RMS Titanic: the timeline

Her maiden journey was also her last.

MYSTERY SOLVED. History Channel brings together a pool of experts and more advanced technology to finally bring the final mysteries surrounding the Titanic's sinking to light. Photo courtesy of History Channel.

A century has sailed by since the biggest ship of her time sank to the mercy of a lone iceberg. Documentaries abound; James Cameron’s movie is re-screened, this time in 3D. 

There’s a fascination about the RMS Titanic that cannot be denied. Whether it is romantic, scientific, or just plain historical, people will not seem to stop asking about really happened on board the doomed ship in her final moments. 

RAPPLER gives you the Titanic timeline: from the idea, to the voyage, to her painful end.

Summer 1907: Idea of Titanic is born. Lord Pirrie and Bruce Ismay decide to build three luxury liners: the Olymic, Britannic, and Titanic

31 March 1909: Building begins. Titanic’s keel is laid at Harland and Wolff’s shipbuilding yard in Belfast, Ireland

31 May 1911: Titanic is launched. Amidst fanfare, Titanic is launched onto water for the first time, in Belfast’s River Lagan, watched by more than 100,000 people. Significant construction work remained on the partially complete ship.

2 April 1912: Trials are completed. Titanic successfully completes day-long trials in the Irish Sea and then sails to Southampton to take on fuel and supplies for its maiden voyage

4-10 April 1912: Last-minute details. Titanic undergoes last-minute work-up such as painting, furniture and carpet installment, staff hiring, and cargo loading

10 April 1912: Titanic departs Southhampton

  • 12nn: Titanic departs Southhampton, England, on the first leg of its maiden voyage
  • 6:30pm: Titanic arrives in Cherbourg, France, to pick up mail and more passengers

11 April 1912: Titanic leaves Ireland. Titanic leaves its final port, Queenstown (now Cobh), Ireland, around 1:30pm with 2,228 passengers and crew

11-13 April 1912: Ice warnings. Titanic receives numerous ice warnings from other vessels passing through the shipping lanes of the North Atlantic. Captain Edward Smith steers farther south.

13 April 1912, 11pm: Wireless machine breaks. Titanic’s wireless machine stops working. Harold McBride and Jack Philips repair it by 5am

Photo courtesy of History Channel

14 April 1912

  • 9am: Titanic receives ice warning from Caronia. Captain Smith sends it to the officers on the bridge.
  • 11:40am: The Dutch liner Noordam reports presence of ice in the area
  • 1:42pm: The Baltic warns of icebergs and field ice. Captain Smith shows this warning to Bruce Ismay, White Star Line’s managing director.
  • 1:45pm: German liner Amerika reports two large icebergs, but the message fails to reach Captain Smith
  • 7:30pm: 2nd radio officer Harold Bride hears a warning from the Californian of an iceberg approximately 80km ahead, and sends it to the bridge. Captain Smith is at dinner and doesn’t get the message.
  • 9:30pm: Second officer Lightoller instructs the lookouts to watch for ice. Any binoculars were said to have been left in Southhampton.
  • 9:40pm: Titanic radio operator Jack Phillips receives ice warning from Mesaba but sets it aside because he’s busy sending and receiving commercial messages for passengers.
  • 10:50pm: Californian, approximately 20 miles from Titanic, reports being blocked in by ice. Phillips signals back not to bother him, he is busy. Californian’s operator turns radio off.
  • 11:40pm: Lookout Frederick Fleet sees the iceberg. First Officer Murdoch orders the engine room to reverse the engines, Quartermaster to turn left, and close the doors between watertight compartments. The Titanic strikes the iceberg 37 seconds after its sighting.
  • 11:50pm: Ship architect Thomas Andrews inspects the damage. Only ten minutes after impact, water had risen almost 5 metres above keel forward. The first five watertight compartments begin to take on water.

