $413 million. 0


8.) Q - Did all of the names of all of the ships of the White Star line end in the letters "ic".

A - The original ships did not use the "ic" ending (i.e. Sirius, Royal Standard, Ellen, Blue Jacket etc.) The majority of the ships did after the birth of the Oceanic. All but a few cargo vessels built by H&W that were leased out to other shipping companies, and a few ships purchased by White Star (but not built by Harland and Wolff) through war reparations, traditionally had the "ic" ending on their names. Cunard did the same thing with "the "ia" ending. i.e. Lusitania, Mauritania, etc. An example of exceptions would be the SS Mobile purchased by the WSL in 1919 which continued to sail under the name Mobile after WSL took ownership.


9.) Q - Does the White Star Line, Cunard, and Harland and Wolff, Shipbuilders still exist today?

A - The White Star Line itself merged with Cunard in 1934 in order to keep the company alive. (see White Star History on this site) in 1957, Cunard bought out White Star's remaining shares and liquidated their assets. By 1958 the White Star Line ceased to exist.

Cunard cruises, hotels and resorts was purchased by Carnival Cruise Lines in 1998. It now operates under Carnival by the name of Cunard Line Limited. Carnival is still operating Cunard's seven cruise ships, including the Queen Mary II, Queen Elizabeth II, Royal Viking Sun, Vistafjord, Sagafjord, and the Sea Goddess I and II.


Cunard press release

MIAMI (5/28/98)
-- Carnival Corporation (NYSE: CCL) announced today that it has completed the acquisition of Cunard Line for $500 million (U.S.) from Kvaerner ASA and simultaneously completed the merger of Cunard with Seabourn Cruise Line, which was 50 percent owned by Carnival Corporation and 50 percent owned by Atle Brynestad, a Norwegian entrepreneur.

Carnival owns a 68 percent stake in the newly merged company, named Cunard Line Limited, with Brynestad and a group of Norwegian investors holding 32 percent.

Harland and Wolff shipbuilders in Belfast, Ireland, is still building quality ships today, but has limited their building to oil tankers and off-shore oil platforms.

Cunard Line is owned by Carnival Corp., which also owns Holland America Line and recently merged with Princess.


10.) Q - Is it true that some of the male passengers dressed as women in order to get on the lifeboats?

A - Yes, there is significant evidence and testimony to suggest that more than one man disguised themselves in order to board boats. Despite rumors created by some 1912 media, White Star Line Chairman, Bruce Ismay, was not one of them.


11.) Q - Were all of the children on board Titanic saved?

A - No. Lorraine Allison was the only child in first and second class to die. 53 of 76 children in third-class perished.


12.) Q - How many total passengers and crew were saved?

A - Though the numbers vary slightly depending on who's account you read, most agree that of Titanic's 2,228 total compliment, (1,343 passengers, 885 crew) A total of 705 people survived. Only 210 of Titanic's 895 crew members survived. Titanic had the capacity of carrying 3,547 fully loaded. Titanic would have needed 48 lifeboats for all on board to evacuate the vessel. It was fitted with 20.

RATIO of SURVIVORS
Women & Children_______Men________Total
_______________________________________
First Class
94%__________________31%________60%
_______________________________________
Second Class

81%__________________10%________44%
_______________________________________
Third Class

47%__________________14%________25%
_______________________________________
Crew

87%__________________22%________24%
_______________________________________


13.) Q - Did the White Star Line really claim Titanic to be unsinkable?

A - No. It appears that no one from the White Star Line actually stated this officially. The press of 1912 reported the following after the disaster "...and they said she was unsinkable. Who was "they?" The nautical magazine Shipbuilder, while publishing articles about the engineering feats accomplished in building Titanic, wrote "With Titanic's transverse bulkheads and watertight doors, it renders this vessel practically unsinkable." This is one possible source of where the media most likely twisted things around to say that the White Star Line made this claim. It's called sensationalism or yellow press, and still happens today, unfortunately. Titanic author and historian George Behe has suggested (after researching this claim) that it is possible that this statement of Titanic being unsinkable actually may have begun after the disaster.


14.) Q - Do any White Star Line vessels still exist today?

