At 2.20am on April 15 1915 the Belfast-built RMS Titanic began to sink into the North Atlantic Ocean in what would be the largest commercial maritime disaster in history. 1,500 died on board the doomed White Star Liner, 129 of them were Irish.
Just before midnight the ship, which had left Southampton in England and stopped in Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown (now Cobh), County Cork, stuck an iceberg. Just two and half hours later the ship carrying 2,200 passengers and crew began to sink just 400 miles south of Newfoundland, Canada, never to arrive at its destination in New York.
The Titanic was designed by the Irish shipbuilder Thomas Andrews and built at Harland and Wolff, the East Belfast shipyard. The shipyard, responsible also for the construction of Titanic's sister ships Olympic and Britannic, two other mammoth liners, employed 15,000 people. The Belfast crew was behind the design, structure, and mechanics of the ships as well as their ornate and luxurious fixtures and fittings.
The Titanic was 883 feet in length, from stern to bow, and its hull was divided into 16 compartments that were presumed to be watertight. Four of these compartments could be flooded without causing a critical loss of buoyancy. This was the reason the Titanic was thought to be unsinkable.
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