The RMS Titanic was a passenger liner built in Belfast by the famous Harland and Wolff shipyard. Here are some commonly believed legends that are, in fact, untrue.
The Titanic is one of the most famous ships in the world, perhaps made more famous by the movie of its name in 1997.
The real-life story of the Titanic is one of tragedy, heartbreak, and all-around misfortune. Unfortunately, when the ship struck an iceberg off the coast of Newfoundland, it simply wasn’t equipped for the accident.
Among the 1,500 people who went down with the vessel, there were emigrants, some of the wealthiest people in the world, and some of the people who were behind creating the ship.
While it is a tale of tragedy, the movie has romanticised certain details of the ship’s downfall, and we’re here to set the record straight. Let’s take a look at the ten commonly believed myths and legends about the Titanic.
10. The Titanic was supposed to be “unsinkable” – there’s no proof anyone said this
One of the most commonly believed myths and legends about the Titanic is that the ship was unsinkable. In the movie, Rose’s mother looks up at the vessel from the dock and says, “So, this is the ship they say is unsinkable”.
While this makes for a good story, there is no record of anyone from White Star Line making the claim that the ship was “unsinkable”.
9. Most people in Third Class were Irish – just not true
While the movie perpetrated the image that most of the people in Third Class were Irish, most people in this part of the ship were, in fact, British.
Plus, the British just outweighed the Swedish in Third Class. There were 113 Irish people in Third Class, 47 of which survived.
8. There was no vessel like the Titanic before – there actually was
There is a big misconception that there was no ship built like the Titanic before. However, this isn’t true.
The Titanic was actually the second of three Olympic-class ocean liners operated by the White Star Line.
7. Third Class passengers were kept behind barriers – not why you think
While in the movie, it was made to look as though the Third-Class passengers were purposely held back by fences, preventing them from reaching the lifeboats; this was actually in accordance with US immigration law.
The Titanic had to have gates between the ship’s decks to avoid the spread of disease. A much less sinister reason than is represented in the film.
6. The Titanic and Liverpool – the port of registry
Many people think that because the Titanic’s port of registry was in Liverpool that it must have been there. However, it wasn’t!
Built in Belfast and berthed in Southampton, the vessel never actually ventured to the city of Scousers.
5. The sinking was Bruce Ismay’s fault – an unfortunate grudge held
Bruce Ismay was the Chairman and Managing Director of the White Star Line. When he was young, he became the enemy of William Randolph Hearst, a powerful newspaper magnate who was known to hold a grudge.
In turn, he endlessly blamed Ismay for the demise of the Titanic. However, in fact, he spent hours helping women and children onto lifeboats when the ship was sinking.
4. The Titanic was the first ship to transmit an SOS distress call – it was actually the fourth
Another of the commonly believed myths and legends about the Titanic is that it was the first ship to transmit an SOS distress call.
However, it was actually the fourth ship to use this new signal, which replaced CQD, one of the first distress signals adopted for radio use, in 1904.
The first ship to ever transmit an SOS distress was the Cunard liner SS Slavonia. All passengers on board this ship were saved.
3. The Titanic disaster was the greatest peacetime maritime disaster – while terrible, it wasn’t the worst
Because of the movie, it is often believed that the Titanic sinking, which killed over 1,500 people, was the greatest peacetime maritime disaster of all time.
However, in 1865, the Mississippi steamboat SS Sultana sank and killed 1,800 people near Memphis.
In 1987, the overcrowded MV Dona Paz collided with an oil tanker, which resulted in it overturning and killing 4,500 passengers and crew. While 706 people survived the Titanic, only 26 people survived the other two disasters.
2. The sinking of the Titanic was a conspiracy – absolutely untrue
Like many big world events, hundreds of conspiracy theories were formed when the ship sank.
The most common is that the Titanic was really her sister, Olympic, in disguise. However, these theories are simply untrue, with hard evidence to back them up.
1. The captain was a hero – a controversial opinion
Many people hailed Captain Edward John Smith as a hero, especially in his portrayal in the 1997 movie. While the captain did, in fact, go down with the ship, the circumstances surrounding his death are unknown.
Allegedly, he was appointed as Captain of the Titanic for his ability to socialise with First Class passengers, not for his abilities. The captain holds all responsibility for his ship, the number of lookouts and the speed of the ship.
Furthermore, he was responsible for loading lifeboats, of which numerous were left without being filled, something that is present in the film but not at the hands of the captain. However, there is no denying that he met his end with bravery and dignity.