A Timeline of the Sinking of the Titanic

R.M.S. Titanic

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From the time of its inception, the Titanic was meant to be gigantic, luxurious and safe. It was touted as being unsinkable because of its system of watertight compartments and doors, which of course proved to be just a myth. Follow the history of the Titanic, from its beginnings in a shipyard to its end at the bottom of the sea, in this timeline of the building of the ship through its maiden (and only) voyage. In the early morning hours of April 15, 1912, all but 705 of its 2,229 passengers and crew lost their lives in the icy Atlantic.

The Building of the Titanic

March 31, 1909: Construction of the Titanic begins with the building of the keel, the backbone of the ship, at Harland & Wolff's shipyard in Belfast, Ireland.

May 31, 1911: The unfinished Titanic is lathered up with soap and pushed into the water for "fitting out." Fitting out is the installation of all the extras, some on the exterior, like the smokestacks and the propellers, and a lot on the inside, like the electrical systems, wall coverings, and furniture.

June 14, 1911: The Olympic, sister ship to the Titanic, departs on its maiden voyage.

April 2, 1912: The Titanic leaves the dock for sea trials, which include tests of speed, turns, and an emergency stop. At about 8 p.m., after the sea trials, the Titanic heads to Southampton, England.

The Maiden Voyage Begins

April 3 to 10, 1912: The Titanic is loaded with supplies and her crew is hired.

April 10, 1912: From 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m., passengers board the ship. Then at noon, the Titanic leaves the dock at Southhampton for its maiden voyage. First stop is in Cherbourg, France, where the Titanic arrives at 6:30 p.m. and leaves at 8:10 p.m, heading to Queenstown, Ireland (now known as Cobh). It is carrying 2,229 passengers and crew.

April 11, 1912: At 1:30 p.m., the Titanic leaves Queenstown and begins its fated journey across the Atlantic for New York.

April 12 and 13, 1912: The Titanic is at sea, continuing on her journey as passengers enjoy the pleasures of the luxurious ship.

April 14, 1912 (9:20 p.m.): The Titanic's captain, Edward Smith, retires to his room.

April 14, 1912 (9:40 p.m.): The last of seven warnings about icebergs is received in the wireless room. This warning never makes it to the bridge.

Last Hours of the Titanic

April 14, 1912 (11:40 p.m.): Two hours after the last warning, ship lookout Frederick Fleet spotted an iceberg directly in the path of the Titanic. The first officer, Lt. William McMaster Murdoch, orders a hard starboard (left) turn, but the Titanic's right side scrapes the iceberg. Only 37 seconds passed between the sighting of the iceberg and hitting it.

April 14, 1912 (11:50 p.m.): Water had entered the front part of the ship and risen to a level of 14 feet.

April 15, 1912 (12 a.m.): Captain Smith learns the ship can stay afloat for only two hours and gives orders to make first radio calls for help.

April 15, 1912 (12:05 a.m.): Captain Smith orders the crew to prepare the lifeboats and get the passengers and crew up on deck. There is only room in the lifeboats for about half the passengers and crew onboard. Women and children were put into the lifeboats first.

April 15, 1912 (12:45 a.m.): The first lifeboat is lowered into the freezing water.

April 15, 1912 (2:05 a.m.) The last lifeboat is lowered into the Atlantic. More than 1,500 people are still on the Titanic, now sitting at a steep tilt.

April 15, 1912 (2:18 a.m.): The last radio message is sent and the Titanic snaps in half.

April 15, 1912 (2:20 a.m.): The Titanic sinks.

Rescue of Survivors

April 15, 1912 (4:10 a.m.): The Carpathia, which was about 58 miles southeast of the Titanic at the time it heard the distress call, picks up the first of the survivors.

April 15, 1912 (8:50 a.m.): The Carpathia picks up survivors from the last lifeboat and heads for New York.

April 17, 1912: The Mackay-Bennett is the first of several ships to travel to the area where the Titanic sank to search for bodies.

April 18, 1912: The Carpathia arrives in New York with 705 survivors.


April 19 to May 25, 1912: The United States Senate holds hearings about the disaster; the Senate findings include questions about why there were not more lifeboats on the Titanic.

May 2 to July 3, 1912: The British Board of Trade holds an inquiry into the Titanic disaster. It was discovered during this inquiry that the last ice message was the only one that warned of an iceberg directly in the path of the Titanic, and it was believed that if the captain had gotten the warning that he would have changed course in time for the disaster to be avoided.

Sept. 1, 1985: Robert Ballard's expedition team discovers the wreck of the Titanic.

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Rosenberg, Jennifer. "A Timeline of the Sinking of the Titanic." ThoughtCo, Aug. 25, 2020, thoughtco.com/titanic-timeline-1779210. Rosenberg, Jennifer. (2020, August 25). A Timeline of the Sinking of the Titanic. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/titanic-timeline-1779210 Rosenberg, Jennifer. "A Timeline of the Sinking of the Titanic." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/titanic-timeline-1779210 (accessed April 1, 2023).

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