Who Designed The Titanic?

A recent tragedy has brought back the Titanic in the news. Beyond people discussing once more about James Cameron’s movie, there were back jokes and some who took the opportunity to educate others about the history of the famous sinking ship. This made me realize that I totally forgot everything I read about it in the late 1990s, so I looked at:

Who Is the Architect of The Titanic?

The most common answer to that question is apparently chief naval architect Thomas Andrews, but it turns out it’s not totally exact. So, let’s take a closer look at the construction of the boat.

First, if you’re too young to know about this, or you were living in a cave until recently, here is a brief history of the RMS Titanic:

Built by the renowned shipbuilding company Harland and Wolff, the Titanic was a marvel of engineering and luxury during its time. It was part of the Olympic-class ocean liners commissioned by the White Star Line, which aimed to create the largest, safest, and most luxurious ships in the world. It was designed to be a floating palace, catering to the wealthiest and most discerning passengers of the early 20th century.

On April 10, 1912, the Titanic left Southampton, England, for its inaugural voyage. However, only four days into its journey, the “unsinkable” Titanic ran aground on an iceberg in the chilly North Atlantic Ocean. The ship’s hull sustained significant damage as a result of the accident, and it eventually sank in the early hours of April 15.

Designing the Titanic, a Team Effort

The design of the Titanic, which was overseen by Lord Pirrie, a director of both Harland and Wolff and the White Star Line, is frequently credited to just Thomas Andrews, although it actually involved three major designers: Andrews, Alexander Carlisle, and Edward Wilding.

Alexander Carlisle, the predecessor of Andrews as chief naval architect, played a significant role in the internal design of the Titanic. He was responsible for the ship’s fixtures, fittings, equipment, and general arrangements. Carlisle also oversaw the implementation of the davits system for the lifeboats, a crucial aspect of the ship’s safety features.

After a long career at Harland and Wolff, Carlisle retired in 1910 but remained involved in the industry as a shareholder in the Welin Davit & Engineering Company Ltd, the company that manufactured the davits.

1958 film “A Night to Remember”made of Thomas Andrews the sole designer of the Titanic.

Edward Wilding, the deputy to Thomas Andrews in the design department, contributed his expertise in mathematical calculations related to the stability, displacement, and hull integrity of the new ships. He worked closely with Andrews during the design stages and succeeded him as the chief naval architect a few years after Andrews tragically perished in the Titanic disaster.

It is worth noting that Carlisle had some disagreements with Lord Pirrie regarding the number of lifeboats required for a vessel of the Titanic’s size. It has been claimed that if Carlisle’s recommendations for the number of lifeboats had been accepted, the overall death toll of the Titanic’s sinking would have been lower.

The Simplification of History by Movies

The misconception that Thomas Andrews was the sole designer of the Titanic can be attributed, in part, to the influence of film. In the 1958 film adaptation of Walter Lord’s book “A Night to Remember,” which recounts the Titanic disaster, certain fictionalized scenes were included to enhance the dramatic impact.

These scenes, such as the ship’s formal naming ceremony and Thomas Andrews’ characterization, have perpetuated the idea that Andrews was the sole designer and that he tragically perished with his creation.

Despite the historical inaccuracies, films like “A Night to Remember” and James Cameron’s blockbuster “Titanic” have solidified Andrews’ position as the iconic designer of the ship in the public consciousness.

If you found this interesting, I’m encouraging you to take a look at another one of my articles, the one about the construction of the Orient Express.

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