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Titanic Timeline

by James William

The largest and most luxurious ocean liner ever built, Titanic leaves Southampton on her maiden voyage. Six people with connections to King County are on board.

In response to warnings from the wireless room, the lookouts spot an iceberg directly in the ship’s path. The lookouts signal the captain, who orders that all lifeboats be readied.

April 10, 1912

The White Star Line ship titanic timeline departs Southampton on her maiden voyage. The ship is supposedly carrying a mixture of passengers and crew, many of them destined for America.

Lookouts on the Titanic report an ice field ahead of them. The captain, Edward Smith, alters the ship’s course slightly south, hoping to avoid the area of ice. However, the change in direction actually puts Titanic on a collision course with an iceberg.

Captain Smith orders the lifeboats to be loaded, with women and children going into them first. The ship’s musicians begin to play. Sources vary as to how long they continue to play, but it is likely that they stop just before the Titanic sinks. The USS Carpathia hears the distress call and heads toward the Titanic. It is the first of several ships that will travel to the Titanic’s location to recover bodies.

April 11, 1912

After three years under construction, Titanic sets sail. Her passengers and crew spend the day acquainting themselves with her spacious public rooms and hallways. At 8 p.m., Titanic’s two forward funnels blow, signaling that it is time to leave the dock.

Senior wireless operator Jack Phillips begins receiving iceberg warnings from other ships in an area a day’s sailing away. He doesn’t pass them on to the bridge.

Ship lookout Frederick Fleet spots an iceberg dead ahead. The collision ruptures five of the ship’s watertight compartments. Water rushes in, raising the stern so that it is nearly vertical above the surface of the ocean. Captain Edward Smith learns that the Titanic can stay afloat for only two hours and gives orders to start calling for help. As the call is made, passengers begin boarding lifeboats.

April 12, 1912

The RMS Titanic, one of the largest and most luxurious ocean liners ever built, leaves Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York. Titanic’s hull was divided into 16 watertight compartments, and the ship was believed to be unsinkable.

At 10:30 AM, the crew holds a divine service in the first-class dining saloon. Afterward, the captain, Edward Smith, orders the lifeboats to be lowered.

The lookout Frederick Fleet spots an iceberg dead ahead. He calls the bridge and reports “Iceberg right a-starboard.” The Captain asks Boxhall to inspect the damage.

The iceberg hits Titanic’s starboard side, buckling the ship and flooding six of her forward compartments. Boxhall tells the Captain that Titanic will remain afloat for no more than two hours. The front half of the ship disappears beneath the sea, followed by the back half.

April 13, 1912

The Titanic passes a test of its lifeboats’ seaworthiness. Due to outdated regulations, only half of the ship’s maximum capacity of passengers and crew will be able to board them in an emergency.

Captain Smith receives several wireless messages from other ships reporting ice. He passes one to First Officer Bruce Ismay.

At approximately 11:40 pm, lookout Frederick Fleet spots an iceberg dead ahead of the Titanic. He reports it to the bridge.

The lookouts raise the alarm for the passengers to prepare to evacuate in case of an emergency. Number 8 is lowered, carrying 28 people, including first-class passenger Lucy Noel Martha, countess of Rothes. Isidor and Ida Straus are offered seats in the boat but refuse, citing the order of “women and children first.” They will not survive.

April 14, 1912

The Titanic continues steaming through the North Atlantic. Various ice warnings received from passing ships.

At 11:40 pm lookout Frederick Fleet spots an iceberg dead ahead. The Titanic sideswipes the iceberg. Five of the ship’s watertight compartments are ruptured. Water begins to fill the succeeding compartments, causing the bow to sink and the stern to rise until it becomes nearly vertical in the water.

The captain, Edward Smith, orders the lifeboats to be lowered. He tells Thomas Andrews to sound the ship (inspect the damage). Andrews reports that the first six watertight compartments are flooded. He estimates that the Titanic will remain afloat for only two hours. The disaster spurs international action and creates new rules for lifeboat safety. It also gives the public an electrifying shock at the idea that a large luxury liner could have been so unlucky.

April 15, 1912

The largest and most luxurious ocean liner ever built, the Titanic, departs Southampton on its maiden voyage. Six people on board had connections to King County, Washington.

