Why Was the Titanic Built?

Dave Ginsberg/CC-BY 2.0

The White Star Line built the Titanic to compete with other shipping lines, especially with Cunard, which owned the two most prestigious ships, the Mauretania and Lusitania. The Lusitania’s luxurious interior and the Mauretania’s speed crossing the Atlantic made them stiff competition.

Launched in 1911, Titanic, at 882 feet in length, was the largest moving manmade object existing in the world. It contained two engines, a low-pressure turbine and 29 boilers that held 159 furnaces. The ship’s full capacity was 2,453 passengers and around 900 crewmembers. On April 10, 1911, its maiden voyage departed Southampton, with 699 crew and 1,317 passengers, with the ship making several stops before sailing to New York.

Titanic struck an iceberg, opening a 300-foot hole in the hull and sank on April 14 after remaining afloat around three hours. The ship carried 16 lifeboats and four collapsible boats that accommodated only around half the people onboard. When the Cunard ship, Carpathia, arrived to rescue survivors, only 705 persons in lifeboats had survived the sinking. The disaster was responsible for improvements in maritime safety regulations.

Explorer Robert Ballard discovered the remains of Titanic in 1985 lying at a depth of 12,415 feet. Museums display many artifacts recovered from the ship.