RMS Titanic

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This very rare photograph shows the Titanic on the evening of Monday, 8 April 1912. Workmen are repainting her funnels. (Chirnside / Layton / Klistorner Collection)


Ship Statistics:
Built By: Harland & Wolff
Yard Number: 401
Length Overall: 882 feet 9 inches
Length Between Perpendiculars (b.p.): 850 feet 0 inches
Width: 92 feet 6 inches
94 feet to extreme edges of Boat Deck
Draught: 34 feet 6 inches
Gross Tonnage: 46,328.54
Displacement: 52,310 at 34 feet 7 inches*
Career: April 10-15 1912
– Sank
* See FAQ section

Click here to see some important Titanic FAQ’s.

Click here to see a Titanic timeline.

The History of the RMS Titanic:

The Titanic was intended to be the second of the Olympic-class liners. No one could have predicted, however, that she would end her career only five days into her maiden voyage, and that she would become the most famous Atlantic liner of the twentieth century.

She started life as Harland & Wolff Hull No. 401, and was built alongside her older sister. At the time of her launch, on May 31, 1911, she was virtually indistinguishable from the Olympic. During her fitting-out process, however, some changes were made to her design that made her slightly larger in enclosed space than the Olympic (some 1,004 “tons”, to be exact). Her B Deck staterooms were increased in number, effacing the Enclosed First Class Promenades and changing her exterior window configuration. Her First Class Restaurant was increased in size due to the popularity of the Olympic‘s Restaurant. A new French sidewalk cafe termed the “Café Parisien” was installed on the starboard side of the Restaurant. Down below, on D Deck, the First Class Reception Room was enlarged. Above, on A Deck, the ship’s forward Promenade Deck was screened off with square sliding windows to protect passengers from the elements. To prevent foul weather and winds from funneling down the length of the deck, a bulwark was erected just under the port and starboard Bridge wings which contained both a door and window each.

The Titanic‘s fitting-out was interrupted twice by the Olympic, and this eventually delayed her maiden voyage from March 20 to April 10, 1912. Her sea trials were scheduled to take place on April 1, but due to bad weather these were delayed to April 2. They were carried out over the course of several hours, and the ship passed with flying colors. Her passenger certificate was signed, ‘good for one year’ – and this despite the fact that the ship carried enough lifeboats for only 1/3 of her potential full capacity of passengers and crew.

The ship sailed down to Southampton that evening. Over the course of the following days, final preparations were made to complete the ship and ready her for the maiden trip. This included ensuring that she had enough coal for her trip, a difficulty since a coal strike that had nearly crippled the British shipping industry had only just ended. The Titanic had a normal coal-carrying capacity of 6,611 tons (an additional 1,092 tons could be carried in a reserve coal bunker). By the time the Titanic left, those in charge of the matter had managed to provide her with 5,892 tons of coal. This meant that the ship had 89.12% of her ordinary coal carrying capacity on board when she left Southampton on April 10. These calculations finally lay to rest the myth that the Titanic was short of coal during that abortive voyage.

During the morning of Wednesday, April 10, the ship took on her first – and, it would turn out, her only – batch of passengers and crew. She left shortly after noon, and the maiden voyage nearly ended before it even began; as she passed the tied up liner New York, the suction from her passage through the water drew the smaller liner away from her pier, parted her lines and almost made her collide with the behemoth. Only quick action by the Harbor Pilot and Captain, as well as tugboats on the scene, prevented the collision.

That this collision was averted turned out, in the long run, to be a tragedy in and of itself.

The ship called briefly at Cherbourg, France that evening, to off-load some cross-channel passengers and to pick up more passengers and mail, and then called at Queenstown (now Cobh) Ireland the next morning.

By the time the Titanic left Queenstown that afternoon, there were 2,208 passengers and crew aboard. As she progressed westward, her speed was gradually increased. Her daily runs were as follows:

  • 484 miles, noon Thursday to noon Friday
  • 519 miles, noon Friday to noon Saturday
  • 549 miles, noon Saturday to noon Sunday

Although no run was officially taken from noon Sunday to noon Monday (for obvious reasons), it is quite clear from passenger testimony that by Sunday evening, the ship had sped up again. According to those on duty at the time of the collision, all 24 of her ‘main’ boilers were operating at full pressure, and the ship was making about 22 1/2 knots according to the Cherub Log. A ‘full speed’ test had been agreed upon for Monday by the ship’s Captain and White Star’s Managing Director, J. Bruce Ismay, and there is clear evidence to show that there was a plan to – weather permitting – bring the ship into New York on Tuesday night rather than Wednesday morning.

Especially during Sunday, April 14, numerous ice warnings came into the ship via wireless. Even so, there was no diminution of speed. The results were predictable, if catastrophic: at 11:40 pm (ship time) Titanic struck an iceberg. Six small areas of damage were punched in her forward, starboard hull plates, and water began entering her forward six compartments. Her forward five compartments were flooding uncontrollably, and her designer, Thomas Andrews predicted that she would be able to remain afloat for an hour to an hour and a half.

Work quickly began on lowering the lifeboats. The best-researched timeline for the lifeboat launching work can be found in the newly-revised article, “Titanic: Lifeboat Launching Times Re-Examined,” by Bill Wormstedt, Tad Fitch and George Behe. Make sure to view the article to see the results of their research for yourself. By the time the Titanic sank at 2:20 am (ship’s time), only 712 of her 2,208 passengers and crew had been safely evacuated. 1,496 perished in the icy seas that night. (Please note that these figures are based upon the reliable research of Lester Mitcham, co-author of Titanic: A Centennial Reappraisal, and represent the most accurate analysis of the number aboard the doomed ship, and of those rescued.)

The wreck of the Titanic was discovered on September 1, 1985 by Dr. Robert D. Ballard in a joint U.S.-French expedition. Over subsequent years, salvage efforts have recovered hundreds of items from the site, and three expeditions by film director James Cameron have added immeasurably to the collective wealth of knowledge about the Titanic. Sadly, it has become clear that the wreck is beginning to give way to the elements and is deteriorating rapidly.

A renewed wave of interest in the Titanic followed the December 19, 1997 release of James Cameron’s film “Titanic“, which became the highest-grossing box office film up to that time. Although the peak of interest has subsided somewhat, the overall public’s interest remains heightened and shows very little signs of letting up; there is just no quenching the public’s thirst for knowledge about the legendary liner. In October of 2005, Cameron released a Special Edition DVD which included many of the historical deleted scenes from the ’97 film. On April 6, 2012, the film was re-released in theaters, to commemorate 15 years since the original release as well as the centennial anniversary of the disaster.

On May 31, 2009 the last living survivor of the Titanic disaster, Millvina Dean, passed away. She was 97 years of age.

Recommended Titanic books or research papers:

Below you will find a list of some of the more recent volumes touching on the history of the Titanic, which I was privileged to have a part, or in some cases a very small part, in contributing to.

Now available:

On A Sea of Glass


In honor of the centennial anniversary of the disaster, On A Sea of Glass: The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic was prepared. Co-authored by Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton and Bill Wormstedt, it has proved to be one of the most groundbreaking and inclusive publications on the subject ever published. The book is now in its third edition.

Titanic: A Centennial Reappraisal: After years of working behind the scenes with researchers such as Sam Halpern, Mark Chirnside, George Behe and most of the other co-authors listed for this volume, I was asked to participate in a small way in the new book: Titanic: A Centennial Reappraisal. Given an advance copy of the manuscript and pre-press layout, I was asked if I would consider contributing an Introduction to the book after considering the merit of its contents. As I went through the book, it became apparent that this was going to be a fantastic look at the disaster from an analytical perspective. It was so fresh and well put together that I did not hesitate to agree to pen the Introduction. Make sure to have a look at this splendid volume!

Titanic in Photographs: Daniel Klistorner, Steve Hall, Bruce Beveridge, Scott Andrews and Art Braunschweiger are among the most widely respected historians of the Titanic – particularly in regard to aspects of the vessel’s technical design and visual appearance. This collaborative effort presents a stunning visual record of the lost liner. More details here.

