Titanic, the largest passenger steamship of its time, sets sail on her maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City.
Captain Edward J. Smith receives ice warnings and alters the ship’s course. He decides to cancel a planned lifeboat drill. Lookout Frederick Fleet reports an iceberg. The message is never passed on to the bridge.
The keel for the titanic timeline is laid down at Harland & Wolff in Belfast. Construction of the ship begins.
Titanic’s tender ships SS Nomadic and SS Traffic dock at Southampton to ferry passengers aboard. A lifeboat drill is held to satisfy the British Board of Trade’s requirements.
Mesaba transmits iceberg warning to Titanic and other east-bound ships. The message is apparently not taken to the bridge.
The ship sets sail with 1,415 passengers, including many wealthy and famous people. Third Officer Herbert Pitman is assigned to port-side boat No. 3, which is lowered with only 25 women and children when it can hold 65. John Jacob Astor is refused entry to the boat by Sixth Officer Moody. Astor scolds Lightoller for the decision in a letter published after the disaster. Other boats are also launched under-full, with 20 places left empty in one case. This is a recurring problem throughout the disaster.
The shipyard workers at Harland and Wolff are in a race to get Titanic ready for her maiden voyage on April 10. Carpets are still being laid, decorators are finishing up. A White Star emigration officer boards Titanic to make sure she meets safety requirements.
At 11:40 PM lookouts spot an iceberg straight ahead. First Officer Murdoch calls it in on the bridge and orders Titanic turned to port, engines reversed. The iceberg brushes past Titanic, but collides with the starboard bow and deals a glancing blow that compromises five watertight compartments.
Several ships hear Titanic’s distress signals, including the anchored Mount Temple. Father Thomas Byles gives absolution to the passengers on the aft section of Boat Deck. Captain Smith tells his crew that it is “every man for himself.”
The day begins with a lifeboat drill conducted by White Star to meet Board of Trade safety requirements. A scout boat is lowered with no passengers onboard. A second scout boat is loaded and lowered but it quickly fills with water. The ship develops a slight list to port.
At noon, Titanic departs from her berth. Her movement displacing water causes the mooring lines on the nearby New York to break, allowing her stern to swing toward Titanic’s. Quick action averts a collision.
Wireless messages received from Caronia and Noordam warning of “large quantities of field ice” and icebergs in 42o N, from 49o to 51o W about 250 miles ahead of Titanic. Captain Smith reads the message aloud to his crew. Later, J Bruce Ismay gets into lifeboat C. The water level is now up to the bow’s name plate. It is hoped that the Cunard liner Carpathia will come to their rescue.
Titanic’s lifeboats pass a seaworthiness test. The ship carries 16 wooden boats under davits and four collapsible ones. By regulations, only about half the ship’s capacity of passengers and crew are allowed aboard.
Titanic picks up a wireless message from Cunard liner Caronia warning of icebergs in latitude 42o 51′ N and longitude 49o 52′ W. It is delivered to Captain Smith and then J Bruce Ismay.
Overnight, Titanic’s clocks are set back 25 minutes to match those at Queenstown. The ships tenders Ireland and America ferry additional baggage, cargo, mails and passengers from Cherbourg to Titanic.
Senior wireless operator Jack Phillips receives warnings of icebergs from other ships. But his message is ignored by Captain Smith, who is anxious to change course and reach the area of the gulf stream known to be free from bergs.
During this maneuver the lookout spots an iceberg directly in her path. He sends a telegram to the bridge, but by now it’s too late.
Titanic strikes the iceberg, a glancing blow that compromises five watertight compartments. First Officer William Murdoch closes them.
Sixteen wooden lifeboats are lowered from Titanic’s davits. Their capacity is far greater than required by British Board of Trade regulations. Port-side boat No. 4 is lowered with only women and children aboard, because Lightoller refuses to allow men onboard (the boat can hold 47). Later it’s tied to boats Nos. 10 and 14 and collapsible D. In the rush to board it, many passengers abandon their belongings.
