The Launch Of Titanic


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steve b

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More from that book im reading folks (yea i know you all must be sick of hearing about it by now LOL), but i read about Titanics launch, and the amount of steel and grease that was used was put at astronomical numbers. The most amazing part to me was that the author claimed the process had taken 62 seconds to complete. Also it was noted that this event was witnessed by over 100,000 people, and 1 person witnessing it claimed the propellors looked about the size of an oak tree. I was just wondering if there was anyone who could give me more details of that day, which i think was stated as May 11 1911 (i dont have the book in front of me, so therefore my uncertainess)But just the amount of material that was used for this process was staggering, and also the amount of people on hand to witness the event is a great tribute to the ever growing Mystique of the grand lady.......Also, i was reading that when the idea was concieved to build both Titanic and Olympic, there was great concerns that the ports in England and New York were no where near big enough to handle them both, considerably short by at least 50 feet is what i have read. I also read that there was no clear cut decision on how to remedy the problem, since the goverments of the time were not willing to help fund building of the exapnsion of the docks via taxes. How was this problem ultimately resolved? I had read the White Star Line has taken considerable flack for not taking into acccount the berthing issues..Ah well, ive babbled enough, God bless
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Hi Steve, I think the day you're looking for is May 31st 1911 as the day the Titanic was launched.

When a ship is built on a slipway, keel blocks are laid out upon which the keel is set up and any additional supporting blocks, pegs and shores are added in as the hull takes shape. Just befor the ship is actually launched, standing and sliding ways are built and the weight of the ship is transferred to the ways as the supporting blocks are removed...literally a few at a time as the workers go about the slow and tedious process of getting this done! This is a very dangerous operation too. One man actually had his leg crushed when some of the shoring he was cutting away collapsed on top of him. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died the next day due to contusions and shock. (Source, Titanic, Triumph and Tragedy, page 22)

The tallow and soap were needed in vast quantities to lubricate the ways so the hull would actually slid into the water once the triggers nudged her on her way. Even then, the friction caused is enough to leave the ways smoking after the launch. It was not unknown for the ways to actually catch fire once a hull starts moving.

At the time the ships were conceived, there were a lot of issues that had to be dealt with. Dredging the harbors to take vessels of their draft for example, as well as building peirs and drydocks capable of handling such large vessels. An Olympic class liner had a full load draft of 34ft. 7inches and there were no channels deep enough to take them, nor any drydock large enough to handle them, although the Thompson Drydock in Belfast was already under construction and was ready by the time the Olympic was launched.

Elsewhere, it took J.P. Morgan's influance to get some reluctant port authorities to pony up the cash to do the needed dredging and construction of the facilities needed. I suspect it would have happened without his influance as ships even larger then the Olympics were already on the drawing boards such as the German Imperator. It was either upgrade the facilities as needed or lose the business to other ports...like Boston...who would have been only too happy for the private sector income and tax revenues these large ships would bring. So in the end, the upgrades were funded.

Hope this helps.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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steve b

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Yes that was very helpful. The way i intially read that was that the governments of the time were very very leery of backing the funding of this due to the fact little was known about what the potential returns to the individual cities would have been, and as we all know back in that time period that was a substantial factor. On trhe launching, yes i do remember hearing about that unfornuate incident with the worker. Isnt it amazing all the preperation that goes into a process that takes in the end 62 seconds to complete? Thanks again Micheal, your a vast resource of knowled
 

Dave Hudson

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A few other interesting points to mention:

Titanic was never christened, it was not the policy of the White Star Line.

Titanic's hull was painted black for her launch, while Olympic's was painted white for better photographs.

One of the workmen said that her rudder (not her propeller) was as big as an elm tree. He compared her propeller to a windmill.

The Titanic was launched the same day that the Olympic was handed over to White Star.

A luncheon took place just after the launch, which featured salmon with mouseline sauce-a dish that was served in 1st Class at dinner on the night she sank (so in a way, it was served on the day of her birth, and the day of her death).

David
 
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steve b

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Sorry Mr Hudson you are correct, it was indeed.I stand corrected. One of the other interesting things you get from that part of the book is a marvelous description of the work ethic of Thomas Andrews, because it was stated that many a day he would be in his office going over every fine detail while the ships were being built. Im still trying to picture in my mind 100,000 crammed in to see the launch. I wonder how many came to see her actual departure
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Glad to help Steve. The miricle of it was that there weren't more people killed during the construction of those both those ships. Shipyards are very dangerous places to work with falling objects landing on some poor bloke...like rivets...being a very common cause of fatalities.

I'll have to check my sources, but my understanding is that the construction of the Olympic and Titanic was remarkably accident free.

As to the Titanic's departure, it was pretty much a non-event. As the younger sister, she didn't attract anywhere near the attention the lead ship of the class did.

All that changed on April 15th...

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Details of those killed while working on Titanic and Olympic are on this site. A total of eight died but the division between the two ships is not known.
 

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