Olympic Fact Sheet

Titanic Fact Sheet

Britannic Fact Sheet

Titanic Specifications

Titanic Timeline

Titanic Comparisons

Titanic Q&A






1. The Olympic was the first of three nearly identical sisterships built for the White Star Line. But unlike the Titanic and Britannic, the Olympic had a long, successful, and adventurous career.
2. The Olympic was the first ship to exceed 800 feet in length and the first to break the 40,000 ton mark.
3. The Olympic was the ninth of only fourteen four-stacked ocean liners ever built.
4. The Olympic was the largest ship in the world when she entered service on June 14, 1911. She was 50% larger than the rival Cunard
(Pronounced Q-nard) liners Lusitania and Mauretania.
5. Olympic was designed to cruise at 21-22 knots. The ship completed her maiden voyage to New York in 5 days, 16 hours, and 42 minutes at an average speed of 21.7 knots.
6. The Olympic collided with the HMS Hawke at Southampton in September of 1911. The impact ripped open two watertight compartments and it took two months to repair the ship. The maiden voyage of the Titanic was pushed behind a month because of this incident.
7. After the sinking of the Titanic, the Olympic was rebuilt with an extra watertight compartment, an inner skin along most of the hull, and higher bulkheads to increase the safety of the ship.
8. In October of 1914, with World War I underway, the Olympic helped rescue survivors from the British battleship HMS Audacious off the coast of northern Ireland.
9. In 1915, the Olympic became a troop transport for the British government. During the war she carried 150,000 troops, about 40,000 other passengers, steamed over 180,000 miles, and burned over 345,00 tons of coal. The Olympic was also attacked three times by German U-Boats , and even by an airplane, but survived each time. In one instance, a torpedo actually struck the ship, but luckily failed to explode. Olympic was nicknamed "Old Reliable" by troops who sailed on her during the war.
10. In May of 1918, the Olympic became the only merchant ship to deliberately ram and sink a U-Boat when she sent German submarine U-103 to the bottom of the ocean.
11. With the war over in 1919, the Olympic was overhauled and returned to service as a passenger liner by June of 1920. The boilers in the ship were also converted to burn oil instead of coal. Throughout the 1920's, Olympic remained one of the most popular liners on the Atlantic.
12. Olympic carried many famous passengers such as Charlie Chaplin and the Prince of Wales in the 1920's.
13. By the time Olympic turned 20 in 1931, the Great Depression had reduced passenger traffic on the Atlantic by fifty percent. The passengers who were left liked to travel on newer ships, so the Olympic began to carry fewer and fewer passengers. The old ship no longer turned a profit for White Star.
14. In May of 1934, Olympic accidentally rammed and sank the Nantucket Lightship, killing 7 people.
15. The White Star Line was merged into the Cunard Line in 1934. Cunard withdrew Olympic from service on April 12, 1935.
(Despite the fact that it cost less to operate Olympic than other Cunard ships of about the same size.) In 24 years of service, Olympic carried many thousands of people, crossed the Atlantic over 500 times, and steamed over 1.5 million miles. In August, she was sold for scrapping to the Thomas Ward company.
16. Olympic left Southampton for the last time on October 11, 1935. The ship arrived at Jarrow, Scotland, two days later. By the end of 1937, Olympic was gone. The modern cruise ship Millennium has a room decorated with paneling from Olympic. Other pieces of the ship still exist all over the world.






