On this day in 1912 The British passenger liner RMS Titanic sinks in the North Atlantic at 2:20 a.m., two hours and forty minutes after hitting an iceberg. Only 710 of 2,227 passengers and crew on board survived.
The disaster was greeted with worldwide shock and outrage at the huge loss of life and the regulatory and operational failures that had led to it. Public inquiries in Britain and the United States led to major improvements in maritime safety.
One of their most important legacies was the establishment in 1914 of the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS), which still governs maritime safety today. Additionally, several new wireless regulations were passed around the world in an effort to learn from the many missteps in wireless communications—which could have saved many more passengers.
Many of the survivors lost all of their money and possessions and were left destitute; many families, particularly those of crew members from Southampton, lost their primary bread-winners. They were helped by an outpouring of public sympathy and charitable donations. Some of the male survivors were accused of cowardice for leaving the ship while people were still on board; the White Star Line’s chairman, J. Bruce Ismay, faced social ostracism for the rest of his life.
The wreck of Titanic remains on the seabed, split in two and gradually disintegrating at a depth of 12,415 feet (3,784 m). Since her discovery in 1985, thousands of artefacts have been recovered and put on display at museums around the world. Titanic has become one of the most famous ships in history, her memory kept alive by numerous books, folk songs, films, exhibits, and memorials.