A - Yes. The Nomadic, a White Star Line tender (a vessel that ferried passengers to and from ports that were too small to accommodate the large liners) is undergoing restoration and is privately owned by a gentleman in Paris, France. (for photo's of Nomadic today, see the Final Demise Section on this site)


15.) Q - Is it true that Titanic could have stayed afloat longer if the men on the bridge had steered into the iceberg and hit it head on? Why didn't they do this?

A - Most nautical experts and marine engineers feel that this is most likely true. A lot of off duty crew (housed in the forward section of the ship) would have been killed outright, but it is generally thought that Titanic would have most likely stayed afloat, or would have taken longer to sink.

Something to consider when making these types of speculations; is it likely that a prudent person in an emergency situation would deliberately steer into an obstacle? Officer Murdoch had but seconds to make a command decision. Instinctively, he made all attempts to swerve around the obstacle in front of him, as you or I would make the same attempt in a car, to swerve around a stalled dump truck sitting in the middle of a highway.

Murdoch did not have the time to reason the engineering logistics and laws of motion to decide how the ship would succumb a direct hit. I don't feel anyone can fairly hold him to blame for his decision.


16.) Q - I'm confused about all of this controversy regarding the Leyland liner Californian that supposedly was within site of the sinking Titanic, yet refused to render assistance. Could you explain this? I can't find any info on your site about it.

(left) The Californian searching for Titanic survivors in the water on the morning of 4/15/1912. Photo taken by a Titanic survivor aboard the rescue vessel Carpathia standing by.

A - This is a very controversial subject that the site webmaster does hold a personal opinion on, however this topic has intentionally not been addressed on this site.
Two distinct opinion groups exist regarding the "Californian Incident." named after Californian's captain, Stanley Lord (no relation to Titanic author Walter Lord) "Lordites" in support of Captain Lord's testimony and actions, and "Anti-Lordites" who feel that Captain Lord's actions, or failure to act were inappropriate. When this website was first posted on the Internet in November of 1994, there was a small segment posted on the "Californian Incident." Included in the segment was the webmaster's personal opinion on the subject which does not at all support Captain Lord's testimony based on interpretations of evidence presented at the American and British inquiries.

The webmaster was absolutely "blasted" with e-mail from the opposing group, including many personal insults from several self-proclaimed "Titanic experts" that the webmaster has never even met before. It was decided that this kind of immaturity was not going to be a part of this website, so the Californian segment was omitted altogether. We'll just let the those "Titanic experts" insult each other somewhere else.

We will, however, direct you to an excellent site by Titanic author, historian and former Titanic Historical Society Vice President, George Behe. He has a site titled, George Behe's Titanic Tidbits, that does a close examination of this topic and challenges a very intent "Lordite" author. The site address is
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Carpathia/


17.) Q. - I'm interested in purchasing a model of the Titanic. I can't seem to find any in local hobby stores. Do you have any ideas where I might find one?

A. - The following site has two different models available. An 18" Titanic model by Revel and a 30" Titanic model by Academy Minicraft. Along with the Titanic models are many other ships. The site address is - http://www.shipsahoy.com/models896.htm

Also, the Titanic Historical Society has some excellent models for sale, address is:
http://www2.titanic1.org/titanic1/


18.) Q - Do you know of any plans of anyone building a Titanic II, or exact replica of Titanic?

A. - This question is asked quite a bit.

It's basically a joke, looking back over the past 10 years at these companies(?) that have come and gone that claimed to have plans to build or to be building a Titanic replica. The webmaster originally had a list posted here of several articles and websites of organizations making the claim to have full  intentions of building a replica, complete with estimated launch dates. In updating links etc. to this site in Jan. 2003, the webmaster clicked on the 8 or so site links that were posted here, and to no surprise, all that was received from clicking these url's was a "404 error" or "site does not exist."  The webmaster feels that those results pretty much answer the question.


19.) Q - Can you tell me where I can get a copy of Titanic's blueprints?

A. - Yes, right here on this website! Go to the main page.


20.) Q. - I've read that Titanic wasn't really the first ship in maritime history to use the SOS call as so often is said, and that it was actually the second ship to use it. Is that true?

