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Titanic: The Ship and the Numbers

Want to know more about the famous ship before you view our production of Owen McCafferty’s Titanic (Scenes from the British Wreck Commissioner’s Inquiry, 1912)? Here is a list of facts about the vessel itself and the passengers:

  1. It took around 26 months to build the ship. Approximately 3,000 people helped with the construction, some of whom died in the process. Key features of its construction include 10 decks; 3 main engines; a 100-ton rudder; and 2,000 hull plates of rolled steel. The hull was held together by three million iron and steel rivets. 

Titanic under construction

2. The estimated cost of building the ship was $7.5 million in 1912 (around $198 million today).

3. There were only 20 lifeboats, which could fit around 1100 people total compared to the actual number of over 2200 onboard (numbers are estimates as sources disagree on the exact amounts). 

4. Titanic was also a mail carrier, setting sail with 3364 bags of mail. Five workers sorted through the mail and handled letters posted on the ship by the passengers. When the ship began to sink, they went back to retrieve 200 sacks of mail. They all died.

5. A first-class parlor suite cost $4,350 ($100,000 today); a first-class cabin cost $150 ($3,500 today); a bunk bed in a second class cabin cost $60 ($1375); a bunk bed in a third-class cabin cost between $15-$40 ($350-$900). Many third-class passengers were immigrants looking to move to the US.

Third class cabin

6. 62% of first-class passengers survived; 41% of the second class survived; 25% of the third class survived; 20% of the crew survived. Overall, only 32% of the total number of all those aboard the ship survived. There were also numerous animals of different species aboard—only three dogs survived. 

7. 8 musicians played until the end. All died, and their families were later charged the price of their uniforms that sank with them by the firm that booked the musicians to play on the ship. The families refused to pay.

File:RMS Titanic Musician's Memorial, Southampton.jpg

Southampton memorial to musicians on RMS Titanic

8. A prized copy of the Rubáiyát, purchased for 405 pounds, was onboard the ship when it sank.

9. The remains of the wreck were first located on September 1, 1985. The ship was found in two main pieces: the bow and the stern. 

10. In 2012, the wreck became a UNESCO cultural heritage site. 

11. Bacteria Halomonas titanicae are eating away at the ship’s iron. Coupled with that destructive factor are corrosion and the force of eddies/undercurrents. All of these tied together have led scientists to expect the shipwreck will be completely disintegrated within 30 years.

Titanic, a megalith of human hubris, tragic loss, and significant class disparity, lives on in collective memory and artistic representations, reminding people of a tragedy that reverberated through the centuries to still be discussed in modern times.

Posted on May 4, 2021 in Productions

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