|The White Star Line is founded
|White Star Line purchased by Thomas Henry Ismay
|Oceanic Stream Navigation Company is formed in order to provide a luxury Atlantic steamship service
|Belfast shipbuilders Harland & Wolff commence construction of ships for White Star Line
|J. Bruce Ismay, the son of Thomas Henry, becomes a partner in the White Star Line
|William James Pirrie becomes the chairman of Harland & Wolff
|14 years before the Titanic tragedy, American author Morgan Robertson’s novel ‘Futility’ is published, in which a British liner named Titan, whilst on her maiden voyage in April, strikes an iceberg in the North Atlantic resulting in the loss of passengers and crew
|U.S. financier J. Pierpont Morgan’s shipping trust, the International Mercantile Marine Company, purchases The White Star Line
|J. Bruce Ismay becomes president and managing director of International Mercantile Marine, and William James Pirrie (Harland & Wolff chairman) a director
|30 Apr 1907
|The idea to build the Titanic (as well as the sister ships Olympic and Britannic) is conceived over dinner between J. Bruce Ismay and William James Pirrie, at Lord Pirrie’s London mansion house. The intent was to construct a class of ships that would compete with the Cunard line for luxury passenger trade upon the Atlantic
|29 Jul 1908
|Design plans for the Titanic and her sister ship Olympic are agreed in principle
|16 Dec 1908
|Olympic’s keel is laid down (Yard No. 400) at the Harland & Wolff shipyard in Belfast
|31 Mar 1909
|Titanic’s keel is laid down (Yard No. 401)
|20 Oct 1910
|Olympic’s hull is launched from slipway 2
|31 May 1911
|Witnessed by over 100,000 spectators, Titanic’s hull is successfully launched before being towed to the fitting-out basin (Read more about the
launch of the Titanic)
|14 June 1911
|Olympic commences her maiden voyage
|20 Sep 1911
|Olympic – under the charge of future Titanic captain Edward J. Smith – collides with the Royal Navy cruiser Hawke, causing significant structural damage. Completion of the Titanic is delayed whilst materials and manpower are diverted to repair Olympic
|11 Oct 1911
|The official date for the maiden voyage of the Titanic is announced as 10 April 1912 (this was originally intended to be 20 March 1912, before completion of her construction was delayed by the Olympic’s accident)
|31 Mar 1912
|Construction of the Titanic is completed, 10 months after the launch of her hull.
Titanic Sets Sail
|02 Apr 1912
|At 8.00pm, Titanic sets sail from Belfast for Southampton, with an estimated crowd of 100,000 watching as the ship sailed, cheering, waving handkerchiefs and singing “Rule Britannia!”.
|03 Apr 1912
|Titanic arrives in Southampton.
|10 Apr 1912
|Shortly after 12.00 noon, Titanic sets sail from Southampton, beginning her maiden voyage, and heading first for Cherbourg in Normandy, northwestern France.
|10 Apr 1912
|Titanic arrives in Cherbourg, with the tender ships SS Nomadic and SS Traffic reaching the ship – anchored in the outer harbour – at 6.35pm.
|10 Apr 1912
|With the newly embarking passengers safely transferred from the tender ships to Titanic (142 1st Class, 30 2nd Class and 102 3rd Class), and with a smaller number disembarking (15 1st Class and 9 2nd Class), at around 8.10pm the ship leaves Cherbourg, headed for Queenstown (now known as Cobh) on the south coast of County Cork, Ireland.
|11 Apr 1912
|At 11.30am, Titanic drops anchor at Roches Point outer anchorage, in Queenstown, County Cork – her final port of call on the maiden journey to New York.
|11 Apr 1912
|With the tender ships PS Ireland and PS America having transported the 123 passengers joining at Queenstown (7 2nd Class and 113 3rd Class) and collecting 7 passengers who were disembarking, at 1.30pm Titanic raises anchor and sets off to cross the Atlantic for America.
Although you cross the Atlantic for years and have ice reported and never see it, at other times it’s not reported and you do see it. -Charles Lightoller (at the public inquiry into the sinking)
The Last Hours – 14 April 1912
|Senior wireless operator Jack Phillips starts to receive warnings of icebergs from other vessels further to the west. The first warning of the day came from the liner Caronia which had spotted icebergs and growlers (small icebergs, harder to see but still dangerous) in an area around a day’s sailing away from the Titanic (49° to 51° W).
|Captain Edward John Smith is passed the first telegraph warning of icebergs.
|The scheduled time of the first lifeboat drill, which was cancelled by Captain Smith without explanation. This meant that the crew were unrehearsed when the real lifeboat evacuation commenced.
|Phillips receives the second ice warning of the day, from the steamship Baltic, which reported large icebergs in an area ahead of the Titanic (42°N, 51° 31′ W).
|Captain Smith passes the second ice warning to Bruce Ismay.
|Over the course of the next 2 hours, the air temperature drops 10 degrees, down to 0.5°C.
|The Titanic changes course from south west to due west. This was originally planned to occur at 5.30pm but was delayed to allow Titanic to travel further south in an attempt to avoid the ice region reported by the Baltic. This change should have directed the Titanic into an area of the gulf stream that would be free of icebergs; in any normal year this would be the case, but 1912 was not a normal year for ice – cold water had pushed the warm gulf stream further south – and the change in direction actually put the ship on a collision course with the iceberg.
