Follow the story of the luxury liner Titanic, which sank in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912. Its designer claimed it was unsinkable.
First Officer Murdoch notices an iceberg ahead. The ship turns hard a starboard. Lookout Frederick Fleet reports it to the bridge. Captain Smith orders the lifeboats lowered. Women and children are placed in them first.
April 10, 1912
April 10: The titanic timeline leaves Southampton and makes final preparations for its maiden voyage. Carpets are laid, decorators are hard at work, and the ship is inspected by a board of trade emigration officer. Also that day Captain Smith takes the ship through some additional practice turns en route to Queenstown to test her maneuverability.
At about 11:40 PM lookouts spot an iceberg near the starboard bow. The ship alters course slightly but the iceberg collides with her at full speed and shatters five underwater compartments. Captain Edward Smith orders lifeboats lowered. Because of limited space, many are sent off only partially filled. In compliance with the law, women and children board first. At one point Lightoller waves (or possibly fires) his pistol and tells passengers not to rush into boats. He later moves survivors from collapsible D into other boats.
About an hour after Titanic hits the iceberg White Star chairman Ismay writes a message to be sent to his office: “With deep regret we advise you that the steamship Titanic has struck an iceberg and is rapidly sinking.” The Californian, which at approximately 5:30 AM learned of the accident, arrives shortly thereafter. Over the next few hours it searches the area but fails to find any survivors from Titanic. Finally, at approximately 9:00 AM the Carpathia, which would eventually pick up all 705 Titanic survivors, arrives and heads to New York City.
April 11, 1912
The RMS Titanic passes a seaworthiness test at Belfast’s Thompson Graving Dock. Sixteen wooden lifeboats, including four collapsible canvas-sided ones, are swung out and lowered under Welin davits. Due to outdated British Board of Trade regulations, Titanic’s lifeboats are actually capable of handling more than half the ship’s capacity for passengers and crew.
At 11:40 PM, lookout Frederick Fleet spots an iceberg dead ahead. He rings a bell three times, alerting Captain Edward Smith and others on the bridge. The iceberg scrapes along the starboard bow side of Titanic and soon water fills at least five of the ship’s supposedly watertight compartments.
About a quarter of the lifeboats are lowered before the ship begins to list. First Officer Thomas Andrews informs Smith that the first boat to go down will be overloaded with women and children; the next will be empty, with only men going in. The third and fourth boats will be full of men. Finally, boat number 12 will be lowered with 40 women and children, and two seamen are put in charge of the boat.
The Californian, which at 5:30 AM learned of the sinking, arrives at the scene and searches for survivors. A week later White Star sends the cable-laying ship Minia to assist the overtaxed Mackay-Bennett, which has recovered 306 bodies. Several other ships are also sent to the area to help recover bodies.
April 12, 1912
Throughout the day the Titanic sailed through calm Atlantic waters. Several iceberg warnings were received, but none made it to the bridge. By nightfall the ship had reached Cherbourg, France and was on its way to Queenstown (now Cobh), Co Cork, Ireland.
At 9:40 p.m. the last of seven iceberg warnings is received in the wireless room but does not reach the bridge. The lookouts spot an iceberg at 11:40 p.m. The ship turns hard to starboard, but its right side scrapes the iceberg.
The crew begins a lifeboat drill, spreading out over multiple locations. Captain Smith orders a call for help to be sent. A message is sent, but the wireless room loses power. The ship’s stern is noticeably beginning to submerge. The water is up to the bow’s name plate. Eight distress rockets are fired.
The Cunard liner Carpathia receives a distress call and alters course to assist the Titanic. The ship is about 58 miles away. The Titanic’s 13 lifeboats are brought ashore. The lifeboats are later found to have been stripped of their nameplates. White Star officials learn that these lifeboats have been taken for their use on other ships. 119 American passengers were aboard the Titanic and survived its sinking. The tragedy inspires a wide range of lawmakers, writers, historians and filmmakers. The Titanic becomes a cultural icon and serves as a reminder of the need for safety in our travels.
April 13, 1912
The crew of Titanic prepares for her maiden voyage. A keel is laid down on Harland & Wolff yard number 401, and the ship is launched in April 1912.
