As most of the other employees at the car dealership where I worked in 1997 headed for the exits at 5:30 p.m., I listened to Paul Harvey tell another one of his “The Rest of the Story” stories on WNAX because I had to work until at 8 p.m. that night. I was dutifully standing in the showroom listening to the radio and watching the parking lot in case someone ran errands after work.
That’s when I learned a little-known fact about a huge, new ocean liner racing to New York from Southampton, England in 1912, an attempted record voyage despite six iceberg warnings.
At launch, the Titanic was 882.5 meters long (2.5 football fields) and about 92.5 feet wide, nine stories high, the largest man-made moving object in the world when it launched. set sail. It took three years and three million rivets to build. Installers used 10,000 bulbs to light the nine decks of the Royal Mail Ship (RMS) Titanic. The construction cost was $7.5 million. More than 15,000 men worked on the ship under construction in Belfast.
The people aboard the Titanic consumed 14,000 gallons of drinking water per day. It would have been more but 1,000 bottles of wine were also available, many of which were consumed by those celebrating the 13 couples on board who were honeymooning. The ship’s stores also include 40,000 eggs for breakfast, lots of omelettes.
But people below decks in the holds fought an insurmountable challenge even as the 2,223 first, second and third class passengers and crew boarded the Titanic.
Due to the size of the ship, the engineers who designed the “unsinkable” liner had built coal bunkers three stories below, as this amount of coal was needed to fuel the 29 colossal boilers located in six boiler rooms below.
As many as 179 “firefighters” or stokers, manually shoveling coal into the boilers, worked around the clock to keep the boilers at a temperature of 400 degrees to generate steam to spin the giant propellers.
This information was provided by one of the “firefighters” or stokers, John Priest, who survived not only the sinking of the Titanic, but also three other shipwrecks.
Reports indicate that the boilers consumed 500 to 600 tons of coal every day. Google reports that each modern railcar carrying coal today has a capacity of 116 tons. This means that these firefighters were shoveling four to six carloads of coal into the boilers daily.
The Titanic was one of the biggest ships of its time. Its propellers were just as huge. The Titanic had two propellers, each with three blades. They were taller than The Walnut’s east wall, standing 23 feet 6 inches tall and weighing 38 tons each. A team of 20 horsepower was needed to pull each of the propellers to the construction site in Belfast, Ireland.
Google information about the ship. It’s intriguing. Titanic’s capacity was 2,435 passengers and a crew of 892. All that coal shoveled into the boilers could push this leviathan out of a ship at 24-26 miles an hour.
The Titanic had an impressive ratio of private bathrooms for passengers, more than any other ship in 1912. Virtually all suites on B and C Decks had en-suite bathrooms with flush toilets. Conversely, there were only two baths for the third class. Reports that third class passengers were locked in have been flagged as false.
The only happy thing about the iceberg tearing a long gash into the side of the Titanic on April 15, 1912, is that it helped put out the fires in the massive coal bins.
During an inquest by the English Wreck Commissioner in London after the sinking, firefighters on board the ship confirmed that there was a fire in the boiler room when Titanic set sail from Southampton. Some said the fire started three weeks before the Titanic set sail on its maiden voyage.
The Titanic was capable of carrying 64 lifeboats but, in fact, only had 20. Only 28 people were on board the first lifeboat launched after the sinking, instead of the 65 the raft could carry. The ship sank in two hours and 40 minutes.
Only 31.6% of the passengers and crew survived, but that number could have been 53.4% if all the lifeboats had been filled to capacity. The lives lost in the sinking of the Titanic were 1,517,500 more than those of Tyndall.
William Edward Minahan, a physician from Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, had his fortune-telling read to him shortly before the trip. The fortune teller predicted his death aboard the ship. She was right.
The plot of the novel “Futility” by Morgan Robertson strangely resembles the disaster of the Titanic. In the book, more than half of the passengers die in the North Atlantic due to a shortage of lifeboats. The book was published 14 years before the sinking of the Titanic.
Much of the final part of the film, “Titanic”, attempts to show just how cold the water was in the North Atlantic.
Howard “Hod” Nielsen, former Press and Dakotan sportswriter, told friends he knows the North Atlantic is cold. He told the story of piloting his unarmed P-38 to take pictures of German defense and manufacturing facilities in Europe during World War II. When the German pilots chased his plane out of Europe, he said he often flew deliberately over the North Atlantic, at which time the German pilots turned back.
He said they knew the cold water temperature better than anyone and didn’t want to bet they had more fuel than Hod’s long-range P-38. Getting out of their plane over the North Atlantic because they ran out of fuel meant certain death for them, as it did for the 1,517 souls who perished in the sinking of the Titanic.