" gradually the skeleton in the scaffolding began to take shape. It was the shape of a ship; a ship so enormous that men held their breaths at the sight of it. With propellers the size of windmills and a rudder the size of an elm tree; everything was on a nightmare scale."
It was true that the world had never seen the likes of Olympic and Titanic. No moving object had ever been crafted by the hand of man. No ship had ever been constructed in such a manner. It was with great pride that Lord Pirrie watched the two ships rise up from the steel work. Everything about them, from their very construction to the gantries over top of them, was sure to propel Harland & Wolff to the forefront of the shipbuilding industry. Through its use of new and innovative technology, the ship builders were hoping to set a precedent that all other shipbuilders would follow or die trying (the latter was preferable). As Titanics frame work was built, Olympic was being plated. The steel plates were 1 in. thick, 30 ft. long and 6 ft. wide. The plates were exceptionally heavy as compared to those used on other ships, but as speed was not a consideration, they were necessary to provide the strength needed. The plates were riveted to the frame of the ship in horizontal rows known as strakes. The strakes overlapped each other in joggles, with each strake having an in or out joggle. This was necessary to provide enough material to rivet the strakes together but prevented the ships from having a smooth outer hull. Interestingly enough, todays ship use steel plates in the same 30 ft. by 6 ft. dimensions but the plates are welded together at the edges to provide a smooth, seamless hull profile.
and Titanic had a classic triple-deck superstructure, the uppermost
decks comprising the Boat, Promenade and Bridge decks. Although standard
shipbuilding practices allowed for the use of lighter materials to be
used in this design to avoid making the ship top heavy and susceptible
to rolling in heavy seas as well as making the ships lighter and therefor
faster, the builders again noted that speed was not the consideration
and that the ships were perfectly square amidships and therefor extremely
stable. The superstructure was constructed according to the same specifications
as the outer hull and internal structure so as to provide the highest
level of structural rigidity. An additional design feature was the incorporation
of expansion joints above the Bridge deck that completely severed the
superstructure. As large and complex as the ships were, provisions had
to be made for the structure to flex. Without the expansion joints, the
ship would snap like a twig. The joints were literally hinges, composed
of leather, steel and iron riveted to the deck plates. They allowed for
as much as two feet of hull deflection from the horizontal plane. The
expansion joints were designed to counter the stresses placed on the hull
when the ship hogged or sagged. Hogging is when the hull is supported
in the middle by a large wave, leaving the bow and stern unsupported.
Gravity then pulls those areas of the ship down, causing the vessel to
take on a banana shape. Sagging is the opposite; a ship is supported at
the bow and stern by waves, leaving the middle of the hull unsupported.
The ships midsection then sags down into the trough of the wave.
Today, in lieu of expansion joints, special steels and internal bracing
compensate for this flexing on large vessels.
The installation of Titanics majestic interiors as well as her heavy machinery and other fittings took ten months and several million man hours. It was intended that she be even more luxurious than her predecessor. Between teak from Siam and fabrics from Holland, every aspect of Titanics fitting out was aimed at making her the most amazing vessel the world had ever seen. In place of Olympics hard wood floors, Titanic was given thick carpeting that one worker described as "so thick you sank in it up to your knees." Craftsmen worked long hours to adorn her with stained-glass and ornate chandeliers and intricately carved oak paneling. In a special edition devoted to the new liners, the prestigious industry journal The Shipbuilder reported that the greatest pains were being taken "to provide passenger accommodations of unrivaled extent and magnificence the excellent result defies improvement." Improving on Olympics design, many additions were made to Titanic that would redefine the ocean travelers experience even more so than her predecessor. Already a thousand tons heavier than her sister ship, Titanic boasted many refinements that made her far more luxurious as well. Her first class restaurant was enlarged and included a trellised replica of a French sidewalk café; the Café Parisien. Two First Class suites were built on B Deck, these staterooms had private promenades, which necessetated alterations to the B Deck window arrangement. The forward half of the first class promenade on A Deck was also enclosed with glass to eliminate the annoying sea spray that some of Olympics first class passengers had complained about. These two differences between the sisters is the easiest way to tell them apart when looking at photographs.
In January of 1912, Titanics lifeboats were installed. The original design had called for 64 wooden lifeboats. The new Walin Davits being used on the ship were capable of carrying up to three boats each. A number of factors, however, lead to the drastic reduction in the number of lifeboats installed on Olympic and subsequently Titanic. First was the fact that so many boats would hardly be necessary because even in the event of a catastrophe it would take some time for the ships to sink. The lifeboats would be no more than ferries to carry passengers to nearby rescue ships. Lifeboats would also clutter up the deck and make it difficult for first class passengers to move about the Boat Deck freely. The deciding factor was the fact that the British Board of Trade regulations regarding such matters required that any boat over 10,000 tons carry a minimum of 16 life lifeboats.
regulations had not been updated in decades and Titanics
registered weight was 46,000 tons. When all was said and done, Titanic
was fitted with 14 standard design lifeboats capable of carrying 65 people
apiece and were stowed on launch cradles, 2 emergency cutters which carried
40 people each and were permanently swung out on either side of the bridge,
and four "Engelhardt" boats with collapsible canvas sides that
could hold 47 people and were stowed on the roof of the officers
quarters on either side of the forward funnel. The total capacity of these
boats was 1,178 people if they were fully loaded. Titanics
total capacity; passengers and crew, if fully loaded was 3,300. Despite
this scandalous ratio of lifeboats to people, the regulations set forth
by the B.O.T. were actually exceeded.
Click on image to enlarge
The skeleton of a ship...
Olympic and Titanic side by side on the stocks
Olympic cross section
Strakes and Joggles
Titanic before launch
Titanic after launch
Titanic with only 3 funnels
Titanic during outfitting
Titanic during outfitting
Titanic in dry dock
Titanic during sea trials
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