3:30 AM: The Californian, in sight of lifeboats, reports the Titanic’s lights flashing and then going out. Then comes a huge roar and the bow half of the liner sinks. The boat-train passengers, including multi-millionaire John Jacob Astor and his wife Madeleine, are aboard as the disaster unfolds.
12:05 AM: Captain Smith orders the crew to uncover lifeboats and get passengers and crew onto deck. He orders women and children to board first. Two seamen are placed in charge of each boat. The port side’s boat No. 8 is lowered and contains first-class passenger Lucy Noel Martha, countess of Rothes, who will later man the tiller. Her husband Isidor is also in the boat; he refuses to disobey the order of “women and children first” and tries to stay with his wife. He will survive.
Lookout Fleet spots an iceberg ahead of Titanic, and the lookouts send a signal to the bridge to turn hard starboard. But the ship hits an iceberg, and the captain tries to reverse course. The collision causes the starboard side to scrape the iceberg’s underside and send water into the ship. The last warning about an iceberg is received in the wireless room, but it is too late to avoid the catastrophe.
April 14, 1912
On April 14, 1912, just four days into her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City, Titanic hits an iceberg at about 23:40 ship’s time. The resulting disaster killed 1,500 people and was one of the worst peacetime maritime accidents in history.
The hull of Titanic buckles and she takes on water, threatening to break in two. As the stern sinks, the ship’s bow rises out of the water for a few moments, but then begins to sag down toward it. At this point, the ship’s lights blink on and off.
Captain Smith orders the carpenter Thomas Andrews to “sound the ship” (inspect the damage). He discovers that Orlop deck is flooded forward of the fourth watertight bulkhead and predicts that Titanic will stay afloat for about two hours.
Amid the chaos and confusion of an hour or so before Titanic went down, a haphazard evacuation began. The first lifeboat to be lowered was number 4. Madeleine Astor, who was five months pregnant, boarded the boat. When her husband, John Jacob Astor, asked if he could join her, Second Officer Lightoller complied with the law of the sea and refused.
Eventually, the first of seven collapsible lifeboats, No. 2, is launched. It is filled with women and children. As the boats are lowered, other men on board choose to remain with their loved ones or to give up their seats to more vulnerable passengers.
April 15, 1912
April 15: Titanic’s captain, Edward Smith, cancels a scheduled lifeboat drill. He also receives iceberg warnings from several other ships, including the Mesaba, which reports “a great number of large icebergs.” Wireless operator Jack Phillips receives the message but does not pass it on to the bridge.
2:10 AM: Water begins pouring into the bow. The iceberg smashes into the ship, sending it into a nearly vertical dive. The stern rises slightly, but the bow is quickly submerged. The ship’s band stops playing. Father Thomas Byles gives absolution to the hundreds of second- and third-class passengers gathered on the Boat Deck. Some of the passengers jump into the water. The first rescue vessel, the Carpathia, sees the lights from Titanic’s lifeboats as it races toward the disaster area at a speed of almost 17 1/2 knots.
The last lifeboat, collapsible D, is readied for lowering. The boat has room for 47 people, but Second Officer Lightoller strictly adheres to the rule that women and children go into the boats first. When Madeleine Astor, five months pregnant, asks to be included in the boat, Lightoller waves her off. Astor’s body was later recovered from the ocean floor. The rest of the boat’s occupants were rescued. The Titanic finally sinks at 2:20 AM. It is the largest ship ever lost at sea. The wreck still exists today and is a popular destination for divers.
The Titanic’s tragic story remains an indelible part of history. Its maiden voyage, marked with optimism and opulence, ended in disaster, claiming over 1,500 lives. The sinking of the Titanic led to significant changes in maritime safety regulations and captured the world’s attention, reminding us of the fragility of human endeavors.
- What caused the Titanic to sink? The Titanic struck an iceberg on the night of April 14, 1912. The collision caused extensive damage to the ship’s hull, leading to flooding in multiple compartments. The ship’s design, lack of adequate lifeboats, and insufficient safety measures exacerbated the disaster, resulting in the sinking.
- Were there any survivors from the Titanic? Yes, there were survivors from the Titanic’s sinking. Approximately 706 people were rescued, mainly from lifeboats. However, the majority of the passengers and crew perished in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic. The lack of lifeboats and the chaos during the evacuation contributed to the high loss of life.