Short life for world’s largest ship

The RMS Titanic was the largest ship in the world – and publicized as the most luxurious – when it was built in 1912.

“The Titanic was given every superlative under the sun,” said Theresa Nelson, a spokeswoman for RMS Titanic Inc., the company that owns the rights to the derelict, which lies 2.5 miles beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, 400 nautical miles southeast of Newfoundland.

The 1912 construction cost was $7.5 million. Elegance and sumptuousness were the watchwords, Nelson said.

The Titanic was 883 feet long, with a 93-foot beam (widest part), nine decks and four stacks, three functional and one for show and balance. It could accommodate 2,603 passengers and a crew of 944.

Eight expeditions – the first was made in 1987 – have been made to the wreck, seven to retrieve artifacts, Nelson said. All items have been taken from a field of debris measuring three miles by five miles.

“No one goes on board,” Nelson said. “The Titanic is respected as a memorial to the lives lost, and the structure isn’t sturdy enough to allow exploration.”

RMS Titanic Inc. was awarded salvage rights by a federal maritime law court in Norfolk, Va., on the basis of financial ability to carry out recovery and its goal of putting the artifacts on exhibit, Nelson said.

“There are no more expeditions on the calendar now,” she said.

Las Vegas and Orlando Beach, Fla., have permanent Titanic exhibits. Six traveling exhibits are making the rounds currently in San Diego, Kansas City, Singapore, Houston, Detroit and Atlanta.

daler@durangoherald.com