|Second Officer Charles Lightoller takes over the bridge from Chief Officer Wilde.
|Assistant wireless operator Harold Bride finishes work on the accounts and finally picks up the ice warning from the SS Californian, warning of 3 large icebergs (42°N, longitude 49°W). When Bride took the telegram to the bridge, Captain Smith had already left to dine with passengers; the telegram was passed to another officer instead (although none of the surviving officers recalled seeing the message).
|Captain Smith checks in with the bridge before retiring to his cabin. The conditions are moonless, clear and flat calm. The lack of wind and calm waters would actually make spotting an iceberg more difficult, as without wind they would be unable to see water breaking upon it. The lack of moonlight would limit the chance of reflected light from the iceberg.
|Phillips receives the fifth and final ice warning, from the SS Mesaba, warning of a “great number” of large icebergs and field ice just 15 miles ahead of the Titanic (latitude 42°N to 41° 25′, longitude 49°W). Because the message was not prefixed with MSG – the signifier that the communique was intended for the captain – Phillips treated it as non-urgent, failed to pass the message on, and returned to the busy task of sending passengers’ personal telegrams (there was a two hour window to send passenger telegrams via the Cape Race receiver on Newfoundland).
|Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee commence their watch in the crow’s nest, looking out for growlers more than larger icebergs. First Officer Murdoch takes over the bridge from Lightoller.
|The Californian sends a message to say that she has stopped sailing for the evening due to the ice, but Phillips, desperate to complete all of the passenger telegrams, simply replies to say “Shut up! I am busy. I am working Cape Race”. Meanwhile, unbeknown to Murdoch, the iceberg lies just 15 miles ahead, whilst Titanic continues at a high speed of 21.5 knots (24 mph).
|The iceberg lies just 4 miles and 10 minutes ahead.
|The iceberg lies just 1,000 yards ahead, but the moonless conditions mean the lookouts cannot see it still. 30 seconds later and Frederick Fleet spots the iceberg, calling the bridge to proclaim, “Iceberg, right ahead!”, but it is too late too avoid a collision.
|Alerted by the crow’s nest, Murdoch demands that the engines be put into reverse and the ship steered away from the berg. The Titanic hits the iceberg, striking the starboard bow. Many passengers and crew sleep through the collision whilst many others – including lookout man Fleet – assume the ship has survived a glancing blow and is undamaged.
Deeply regret advise you Titanic sank this morning after collision with iceberg, resulting in serious loss of life. Full particulars later. -Bruce Ismay, in his wire to the White Star Line
The Last Hours – 15 April 1912
|The captain demands that an emergency request for assistance be broadcast to all ships within range. However the nearest ship, the Californian, has turned off her wireless for the evening after receiving Phillips’ curt response earlier in the evening. Tragically, the ship was a mere 20 miles away and could have reached Titanic before she sank.
|Captain Smith gives the order to start loading the lifeboats on the Titanic, women and children first. At this point the Captain will have realised that the deaths of many hundreds of passengers and crew is inevitable.
|The Carpathia replies to say they have put about and are heading for the Titanic. Carpathia is around 58 miles (4 hours) away.
|The first lifeboat (lifeboat No.7 on the starboard side) is launched. She leaves with just 28 of a possible 65 people on board. The first of eight emergency distress rockets is fired.
|Titanic slips beneath the surface of the water. In waters that are close to freezing temperature, disorientation, exhaustion and unconsciousness are likely within the first 15 minutes, and hypothermia and death likely within 15 to 45 minutes.
|The Carpathia’s rockets are spotted.
|The Carpathia arrives and starts to pluck survivors of the Titanic from the lifeboats. Lifeboat No.2 is the first to be evacuated.
|The Californian is finally alerted to the disaster, by the Frankfurt, and makes haste to the scene.
|The last of the lifeboats (No.12) is rescued by the Carpathia. The Californian arrives at the scene and navigates the disaster area looking for survivors.
|The Carpathia sets sail for New York, with 705 survivors aboard. In total around 1,522 victims are believed lost at sea. Aboard Carpathia, Bruce Ismay sends a telegram to the White Star Line’s New York office.
|18 April 1912
|The Carpathia arrives in New York, first visiting Pier 59 to deliver the empty lifeboats back into the hands of White Star Line, and then on to Pier 54, where Carpathia’s own passengers and the survivors disembarked.
Except for the [life] boats beside the ship and the icebergs, the sea was strangely empty. Hardly a bit of wreckage floated – just a deck chair or two, a few life belts, a good deal of cork. -Arthur Rostron, Captain of the Carpathia
|03 July 1912
|After 36 days the public enquiry close, finding that the ship was lost due to traveling at excessive speed in a region of ice, and that none of the crew of the Titanic were at fault as this was standard practice. They made the recommendation that future lifeboat numbers be based upon passenger numbers and not a ship’s tonnage.
I think the enquiry is a complete whitewash. You have the [British] Board of Trade in effect enquiring into a disaster that’s largely of its own making. -Paul Louden-Brown, White Star Line Archivist