I was a Titanic historian / artifact specialist for the RMS Titanic exhibition, owned by Premier Exhibitions at the LUXOR in Las Vegas. Proof is hard to come by since I haven't written a book or anything, but I hope this will help? A pic proving at least that Premier Exhibitions was paying me, at least, http://imgur.com/R1ZgG and a pic of me there when Country Financial was sponsoring photos for a while, http://imgur.com/q3smT in my work suit.

The 100th anniversary of the great liner's iceberg strike (April 14th) and subsequent sinking (morning of April 15th) is coming right up, and I answered a question in a TIL and got requests, so here it is! Ask me about the movie, about the Titanic herself, stories or myths, what my favorite flavor is, anything!

EDIT : Ok, I'm going home from work now, BUT I'm kind of a comment whore so I'll probably always check into this little thing. If you have any questions, post it, or please PM me if you want, I'm totally open to that, this isn't a throwaway!


Comments: 1045 • Responses: 82  • Date: 

YourBoyEvan79 karma

I can't really say that I have any specific questions, I just want to say thanks for doing this! It's a really fascinating AMA, we need more in this vein.

Ranoa0246 karma

I'm happy my bizarre trivial knowledge of the event is useful!

proggieus78 karma

years ago, when the traveling exhibit came to St Paul MN. I designed and installed the Audio and Video for the exhibit.

One day i was doing some final tuning and tweaks to the audio system when one of the conservators came and asked if i could lend a hand with something.

I am a bigger guy 6'1" and about 230 and they needed some muscle. I was asked to help hang the ships whistles on a mount. about 10 feet in the air. they lifted them with a fork lift but me and two other guys were in ladders with the little white gloves on guiding them onto the mounting points. Once we got them hung the pipe fitter hooked them up to an air line and for about the next hour or so they tested the whistles to see what air pressure they needed to sound but not enough to damage them.

There was about 8 people in the exhibit at that time and it was the first time that the whistles had sounded since the ship had gone down since they had just finished getting them cleaned and conserved.

A day or two later they had a giant press conference to sound the Titanics whistles for the first time. It was actually about the ninth or tenth time and i was one of only 8 or so that actually heard them for the first time.

the St. paul show was also the first showing i believe of the gigantic hull piece, they still had to show it while it was underwater since the were still trying to stabilize it after recovery.

So thats my little bit to add to the titanic discussion

Ranoa0220 karma

Wow, amazing! That really was an incredible event, and to see taht the whistles still worked. :) Good on ya!

[deleted]62 karma

Did you ever play a PC game back in the 90s called Titanic: Adventure out of Time? What are your thoughts? I thought it was pretty cool the way they reconstructed the whole ship, but alas you can't walk through all the nooks and crannies.

Ranoa0211 karma

I've heard about it, but never gotten to play it! I wish...

[deleted]32 karma

There are a small group of programmers that are rebuilding the game with the Cryengine 3 used to power Crysis 2. Here is an old video they did and their Facebook page, full of screenshots of their most recent work. I think they are trying to release it by the 100th anniversary on the 14th.

Ranoa024 karma


ohsweetmoses58 karma

Do you believe the theory that when the protestants were building the Titanic in Belfast, the Catholics were busy making the ice-berg?

Ranoa0267 karma

As an ex-catholic, I can independently confirm that this is 100% true. :D

BakedGoods56 karma

There seems to be a number of elements that contributed to this incident.

Outside of simply "hitting an iceberg", what, in your opinion, is the single most important event/failure/person/whatever, that caused the tragedy?

Ranoa02224 karma

Probably the Marconi wireless radio being down. Radio staff weren't hired by White Star Line, and they didn't take orders from the officers, except in times of emergencies. Any radio traffic coming to or from the ship was mostly based on the operators' whim, and they worked for tips, so mostly they were interested in relaying passenger messages to or from shore. The radio had been down April 13th, so on the 14th the operators were scrambling to catch up with the work load. So when important messages, such as the Californian's "Surrounded by ice on all sides" came through, they were either ignored, or worse, the operator snapped back negatively. Back then wireless communication was done on a single band, and the Californian's radio message jammed the operator's transmission to Cape Rice. So he replied to the Californian something like "Shutup, keep out, I'm in with Cape Rice", instead of relaying the message to the bridge. That /also/ upset the Californian's radio operator. He ended his shift hours early and didn't turn on the recorder for his radio (because it would keep him up). The Titanic's CQD / SOS messages fell on deaf ears for the Californian.

purelithium77 karma

WOW. This is amazing. Someone not passing on communications is unfathomable to me, as a soldier.

Ranoa02124 karma

It was pretty common, actually, though it was as a direct result of the Titanic disaster that all ships of a certain size were required to have 24 hour manned radios, and to prioritize any and all warnings.

Askeee46 karma

Changes that should have been put in place ages ago seldom are until some huge disaster happens. Sad really :(

Ranoa0231 karma

Let's hope we don't forget that again too soon.

umenthum22 karma

I thought the guys in the watch tower watching Jack and Rose make out and not having binoculars was the cause of the crash... Sorry, just got back from the movie.

Ranoa0228 karma

Haha.. Another bothersome part of the scene... Jack and Rose would be severely chastised for going onto the forecastle deck!

woodycanuck40 karma

A pretty common theory is that if they had taken it head-on, only a couple of compartments would have flooded.

