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Five things you might not know about the Titanic

by @JOEdotie
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This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Titanic tragedy. If you’re a little late to the party, like all these folks on Twitter, here’s a brief recap of what happened…

Massive “unsinkable” ship is built for a voyage to New York. “Unsinkable” ship hits an iceberg and sinks. Thousands of passengers die because there isn’t enough lifeboats.

Despite popular belief, neither Leonardo Di Caprio or Kate Winslet were on board the ship – mainly due to the fact that the tragedy occurred in 1912. Didn’t know that? Well here’s five more facts about the Titanic that you may have been unaware of…

1. A lifeboat drill was planned for 14 April 1912

Yes, a lifeboat drill was planned for the day that the Titanic ended up hitting the iceberg and sinking. Unfortunately, the drill was cancelled by Captain Edward John Smith before the tragedy occurred. Why did he cancel the (potentially life-saving) drill?

Well, the reasons behind his decision remain unclear. According to historians, Captain Smith cancelled the drill to allow passengers to go to church. Historians believe that if the drill had of gone ahead, many more lives could have been saved.

2. The Titanic almost crashed into another ship

Before it crashed into the iceberg, the Titanic had a near miss with another, smaller ship. The New York steamer ship was sucked into the wake of the Titanic and very nearly collided head-first with the ship.

A nearby tugboat, known as the Vulcan, came to the New York’s rescue by towing it out of the Titanic’s path and away to safety. The two ships avoided a crash by a mere four feet, and the Titanic was delayed for about an hour on its voyage.

3. More people could have been saved

According to various newspaper reports from the year 1912, another ship, the SS Californian was just 8 to 15 miles away from the Titanic. Despite numerous distress calls from the Titanic, the SS Californian failed to respond or come to the aid of the passengers.

Aside from the SS Californian, historians believe that another ship, the Samson (also dubbed “The Mystery Ship”) was located somewhere between the SS Californian and the Titanic when the tragedy occurred.

The crew of the SS Californian claimed that the mystery ship, believed to be the Samson, was steaming away from the scene and it confused them into thinking that the emergency flares were coming from it instead.

4. The richest man on board

Was Lt. Col. John Jacob Astor IV. His family was made wealthy by trading opium, fur and real estate. John Jacob went down with the ship after he helped his pregnant wife to escape into the last lifeboat.

According to his will afterwards, Astor was worth an estimated $150 million (around €11.9 billion in today’s terms). Apparently the Astors were returning from a long holiday in Europe. They had fled to Europe on vacation to avoid gossip about their recent marriage.

5. The lifeboats were not full

We all know that the major flaw with the Titanic was the fact that there weren’t enough lifeboats for everyone on board. However, most of the lifeboats that were launched off the ship after it collided with the iceberg were not even filled to capacity.

The first lifeboat to launch, Lifeboat 7, only had 24 people on board, despite the fact that it had a capacity of 65. Lifeboat 1 only carried 12 people, despite having a capacity for 40.

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