On the night of April 14, 1912, the R.M.S. Titanic chugged through the frigid waters of the North Atlantic Ocean, its over 2,200 riders unaware of the looming danger.
Less than a week earlier, the luxury steamship—at the time the largest man-made moving object in the world—left Southampton, England, for New York City. Travelers had expected a posh and comfortable ride. After all, the Titanic’s lavishly decorated first-class section featured gourmet meals, a heated pool, and squash courts. The ship even had its own onboard newspaper.
But the Titanic’s design also had major flaws. For instance, some believe that many of the bolts that held the ship together were weak. The bottom of the boat was also not built to withstand major flooding. And the steamship carried just 20 lifeboats—only enough to hold about half of the passengers.
Four days after setting sail, the Titanic struck an iceberg that tore a 300-foot gash into the ship’s hull. As it flooded, riders began a frenzied evacuation into the lifeboats. Only about 700 would survive. And the ship, which took three years to build, would sink in less than three hours. Though scientists and historians believe that the design flaws were the major factors that led to the disaster, they continue to study the famous steamship for answers. So more than a hundred years after the Titanic tragedy, its story remains afloat.