Lifeboat Launching Sequence and Timeline: From the time of the initial inquiries into the disaster, attempts were made to establish the time of launch for each of the ship’s twenty lifeboats. What time did the first one, Boat No. 7, depart? In what order were they lowered away from the deck? Is it likely that the first lifeboat was lowered away far earlier than has been previously supposed, or does a preponderence of the evidence support a timeline closer to that which was arrived at by the formal inquiries? Separate fact from fiction in the newly-revised article, “Titanic: Lifeboat Launching Sequence Re-Examined,” by Bill Wormstedt, Tad Fitch and George Behe. This article was originally published in The Titanic Commutator, in abridged format, but has recently been revised and expanded by the authors. As you will see, the most in-depth research on the subject has turned up some startling evidence.

The Titanic & The Californian: Perhaps more than any other aspect of the Titanic story, this subject sparks the most debate, controversy, and even ill-will among Titanic researchers. The most succinct, accurate and inclusive article on the subject presented to date is authored by veteran Titanic researcher Sam Halpern. Follow this link to read “Rockets, Lifeboats, and Time Changes.”

I was pleased to be a part of the research group the developed both of the above articles.

Click here to purchase postcard-format copies of rare color illustrations of Olympic & Titanic’s interior spaces.

Titanic Gallery

A selection of Titanic images for you to enjoy.


This video is of the Titanic in the Belfast Graving Dock. Her B Deck window configuration has already been changed, but her A Deck Promenade remains open.

Further Information on RMS Titanic:

Commanding Officers of the Titanic, April 10-15, 1912
Captain Edward John Smith, R.N.R.
Chief Officer Henry T. Wilde
First Officer William McMaster Murdoch
Second Officer Charles H. Lightoller
Third Officer Herbert J. Pitman
Fourth Officer Joseph G. Boxhall
Fifth Officer Harold Godfrey Lowe
Sixth Officer James P. Moody


Controversial Points:

There always have been and always will be questions about what really happened on the night that the Titanic met her horrible fate. Many of these questions have been answered by the two formal investigations into the disaster, or over the years by various historians and scientists, who all add their findings into the collective story of the ship’s loss. Other questions can only be answered with new scientific discoveries and forensic analysis made on the wreck today by various organizations and science teams. Many more are not answerable, and we only have a few tantalizing clues as to the truth about what took place.


Webley Revolver

This Webley Mark IV revolver is in the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England. (Click the image to be taken to the item’s page.) On the barrel is “White Star Line”. Similar revolvers were likely those available to Titanic‘s officers on the night of the disaster. (©National Maritime Museum Collections)

However, if one carefully pieces the evidence from numerous eyewitness accounts and recent scientific discoveries together, it is surprising how much can actually be ascertained about some of these matters. The truth that one discovers in the process can sometimes be just as surprising. Research on such topics as the iceberg damage, the band’s actions during the sinking, what their last song was, the incidents of gunfire during the sinking, and many others, can all be found in On A Sea of Glass: The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic.

New Titanic Color Plans - Cyril Codus

New plans of the Titanic, created by Cyril Codus; click thumbnail to enlarge. (Courtesy Cyril Codus)

Perhaps all of these controversial matters, and all of the what-ifs associated with the great ship and her sinking are a part of the reason why the ship has fascinated so many for nearly a full century. Even now, there is a massive interest in the ship and in the people that sailed aboard her. Certainly, the Titanic disaster has become legendary as a symbol of man’s arrogance falling before the whims of nature, and she was an object lesson that is still as modern as the day she sank. That lesson is still felt every time there is an airplane crash, another sea disaster, an earthquake or a flood – and even on September 11, 2001.

Her legendary status has evoked more attention than any other Atlantic liner has ever received, and nine decades after the tragedy, we are still fascinated by her life and loss. Why? Because it’s the Titanic

Some years ago, digital and graphic artist Christian Stenfelt created a series of fantastic pieces of artwork showing Titanic during her maiden voyage and sinking. I am happy to show his work, which has proved very popular over the years.

Titanic‘s Maiden Voyage – Timeline of Events

Titanic‘s clocks were 2 hours and 2 minutes ahead of New York Time, and 2 hours and 58 minutes behind Greenwich Mean Time, on Sunday, 14 April 1912, and throughout the disaster. The difference in time was adjusted every night aboard ship as Titanic steamed west, to close the 5-hour time gap between Greenwich Mean Time (at Southampton) and time in New York City.

Note: The times given are accurate to 1912 timekeeping. They do not reflect Daylight Saving Time, which many countries now observe in the month of April, which artificially adjusts current clocks one hour ahead of where they would have been in 1912.

For example: if you are on Daylight Saving Time in, for example, Eastern (US) Time on the 14 April anniversary today, clocks on Titanic would be 1 hour and 2 minutes ahead of your current time; conversely, if you are on Daylight Saving Time in England on the anniversary, Titanic‘s clocks would be 3 hrs 58 minutes behind your time.

Times Events
Wednesday, 3 April 1912
Throughout the day, Titanic steams south from Belfast toward Southampton.
Thursday, 4 April 1912
  • 1:15 am, Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)
  • 8:15 pm (3 April), New York Time (NYT)
  • 1:15 am Apparent Time Ship (ATS)
Titanic ties up at the new LSWR terminal, Berth 44.
  • early morning (GMT)
  • early morning (NYT)
  • early morning (ATS)
Titanic is “boomed out” from her pier. The ship is dressed in flags as a salute to the city of Southampton (not for the holidays, as currently supposed).

Word breaks that Chief Officer Wilde of the Olympic, slated for his own Command (delayed by the coal strike) is to make a single round-trip voyage on the Titanic. Murdoch will step back to 1/O; First Officer Lightoller will step back to 2/O; Second Officer David Blair will be left ashore for this trip. (Murdoch does not officially join until the evening of 9 April.)
First photographs of the ship in port are taken; by the end of the day, these images are already in circulation in post card format. Fourth Officer Boxhall and Second Officer Blair mail copies of these before the day is out. The coaling begins; this process lasts approximately two working days, ending late 5 April.

Friday, 5 April 1912
  • overnight 4-5
  • “”
  • “”
Second Officer David Blair stands an overnight watch.
  • late in day
  • “”
  • “”
Coaling process almost certainly complete.
Saturday, 6 April 1912
Sunday, 7 April 1912
Monday, 8 April 1912
  • evening (GMT)
  • afternoon (NYT)
  • evening (ATS)
Workmen can be seen repainting the ship’s funnels in an iconic and rare stern-view photograph. By that time, the ship had been berthed against the dock again; this was most likely done very soon after the coaling process was complete, but it is difficult to pinpoint an exact time for that action.

Tuesday, 9 April 1912

Board of Trade Emigration Officer Maurice Clarke boards Titanic. He is assisted by Lightoller and Murdoch for many hours as he carefully checks to make sure that Titanic meets safety requirements. A number of stability tests are carried out.

Second Officer David Blair conducts his sister on a tour of the ship. Carpets are still being laid, decorators are hard at work finishing up last-minute details aboard the liner.

Local Southampton florist Frank Bealing, his son and a company foreman bring aboard the extensive floral arrangements for the ship’s maiden voyage. It seems likely that extra flowers were brought in to help mask the smell of all of the fresh paint applied during the ship’s stay in Southampton, both inside and out.

Late evening (GMT and ATS) Thomas Andrews writes to his wife: “The Titanic is now about complete and will I think do the old Firm credit to-morrow when we sail.”

Chief Officer Henry Wilde formally joins the ship, officially changing the ranks of the senior officers for the first time. Lightoller (and likely Murdoch) do not have time to change their uniform rank insignia before the voyage (as seen in a photograph taken on 11 April), causing later confusion among crew and passengers alike. (This also means that every film and television re-enactment portraying Murdoch and Lightoller shows their uniforms incorrect to their actual appearance during the voyage.)