Ranoa0292 karma

This is true -- the Titanic was built to resist a head-on collision. It would've come at the cost of hundreds of lives of those third class passengers in the forward bow cabins, though. Chances were good that Murdoch would've made any attempt at all to avoid a catastrophe rather than consider that cost to just run straight into it.

TheJet4252 karma

What inaccuracies, if any, did you see in James Cameron's "Titanic"?

Ranoa02162 karma

Oh man, all kinds. They get the gist of the event right, but they put WAY too much effort into making J. Bruce Ismay look like the bad guy for suggesting the lifeboat situation was fine. Having 24 lifeboats instead of the "ideal" 60 was a practical decision -- having 60 full-sized lifeboats on top of the Titanic was a huge weight and storage issue, and would've rendered the boat deck largely useless. Plus, and this requires historical context, the Titanic was carrying far more lifeboats already than the boards of regulations had deemed necessary. The lifeboat regulations were based on information from the 1890's -- so 22 years of advancements in ship size wouldn't have been accounted for. They required a minimum # of lifeboats aboard a ship, -OR- a minimum # of deckspace devoted for lifeboats, both limits of which the Titanic already far exceeded.

hmchammer75 karma

According to Neil deGrasse Tyson, the night sky was also wrong. That's probably the biggest inaccuracy of them all.

Ranoa0269 karma

"biggest", I see what you did there. :D

winitforsparta45 karma

What do you think about the similarities between the ship Titan in the book Futility and the RMS Titanic?

Ranoa0287 karma


Crazy cool coincidences, so for those who don't know / don't want to click the link, basically this book came out in 1890's that was a social commentary about "the world's grandest liner", full of the world's wealthiest people, sailing across the north atlantic to New York and striking an ice berg and sinking, where nearly all passengers died because of a lack of lifeboats. It was pretty crazy!

GenghisChron37 karma

What is your favorite story to tell regarding the Titanic?

Ranoa02133 karma

The story about how the ship was on fire. O_O

So one of the contributors to the tragedy (though it probably wouldn't have made a huge difference either way) was that, shortly after the ship left her berth in Belfast, she had a coal fire in one of her bunkers. It took days to put out because the fire had started deep in the coal pile. The captain was made aware of it, but decided to continue to steam on anyway. It took three days to get to where the fire was, and another day to put it out. Throughout this time it had very seriously damaged one of the bulkhead doors, and when the water pressed against this particular door, it most likely collapsed and hastened the Titanic's sinking.

dramamoose20 karma

Where was the ship when they realized there was a problem? Would it have been practical for them to head to port?

Ranoa0237 karma

They were aware of the coal fire from day one, but they're somewhat common occurences. The clincher there was that, until they finally left Cove, there were only 3 people to dig out thousands of tons of coal, and it took days to get down to the smoldering coals and finally put them out.

throwmeaway7634 karma

What got you interested in Titanic? How did you start?

Ranoa0275 karma

To be honest, I didn't give two shits about the Titanic until I got the job with the help of a family member who had connections. They originally hired me to be a greeter, but when I demonstrated a proficiency in some other things, they decided I was probably brainy enough to retain enough information to do it. So, I studied hard, and fell in love. :)

curvy_lady_9242 karma

Just so you know, I've been studying everything Titanic since I was seven (that's over a decade of information collecting, here), and I love you and wish I had your job.

Ranoa0237 karma

That's amazing -- definitely keep it up. Please feel free to inquire anything of me. Also, I love you too. <3

curvy_lady_928 karma

I saw your AMA and nearly died with happiness.

Have you ever talked to someone who has actually been to the real thing? If so, what did they tell you? (I WILL save enough money to go there before it dissolves.)

And did your guys' exhibit have a thing where people could put their hands in the same temperature water as it was that night? I went to the one in Branson, MO (fantastic, by the way), and they had it where you could test how long you could hold out with your hand in the water. I lasted about two minutes and said nope.

Ranoa0212 karma

The one in Branson is the largest! You saw a great one, and the author Lee Meredith visits that one frequently. He's a mentor of mine on the topic.

We had an iceberg for that purpose, a "real" one (in that it was a frozen wall of ice...) It was freshwater, though, so didn't measure up to the real chill. Still, we frequently had guests press their hands to it to see how long they could keep their hands to it. Once I had informed them that Carrot Top had licked the thing, they balk quickly. ;P

SweetNeo8518 karma

Jebus McCreebus. It's not what you know, it's who you know.

Ranoa0234 karma

On the strip, especially.

Fantikerz27 karma

Any neat stories of heroism/humanity that you know of?

Ranoa02159 karma

The story of one of the richest men aboard, Benjamin Guggenheim, escorting his "date" onto a lifeboat, then heading into the parlour with his valet. When someone tried to usher him to the deck, he said "We are dressed in our best, and prepared to go down like gentlemen." He went into the smoking room and played a hand of cards as the ship sank. It was represetnted in the movie more or less accurately.

pixiecaptain26 karma

What do you think of the Titanic conspiracy? Could the Olympic have gone down that fateful night and not the Titanic?

Ranoa0298 karma

Pardon me for cheating, but I'm gonna repost a reply I made in a previous thread. :)

The 'insurance fraud' stories are patently ridiculous, but they make for a good story. Happily I never retold those as half-truths in my time at the exhibition! :P For those who don't know, the Olympic was originally damaged pretty badly a few times, namely when she threw her screw in one accident and was rammed by the HMS Hawke another occasion. Conspiracy theorists suggest that the repairs to the Olympic were so costly and the Titanic insured so highly that they'd just call one ship the other, swim the Olympic (falsely called "Titanic") out to the sea, sink her, and collect a fat check.

