The build of the Titanic
Building the Titanic.
It took just over three years to build and fit out the RMS Titanic, and it took the ship less than three hours to sink beneath the North Atlantic Ocean on April 14-15, 1912. Well before, the White Star Line's "unsinkable" ship set sail on its first and only voyage and launched countless stories, however, high stakes and grand plans went into its design and construction.
Who built the Titanic ?
The Titanic was built by Harland and Wolff, shipbuilders for White Star Line.
Designing the Titanic.
The men who built titanic.
Competition spawned the Titanic. In 1907, the White Star Line's rival, Cunard, launched the two fastest passenger ships then in service, the Mauritania and the Lusitania. That same year, the White Star Line's Chairman, J. Bruce Ismay, wanted to top Cunard, and he decided to do so based, not on speed but on size and luxury.
To design and build these new ships, dubbed the Olympic class, the White Star Line, turned to Harland & Wollf, its longtime shipbuilder. Naval architect Thomas Andrews, who later perished when the Titanic sank, headed up the design of the new vessels. Construction started on the first such vessel, dubbed the Olympic, in late 1908.
Designed to be the world's largest passenger steamship upon its completion, the Titanic was nearly 883 feet long and 104 feet high. Accommodations for first class passengers included palatial state rooms, some with their own promenades, along with a grand staircase, library, smoking room, squash court, sumptuous restaurants and other amenities. Second and Third Class accommodations, while far less posh, were still considered better than their counterparts on other ships.
Where was the Titanic built ?
The Titanic was built in Belfast, north Ireland.
The Titanic built to be Unsinkable?
While Harland & Wolff claimed that it never advertised the Titanic as unsinkable, a White Star Line brochure indeed said that the Titanic was designed not to sink. The media of the day, of course, seized on this idea of an unsinkable ship.
The primary design concept meant to make the Titanic unsinkable was a series of sixteen compartments separated by watertight bulkheads in the lower portion of the ship. Rather than, force passengers to use stairs to move between compartments, the ship's designers included doors between them. In case of emergency, those doors could be closed with the flip of a switch, sealing the compartments off from one another and theoretically keeping water confined to the breached compartments. Even if, two middle or four front compartments were breached, the theory ran, the ship would stay afloat. Unfortunately, the iceberg that sank the Titanic breached five compartments.
How was the Titanic built ?
In the spring of 1909, nearly two years after Ismay hatched his plan to top Cunard, construction began on the Titanic at Harland & Wolff's large shipyard in Belfast, Ireland. Of Harland & Wolff's 15,000 workers, around 3,000 labored on the Titanic. Records show injuries to nearly 250 workers, with two workers dying in construction accidents in the shipyard and six more dying on board ship during building and fitting. Given the lax worker protection standards at the time, this was actually a good safety record.
The Titanic and Olympic, which were built at essentially the same time, were so much larger than previous ships that Harland & Wolff had to dismantle three existing slipway and build two new dry docks to house them. It took two years to complete the actual construction of the Titanic, during which time workers placed 2,000 steel plates to form the hull, held together with more than three million rivets. Many riveters reported developing hearing problems later in life as a result of the noise the accompanied this task.
Meanwhile, British forging company N. Hingley & Sons cast Titanic's side and center anchors. The center anchor, over 18 feet long and weighing over 15 tons, was the largest hand-forged anchor ever made at the time. Most links in the anchor chains N. Hingley & Sons forged were 33 inches long, though the largest links were a full three feet in length. In all, the Titanic received nearly 1,200 feet of chain for its anchors.
Once construction was complete, on May 31, 1911, the Titanic moved to a berth for the next year to await fitting out. During that year, workers installed the Titanic's engines and funnels and completed its remarkable interior. By April 2, 1912, the ship was set to begin its sea trials.
Twenty-five stories high, weighing 46,000 tons, and the largest moving object ever built at the time, the Titanic was ready to sail. Nevertheless, not all of the Titanic's fixtures were in place when the ship departed Southampton, England on its maiden voyage on April 10, 1912. Gilbert Logan, working in Harland & Wolff's cabinet workshops, had designed a table, sideboard and chairs to be placed in the Captain's private quarters on board ship, but these pieces were not finished until a few days after the Titanic set sail. Today, these pieces are on display in Belfast.