Titanic is sailing through the North Atlantic. A number of iceberg warnings are received by wireless but only one makes it to the bridge.
Third Officer Boxhall inspects damage. He discovers that Orlop Deck forward of the fourth watertight bulkhead is flooded. He tells Captain Smith that the ship will sink in a few hours. Women and children are ordered into lifeboats.
1. The Ship’s Construction
The Titanic was the largest moving object that man had ever built, and its construction ushered in a new age of industrial technology. It required massive gantries to lift the materials into place. The ship also sported some of the most advanced technological features available at the time, including a fully functional iceberg detector, which could detect the presence of icebergs up to a day’s sailing ahead of the ship.
The keel for the titanic timeline was laid down on March 31, 1909, at Harland and Wolff’s shipyard in Belfast, Ireland. Eight deaths occurred during the building of the ship, all due to fall-related accidents. Five of these victims were workers in the yard. The other three were passengers aboard the ship.
May 31, 1911: The unfinished Titanic is lathered up with soap and pushed into the water for “fitting out,” a process that involves installing all the extras, like smokestacks and propellers. Fitting out would take about six months.
June 14, 1911: The Titanic, along with its sister ship Olympic, departs Southampton on its maiden voyage. Both ships were designed by the White Star Line to be the most luxurious and modern ocean liners in the world. In fact, the company advertised that the Titanic was “practically unsinkable.”
14:30: The band on the first-class deck starts to play lively ragtime tunes. Meanwhile, the iceberg detector identifies an approaching iceberg, which is spotted by lookoutman Frederick Fleet. He warns the captain, Edward J Smith, but he ignores him.
15:15: The Titanic hits the iceberg. It causes a significant amount of damage, but the crew believes the ship is intact and does not send out a distress signal. The captain tries to broadcast a CQD signal, although SOS had become the official distress signal several years earlier.
01:30: The lifeboats start to be lowered, but they aren’t filled to capacity. Many of them are sent off half-full or even empty at first because of the reluctance of people to board. The ship is taking on water at an alarming rate.
At this point, several nearby ships hear the distress call. SS Mount Temple, Frankfort, Birma, Baltic, and Virginian begin to prepare to come to assist. However, the much closer SS Californian turns off its wireless and goes to sleep.
2. The Ship’s Maiden Voyage
The Titanic set sail from Southampton in England on April 10, 1912, bound for New York City. It was one of the largest and most luxurious ships in the world at the time. The ship was advertised as “unsinkable” because of its many watertight compartments and doors.
On its maiden voyage, the Titanic encountered heavy seas and ice but continued on its course to New York. At one point, it nearly collided with another ship in the North Atlantic due to its size and speed. However, the captain managed to steer clear of the other vessel by using a series of maneuverings.
As the ship continued on its journey, it received several ice warnings from other ships in the area. However, the captain opted to continue on its path as the ice was not expected to interfere with the ship’s schedule.
At around 11:30 p.m., the Titanic’s lookout Frederick Fleet spots an iceberg in the path of the ship. He alerts the bridge and first officer William Murdoch, who orders a hard starboard (left) turn. The move fails to prevent the ship from hitting the iceberg.
The collision causes the ship to begin taking on water at a dangerous rate. At the same time, water begins flooding into previously unflooded areas of the ship. As a result, the water level in some compartments rises to 14 feet.
At this point, stewards begin evacuating passengers from their cabins. Because they are more numerous than crew members, stewards are able to move quickly through the first-class accommodations. However, the evacuation is much more chaotic in the third-class area of the ship. Those in the less-affluent class are largely left to their own devices, with only a small number of stewards available.
As the lifeboats are readied, an order is given to allow women and children into them first. Two of the lifeboats are filled and lowered, but they are too late to save everyone aboard. The front half of the Titanic disappears beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean. The back half follows a few minutes later.