It could never have happened for a few reasons, namely that the Titanic and Olympic were NOT completely identical ships. The Titanic included a covered promenade deck, a different layout for the first class cabins, unique restaurants and the grand staircase. Her steel was also labelled with her hull number, 401, or with her Board of Trade Registration number, 131428. The ship at the bottom of the ocean right now has those numbers, the covered promenade, the grand staircase, et cetera. Basically, if they had decided to swap ships for insurance fraud, they would have literally reconstructed the Olympic nearly bottom up, which would've easily negated any savings from the insurance fraud itself.

thelibrarina24 karma

Thank you for doing this! This is one of the best AMAs I have ever read. I'm a librarian trying to get kids interested in the subject, so a few of the facts you shared may end up on a poster, if that's all right with you. How would you like to be credited? :)

Ranoa0220 karma

That's awesome! You don't need to credit me personally at all, but if you have any other questions, feel free to ask away and/or PM me!

Owone24 karma

Why didn't Rose share the door with Jack?

Plus how funny was that one part where the dude fell from the back of the boat, hit the railing and spun into the water below?

Ranoa02108 karma

Because Jack was 3rd class. Being seen with him on the same door would be a TOTAL social faux pas.

MrTitanic23 karma

Have you dove the wreck? If so on which expedition? If not, people of reddit, I dove the Titanic want me to do an AmA?

Ranoa024 karma

I've never dove the wreck -- I'm a landlubber. D:

Piratiko23 karma

I don't know of any Titanic-related conspiracy theories offhand, but have you heard of any? If so, what are some of the wackiest ones? Do any of them hold water? (zing!)

What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have? Any less-than-obvious ones?

Were there any other passengers with tales of heroism like Molly Brown? Any cool facts about her?

Did the band really keep playing until the end? Any cool facts about them?

We often hear the Titanic described as "unsinkable." I know she only took on this moniker after sinking, but was she really built as well as she could've been and this was just a freak accident? Or did they overestimate her capability?

What was the most chilling account of the event from a survivor?

What is your favorite flavor of Titanic?

Sorry for all the questions. Couldn't help myself.

Ranoa0260 karma

No apology necessary, that's why I'm here. :)

No Titanic conspiracies hold water, and I've heard 'em all -- that the builders cut costs with cheaper quality iron / rivets (there were low quality iron rivets on the ship, but only in particular areas, and for different reasons than cost), the insurance fraud, the mummy, that it was a curse from God for Lightoller's off-handed "God himself couldn't sink this ship!" claim (which probably didn't happen), the "NO POPE" thing...

Big misconceptions would be that J Bruce Ismay really had very little to do with the ship. He doesn't get to tell the Captain to do anything like he tries to in the film -- if he'd suggested to Smith that they could "beat records" by going quickly, Smith would've said "We're already late ol' chap, and we barely have enough coal to make it as it is without flooring it", followed up by a hearty "I'm the captain and we'll do as I say". Ismay was only aboard as a passenger.

Molly Brown wasn't all that heroic like common tales about her tell, regarding the Titanic, though she WAS an amazing person -- philanthropist, women's rights activist, a right decent gal. As far as the Titanic went, it's true that she didn't initially want to go into a lifeboat -- she kept giving her seats away, until three men dumped her overboard into one just as it was being launched. She also reportedly took up an oar (lots of women did) and gave her coat to one of the engineers that had survived, and had gone into a lifeboat in nothing but a tank top and pants.

Yes! William Wallace Hartley's band really did play until the end, and they really did break before the ship went down, Hartley started to play solo, and then the band rejoined him. No cool facts necessarily, other than that their talent was unquestionable -- White Star Line musicians were expected to have complete memorization of over 500 pieces of music, and be able to perform them with the director simply giving the song's number in the book. The cellist had an interesting little fling with a 2nd class lady, often going to her cabin to give "private concerts". She survived -- the cellist didn't. The musicians travelled in 2nd class accommodations.

The Titanic really was described as "nigh unsinkable", and for all practical purposes, she was -- designed to survive head-on collisions, beachings, impacts with other ships. In fact, her older sister ship was practically a hero in World War 1 -- she survived several torpedo and mine strikes as a troop transport, carrying over 400,000 soldiers across her tour. Titanic's accident truly was a freak accident of circumstance, of ignorance, and of confidence, to a lot of extent. The Olympic may have faired so well because after Titanic's sinking, Olympic's bulkhead doors were added and reinforced and a lot of other little security additions.

My favorite flavor of Titanic is strawberry.

**Edited because Olympic was decommissioned before WW2; she sailed in WW1.

Trapped_in_Reddit22 karma

Are there any artifacts from the sinking that you believe should not be recovered out of respect for the victims, as many claim?

Ranoa0292 karma

I'm not much for "remembering the dead" as it were -- they're dead, they don't need things, they don't care about their stuff because they're dead. From a personal perspective, I don't think anything about the ship should be sacred, however I really enjoyed the policy of RMS Titanic, Inc. to return any artifacts to surviving family if they can prove it's theirs. I think that's definitely a social responsibility for recovered artifacts.

Revertion7 karma

What artifacts have been discovered and returned to families since you've worked there? If none, what do you know of?

Ranoa0234 karma

A pocket watch was one -- returned to the daughter of a survivor, then returned to RMS Titanic, Inc. upon her death.

gagagita21 karma

I don't think I've ever read an AMA as thoroughly as I have with yours. This was an absolutely fascinating AMA and I learned a lot! Thank you for doing this. My 7 year old Titanic Fanatic heart is excited for seeing it back in theatres!

