In a RMS Titanic Frame of Mind

Like many businesses, the luxury passenger liner business needed a little bit of help from the government. So lucrative contracts to carry mail were given to the fastest passenger steamers which helped them make a profit. Hence a ship contracted to carry the Royal Mail was known as a “Royal Mail Steamer” abbreviated as “RMS”.




Ned Parfett, best known as the “Titanic paperboy”, holding a large banner about the sinking outside the White Star Line offices in London, April 16, 1912.


The last lifeboat successfully launched from the Titanic photographed from the Cunard Liner RMS Carpathia, on April 15, 1912. (Records of District Courts of the United States, RG 21)


RMS Titanic leaving Belfast for her sea trials on 2 April 1912


RMS Titanic during sea trials 


Titanic at Southampton docks, prior to departure

titanic-ticket-l (1)

Third Class ticker or steerage class, the cheapest ticket you could buy. Had you been on the Titanic you would have had a much better chance of surviving if you had a First Class Ticket. 61%of First Class passengers survived while only 24% of Third Class or steerage passengers survived. I’m sure this is a quirk and has nothing to do with the First Class passengers being wealthy. J. Bruce Ismay was the managing director of the line and was aboard the Titanic. He pulled rank to get into a lifeboat. Upon returning to England he resigned his posts and lived in seclusion in his castle in Ireland for the rest of his life.


From Titanic Facts Net:

“Are any Titanic survivors alive today?”

“No. The last living survivor died on 31 May 2009. Elizabeth Gladys ‘Millvina’ Dean, who sailed with her parents as a third-class passenger, was just 8 weeks old when Titanic sailed. Shed died, aged 97, at a nursing home in Hampshire, England. Millvina Dean had become the last living survivor on 16 October 2007, when Barbara West Dainton died, aged 96.”


the new york is in between the oceianic and the titanic

The RMS Titanic in Southampton after almost colliding with the SS New York. April 10th 1912

A Coast Guard C-130 fixed wing aircraft overflies an iceberg during patrol.  Service with the International Ice Patrol is one of the many operations of the C-130. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
The International Ice Patrol was established as a result of the sinking of the Titanic and it continues to this day. Above a US Coast Guard C-130 fixed wing aircraft overflies an iceberg during patrol. Service with the International Ice Patrol is one of the many operations of the C-130. (U.S. Coast Guard photo)

The first International Conference on the Safety of Life at Sea, which was convened in London on November 12, 1913, legally established the International Ice Patrol. Since that time, the patrol has been conducted solely by the United States with other nations paying their share to the US Government on an annual basis.

According to the website of the US Coast Guard:

“Beginning in February of 1914, February 7, 1914….. the International Ice Observation and Ice Patrol Service. Each year since then, with exception of the wartime years, a patrol has been maintained by the U.S. Coast Guard.

That the Ice Patrol has maintained broad-based international support for over seven decades despite changing operational and technological factors is a tribute to the soundness of the basic concept. As of 1993 the governments contributing to the Ice Patrol included Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Poland, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States of America.”

Titanic’s Sister Ship Arrives New York City Without Sinking


RMS Olympic


White Star liner RMS Olympic arrives in New York for the first time 21 June 1911.  

Photo courtesy US Library of Congress

Most British passenger liners were built with a subsidy from the Royal Mail to fulfill a secondary but very important role of carrying mail to the USA, Canada and the far flung British Empire.  Hence, RMS stands for “Royal Mail Steamer.”

(After the First World War, most small airlines in the US were subsidized by the US Post Office and that was the beginning of air mail)


White Star line RMS Olympic and her sister ship RMS Titanic probably taken circa 1911.

(Photo credit Titanic Wiki)

The RMS Titanic was her sister ship and built after RMS Olympic. The third ship in the series, originally to be named, Gigantic, had her named changed to Britannic prior to being built. I think this was a good idea, certainly from a PR point of view.


Above is HMHS Britannic in her hospital livery. According to author Sean Munger: “photographs of the Britannic are pretty rare. Here is one, taken about 1915, of the ship decked out in her hospital colors. The funnels would have been painted tan.”

photo courtesy of Sean Munger

Mr. Munger is an authority on these ships and his website can he found here:

Unfortunately, the name change didn’t bring luck. Just after completion, Britannic was requisitioned by the British Government on the outbreak of World War One to serve as a hospital ship and given the prefix “HMHS (His Majesty’s Hospital Ship) Britannic”  She hit a mine in the Aegean on 21 November 1916 and sank.

Wreck_of_Britannic_2 - Copy

HMHS Britannic on the bottom of the Aegean Sea. The ship is a war grave since 30 0f the 1,066 passengers and patients aboard perished leaving 1,036 survivors.

