On May 31, 1911, about a hundred years ago, RMS Titanic, the largest passenger steamship in the world owned by the White Star Line and constructed at the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast, Ireland, was launched into the waters of Victoria Channel in Belfast Harbor.
As reported in a local media, John Parkinson's father Frank worked on the ship and watched the launching of the great liner. I asked him, 'How can a ship that big stay up in the water?' said Parkinson. My father's responded instantly: ‘Johnny, which ship will always stay up in the water.'
But less than a year later on April 14, 1912, the Titanic's sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. She hit the iceberg at 11.40 p.m. April 14, 1912, and sank at 2.20 a.m. the following morning, resulting in the deaths of about 1,517 people.
Belfast has decided to celebrate the ship's launch, instead of celebrating the centennial of the ship sinking. John Andrews, the great-nephew of Thomas Andrews, chief designer of the Titanic, says the disaster was a terrible tragedy and it was never spoken in the family. It wasn't talked about in Belfast either.
Maritime historian and Titanic expert Michael McCaughan notes, The Titanic is now being celebrated in Belfast as an important agent of economic, social and cultural regeneration. The city is holding a many events to celebrate the centenary of the launch.
By celebrating the launch of the Titanic, we're not celebrating a piece of steel, we're celebrating the achievements of the workers. The centenary of the launch is an opportunity to get a different story about the Titanic out,” Una Reilly, chair of the Belfast Titanic Society told local media.
The fact still remains that although there were 2,201 people on board, the Titanic had only enough lifeboat capacity for 1,178. There was no effective lifesaving Plan B to prevent the passengers and crew perishing in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic, says McCaughan.