Ranoa029 karma

A great compliment! Thanks! =) Definitely happy to do it.

mwuhahaha21 karma

What's your favorite titanic related joke? Also, what's the spookiest fact you know... also, how do you feel about Battleship?


Ranoa0238 karma

This horrifying gift-shop item is probably my favorite / most horrifying "joke". The spookiest "Facts" probably had to do with the exhibit themselves, and I retold them frequently, even though I'm a big skeptic and didn't believe a word of it until some really weird shit happened to me one night (though I still kind of rationalize that away as different things). Battleship the game? I love it. :o

showmicide30 karma

I'd say this is probably in poorer taste than that ice cube tray: http://www.partyusa.com/images/titanic4.jpg

Ranoa0214 karma


winitforsparta15 karma

I remember thinking when I went on one of these things in 8th grade that it might be in bad taste. I still went on it 50+ times tho, those things were ridiculously fun.

Ranoa0271 karma

May you step on a lego for your disrespect!

[deleted]14 karma

Oh man, don't leave me hanging like that. Now you have to tell me EVERY spooky or weird fact you know about the Titanic. :P

Ranoa0226 karma

The big one was the story that a journalist aboard had told a woman to impress her, most likely -- he said there was a cursed mummy aboard the ship. This was "corraborated" by one couple who decided against boarding at the last moment because an old woman said "that ship is cursed". There was no mummy, though, and it's no surprise an old woman thought the ship was cursed -- hundreds of thousands of people saw her off and 2300 people were aboard. SOMEBODY had to be a doomsayer.

LookLikeJesus22 karma

I bet that old woman shook her head ruefully and said "I told them so" to herself. I wonder if she naysayed everything, and this was the big payoff of her life, or if she'd just had a weird feeling about this one.

Ranoa0227 karma

Yeah, kind of like a hypochondriac getting cancer. It probably validated every worry she ever had in life.

Groke12 karma

What happened that night?

Ranoa0296 karma

I'll preface this by saying I was in a casino, underneath an empty IMAX theatre, and above a casino floor. Noises could've come from anywhere.

spooky voice


Okay so the place had 16 rooms, and near the end is a room that's designed to be completely dark. House lights shine special blue filtered lights on a 15 ton piece of the titanic's hull and the room it's in is huge. I was cleaning some cases after hours, and the house lights had come on, and I hear some voices on the other side of the room. The door is blocked from view by the big piece, and I think its my supervisor, so I go take a peek into the previous room. This room is /also/ dark, followed by an even darker hallway, and two even darker rooms after that, and I hear a sort've ghostly giggling noise. I assume some guests got stuck or I missed them or something and it's after hours, so I need to go get them out. Each preceeding room I walk into, the opposite door shuts, so I start hurrying, running through -- I go past the promenade deck exhibit, it's getting darker, the laughing gets louder, it's getting weirder. Finally, I get into the Grand Staircase room -- the stairs go up to a light gallery. I peek around, nothing up there, so I leave. As soon as I am back out that room, I hear what sounds like footsteps, like someone just took a running leap down the steps. TOTALLY freaks me the hell out.

At this point I get on my wrist radio (secret service style), telling my supervisor "There are kids playing around in here, check the cameras for me". He says he sees nothing, nobody's in there but me. I check all the doors, locked in and out, even the fire gate is down. So, a little freaked out, I return to that big piece room, and start hearing footsteps behind me. I turn around, and the footsteps sound like such that, were I looking at somebody, they'd have been stomping, hard, up to my face -- but, naturally, nobody's there. At THAT point, I just threw my rag and spray bottle, said "Nope!" and told my supervisor I'm done. He wouldn't go in afterwards either -- the cleaning lady had to recover my stuff the next morning.

dangerspeedman49 karma

Just got myself 7-8 extra hours of Reddit tonight, cause my plans to sleep are pretty much out the window.

Ranoa0222 karma

Sorry about that. D:

evilnight31 karma

You need to sex this up, flesh it out a bit, and submit it over at /r/nosleep. It'll be a hit.

Ranoa0244 karma

I'll do just that. Sexin' things up is a personal favorite activity.

dreadfulpennies20 karma

Know anything terribly interesting about Jacques Futrelle?

If my family is to be believed, I'm related to him. I wish I remembered how. My grandfather used to tell me our family was rich and famous but all that sank with the Titanic. I knew he was teasing me and was a little shocked, years later when my younger cousin mentioned that it was neat that I was a writer, "Just like Jacques Futrelle".

My grandmother confirmed that, yes we were related to him. Apparently, said younger cousin had done some family tree project for school. I was more than a little bummed out when she didn't still have it to show it to me.

Ranoa0281 karma

Jacques Futrelle was a novelist and a philanthropist. He put his wife onto the lifeboat along side J. J. Astor, and both gentlemen inquired about boarding with them -- they were told no, women and children only. Later on, they were told they could get aboard another lifeboat, but both gentlemen declined, opting for one last cigar before going down with the ship, allowing for more room for women and children.

NMW20 karma

This has been a remarkably informative AMA. Thank you for doing it. It's been a real pleasure for me to read through, as the period that is the focus of my professional interest (the Great War) is not at all far removed from the disaster in question, and many of the key players, ideas and cultural touchstones carry over from the one to the other, more or less. Basically, 1900 through 1920 is my little paradise, even if sometimes filled with appalling things.