A. - Neither are true as far as what's been documented. Titanic was actually the fourth known vessel to use the SOS call. It's important to understand that we're talking about SOS, not the CQD call, the predecessor to SOS.

The first recorded use of the SOS call occurred on January 23, 1909 when the White Star liner Republic was passing Nantucket in a dense fog and was suddenly rammed by the Italian liner Florida. She was struck amidships on the port side and the engine room began flooding immediately. Fortunately, another White Star liner, Baltic and a US Coast Guard vessel (at the time named US Revenue Service) received the SOS, were close by, and 1,600 lives were saved.

The second use of SOS was August 14, 1909, when the American steamer SS Arapahoe, radioed for help after losing its propeller near Diamond Shoals, North Carolina. The call was received by the United Wireless station at Cape Hatteras, and help was sent.

The third use of the distress call occurred on October 20, 1909, when ironically the SS Arapahoe received an "SOS" distress call from another American ship the SS Iroquois, after it struck a rock and became grounded.

The fourth official use of SOS of course, involved Titanic. The U.S. didn't officially adopt "SOS" until 1912, being slow to adopt international wireless standards.

As of March, 1999, It became illegal for passenger and commercial vessels to use Morse code for sending distress calls. It's sad to see another era ending, but the reasons for this decision really do make sense.

- There just aren't enough people fluently familiar with the code anymore.

- It takes too much time to send and receive

- The signals are almost impossible to trace and track

- It's difficult to ascertain the legitimacy of the call

- You just can't beat ship to shore, VHF and global positioning systems for speed and accuracy.


21.). Q - What did it cost to sail on Titanic and how much did the crew get paid ?

A - First Class (parlor suite) in 1912 was $4,350, In today's monetary standards - $50,000

First Class (berth) In 1912 was $150 In today's monetary standards - $1724

Second Class in 1912 was $60 In today's monetary standards - $690

Third Class in 1912 was $40 - $92. In today's monetary standards - $172 to $460

If you chose to share a cabin, it cost up to 40% less for fare.

Captain Smith earned about $72,500 per year (in today's standards) while a steward earned as little as $2400 per year.

If you wanted to send a wireless message aboard Titanic, it would have cost you $3.12. If you wanted to play a game of squash, $.50. and use of the Turkish bath was $1.00.


12. ) Q - Did White Star Line president and chairman J. Bruce Ismay, face any criminal charges after the Titanic disaster, and if not, why not?

         Joseph Bruce IsmayJoseph Bruce ISMAY        A- This is another question that is often asked. It's seems to have been expected (and apparently still does) for Ismay to have just stood on the deck and succumb to death only because of his title and position with the White Star Line, as was expected of ship's captains in those days. "A captain always goes down with his ship" (from an 1800's era nursery rhyme.) An act of chivalry that you definitely won't see too much of these days.

 In the James Cameron movie Titanic, Ismay was portrayed; as a conniving man that wanted the best for his shipping line with no regard for the safety of the ship and it's passengers. He persuaded the captain to push Titanic at high speed for the purpose of beating her sister ships (Olympic) crossing record for the positive media attention. This may or may not be true. The reader must examine what evidence exists to support allegations of this type and any existing evidence that would suggest that an experienced ship master (Capt. Smith) would and could be convinced to deliberately put his ship in harms way.

(Here again is another example for students of being careful not to assume fact and or truth from one single source of information such as a movie or a website.)

But, whether or not Ismay and Smith were directly responsible for the events leading up to the impact are not what is being examined here. We're looking at the events immediately prior to Ismay boarding a lifeboat.

It was widely felt (by both the public and the press) in 1912, that Ismay should have gone down with the ship solely because he was the president of the shipping line. (Ismay always claimed that he was traveling as a passenger, not as a steamship line president.) Someone needed to be blamed for such a horrific event. Who better than the surviving president of the very shipping line that owned the vessel involved?

