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Titanic Chronology

  1. April 30, 1907 (Tuesday): An idea is born
    a. Where: The Pirrie Mansion
    b. Who: Lord Pirrie, chairman of the Harland & Wolff shipbuilders and J. Bruce Ismay, director of the White Star Line
    c. What: Hatched a plan to build 3 huge ships Olympic, Titanic, and Gigantic.
    d. Why: To compete against their competitors, The Cunard Line, who had built the Lusitania and the Mauritania.

  2. March 31, 1909 (Wednesday): The keel is laid
    a. Where: Harland & Wolff shipyards in Belfast, Ireland
    b. Who: Irish Shipyard workers
    c. Details: Worked from 7:30am to 5:30pm five days a week, plus a half day on Saturdays. 2 unpaid days off at both Christmas and Easter. 1 unpaid week of in July.
    d. Earnings: Average wage at the time was about £2 ($10) a week.

  3. May 31, 1911 (Wednesday) at 12:15pm: The Titanic is launched!
    a. More than 100,000 people present
    b. 22 tons (20t.) of grease (tallow, soap, and train oil) were used to help Titanic slide down the slipway
    c. Titanic was not christened with champagne bottle

  4. March 31, 1912 (Sunday): Outfitting of the Titanic is complete
    a. 29 Boilers, engines, and the turbines were installed first
    b. 5,892 tons (5,344 t.) of coal
    c. Over 200 miles (322km) of electric cable
    d. About 2,00 portholes
    e. Over 3,000,000 rivets used
    f. 20 lifeboats, 4 of which had collapsible canvas sides

  5. April 2, 1912 (Tuesday): Titanic Sea Trials
    a. Engines were started
    b. Crew practiced port and starboard turns, stopping, turning a full circle, and running at different speeds
    c. Captain E. J. Smith and his officers participated
    d. Trials took less than a day!

  6. April 2, 1912 (Tuesday) at 8:00pm: Headed for Southampton
    a. Where: southwest of London, along the River Test which flows into the English Channel
    b. Why: Easy for passengers to get there from London

  7. April 4, 1912 (Thursday) shortly after midnight: Arrival in Southampton
    a. Where: Berth 44 at the White Star Dock
    b. How far from Belfast: 570 miles (917km)

  8. April 10, 1912 (Wednesday): Passengers begin to board
    a. 5:18am Crew begins to arrive (All Officers, except for Captain, have spent the night onboard
    b. 6:00 Thomas Andrews, the ship’s builder, arrives
    c. 7:00am Captain arrives (was due to retire after Titanic’s maiden voyage)
    d. 9:30am J. Bruce Ismay arrives

  9. April 10, 1912 at Noon: Underway! Leaves for Cherbourg, France
    a. Bad Omens:
      i. Near collision between the Titanic and the New York
    ii. Fire was still burning in coal bunker in boiler room No. 5

  10. April 10, 1912 at 6:30pm: Titanic arrives in Cherbourg, France
    a. Docks not large enough, Titanic had to drop anchor in harbor
    b. 2 specially built tenders (Nomadic and Traffic) carried new passengers , luggage, and mail out to the Titanic

  11. April 10, 1912 at 8:10pm: Titanic leaves for Queenstown, Ireland
    a. Passengers were served breakfast

  12. April 11, 1912 (Thursday) 11:30am: Titanic arrives in Queenstown, Ireland
    a. Docks not large enough, Titanic had to drop anchor 2 miles (3km) offshore
    b. 2 tenders (America and Ireland) carried new passengers, luggage, mail, reporters, and immigration officers out to the Titanic

  13. April 11, 1912 at 1:40pm: Titanic leaves for New York City

  14. April 12, 1912 (Friday): First Warnings
    a. Several eastbound ships congratulate Titanic on Maiden Voyage
    b. They also mentioned that ice was in the sea-lanes.
    c. How: Marconi wireless operators sent and received messages in Morse Code
    d. What did Captain do: Steered farther south

  15. April 14, 1912 (Sunday) More Iceberg warnings
    a. 9:00am: eastbound liner Caronia reports, “bergs, growlers and field ice in Lattitude 42o N, from Longitude 49o to 51 W.
    b. 11:40am: the Dutch liner Noordam reported “much ice” in roughly the same place
    c. 1:42pm: the White Star Liner Baltic reported icebergs and field ice about 250 miles (400km) in front of the Titanic.
    d. 1:45pm: the German liner Amerika reported that it had passed 2 large icebergs
    e. 7:30pm: the Californian reports 3 large icebergs. Message was never posted or passed on to Captain Smith.
    f. 9:30pm: the steamer Mesaba warns of heavy pack ice and large icebergs
    g. 10:00pm: watches relieved:
      i. Second Officer Lightoller relieved by First Officer Murdoch
    ii. Lookouts Archie Jewell and George Symons relieved by Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee
    iii. Told to watch out for small ice and growlers

