By Bruce M. Caplan
Shortly after two in the morning on April 15, 1912, the mighty Titanic—- the largest passenger ship in the world at the time, plunged to the bottom of the North Atlantic—-two and a half miles below the surface of the ocean. The world was startled to find that because the giant vessel didn’t have enough lifeboats, over two thirds of the passengers perished.
Today, many people have a fear of going on an ocean voyage, because of the Titanic’s demise. Let me put your mind at ease. The Titanic sank over a century ago and since then there have been very few luxury liner disasters with large cruise liners.
In 1915 the giant ship Lusitania sank in under 20 minutes. This ship was sunk by a German torpedo and it was a wartime disaster. Regardless almost 40% of the passengers survived.
Jump to 1956 and you have a collision between the Andrea Doria and the Stockholm. The Andrea Doria sinks, but the only passengers who perish are the ones that die in the immediate collision. The survival rate is 97%!
Jump to the year 2012, a century after the Titanic. The Costa Concordia has a collision on a reef, off the coast of Italy. The survival rate is over 99 and a half percent.
To sum it up, in over a century of cruising, (Not including ships below 20 thousand tons.) there have just four major cruise ship catastrophic events. The Titanic (1912) where over two thirds of the passengers perished. The Lusitania (1915) where just below 40% survived. The Andrea Doria with a 97% rate of survivors and most recently the Costa Concordia with a survival rate of over 99%. That’s a fantastic record considering that there’s thousands of luxury cruises each year.
One last thing to remember, and that is that everyone on the Titanic would have survived if they just had enough lifeboats. Shortly after the Titanic sank, the maritime laws were changed to make it mandatory that all ships have enough lifeboat capacity to save everyone onboard.
(Bruce M. Caplan is my co-author and co-editor of Leopold & Loeb Killed Bobby Franks and Titanic & Lusitania: Survivor Stories)