Follow the fate of the Titanic, from its conception through its maiden voyage and ultimately sinking in the North Atlantic. This timeline will be updated as new events take place. A haphazard and chaotic evacuation of the lifeboats begins. Many of the boats are launched woefully under-filled. The iceberg collides with the ship and the bow section sinks rapidly.
1. The Ship Leaves Queenstown
Leaving Southampton on April 10, titanic timeline sails to Cherbourg, France and then Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland, where two tenders transport passengers from the port to the ship. Seven people disembark, including Father Francis Browne, a Jesuit trainee who will later take famous photographs of the sinking of the ship. Then the ship sets sail on its maiden voyage, carrying 1,317 passengers and 891 crew members.
The ship crosses the English Channel and enters the calm Atlantic waters, which are free of icebergs. The ship makes good speed. Its builders, White Star Line, claimed the ship was “practically unsinkable,” though this was an exaggeration. It was the largest ship on the water but wasn’t the fastest; Cunard Line ships like Lusitania and Mauretania were faster.
At 10:15 PM, the band begins to play a ceremonial farewell as Titanic prepares to turn toward New York. Then the lifeboats are lowered. The first to leave is number 8, which is loaded with 28 people, including first-class passenger Lucy Noel Martha, countess of Rothes, and her husband Isidor Straus, a ship’s officer. They refuse to disobey the order that women and children board lifeboats first.
At 12:15 AM, numerous ships hear Titanic’s distress call and come to her aid. Some, like the Olympic, are hundreds of miles away but will still send a rescue party. Others, like Virginian, Baltic, and Carpathia, are closer. The radio operator on Carpathia, Philips, transmits his last message. He tries to get Titanic to change course, but is told that there is no hope for the ship. He urges the passengers to stay calm and prepare for the worst. It is the most infamous of all maritime disasters.
2. The Ship Arrives At Cherbourg
The Titanic’s maiden voyage from Southampton, England to New York City began with a stop in Cherbourg, France and Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland. The ship was carrying 2,240 passengers and crew–or “souls” as the term was then used in the shipping industry–and created a stir wherever it went. Many of the passengers were wealthy industrialists, dignitaries, and celebrities.
After leaving Southampton, the ship stopped at Cherbourg, France, where it was anchored by tender ships called Nomadic and Traffic. The tenders were designed and built by Harland and Wolff to ferry passengers, luggage, and mail bags between the liner and the docks. Nomadic was assigned to serve First and Second Class passengers, while Traffic was to serve Third Class passengers.
Once the tenders had docked at Cherbourg, they began to ferry passengers and baggage to the liner. By 9:30pm, most of the passengers were aboard SS Nomadic.
By midnight, some 1,178 people remained on the Titanic. As lifeboats were readied for launch, an order was given for women and children to board the boats first. Men could then follow. The last boat to be lowered was number 8, which carried 28 people, including first-class passenger Lucy Noel Martha, countess of Rothes, and her husband Isidor Straus. They refused to disobey the order and remained together on the boat.
As the Titanic sank, she displaced enormous amounts of water. This swung the stern to starboard, nearly causing a collision with SS New York. A tug pulled New York out of the way, but the immense swell caused by the collision would later rip away two of the mooring ropes from Titanic. The other moorings held. The ship was barely afloat by the time she reached Cherbourg.
3. The Ship Departs Cherbourg
The Titanic’s maiden voyage begins with a stop in Cherbourg, France. The port’s dock is too small to accommodate the liner, so passengers are ferried to and from her in tenders. The ship departs Cherbourg at 8:10 PM.
The massive hull of the RMS Titanic-the largest passenger ship ever built at the time-slides down the enormous slipways at Belfast, Northern Ireland, and into the River Lagan. More than 100,000 people crowd the waterfront to watch the spectacle.
11:40 PM: The lookouts on the bridge spot an iceberg dead ahead, towering some 55-60 feet above the waterline. They immediately sound a bell and telephone the warning to the bridge. Sixth Officer Moody recognizes the danger, alerts the helmsman, and calls for “hard-a-starboard.” The helmsman spins the wheel as far to starboard as it will go.
12:15 AM: The ship sends out a CQD call, which stands for “come quick.” This is the first of several distress signals that will be sent out over the next few hours.
Lifeboats begin to be readied. Women and children are given priority for entry. Isidor and Ida Straus are offered seats in port-side boat No. 4, but Second Officer Lightoller refuses to allow them to disobey the order of “women and children first.”
