On This Day

The Titanic Sinks

The wreck of the RMS Titanic at the bottom of the ocean, photographed in 2004
The wreck of the RMS Titanic at the bottom of the ocean, photographed in 2004

Historical Context

The most famous ship sinking of all time, the RMS Titanic was the largest ship afloat in the world when it hit an iceberg and sank on April 15, 1912. When the disaster occurred the ship was on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, carrying an eclectic grouping of 2,224 passengers that included some of the world's wealthiest people and many immigrants seeking a new life in America.

While in the North Atlantic Ocean, the Titanic hit an iceberg near midnight on 14 April and sank two hours and forty minutes later on the morning of 15 April. The Titanic band, led by Wallace Hartley, famously played on as the ship sank and all perished. Captain Edward Smith went down with the ship, in line with maritime tradition.

Despite her size, she was only equipped with enough lifeboats for roughly half her passengers, due to outdated maritime regulations. Consequently, when the ship sank, she went down with more than 1,000 people on board. Most of those who jumped into the water died of cold shock in the freezing temperatures. In all, around 1,500 people died, making it one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters ever.

The RMS Carpathia arrived an hour and a half after the sinking; the last passengers in lifeboats were rescued around 9am on 15 April. The sinking of the Titanic shocked and outraged the world, leading to changes in maritime rules and the establishment two years later of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.

Photo Info

Photographer: NOAA
Location taken: North Atlantic Ocean

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Related Events

  • 1912-04-14 RMS Titanic, the world's largest ocean liner, hits an iceberg at 11.40pm off Newfoundland, sinks in the early hours of 15 April
  • 1912-04-15 RMS Titanic sinks at 2:27 AM off Newfoundland as the band plays on, with the loss of between 1,490 and 1,635 people

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