Wednesday, 10 April 1912
  • 6:00 am (GMT)
  • 1:00 am (NYT)
  • 6:00 am (ATS)
Thomas Andrews boards the Titanic and begins a thorough inspection of the ship. The ship’s crew also begins to board at the same time.
  • 7:00 am (est.) (GMT)
  • 2:00 am (est.) (NYT)
  • 7:00 am (est.) (ATS)
Captain Edward John Smith leaves his home bound for Titanic.
  • 7:30 am (GMT)
  • 2:30 am (NYT)
  • 7:30 am (ATS)
Captain Smith boards the Titanic.
  •  7:30-8:00 am (GMT)
  • 2:30-3:00 am (NYT)
  • 7:30-8:00 am (ATS)
The Blue Ensign is raised at the ensign staff astern.
  • 7:30 am (GMT)
  • 2:30 am (NYT)
  • 7:30 am (ATS)
Captain Maurice Clarke boards the Titanic, preparing to oversee the crew muster and lifeboat drill. At his side is White Star’s Southampton Marine Superintendent, Captain Benjamin Steele.
  • 8:00 am (GMT)
  • 3:00 am (NYT)
  • 8:00 am (ATS)
The crew muster and medical examination begins, spread out over multiple locations.
  • 9:00-9:30 am (GMT)
  • 4:00-4:30 am (NYT)
  • 9:00-4:30 am (ATS)
The lifeboat drill – comprising Boats Nos. 11 (under 5/O Lowe’s command) and 13 (under 6/O Moody’s command) begins. It lasts for approximately thirty minutes.
  • 10:15 am (est.)  (GMT)
  • 5:15 am (est.) (NYT)
  • 10:15 am (est.) (ATS)
The Second and Third Class Boat Train from London arrives at the LSWR docks.
  • 11:30 am (GMT)
  • 6:30 am (NYT)
  • 11:30 am (ATS)
The First Class Boat Train from London’s Waterloo Station arrives at the LSWR docks after a journey of about 1 1/2-1 3/4 hours.
  • 11:45 am (GMT)
  • 6:45 am (NYT)
  • 11:45 am (ATS)
15 minutes prior to sailing time, the cries of “All ashore!” sound throughout the ship.
  • 12:00 pm (GMT)
  • 7:00 am (NYT)
  • 12:00 pm (ATS)
Just after noon, the Titanic‘s whistles on the two forward funnels sound, indicating that the ship is about to depart. A group of stokers runs down the quay, attempting to re-join the ship. As a train approaches, some pass the tracks ahead of it, while others wait for it to pass. Those who beat the train manage to board the ship, while the others are waved off by Sixth Officer Moody. Another delay occurs when a straggler delivery boy makes his way to the aft gangway, attempting to disembark before the ship casts off.
  • 12:00-12:15 pm (GMT)
  • 7:00-7:15 am (NYT)
  • 12:00-12:15 pm (ATS)
Titanic casts off from the LSWR dock. This likely occurred between 12:00 and 12:15, as estimates vary between the two times. (One passenger, Francis M. Browne, was very specific that the ship cast off only after 12:15; however, by his own admission, he was unaware that the ship had cast off until she was already moving.)

Titanic is shepherded into the main channel, and narrowly averts a collision with the docked liner SS New York. She pauses for this incident, and again afterward to disembark un-needed extra standby crewmen via tug. When she resumes course after all of these delays, she is behind schedule by nearly an hour. (The delays total up to one hour including the 15 minutes’ delay casting off. The New York incident, and the pause to offload extra crewmen, took together no more than 35-45 minutes.)

  • app. 3:05 pm (GMT)
  • app. 10:05 am (NYT)
  • app. 3:05 pm (ATS)
Titanic reaches the Nab Light and the entrance to open water. According to some sources, the ship does not pause to drop off Pilot George Bowyer, apparently to help make up for the time lost through three separate delays in her departure. The ship makes the cross-Channel passage through open water of some 66 nm at 20.2 knots through the water.
  • 6:20-6:25 pm (GMT)
  • 1:20-1:25 pm (NYT)
  • 6:20-6:25 pm (ATS)
Titanic drops anchor inside the breakwater at Cherbourg Harbor. The Nomadic and Traffic depart their berths and, bringing passengers, cargo and mail. (Papers which recorded her arrival as being 6:30-6:35 pm were exclusively French; Paris Mean Time ran nearly 10 minutes ahead of GMT in 1912.)
  • 8:10 pm (GMT)
  • 3:10 pm (NYT)
  • 8:10 pm (ATS)
The tenders’ work complete, they depart from Titanic; Titanic‘s anchors are hoisted and she departs Cherbourg bound for Queenstown, Ireland. She makes the trip to Queenstown at 20.7 knots through the water, steaming through the night and following morning.

Overnight, the ship’s clocks were set back some 25 minutes from GMT to harmonize with Dublin Mean Time, which Queenstown clocks were set to.

