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Description of the RMS Titanic - 1912

The Biggest Ship in the World Which Met Disaster on Her Maiden Voyage

The Biggest Ship in the World Which Met Disaster on Her Maiden Voyage: The £1.500.000 White Star Liner “Titanic” Leaving Southampton for Her First Trip to New York. The Illustrated London News (4 May 1912) p. 656-657. GGA Image ID # 106319cf3e

Extracts from the Congressional Serial Set from 1912, Loss of the Titanic report that provided essential details about the ownership, operation, and construction of the steamship.


The Titanic was one of a fleet of 13 ships employed in the transport of passengers, mails, and cargo between Great Britain and the United States, the usual ports of call for the service in which she was engaged being Southampton, Cherbourg, Plymouth, Queenstown, and New York.

The owners are the Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. (Ltd.), usually known as the White Star Line, a British registered company, with a capital of £750,000, all paid up, the directors being Mr. J. Bruce Ismay (chairman), the Right Hon. Lord Pirrie, and Mr. H. A. Sanderson.

The company are owners of 29 steamers and tenders; they have a large interest in 13 other steamers, and also own a training sailing ship for officers.

All the shares of the company, with the exception of eight held by Messrs. E. C. Grenfell, Vivian II. Smith, W. S. M. Burns, James Gray, J. Bruce Ismay, H. A. Sanderson, A. Kerr, and the Right Hon. Lord Pirrie, have, since the year 1902, been held by the International Navigation Co. (Ltd.), of Liverpool, a British registered company, with a capital of £700,000, of which all is paid up, the directors being  Mr. J. Bruce Ismay (chairman), and Messrs. H. A. Sanderson, Charles F. Torrey, and H. Concannon.

The debentures .of the company, £1,250,000, are held mainly, if not entirely, in the United Kingdom by the general public.

The International Navigation Co. (Ltd.), of Liverpool, in addition to holding the above-mentioned shares of the Oceanic Steam Navigation Co. (Ltd.), is also the owner of:

  1. Practically the whole of the issued share capital of the British & North Atlantic Steam Navigation Co. (Ltd.), and the Mississippi & Dominion Steamship Co. (Ltd.), (the Dominion Line).
  2. Practically the whole of the issued share capital of the Atlantic Transport Co. (Ltd), (the Atlantic Transport Line).
  3. Practically the whole of the issued ordinary share capital and about one-half of the preference share capital of Frederick Leyland & Co. (Ltd.), (the Leyland Line).

As against the above-mentioned shares and other property, the International Navigation Co. (Ltd.) have issued share hen certificates for £25,000,000.

Both the shares and share lien certificates of the International Navigation Co. (Ltd.) are now held by the International Mercantile Marine Co. of New Jersey, or by trustees for the holders of its debenture bonds.


The Titanic was a three-screw vessel of 46,328 tons gross and 21,831 net register tons, built by Messrs. Harland & Wolff for the White Star Line service between Southampton and New York.

She was registered as a British steamship at the port of Liverpool, her official number being 131,428. Her registered dimensions were:

Table of Registered Dimensions of the RMS Titanic

Table of Registered Dimensions of the RMS Titanic. GGA Image ID # 104b3a8d78

The propelling machinery consisted of two sets of four-cylinder reciprocating engines, each driving a wing propeller, and a turbine driving the center propeller. The registered horsepower of the propelling machinery was 50,000.

The power which would probably have been developed was at least 55,000.

Structural arrangements.—The structural arrangements of the Titanic consisted primarily of:

  1. An outer shell of steel plating, giving form to the ship up to the top decks.
  2. Steel decks.—These were enumerated as follows:

Table of Structural Arrangements of the RMS Titanic

Table of Structural Arrangements of the RMS Titanic. GGA Image ID # 104ba135a1

C, D, E, and F were continuous from end to end of the ship. The decks above these were continuous for the greater part of the ship, extending from amidships both forward and aft.

The boat deck and A deck each had two expansion joints, which broke the strength continuity. The decks below were continuous outside the boiler and engine rooms and extended to the ends of the ship.

