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  • April 16th, 2012
  • Posted by EUEditor

titanic.jpgThe centenary of the sinking of the Titanic has been commemorated at sea, 15.4.12, with passengers aboard a cruise ship, Balmoral, taking part in services over the site of the wreck.

RMS Titanic, displacing 52000 tonnes, was the largest ship of her time, dramatically sunk after colliding with an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean, four days into her maiden voyage, sailing for New York out of Southampton and other ports.

The massive, sudden and hideous loss captured the imagination of generations, for its pathos and hubris: the destruction of a symbol of the engineering might and maritime mastery of Britain, great power of the era.

Under the loose protocols of that time, technology out-stripping sense, Titanic had not been carrying enough lifeboats for all on board; it was traveling at speed in the dark, looking to make a record Atlantic crossing, and with immersion in the freezing sea quickly fatal to anybody overboard, losses were high.

As the stuff of legend, the ship’s radio called for help – its call-sign MGY -  but others had closed down for the night; Titanic was said to be “unsinkable” with several watertight compartments, but enough were broken into to cause the ship to fill up and go down in just two and a half hours, in the dead of night – “sinking hard by the bow” as her captain would report; his last entry into the log.

Passengers and crew stuck to a socially-enforced rule of “women and children first”, for getting into the lifeboats.

The death toll was 1514, survivors 709.

Every modern disaster or mishap at sea compels some comparison with the tragedy of the Titanic, as with the loss of the huge Italian ship Costa Concordia in January this year; see EUAustralia Online, “Sinking of superliner …”, 16.1.12. Even the leviathans of the sea cruise industry of the present era dare not think of “unsinkability”.

In Belfast, the construction dock where Titanic was built is the location of a just-opened themed museum; see EUAustralia Online, “Just Looking: Belfast works on a good look for the future”, 15.5.07.

Picture  Wikipedia