Ten Myths About Titanic
1. Sixteen lifeboats plus four collapsible boats were all that were in the original plans.
False. The original plans called for 64 lifeboats. The owners and builders reduced it to 32, then to 16 because that was the number required by law at the time, and in order to make room for more deck space. The four collapsible boats were then added, bringing the number to 20.
Passengers strolling on the deck near lifeboats
2. Each of the four funnels had a purpose.
False. The fourth funnel was a fake, added to make the ship look grander.
Titanic leaving Southampton
3. On launch day, the ship was christened Titanic and a bottle of champagne was broken over her bow.
False. The White Star Line did not have naming ceremonies for any of their ships.
4. All passengers were bound for New York.
False. Fifteen first class passengers and nine second class passengers disembarked at the first port call, Cherbourg, France. A canary made the short trip as well, costing its owner 25 cents for the voyage across the English Channel from Southampton. At the second port call in Queenstown, Ireland, seven passengers disembarked.
One of two tenders used to transport passengers to and from Titanic at Cherbourg
5. There was a grand ballroom for first class passengers.
False. There was no organized dancing onboard, although many steerage passengers danced to the lively music in the third class general room provided by passengers who had brought their instruments along.
Part of the third class general room
6. Only the RMS Carpathia responded to Titanic’s distress call after the collision with the iceberg.
False. Three ships responded—the Olympic, the Frankfurt, and the Carpathia. The Carpathia was the closest at 58 miles away. Captain Smith of the Titanic knew it would not reach Titanic in time before she sank.
7. Third class passengers could not reach the Boat Deck because they were locked behind gates.
False. Some of the gates were not locked. A few that were locked were opened by stewards after the collision. They helped guide women and children to the upper decks, but some of the women refused to leave the men. For others, language barriers and the maze of passageways below decks made it very difficult for steerage passengers to find their way. By the time they reached the Boat Deck, most lifeboats had already gone.
8. The Titanic sank intact.
False. The ship broke in half just prior to sinking. Many eyewitnesses had stated this, and it was proven when the wreck was finally explored.
Artist rendering of Titanic breaking in half prior to sinking
9. The iceberg made a long gash in the ship’s hull.
False. The iceberg scraped and bumped the riveted plates, causing the rivets to pop open and water to rush in. Again, this was discovered during the wreck exploration.
10. Due in part to the Titanic tragedy, cruise ships today are required to have enough lifeboats for all passengers on board.
Partly false. Modern ships are required by law to carry enough lifeboats for every passenger and crew member on board, plus 25%.