April 15 - 1912 - The Sinking of the RMS Titanic
The RMS Titanic was more than simply the largest passenger ship in the world. It was the signature part of the White Star Line's fleet, a magnificent hotel that could travel across the Atlantic. Although not necessarily billed as "unsinkable," it was somehow beyond a normal ship that would be vulnerable to the normal problems of transatlantic travel. Yet it managed to run into an iceberg like any other ship, and it went down like any other ship could have, except when the Titanic went down there were more people on the ship. Of the 2200 people on board, only 700 or so made it to the lifeboats. Late on April 14, the ship hit an iceberg that burst its starboard hull, causing multiple breaches and destroying watertight compartments. There were not enough lifeboats to hold the capacity, the crew was ill trained to put everyone on lifeboats, and its radio system could have been used better. All of these problems contributed to one of the largest maritime disasters in history, which led to a number of changes in maritime travel. More importantly, the Titanic became a cultural touchstone.