Thursday, 11 April 1912
  • app. 11:55 am (GMT)
  • app. 6:55 am (NYT)
  • app. 11:30 am (ATS)
Titanic drops anchor in Queenstown Harbour. The tenders Ireland and America carry baggage, cargo, mails and additional passengers to the ship, along with photographers and reporters who document the ship’s brief first stay in that port.
  • app. 1:55 pm (GMT)
  • app. 8:55 am (NYT)
  • app. 1:30 pm (ATS)
With the transfer of cargo, mails and passengers complete, Titanic weighs anchor and departs Queenstown Harbour.
  • 2:20 pm (GMT)
  • 9:20 am (NYT)
  • 1:55 pm (ATS)
Titanic reaches Daunt’s Rock, the official ‘starting point’ for the trans-Atlantic crossing. The ship’s engines are brought up to “Full Ahead,” at 70 rpm, or 20.7 knots through the water. Throughout the afternoon, the ship skirts the south coast of Ireland.
  • 12:25 am (12 April) (GMT)
  • 7:25 pm (NYT)
  • 12:00 midnight (ATS)
Ship’s clocks are set back by 59 minutes (in two stages for Bridge time, in one stage for passenger spaces; for the crew, this meant a 29-minute setback in the first night watch, a 30 minute setback in the second). Throughout Friday, April 12, Titanic‘s clocks (known as “Apparent Time Ship”, abbreviated as “ATS” here) were running 3 hrs. 36 minutes ahead of New York Time, and 1 hr. 24 minutes behind Greenwich Mean Time.
Friday, 12 April 1912
  •  1:24 pm (GMT)
  • 8:24 am (NYT)
  • 12:00 noon (ATS)
First day’s run calculated: 484 miles steamed since leaving Daunt’s Rock, at an average speed of 20.98 knots.
  •  7:10 pm (GMT)
  • 2:10 pm (NYT)
  • 5:46 pm (ATS)
Wireless message from La Touraine received regarding “thick ice-field” ahead of Titanic.
  •  12:00 midnight (ATS)
Ship’s clocks are set back by 49 minutes overnight (in two stages for Bridge time – 24 minutes / 25 minutes – and in one stage for clocks in passenger spaces. During Saturday, April 13, Apparent Time Ship (ATS) was 2 hrs. 47 minutes ahead of NYT, and 2 hrs. 13 minutes behind GMT.
 Saturday, 13 April 1912
  • 2:13 pm (GMT)
  • 9:13 am (NYT)
  • 12:00 noon (ATS)
Second day’s run calculated: 519 miles steamed since local noon the previous day, at an average speed of 20.91 knots. When the run is posted, this is considered a disappointment by many, and some conclude that the ship will not be able to dock in New York on Tuesday evening as previously expected.
  • est. 1:13 am (14 Apr.) (GMT)
  • est. 8:13 pm (NYT)
  • est. 11:00 pm (ATS)
Titanic‘s wireless apparatus ceases to function. Jack Phillips and Harold Bride set to the task of repairing the set themselves.
  • 2:13 am (14 Apr.) (GMT)
  • 9:13 pm (NYT)
  • 12:00 midnight (ATS)
Ship’s clocks are set back by 45 minutes overnight (in two stages for Bridge time – 23 minutes / 22 minutes – and in one stage for clocks in passenger spaces. During Sunday, April 14, Apparent Time Ship (ATS) was 2 hrs. 2 minutes ahead of NYT, and 2 hrs. 58 minutes behind GMT.
 Sunday, 14 April 1912
  • est. 7:58 am (GMT)
  • est. 2:58 am (NYT)
  • est. 5:00 am (ATS)
Jack Phillips and Harold Bride complete their repairs on the Marconi set.
  • 12:10 pm (GMT)
  • 7:10 am (NYT)
  • 9:12 am (ATS)
Cunard liner Caronia sends an ice warning to Captain Smith. The message was acknowledged at 10:28 am ship’s time.
  • 1:28 pm (GMT)
  • 8:28 am (NYT)
  • 10:30 am (ATS)
Sunday services are held in First Class, conducted by Captain Smith. Other services are held for Second and Third Class passengers.
  • 2:45 pm (GMT)
  • 9:45 am (NYT)
  • 11:47 am (ATS)
Greek steamer Noordam sends an ice warning to Captian Smith via the Caronia. The message was acknowledged at 12:31 pm ship’s time.
  • 2:58 pm (GMT)
  • 9:58 am (NYT)
  • 12:00 noon (ATS)
Third day’s run calculated: 546 miles steamed since local noon the previous day, at an average speed of 22.06 knots. This is a much better showing than the previous day’s run. During the afternoon, word begins to spread among passengers and crew alike that a Tuesday evening docking is again likely.
  • est. 3:43 pm (GMT)
  • est. 10:43 am (NYT)
  • est. 12:45 pm (ATS)
Captain Smith shows the ice warning from the Caronia to Second Officer Lightoller.
  • 3:58 pm (GMT)
  • 10:58 am (NYT)
  • 1:00 pm (ATS)
Lunch is served.
  • 4:47 pm (GMT)
  • 11:47 am (NYT)
  • 1:49 pm (ATS)
SS Amerika sends a message warning of ice to Titanic for re-transmission to the Hydrographic Office in Washington, D.C.
  • 4:52 pm (GMT)
  • 11:52 am (NYT)
  • 1:54 pm (ATS)
RMS Baltic transmits an ice warning to Captain Smith. The message is acknowledged at 2:57 pm ship’s time.
  • 8:48 pm (GMT)
  • 3:48 pm (NYT)
  • 5:50 pm (ATS)
Titanic‘s course is changed to 265° true in a maneuver known as “turning the corner.” The course change was not delayed as later reported, but instead it would appear that she was within three miles of “The Corner” when it was carried out.
  • app. 8:58 pm (GMT)
  • app. 3:58 pm (NYT)
  • app. 6:00 pm (ATS)
Bruce Ismay happens upon Mrs. Marian Thayer and Mrs. Emily Ryerson on the Promenade Deck and engages them in conversation. He shows the ladies the ice warning from the Baltic, received earlier in the day, which Captain Smith had loaned him that afternoon.
  • app. 9:50 pm (GMT)
  • app. 4:50 pm (NYT)
  • app. 6:52 pm (ATS)
Titanic sees her last sunset.
  • Est. 9:58 pm (GMT)
  • Est. 4:58 pm (NYT)
  • Est. 7:00 pm (ATS)
Dinner is served; the final boilers from Boiler Room No. 2 are connected to the engines, increasing the liner’s speed to the fastest she had traveled up to that time during the voyage. The single-ended boilers from Boiler Room No. 1 remain unlit, but it seems likely that they would have been lit late that night or on the following morning. Lightoller notes that the air temperature is 43°F.
  • app. 10:03 pm (GMT)
  • app. 5:03 pm (NYT)
  • app. 7:05 pm (ATS)
First Officer Murdoch arrives on the Bridge, having finished his own dinner, to relieve Officer of the Watch (OOW) Second Officer Lightoller so Lightoller could have his own supper.
  • app. 10:08-10:13 pm (GMT)
  • app. 5:08-5:13 pm (NYT)
  • app. 7:10-7:15 pm (ATS)
Captain Smith meets Bruce Ismay in the First Class Smoking Room and asks to have the Baltic telegram returned so he could post it in the Chart Room for the officers to see.
  • app. 10:13 pm (GMT)
  • app. 5:13 pm (NYT)
  • app. 7:15 pm (ATS)
On the Bridge, First Officer Murdoch asks Lamp Trimmer Hemming: “Hemming, when you go forward get the fore-scuttle hatch closed, there is a glow left from that, as we are in the vicinity of ice, and I want everything dark before the bridge.”
  • 10:20 pm (GMT)
  • 5:20 pm (NYT)
  • 7:22 pm (ATS)
Harold Bride hears a message from the Leyland liner Californian, warning of ice in the area. He did not stop to take the message down or acknowledge it.
  • app. 10:28-10:33 pm (GMT)
  • app. 5:28-5:33 pm (NYT)
  • app. 7:30-7:35 pm (ATS)
Second Officer Lightoller returns from dinner. In the approximate half-hour he had been gone, the temperature dropped from 43F to 39F. Lightoller and Third Officer Pitman begin to take a set of star sights. This took about ten minutes.
  • 10:35 pm (GMT)
  • 5:35 pm (NYT)
  • 7:37 pm (ATS)
Californian sends an ice warning to the Antillian. Harold Bride jotted the message down and acknowledged to the Californian that he had received it; he then proceeded to the Bridge and handed it to the Officer of the Watch within about two minutes’ time.
  • 10:58 pm (GMT)
  • 5:58 pm (NYT)
  • 8:00 pm (ATS)
Fourth Officer Boxhall arrives on the Bridge to begin his watch, and finds Third Officer Pitman in the Chart Room working on the computations from the star sights. Pitman says: “Here is a bunch of sights for you, old man. Go ahead.” Boxhall picks up where Pitman left off. The temperature is 31.5°F
  • app 11:28 pm (GMT)
  • app 6:28 pm (NYT)
  • app. 8:30 pm (ATS)
A ‘hymn sing-song’ begins in the Second Class Dining Saloon after dinner. It was estimated that about a hundred passengers were present.
  • app 11:53 (GMT)
  • app 6:53 pm (NYT)
  • app. 8:55 pm (ATS)
Captain Smith, having left a dinner party in the First Class Restaurant on B Deck, arrives on the Bridge. He finds Second Officer Lightoller on watch. The two men converse for 20-30 minutes about the calm weather, and the ability to spot icebergs under such less than ideal circumstances. The Captain then says: “If it becomes at all doubtful let me know at once; I will be just inside.” Then he left the Bridge.
  • 12:28 am (15 April) (GMT)
  • 7:28 pm (NYT)
  • 9:30 pm (ATS)
Second Officer Lightoller asks Sixth Officer Moody to call the lookouts in the Crow’s Nest, and to tell them to ‘keep a sharp lookout for ice, particularly small ice and growlers,’ and to pass that warning on with each shift change until daylight.
  • 12:50 pm (GMT)
  • 7:50 pm (NYT)
  • 9:52 pm (ATS)
Mesaba transmits ice warning to Titanic and all east-bound ships. The message is apparently not taken to the Bridge.
  • 12:58 am (GMT)
  • 7:58 pm (NYT)
  • 10:00 pm (ATS)
First Officer Murdoch takes the watch on the Bridge. Lookouts Frederick Fleet and Reginald Lee take their place as the Crow’s Nest Lookouts. In the previous two hours, the ship had traveled 45 nautical miles, averaging 22 1/2 knots through the water. A number of passengers notice throughout the night that the enines are driving the ship harder than at any previous point during the voyage.
  • 1:31 am (GMT)
  • 8:31 pm (NYT)
  • 10:33 pm (ATS)
10:21 pm aboard the Leyland liner Californian: The smaller liner is forced to stop because of field ice in her path.
  • app. 1:58 am (GMT)
  • app. 8:58 pm (NYT)
  • app. 11:00 pm (ATS)
Quartermaster George Rowe, on Titanic‘s Stern Docking Bridge, notices an odd atmospheric phenomenon referred to as ‘whiskers ’round the light’. These consist of tiny ice particles in the air getting caught in the glow of the deck lights, giving off a prism of color.
  • 2:05 am (GMT)
  • 9:05 pm (NYT)
  • 11:07 pm (ATS)
Californian wireless operator Cyril Evans transmits to Titanic: “I say, old man. We are stopped and surrounded by ice.” Jack Phillips on the Titanic replies: “Shut up, shut up, I am buxy. I am working Cape Race.”
  • 2:28 am (GMT)
  • 9:28 pm (NYT)
  • 11:30 pm (ATS)
Lights are extinguished in the First Class Lounge.
  • 2:37 am (GMT)
  • 9:37 pm (NYT)
  • 11:39 pm (ATS)
Lookouts Fred Fleet and Reginald Lee spot an iceberg directly in the path of the Titanic. They sound the warning bell three times, and Fleet lifts the handset on the telephone receiver to call the Bridge. Sixth Officer Moody answers the phone, and receives Fleet’s warning: “Iceberg right ahead!” Moody relays the warning to Murdoch.