Anyway, my question:

I've read a little bit about Fr. Francis Browne, the fortunate Jesuit who disembarked the Titanic at Queenstown and avoided what would almost certainly have been his death. He was a prolific photographer, and I'm given to understand that the pictures he took while on the Titanic are the only surviving ones we have of the ship from that fateful voyage. Is this really true? Or are there others?

Ranoa0224 karma

Not the only pictures, but the last taken of the ship, as well as the best and largest collection. the Fr. Browne collection is where so many of the major photos come from of the ship with a cheering crowd -- he even took the last known photograph of Captain Smith as he boarded the Titanic to steam away.

ajhcentral20 karma

I am lucky enough to have three newspapers from the days following the sinking. One of them includes a list of victims. They are amazing pieces of history.

Ranoa0218 karma

Hold onto them -- they're treasures indeed! :)

dangercollie20 karma

How many artifacts have been recovered in total?

I always wondered why they didn't try reversing toward the California. Moving water outside the hull would have lowered the pressure and it seems like they could have gotten at least a couple miles closer.

Ranoa0279 karma

During my time at the exhibition, over 5,500 artifacts had been recovered, ~320 of which were in my exhibit. A lot of it is coal -- RMS TItanic, Inc. and Premier Exhibitions, Inc. sell the coal in knick-knacks.

Long story -- TL;DR, they couldn't see the Californian!

So basically, the whole thing with the Californian hinges on the alleged claim that the two ships could see each other, but visual reports from the witnesses both say that's not the case. Captain Lord, of the Californian, insisted that the ship he could see was small, the size of perhaps his ship -- and the Titanic claimed it could see a much smaller vessel than the size of the Californian. Odds are good that both ships at actually seen the Samson, which was a Nordic (I believe) ship illegally in the area. The Samson would've darted away immediately -- it was too small to have a radio, and "emergency flares" weren't universally white, so when it saw both the Californian on one side flashing it, and the Titanic on the other side flashing it and sending flares, it thought it had been caught, so it beat a hasty retreat. This jives with the Californian's report that the Titanic sailed away, and the Titanic's report that the Californian sailed away. The Californian was actually stuck -- she'd very nearly struck an iceberg herself, and after warning the Titanic of this (which the Titanic ignored), the Californian shut down her engine for the night.

Bernardito20 karma

What do you think fascinates people so much about the sinking of the Titanic in comparison to other "transport catastrophes" such as the Hindenburg disaster?

Ranoa0242 karma

Only that it kept coming up. Even in context of the time, the Titanic was forgotten about fairly quickly -- the great war, the great depression and World War 2 were quick to follow, relatively. Larger ships were released just the following year. If it weren't for her discovery and subsequent dives, she'd have never been revived in the 80's, then James Cameron's film of course created a huge resurgence.

Waking26 karma

I disagree with him here. Most of us learned and have been fascinated by Titanic before the film even came out. I think it is so popular because it was a perfect depiction of mankind's arrogance regarding his dominance over nature.

Ranoa0238 karma

You're right, it is, but in a broad sense, the Titanic would have been just as much a blip as any other great disaster.

On that point, though, you're absolutely right -- the Titanic is the perfect story to discuss the grotesque opulence of the first class. J.J. Astor was carrying $5,000 cash on him -- today that would be over $40,000 of "walking around" money.

Jww2119 karma

What would you say the coolest artifact recovered was and, if necessary, why?

Ranoa0281 karma

My favorite artifacts were culturally related things -- it was apparently a practice for gentleman to carry "story cards" to entertain women or children in a pinch. They were small postcard-sized pages with tiny stories printed in them. I loved reading those!

Jww2132 karma

Wow that's pretty cool so if conversations went dry they would, well, whip it out?

Ranoa0237 karma

Hahahaha.. YES

Piratiko21 karma

Any idea why they went out of style? Those sound awesome.

Ranoa0260 karma

It was completely awesome! They had snarky cards too, for souvenirs, I suspect. We had an artifact postcard that said something like "If you see a woman in a pretty dress, don't talk to her -- go buy the dress. It's cheaper" or something.

kehrol19 karma

Is there any way the ship could have been saved from the moment it hit the iceberg? something they could have done, maybe?

Ranoa0271 karma

They could've stopped instead of going straight to full reverse, they could've not let David Blair leave the ship with the key to the crow's nest binoculars in his pocket, they could've stayed in Belfast to put out the fire in the coal bunker, they could've relayed more iceberg warnings to the bridge, they could've pushed back the launch date to finish the ship (she was about 1/3 of her cabins empty because they weren't finished).... All kinds of things, tragically. :(

Jen_Snow19 karma

Wow the ship wasn't finished? Is there anything else interesting related to that you might talk about?

Great ama, thanks for doing it!

Ranoa0271 karma

Hmm.. Lots of interesting little facts. Only three funnels on the ship were real -- the 4th funnel was fake, but added to make the ship look more grand. It was carrying a lot of weird things, too -- an interesting one is that one woman claimed as she wandered the ship the night of the collision that she heard a cock's crow, which was considered to be a deathly omen. She may well have -- the Titanic was carrying 13 chickens and a rooster!

eissirk17 karma

so if 1/3 of the cabins were empty, how many spots was that? At least those hypothetical guests didn't die

Ranoa0221 karma

Her total capacity was ~3,550.

rbeezy18 karma

Who do you think has the most interesting survival story from the incident? and the most honorable death?

