Perceived safety of trans-atlantic crossing/prior disasters

Kevin A

Apr 19, 2018
Hey gang,

IIRC both the folks at Titanic Honor and Glory and in On a Sea of Glass, i've read that prior to the Titanic disaster, there were only something a dozen or so deaths on the trans atlantic crossing in the decade prior to 1912. Can anyone corroborate these numbers? What's the source on that information?

I'm trying to get real world context on just exactly HOW well traveled and safe Titanic's route was considered. I'd also like to know what the biggest known maritime disaster would have been to the people of 1912 prior to Titanic. What did they compare it to, if anything?

Thanks to anyone who has the information!

Tim Gerard

Feb 26, 2019
I don't know exact numbers, but that is pretty true, up until the Titanic sank ships powered by steam overall had a very good (but not spotless) safety record across the Atlantic. It was similar to commercial aviation today, which also has a very good, but not spotless, safety record. Most incidents I can think of with Atlantic steamships prior to the Titanic were close to shore and involved running aground.

The 1909 sinking of the White Star Line's RMS Republic helped reinforce that thinking. Six people were killed, but they were all killed in the collision with the Italian liner SS Florida, nobody died in the actual sinking. And that was with the Republic not having enough lifeboat space for all aboard. The lifeboats they did have were to transfer people from the sinking ship to rescue ships, and that's what lifeboats were used for at the time and here was a great (pre-Titanic) example of it working.

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