Everyone has heard about the “unsinkable” RMS Titanic, but 98 years removed we have little connection to the disaster other than watching a movie or documentary. In the world of 1912, the April 14th sinking of the world’s largest, most advanced ship shook the world.
Much like everyone remembers where they were on 9/11, the sinking of the Titanic captured the attention of the planet. It was possibly the first truly global disaster for mankind. With victims from North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia and even Africa, not even the plague in the Middle Ages reached so many corners of the world.
The international outcry was strong and the world’s maritime powers acted swiftly. The U.S. sent the Navy to patrol the North Atlantic to search out icebergs and broadcast warnings. The following year the Revenue Cutter Service, predecessor to the modern Coast Guard, was placed in charge of the U.S. ice monitoring operations and still does so today, issuing warnings from February to July each year.
Also in 1913 the first Safety of Life at Sea Convention was convened and global shipping standards were set that greatly improved safety at sea.
Many of those implementations remain in affect. Still today SOLAS standards affect everything from life jackets to radios and the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency which safety standards, was also a product of the convention.
Ultimately, 13 nations committed to share the costs of monitoring ice in the North Atlantic and the International Ice Patrol was born.
This week on the Compass we’ll be patrolling the North Atlantic with a Coast Guard IIP team. To the right is a video featuring Dr. Donald Murphy, the Coast Guard’s chief scientist at IIP, who talks about the effects of the Titanic’s sinking and the global response. Tomorrow we’ll be covering the team’s participation in a memorial service in Halifax, Canada, before flying north to patrol from Saint John’s around Baffin Bay, Labrador and Newfoundland through the weekend. You can follow all our posts in this series with this tag.