Titanic Sinking
Titanic Sinking

Titanic Life Jacket On Display

One of only six life jackets remaining from the ill-fated Titanic went on display earlier in 2022 at Titanic Belfast to commemorate the 110th anniversary of the sinking of the world’s most famous ship in the North Atlantic.

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That terrible event took place on April 15, 1912, after it had struck an iceberg several hours before.

The luxury liner was only four days into its journey from Southampton to New York.

This was the first time that a life jacket from the disaster had been on public display on the island of Ireland.

Other life jackets from the Titanic have been displayed before.

In its collection in Indian Orchard, Mass., The Titanic Historical Society houses the life jacket that was used by Madeleine Astor, the wife of John Jacob Astor, who died in the tragedy.

The Astors were the richest passengers on the ship.

Rodney McCullough, the former official historian for Harland & Wolff beside the life jacket display, which was open to the public earlier in 2022 at Titanic Belfast. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/PressEye.
Rodney McCullough, the former official historian for Harland & Wolff beside the life jacket display, which was open to the public earlier in 2022 at Titanic Belfast. Photo: Kelvin Boyes/PressEye.

The life jacket, which is made of linen and cork, with all of its original ribbon ties still in place, was recovered from the field of debris around the sinking ship by Robert Edwards, who was quartermaster of the cable ship Mackay-Bennett.

That ship was the first of four chartered by the White Star Line to search for bodies in the aftermath of the sinking.

When the Titanic left Belfast, where it was built and subsequently launched, there were 3,500 life jackets on board.

However, the Titanic carried only 20 lifeboats, including two wooden cutters, 14 standard wooden lifeboats, and four collapsible canvas lifeboats.

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While this was too little for a ship its size, technically, it was legal because, at the time, the number of lifeboats required was based on the gross register tonnage of a ship, not its passenger capacity.

The ship's designers also made the decision to reduce the number of lifeboats on board for cosmetic reasons.

a ship in the ocean Titanic life jacket
Since the dock facilities in Cobh's harbor, known as Queenstown at the time, were not big enough to accommodate the Titanic, tenders were used to bring the 113 third-class passengers and 7 second-class passengers on board. Photo: Creative Commons.

Following its launch in Belfast, it sailed to England, then to France, and finally, to Cobh off the coast of County Cork, known at the time as Queenstown.

Titanic Belfast marked the 110th anniversary of the sinking with a special event titled “A Night to Remember” on April 14th.

Part of that night's events included a living history tour, including stories from the people whose lives were most impacted by the tragedy.

a slipway Discovery of the RMS Titanic
The historic slipway where the ill-fated Titanic was built and where the candle-lighting ceremony will take place. Photo courtesy of Titanic Belfast.

A candle-lighting ceremony was also held on the Titanic slipways, marking the exact time that the Titanic struck the iceberg.

What You Can Expect to See at Titanic Belfast

Belfast’s most popular tourist attraction, which was crowned the “World’s Leading Tourist Attraction” at the 2016 World Travel Awards, is made up of six floors.

a sign outside a large building Titanic life jacket
Titanic Belfast. Photo: Failte Ireland.

They include nine interpretive and interactive galleries that explore the sights, sounds, smells, and stories of Titanic, as well as retelling the story of Belfast itself and the people who made the great ocean liner.

Read More: Belfast and The Titanic: An Epic Journey

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