Posted: Sunday, April 15, 2012 by Travis Cody in

I think it's sometimes lost in the fascination with and dramatic romanticizing of the Titanic wreckage site that 1,514 people died.  There were 2,223 people on board.  There were 20 lifeboats that would hold 1,178 people.

Many of the lifeboats were launched less than full.  Only 709 people made it onto those boats.

Consider this...the full ship's capacity was 2,435 passengers and 892 crew.  If Titanic had been full on this her maiden and only voyage, there were lifeboats aboard for a third of the souls.  And that was by design and in accordance with existing maritime law.

Have you heard the phrase "failure of imagination"?  The builders of Titanic failed to imagine that anything could go wrong with their mammoth creation.  They failed to imagine any possible need to remove every passenger and every member of the crew in the middle of a frigid ocean.  Outdated maritime regulations failed to imagine that new laws must be enacted to ensure that every soul had a place on a lifeboat should any disaster occur at sea.

No technological advance has yet been invented to counterbalance the basic reality of human frailty in the face of disaster, and especially of disaster at sea.  To decide that one has built an unsinkable ship, and to make a considered decision not to outfit it with enough rescue equipment to at least try to save every soul on board, is the height of human hubris and ego.

It is tragic that men were forced to choose death so that their loved ones could be put aboard those few lifeboats.  It is tragic that many third class passengers couldn't get to the lifeboat decks, and so drowned.  It is tragic that people put on life vests and plunged into frigid water, hoping to hang on until another ship came to save them, only to freeze within minutes. 

On this, the 100th commemoration of the sinking of RMS Titanic, I remember those who died.  I remember those whose lives were irrevocably altered by the loss of loved ones.

I remember how senseless and needlessly 1,514 people perished.

RMS Titanic and 1,514 souls
15 April 1912
Requiescat in pace


  1. Trav: Thanks for the straight talk. We need to be reminded. Did you catch the piece about the Irish village that mourned the Titanic? I heard about it on public radio. Addergoole in County Mayo lost the most proportionally in that disaster. Anyway, thanks for the somber facts.

  1. Jamie says:

    A deeply poignant view of a great tragedy. Only 20 lifeboats on the ship and there is still information about the sinking coming out to this day. I went with a more joyful anniversary today. The Number 42.

  1. Rick says:

    I didn't know about the anniversary. One third enough lifeboats truly is a failure of imagination.

  1. A lot has been learned from that fateful voyage.

    Each time I cruise I am amazed by how cavalier most people are when summoned to muster. They are trying to teach you how to save you own life in the event of disaster! Sheesh, people. The least you could do would be to pay attention!

  1. Cherie says:

    It was a terrible tragedy. I've been learning so much with all the tv specials (and my Downton Abbey obsession, which opens with the sinking of the Titanic). I understand that it started a lot of changes, not the least of which was more rights for poorer people (the ones trapped below decks that you mentioned).

  1. Akelamalu says:

    It was indeed a terrible tragedy and thankfully a lot of lessons were learned from it. The most terrible thing about it in my mind was the fact that so many people were 'locked in' below decks. :(

  1. Ivanhoe says:

    Isn't it interesting that something horrible must happen before the law or way of doing business is changed? Prevention! That's my word :)

  1. Jeni says:

    So true, Trav.

  1. I think you're right. A lot of folks don't think about the rather huge loss of life.