April 2nd, 1912 - Titanic’s sea trials begin at 6:00 am and consist of stopping distances and maneuvering tests. She passed all these tests, and she was awarded her seaworthy certificate for twelve months. From here, she set out for Southampton to take on her very first paying passengers, with the hopes and aspirations of her designers and crew.
April 4th, 1912 - Titanic finally arrived in Southampton at midnight at birth 44 White Star Line dock with only a skeleton crew of around four hundred, which consisted of carpenters and decorators, the eight Guarantee Group, and one paying passenger, including her designer. Thomas Andrews had traveled with her from Belfast. Some supplies were taken onboard ready for her sailing day on Wednesday, 10th April.
April 10th, 1912 - Sailing day; thousands of passengers line the docks ready to board the largest, most luxurious, and safest passenger ship afloat. Along with her passengers waiting on the dock, their families and friends were ready to wave goodbye to them, in most cases forever. There were 1,846 souls onboard her when she departed Southampton. However, as she was sailing out of Southampton, her wake snapped the ropes of the SS New York as she was passing by her. Passengers on her decks looked in awe as the New York almost collided with Titanic; tugboats managed to pull the New York away from Titanic’s path avoiding a collision.
6:35 pm - Titanic dropped anchor near the central fort in Cherbourg, France. The SS Nomadic and SS Traffic ferried 274 second- and first-class passengers to the ship. Amongst these first-class passengers, were some of the most famous and wealthiest American passengers, including Margaret Brown and John Jacob Astor, along with his young pregnant wife Madeleine Astor, who boarded the Titanic here. At 8:10 pm, Titanic finally departed Cherbourg, France heading for Queenstown, Ireland.
April 11th, 1912, 11:30 am - Titanic arrived in Queenstown, Ireland dropping anchor at Roches Point outer anchorage. Instead of Titanic coming into the harbor, two tenders, PS Ireland and PS America, were coming out of the harbor. It was more efficient for the two tenders to ferry baggage and passengers to the Titanic. In order for the ship to pick up passengers, do a quick turn around, and be on her way to New York, instead of coming all the way into the harbor just as they did in Cherbourg, France. At least eight passengers disembarked Titanic including Father Brown, who took the final photographs of Titanic. A fireman, who had signed up for the whole voyage, deserted the ship and got off in Queenstown. Altogether the Titanic picked up 123 additional passengers in Ireland. This brought Titanic’s total number of passengers and crew aboard to 2,208 when she left Queenstown, Ireland. Senior wireless operator, Jack Phillips, was celebrating his 25th Birthday.
April 12th, 1912 - Titanic is en route to New York. The weather is calm and sunny, and passengers are settling into the luxuries of the grandest ship afloat. The first ice warnings were received by the Canadian Pacific liner Empress of Ireland. By noon, they had traveled 484 miles, and only 21 of her 29 boilers were lit.
April 13th, 1912 - A daily inspection of the ship takes place between 9:00am-11:00am. Chief engineer, Joseph Bell, reports to Captain Smith that the fire in boiler room 6, which had been burning until they left Belfast, has now been extinguished. Later, in the evening, the Titanic has been exchanging signals with her Morse lamp from the bridge with a ship eastbound, the SS Rappahannock, that there are reports of field ice ahead of Titanic’s course. Also, the wireless machine had broken down, and Jack Phillips and Junior wireless operator, Harold Bride, were up most of the night fixing the machine.
April 14th, 1912 - Today a lifeboat drill was scheduled to take place, but it was cancelled. Church services took place in all classes, some were for Catholics and Christians and for the Jewish onboard. The Titanic had been receiving ice warnings all day from various ships. One of these messages was from the SS Baltic; this message was delayed to the bridge. This message was given to Captain Smith, and he showed this message to J. Bruce Ismay, the chairman of the White Star Line, who showed it off to some fellow passengers, but it was requested to be returned at around 7pm.
8:00 pm - Fourth Officer Boxhall and Sixth Officer Moody report to the bridge to take their four-hour watch. They take over the watch of Third Officer Pitman and Fifth Officer Lowe watch.
8:55 pm - Captain Smith enters the bridge after attending the Widener’s private party in the A La Carte restaurant. Lightoller comments to the captain that the air temperature has dropped and orders Carpenter Maxwell to attend to the freshwater supply.
9:20 pm -10:00 pm - Captain Smith retires to bed giving the order to Second Officer Lightoller to wake him if the weather becomes hazy.
10:00 pm - 11:00 am - First Officer Murdoch comes on to the bridge to take over the watch from Second Officer Lightoller. Robert Hitchens is at the helm of the ship. Lightoller tells Murdoch that the air temperature is 32°F and that he’s told the crow’s nest to keep an eye out for large icebergs and growlers. Up in the crow’s nest Archie Jewell and Symons are about to be relieved by Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee. The Californian has switched off its wireless after an incoming message from the Californian nearly deafened Jack Phillips, and he replied with a message telling the Californian that he was busy working Cape Race.