In the intervening period, First Officer Murdoch had likely been scrutinizing the water ahead of the ship, carefully ascertaining the situation and what his best option for evasive action would be under the conditions he faced. As soon as Moody’s relayed warning was heard, he “rushed” onto the Bridge, ordering “Hard a starboard!” and swinging the engine telegraph handles to “Stop”.

Quartermaster Hichens, at the ship’s wheel in the Wheelhouse, immediately – and correctly – carried out Murdoch’s order; his action was carefully watched by Sixth Officer Moody, who stood beside him to ensure that there was no mistaken response.

Although the Titanic responded remarkably quickly to the helm orders, the iceberg was simply spotted too late…

  • 2:38 am (GMT)
  • 9:38 pm (NYT)
  • 11:40 pm (ATS)
Titanic collides with the iceberg, opening a series of small deformations in her lower starboard side hull plates. The damage stretched from the Forepeak tank to Boiler Room No. 6. As the ship’s hull flared from a point, and her turn remained steady, each succeeding instance of damage was longer than its predecessor. The final stretch of damage, running about forty-five feet, ran the length of Boiler Room No. 6 and just across the bulkhead into the starboard-forward coal bunker of Boiler Room No. 5.

First Officer Murdoch orders the helm “Hard a port!” in an attempt to “fishtail” the liner’s stern away from the berg. The maneuver succeeds, and the damage ceases. The ship’s engines come to a stop shortly after the collision.

  • 2:39 am (GMT)
  • 9:39 pm (NYT)
  • 11:41 pm (ATS)
Captain Smith arrives on the Bridge and he attempts to discover what happened. He, along with Murdoch and Boxhall, step out onto the starboard Bridge wing to see if they can locate the iceberg astern.
  • 2:40 am (GMT)
  • 9:40 pm (NYT)
  • 11:42 pm (ATS)
Fourth Officer Boxhall sets out to inspect the lower sections of the ship for damage.
  • 2:41 am (GMT)
  • 9:41 pm (NYT)
  • 11:43 pm (ATS)
The ship’s engines are re-engaged, apparently at “Half Ahead”, and apparently at Captain Smith’s order. A number of passengers, who clearly recalled that the ship’s engines stopped immediately after the collision, felt them re-start now, but not at high speed as they had been before the impact. The reasons for this order are unclear, but it was not under pressure from anyone like Bruce Ismay, as Ismay had not arrived on the Bridge yet.
  • app. 2:42-2:43 am (GMT)
  • app. 9:42-9:43 pm (NYT)
  • app. 11:44-11:45 pm (ATS)
Thomas Andrews meets up with a number of First Class passengers forward on A Deck, along the rail overlooking the bow. He makes several brief reassurances of the ship’s safety, then leaves, likely headed directly for the Bridge.

Lamp Trimmer Hemming and Storekeeper Frank Prentice hear a curious hissing noise. Moving forward to the bottom of the Forepeak Storeroom, they descend to the top of the Peak Tank, but can find no damage or water. Ascending to the tip of the Forecastle, they find that the hissing is from air being forced out of the Forepeak vent pipe, as water rushed into the tank below. As they discover the source of the damage, Boatswain’s Mate Haines and Chief Officer Wilde come by. The source of the noise is explained to the two newcomers, and Wilde hurries away.

  • app. 2:43-2:44 am (GMT)
  • app. 9:43-9:44 pm (NYT)
  • app. 11:45-11:46 pm (ATS)
In the Wheelhouse, Quartermaster Hichens notes a five degree list to starboard. Captain Smith takes note of the indication.

The engines are rung off, possibly at the suggestion of Thomas Andrews if, indeed, he did proceed to the Bridge from A Deck, and possibly because of the list to starboard.

Bruce Ismay arrives on the Bridge, where Captain Smith informs him that the ship has struck ice. When Ismay asks if the damage is serious, Captain Smith replies that he believed it was. Ismay left the Bridge to return to his stateroom. (If Ismay’s later claims that he did not see Andrews were correct, then that would mean that Andrews’ stay on the Bridge was likely very brief.)

Very shortly after the engines are stopped, the pressure in the ship’s steam-generating plant, already operating at very high pressure from the 24 double-ended boilers in operation, builds to the point that it lifts the safety valves. The excess steam begins to ‘blow off’ in a thunderous racket which creates confusion and hampers communication on deck.

  • 2:48 am (GMT)
  • 9:48 pm (NYT)
  • 11:50 pm (ATS)
Fourth Officer Boxhall returns to the Bridge and tells Captain Smith that he saw no damage below in any of the passenger spaces. Captain Smith orders him to return below and have the Carpenter sound the ship; en route, he meets the Carpenter headed for the Bridge to report that the ship was ‘making water fast.’ Eight feet of water are observed covering the stokehold floor in Boiler Room No. 6. James Johnstone observes Thomas Andrews hurrying through the Dining Saloon, moving aft toward the Pantry stairs to E Deck. He may have been headed directly for the Engine Room to speak to Chief Engineer Bell.
  • 2:50 am (GMT)
  • 9:50 pm (NYT)
  • 11:52 pm (ATS)
The lights fail in the stokeholds; Captain Smith is seen headed down toward the Engine Room. Fourth Officer Boxhall sees water within two feet of G Deck by the Mail Room. Boatswain’s Mate Haines reports evidence of flooding to Chief Officer Wilde on the Bridge. Wilde tells Haines to get his men up and get ready to prepare the lifeboats. Haines hurries below to start gathering his men.
  • 2:53 am (GMT)
  • 9:53 pm (NYT)
  • 11:55 pm (ATS)
In the Forecastle Head, Boatswain’s Mate Haines tells his men to get ready, that they may be needed at any moment. In the Dining Saloon, James Johnstone watches Thomas Andrews return to D Deck from below, move forward through the Saloon, and then back down forward toward the Mail Room. Curious, Johnstone follows, and can see that the Baggage Room on G Deck is flooding. Steward Wheat meets up with Johnstone; when Johnstone moves off to dress, Wheat watches the water flood the Mail Room.
  • 2:55 am (GMT)
  • 9:55 pm (NYT)
  • 11:57 pm (ATS)
Captain Smith is seen returning to the upper decks by Steward Mackay. Chief Officer Wilde orders Quartermaster Olliver to find the Boatswain and have him begin preparing the boats.
  • 2:58 am (GMT)
  • 9:58 pm (NYT)
  • 12:00 midnight (ATS)
The scheduled time change is not carried out as planned. Fourth Officer Boxhall returns from the Mail Room and tells Captain Smith about the flooding. Smith leaves the Bridge. The Fourth Officer is told to summon all of the remaining officers. Sixth Officer Moody tells Quartermaster Olliver to fetch the boat muster list. The Boatswain orders all hands to the boats.
Monday, 15 April 1912
  • 3:03 am (GMT)
  • 10:03 pm (NYT)
  • 12:05 am (ATS)
Captain Smith is seen below, headed down in the direction of the Mail Room with Chief Purser McElroy and one of the Mail Clerks.
  • 3:08 am (GMT)
  • 10:08 pm (NYT)
  • 12:10 am (ATS)
Stewardes Annie Robinson observes water nearly up to E Deck by the Mail Room. She notices Captain Smith and Thomas Andrews coming back from the Mail Room, and hears Andrews say to Smith: “Well, three have gone already, Captain,” apparently a reference to the three flooded cargo holds. Smith heads up toward the Bridge.
  • 3:10 am (GMT)
  • app. 10:10 pm (NYT)
  • app. 12:12 am (ATS)
Captain Smith arrives back on the Bridge. On his way up, he is seen in the vicinity of the forward Grand Staircase by a number of individuals, including Violet Jessop. At the same time, Jessop sees members of the ship’s orchestra beginning to assemble and head up the stairs, as well. Jock Hume tells Jessop that they are going to ‘give them a tune to cheer things up a bit.’
  • 3:13 am (GMT)
  • 10:13 pm (NYT)
  • 12:15 am (ATS)
Third Officer Pitman sees a group of firemen coming up from their quarters with their kits, as their spaces were flooding; he also sees water flooding G Deck in the No. 1 Hold. He heads back to the Boat Deck.