Photo courtesy of History Channel

 15 April 1912

  • 12am: Thomas Andrews tells Captain Smith the ship will sink within an hour and a half. Captain orders crew to ready lifeboats. Women and children were generally required to go into boats before men.
  • 12:15am: Phillips sends out CQD distress signal. The Olympic, Frankfurt, and Carpathia reply. Titanic’s band begins to play in the first class lounge. They later move to play on the port side of the deck.
  • 12:25am: After receiving distress calls, Carpathia begins her 58-mile journey to the Titanic
  • 12:45am: Lifeboat 4 begins loading, Lifeboat 7 is lowered with 28 people instead of its capacity, 65. Officer Joseph Boxhall observes a vessel nearby, but it disappears. The first of the distress rockets was launched. Titanic radio operator sends first-ever SOS from a sinking ship.
  • 1:00am: Lifeboat 3 is lowered with just 32 people, 11 of which are crew. Lifeboat 1, later known as the “millionaire lifeboat,” is lowered with just 12 people, including the famous Duff Gordons. Lifeboat 8 is lowered with 39 people, including the Countess of Rothes who steers the lifeboat throughout the night.
  • 1:15am: Water reaches Titanic’s name on the bow, and she now lists slightly to port
  • 1:25am: Lifeboat 12 is lowered with 40 women and children. After the sinking, its passengers are transferred while the boat is tied together with lifeboats 4, 10, 13. Fifth officer Lowe then returned and rescued 70 more passengers.
  • 1:40am: With most of the lifeboats gone, passengers begin to move towards the stern of Titanic. White Star Line chairman and managing director Bruce Ismay departs on collapsible C.
  • 1:55am: Millionaire John Jacob Astor is refused entry onto lifeboat 4 by Second Officer Lightoller, and he says goodbye to his pregnant teenage wife, Madeleine.
  • 2:05am: With 1,500 people still left on Titanic, and the advancing water a mere 10 feet below the promenade deck, lifeboat collapsible D launches with 44 women and children. To prevent the boat from being stormed by panicked passengers, Second Officer Lightoller fires his pistol in the air and forms a ring around the lifeboat.
  • 2:10am: Titanic’s bow sinks below the ocean’s surface, causing water to wash across the deck.
  • 2:17am: Titanic’s stern rises out of water, lights go out, and the ship breaks apart
  • 2:20am: Titanic slips from view and sinks to the bottom of the ocean
  • 4:00am: Carpathia arrives and spots lifeboats. Over the next 4-5 hours, 705 survivors are taken aboard
  • 8:20pm: Carpathia sends message to Associated Press confirming rescuing effort

Photo courtesy of History Channel

16 April 1912: Survivor list is published. Carpathia sends a list of survivors, which is posted outside the New York Times office

17 April 1912: Mackay-Bennett looks for survivors. Mackay-Bennett, chartered by White Star, leaves Halifax, Nova Scotia, for the North Atlantic to begin recovering victims’ bodies. It arrives on 21 April and recovers over 300 bodies in 6 weeks. One-third of these bodies were buried at sea.

18 April 1912: Survivors arrive in New York. Carpathia arrives in New York City with 705 Titanic survivors. The ship is greeted by Titanic passengers’ families and friends as well as throngs of reporters.

19 April-25 May 1912: US holds hearings. The US Senate holds hearings about the disaster

2 May-3 July 1912: UK holds hearings. The British hold an inquiry about the disaster

3 May 1912: Halifax burials. Burial of victims begins at Halifax cemeteries. About half of the 150 bodies were unidentified.

1 September 1985: Titanic wreck is discovered. After 7 decades at the bottom of the ocean, Titanic is rediscovered by a joint American-French expedition on the KNORR.

August 2005: Titanic wreck is mapped. The latest Titanic expedition maps the entire wreck site of Titanic for the first time

Passenger survival rate: 60% first class; 42% second class; 25% third class; and less that 25% of the crew.

Photo courtesy of History Channel

In 2010, five years after the wreck is first mapped, an expedition led by RMS Titanic, Inc. the wreck’s legal custodian and curator, brought together prominent underwater organizations to solve the mysteries that still surrounded the sunken ship:

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s Advanced Imaging & Visualization Laboratory, a world leader in underwater imaging, developed special 3-D and 2-D cameras for the mission. The Waitt Institute for Discovery, meanwhile, supplied self-controlled robots known as AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles), capable of independently surveying the site with high-resolution side-scan sonar. These devices worked in tandem with an ROV (remote operated vehicle) provided by Phoenix International, a marine services contractor.

The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Park Service’s Submerged Resources Center, and the Institute of Nautical Archaeology at Texas A&M University also contributed to the expedition. History Channel’s engineer Parks Stephenson, marine artist Ken Marschall, accident investigator Jim Chiles, and Titanic expert Bill Sauder served as consultants. – Rappler.com

The team of experts behind "Titanic: Mystery Solved." Photo courtesy of History Channel.

(See the results of their expedition in a 2-hour documentary tonight at 8pm, in Titanic: Mystery Solved, airing at the History Channel. For more information on the documentary, repeat airings, and other documentaries on the Titanic, visit www.historyasia.com/titanic.)

Click on the links below for more.

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