1. The Titanic was the second of three nearly identical sisterships built for the White Star Line. The Olympic was the first ship of the class and the Britannic was the final ship. These vessels were designed to carry three classes of passengers between England and the United States.
2. The Olympic was the first ship to exceed 800 feet in length and the first to break the 40,000 ton mark.
3. The Titanic was originally scheduled to leave on her maiden voyage on March 20, 1912. However, a collision between the Olympic and the cruiser Hawke forced White Star to delay Titanic's debut while Olympic was repaired.
4. The Titanic left Southampton, England on her maiden voyage at noon on April 10, 1912. The ship nearly collided with the liner New York and this delayed the start of the trip by nearly an hour. The ship stopped at Cherbourg, France and Queenstown, Ireland before heading for New York on the evening of April 11.
5. At 11:40 PM on Sunday, April 14, the lookouts in the Crow's Nest spotted an iceberg directly ahead of the Titanic. First Officer Murdoch ordered a hard turn to the left and reversed the engines, but it was too late. Although a head-on collision had been averted, the iceberg scrapped along the right side of the ship, punching small holes and popping out rivets in the hull. The Titanic was divided into 16 watertight compartments and could survive flooding in any 2 sections, and the first four compartments in a dire emergency. This was a fairly safe design that protected the ship form most of the hazards of the sea. Unfortunately, the berg opened up the first six compartments and the pumps could not contain the flooding. The damage was fatal, and nothing could stop the ship from sinking. One of the ship's designers, Thomas Andrews, told Captain Smith that the Titanic would founder (sink) in about two hours.
6. Because of outdated laws, the Titanic (and most other ships of the time) only had enough lifeboats for about half of the roughly 2200 people on board. Although there were plenty of life jackets, the water temperature was about 28 degrees and people would quickly freeze to death. Women and children were ordered into the lifeboats, but since the Captain did not want to start a panic, the passengers were not told the ship was sinking. Most passengers could not believe that the huge Titanic could sink, so many of the first boats lowered were not filled to capacity. (Contrary to popular myth, the Titanic and her sisters were never advertised as unsinkable.)
7. As the Titanic sank lower and lower into the freezing water, more and more passengers willingly got into the lifeboats. Whether or not a person got into one of the boats, however, was left to luck. On the left side of the ship the strict rule was women and children only, while on the right side men were allowed in at times. Officers had to fire guns to keep panicking passengers from rushing the boats toward the end. By 2:00 AM, the main lifeboats were gone, leaving about 1600 people onboard. The first funnel fell and killed many people swimming in the water. Two collapsible lifeboats floated off the ship as it sank and some people survived by swimming out to them. In the final seconds the Titanic broke in two between the third and fourth funnels. At about 2:20, two and a half hours after hitting the iceberg, the stern slipped beneath the waves and the Titanic was gone.
7. The Cunard liner Carpathia rescued the 705 survivors by the afternoon of April 15th. Over 1500 people had been lost. The International Ice Patrol, and the Coast Guard, was established in the wake of the disaster. The laws were changed so that all ships would carry lifeboats for every passenger on board. This is the legacy of the Titanic.
8. Titanic's sistership Olympic had a long and successful career of nearly 25 years before being retired and scrapped in 1935. The final sister, Britannic, served briefly as a hospital ship before striking a mine and sinking in 1916.

Other Views of the Titanic Disaster

Some say the Titanic disaster happened a little differently than what is stated above. Here are some examples:
1. The evasive action to miss the iceberg: The Titanic did not reverse the engines while trying to turn away from the berg, but simply stopped them so as to avoid hitting the icefield behind the berg.
(Slamming the engines into reverse should have thrown people out of their chairs and beds, but survivors never said that happened)
2. The collision with the iceberg: The Titanic actually ran over an underwater ice shelf from the iceberg. This ripped open large section of the ships keel.
(The bottom of the ship) The iceberg did not open up the side of the ship like most people believe.
3. The real reason the ship sank: The Titanic was badly damaged by the iceberg, but not quite enough to sink the ship. The pumps were keeping the ship afloat until Captain Smith started the engines and tried to make it to land. The movement of the ship opened up the damaged sections even more and caused the Titanic to flood more quickly. This caused the ship to sink.







