Photography in History · Photojournalism

Photography in History

RMS Titanic was a British passenger liner ship that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on April 15, 1912. It did so in the early am after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage enroute to New York City. There were 2,224 passengers and crew aboard… more than 1,500 died. The sinking of the Titanic was the deadliest peacetime maritime disaster in modern history.

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This is a photograph of the RMS Titanic lifeboats in New York City after the return of the survivors.

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The Titanic carried a total of 20 lifeboats… 14 standard wooden lifeboats that could fit 65 people each and 4 “collapsible” (wooden bottom, collapsible canvas sides) lifeboats that could fit 47 people each.

Each boat carried food, water, blankets, and a spare life belt. Lifeline ropes on the boats’ sides enabled them to save additional people from the water if necessary.

Titanic had 16 sets of davits, each able to handle four lifeboats. This gave the ship the ability to carry up to 64 wooden lifeboats… which would have been enough for 4,000 people.

Unfortunately for passengers, White Star Line decided that only 16 wooden lifeboats and four collapsibles would be carried, which could accommodate only 1,178 people. That’s only 1/3 of Titanic‘s total capacity.

At the time, lifeboats were intended to ferry survivors from a sinking ship to a rescuing ship… not to keep afloat the whole population or power them to shore. This is what occurred as surrounding ships did not answer distress calls. Had the SS Californian responded to Titanics distress calls, the lifeboats may have been adequate to ferry the passengers to safety as planned.

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