  16. April 14, 1912 at 11:39: Lookout sees the iceberg
    a. Warning bell rings 3 times
    b. Telephoned bridge with, “Iceberg, right ahead!”
      i. “Stop! Full speed astern!” was ordered by First Officer Murdoch to the Engine Room
    ii. “Hard a’starboard!” was ordered to Quartemaster Robert Hichens

  17. April 14, 1912 at 11:40: Moment of impact Latitude 41 degrees 46'N, Longitude 50 degrees 14'W
    a. 37 seconds after warning to the bridge
    b. Eyewitness reported iceberg just over 60 feet (18m) high

  18. April 15, 1912 at 12:05am (Monday): Captain orders Chief Officer Wilde to uncover the Lifeboats

  19. April 15, 1912 at 12:10am: First distress signal sent
    a. CQD,MGY, SOS
      i. CQD - Old Morse Code Distress signal (Seek-You-Distress, Come Quick, Distress! - Come Quick, Disaster! - Come Quick, Danger!)
    ii. MGY - RMS Titanic’s call letters (does not stand for anything
    iii. SOS - New Morse Code distress signal (Titanc was one of the first ships to use this new code)

    b. WHO Responded:
      i. The Olympic
    ii. The Frankfurt
    iii. The Carpathia (Closest at 58 miles (93km)

  20. April 15, 1912 at 12:25am: Order was given to put “women and children” into lifeboats

  21. April 15, 1912 at 12:45am: Lifeboat No. 7 was first to be lowered
    a. Filled with only 19 people, eventhough it could hold 65!
    b. Movie star Dorothy Gibson and two honeymoon couples were onboard

  22. April 15, 1912 at 12:55am: First rockets were fired

  23. April 15, 1912 at 12:55am – 2:20am: Launching the Lifeboats:

    Time Launched
    Lifeboat No.
    No. of Occupants
    Actual Capacity
    12:55am 5 41 65
    12:55am 6 28 65
    1:00am 3 32 65
    1:10am 1 12 40
    1:10am 8 28 65
    1:25am 14 60 65
    1:25am 16 50 65
    1:30am 9 56 65
    1:30am 12 40 65
    1:35am 11 70 65
    1:40am 13 64 65
    1:40am 15 70 65
    1:45am 2 25 40
    1:50am 4 40 65
    2:00am C 42 47
    2:05am D 40 47
    2:20am A 13 47
    2:20am B 30 47

  24. April 15, 1912 at 1:40am: Last rockets fired (total of eight)

  25. April 15, 1912 at 1:45am: Last message to Carpathia
    a. “Engine room full up to boilers.”

  26. April 15, 1912 at 2:05am : Captain Smith releases Wireless Operators Phillips and Bride
    a. He said, “You can do no more. Now it’s every man for himself”
    b. They kept working.
    c. Faint distress message was heard by the Virginian at around 2:17

  27. April 15, 1912 at 2:20am: Titanic disappears beneath the sea

  28. April 15, 1912 at 3:30am: The Carpathia's rockets are spotted by the first lifeboats.

  29. April 15, 1912 at 4:10am: Lifeboat No.2 is the first boat to be picked up by the Carpathia

  30. April 15, 1912 at 8:30am The last lifeboat, No.12, is picked up.

  31. April 15, 1912 at 8:50am The Carpathia, loaded with 705 survivors, heads for New York.

  32. April 18, 1912 (Thursday): The Carpathia arrives in New York with the survivors.
    a. Reporters are so eager to interview the survivors that some charter boats to sail alongside her, shouting questions through megaphones.

  33. April 19 1912 (Friday) – May 25 (Saturday): The American Inquiry
    a. Californian Officer Gibson sells his story to the press, which details how officers aboard the Californian saw several rockets and told Captain Stanley Lord, who took no prompt action. Several officers deny this, but the press blames Captain Lord for the disaster.

  34. April 22nd The S.S. Mackay Bennett is sent from New York to recover the last of the bodies. 328 corpses are recovered by 15 May.

  35. May 2, 1912 – July 3, 1912: The British Inquiry


By Hugh Brewster and Laurie Coulter © 1998 from 882 1/2 Amazing Answers To Your Questions About The Titanic, A Scholastic Inc./ Madison Press Book.


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