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RMS Titanic

RMS Titanic (left) undergoes sea trials on April 2.
RMS Titanic (left) undergoes sea trials on April 2.

The Titanic was a White Star Line ocean liner, built at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Northern Ireland, designed to compete with rival company Cunard Line's Lusitania and Mauretania. The Titanic was the second of three Olympic-class ships and along with her two sister ships, the Olympic and the soon to be built Britannic (originally named Gigantic), were intended to be the largest, most luxurious and prestigious ocean going passenger ships ever in operation.

Construction of the RMS Titanic, funded by the American J.P. Morgan and his International Mercantile Marine Co., began on March 31, 1909. Titanic's hull was launched on May 31, 1911, and its outfitting was completed on March 31 the following year. Titanic was 882 ft 9 in (269 m) long and 92 ft 6 in (28 m) wide, had a gross tonnage of 46,328 tons, and a height from the water line to the boat deck of 60 ft (18 m). Although it enclosed more space and therefore had a larger gross tonnage, the hull was exactly the same length as Titanic's sister Olympic.

Titanic contained two reciprocating four-cylinder, triple expansion, inverted engines and one low pressure Parsons turbine which powered three propellers. There were 29 boilers fired by 159 coal burning furnaces that made possible a top speed of 23 knots (43 km/h). Only three of the funnels were functional; the fourth funnel, which functioned only as a steam vent, was added to make the ship look more impressive. The ship could hold a total of 3,547 passengers and crew and, because it carried mail, its name was given the prefix RMS (Royal Mail Steamer) as well as SS (Steam Ship).

For its time, the ship was unsurpassed in its luxury and opulence. While not the first ship to offer an onboard swimming pool, gymnasium, baths and elevators, Titanic pulled out all the stops and offered a level of service never before seen including a Turkish Bath and squash court. The ship offered three elevators for use of first-class passengers and, as an innovation, offered one elevator for second-class passengers.

Titanic was considered a pinnacle of technological achievement and thought by Ship Builders magazine to be "practically unsinkable." Titanic was divided into 16 watertight compartments; however, these did not traverse the entire height of the decks (only going as far as E-Deck), an oversight that would doom the ship. The Titanic could stay afloat with any two of the middle compartments flooded or the first four compartments flooded; any more and the ship would sink.

(source: Wikipedia)