11:40 pm - The officers on the bridge hear three clangs on the crow’s nest bell, and the phone on the bridge starts to ring. Sixth Officer Moody answers the phone, and Fleet reports that an iceberg is dead ahead. He thanks Fleet and puts the phone down, but the First Officer Murdoch has already detected the looming danger ahead. Murdoch has already given the order to stop the engines and to put the ship hard to starboard. However, it’s too late, and in about 30 seconds the iceberg scrapes down the starboard side of the ship. As the iceberg scrapes along the length of the ship, he suddenly changes direction and puts the ship hard to port in order to swing the stern away from it. He also orders the watertight doors to be closed.
11:41 pm - Captain Smith comes onto the bridge soon after the impact and asks Murdoch what they have hit. A shocked and grey faced Murdoch tells the Captain that they have hit an iceberg. Captain Smith immediately orders the carpenter to inspect the ship for damage. Boxhall is also sent down to check for damage to the ship.
11:47 pm - Captain Smith orders the engines to be started up again to half speed.
April 15th, 1912 - 12:00 am - The Titanic comes to a stop for the final time within ten minutes of the collision. Over 14 feet of water have entered the ship. The mailroom is flooding, and the crew members are trying to save the mail bags. Although two of the mail clerks’ bodies would later be recovered by the Mackay-Bennett, none of the brave souls survived the sinking.
12:06-12:15am - The first-class lounge has been opened for passengers to receive further instructions. The band is also summoned to play in the lounge. Captain Smith has ordered the lifeboats to be uncovered and swung out. Loud steam starts exiting the funnels, and the wireless operators are put on standby and to prepare to send out distress calls for help.
12:15-12:40 am - Thomas Andrews has returned to the bridge, and he tells the Captain that the ship is going to sink, and that she only has an hour or two to live. The first distress call is sent out, and the lifeboats are uncovered and swung out and prepared for launching. Lifeboat number 7 is the first lifeboat to be loaded and lowered with only 28 passengers onboard. The boat has a capacity of 65 passengers. The Titanic has started taking on a starboard list. The men in the boiler rooms are fighting against the incoming water, trying to stop the flooding. Lights are spotted off the port bow on the horizon.
12:40-1:00 am - The SS Mount Temple has received Titanic’s distress call and responded to the call alerting Titanic that she’s on her way; this ship is the first to make way for the sinking Titanic. During this time Carpathia also responds to Titanic's distress calls, and Harold Bride reports this to the bridge while the German ship, Frankfurt, also responds. Lifeboat number 4 is lowered to A deck. Lightoller orders the crew to open the D deck gangway door on the port side. This door is left open throughout the sinking; it was opened to help in loading the lifeboats. Lifeboat number 5 is lowered with 35 passengers onboard; the lifeboat has trouble lowering and starts to tilt, scaring the passengers. Harold Bride suggests to Jack Phillips to start sending the SOS distress call, and he makes a joke and remarks "This might be the last time we get to use it." Fourth Officer Boxhall fires the first distress rocket in an attempt to get the attention of the ship on the horizon. Some stokers rush up the grand staircase, scaring some passengers. Some crew members on the poop deck telephone the bridge to notify them of the lifeboats in the water. Steam stops venturing from the funnels as lifeboat number 9 is lowered to A deck windows. Water has reached the E deck stairs. During this time, lifeboat number 3 is being launched with only 32 people onboard. The band moves to the boat deck level of the grand staircase.
1:00-1:30 am - Lifeboat number 8 is launched with 27 people onboard, and the sea has reached the Titanic’s name on the bow. Scotland Road is also rapidly flooding. Lifeboat number 1 is lowered away with only 12 passengers onboard; these include the Duff Gordons. Sea water has also reached the D deck gangway door that has been left open, allowing water to enter through it. Also, the forecastle and forward well deck have started to flood. The ship is also taking on a port list. The D deck reception room and the first-class dining saloon have started to flood. Lifeboat number 6 is lowered away with 23 people onboard; these include Margaret Brown and Quartermaster Robert Hitchens at the helm. Second Officer Lightoller allows Arthur Peuchen into lifeboat number 6. As he climbs down the rope, he drops his wallet. This wallet was later discovered in the debris field of the wreck. He is the only male passenger who was allowed into a lifeboat by Second Officer Lightoller. Lifeboat number 16 is launched with 53 people onboard. Lifeboat number 14 is launched with Fifth Officer Lowe in charge and 40 passengers onboard. Officer Lowe fires three shots from his pistol into the air to stop swarming passengers from jumping into the boat. As the lifeboat passes the A deck promenade it drops into the sea after suffering some issues with the ropes that were jammed.
