Titanic Construction

The plans for RMS Titanic and RMS Olympic were presented by Harland and Wolff's draughtsmen to the White Star Line on 29th July 1908, under the direct supervision of the Harland and Wolff chairman, William James Pirrie. The ships were bigger than anything seen before and would require massive changes to Pirrie's shipyard just to fit the ships in. These Olympic class of liners would be bigger, faster and more luxurious than any other ocean liner at that time and what's more there would be 3 of them. The plans for this £1.5 million liner ($7.5 million) were agreed on 31st July 1908 and so construction of the Titanic and her sister ships could begin.

The agreement which had been signed planned for 3 ships in total, the RMS Olympic being the first, RMS Titanic the second and a third sister ship which initially unnamed would later be called the HMHS Britannic, also sometimes wrongly referred to as Gigantic. White Star Line have always denied that HMHS (RMS) Britannic was ever intended to be called Gigantic.

The idea behind these ships was to compete with direct rival vessels such as those from the Cunard Line including the Lusitania and the Mauritania.

Titanic Construction Begins

The Titanic construction began on the 31st March 1909 when the first keel plates for the ship were laid into the immense arrol gantry at Harland and Wolff shipyard along the River Lagan in Belfast. This was only some fifteen weeks after commencing construction on her sister ship, RMS Olympic. It was the job of Harland and Wolff owner Lord Pirrie to directly control the practical design of all 3 liners, whilst the remaining decorative, equipment and general arrangement, including that if lifeboat allocation, were under the supervision of Alexander M. Carlisle. Any re-submitted and additional plans, whilst often viewed by Lord Pirrie, were actually the direct responsibility of J. Bruce Ismay.

During the construction of the Titanic Alexander Carlisle and Lord Pirrie disagreed strongly over the number of lifeboats required by Titanic, Carlisle was keen to allocate more than enough lifeboats for everyone on board and this was seen in his original design. However, during the board of trade inspection into the safety requirements of Titanic Pirrie had overruled Carlisle and only 16 lifeboats plus 4 collapsible boats had been included in the design. Lord Pirrie was able to justify this because he more than exceeded the number of lifeboats required at that time by the board of trade. Carlisle left Harland and Wolff immediately afterwards and Thomas Andrews (Lord Pirrie's nephew) took over the management of the design of the Olympic and Titanic.

Building the Titanic took 3 thousand men over 2 years to accomplish, with 2 of them loosing their lives due to the dangerous working conditions. The Titanic was constructed at a length of almost 883 feet, a width of 92 feet and weighed somewhere in the region of 66,000 tonnes. If you were to stand on the bridge and look down to the keel in the dry dock it would be the equivalent of standing up on a ten story building. If you were to re-build the Titanic today it would cost you approximately close to $400,000,000.

The construction of both ships was completed above and beyond any accepted standards at that time with many new and innovative construction methods being used to improve strength and quality, no expense was spared.

It wasn't long before construction of the Olympic had been completed and in 1909 preparations were made for her maiden voyage.

The Launch Of Titanic

Just two years later on May 31st 1911, the ship was completed and Titanic launched into the Irish river Lagan from the Harland and Wolff slipway 3 to make her way for the final fit out ready for her maiden voyage at the Thompson graving dock, also known as the Thompson dry dock. In order to get Titanic to slide down slip number 3 the workers had to use a reported 23 tonnes of soap and tallow to lubricate the slipway, it took Titanic just 62 seconds to reach the water.

Titanic Construction & Launch Photos

The following pictures are various photos of the Titanic wreck as well as artist impressions. Visit our photo gallery for more Titanic photos.

The Fitting Out Of Titanic

Titanic then went on to get fitted out with 4 giant funnels each of which measured 22 feet in diameter and 62 feet high, 3 of these funnels were used for ventilation of exhaust fumes from the massive reciprocating engines and the 4th was used purely for ventilation, storage and aesthetics and would therefore never have smoke coming from it.

To move her 46000 tonnes through the water she was fitted with massive reciprocating engines as high as a 3 story house and to power these engines Titanic was fitted with 29 boilers and 159 furnaces which would require some 8,000 tonnes of coal stored in the hull to power them, with a consumption of around 600 tonnes per day.

A total of 3,560 life jackets were provided on board Titanic for the passengers, along with a total of just 20 life boats which was over half the amount required for the number of passengers on board but more than the required amount by law. It's calculated that 48 life boats would have been required for all of those passengers and crew on board the ship at the time of sinking.

The ship was divided down into 16 water tight compartments by 15 ½ inch thick bulkhead doors which were controlled by electromagnets and could be closed with the flick of a switch from the bridge in around 25 seconds or less.

The fittings on Titanic were completed on April 2nd 1912 which was a mere 8 days before her launch on April 10th 1912. This launch date was in fact a few weeks later than first scheduled, the Titanic was initially due to launch on March 20th but an incident with Olympic meant that certain spare parts were taken from Titanic, delaying her launch. A delay which was to prove disastrous for this luxury liner since April was when the large ice fields began to melt, leaving bergs directly in Titanic's planned route.

Titanic left the Irish port of Queens town with 2,228 passengers and crew on board, bound for Pier 59 in New York City, a port which would never be reached.

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