Ranoa0286 karma

The most interesting survival story...... Probably Charles Joughin's, who was represented in the film even (the white-clad fellow beside Jack and Rose as they ride the forecastle railing down in the ship's final moments). He was a heavy set fellow, and allegedly, had wrapped leathers around himself and imbibed a fifth of scotch and other drinks before going into the water. Allegedly, he survived for hours in the icy water before being pulled onto the overturned collapsible B, where he stood for hours more until being pulled into another lifeboat with the other survivors of Collapsible B.

The most honorable death by far goes to the "firemen" -- a ship's crew who shovels coal into the fires to keep the ship powered. None of them survived. They continued powering coal to allow the radio to continue transmitting long until the lifeboats were completely gone -- the ship didn't lose power until just a few moments before she split and sank. To this day, I was told, many Cunard "firemen" and engineers still wear the patch that those 13 heroes wore in commemoration.

dearcatherine23 karma

I always wondered if the power going out late in the film was real or not! Thanks

Ranoa0215 karma

Of course. =)

specialk315 karma

Did anything you find really catch you by surprise?

Ranoa0262 karma

Tiny-ass clothing. I'm a bigger guy, and people were an average of a foot shorter back then than we are today. Some of the books were in immaculate condition, too.

Ranoa0234 karma

Oh -- also, "Calling Cards". We had some. It's a phrase based on a real thing! You would call upon a visitor, and the butler / valet / greeter would take your calling card, take it to the master of the estate and recite its contents. Then they'd return, and give you your card back, or invite you in.

[deleted]15 karma


Ranoa0240 karma

Yes -- when the ship first hit, Murdoch ordered the ship full reverse, then stopped. Captain Smith then ordered the ship half ahead, changing the course to Halifax, thinking he could perhaps dock there as an emergency. (This also contributed to the difficulty in finding the ship -- she was some 13 miles I believe northwest of her last posted position because nobody was informed of this change of course.) The damage to the hull of the titanic acted like a "scoop" in that sense, pushing water in and causing greatly hastened flooding, before the Captain understood the extent of the damage and ordered the ship stopped. Keep in mind though that this ship was massive... it took 45 minutes for the ship's carpenter, then the Captain himself to "sound" the ship, walking back and forth along it to ascertain damage.

[deleted]12 karma


Ranoa0222 karma

Yes, it would still have sunk, but perhaps given them a few hours longer to fill the lifeboats. Chances are high the ship would still have been gone by the time the Carpathia arrived, though.

Legerdemain011 karma

So was the sinking inevitable, then?

Ranoa0227 karma

Yes -- after the strike, sinking was inevitable.

FatKarateElvis14 karma

What's the WORST story? As in the most heinous/least heroic/chivalrous act.

Ranoa0224 karma

5th Officer Lowe was a horrible racist. He suggested that as his lifeboat lowered, he saw rows of Italians "salivating" as they prepared to jump off the rails and commandeer the lifeboat for themselves over the women and children.

LookLikeJesus13 karma

Are there any real mysteries/unknowns remaining, or do we basically have all the events around the tragedy well-mapped and understood by this point?

Ranoa0216 karma

We /essentially/ know all the details, but unfortunately we'll never know, for example, who exactly was aboard the Titanic. Total numbers range for 2,208 to 2,280 or so. Passenger and crew ledgers exist in New York and Belfast and the few stops in between like Cheurburg, but the only complete ledger went down with the ship, and in all likelihood will never be recovered.

As far as events and causes, that's pretty settled.

rockinbeth13 karma

Knowing what you know, if you had been on the Titanic as she was going down, what would have been your approach to survive?

Ranoa0285 karma

Sheesh... Find leathers, gathering mattresses. There was a little Japanese fellow (I wish I remembered his name, sorry!) who strapped himself to a door and a mattress. He survived, even, being pulled aboard by officer Lowe as he searched for survivors. He was frozen, and given a coat and a blanket by some of the passengers. When he warmed up though he even took an oar. Unfortunately, his home country didn't look so kindly on his survival. It shamed his family, and he died alone.

rockinbeth29 karma

Heart wrenching story, fantastic example, thank you - and thanks for this cool AMA!

Ranoa0213 karma

You are most welcome. =)

feureau22 karma

his home country didn't look so kindly on his survival. It shamed his family, and he died alone.

Wait, what? Why?

Ranoa0220 karma

An honor code, I think. That he survived where so many women and children didn't implied that he was somehow a coward -- that one of them could have survived if he hadn't.

Chinstrap611 karma

For some reason, ever sense I was a child I was fascinated with the boiler room and the engineers, but I can hardly find anything on the internet written about them :(. Could you give me more insight on what it was like to be an engineer on the Titanic/when it was sinking? Thanks!

Ranoa0227 karma

Many of the "engineers" made it to the top, though few of them survived, as crew were the last priority in boarding lifeboats -- only enough to row them were allowed on, initially.

The firemen however largely went down with the ship itself, and heroically -- they continued pushing coal into the engines long enough for the ship to continue sending out messages until mere moments before she split in half, well after it was largely submersed. Every one of them died heroes.

eissirk11 karma

Have you ever given tours to survivors of the Titanic? How did they respond? Overall, how emotional do people get when learning about it?

Ranoa0234 karma

Never to a survivor -- by the time I had the job, there was only one last living survivor, Melvina Dean, died shortly after. To living relatives of survivors, though, somewhat frequently, and they were always very overcome with emotion.

