Construction begins on the Titanic at the Harland and Wolff shipyard on Queen’s Island in Belfast, Ireland. The slipway used to build the Titanic is the biggest ever constructed, taking up three of the existing slipways at the shipyard. Construction causes 246 injuries and eight deaths.
The Titanic hits the water for the first time in front of about 100,000 spectators. The ship is then towed out to a spot where her engines, funnels and other parts can be installed and the interior finished.
The first sea trial of the ship involves 12 hours of testing. The ship is sailed at different speeds, turned and stopped. Overall it goes about 80 miles during the tests and returns to Belfast to have the paperwork signed declaring the ship seaworthy.
The Titanic sets off on its maiden voyage from Southampton in England to New York City.
As the ship leaves the dock, it is so big that it pushes many of the smaller ships up and then down into the trough of its wake. One ship, the New York, breaks away from its cables as it is pulled into the wake and almost collides with the Titanic. It takes about an hour to get the New York under control and the Titanic out of the docks.
The ship picks up additional passengers in Cherbourg, France, and later that evening sets out for Queenstown, Ireland.
The Titanic makes a safe stop in Queenstown, Ireland to pick up more passengers and mail, and then at 1:30 pm heads out across the Atlantic Ocean toward New York.
The Titanic gets warnings from other ships that there is ice drifting around Newfoundland:
9 A.M. Captain, Titanic:
Westbound streamers report bergs, growlers and field ice in 42’ N., from 49’ to 51’ W., April 12. Compliments Barr
1:42 P.M. Capt. Smith, Titanic: Have had moderate variable winds and clear fine weather since leaving. Greek steamer “Athinai” reports passing icebergs and large quantity of field ice today in latitude 41.51 north, longitude 49.52 west.... Wish you and Titanic all success.— Commander
1:45 P.M. “Amerika” passed two large icebergs in 41.27 N., 50.8 W.
9:40 P.M. From “Mesaba” to “Titanic” and all east-bound ships:
Ice report in latitude 42º N. to 41º 25’ N., longitude 49º W to longitude 50º 30’ W. Saw much heavy pack ice and great number large icebergs. Also field ice. Weather good, clear.
11:00 P.M. Titanic begins to receive a sixth message about ice in the area, and radio operator Jack Phillips cuts it off, telling the operator from the other ship to “shut up.”
Frederick Fleet, the lookout in the crow’s nest, spots an object ahead, rings the warning bell three times, and calls down to the bridge to say “iceberg right ahead!” William Murdoch, the first officer on duty, gives the command to turn the ship hard.
Thirty-seven seconds later, the Titanic hits the iceberg on its starboard side. The ice bashes several holes into the side of the ship. After 10 minutes, the water pouring in is 14 feet above the keel in the forward compartments.
12:15 A.M. Phillips types out “CQD” – the international distress call at the time – “MGY” the Titanic’s call letters, and the ship’s position. Captain Edward John Smith orders the crew to get the lifeboats and begin boarding women and children first.
12:20 A.M. Lifeboats begin to be lowered from the deck into the water. The noise of the steam escaping from the vents on the deck is so loud that the man in charge of directing lifeboat operations has to use his hands to give directions.
12:25 A.M. The Carpathia, a ship nearby, is alerted to the emergency. Its captain, Arthur H. Rostron, wires that he is coming to their rescue. The Carpathia is only 58 miles away.
12:45 A.M. Phillips switches from using CQD to SOS, the new international distress signal. This is only the second time the SOS code has ever been used since its approval. Another officer begins to send up distress rockets to try and alert other ships.
2:20 A.M. The last of the Titanic disappears under the water. The U.S. puts the death toll at 1,517 passengers and crew, the British at 1,503. Final figures cannot be known because official counts are done only after a ship reaches its destination to account for stowaways and passenger movement at ports.
4:00 A.M. The Carpathia arrives at the site of the sinking. The surviving passengers and crew, 710 in all, board the ship and head for New York.
News of the Titanic’s fate reaches the mainland, and thousands of people flood the offices of the ship company, White Star Line, trying to find out if their friends and family have survived the trip.
April 18, 9:30 P.M.
Carpathia docks at Pier 54 in New York City before a crowd of people numbering 40,000, despite a heavy rain. Aid organizations have blankets and clothes for the surviving passengers. The Carpathia is quickly restocked to resume her trip to Fiume, Austria-Hungary, and her crew is given a bonus.
Researchers commissioned jointly by the U.S. Navy and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution set out to find and map two sunken nuclear submarines lost in the same area. They find that as a submarine sinks, parts and contents of the ship spread across a wide area into a debris field far larger than the size of the ship—a clue important for figuring out how the Titanic debris might have scattered.
The second expedition to map these nuclear submarines launches. The U.S. Navy agrees to let oceanographer Robert Ballard look for the Titanic in whatever time he has left after mapping the submarines. This gives him 12 days to find the wreck that has been lost for 73 years.
Manmade debris begins to appear on the cameras, eventually leading Ballard and his team to the hull of the Titanic.
Ballard returns to the Titanic with Alvin, a deep-diving submersible, and Jason, a remotely operated vehicle, to take pictures of the wreck.
Two partners, John Joslyn and George Tulloch, found RMS Titanic, Inc., a company that will attempt to salvage and preserve the ship.
RMS Titanic, Inc., sends a $6-million expedition to dive down to the Titanic and salvage about 1,800 objects. Their removal from the wreck is very controversial.
A French administrator awards RMS Titanic, Inc., the rights to the objects recovered in 1987.
Titanic, the Hollywood romance directed by James Cameron, is released in theaters. The movie wins Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director and grosses more than $1.8 billion, making it the first film to ever crack the billion-dollar mark at the box office. It remains the highest grossing film in history until another Cameron film, Avatar, breaks the record in 2010.
Another research ship, the Russian Akademik Mstislav Keldysh visits the Titanic to take more pictures.
After years of legal battling, a judge grants the title to items from the Titanic to RMS Titanic Inc. The artifacts can be sold, but only to parties who would be able to care for them.