At about 11:40 pm, lookout Frederick Fleet sees an iceberg dead ahead and calls up his shipmates. Captain Smith orders that the lifeboats be readied, women and children first, and that a call for help be made.

The Cunard Liner Carpathia hears the distress call and heads toward the Titanic, about 58 miles away. On the Titanic, crew members frantically load women and children into one of the lifeboats (boat number 7 on the starboard side), which holds only 28 out of the possible 65 people. The first of eight emergency distress rockets is fired. The Carpathia arrives and picks up the survivors. A harrowing night has begun. The Titanic sinks at about 2 a.m.

April 16, 1912

The first lifeboats are lowered into the water. There is only room in them for about half of the passengers and crew, so women and children are taken into the boats first.

At about 11:40 pm, ship lookout Frederick Fleet spots an iceberg dead ahead. The iceberg hits Titanic’s starboard (right) bow and causes several compartments to flood. Thomas Andrews surveys the damage and tells Captain Smith that Titanic can stay afloat for only about two hours.

He calls Phillips to send the first radio call for help. The Californian, a nearby cruiser, receives the message but decides to turn off her wireless.

April 17, 1912

At noon, the whistles on Titanic’s two forward funnels sound, indicating departure. First-class passengers board the boat-trains and are escorted to their cabins.

The SS Mesaba sends an ice warning, but it is not passed to the Titanic’s bridge. Wireless operator Jack Phillips is handling passengers’ messages and neglects to send the message on to the bridge.

The ship strikes an iceberg in the North Atlantic and slowly sinks, with about 1,500 people onboard. There are not enough lifeboats to accommodate everyone on the ship. The first lifeboat, Number 5, is lowered; it carries passenger Molly Brown and lookout Fleet. Their brusque demeanor draws the ire of other occupants, particularly Rose. The water level on the deck rises to the bow name plate. The stern begins to dip. The last distress rocket is fired. The radio room loses power; Harold Bride and Captain Smith stop sending CQD distress signals.

April 18, 1912

A crowd of 100,000 watches Titanic sail from Southampton. She is the largest ship ever to cross the Atlantic and she makes history as one of the fastest ships to do so. Senior wireless operator Jack Phillips starts receiving warnings of icebergs from other vessels.

At 11:40pm lookout Frederick Fleet spots an iceberg dead ahead. Captain Smith orders his crew to turn the ship around and he sends a distress signal.

A short time later the iceberg strikes the Titanic’s starboard bow. The ship takes on water in several compartments and the stern rises high into the air before slowly sinking. The rescue ship Carpathia, which was only 58 miles away when Titanic sent her distress call, arrives in New York with 705 survivors. It is a miracle that only 16 people were killed out of more than 1,500.

April 19, 1912

Titanic moves away from her berth, and the force of her motion causes the mooring lines on the nearby SS New York to break, causing its stern to swing toward Titanic. Quick action by tugboats prevents a collision.

Captain Smith orders passengers to load into the lifeboats, women and children first. Hundreds of human dramas unfold in the hours that follow, as men see off their wives and children, and selfless people give up their seats to allow others to escape. Press coverage establishes enduring anecdotes such as Isidor and Ida Strauss refusing to disobey the order, and Bruce Ismay climbing into a boat though he knew that only second-class passengers would board. Titanic, however, will soon run out of room for all her passengers. The front half of the ship disappears beneath the ocean. The back half soon follows.


The Titanic’s tragic voyage in 1912 was a pivotal event in history, highlighting the consequences of human hubris and technological limitations. The loss of over 1,500 lives serves as a poignant reminder of the need for improved safety measures and disaster preparedness in the maritime industry, shaping the future of sea travel.


  1. What caused the Titanic to sink? The Titanic struck an iceberg on April 14, 1912, while on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. The collision caused severe damage to the ship’s hull, leading to flooding in multiple compartments. The ship’s inadequate design and insufficient lifeboats further contributed to the disaster.
  2. Were there any survivors from the Titanic? Yes, there were survivors from the Titanic disaster. Approximately 705 people were rescued from lifeboats by the RMS Carpathia, which arrived on the scene several hours after the sinking. The majority of the survivors were women and children who had priority in boarding the lifeboats, while many others succumbed to the frigid waters of the North Atlantic.

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