Quartermaster Hichens, still at the ship’s helm, hears Captain Smith order that the lifeboats should be swung out, and that the crew should begin to awaken passengers and have them come on deck with their lifebelts on. This was a pro-active measure on Smith’s part, as he had not yet discovered the ship was sinking.

Captain Smith then moves aft to the Marconi room, and tells Jack Phillips and Harold Bride to be prepared to send a CQD, but not to transmit it until his order.
Likely between 12:15 am and 12:20 am, the orchestra begins to play their first pieces of music.

  • 3:18 am (GMT)
  • 10:18 pm (NYT)
  • 12:20 am (ATS)
Third Officer Pitman is told by First Officer Murdoch, then hard at work on preparing the starboard side lifeboats, to start work on Boat No. 5. Because of the continuing racket of steam, communication on the Boat Deck along both sides is significantly hampered.

Word begins to spread that passengers should don their lifebelts.

  • app. 3:20 am (GMT)
  • app. 10:20 pm (NYT)
  • app. 12:22 am (ATS)
Thomas Andrews is seen rushing up the forward Grand Staircase. First Class passenger Frederick Sloper thought he looked “worried,” while First Class passenger Anna Warren thought he had a “look of terror” on his face. He took the steps three at a time as he rushed up, hardly pausing to acknowledge anyone’s queries.

It is clear that between the time Captain Smith had left Andrews and this point, Andrews had ascertained that the situation was not only grave, but that the ship was doomed – and that she would not last for much longer.

  • app. 3:23 am (GMT)
  • app. 10:23 pm (NYT)
  • app. 12:25 am (ATS)
Thomas Andrews finds Captain Smith; their conversation most likely took place in the vicinity of the Bridge for the sake of privacy. Andrews informs the Captain that Titanic is sinking, and that she has “an hour to an hour and a half” to live. It is the worst possible news, and the time has come to begin evacuating the ship.

The two men part company; Captain Smith immediately heads aft toward the Marconi wireless room.

  • 3:25 am (GMT)
  • 10:25 pm (NYT)
  • 12:27 am (ATS)
At Captain Smith’s order, Jack Phillips sends the first CQD distress call. The position given is 41° 46′ N, 50° 24′ W.

Thomas Andrews moves into the First Class Entrance and begins circulating among passengers, telling them to don their lifebelts.

  • 3:35 am (GMT)
  • 10:35 pm (NYT)
  • 12:37 am (ATS)
Jack Phillips, working on a revised estimate of the ship’s position just brought in by Fourth Officer Boxhall, changes the transmission to read the now famous (if inaccurate) coordinates: 41° 46′ N, 50° 14′ W.
  • 3:38 am (GMT)
  • 10:38 pm (NYT)
  • 12:40 am (ATS)
On the port side of the Boat Deck, Second Officer Lightoller makes extensive preparations to load Boat No. 4. He has the boat lowered to the Promenade Deck, and has Sixth Officer Moody coordinate with other crewmen to load the boat once it comes even with the rail. Unfortunately, no one realized that the Promenade Deck windows were closed; much time was subsequently lost looking for the cranks to open them up. In the meanwhile, many of those waiting to board Boat No. 4 from the Promenade Deck disperse to other areas. Instead of waiting idly, Second Officer Lightoller moves aft, directing his attention to preparing Boat No. 6 for loading.

At around 12:40 am, First Officer Murdoch succeeds in lowering the first lifeboat to leave the ship, Boat No. 7, from the starboard side.Meanwhile, work on Boat No. 5 has been proceeding under the care of Third Officer Pitman. Bruce Ismay has been attempting to instill a sense of urgency in the work there, ordering Pitman to load the boat. Pitman, unaware of Ismay’s identity, tells Captain Smith; Smith tells Pitman to load the boat.

  • 3:43 am (GMT)
  • 10:43 pm (NYT)
  • 12:45 am (ATS)
Murdoch orders Boat No. 5 lowered away from the starboard side. It experiences some difficulty during the lowering process, but eventually reaches the sea safely. As two male passengers boarded the boat as it lowered, without authorization, and injuring at least one female passenger in the process, one of the officers – likely Murdoch – calls out that he ‘was going to be below decks and get his gun.’ While Murdoch had no problem allowing male passengers into lifeboats on the starboard side, he was not about to allow chaos to break out.

Murdoch leaves the scene as No. 5 is lowering away, likely to find Wilde and Lightoller in order to find the officers’ arms and ammunition. Fifth Officer Lowe works to lower No. 5 away, while Ismay excitedly pressures him to lower away. Lowe, not recognizing Ismay, explodes at his employer. Ismay leaves the scene and proceeds to No. 3.

  • 3:45 am (GMT)
  • 10:45 pm (NYT)
  • 12:47 am (ATS)
On the Bridge, Fourth Officer Boxhall has noticed the lights of another vessel on the horizon. At this time, he fires the first of a series of distress rockets in an attempt to contact her.
  • 3:53 am (GMT)
  • 10:53 pm (NYT)
  • 12:55 am (ATS)
Boat No. 3 is lowered from the starboard side.
  • 3:58 am (GMT)
  • 10:58 pm (NYT)
  • 1:00 am (ATS)
Boat No. 8 is lowered from the port side; Captain Smith tells its crew to row to the ship on the horizon.
  • 4:03 am (GMT)
  • 11:03 pm (NYT)
  • 1:05 am (ATS)
Boat No. 1 is lowered from the starboard side.
  • 4:08 am (GMT)
  • 11:08 pm (NYT)
  • 1:10 am (ATS)
Boat No. 6 is lowered from the port side
  • 4:18 am (GMT)
  • 11:18 pm (NYT)
  • 1:20 am (ATS)
Boat No. 16 is lowered from the port side.
  •  4:23 am (GMT)
  • 11:23 pm (NYT)
  • 1:25 am (ATS)
Boat No. 14 is lowered from the port side.
  •  4:28 am (GMT)
  • 11:28 pm (NYT)
  • 1:30 am (ATS)
Boat No. 12 is lowered from the port side. Boat No. 9 is lowered from the starboard side.
  •  4:33 am (GMT)
  • 11:33 pm (NYT)
  • 1:35 am (ATS)
Boat No. 11 is lowered from the starboard side.
  •  4:38 am (GMT)
  • 11:38 pm (NYT)
  • 1:40 am (ATS)
Boats Nos. 13 and 15 are lowered almost simultaneously from the starboard side. No. 13 is washed aft by the water flowing from the starboard condenser discharge, and is nearly crushed by Boat No. 15 as it descends.
  •  4:43 am (GMT)
  • 11:43 pm (NYT)
  • 1:45 am (ATS)
Boat No. 2 is lowered from the port side.
  •  4:48 am (GMT)
  • 11:48 pm (NYT)
  • 1:50 am (ATS)
The last distress rocket is fired. Boats Nos. 10 and 4 are lowered from the port side.
  •  4:58 am (GMT)
  • 11:58 pm (NYT)
  • 2:00 am (ATS)
Collapsible C is lowered from the starboard side, carrying Bruce Ismay.
  •  5:03 am (GMT)
  • 12:03 am (15 Apr) (NYT)
  • 2:05 am (ATS)
Collapsible D is lowered from the port side.
  • 5:13 am (GMT)
  • 12:13 am (NYT)
  • 2:15 am (ATS)
The water has reached the forward end of the Boat Deck in the vicinity of the Bridge. As the men work to free Collapsibles A and B along the port and starboard sides of the ship, the liner takes a “slight but definite plunge” down at the bow, swamping the men as they worked. She recovers momentarily, then dives down again – this time her downward plunge continues.

