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1912 press report – The sinking of the Titanic

IN THE chaos surrounding the sinking of the Titanic there was initially great relief back home.

The first snippets of information suggested that all passengers had been plucked from life boats, without any loss of life, in the early hours of 15 April 1912.

But over the next 24 hours the full scale of the disaster was dawning on a shocked world.

The liner, which was on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York and considered unsinkable, had struck an iceberg and gone down with the loss of more than 1,500 lives.

Some 700 passengers survived but before they had even been delivered to land, by the rescue ship Carpathia, questions were already being asked about the adequacy of lifeboats.

In the first edition of the Daily Express to fully cover the tragedy it was also reported that the captain of the Titanic had been warned about icebergs by sailors on another vessel.

Both the lack of boats and the failure to reduce speed in the face of the icebergs risk would feature prominently in the subsequent enquiry into Britain’s worst maritime disaster.

The Titanic had just 20 lifeboats, which was barely enough for half the people on board. A full-scale evacuation of the 52,000-ton ship had never been envisaged.

It later emerged that the collision had caused compartments beneath the waterline to buckle and flood. The enormity of the damage was not immediately realised, with some on board later reporting feeling only a slight shudder. Others played football with chunks of ice which were found on deck.

The stricken ship drifted in the Labrador Current for two-and-a-half hours before sliding under the water, with a rumbling roar.

The band really did continue to play as, despite the fatal shortage, many lifeboats rowed away half full. People who ended up in the water died from hypothermia.

The Titanic

The Titanic

With eyewitness reports not yet available, the Daily Express focused on the scenes at the offices of the White Star Line in New York. Relatives who besieged the building were “weeping and hysterical”, demanding a full list of survivors. It was also confirmed that there was no hope for anyone left un-accounted for.

“In this fashion, throughout the day, the White Star offices were turned into a tabernacle of grief,” wrote the newspaper’s correspondent.

Some of the cream of Edwardian and American high society was lost. There was a heart-rending account of how the wife of Benjamin Guggenheim offered “all her wealth” to charter a steamship to look for the missing mining tycoon.

The front page on April 17 also carried a message of sympathy from King George V and Queen Mary.

The Titanic

The Titanic

However grief soon gave way to anger as details of the unequal treatment of passengers in different classes on board began to emerge. Only a handful of people in steerage (third class) even made it on deck, because doors were deliberately locked in a misguided attempt to keep the ship afloat. Out of 79 children in steerage, 52 were drowned.

There was also criticism of the shambolic evacuation overseen by Captain Edward Smith, who went down with his ship. His last known words, on a final tour of the deck, were to crew members, telling them: “Now it’s every man for himself.”

Distress calls from the Titanic gave the wrong location, hampering the rescue operation.

In a footnote to the disaster the wreck of the Titanic, split in two, was located in water two miles deep in an expedition in 1985.

Titanic II scheduled for 2018

It’s a story that has fascinated us for more than 100 years: A grand ship designed with the utmost luxury in mind sinks to the bottom of the frigid Atlantic Ocean after being touted as “unsinkable.” Museums have been erected and, of course, blockbuster movies have been made, all to fulfill our fascination with this infamous icon. But one Australian billionaire, Clive Palmer, thought there was one experience left unexplored: creating an exact replica. Get ready for Titanic II.

Scheduled for 2018, Titanic II is set to follow the same path as the ill-fated vessel took in 1912, but this time it plans to complete the journey.

“The Titanic was the ship of dreams,” Palmer said in New York at the project’s official launch. “Titanic II is the ship where dreams will come true.”

This romantic notion has garnered a lot of discussion about whether or not it is a good idea. “Everyone is familiar with the decadence and beauty of the Titanic, and the nostalgic look at luxury from that era certainly inspires a certain association,” said Ross McGraw, senior vice president of creative brand experience at Optimist Inc. “On the downside, there is also an immediate connection to the tragedy and some less-than-luxurious lower-class areas” in the original ship.

Palmer says he’s aware of these negative associations and even plans to make the divide that used to exist between the upper and lower classes on the original Titanic system part of the experience. Forget inside, outside, or balcony stateroom options; passengers will be choosing between first class, second class, or steerage when it comes to their tickets.

Titanic 2

Titanic 2

Period costumes appropriate to their class will even be provided, and there’s a discussion of multiclass tickets so people can experience all three levels. Palmer joked that he would in third class because “that’s where the fun’s going to be.”

Playing dress-up and reliving the grandeur of the turn of the century may be very appealing to some, but what about the attachment to a terrible tragedy? “We find that people separate the historical significance of the Titanic and modern cruising,” says Carolyn Spencer Brown, editor in chief of Cruise Critic. “In fact, the blockbuster film starring Leo DiCaprio has actually spurred major interest in cruising, and some cruise lines even show it on board. Plus, so much has changed since 1912, in terms of safety, technology, and ship design.”

Titanic 2

Titanic 2

Cruise ships today may look much different than they did in the past, but Palmer promises that passengers will get the chance to see and feel what it was like to be on the most famous ship of all time. Historians, experts, and craftsmen are working together to ensure that Titanic II has all the same intricate details as the original. “We’re bringing in some of the best designers for cruise shipping from Europe that have had years of experience to make sure nothing is overlooked,” said Palmer. “We have a specification that is far, far superior than the original Titanic. But, the experience on the ship will be exactly the same.”

Still, there’s one question on everyone’s mind: Are there enough lifeboats? Though Titanic II will closely resemble the original, there will be important modifications, including a slightly wider hull, an extra layer of decking, and modern lifeboats. Palmer wants to pay homage to those 1,500 victims while maintaining total safety if something were to go wrong. “We will have 130 percent more than what is required,” said Palmer. “There is also a helicopter pad and satellite technology and navigation.”

Could this ship truly be unsinkable? Palmer stopped short of making that boasting, simply saying, “It would be very cavalier to say anything like that. I think people have said that in the past.”

Unlike the original, Titanic II has a website and Twitter account so people can stay up to date on the progress of the ship. Both will let you know when tickets finally become available.