Weighing in with a displacement of 52,310 tons, the White Star Line operated and British-built ocean going liner Titanic, was a wonder of its time. Fast (up to 24 knots), long (269.06 m) and luxurious, she was the largest ship afloat at her launch, although a later sister ship, Britannic, was planned to be even larger and more luxurious.
Launched on 31 May 1911 at Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast and completed on 2 April 1912 at a cost of £1.5 million ($144.5 million in 2018), she set out on her maiden voyage on 10 April 1912 and was on the ocean floor just five days later. A story almost everybody knows, this majestic ship hit an iceberg while on her maiden voyage to New York City from Southampton, and over 1,500 of her 2,224 passengers and crew perished in the icy North Atlantic waters.
The sinking caused worldwide outrage and a stiffening of maritime safety regulations and training standards. Titanic only carried 20 lifeboats, capable of holding 1,178 people, even though there was capacity for 48 of them. Her watertight compartments, of which there were sixteen, were too heavily compromised by striking the iceberg below the waterline. If the berg had damaged four compartments, she may have survived. It damaged five.
The wreck was discovered in 1985 at a depth of 3,784 m. Much has been recovered, such is the interest in this most iconic of vessels, but she remains on the sea bed, broken into two large pieces, to this day. The subject of countless books, documentaries, and one of the biggest box office hits of all time, the name Titanic has almost become a byword for disaster. Her sister ship Britannic, while serving as a hospital ship, was sunk by a naval mine on the morning of 21 November 1916 near the Greek island of Kea. Despite being in wartime, and despite carrying 1,065 people, only 30 people lost their lives, in stark contrast to her tragic sister. The last of the sisters, Olympic, had much better luck, ending her career after almost 25 years of service in 1935.