Colonel Archibald Gracie and his friend James Clinch Smith are washed from the roof of the Officers’ Quarters. The forward two funnels collapse, nearly crushing Collapsible B.

The ship continues to plunge down by the head, and her stern continues to rear up out of the water.

  • 5:15 am (GMT)
  • 12:15 am (NYT)
  • 2:17 am (ATS)
With the ship having reached an angle of about 30° down by the head, her hull visibly fails, creating a large opening at the upper decks seen by many survivors. Most of the lights fail immediately; according to a few survivors, a few of the lights may continue operating for a brief period thereafter.
  • 5:15-5:18 am (GMT)
  • 12:15-12:18 am (NYT)
  • 2:17-2:20 am (ATS)
Released from the flooded bow, the stern section settles back to nearly an even keel. Then something connecting the two halves of the ship exerts a powerful tug on the forward-port side of the stern. It is pulled forward and down, spinning counter-clockwise as it begins to climb toward the nearly-full vertical position. Some survivors see the ship’s propellers pass over their heads as the stern swings about.

Finally, the two halves of the ship separate, and the stern is reported standing almost perfectly vertical by many survivors viewing from all angles.
She pauses, suspended in a nearly-vertical attitude. Then water begins to flood the previously-unflooded stern section, and the inevitable begins to occur. Gradually at first, but with an exponentially-increasing speed, the stern begins to sink from sight.

  • 5:18 am (GMT)
  • 12:18 am (NYT)
  • 2:20 am (ATS)
Titanic sinks.
For details on how this timeline was compiled, please refer to On A Sea of Glass: The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic.


Titanic FAQ’s:

Please note: it is impossible to place much of the supporting evidence for these answers in a single page of my site. Instead, these findings are based on the research that is included in each of my books. Please go to my Books page in order to learn more about each of these volumes, so you can have a more in-depth look at the facts for yourself.

Q: Did a coal bunker fire lead to the sinking of the Titanic, or increase the loss of life?
A: No. In January 2017, a program entitled Titanic: The New Evidence aired , first in the UK, and later in the US on the Smithsonian Channel. In this show journalist Senan Molony built a case – based on two photographs from the newly discovered Kempster album that showed a mark on Titanic‘s hull – that the coal bunker fire led to the tragedy and even the number of lives lost. The show also implied that the Olympic and Titanic were badly-built ships, where ‘corners were cut’ and they were rushed to sea in spite of the fire in order to stick to the schedule. The program was filled with historical errors, and the press repeated the errors in many articles which followed. Please click the image below to read a formal rebuttal article to the claims made in the show:

Titanic_Fire_&_IceTitanic: Fire & Ice (Or What You Will)

Q: A) How much time separated Titanic‘s shipboard time, during the disaster, and time ashore in places like New York, London, etc.? B) Were there any clock setbacks before the collision?
A: A) Titanic‘s clocks were 2 hours and 2 minutes ahead of time in New York, Washington, D.C., etc., and 2 hours and 58 minutes behind time in London, Southampton, etc. B) No. Sad to say, there is a lot of bad information out there on this subject. This confusion started in 1912, as all three inquiries into the disaster reached different conclusions on the matter, and the passage of time has not helped matters. However, after months of painstaking research, an international team that I was proud to be a part of has released our nearly book-length technical article on this subject. It considers many different lines of evidence on the matter, and considers why some of the popular information on the subject (including a chronometer recovered from the wreck site) is not helpful and has actually proved misleading. Read the article here:


Q: Were the Titanic and her sister ship, Olympic, switched as part of some sort of conspiracy?
A: No. Some years ago, the theory that the Olympic and Titanic were switched was put forth. Ostensibly, the “switch” took place because of the collision between the Olympic and the Hawke. It was proposed that the White Star Line discovered that the damage to the Olympic was much greater than they let on, and that she was going to be too costly to repair. Thus, the Olympic and the Titanic were switched and the heavily damaged Olympic, it is said, was the vessel that was deliberately sunk on April 14-15 as part of an insurance scam. It is she, it is alleged, that rests on the sea floor today. The books that propose the theory are so cleverly put together that many people with no more than a passing interest in the story of the Titanic have been led to believe that the theory has been proved true by an overwhelming amount of evidence.

A detailed investigation of the facts, however, shows that the theory is full of holes, half-truths and mistakes. For one thing, the Olympic and Titanic were had numerous small yet clear and quantifiable differences – far more than merely the configuration of the windows on A and B Decks. They include numerous ventilator configuration differences, changes in porthole placement, and shell plating differences (for example, in the vicinity of the anchors forward). All of these details, each quite small, add up to two distinctly different ships. Additionally, there were hidden details that could only be seen later on. For example, the ships’ hull numbers, 400 and 401, were stamped into the backs of the pieces of decorative wooden paneling that graced their many rooms, both public and private. When the Olympic‘s fittings were auctioned off prior to her scrapping, much of her paneling was saved and still exists today, all clearly stamped with the “400” yard number. Unless every scrap of paneling was switched out of the Olympic, something that would have been impossible given the known time constraints to switch the ships, the liner scrapped over twenty years after the mid-Atlantic disaster was clearly the Olympic. The ships’ yard numbers were also visible on the propellers, and the hull number “401” has been spotted on the Titanic wreck’s port prop. Various items recovered from the wreck site have also been found stamped with the yard number “401.”

The upshot is that if the two ships were going to be switched, there was an incredible amount of work that had to be done in a very short period of time, (since the two ships were together in Belfast for only very specific and well-documented periods of time). Also of note is that Harland & Wolff had their photographer, Robert Welch, moving around the yard, frequently snapping photographs away of both ships during their time together and during various phases of the Titanic‘s construction – and no photos of the alleged “switch” in progress have ever turned up. Many of these photos also show non-shipyard employees milling around the Olympic in early March of 1912. Thus, the “switch” theory depends on the silence of the many thousands of workers from White Star and Harland & Wolff, as well as many civilians who visited the yard. Such a secret would have been almost impossible to keep, yet no thoroughly documented and wholly reliable first-hand accounts of a switch have ever been presented.

For further details:

Q: Was the strength of the Titanic’s hull insufficient or of a poor design?
A: No. Allegations have been made that Harland & Wolff built the Titanic (and Olympic) to a poorer standard of design than other ships of the era. The thickness of her hull plating and also of her rib spacing have been questioned; the upshot of these allegations is that the frames should have been much closer together, the rivets of better quality, and the hull plating much thicker, than they were when the ships were built.

These allegations are absolutely absurd. The Olympic and Titanic were designed by what was arguably the premiere shipbuilding firm in the world at the time. Although the sisters were significantly larger than any previous liners, they were designed and constructed on time-tested principles of ship construction. Additionally, shipbuilding at the time was an extremely competitive business – for Harland & Wolff to build the largest ships in the world to a slipshod level of strength would have been a shortsighted business decision, indeed.

Simply comparing the design of the Titanic’s hull with that of other ocean liners should lay this allegation to rest entirely:

The frame spacing for the Titanic and both of her sisters was: 36 inches amidships, narrowing to 24 inches at the bow and 27 inches at the stern. The plates attached over the keel bar, or the “A” strake, were 30/20” thick, narrowing to 24/20”. The plating at the turn of the bilge was typically over one inch thick for 2/5ths of her length. In some places, such as the reinforced areas of her hull at the B and C Deck levels, plates were doubled to create an overall thickness of 3”.

