The date Tuesday, April 10, 2012 marks the day, 100 years past, that the RMS Titanic set sail from Southampton in England on her maiden voyage, headed for the cosmopolitan city of New York. As the world knows, the Titanic never arrived.
Instead the ship became arguably the biggest maritime disaster, certainly the most studied and talked-about, in the history of humankind. After striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic some 375 miles off of the coast of the (now) Canadian province of Newfoundland, the 46,328 gross registered ton ship took about 2-and-a-half hours to sink, going down at 2:20 a.m. on April 15.
RMS Titanic: Insufficient number of lifeboats
Numbers vary slightly in various accounts, but of the 2,224 passengers and crew onboard, 1514 died. After getting into lifeboats the other 710 were rescued by the RMS Carpathia, the first ship to reach the disaster, hours after the Titanic sunk. Along with the captain, Edward Smith, notable political leaders and leaders of industry went down with the ship but J. Bruce Ismay, the chairman of White Star Lines, who built and owned the Titanic, survived.
The ship did not have enough lifeboats for all aboard - though it did have more than the law then required - and in the aftermath of the disaster, new laws were enacted which required ships to carry enough lifeboats for all passengers and crew. Most of the survivors were women and children from the ship's first class.
Titanic Centenary celebrations
As part of the world marking the centenary of the disaster, there are Titanic collectibles to buy, including calendars, stamp collections, commemorative coins, books and films. Events are taking place in Northern Ireland, in Ireland, England, Canada and the U.S..
In Belfast at the docks where the Titanic and her sister ship, the Olympia were constructed there has recently opened a massive new Titanic Museum with a building that replicates the ship, all part of what's called 'Belfast's Titanic Signature Project'. That display includes photos taken by Robert Ballard, who lead an expedition back to the ship in 2011 to supply the new pictures. In New York a memorial cruise to the site of the sinking launches on the 10th.
The 1997 film Titanic, directed by Canadian James Cameron, has been re-worked and re-released in 3-D for the occasion and is now in movie theaters. The film, the second-highest grossing movie of all-time, stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet and Billy Zane.