One of the worst disasters in peacetime maritime history is the sinking of the Titanic. This cruise ship sinking resulted in the loss of nearly 1,500 lives. Following this cruise ship sinking, dozens of stories were created, myths were born, and hundreds of investigations took place – some of which still occur today. The events surrounding the sinking of the Titanic have been depicted in everything from books and documentaries to movies and re-enactments. In fact, the 1997 blockbuster movie Titanic is the top grossing film of all time, earning a total U.S. gross of $600,788,188.
The RMS (Royal Mail Ship) Titanic was an Olympic-class ocean liner built by Harland and Wolff Shipyard in Belfast, Ireland. Its homeport was Liverpool, England. The ship was 882 feet, 9 inches in length, with a service speed of 21 knots or 24.5 mph. While there were 2,208 passengers aboard the RMS Titanic the night she struck an iceberg, the ship could hold a maximum of 3,547 people.
Not only was Titanic a spectacular vessel on the outside, the inside was so magnificent, that it was the hands-down the most luxurious liner in history at that time. Titanic had a pool, a gym, libraries in several levels, a squash court, a Turkish bath, elaborate cafes, and stunning staterooms. The accommodations boasted wood paneling, and the most expensive furniture and accessories money could buy. The RMS Titanic also had sophisticated features and electrical systems including wireless transmitters, powerful radio systems, and steam-powered generators.
The RMS Titanic was the largest liner built during her time and she sank on her maiden voyage. On the night of April 14, 1912 at approximately 11:40 p.m., the RMS Titanic struck an iceberg. At approximately 2:20 a.m., less than three hours later, on April 15, 1912 the RMS Titanic sank.
It was reported by the U.S Senate, that that 1,517 people died in the tragedy while British investigations reported that 1,490 people perished. A total of 31% of the passengers aboard the Titanic survived with a total of 200 first-class survivors (119 died), a total of 117 second-class survivors (152 died), a total of 172 third-class survivors (527 died). The majority overwhelming majority of deaths were men – “women and children first” was the rule.
One of the most recent cruise ship sinking’s took place in April of 2007 when a Greek cruise ship sank off the island of Santorini, Greece. The 469-foot Sea Diamond struck rocks (15 hours after it began taking on water off the coast of the Mediterranean island) in the sea-filled crater formed by a massive volcano eruption some 3,500 years ago off the island of Santorini. Before the ship sank, nearly 1,600 people were rescued from the sinking cruise ship in a three-hour rescue operation. Two French passengers, a 45-year-old man and his 16-year-old daughter died in the tragedy.
Below is a list of cruise ship sinkings and accidents since 1980 as reported by MSNBC:
Dec. 17, 2000: The Sea Breeze I sinks following engine failure 200 miles east of Cape Charles, Va. No passengers are aboard the ship, which is sailing from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Charleston, S.C. All 34 crewmembers are saved.
Aug. 4, 1991: Luxury Greek liner Oceanos sinks off the coast of South Africa when the engine room floods. The 571 people on board are rescued. The ship’s crew had failed to replace ventilation pipes it removed during repairs.
Aug. 31, 1986: The Admiral Nakimov, a Soviet cruise ship carrying 1,234 passengers to a holiday resort, collides with a cargo vessel twice its size and sinks into the Black Sea eight miles off the port of Novorossysk. Seventy-nine people are killed, 836 are rescued and 319 people are never found.
Feb. 16, 1986: The Soviet cruise ship Mikhail Lermontov sinks in 100 feet of water off the northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island after hitting a reef. One of the 330 crewmembers dies, but the rest of the crew and all 409 passengers, mainly elderly Australians, are evacuated.
Sept. 11, 1982: A 152-foot cruise liner, the Majestic Explorer, got stuck on a shoal in Frederick Sound off southeastern Alaska. One woman dies and two are injured during the rescue. The remaining 77 passengers and 21 crew are safely evacuated.
Oct. 4, 1980: The luxury liner Prinsendam, a Holland America Line ship carrying 319 passengers and 203 crew members, catches fire during a violent storm. All passengers and crew are successfully evacuated.
Other recent cruise ship sinkings include:
Al-Salaam Boccaccio – 02-02-06
Ethan Allen – 10-02-05
Explorer – 11-23-07
M/V Saurav – 02-28-08
Queen Of The North – 03-22-06
Sea Diamond – 04-05-07
Senopati Nusantara – 12-29-06