The Ship


Titanic was conceived in 1907 and met with disaster in 1912, a brief existence but one fraught with all the drama of a Greek tragedy.

It was the beginning of the twentieth century, a time of optimism and progress. The transatlantic transport of passengers, cargo, and mail was brisk and competitive. In the spirit of this competition, managing director of the White Star Line, J. Bruce Ismay, engaged the Belfast shipbuilding company of Harland & Wolff to build three leviathans that would become the largest moving objects created by man. The three Royal Mail Ships were to be called Olympic, Titanic, and Gigantic. (Not to tempt fate, later the Gigantic's name would be changed to Britannic.) The ships were to be virtually identical in size and structure, but Titanic was to be the true shining star.

Titanic's keel was laid on March 31 , 1909. For the next twenty-six months, Harland & Wolff's shipyard workers labored nine hours a day, six days a week, to construct her massive hull. . The White Star flagships would have both reciprocating steam engines, the norm for the period, and a turbine engine to power the center of three propellers. Moreover, a double-plated bottom and a sophisticated system of watertight compartments were designed to provide the utmost in security.

On May 31, 1911, her superstructure completed, Titanic slipped gracefully into Belfast Lough launched on twenty-two tons of tallow, train oil, and soap, and was towed to the fitting out basin. It was now time for the three thousand carpenters, engineers, electricians, plumbers, painters, master mechanics, and interior designers to fit Titanic with the latest in marine technology and the most sumptuous fixtures and furniture. Finally, on April 2, 1912 she was ready. Certified seaworthy by the Board of Trade, Harland & Wolff handed her over to the White Star Line and the Royal Mail Triple-Screw Steamer Titanic departed Belfas for her place in history.