The tragic story of the Titanic that has fascinated entire generations

(CNN) — When the RMS Titanic set sail on April 10, 1912, it was the largest passenger ship in service and was considered “unsinkable”.

Just four days later, Titanic’s maiden voyage turned into an international tragedy when the ship struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic at 11:40 p.m. on April 14. It sank in less than three hours.

The ship did not have enough lifeboats for the approximately 2,220 people on board. Over 1,500 people lost their lives in the crash and the Titanic became the most famous shipwreck in history.

There were just over 700 survivors.

Members of some of America’s most powerful and wealthy families traveled on the luxury liner. Financier John Jacob Astor IV put his pregnant wife in a lifeboat. He drowned in the early hours of April 15, according to Macy’s co-owner Isidor Straus and his wife Ida perished, serving as the inspiration for the movie “Titanic.” Businessman Benjamin Guggenheim also died in the wreckage.

Of the 329 first class passengers on board, 199 survived. Of the 995 second and third class passengers, 293 survived and of the 899 crew there were 214 survivors.

Inquests from the time cited a number of contributing factors to the tragedy: Captain Edward Smith was said to have been too fast in dangerous waters; that the initial inspections of the vessel had been done too quickly; that there was not enough room in the lifeboats; and that a nearby vessel rendered no assistance.

The Titanic, which cost around US$7.5 million to build, was just over 268 meters long and weighed 46,328 tons. Her top speed was 23 knots.

Look for the remains

Efforts to locate the vessel have been made over the years, but the wreckage was not discovered until 1985.

“Titanic was clearly the great Mount Everest of the time,” Robert Ballard, the American oceanographer who led the expedition that found the wreckage, told CNN Travel in 2021. “So many others had tried .”

Ballard failed on his first attempt in 1977. The successful discovery in 1985 was made using a submersible sled called Argo, equipped with a camera capable of transmitting images in real time.

Ballard, in collaboration with the French Research Institute for the Exploitation of the Sea, discovered the wreckage of the Titanic while participating in a secret US military mission to explore two sunken nuclear submarines.

Before accepting the mission, which was approved by President Ronald Reagan, he asked if he could search for the Titanic after completing the top secret task.

Although he was never explicitly authorized to search for the infamous wreckage, Ballard claims he was told he could pretty much do whatever he wanted once the nuclear submarines were discovered.

The wreckage lies in two parts on the ocean floor, nearly 13,000 feet (3,900 meters) below the surface, southeast of Newfoundland, Canada.

In 1986, a team from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution made the first trip to view the sunken ship using a three-person submersible named Alvin and the new Jason Jr. remote-controlled vehicle. only been made public this year. .

Lifelong interest in the famous shipwreck

More than a century after the sinking, its story continues to captivate researchers and historians.

A team of deep-sea researchers from Magellan and filmmakers from Atlantic Productions recently used deep-sea mapping to create a “digital twin” of the wreckage of the Titanic for the first time.

Impressive Titanic scans revealed 1:15

According to a press release, every millimeter of its five-kilometre debris field has been mapped in detail. The final digital replica managed to capture the entire wreck, including the fore and aft sections, which had separated when she sank in 1912.

The wreck also attracts amateur explorers.

OceanGate, the company at the center of the ongoing international search for a missing submarine en route to the wreck, offers manned missions to conduct scientific and technological studies of the wreck.

The expedition to explore the remains of the Titanic costs passengers “starting at $250,000,” according to an archived version of the company’s website, accessible through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.

— Tamara Hardingham-Gill, Paradise Afshar, Niamh Kennedy and CNN Editorial Research contributed reporting.

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