(Photo credit Titanic Wiki)

The following info comes from  Titanic Wiki whose website is here: :

The ship sank in water only 119 meters deep (390 feet),….the ship was almost 900 feet in length……So it is no surprise that–

“…..Britannic’s bow hit the bottom whilst her stern is was above the surface. The last few men who were below decks by now, had left the ship. Fifth Officer Fielding estimated the stern rose  some 150 feet into the air. With all her funnels detached, Britannic finally completed her starboard roll, causing heavy damage to the forward bow area. Britannic slipped beneath the surface almost an hour after she hit the mine.”

[I have changed the tense in the original quote above from present to past]

Since the ship was in the service of the British Government at the time it sank it remains the property of the British government and can’t be dived on without the permission of the British Government. In my mind, far too many warships are explored by divers who do not respect them as war graves and who often seize such equipment as engine telegraphs and other items which can easily be pried off and stolen. There are many details of this in the book Shadow Divers.

As you will recall, RMS Titanic had her unfortunate encounter with an iceberg in 1912 and sank.21 November 1916, and sank 55 minutes later, killing 30 people.

Fortunately, RMS Olympic enjoyed a long and safe life as a passenger steamer and temporary hospital ship and sailed from 1911 to 1935 without a mishap.

As much as we associate Atlantic liners of the era with the wealthy, the shipping firms actually made their money carrying immigrants to the US and Canada. When that stopped so did cash flow. In January of 1934, both the White Star Line and the Cunard Line were about to go under financially. The British government promised to lend them money to build several new ships if they would merge which the two companies did with “almost indecent haste.”

The new ships became the famous Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth which played a major part in World War Two transporting troops. Each ship could carry an entire US Army division of more than 15,000 men. Most US troops sent to Europe were transported on one of these ships. Indeed, so many American military personnel were transported to Europe by the Queens, that the US Government paid the entire operating costs of the ships.

Both liners retained their original Cunard Line officers and crew but their designations changed from RMS--Royal Mail Steamer–to HMT–His Majesty’s Transport–since the two ships were officially taken over my the British Ministry of War Transport.

A very large number of changes were made including a permanent ship’s police force mainly comprising US MPs who were assisted in maintaining order by the MPs assigned to each unit. There was little trouble form the soldiers, most of whom were seasick and were bunked in with their non-commissioned officers who had strict orders to keep everyone in their quarters.

In reasonable weather, the passage took less than four days since both the Queens steamed at maximum speed which was roughly 32 knots…………

You couldn’t walk around the ship as you pleased, not even the Army officers could do that.

Source: Warrior Queens: the Queen Mary and the Queen Elizabeth in World War Two by Daniel Allen Butler.

HMS Hunter, Sunk During First Battle of Narvik 10 April 1940, Found in One Thousand Feet of Water – Part 22

Part 1Part 2Part 3Part 4Part 5Part 6Part 7Part 8Part 9Part 10Part 11Part 12Part 13Part 14Part 15Part 16Part 17Part 18Part 19Part 20Part 21Part 22Part 23Part 24Part 25Part 26Part 27Part 28Part 29

Port side view of the destroyer HMS Hotspur (H01). She is painted in an unofficial camouflage scheme, the colours probably 507A, the darker grey, and 507C, the lighter. Her after torpedo tubes have been replaced by a 12 pounder AA gun. This is from later in the war after extensive repairs. (Naval Historical Collection)

Under the shock of the pounding HMS Hotspur was taking from the Georg Thiele, with the Bernd von Arnim joining in and assuming lead status, the ship was close to being sunk. After she went astern and untangled herself from HMS Hunter, the first few bulkheads in the forward part of the ship were crumpled. Fortunately, the 4th bulkhead was the collision bulkhead, stronger than any other bulkhead in the ship and designed to withstand collisions and keep the ship from sinking, hence the name.

(Had the RMS Titanic rammed the iceberg head-on, the ship probably would not have sunk since her collision bulkhead would have held – presumably. The bow is the strongest part of a ship and the standing orders of the White Star line were to ram bergs head-on if they could not be avoided. The deck officer tried to go around the berg, a huge mistake as we know. RMS stands for “Royal Mail Ship”. All the magnificent British cruise liners were built with a partial subsidy from the British Royal Mail since the ships all carried large amounts of mail.)

After being repaired, HMS Hotspur participated in a number of engagements including the last major fleet action fought by the Royal Navy battle in Battle of Cape Matapan in March of 1941. She survived the war, was sold to the Dominican Republic in 1948 and scrapped in 1972.

HMS Warspite seen in the distance in action with the Narvik shore batteries during the second British naval action off Narvik on 13 April 1940, smoke from her guns hanging above the battleship. One of the British destroyers is seen on the left. Photograph taken from an aircraft of the Fleet Air Arm. During this operation seven German destroyers were sunk or forced to beach themselves.

[Images courtesy of the Australian War Memorial and the UK Imperial War Museum.]