Except in small patches none of these Decks was water tight in the steel parts, except the weather deck and the orlop deck aft.

  1. Transverse vertical bulkheads.—There were 15 transverse water tight bulkheads, by which the ship was divided in the direction of her length into 16 separate compartments. These bulkheads are referred to as "A" to P," commencing forward.

The water-tightness of the bulkheads extended up to one or other of the decks D or E; the bulkhead A extended to C, but was only water tight to D deck.

The position of the D, E, and F decks, which were the only ones to which the water-tight bulkheads extended, was in relation to the water line (34 feet 7 inches draft) approximately as follows :

The Position of Titanic's Water-Tight Bulkheads on Decks D, E, and F in Relation to the Water Line

The Position of Titanic's Water-Tight Bulkheads on Decks D, E, and F in Relation to the Water Line. GGA Image ID # 104ba69415

These were the three of the four decks which, as already stated, were continuous all fore and aft. The other decks, G and orlop, which extended only along a part of the ship, were spaced about 8 feet apart.

The G deck forward was about 7 feet 6 inches above the water line at the bow and about level with the water line at bulkhead D, which was at the fore end of boilers.

The G deck aft and the orlop deck at both ends of the vessel were below the water line. The orlop deck abaft of the turbine engine room and forward of the collision bulkhead was water tight.

Elsewhere, except in very small patches, the decks were not water tight. All the decks had large openings or hatchways in them in each compartment, so that water could rise freely through them.

There was also a water-tight inner bottom, or tank top, about 5 feet above the top of the keel, which extended for the full breadth of the vessel from bulkhead A to 20 feet before bulkhead P, i. e., for the whole length of the vessel except a small distance at each end.

The transverse water-tight divisions of this double bottom practically coincided with the water-tight transverse bulkheads; there was an additional water-tight division under the middle of the reciprocating engine-room compartment (between bulkheads K and L).

There were three longitudinal water-tight divisions in the double bottom, one at the center of the ship, extending for about 670 feet, and one on each side, extending for 447 feet.

All the transverse bulkheads were carried up water-tight to at least the height of the E deck. Bulkheads A and B, and all bulkheads from K (90 feet abaft amidships) to P, both inclusive, further extended water-tight up to the underside of D deck. A bulkhead further extended to 0 deck, but it was water-tight only to D deck.

Bulkheads A and B forward, and P aft, had no openings in them. All the other bulkheads had openings in them, which were fitted with water-tight doors. Bulkheads D to O, both inclusive, had each a vertical sliding water-tight door at the level of the floor of the engine and boiler rooms for the use of the engineers and firemen.

On the Orlop deck there was one door, on bulkhead N, for access to the refrigerator rooms. On G deck there were no water-tight doors in the bulkheads. On both the F and E decks nearly all the bulkheads had water-tight doors, mainly for giving communication between the different blocks of passenger accommodation.

All the doors, except those in the engine rooms and boiler rooms, were horizontal sliding doors workable by hand, both at the door and at the deck above.

There were 12 vertical sliding water-tight doors which completed the water-tightness of bulkheads D to O, inclusive, in the boiler and engine rooms. These were capable of being  simultaneously closed from the bridge. The operation of closing was intended to be preceded by the ringing from the bridge of a warning bell.

These doors were closed by the bringing into operation of an electric current and could not be opened until this current was cut off from the bridge. When this was done the doors could only be opened by a mechanical operation manually worked separately at each door.

They could, however, be individually lowered again by operating a lever at the door. In addition, they would be automatically closed, if open, should water enter the compartment.

This operation was done in each case by means of a float, actuated by the water, which was in either of the compartments which happened to be in the process of being flooded.

There were no sluice valves or means of letting water from one compartment to another.

"Annex to the Report: I) Description of the Ship," in Loss of the Steamship Titanic: Report on a Formal Investigation into the Circumstances Attending the Foundering on April 15, 1912 of the British Steamship Titanic, of Liverpool, after Striking Ice in or near Latitude 41° 46' N., Longitude K 50° 14' W., North Atlantic Ocean, Whereby Loss of Life Ensured, p. 7-13.

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