The Titanic’s passengers and crew begin preparing for a possible rescue. A band plays ragtime tunes in the first-class lounge on A Deck, then moves to Boat Deck near the port entrance to the Grand Staircase. Madeleine Astor, five months pregnant, asks if she may join her husband in lifeboat Number 4, but Second Officer Lightoller refuses to break his strict order of women and children into boats first.
The ship picks up a warning from the Mesaba about “a large quantity of field ice and icebergs” in latitude 42o 51’N, from 49o to 51o W. However, the message is not passed on to the bridge by wireless operator Jack Phillips.
At around 12:25, crewmen lowering boat No. 12, which has 40 women and children on board, tie it to boats 4, 10, and collapsible D. Fifth Officer Lowe will return to this boat later to pick up swimming survivors.
On board, carpets are being laid and decorators finish last-minute details. A lifeboat drill takes place to satisfy the safety requirements of the British Board of Trade.
The first ice warning is received via wireless from Caronia (about 42o N, 49o to 50o W) warning of field ice and a large iceberg. This information is not immediately passed to the bridge.
At 12:25 AM the order is given to begin loading the lifeboats. First to go down is starboard boat No 7, which leaves with 28 passengers including J Bruce Ismay. By this time water is up to the ship’s name plate on the bow.
The Cunard liner Carpathia is heard rushing to Titanic’s assistance from southeast some 58 miles away. A number of ships (including the stricken Olympic and her sister Britannic) follow at different times, some stopping to lower their boats. On the surface, Titanic appears to be separating from her anchor and moving rapidly ahead of the icebergs.
Titanic rides at anchor in Cherbourg, France. Passengers who’ve been ferried over from the boat train board. Captain Smith takes the ship through some additional practice turns en route to Queenstown.
Sunday, April 14: Cunard liner Caronia sends a wireless message warning of large quantities of field ice and icebergs in 42oN from 49o to 51oW (ship’s time). Lookout Frederick Fleet picks up the signal but fails to get it to the bridge.
First Officer William Murdoch closes the watertight doors after a report from the starboard side. Fourth Officer Boxhall goes to the bridge to inspect the forward area of the hull.
A crew muster and lifeboat drill begins. Fifth Officer Lowe orders Boats Nos. 11, 12, 13, and collapsible D lowered. He also reloads some passengers from Boat 14. Titanic develops a noticeable list to starboard. Water reaches the nameplate on her bow. The stern section slowly, then more rapidly sinks out of sight.
Today, Titanic sails through her sea trials to meet Board of Trade requirements. Her crew performs a lifeboat drill that takes half an hour to complete.
Titanic picks up a wireless message from the Caronia warning of field ice in latitude 42o N, from 49o to 51o W. Captain Smith gives the message to J. Bruce Ismay.
A shakeup among the ship’s officers occurs on this eve of departure. William Murdoch is demoted to first officer and Charles Lightoller is demoted to second officer. Both will serve under Smith.
As Titanic moves away from her berth, her forceful motion creates a suction that draws the anchored New York to her side. Quick action averts a collision, but the incident underscores the unfamiliarity of those handling ships of Titanic’s size with vessels moored in the harbor.
Titanic Timeline Conclusion
The Titanic’s tragic story is a stark reminder of human hubris and the consequences of disregarding safety. In 1912, the “unsinkable” ship met its fate on its maiden voyage, claiming over 1,500 lives. This maritime disaster led to significant improvements in maritime safety regulations, shaping the future of shipbuilding and sea travel.
- How did the Titanic sink? The Titanic struck an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912, puncturing multiple compartments along its starboard side. This caused water to flood into the ship, ultimately overwhelming its watertight compartments and leading to its tragic sinking on April 15, 1912.
Were there any survivors from the Titanic? Yes, there were approximately 705 survivors out of the estimated 2,224 people aboard the Titanic. The limited number of lifeboats and the chaotic evacuation process contributed to the high loss of life. The disaster prompted improvements in maritime safety regulations to ensure ships carried enough lifeboats for all passengers and crew