Tag Archives: R.M.S. Titanic

Best Quotes of the Week – May 15, 2021

“I’m not a politician.  I’m not an elected official.  I don’t expect anybody to give two shits about my opinions.  But I will say this, you know, those are lies.”

Michael Fanone, Capital Hill police officer who was stun-gunned several times and beaten with a flagpole during the attack, about the January 6 riots and denials by some Republicans on the severity of the event

Fanone, who said he suffered a concussion and a heart attack during the violence, added, “Peddling that bullshit is an assault on every officer that fought to defend the Capitol.  It’s disgraceful.”

“Right now it’s basically the Titanic.  We’re … in the middle of this slow sink.  We have a band playing on the deck telling everybody it’s fine.  And, meanwhile, Donald Trump’s running around trying to find women’s clothing and get on the first lifeboat.”

Rep. Adam Kinzinger, criticizing his fellow Republicans for their ongoing allegiance to former Pres. Trump

“We are up currently against the ticking time bomb of an unrelenting climate crisis and an economic crisis wearing down working people.  Each day the process of passing an infrastructure package is delayed by performative negotiations with the GOP – who are clearly disinterested in working with Democrats – another day goes by that we are not healing our planet or getting people good jobs to support their families.”

Ellen Sciales, press secretary for Sunrise Movement, on the apparent unwillingness of Republicans to work with President Biden on his infrastructure bill proposal


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Titanic Visions

Writers have a unique propensity for conjuring up stories of fantastic voyages and incredible events.  Sometimes art imitates them; other times real life proves such things can happen.  This is the case with Morgan Robertson, an American author who, in 1898, published a book about a massive luxury ocean liner that strikes an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sinks with most everyone aboard.  Entitled Futility, or The Wreck of the Titan, the tale is remarkably foreboding.  Here are some of the similarities and slight differences: 

  • The “Titan” sailed from New York to Liverpool, England, while Titanic sailed from Southampton to New York.
  • It was the “Titan’s” third voyage, but it was Titanic’s first.
  • Both ships sailed in the month of April.
  • The “Titan” was 800 feet long and weighed 45,000 tons.  Titanic was 880 feet long and weighed 46,328 tons.
  • The “Titan” had 15 watertight compartments.  Titanic had 9.
  • The “Titan” had 40,000 horsepower.  Titanic had 45,000 horsepower.
  • The “Titan” traveled at 25 knots.  Titanic traveled at 24 knots.

Robertson had a modest career as a writer; never really enjoying any great success, even when Futility was re-published after Titanic’s sinking.  He died in New Jersey in 1915.

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Rare Titanic Film Footage

This is genuine film footage of the R.M.S. Titanic leaving Belfast, Ireland for Southampton, England.  It is the only genuine extant footage of the ship.  The film continues with shots of the R.M.S. Carpathia, which plucked Titanic survivors from lifeboats, and that ship’s arrival in New York.


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Photographs of Titanic by Father Francis Browne

Father Francis Browne was an Irish Roman Catholic priest who traveled to Cobh, Ireland in April of 1912 to photograph the R.M.S. Titanic as it made a brief stop; its last port of call before proceeding on its voyage.  Although the ship was registered in England, Ireland holds a special fondness for Titanic: it was built in Belfast, and many of its passengers were Irish immigrants on their way to what they hoped would be a better life in the U.S.  Father Browne died in 1960, his photographs stored in a large black metal trunk in the basement of Irish Jesuit Provincial’s House.  In 1985, the same year the Titanic wreck was discovered, Father Edward O’Donnell came across Father Browne’s metal trunk, which also contained a number of other photographs and negatives.  But, his Titanic photographs captured everyone’s attention.  Father Browne’s photographs have been published and exhibited around the world and he is now recognized not only as the greatest photographer in Ireland of the first half of the 20th century but an outstanding photographer of world stature.  Here are some of his pictures of life aboard Titanic.