1. The third and final ship of the Olympic Class, Britannic was about 2000 gross tons larger than the Titanic and Olympic.
2. Originally to be named Gigantic, White Star decided to name the ship Britannic in the wake of the Titanic disaster. The liner was fitted with an inner skin, higher bulkheads, and an extra watertight compartment as a way to increase safety after Titanic's loss.
3. Construction of Britannic was slowed by the loss of Titanic, labor difficulties, and the start of World War I. The ship's maiden voyage, originally planned for September 1914, was pushed back to the spring 1915. But with the war still raging, Britannic stayed at Belfast to await better times.
4. In November of 1915, the partially completed Britannic was taken over by the British navy and converted into a hospital ship. Britannic was set up to carry over 3300 wounded soldiers back to England. The ship was painted white, with a green line and red crosses on the hull.
5. Britannic left on her maiden voyage to Mudros on December 23, 1915. (Mudros is on an island in the Mediterranean Sea) Over the next 11 months, the liner made 5 long voyages between Great Britain and Mudros, bringing over 15,000 wounded back home.
6. Britannic's sixth voyage was never completed. The ship struck a mine (probably, it may have been a torpedo) near the Greek island of Kea and sank in 55 minutes. The mine opened up the first 4 watertight compartments. Although the Britannic could float with the first six compartments flooded, 2 watertight doors failed to close and allowed the fifth and sixth sections to flood. A series of open portholes slipped below the waterline as the ship dipped lower in the sea and allowed the seventh compartment to take on water. Britannic was doomed at this point.
7. Captain Bartlett tried to beach the ship on the nearby island of Kea, but the forward motion of the ship made it sink faster and the ship was forced to stop to launch the lifeboats.
8. About 30 out of roughly 1100 people on board lost their lives when there lifeboat was sucked into a still turning screw on Britannic. (There were luckily no wounded on board)
9. Today, Britannic is the largest ship on the ocean bottom and lies in one piece in about 400 feet of water. There are plans to turn the wreck into an underwater museum.
10. The TV movie Britannic, first aired in 2000, was mainly a fictionalized account of Britannic's final voyage. Unlike the movie, the ship was not chased, or attacked, by German U-Boats. (A submarine at that time could not keep up with a 21+ knot liner) Britannic did not carry ammunition for the British government. German spies never tried to take over the ship. She was never the largest ship in the world, the German liner Vaterland was the biggest at that time. A German agent did not open many of the watertight doors and then plant a bomb that sank the ship. The movie was about 90% fiction.






Titanic ComparisonsQueen Mary 2





Queen Mary 

United States

Voyager of the Seas

 Queen Mary 2



 White Star



French Line 


 U.S. Lines

 Royal Caribbean


 Length (feet)









 Beam (feet)










 Gross Tonnage





 81,235  53,329  137,276  150,000

 Normal Speed (knots)










  First Voyage










*Currently under construction. The QM2 will be the largest passenger ship ever built. She will be over three times larger than Titanic.
More comparisons at the Great Ocean Liners site
here. A list of the ships that were the largest in the world when they entered service can be found here. (external links)





* Sisterships: Olympic (1911-1935) and Britannic (1915-1916)
* Length: 882 feet, 9 inches
Gross tonnage: 46,328 tons. Displacement: 60,000 tons
Net tonnage: 21,831 tons
* Decks: 9 in total, counting orlop deck. Boat deck, and A- G decks. Boiler and engine rooms below G deck.
* Beam: 92 feet, 6 inches
* Draft: 34 feet, 6 inches
* Height: 60.5 feet waterline to Boat Deck, 175 feet keel to top of funnels.
* Passenger Capacity: 2603 passengers. 905 First Class, 564 Second Class, 1134 Third Class.
* Crew: 900
* Total capacity: 3547 passengers and crew, fully loaded
* Lifeboats: 20 total - 16 wooden lifeboats with 4 Engelhardt collapsible boats. Capacity - 1,178 persons

* Engines: 2 reciprocating 4 cylinder, triple expansion,direct -
acting, inverted engines: 30,000hp, 77 rpm. 1 low pressure
Parsons turbine: 16,000hp, 165rpm
Total Normal Horsepower: 46,000 (Over 55,000 at full power)
* Propellers: 3 ; Center: (Diameter) 16 feet, 6 inches ; Left/Right wings: 23
feet, 6 inches
* Boilers: 29 (24 double ended boilers and 5 single ended boilers)
* Fuel requirement: Over 600 tons of coal per day
* Watertight compartments: 16, extending up to E deck
* Water consumption: 14,000 gallons of fresh water per day
* Speed: Normal Cruising Speed, 21-22 knots. Top Speed, 23-24 knots.

