Heroes of the Titanic

Heroes of the Titanic

Every one of the Titanic's engineers stayed at their post trying to save lives as the ship went down.


5 - 12


Earth Science, Oceanography, Geography, Human Geography, Physical Geography

National Geographic Channel

April 15, 2012, marks the hundredth anniversary of the sinking of the R.M.S. Titanic.

Construction of the Titanic commenced in 1909 in Belfast, Ireland, by the ship-building company Harland & Wolff. Shipbuilders worked tirelessly for two years to create the mammoth structure that was to become the Titanic, and eight workers died during its construction. After the ship was finished in 1912, the Titanic was set for its maiden voyage in early April.

The Titanic was designed to be a luxury ship to ferry people back and forth across the Atlantic. Onboard, there were more than 900 crew members, including waitstaff, engineering, and deck crews. The Titanic carried first-class, second-class, and third-class passengers. Many second- and third-class passengers were European citizens immigrating to America in search of a new life. The total number of people aboard the Titanic was a little more than 2,000.

When the Titanic struck the iceberg, it quickly became apparent that the ship’s "unsinkable" reputation was not true. The Titanic would be sitting at the bottom of the ocean in a little more than two hours. As the Titanic was sinking, passengers were loaded onto lifeboats by the deck crew. The engineering crew stayed at their posts to work the pumps, controlling flooding as much as possible. This action ensured the power stayed on during the evacuation and allowed the wireless radio system to keep sending distress calls. These men bravely kept at their work and helped save more than 700 people—even though it would cost them their own lives.

Fast Fact

  • The letters R.M.S. stand for Royal Mail Steamer. This means the Titanic was authorized to carry mail across the Atlantic Ocean.

Fast Fact

  • The top speed of the Titanic was 23-24 knots, about 21 miles per hour.

Fast Fact

  • "Victualling" was the term for employees working in passenger care.

Fast Fact

  • 679 members of the Titanic's crew died in the sinking.
Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.

Pam Bolan
National Geographic Society
Kara West
Samantha Zuhlke, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service. If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please contact your teacher. They will best know the preferred format. When you reach out to them, you will need the page title, URL, and the date you accessed the resource.


If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the corner of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.


Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.


Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.

Related Resources