If only they had known…On March 31, 1909 workers gathered at Harland and Wolff Shipyard in Belfast to begin construction of the largest, most luxurious ship in the world: RMS Titanic. In just over three years, all their blood, sweat, tears and hard work would be at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.
Titanic was the second of three planned sister ships, which were conceived in 1907 by J. Bruce Ismay, chairman of the White Star Line, and J.P. Morgan, controller of White Star’s parent company, International Mercantile Marine. White Star’s biggest rival, the Cunard Line, had them beat for speed, so White Star wanted to be known for luxury and size. That size posed significant problems for Harland and Wolff, which had obviously never built such enormous ships before. Three slipways had to be demolished and two new ones built to accommodate Titanic and her older sister ship, Olympic. Olympic’s hull was laid down on December 1908, with Titanic following in March. It took about 26 months to complete each ship, and the costs were dear: 246 injuries were recorded during Titanic’s construction, 28 of them “severe”, and there were at least six deaths. Nevertheless, work pressed on and the ship was launched amidst much fanfare on May 31, 1911.
Just under a year later, she was completed, had passed her sea trials, and was ready to begin her voyage. On April 10 and 11, 885 crew members and 1,317 passengers boarded the ship, excited to be part of the great ship’s maiden voyage. Just a few days later, the ship crashed into an iceberg and only 705 or so of those aboard made it to their final destination of New York.
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