At about 12:30 AM, a collision is sighted between the iceberg and the Titanic. The iceberg displaces enough water to cause the stern of the docked New York to swing into the liner’s path. An hour of maneuverings averts catastrophe.
4. The Ship Arrives At Southampton
The RMS Titanic, the world’s most famous steamship, departed Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York City. The luxury liner was carrying more than 2,240 passengers and crew, including many wealthy industrialists and dignitaries. Titanic struck an iceberg in the North Atlantic and sank on April 14, 1912, less than three hours into her trip. More than 1,500 people died in the disaster, which has been immortalized in multiple books and films and is one of history’s greatest tragedies.
A stoker discovers a coal fire in a bunker, an alarming but not uncommon occurrence aboard steamships of the day. Stokers hose down the flames and begin to extinguish them. Meanwhile, passengers begin to board the ship.
Captain Edward John Smith receives a sailing report from First Officer William Murdoch. He also oversees a lifeboat drill using two starboard boats, Nos. 11 and 13.
At noon, the whistles on the two forward funnels sound, signaling that Titanic is about to depart. A group of stragglers rush down the gangway, hoping to make it before the train pulling up on the dock passes by. But they are waved off by Sixth Officer Moody.
A lookout, Frederick Fleet, sees an iceberg in Titanic’s path. He calls the bridge and reports it to the captain, who orders the ship to turn “hard-a-starboard.” Murdoch closes the doors of the supposedly watertight compartments, and Fourth Officer Boxhall inspects the area. When he returns to the bridge, he informs the captain that the ship has struck an iceberg and is taking on water. Despite this warning, the ship continues on its course and sinks just after midnight. The disaster is largely blamed on an outdated and inadequate system of ice warnings.
5. The Ship Departs Southampton
On April 10, 1912, the RMS Titanic departed Southampton, bound for New York City on her maiden voyage. It would not reach its destination; after striking an iceberg four days into her journey, the ship broke apart and sank, killing more than 1,500 passengers and crew. The sinking of the Titanic has remained one of the most famous disasters in modern history, inspiring numerous stories, films, and musicals.
On the morning of her departure, Captain Edward John Smith and his officers boarded the ship from the pier after spending the night aboard. The ship was inspected by Maurice Clarke, the Board of Trade Immigration Officer, who worked with Lightoller and Murdoch to ensure the vessel met safety requirements. A short lifeboat drill was also conducted; two of the rear starboard lifeboats were lowered, with women and children placed in them first (a deviation from the standard protocol to allow men to enter first). Fifth Officer Harold Lowe and Sixth Officer James Moody supervised the test, with Clarke observing from the dock.
At noon, Titanic cast off from her berth, guided by tugs. The large liner displaced so much water that the mooring lines on the nearby SS New York broke, causing her stern to swing toward Titanic and delaying her official maiden voyage by an hour.
During her time in Southampton, Titanic was a spectacle to behold. Carpets were being laid and decorators were busy preparing the interiors. A few odd incidents marred the departure, including a small coal fire in one of her bunkers; stokers hosed down the fire and decided it was nothing to worry about. The stokers’ action reflected the general inexperience with large steamships at the time, and it is thought that this incident may have contributed to the later mutiny by the stokers on the Olympic-class sister ships.
Titanic Timeline Conclusion
The Titanic, a grand marvel of engineering, tragically met its fate on April 15, 1912, sinking on its maiden voyage after colliding with an iceberg. The disaster led to the loss of over 1,500 lives, leaving an indelible mark on history, inspiring safety regulations, and serving as a poignant reminder of human hubris.
- Could the Titanic disaster have been prevented? While some factors, such as a lack of binoculars for the lookout and the ship’s speed in iceberg-infested waters, contributed to the disaster, it is difficult to say definitively if it could have been entirely prevented. Improved safety regulations and better communication might have reduced the loss of life, but the iceberg collision itself was a significant contributing factor.
What were the lasting impacts of the Titanic tragedy? The sinking of the Titanic led to significant changes in maritime safety regulations, emphasizing the need for sufficient lifeboats, continuous radio monitoring, and improved iceberg warnings. It also highlighted the importance of international cooperation in emergency situations at sea. The disaster’s legacy continues to resonate in popular culture, reminding us of the fragility of human endeavors and the importance of prioritizing safety