From construction at the shipyard to its end on the ocean floor, follow the Titanic’s final days.
Captain Smith orders crewmen to prepare lifeboats and get passengers and crew up on deck. He also tells them women and children will go into the boats first. Second Officer Lightoller complies with the order but resists pressure from passengers to let them in.
The “unsinkable” titanic timeline sets sail from Belfast for Southampton, England, on her maiden voyage. She’s a spectacle, drawing crowds to her berth in the busy port. White Star officials scurry to finish loading her up, transferring passengers from other ships whose voyages had been cancelled due to coal shortages to the new liner.
At 11 a.m., lookout Frederick Fleet reports an iceberg to the bridge. Sixth Officer Moody sends a signal to stop the ship, turning her hard to starboard.
Lifeboat drill begins. The first boats lowered are loaded with women and children, but the number of people aboard is still short of the legal minimum. Later, Boat No. 12 is lowered with 40 women and children when it could hold 70. Collapsible Boat D is also lowered, but Fifth Officer Lowe refuses entry to John Jacob Astor. By the time Carpathia arrives, all of Titanic’s lifeboats will have been lowered with only about a third of their capacity.
Herbert Pitman signs on in Liverpool as Third Officer aboard Titanic before she departs for Belfast on her sea trials. He will later be the most senior officer to survive the disaster.
April 14 – 12:00 AM: Lookouts spot an iceberg. They signal the bridge by a direct phone line, and Sixth Officer Moody responds: “Iceberg right ahead.” He sends a stop signal to the engine room, followed by a full astern order to the helmsman. First Officer William Murdoch closes the ship’s watertight doors.
The iceberg hits the starboard bow, then brushes along its side before disappearing into the night. The ship begins to list steeply to port. Lifeboat 5 (capacity 65) is lowered, but it’s nearly empty because women and children have been given priority for lifeboat seats. A partially-loaded port-side boat also leaves with only 35 people on board. The list becomes more noticeable as the day goes on.
Amid a flurry of final preparations for Titanic’s maiden voyage, the ship takes on general cargo and the remainder of her crew boards. Thomas Andrews oversees the process down to the last detail.
At 8:00 AM, the full crew is mustered for a lifeboat drill using two starboard boats (Nos. 11 and 15). Water quickly rises up to the bow and its name plate, while the stern momentarily remains above the surface of the ocean. The Cunard liner Carpathia receives a distress call from Titanic’s Marconi wireless set; however, the transmitter has lost power. Jack Phillips and Harold Bride begin repairing the apparatus themselves.
Amid the commotion, Lookout Frederick Fleet notices an iceberg approaching at high speed. It strikes starboard bow side of the Titanic. The collision is so close that iceberg fragments fly into the forward portion of the ship and graze some passengers. The Olympic and Hawke collide as well, but the damage is less severe.
With cargo, mails and additional passengers aboard, Titanic weighs anchor and departs Queenstown Harbour. Tenders Ireland and America transfer baggage, mails and passengers to the ship.
Board of Trade emigration officer Maurice Clarke, second officer Lightoller and lookout Murdoch spend hours carefully checking that Titanic meets safety requirements. A lifeboat drill is conducted for the benefit of first-and second-class passengers.
11:40 PM: During passage through the River Test, the Titanic’s movement irritates ships moored at berths along the portside of the harbor and causes the stern of the liner New York to swing toward the starboard side of Titanic. Quick action by tugboats averts a collision by a few feet.
The International Ice Patrol is created to guard sea lanes from ice. Titanic’s icebreaker, Mesaba, sends an ice warning to the other ships on her route. The Titanic’s Welin davits are designed to handle only two or three boats, but the boat capacity is increased by ten percent under Board of Trade regulations.
Aboard Titanic, passengers are acquainting themselves with the ship’s many public rooms and hallways. Carpets are still being laid and decorators work on finishing touches.
First Officer Murdoch receives ice warnings from other ships but doesn’t pass them on to Captain Smith. The crew begins to load lifeboats, giving women and children priority.
Two lookouts, Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee, begin their watch from the crow’s nest, scanning for growlers (small icebergs) rather than major field ice.
At 12:20 a.m., water is seen ten feet below the port side of Promenade Deck.
