A Disaster of Titanic Proportions ielts reading academic ieltsxpress

A Disaster of Titanic Proportions IELTS Reading Academic

A Disaster of Titanic Proportions IELTS Reading Academic

READING PASSAGE – 1

A Disaster of Titanic Proportions

A.  At 11:39 p.m. on the evening of Sunday, 14 April 1912, lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee on the forward mast of the Titanic sighted an eerie, black mass coming into view directly in front of the ship. Fleet picked up the phone to the helm, waited for Sixth Officer Moody to answer, and yelled: “Iceberg, right ahead!” The greatest disaster in maritime history was about to be set in motion.

B. Thirty-seven seconds later, despite the efforts of officers in the bridge and engine room to steer around the iceberg, the Titanic struck a piece of submerged ice, bursting rivets in the ship’s hull and flooding the first five watertight compartments. The ship’s designer, Thomas Andrews, carried out visual inspection of the ship’s damage and informed Captain Smith at midnight that the ship would sink in less than two hours.

By 12:30 a.m., the lifeboats were being filled with women and children, after Smith had given the command for them to be uncovered and swung out 15 minutes earlier. The first lifeboat was successfully lowered 15 minutes later, with only 28 of its 65 seats occupied. By 1:15 a.m., the waterline was beginning to reach the Titanic’s name on the ship’s bow, and over the next hour, every lifeboat would be released as officers struggled to maintain order amongst the growing panic on board. ieltsxpress

C. The dosing moments of the Titanic’s sinking began shortly after 2 a.m., as the last lifeboat was lowered and the ship’s propellers lifted out of the water, leaving the 1,500 passengers still on board to surge towards the stern. At 2:17 a.m., Harold Bride and Jack Philips tapped out their last wireless message after being relieved of duty as the ship’s wireless operators, and the ship’s band stopped playing. Less than a minute later, occupants of the lifeboats witnessed the ship’s lights flash once, then go black, and a huge roar signaled the Titanic’s contents plunging towards the bow, causing the front half of the ship to break off and go under. The Titanic’s stem bobbed up momentarily, and at 2:20 a.m., the ship finally disappeared beneath the frigid waters.

D. What or who was responsible for the scale of this catastrophe? Explanations abound, some that focus on very small details. Due to a last-minute change in the ship’s officer line-up, iceberg lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee were making do without a pair of binoculars that an officer transferred off the ship in Southampton had left in a cupboard onboard, unbeknownst to any of the ship’s crew. Fleet, who survived the sinking, insisted at a subsequent inquiry that he could have identified the iceberg in time to avert disaster if he had owned the binoculars.

E. Less than an hour before the Titanic struck the iceberg, wireless operator Cyril Evans on California, located just 20 miles to the north, tried to contact operator Jack Philips on the Titanic to warn him of pack ice in the area. “Shut up, shut up, you’re jamming my signal,” Philips replied. “I’m busy.” The Titanic’s wireless system had broken down for several hours earlier that day, and Philips was clearing a backlog of personal messages that passengers had requested to be sent to family and friends in the USA.  ieltsxpress

Nevertheless, Captain Smith had maintained the ship’s speed of 22 knots despite multiple earlier warnings of ice ahead. It has been suggested that Smith was under pressure to make headlines by arriving early in New York, but maritime historians such as Richard Howell have countered this perception, noting that Smith was simply following common procedure at the time, and not behaving recklessly.

F. One of the strongest explanations for the severe loss of life has been the fact that the Titanic did not carry enough lifeboats for everyone on board. Maritime regulations at the time tied lifeboat capacity to the ship size, not to the number of passengers on board. This meant that the Titanic, with room for 1,178 of its 2,222 passengers, actually surpassed the Board of Trade’s requirement that it carry lifeboats for 1,060 of its passengers. ieltsxpress small logo

Nevertheless, with lifeboats being lowered less than half full in many cases, and only 712 passengers surviving despite a two-and-a-half-hour window of opportunity, more lifeboats would not have guaranteed more survivors in the absence of better training and preparation. Many passengers were confused about where to go after the order to launch lifeboats was given; a lifeboat drill scheduled for earlier on the same day that the Titanic struck the iceberg was cancelled by Captain Smith to allow passengers to attend church.

Questions 1-6
Choose NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the text for each answer.ieltsxpress small logo

Time   Person’s Position Action
11:39 p.m (1) ___________
(2) ___________
A reported sighting of the iceberg
(3) ___________
Andrews Ship’s designer Reported how long the Titanic could stay afloat
12:15 a.m Smith Captain Ordered (4) ___________ to be released
2:17 a.m Bride & Philips (5) ___________
Relayed final (6) ___________

Questions 7-13
Do the following statements agree with the information given in Reading Passage 1?
In boxes 7—13 on your answer sheet, write

TRUE if the statement agrees with the information
FALSE if the statement contradicts with the information
NOT GIVENif there is no information on this

7. The binoculars for the men on watch had been left in a crew locker in Southampton.
8. The missing binoculars were the major factor leading to the collision with the iceberg.
9. Philips missed notification about the ice from Evans because the Titanic’s wireless system was not functioning at the time.
10. Captain Smith knew there was ice in the area.
11. Howell believed the captain’s failure to reduce speed was an irresponsible action.
12. The Titanic was able to seat more passengers in lifeboats than the Board of Trade required.
13. A lifeboat drill would have saved more lives.ieltsxpress small logo


Practice A Disaster of Titanic Proportions Academic Reading Passage online  or download a printable PDF copy.

A Disaster of Titanic Proportions IELTS Reading PDF


A Disaster of Titanic Proportions IELTS Reading Answersieltsxpress small logo

1. FLEET

2. LOOKAOUT

3. MIDNIGHT/12.00 AM

4. LIFEBOATS

5. WIRELESS OPERATIONS

6. (WIRELESS) MESSAGE

7. FALSE

8. NOT GIVEN

9. FALSE

10. TRUE

11. FALSE

12. TRUE

13. NOT GIVEN

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