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Ships Ahoy, week 2: 'Unsinkable' Titanic ignored six iceberg alerts

This page has been specially written for those thousands of primary school children from across Northern Ireland who are taking part in the Belfast Telegraph Newspapers in Education project

Published 20/05/2015

The Titanic sank in 1912
The Titanic sank in 1912

The fateful maiden voyage of Titanic in April 1912 is one of the best-known stories in the world. Construction of the Titanic started in 1909 and took three years to complete. The hull was launched in Belfast on May 31, 1911 when 100,000 people turned out to watch.

Twenty-five storeys high, weighing 46,000 tons and the largest moving object built at the time, the Titanic set out on its first voyage to New York from Southampton on April 10, 1912, captained by Edward J Smith.

The ship was said to be unsinkable, but although it had advanced safety features such as 16 watertight compartments and doors, the collision with the iceberg caused the ship's hull plates to buckle inwards along her starboard side, ripping open five of these compartments which gradually filled with water and sunk the liner.

The ship was designed to cope with some of these compartments being damaged but five proved just too much.

It's believed that at least six warnings about icebergs were issued on the day the ship sunk but were ignored because the wireless operator was too busy sending out passenger messages.

It is also one of many strongly held theories that, on the fateful night, weather conditions hid the iceberg from the view of the lookouts until it was too late. The iceberg the Titanic hit had become clear through continuous melting and refreezing, transforming it into a kind of dark mirror against the calm water and the clear night sky.

The iceberg was spotted just 37 seconds before impact and the ship was too large and under-ruddered to avoid it, and it was going too fast to turn quickly enough to stop it from hitting the iceberg.

Of the 2,223 passengers and crew on board, 1,517 died, making it one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in modern history.

Open your workbook at Belfast's Maritime History and complete the questions.

Belfast Telegraph

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