• The RMS Titanic

    The story of the RMS Titanic - how an "unsinkable" luxury liner hit an iceberg and sank - captured the world's fascination almost as soon as it happened in 1912.

    One hundred years later, the details of what unfolded when she went down 375 miles south of Newfoundland are debated almost as intensely as they were when the tragedy was weeks old.

    What happened on April 14, and the events that unfolded afterwards, changed the world as it was - the unthinkable had, in fact, happened. Over 1,500 people were dead and a ship lay in pieces on the bottom of the north Atlantic.

    Many of the questions asked when the Titanic went down went unanswered for years. And soon after, a world where unsinkable boats did sink, was plunged into World War I.

    When the Titanic set sail from Southhampton to New York on April 10, 1912 she was the largest passenger liner of her day. She was built exceeding standards in construction, safety and luxury.

    The Titanic was supposed to change ocean travel. Ironically, she did.

    Lessons learned from the Titanic tragedy led a shocked world to make changes that still shape ocean travel in modern times.

    • Driving the Titanic
      Capt. Christopher Hearn drives the Titanic
    • Teaching the Titanic
      The impact of the Titanic on marine education
    • Maritime Institute Titanic Simulation
      Daytime view of the Titanic and iceberg collision
    • Maritime Institute Titanic Simulation
      Night time view of the Titanic impact from the side
    • Maritime Institute Titanic Simulation
      Night time simulation of the Titanic impact with an iceberg
    • Maritime Institute Titanic Simulation
      Night time view from the bridge

    Teaching the lessons of the Titanic

    Titanic Simulator

    For marine educators like Capt. Christopher Hearn, the lessons of the Titanic have threaded through the decades in a symbolic and practical way.

    Hearn is the director of the Centre for Marine Simulation at the Marine Institute in St. John's, one of North America's largest maritime simulators.

    It is a hands-on trainer for nautical science and marine engineering students, as well as providing world-class simulation services for commercial shipping, government and oil and gas sectors, to improve safety and efficiency in operations.

    Back in 2010, the Centre was asked to recreate the first, and last, voyage of the Titanic for Blink Entertainment - a documentary company.

    The idea was to test theories about the ship's speed and maneuverability.

    This summer, CMS and the Arts and Culture Centre will recreate Titanic's last hours for the public with actors playing main characters putting a human face on what happened that night. Information about The Centre for Marine Simulation's Titanic re-enactment this summer: Calm Air

    While recreating the Titanic initially started out as a project for a client, Hearn says the Marine Institute with its mandate for safety in all operations, is the progeny of the results of that accident.

    Maritime Institutes Simulator

    Mission Bridge: Marine Institutes bridge simulator

    • Engineering Changes
      Kevin Strowbridge describes changes to ship design
    • Marine simulations and the Titanic
      Marine simulations and the Titanic

    Innovations in shipbuilding

    The Titanic was unique in its size and opulent in its design. She was built to exceed the best standards of the day by shipbuilders Harland and Wolff who had no fixed price for her construction. The ship was built with 16 compartments on its lower decks. When the Titanic scraped the side of the iceberg, five of those compartments started to flood one after the other. Three hours later, the ship sank.

    Kevin Strowbridge, an engineering instructor at the Marine Insitute in St. John's, calls the Titanic an amazing example of how to build ships and how not to build ships all in one vessel that students still study today. He explains in an interview with the CBC's Vik Adhopia how modern ships are built with the Titanic in mind.

    • What might have happened to the Titanic?
      What might have happened to the Titanic?
    IMO document

    The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS)

    In response to the questions raised by the Titanic tragedy, a conference was held attended by representatives from 13 nations. Out of that came SOLAS, a comprehensive set of regulations outlining safety protocols at sea. The new rules, according to the International Maritime Organization, include "the provision of watertight and fire-resistant bulkheads; life-saving appliances; and fire prevention and fire fighting appliances on passenger ships." SOLAS went into force in 1915. It was revisited in 1929, 1948, 1960 and 1974. It is considered by the IMO to to be one of the most important of all international treaties governing the safety of merchant ships. The IMO itself was established in 1948 by the United Nations as the agency responsible for the safety and security of shipping.

    In the document attached to the left, the IMO describes how the Titanic has affected marine shipping regulations.

    • Ice Patrol
      Vik Adhopia goes on the International Ice Patrol
    • Navigating in ice
      Navigating in ice

    The International Ice Patrol

    Every year, a flight heads out over the waters off Newfoundland. When it reaches the site of the remains of the Titanic, the back of the C-130 aircraft is opened and a crewmember throws a wreath on the water, commemorating those who lost their lives when the ship went down. The International Ice Patrol was established through SOLAS in 1915, and assigned to the American Coast Guard.

    The patrol monitors ice and icebergs off the Grand Banks and provides the ice limit to the shipping community. According to the U.S. Coast Guard, "No vessel that has heeded the Ice Patrol's published iceberg limit has collided with an iceberg."

    As you can see in this video, the CBC's Vik Adhopia went out on a flight with the ice patrol earlier this month.

    • Larry Dohey shows the CBC's Kathryn King entries from the Cape Race lighthouse keeper's logbook when the Titanic went down.
    • Larry Dohey describes the Cape Race connection
      Larry Dohey describes the Cape Race connection
    • Larry Dohey tells the story of the Algerine and the Florizel

    The Newfoundland Connections

    Cape Race

    Cape Race is Newfoundland and Labrador's most famous Titanic connection. The Cape Race Marconi wireless station was the only land-based location that received distress signals from the Titanic: the C.Q.D, or Come Quick Danger, and later SOS.

    The SS Algerine and the SS Florizel

    James McGrady's life vest

    The recovery of bodies continued into mid-May, when the the White Star Line commissioned the SS Algerine as the last vessel to assist with the grim task. The Algerine was a Red Cross Line ship owned by the Bowring Brothers of St. John's. She left St. John's May 16th and recovered the body of 27-year-old James McGrady. The body was then transferred to another Newfoundland ship, the SS Florizel. The Florizel took the body to Halifax for burial in Fairview Lawn Cemetery.

    Larry Dohey is the Manager of Collections and Projects, Provincial Archives Division at Newfoundland and Labrador's provincial museum, The Rooms. In this video, he tells the story of the Algerine and the Florizel.

    Photo: James McGrady's life vest (Courtesy The Rooms Provincial Archives Division)

    The artifacts Dohey talks about in his stories are part of an exhibit on the Titanic at The Rooms in St. John's. You can see some of the artifacts here at TheRooms.ca.

    • Have we learned our lesson?
      Cruise ship watchdog Ross Klein questions whether the rules in place today are being used in reality

    Have we learned our lessons?

    "Even with the best of technology, you can still run into trouble really quickly."
    Capt. Christopher Hearn, Centre for Marine Simulation, Marine Institute

    "Nature will rise up. We saw the Titanic go down, she was invincible. For years, our icon after the Titanic was the Ocean Ranger. It was always said the Ocean Ranger would never sink. We've learned our lesson. Mother Nature is a lot stronger than anything that we can build. She's proven it so far."
    Larry Dohey, The Rooms Provincial Archives

    cbc.ca/nl would like to thank

    • The Centre for Marine Simulation, Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland
    • The Rooms Corporation


    • Kathryn King
    • Jonathan DeRouchie
    • Vik Adhopia
    • Eddy Kennedy

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