Given that this exhibit was on the strip, people's reactions were all over the place, but the cost was high enough ($32 for a single adult ticket O_O) that generally only people that really were interested came in. A lot of tears.

ChocoBerryOwlMaster11 karma

Do you have any spooky stories to tell us? I've heard that some of the artifacts are haunted by those who lost their lives in the Titanic and that their energy is attached to some of those artifacts.

Ranoa0240 karma

There was a story about some of the effects of Frederick Fleet. Allegedly, the exhibit has some of his effects in their possession, including a pair of glasses. It was once held underneath his poster on our mockup of the promenade deck. So it went, that case alarm went off, a lot, and it didn't matter which case alarm -- they were frequently swapped, batteries changed, what have you. Women and children would set it off, mostly, and men rarely did. His image was often said to be seen floating around just off the deck. That room was a real sense-teaser, too -- we had mirrors on either side to create the illusion that the deck extended far past the bounds of the room. A black-out curtain with fiber optic lights made the room seem to expand into a dark night, and the black floor had some creative lights to look like water breaking off her hull.

Allegedly, Fleet suffered extreme depression. The fact of the matter is that if he had called the iceberg warning to the wheel room just five seconds earlier, the ship and all aboard could have been saved. He was unable to get another post with the White Star Line and died alone.

A more senior specialist than I said that eventually, the artifacts were removed, but every morning, as he was inspecting the exhibit, when he walked past Fleet's poster, he would say "Good morning, Frederick. It's not your fault. Rest in peace." and the strange apparations stopped.

.... Naturally I ignored his advice, but that's how the story goes. ;)

scout-finch11 karma

I can't think of a question yet, but I just have to say that I think you're probably really cool. I've been a big Titanic geek since we studied it in 3rd grade (and the same year the movie came out - I'm 23 now). I'm also quite jealous of the things you've gotten to see up close.

Ranoa0212 karma

Haha, thanks! I was into it briefly at the very same time, I'm also 23. You should see the exhibit if it ever rolls around by you, they've got lots of travelling ones!

buschwacker9 karma

I've always heard that the Titanic's rudder was far too small to properly steer the ship around, say a floating iceberg. Are there any other fundamental design flaws like this that contributed to the disaster? Were these design flaws addressed in Titanic's sister ships like Olympic?

Ranoa0229 karma

The Titanic's rudder size was fine -- the problem was that the rudder was directly in front of the largest of the ship's three screws, which was also the only reversing screw. This plays a huge part in the sinking -- when Lee called the bridge with "Iceberg right ahead", officer Murdoch put her screws into "full reverse" instead of stopping. The screw just slammed into gear and started turning immediately, churning millions of tiny bubbles -- think of it like locking your wheels in an emergency stop instead of edging the brakes to slow down. It's possible that this decision was the final nail in the coffin for Titanic. As far as I know, this was not addressed in the Titanic's sister ships.

malbrecht9220 karma

The center screw was the smallest, and was the only one that did not reverse.

Edit: Why would anyone downvote this? It is a fact!

Ranoa0224 karma

^ This is correct, sorry! Her center screw was smallest, and the port / starboard screws reversed, the position of the rudder put her port screw right behind the rudder. It's been a while. D:

Edit** Position when the order to go hard to starboard was put, that is. In those days people didn't refer to which direction you wanted to turn by which direction you intended to go, but rather which direction to point the Rudder. The rudder turns to the right, "starboard", and pushes the nose of the ship left, "port".

ScopeOfTheFatedSky9 karma

How did you get your awesome job? I'm so jealous.

Ranoa0211 karma

Connections! :D

[deleted]6 karma

Jealous! I've been a Titanic buff since I was a kid (I was actually born the year they discovered the wreck) and I love reading up on it. Getting paid to do it? Sounds amazing.

Thanks for doing the AMA, btw.

Ranoa028 karma

I was paid very little, unfortunately, which is why though I've kept up with the information, I've left the industry. Happy to quench anybody's thirst for knowledge, and I dig your username. ;D

specialk38 karma

Can you explain a little more what you actually did and who you are? It's kind of hard to tell by the title.

Ranoa0227 karma

I was the artifact specialist and historian. I did tours through the exhibit, answered questions, and was one of the media-faces for our exhibit. I walked celebreties through when they wanted it, like Michael Buble, for example.

drftgto8 karma

How exactly was the wreckage found? Especially since you mentioned it was found 13 miles away from her last posted position. Also, how did they relay their position back then? I know these days it would be super easy with all the GPS technology.

Ranoa0224 karma

Robert Ballard's crew had a unique sonar-esque device of some sort (I'm sorry to not recall the details) that he was using at the time to look for the USS Scorpion, a sunken US submarine. The US Government told him that if he had time afterwards he could search for the Titanic. He worked on the theory that the Titanic had broken up -- most people searching for it were looking for a 300-yard blip on the scene, but he thought to look for two half pieces, and that's exactly what he hit.

GnatDog13 karma

Because the ship broke in two, it left a huge debris field. Ballard theorized that he should be looking for debris, little pieces of metal, luggage, random objects, which would be strewn all over the ocean floor, rather than one big ship, or two big pieces of the ship. If I remember correctly from the documentary, the first object found was one of the boilers.

Ranoa028 karma

A boiler or a screw, I think, yes!

