The story of the great ship Titanic is one that has captured the imagination of many people. Here is a timeline of some of the key events leading up to and following her tragic demise.
First Officer Murdoch informs Captain Smith that the ship has hit an iceberg. Ship designer Thomas Andrews surveys the damage and predicts that Titanic will stay afloat for no more than two hours.
April 10, 1912
Titanic departs Southampton, England, for its maiden voyage to New York City. She stops in Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland. Many of the passengers are wealthy industrialists, dignitaries and members of royalty. Other notables include the White Star Line’s managing director, J. Bruce Ismay, and Thomas Andrews, the ship’s builder from Harland and Wolff.
Senior wireless operator Jack titanic timeline begins receiving reports of icebergs from other ships. First, the Leyland liner Caronia spots field ice and “growers” in an area about a day’s sailing away (42o N, from 49o to 51o W). Captain Edward John Smith passes the message on to his officers, but it is not taken to the bridge.
Later, lookout Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee spot the iceberg dead ahead. They signal it to the bridge, but Sixth Officer Moody ignores it. Minutes later, they hear the warning bell ring three sharp times and see the huge mass ahead of them. They signal the bridge again and the ship slows. The helmsman spins the wheel as hard as it will go.
Arrival Of Titanic In Southampton
April 10: Titanic steams south from Belfast toward Southampton, where she will spend one week before her maiden voyage to New York. She is dressed with flags in a salute to the city of her origin.
At 07:30 am, passengers begin boarding. They enter via the stern and are assigned their cabins on the basis of class. First-class passengers include J. Bruce Ismay, owner of White Star; John Jacob Astor IV; Isidor Straus; and a community of affluent people from Britain, Ireland and Europe who are seeking a better life in America.
Sixteen wooden lifeboats are lowered into the water on Welin davits, which were designed to hold two or three boats. During the build, Carlisle had proposed adding more davits to the ship but was overruled by Harland & Wolff management. As a result, Titanic had only twenty-four lifeboats for her 2,240 passengers and crew. This would prove to be an insufficient number. Other ships in the area hear Titanic’s distress call, including her sister ship Olympic, Mount Temple, Frankfort, Baltic and Virginian.
April 14, 1912
On this day Titanic’s lifeboats undergo a test to ensure their seaworthiness. The ship carries 16 wooden lifeboats on davits and four collapsible ones that are easier to store. Due to outdated regulations the lifeboats only have room for less than half of Titanic’s passengers and crew.
Senior wireless operator Jack Phillips begins receiving warnings about icebergs in the area Titanic is sailing through from other ships. At one point, the liner Caronia spots a number of icebergs and growlers (smaller icebergs that are harder to see) about a day’s sailing away from Titanic.
The first lifeboat to be lowered is No. 7 on the starboard side. It is loaded well below capacity, partly because many passengers refuse to abandon the ship thinking it is “unsinkable.” Also in the boat are lookout Molly Brown and her nine-week-old infant daughter, Millvina Dean. Molly is offered a seat in a second lifeboat but refuses to disobey the order of “women and children first.” The two will be among the 1,500 survivors who will eventually board the RMS Carpathia.
The day begins with a test of the Titanic’s lifeboats. They are swung out, lowered and hoisted back into position under their Welin davits.
At about 11 a.m., First Officer Fleet spots an iceberg in the ship’s path and rings the bridge bell three times. Captain Murdoch immediately orders the engines reversed and closes the doors to the supposedly watertight compartments.
Sixteen wooden lifeboats are lowered from the davits, as well as four collapsible lifeboats with wooden bottoms and canvas sides. The lifeboats are tested to ensure they will float at full capacity. Because of outdated British Board of Trade regulations, Titanic actually exceeded capacity in her boats by about a tenth.
Boxhall inspects the damage and determines that the Orlop deck forward of the #4 watertight bulkhead is flooded. He tells Captain Smith that Titanic will stay afloat for about two hours. The band on A Deck begins to play ragtime tunes. As the first lifeboats are lowered, Isidor and Ida Strauss refuse to disobey the order for women and children to enter them, and they remain in number 8, which is lowered with 28 people aboard.
