2012 marks one hundred years since the sinking of RMS Titanic. The Titanic sank over the course of two and three quarter hours on the night of April 14-15 1912, with the loss of over 1,500 lives. Before the accident, Titanic was billed as a practically unsinkable ship and at the pinnacle of modern ship building and engineering techniques.
Among its many outstanding features were four electric elevators for passengers, over 10,000 electric lamps and dimming light switches in first-class state rooms. This vast array of new and exciting advances in electrical engineering led an anonymous engineer to submit a four-page academic paper to the journal, The Electrician, in 1911, just a few months before the fateful voyage. The full paper is indexed in the IET’s engineering database, Inspec.
Titanic also utilised the state of the art 5-kW Marconi wireless set, the most powerful in use at the time, with a guaranteed operating range of 250 miles. Sadly the radio operators did not fully take heed of the messages from other ships of icebergs in the area, however it was the distress call transmitted by the radio operator and the responding ships that was highlighted as responsible for saving so many lives.
After the various enquiries following the sinking of the Titanic, the American government brought in the Radio Act of 1912, which made it compulsory for radio rooms to be operated 24 hours a day and back-up power supplies so distress calls were not missed. Ships were also then required to remain in contact with other vessels nearby and not just with coastal on-shore radio stations. Britain also tightened its regulations and brought in similar measures regarding wireless operator procedures.
There were also changes to ship building regulations brought in because of the enquiries. These encompassed the proper implementation of double skinned hulls and the increase in height of bulk heads to form fully water tight compartments, which this tragic accident served the purpose of highlighting.
The IET E&T magazine will be running several pieces on Titanic in its April 2012 issue and you can find a timeline and historical pictures now on E&T online.
As the anniversary draws near this page will include links and interesting content on the Titanic and the changes it brought about.
View the TelecomTV's special report: The Titanic's last message.