Why 882 feet 9 inches?

Dave Gittins

Mar 16, 2000
Robert, it's a bit messy. There were three ways of giving the length of a ship in 1912.

Length overall. This means what it says. From the tip of the bow to the aft edge of the stern. The best figure for this is 882' 8", from H & W records.

Length between perpendiculars, Board of Trade style. This is from the tip of the bow below the bowsprit (if any) to the aft edge of the rudderpost. This was 852' 6".

Length between perpendiculars, builder's style. From the point where the stem means the waterline to the aft edge of the rudderpost. 850' 6".

Length between perpendiculars was use to give a better idea of a ship's capacity. It ignores the small volume of the overhanging stern.

Lloyd's Register used the Board of Trade figure. Many books get the overall length of the ships involved wrong, because they quote Lloyd's without reading the fine print.

robert s hauser

I take that to mean that the stern post is perpendicular to the waterline, which would be one perpendicular, and the line extending down from the bowsprit, which is also perpendicular to the waterline, with the measurement being the length between those? Sorry, it was hard to make a coherent sentence out of that. I guess that would be more representative of the actual amount of space contained in the hull. By the way, errrr, what exactly is the bowsprit? Thank you for the previous answer Dave. Rob

Scott R. Andrews

One minor clarification: In British ships of that era, the forward perpendicular on ships having straight stems was derived at the point of intersection between the stem and the "Upper deck" -- the deck to which all, or the majority of the watertight bulkheads rose. In the Titanic's case, this was E-deck (in a small cargo steamer with few intervening decks, this could be the weather deck). If the stem was perfectly plumb, the point of intersection with this deck was, of course, redundant since the stem was itself perpendicular with the base line. However, in the case of a raked stem like the Titanic's it becomes apparent that something less abitrary was required to determine the point from which the perpendicular was to be struck. Beyond this, the difference between the BOT forward perpendicular and that of the builder was where the intersection was determined to occur. The BOT took it's point at the Upper deck's intersection with the forward-most, or outer edge of the stem, while the builder used the after egde, or molded profile of the stem. In a way, you could call the builder's figure the "molded" LBP, while the BOT figure was the "extreme" LBP.

Scott Andrews


Jun 9, 2013
Poulsbo, WA
I've wondered why they stopped at 882 feet. Why not build a thousand foot long ship? That would have given the White Star Line something to brag about. A mere 118 feet difference. Was this seriously considered at any point? I know they had to consider the length of docks where the ship could berth but it seems to me they could have done this.

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
The idea of the thousand foot White Star ship was one that had been bandied about for many years before 1912 and would be for many years after, but for one reason or another never came to fruition.