1:30-2:00 am - Several ships are confirmed to be on the way to Titanic including the RMS Baltic. Lifeboat number 12 is launched with 42 people aboard. Titanic has taken on a severe list to port. Lifeboat number 9 is also launched with 40 people aboard. With most of the boiler rooms flooded, the Titanic’s power starts to decrease. Some of the ships that the Titanic is in contact with start to lose contact including losing contact with Cape Race, Canada. Titanic also loses contact with her sister Olympic. Lifeboat number 11 is caught by the bilge discharge, and the boat is nearly swamped, panicking the passengers. Lifeboat number 13 is launched with 55 people aboard; it also gets caught in bilge discharge, pushing the boat aft by the force and jamming it. Panic starts to take place amongst passengers on the decks, and the list to port makes it difficult to launch the remaining lifeboats, especially those lifeboats on the starboard side. Lifeboat number 2 is launched with only 13 passengers aboard, and Fourth Officer Boxhall is put in charge of this boat. The last message is heard from the Titanic, “Come quick old man, engine room flooded up to boilers.” Lifeboat number 15 almost comes down on top of Lifeboat number 13. Lifeboat number 13 gets free from the falls release in the boat and manages to get away. The lights on the horizon disappear, and lifeboat number 10 is launched from the A deck promenade with 57 people aboard; lifeboat C is launched. J Bruce Ismay is on this boat. Lifeboat number 4 is launched with 30 passengers onboard, including Madeleine Astor. Collapsible lifeboat D is launched with 20 people aboard; this is the last lifeboat to be launched by the davits. Officers try to free the collapsible lifeboats A and B from the officers’ quarters roof. As the water is almost nearing the bridge, the power is becoming weaker. The lights of the Titanic start to change color and display an orange tinge.
2:10-2:20 am - Just before the bridge went under, Captain Smith and Thomas Andrews were last seen on the bridge together by a few eyewitnesses. Captain Smith was overheard saying to Thomas Andrews, “There is no point in waiting any longer; she’s going.” They went over the side together at the bridge wing. Water starts to flood the boat deck, collapsible boat B lands upside down and is washed off the deck. Collapsible A is also washed off the deck. Passengers recall hearing explosions coming from inside the ship. The first funnel collapses into the water with a great crash, killing people in its path. The grand staircase dome imploded, funneling tons of water into the staircase, coursing a whirl of water around it. The second funnel explodes and falls onto the roof of the gymnasium. The stern rises out of the water; passengers still on the ship cling onto the ship screaming and fighting for their lives. All of the grand fixtures inside the ship crash forward as the tilt of the ship grows steeper and steeper. The ship is bending, and the steel starts to groan. Metallic sounds echo across the dark night from the dying ship as the majestic vessel is pulled under. Close to 1,500 are still left aboard. Titanic’s lights flicker and go out forever, leaving a dark silhouette of the stern. The ship breaks in half just before the third funnel at the waterline. Lanterns are seen aboard that were used throughout the sinking; some emergency lights stay on for a few seconds as the stern rises. Finally, at 2:20 am, the mighty ship slips beneath the waves like a dying beast. People in the lifeboats can only watch helplessly as the nightmare unfolds on the tilting decks while the ship takes their families with her. Passengers in the lifeboats hear explosions as the stern descends to the sea floor.
4:00-8:00 am - Passengers in the lifeboats saw rockets on the horizon; officers in the lifeboats used flairs to get the attention of the ship that was steaming towards them. The first boat to be picked up by the Carpathia was lifeboat number 2. Fourth Officer Boxhall was in charge of this boat; it reached Carpathia just after 4 am. The first person to board the Carpathia was first class passenger Elizabeth Allen. The last boat to be picked was lifeboat number 12. The Titanic survivors were greeted with warm clothes, which were donated by the Carpathia’s passengers, and they were given hot drinks. Fourth Officer Boxhall is requested to report to Captain Arthur Rostron on the bridge, but he would not report to the Captain until all of his passengers from his boat were safely aboard the ship. He later did report to the Captain; he informed Captain Rostron that the Titanic had sunk in the early hours of the morning. J. Bruce Ismay was given the Captain’s quarters to be by himself.
April 18th, 1912 1912 9:25 pm- RMS Carpathia arrived in New York with the 712 survivors; she didn’t stop straight away at Ellis Island. She went directly to Pier 59 to drop off Titanic’s lifeboats and then went to pier 54 where Titanic survivors disembarked. There were thousands of news reporters and relatives waiting on the dock waiting to see who had survived the tragic sinking.
ON BEHALF OF TITANIC CONNECTIONS
THIS TIMELINE IS DEDICATED
TO THE 1496 LIVES LOST
WHEN THE RMS TITANIC SANK.
On a Sea of Glass: The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic by Bill Wormstedt, J. Kent Layton, and Tad Fitch
Titanic Journey Through Time by Charles Haas and John Eaton
Titanic Honor and Glory Real-time sinking video
Belfast Titanic blogs
Edited by Joanna Dolan.
Special thanks to Bill Wormstedt for assistance with editing and accuracy.