The Titanic sank 102 years ago, on 16 April 1912, killing more than 1,500 people, becoming one of the worst peacetime maritime disasters in history.
The "unsinkable Titanic" was plagued by several design flaws that led to revolutions in ocean liner safety.
Over 2,200 people were on-board the Titanic when the largest ship of the day set out on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. Late on the night of 14 April, the ship famously hit an iceberg, creating a gash cross the bow of the craft. The mighty ocean-going vessel began taking on water, as passengers scrambled for life rafts.
White Star Line, the company that operated the ship, decided only 20 lifeboats would be carried on the craft, enough for just 38 percent of the full capacity of the Titanic. Legally, the company was only required to carry just 16 of the life-saving devices.
The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, passed in 1914 in the wake of the Titanic disaster, requires all passenger ships to carry enough lifeboats for all passengers. Mandatory lifeboat drills of all passengers aboard ships is also required due to the Titanic tragedy.
The Radio Act of 1912, still in effect today, requires all radios aboard ships to be kept on 24 hours a day. As the mighty Titanic sunk, a radio operator aboard the nearly SS Californian tried to warn the Titanic about nearby icebergs. This warning was ignored by Titanic radio operator Jack Phillips, who was transmitting personal messages for passengers. He soon switched off the transmitter, and went to bed.
In an attempt to attract a rescue ship, the crew of the Titanic sent off a series of flares. This was misinterpreted by local ships, who did not respond to the distress calls. Before radio, ships often signaled their identity to one another using rockets. The crew of the Californian believed these flares may have been a company signal. After the sinking of the Titanic, rockets may be launched from ships for emergency purposes only, and any crew that sees flares are required to respond to the area assuming there is an emergency.
Compartments aboard the Titanic had bulkheads that extended just 10 feet above the water line. Now, these areas must be watertight.
"Journalist William T. Stead was on board and had written articles predicting a great maritime disaster if ships went to sea without enough lifeboats. When he realized he was not going to get on a lifeboat, he went to the smoking room where he sat down in a leather chair to read a book," RMS Titanic Inc., states on their Web site.
Passengers aboard modern cruise ships may feel inconvenienced by the mandatory lifeboat drill at the start of every journey. But the tragedy of the Titanic serves to protect ocean travelers in the modern day.