Skaguy0068 karma

While they did not have enough boats to save the nearly 2200 passengers and crew, do you have any inkling as to why only 712 were saved when they could have saved atleast another four to five hundred

Ranoa0217 karma

The total capacity was something like 1466 of the lifeboats or some such.. I don't remember the exact number. D:

It was a combination of things. At first, it was because they didn't think the emergency was serious -- they were lowering lifeboats more or less half full because they thought they would lower the boats, then recollect them when the ship levelled out.

As the night went on, they started dropping boats half full because they worried that at full capacity they might buckle as they were being lowered (these were a new model of lifeboat and significantly larger than normal).

Finally, at the end of the night, they were lowered in a hurry / poorly because the ship was beginning to list (tip) severely. Collapsible B just rolled right off the deck.

specialk37 karma

What was the most interesting artifact that you discovered?

Ranoa0216 karma

I wasn't involved in the artifact recovery or conservation, but my favorite artifact was the story cards. :)

militarypuzzle6 karma

My best friend and I have argued for years. Is there proof Murdoch killed himself?

Ranoa027 karma

Nope, sorry -- Murdoch died, but nobody knows the circumstances of his death, because his body was never recovered. He was one of three officers to die, and while there were definitely gunshots fired, there's never been consistent account of who fired the gun and whether anybody was shot. No shooting death was ever reported, but many people claimed some officer had shot themself. The claims ranged from Murdoch to Wilde to Lightoller (who survived) to the Captain (who almost definitely did not kill himself), so it's most likely that's just a story told from people with imaginations about the gunshots they heard.

i_am_randy6 karma

How much of the exhibition at the LUXOR actually came from the sunken ship?

Ranoa0222 karma

Nearly all the artifacts. There was a cherub in a glass case that was a copy, but our 15 ton section of hull was real as was nearly every other artifact. Basically, if it was in glass / the "Big Piece", it was real. If it wasn't behind glass (such as the Grand Staircase, the room mockups, the scale model) it wasn't real.

Hilariously, I got probably a dozen people over the years asking me if our 30-some foot scale model of the way the Titanic looks on the bottom of the ocean was "the real Titanic".

[deleted]52 karma

"What is this!?! A BOAT FOR ANTS!?!?"

Ranoa0228 karma

Pretty much.... "People were approximately the size of legos" was my favorite retort.

tashbash5 karma

If you've never been before, I suggest coming to Belfast! Theres loads of awesome stuff thats opened especially for this month and this website pretty much tells you everything.

Ranoa024 karma

I have ALWAYS wanted to go to Belfast, Halifax, Cove, all the stops... But alas I'm poor. :(

GnomishKaiser5 karma

What kind of stuff would you like to see recovered but know never will be?

Ranoa0215 karma

Carter's car... Or the 5 concert grand pianos... Cultural personal effects. Oh! And more perfume samples! Adolph Saalfeld was traveling to America to peddle his perfume wares, and he had a case with dozens of samples. Some have been recovered and still have the scented oils -- many were lost, but I'd love to smell more!

djtraceman5 karma

I heard there was only one Black man as a passenger on the ship. Is this true?

Ranoa028 karma

Correct, second class Joseph LaRoche. He could probably have traveled first class but wanted to save the money. He was hatian. More here

Jillian594 karma

cool AMA. I saw the exhibit last month here in San Diego and it was really amazing. My boyfriend told me that all of the leather items stayed intact because in those days they used cyanide to tan the hides and the cyanide kept the ocean organisms from eating the leather. is that true? It sounded logical but I was amazed at all the wallets and shaving kits and other leather items that had survived. also many years ago I remember seeing an interview with an old woman who was a child on the Titanic. Her father died in the wreck. She was very adamant that the site should be treated as a grave site. She was unhappy about the salvage and even mentioned a desire to take a pistol and shoot the salvage workers. How do you feel about the whole grave site aspect? Thank you.

Ranoa027 karma

I'm not sure that it was cyanide, but it's true that treated leather bags (such as rindstone bags, or "doctor's" bags) are where most intact paper and books were found. They were hostile to ocean-going bacteria. That was probably Milvina Dean, and yes, she was pretty hostile about the recovery. She was a very spiritual person, though. Personally, as I've mentioned before, I'm not spiritual, and I believe the dead are dead and don't care what we do with their stuff. The only thing I'd be adamant about if it were my decision is that true and honest attempts would be made to recover the artifacts to surviving family.

theanxietypony4 karma

This is awesome. I've been fascinated by the Titanic for as long as I can remember. I visited the Maritime museum in Halifax and the graveyard while I was there. I also picked up a book that was originally published just a few years after Titanic sank - it has a number of survivor's accounts and information about the ship and its passengers. A lot of the details seem to be really accurate, but on the other hand, some were later contradicted or else have just never been conclusively affirmed (one survivor claimed to have witnessed Murdoch shooting himself, for example).

So my question is, what would you consider the most factually accurate book and/or documentary and/or other source for a wannabe Titanic buff?

Thanks for doing this. I want your job!

Ranoa028 karma

For me, that would be a tie between Walter Lord's /A Night to Remember/ and Lee Meredith's /1912 Facts About the Titanic/. I always love to hear about other fans. =)

Trimillionaire4 karma

I've heard that the Titanic wreck will eventually dissolve or collapse underwater, because of organisms eating away at the ship. What have researchers determined for the lifespan of the wreck ? Any idea on how long it will last?

Ranoa0231 karma

The wreck probably has less than a decade or two left to it, and that's true -- steel and iron-eating bacteria are slowly tearing the ship apart. One day, hundreds of years from now, it will be nothing but a massive orange rust stain on the bottom of the ocean.