It cost $7.5 million US to build the R.M.S Titanic.
(Over $500 million US today)

*This is not weight. Gross Tonnage represents the enclosed space of a ship. 1 ton equals 100 cubic feet of enclosed space. Therefore, the Titanic had 4,632,800 feet of space inside the ship.
Net Tonnage also represents the enclosed space of a ship, but only the areas that carry passengers who pay for the trip. The engine and boiler rooms, cargo holds, and crew quarters are not included in net tonnage.





Titanic Timeline

The White Star Line announces plans to build three nearly identical sisterships called Olympic, Titanic and Gigantic. The new liners will be built in response to the competition from the new Cunard liners Lusitania and Mauretania.

Construction of the Olympic and Titanic begins at the Harland and Wolff Shipyards in Belfast, Ireland.

1910- October 20
The half-completed Olympic is launched into the water for the first time at Belfast. The ship is then towed to its berth for fitting-out.

May 31-The Titanic is launched at Belfast. The completed Olympic is delivered to the White Star Line.
June 14-Olympic leaves Southampton for her maiden voyage to New York.
September 20-Olympic collides with the cruiser Hawke just outside of Southampton. The ship is damaged and returns to Belfast for repairs. Work on Titanic is stopped in order to repair the Olympic as quickly as possible. White Star pushes back the maiden voyage of Titanic from March 20, 1912 to April 10, 1912 to allow time to repair Olympic.

March 31-Titanic is completed.
April 2-Titanic conducts her sea trials and leaves Belfast for Southampton.
April 10- Noon-Titanic leaves Southampton on her maiden voyage. She nearly collides with the liner New York in the process. She arrives at Cherbourg, France that evening to pick up additional passengers.
April 11-Titanic picks up more passengers, mainly immigrants, at Queenstown, Ireland and heads out into the open sea for New York. She should reach her destination on April 17.
April 14-11:40 p.m.-Lookouts spot an iceberg directly ahead of the Titanic. First Officer Murdoch orders a hard turn to port and reverses the engines. The iceberg damages the Titanic's first six watertight compartments.
11:50 p.m.-About 14 feet of water has filled the forward compartments of the Titanic.
April 15-12:00 a.m.-Captain Smith is informed that the damage to Titanic is mortal and the ship will sink in about 2 hours. The Captain orders a distress signal to be sent over the wireless. The Cunard liner Carpathia responds that she is coming and will reach Titanic in 4 hours.
12:45 a.m.-The first lifeboat is lowered. Although it can hold 65 people, it leaves the ship with only 28 aboard. The first of 8 distress rockets are fired.
1:40 a.m.-The last main lifeboat is launched.
2:18 a.m.-The lights on the Titanic flicker and go out as power is lost. The ship breaks in two between the third and fourth funnels. The bow sections sinks.
2:20 a.m.-The stern, after leveling out for a time, rises until the end points toward the sky and slips beneath the sea. Over 1500 people remain onboard. The bow and stern section hit the ocean floor a few minutes later. The wreck comes to a halt over 12,460 feet from the ocean surface. (Over 2 miles deep)
3:30 a.m.-The Carpathia arrives at the site where the Titanic sank.
4:10 a.m.-The Carpathia picks up the first of Titanic's lifeboats.
April 18-9:00 p.m.-The Carpathia arrives at New York with 705 survivors of the Titanic out of 2,228 passengers.
328 bodies are recovered by ships in the area where the Titanic sank.
The United States Senate conducts an investigation of the disaster.
The British government conducts an investigation of the disaster.

