The sinking of the Titanic - 99 years on

Emma McFarnon
Thursday 14 April 2011 00:04 BST

Tomorrow will mark the ninety-ninth anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, which killed 1,517 people and remains one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in history.

The ship, designed by some of Britain’s most experienced engineers, and boasting extensive safety features, sank in the early hours of 15 April 1912, just four days into its voyage from Southampton to New York.

The ill-fated voyage began on 10 April 1912, with Captain Edward J. Smith at the helm. Boasting a swimming pool, gymnasium, squash court and Turkish bath, the Titanic was unrivalled in luxury and elegance.

Compliant with the regulations of the time, the ship set off with lifeboats barely sufficient for half the 2,228 people on board.

Just four days later, at 11.40pm, the ship struck an iceberg 400 miles off Newfoundland, Canada. Less than three hours later the Titanic plunged to the bottom of the ocean.

The overwhelming majority of victims, who died of hypothermia, were crew members and lower-class passengers.

Before survivors even arrived in New York, investigations were underway to discover what had gone wrong. The United States Senate launched an inquiry on 19 April.

Attempts to find the wreck continued until 1985 when a joint American-French expedition, led by Jean-Louis Michel and Dr Robert Ballard, located it using some of the most sophisticated equipment ever used at sea.

The history of the Titanic has endured for almost a century, inspiring film writers, novelists and historians. Earlier this month a sketch of Kate Winslet, used in the Hollywood blockbuster Titanic, was auctioned off for more than $16,000 in the US.

Authenticity tests are being carried out on what is believed to be a violin played by the Titanic’s bandleader, which was found under water in March. Experts plan to take the violin on a world tour, before putting it up for sale where it could fetch more than £1m.

Click here on the image to see a commemorative gallery

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in