At 1:35 a.m., port-side boat No. 3 is lowered with 25 women and children aboard, whereas it could hold 40. Because of the rush, 20 spots are left empty in other boats. Lightoller refuses entry to John Jacob Astor in collapsible boat No. 14. Water is now rushing in beneath the ship’s bow. James Cameron’s movie “Titanic” reignites global obsession with the disaster.
The White Star Line announces that Titanic’s maiden voyage will begin April 10, 1912. It was originally scheduled to start in September 1911, but the sister ship Olympic collided with Royal Navy cruiser Hawke and required repairs.
Titanic’s wireless operators receive a series of iceberg warnings from other ships. The Caronia reports ice in Latitude 42o 51′ N and Longitude 49o 52′ W, and the Amerika reports “large quantities of field ice” at 41o 27′ N and 50o 8′ W.
After lunch, the first- and second-class boat-trains from Cherbourg arrive at dockside to load passengers. They berth at 11:30 AM, but the third-class train from Paris is late and won’t be ready until 6:30. The passengers are ferried to Titanic in tenders.
More ice warnings come in over the wireless, including one from the ss Noordam reporting “large quantities of field ice” in 42o N and 49o to 51o W. First Officer Murdoch orders the engines reversed but the Titanic strikes a large berg which dents the hull and compromises five of her watertight compartments. Lookout Frederick Fleet spies the berg and calls up sixth officer Boxhall, who tells Captain Smith.
Smith sends up a distress call. It’s heard by Cunard liner Carpathia, which heads toward Titanic. The band stops playing and many passengers jump overboard. The bow of the Titanic begins to submerge and a list develops. Water reaches the name plate on the bow.
At least 326 people were lost when the Titanic sank in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912. The disaster has become one of the most well-known maritime tragedies in history, and is still a topic of fascination. It has also inspired countless books, plays, television shows, and movies.
After a day in Cherbourg, Titanic sets sail for Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland. Her huge size means she cannot enter the harbor, so she weighs anchor a few miles from shore and tenders bring passengers onboard.
Early in the evening, an iceberg is spotted by the ship’s lookouts. A warning is sent over the wireless, but it’s too late — as Titanic passes by, the iceberg collides with her at a speed of nearly 30 knots and slams into her starboard bow side. The impact wreaks havoc with five of Titanic’s watertight compartments and a glancing blow jars the entire ship. For a few seconds, Titanic appears to veer slightly away but then collides with the iceberg again, this time at full speed.
The day begins with a thorough inspection of Titanic. Her 16 wooden lifeboats pass a safety test, although the ship only has room in them for half her passengers and crew. White Star Southampton Marine Superintendent Maurice Clarke oversees the process, assisted by Charles Lightoller and William Murdoch.
At 10:30 p.m., the Cunard liner Caronia sends an ice warning to Captain Smith. At the same time, the Titanic’s wireless set stops working. The Marconi operators, Harold Bride and Jack Phillips, violate company rules and repair the equipment themselves.
At 2:20 AM, Titanic crashes into an iceberg. The impact causes the stern to buckle and the bow half sinks. On the surface, the ship appears to pause in midair. Then water begins flooding into the Orlop deck. Within two hours, Titanic will be submerged. The disaster is the subject of a global obsession that continues to this day. Robert Ballard’s expedition team later discovers the Titanic wreck.
The Titanic, a marvel of its time, tragically sank on April 15, 1912, claiming the lives of over 1,500 passengers and crew. Its demise led to significant advancements in maritime safety regulations and improved shipbuilding practices. The legacy of the Titanic continues to resonate, reminding us of the importance of learning from history’s most profound lessons.
- How did the Titanic sink? The Titanic sank after colliding with an iceberg on April 15, 1912. The impact caused a series of punctures along the ship’s hull, leading to flooding of several compartments. As the ship’s watertight compartments were not sealed at the top, water overflowed from one compartment to another, eventually causing the vessel to sink.
- How many people survived the Titanic disaster? Out of the approximately 2,224 people onboard the Titanic, around 710 survived. The majority of survivors were women and children, as they were given priority during the evacuation process. The lack of lifeboats and inefficient evacuation procedures contributed to the significant loss of life in one of history’s most infamous maritime disasters.