April-The International Ice Patrol is created to patrol the oceans for icebergs.
The Olympic returns to service after a major overhaul that greatly improves the safety of the ship.

February 26-The hull of the Gigantic, renamed Britannic, is launched.
August-World War I begins. Construction of Britannic is slowed as men and materials are devoted to the war effort.

September-Olympic enters service as a troop transport for the British Navy.
December-The partially completed Britannic enters service as a hospital ship.

November 16-H.M.H.S. Britannic is sunk by a mine in the Aegean Sea. She never carries a commercial passenger or reaches New York.

May 12-The Olympic deliberately rams and sinks a German submarine.
November-World War I ends with the surrender of Germany.

February-Olympic is released from troop transport service by the British Navy.

June-Olympic returns to service after a refit that converts the ship to burn oil fuel instead of coal.

M.V. Britannic, the third White Star liner to carry the name, enters service. Britannic is a medium-size ship used on the Atlantic run and for cruising. (M.V. means it is powered by diesel engines instead of steam)

May 15-The Olympic rams and sinks the Nantucket Lightship. Seven men are killed.
July-The Cunard and White Star Line merge to form Cunard-White Star. With Cunard controlling 58% of the new company, most of the White Star fleet is retired within 2 years.

April 12-Olympic arrives back in Southampton after her 257th transatlantic crossing, her final voyage with paying passengers. She is withdrawn from service and laid up.
September-Olympic is sold for $350,000 to Thomas W. Ward Limited, a scrapping company.
October 11-The Olympic leaves Southampton for the last time, bound for the scrap yards of Jarrow, Scotland.

September-The Olympic's cut down hull is towed to Inverkeithing, Scotland to complete the scrapping process.

Cunard-White Star changes its name back to Cunard Line.

The movie "Titanic", starring Clifton Webb and Barbara Stanwyck, is released.

The movie "A Night to Remember" is released.

M.V. Britannic, the last remaining White Star liner in service, is retired by Cunard and sold for scrap.

September 1-An expedition led by Dr. Robert Ballard finds the wreck of the Titanic on the ocean floor.

July 1986-Dr. Ballard explores the wreck of the Titanic with a submarine.

August/September-Dr. Ballard explores the wreck of H.M.H.S. Britannic.

December 19-The movie "Titanic", directed by James Cameron, is released.

July 1-The Celebrity Cruise liner Millennium enters service. The 91,000 ton, 965 foot long ship, has an "Olympic Restaurant" onboard fitted with original wood paneling from Olympic,
Titanic's sistership.


 Primary Sources
 Lynch, Don and Ken Marschall. Titanic: An Illustrated History. New York: Hyperion. 1992.
 Eaton, John P. & Charles A. Haas. Falling Star: Misadventures of White Star Line Ships. New York: WW Norton and Company. 1990.
 Mills, Simon. Olympic: The Old Reliable. Dorchester, UK: Waterfront Publications. 1993.
 Mills, Simon. HMHS Britannic: The Last Titan. Yorkshire, UK: Waterfront Publications. 1992.
 Brown, David G. The Last Log of the Titanic. USA: McGraw-Hill. 2001.
 Brown, David G. and Parks E. Stephenson. The Grounding of the Titanic. May 31, 2002. Internet Article.
 Kludas, Arnold. Great Passenger Ships of the World. Multiple Volumes. Great Britain: PSL. 1986.
 Miller, William H. The Great Luxury Liners. 1927-1954 New York: Dover. 1981.
Aylmer, Gerald. R.M.S. Mauretania: The Ship and Her Record. Great Britain: Tempus Pub. 2000. (1934 reprint)
 Warren, Mark D. (Editor) Distinguished Liners from The Shipbuilder. Vol. 1. New York: Blue Riband Pub: 1995.
 Chirnside, Mark. RMS Olympic: Another Premature Death? 2002. Internet Article.

 Encyclopedia Titanica Online

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