Let's assume for a moment, that IMM president J.P. Morgan (owner of the White Star Line) was also on board, as he originally had planned to do but was unable due to pneumonia. Would it have been expected for him to remain behind as well just because he was the owner? The is no definite evidence to suggest that Ismay sneaked on to a lifeboat or took a seat away from a woman or child standing there waiting to board. The last call for women and children went out at the boat he had just finished helping to load, (collapsible "C") there was no one in the vicinity, open seats, so he and three other men boarded the lifeboat at the request of the officer in charge of loading that particular boat. (Murdoch)

 Mr. William E. Carter, of Bryn Mawr, who, with his family, was saved,
confirmed Mr. Ismay's assertions.

   "Mr. Ismay's statement is absolutely correct," said Mr. Carter. "There
were no women on the deck when that boat was launched. We were the very
last to leave the deck, and we entered the life-boat because there were no
women to enter it.

   "The deck was deserted when the boat was launched, and Mr. Ismay and
myself decided that we might as well enter the boat and pull away from the
wreck. If he wants me, I assume that he will write to me.

   "I can say nothing, however, that he has not already said, as our
narratives are identical; the circumstances under which we were rescued
from the Titanic were similar. We left the boat together and were picked
up together, and, further than that, we were the very last to leave the
deck.

   "I am ready to go to Washington to testify to the truth of Mr. Ismay's
statement, and also to give my own account at any time I may be called
upon. If Mr. Ismay writes to me, asking that I give a detailed account of
our rescue I will do so."

Source: US Senate Subcommittee transcripts: William E. Carter's  written affidavit to the US Senate Subcommittee investigation.

Here is another way to approach this line of thought; let's say for example a large corporate building in on fire. There is mass panic occurring as everyone is attempting to exit the building. Should it be expected of the company president to forfeit their life and stay in the building just because that person is the president of the company?

Ismay testified at both the British and American inquiry's that followed the disaster. Seven other crew and passenger witnesses (in 1st, and 3rd class) also testified regarding Ismay's actions that night. As a result of this surviving passenger and crew testimony, he was exonerated by both investigations. However seeing a good story here, the 1912 press referred to him as J. Brute Ismay, the villain that got away unscathed.

Yes, his method of escape from the sinking Titanic sure looked bad with hundreds of other passengers not able to get in to lifeboats. It would have more acceptable to the public if Ismay had been picked up out of the water, but it didn't occur that way. Again, with such a devastating loss of life, the public has to have someone to blame. We must also consider the strong possibility that Ismay most likely would have taken a comparable amount of blame had he not been on board Titanic, or had he not survived .

The Titanic disaster did in fact take it's toll on Ismay. He retired from his post as both president of IMM and chairman of the White Star Line shortly afterward, and went into seclusion with his wife at his home in Ireland. During the final years of White Star Line he was even asked to come back (1933-34) as chairman and president to pull the company out of it bleak financial situation (not unlike Lee Iacocca saving the Chrysler Corporation) unfortunately, WSL was too deep in debt to be saved. Toward the end he was seldom seen or heard from again, and completely avoided speaking of the disaster. He did retain his membership to various corporate boards and donated $25,000 toward the creation of the Mercantile Marine Widow's Fund. This was an organization created to compensate the wives of British sailors lost at sea. This fund retroactively compensated widows of the Titanic disaster. Ismay later inaugurated the cadet ship Mersey for the training of officers for the merchant navy, and in 1919 he gave $50,000 to establish a fund to recognize the contribution of merchantmen in World War I.  He lost a leg due to diabetic complications and battled the disease up to his death in 1937 at the age of seventy-four. Bruce Ismay's wife was often heard to say "The Titanic disaster almost ruined our lives."

Bruce Ismay's obituary : New York Times Obituary  (courtesy of Encyclopedia Titanica)

12. ) Q - Was Titanic attempting to set a speed record for crossing the Atlantic, and is this why she hit the iceberg?

A- Hundreds of ships prior to Titanic have hit icebergs and sank that were not trying to set crossing speed records. This statement seems to be popular in the thinking of "Let's blame Bruce Ismay because he survived." A line of thought that exists as much today as it did in 1912. The difference is media influence of the day to the public in 1912, versus present day's influence stemming from one fictional movie. Inadequate research and making conclusions  from a single source is the exact reason why so many people think Jack and Rose were real passengers aboard Titanic and wonder why their names don't appear on the passenger lists..

Titanic sankit an iceberg because it was it was in an ice field containing bergs, it was dark,


 

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