3. The Ship’s Collision With The Iceberg
A massive iceberg strikes Titanic as she passes through the English Channel on her maiden voyage to New York City. The ship suffers a glancing blow that buckles her starboard side, flooding the first six of her sixteen watertight compartments. The collision prompts Captain Smith to order his officers and stokers to keep an especially sharp lookout for icebergs.
The iceberg was about four miles long, two-thirds of which was below the surface of the sea. It was formed on a glacier and had been traveling down the Atlantic Ocean for 15,000 years. At that time, the berg was moving at about eight miles per day.
As the iceberg struck, it split into two sections, each measuring about three-quarters of a mile wide. One of these segments was then pulled under the water by the movement of the ocean currents, while the other segment remained on top of the surface. The two pieces then merged into a single large iceberg.
About two hours after the collision, Titanic began taking on water at an alarming rate. At 01:30, she was listing at about five degrees and was beginning to sink. Passengers frantically attempted to board lifeboats, but the boat was filling up rapidly and had no room for additional passengers. A group of male passengers tried to rush Lifeboat No 14, but shots fired by Fifth Officer Harold Lowe halted the melee.
A second warning iceberg was sighted by the lookouts, but because Titanic was approaching at high speed, her crew were unable to alter course in time. A third warning iceberg was sighted by the watchers in the bow, but again the ship’s speed made it impossible to alter course.
In spite of these dangers, White Star Line chairman J Bruce Ismay reassured his staff and passengers that a ship of this size had been built with safety in mind. He emphasized that his company’s ships carried more than double the amount of lifeboats required by law.
By midnight, several nearby ships hear Titanic’s distress signals. The Mount Temple, Olympic, Frankfort, Birma, Baltic, Virginian and Carpathia are ordered to come to her aid. The Californian, which is much closer to Titanic than the other ships, does not hear her distress call. Her radio operator had been asleep and did not log on to the White Star Line’s emergency frequency until about 2:20 AM.
4. The Ship’s Sinking
A huge iceberg collides with the Titanic, leaving a crack in its side and sending it listing. The crew panics and begins to prepare the lifeboats. There is only room in the 20 boats for about half of the 2,200 people aboard. Women and children are put in the lifeboats first, but many men also clamor for seats. Several crew members try to stop the rush, but Captain Smith gives a dismissive wave and says, “It’s every man for himself.”
The sinking Titanic takes on water rapidly and its list grows steeper. The last remaining lifeboat, Collapsible D, has space for 47 people. To prevent a panic, second officer Charles Lightoller waves (and possibly fires) his pistol into the air to keep passengers from rushing the boat. Another passenger tries to enter the boat, but is turned away by two seamen.
At 1:30 am, the Titanic’s tilt becomes noticeably steeper and water pours into the boat deck. The ship’s lights blink and then go out.
Around this time, a message is sent to the bridge from SS Californian that warns of three large icebergs nearby. It is not passed on to the Titanic by radio operator Jack Phillips, who is too busy discussing his recent romance with a woman on board.
Around 2:00 am, the Titanic’s stern plunges underwater and she begins to break apart. As it does so, the forward funnel collapses, crushing a number of swimming passengers.
Titanic Timeline Conclusion
The Titanic’s tragic voyage in April 1912 marked a pivotal moment in maritime history. Despite being heralded as “unsinkable,” the luxury liner collided with an iceberg and sank, claiming over 1,500 lives. The disaster prompted significant improvements in maritime safety and remains a poignant reminder of the importance of preparedness at sea.
- How many people survived the Titanic disaster?
Out of the approximately 2,224 passengers and crew aboard the Titanic, around 710 individuals survived the disaster. The majority of survivors were women and children, as they were given priority during the limited lifeboat evacuations.
- Were there any consequences for the Titanic’s owners and crew after the sinking?
The sinking of the Titanic led to significant legal and regulatory changes. The British and American inquiries into the disaster found that the ship’s owners, White Star Line, and the crew had been negligent in various aspects, which led to the loss of life. Consequently, maritime safety regulations were strengthened to prevent similar tragedies in the future.