April 16, 1912
The whistles blow at noon, signaling that the ship is about to leave Cherbourg. Some passengers are adamant about re-boarding before the train arrives, and a group of them is waved off by Sixth Officer Moody.
During the day senior wireless operator Jack Phillips receives multiple ice warnings from ships further west, including the Baltic which reported large bergs and “growlers” (smaller, harder to see but no less dangerous) in an area a day’s sailing away. He passes one of the messages to Captain Smith, who cancels a scheduled lifeboat drill without explanation.
At around 10 PM the Titanic changes course to head slightly south, in an attempt to avoid the ice region mentioned by the Baltic. This should have put the ship into an area of the gulf stream free from such obstructions, but in fact it puts her on a collision course with the iceberg that would later sink her. Also at this time, Second Officer Charles Lightoller relieves First Officer William Murdoch on the bridge. Lightoller will become the most senior survivor of the disaster.
As the night progresses, some lifeboats are lowered despite not being full of passengers. This is because many passengers are reluctant to leave the ship, believing that it is virtually unsinkable. The crew also fears that the davits will not be able to support a fully loaded boat.
At 2:20 a.m., Titanic hits a huge piece of ice, which buckles her starboard side and opens six of her forward watertight compartments to the sea. Chief designer Thomas Andrews surveys the damage and tells Captain Smith that Titanic will probably sink within a couple of hours.
At Jack Phillips’ order, the first CQD distress signal is sent over the radio, although it would be some time before SOS became the standard. The message gives Titanic’s estimated position of 41° 46′ N, 50° 14′ W. It is not known if this was received by the Californian, or any other steamer in the area. More messages will be sent, but none of them will be received by other ships.
April 17, 1912
The Titanic, touted as unsinkable, begins her fateful maiden voyage across the Atlantic. Follow the journey of the ship from its construction in a Belfast shipyard through its final, disastrous moments at the bottom of the Atlantic.
At around 2:20 AM, the Titanic strikes an iceberg. The impact is felt in a number of cabins, though few people realize it. The iceberg breaks off part of the Titanic’s bow, leaving a gaping hole in its side.
Senior wireless operator Jack Phillips receives several warnings of icebergs from other vessels. But he violates Marconi Company rules and fails to pass the messages on to the bridge.
First Officer William Murdoch closes the watertight doors as Fourth Officer Boxhall reports an iceberg ahead. He also orders the band to stop playing. At the same time, Captain Edward Smith cancels a scheduled lifeboat drill and relieves Second Officer Charles Lightoller from his duties on the bridge.
The White Star Line’s Titanic sets sail for New York on her maiden voyage. The ship, owned by the International Mercantile Marine Co of New Jersey, a subsidiary of industrial tycoon J.P. Morgan, represents a tangible link between American and United Kingdom maritime history.
Before Titanic casts off, she receives various iceberg warnings but Captain Edward Smith cancels a lifeboat drill and ignores a warning from the Mesaba wireless operator that there is “heavy pack ice and a great number of large icebergs” ahead.
After the order to load the boats is given, hundreds of human dramas unfold. Men saw off wives and children, families were separated and selfless individuals gave up their places in the boats to remain with a loved one or let a more vulnerable passenger escape.
Two hours after hitting the iceberg, Titanic sinks at 02:20 ship’s time on April 15, 1912, in the North Atlantic Ocean, killing about 1,500 passengers and crew members and sparking widespread public outrage that led to a series of new safety regulations.
Titanic Timeline Conclusion:
The Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage in 1912 remains a poignant reminder of human ambition and tragedy. Despite the tragedy, it sparked significant improvements in maritime safety regulations and highlighted the need for better emergency procedures. The Titanic’s legacy endures as a cautionary tale of the consequences of overconfidence in the face of nature’s might.
- What caused the sinking of the Titanic? The Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg on April 15, 1912. The collision caused severe damage to the ship’s hull, leading to flooding of several compartments. Insufficient lifeboats and the crew’s delayed response further contributed to the tragic loss of over 1,500 lives.
- Did any survivors of the Titanic live to tell their story? Yes, approximately 700 people survived the Titanic disaster. Many of them were rescued by the RMS Carpathia, which responded to the distress call. Some survivors later shared their harrowing experiences, providing valuable insights into the events that unfolded that fateful night.