A boy plays aboard the deck of the Titanic

A Queenstown vendor sells Irish lace aboard the Titanic

A U.S. doctor inspects passenger’s eyes

Major Frank Brown

Members of the Titanic crew pose with lifejackets

Passengers from steerage settle on deck aboard the Titanic

The bedroom in the Browne suite aboard the Titanic

The gymnasium

Men waiting for jobs possibly transferring mail

The last photo of the Titanic taken by Father Francis Browne

Father Francis Browne


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Archaeology of Titanic

This composite image, made from sonar and more than 100,000 photos taken in 2010 from by unmanned, underwater robots, shows a small portion of the Titanic debris field.

The May / June 2012 issue of Archaeology Today, a publication of the Archaeological Institute of America, marks the centennial anniversary of the Titanic’s sinking by focusing on “what it was always meant to be: an archaeological site.”  When scientists finally discovered the wreck in 1985, using an unmanned deep-sea vessel called Argo, they certainly didn’t expect to find the Titanic in pristine condition.  But, they also didn’t expect to learn that it had become a haven for marine life. 

Two miles down, with water pressurized to 6,000 pounds per square inch, the remnants of the Titanic metamorphosed into a “series of reefs in what had once been a deep-sea desert.”  Plunging to such depths had been the stuff of ambitious dreams and adventurous souls.  But, even by the 1980’s, when technology allowed those dreams to become reality, no one really knew what to expect.  Humans first visited the site in 1986, peering out the peep holes of another deep-sea submersible, Alvin.  The year after that, another vessel, Nautile, glided over the site.  Scientists were stunned to find bottles of wine, dishes, clothing, wallets and other items scattered along the ocean bottom near the wreck, where oxygen doesn’t reach.  With its robotic arm, Nautile picked up the first of 1,800 artifacts it would recover during that expedition. 

In 2010 two robotic vehicles crisscrossed the seabed, using high-resolution sonar and camera systems to create the first comprehensive map of the Titanic site.  Another robot, at the end of a fiber-optic cable, sent to the surface live, full-color, 3-D images, allowing scientists to virtually walk the decks of the ship.  This latest effort is perhaps the most significant advance since underwater archaeology began just 50 years ago.  For the first time, Titanic can be treated and explored like any other underwater site; extreme depths are no longer an obstacle. 

The first steps in expanding underwater archaeology to the depths were propelled by the Titanic disaster itself, as the first sonar systems were developed and tested after the sinking to locate and avoid icebergs.  This technology improved throughout the 20th century, moving into deeper waters, until Titanic’s discovery.  But even in 1985, the idea that Titanic could be explored, photographed and mapped like an archaeological site seemed like science fiction. 

The artifacts salvaged since 1987 represent less than 1% of what might be available.  The furor over the recovery of artifacts from Titanic has been long and arduous.  The greater concerns for archaeology are how and why the artifacts were removed, and what would become of them.  Were they being appropriately conserved, cataloged, and researched?  Would they ultimately go to auction? 

The U.S. District Court in Norfolk, Virginia has overseen the salvage company’s activities under admiralty law for two decades and has answered a number of these questions.  Rulings by the court have limited recovery to artifacts scattered outside the intact bow and stern sections.  At one stage, RMS Titanic Inc. unsuccessfully sued the U.S. Departments of State and Commerce to stop publication of the International Agreement on Titanic guidelines.  Most recently the court awarded RMS Titanic Inc. title to the 5,000 artifacts, with the stipulation that the company follow international standards for conservation, treatment and display of the collection.  Furthermore, any sale of the artifacts would be subject to review by the court, and allowed only if the collection stays together and is maintained for public display and study. 

Debate surely will continue over Titanic’s remnants, but one thing is certain: it is one of the most horrific maritime disasters in recent memory.  People have an almost macabre fascination with it.  Yet, we can’t forget the human aspect of that tragedy.  The hopes and dreams of many people aboard the vessel vanished into the cold dark waters of the North Atlantic.  The ship is their collective graveyard.  We can dredge up cutlery and even paper documents from the muddy depths.  But, we can’t bring the more than 1,500 souls who perished along with them.  They were important, too, and they should be respected.


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