The frame spacing for the Lusitania was: 32” for ¾ of her length amidships, narrowing to 25” aft and 26” forward. Her hull plating was typically 22/20” thick, thinning to only 12/20” thick fore and aft (where the frame spacing narrowed), and it was doubled in places up to 2 3/20”. Interestingly, Engineering magazine noted that the holes in the Lusitania’s “intermediate longitudinals… are placed with their larger dimension running vertically instead of horizontally. This was because of the comparative closeness of the frames.” This sentence shows that the frame spacing on the Lusitania was ‘comparatively close’ as compared with that found on other previous liners. The Titanic’s arrangement was quite similar to that found on the Cunarder.

And while the Lusitania and Mauretania employed high-tensile “special” steel in their upper hull amidships, which was found to be some 36% stronger than the traditional “mild steel” used in liners of the period, this was done to reduce their upper scantlings by 10% to save top weight, helping improve their already-marginal stability and their goal of high speed.

This comparison between the Titanic and the Lusitania is particularly interesting for several reasons. The Lusitania was specifically designed under the intense scrutiny of the Admiralty; the British Government had provided the loans for her construction, and they wanted to make sure that their design would serve them well in peace and in war. This latter point is particularly telling, because the Admiralty was planning to use the Lusitania as an armed auxiliary cruiser, with plans for her to sport an impressive armament of 6-inch guns in active service (detailed information on this can be found in my upcoming book on the Lusitania). She thus had to bear not only the strain of the weapons’ weight, but also their powerful recoil when in use. Titanic never had to bear any of this added weight or stress, and yet her hull design was comparatively similar to that of the Cunarder. Additionally, during construction of the Lusitania, a decision had been made to ‘cut away the deadwood’ of her hull aft. This was to allow a free-flow of water past her rudder for tight maneuvering. Thus, for a large stretch of her overall length aft, an arch was created. While the liner was in water, this posed no particular problem; however, during drydocking procedures, this design meant that the top of the hull would have to bear the enormous stretching stresses as it supported the entire aft end of the liner in the air. That need for the Lusitania‘s hull to combat just this tension shows just how powerfully built her hull was. As has already been seen, the Titanic’s hull was designed with similar frame and plating strengths, and yet it never had to combat any of these stresses. It is also interesting to note that John Brown, the shipyard that built the Lusitania, had an affiliation with Harland & Wolff that allowed them to share information, etc., between the two yards. Thus, in building larger ships than the Lusitania, Harland & Wolff could draw upon the experience of John Brown. (The Mauretania and later the Aquitania were designed in a very similar fashion to the Lusitania, as well.)

Shouldn’t the Olympic and Titanic have employed high-tensile “special” steel in their hulls to increase their strength? No, and there is no record of Board of Trade officials or on-site surveyors ever recommending this, despite recent televised claims. Why was this unnecessary? The White Star sisters did not need to reduce top weight, by reducing scantlings, because of otherwise-insufficient stability; nor were they going to be shooting for the high speeds the Lusitania and Mauretania were aiming for. There was thus no need for such an unusual use of high-tensile steel in their structure.

Perhaps, some might say, all of these ships did not have correct rib spacing, something that was corrected at a later date, and that would still leave the Titanic and all of these other ships with questionable hull design. Is this correct? No. More than twenty years after the Titanic, another ocean liner was built by John Brown. When she entered service, she was also the “largest vessel in the world.” Her length was also significantly greater than the Titanic, at 1,019 feet as opposed to 882 feet, and thus she was exposed to greater stresses over her entire length. She was the Queen Mary. Was the Queen Mary’s design drastically altered from that of the previous generation, like the Lusitania and Titanic? Had shipbuilders discovered a serious deficiency that they corrected in the newer liners? No. The Queen Mary’s rib spacing was 36” over the greater part of the vessel, narrowing to 24” at the fore and aft ends, even more closely matching that of the Titanic than the Lusitania. The Queen Mary sailed through virtually anything that any of the world’s oceans could throw her way over the years, and her hull’s strength was never in question. Today, some seventy years after she entered service, she is resting quietly in Long Beach, California, a model of strength and reliability.

Although the designs of the Olympic and Britannic were altered after the sinking of the Titanic, their rib-spacing never changed, and they proved quite strong. The Olympic’s hull integrity was never in serious question throughout her career. (Allegations of this nature have been leveled at her, but these were very nicely answered in Mark Chirnside’s book, RMS Olympic: Titanic’s Sister.) The Britannic sank in 1916, and fell at a very stressful angle onto the ocean floor; even so, her hull proved quite strong in the way it dealt with these stresses. Today, her hull retains its full width.

Importantly, the design of the Olympic and Titanic was not perfect; however, they were not shoddily-built ships thrown together cheaply with cut corners to make a few quid while risking the lives of all who took passage on them.

For further details:

  • Conspiracies at Sea: Titanic & Lusitania, by J. Kent Layton
  • Titanic: The Ship Magnificent by Steve Hall and Bruce Beveridge.
  • RMS Olympic: Titanic’s Sister by Mark Chirnside
  • The Olympic-Class Ships by Mark Chirnside
  • On A Sea of Glass: The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic by Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton and Bill Wormstedt
  • The Edwardian Superliners: A Trio of Trios by J. Kent Layton

Q: Is it possible that the Titanic grounded on the iceberg instead of sideswiping it?
A: Based upon available evidence, it seems highly unlikely that any damage to the ship’s double bottom caused significant damage that contributed to the Titanic disaster. It has been postulated that because the collision did not feel like a ‘terrible crash’ to many aboard the ship, she must have grounded on a shelf of the iceberg. Grounding on ice is not unheard of. However, there are other explanations for the lack of a strong sensation in the collision: first, the liner had nearly averted a collision, and was only grazing along the berg; second, the widening flare of the hull seems to have very nearly matched the angle of the bow’s turn away from the berg, meaning that light contact could have been maintained; third, much of the actual iceberg damage has been ascertained through sidescan sonar surveys of the hull, and this damage is clearly side damage, not grounding damage.

Indeed, while some have cast doubt on the veracity of the 1996 sidescan sonar surveys, that survey clearly agrees closely with the locations of reported damage seen in the minutes after impact. Indeed, the after segment of the final blow that the ship sustained, which traversed Boiler Room No. 5 into Boiler Room No. 6, is still visible today; this last impact point, which sealed the ship’s fate, and which Fireman Frederick Barrett saw opening up during the collision, was side damage. Click here to see a recent profile collage which shows this iceberg damage along the side hull of the ship.

For further details:

  • On A Sea of Glass: The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic by Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton and Bill Wormstedt
  • Report Into the Loss of the SS Titanic, by Sam Halpern, et al.
  • An Allision With An Iceberg“, by Sam Halpern

Q:What was the displacement of the Titanic?
A: The displacement (or the weight of the seawater that the ship would displace, an estimate of literal weight rather than of enclosed space) of the Olympic and Titanic have often been cited at 66,000 tons. However, this figure is inaccurate. What was the actual displacement for the Olympic and the Titanic, then? (The Britannic‘s displacement was slightly greater due to her larger beam and other modifications made to her design.) Harland & Wolff’s Edward Wilding testified that the displacement of the Olympic and Titanic, at a draught of 34′ 7″, was identical: 52,310 tons.

Since the weight of a vessel varies depending on her load status (i.e., fuel, cargo, provisions, etc.), the measurement of 52,310 tons (British tons of 2,240 pounds, or just over 117 million pounds) cited above would only apply to the ship at a draught of 34′ 7″. At a draught of 27′ 10 1/2″, Titanic displaced 40,850 tons; at a hypothetical draught of 36′ (deeper than her standard in service load), she would still displace less than 55,000 tons.

For further details:

  • On A Sea of Glass: The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic by Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton and Bill Wormstedt
  • Report Into the Loss of the SS Titanic, by Sam Halpern, et al.
  • The 66,000 Ton Myth by Mark Chirnside.

Q: How many blades did Titanic‘s propellers have, and what were their sizes?
A: The two outboard wing propellers on the Titanic were each 23 ft 6 inches in diameter, sporting 3 blades each, with the blades bolted onto the heads. Their pitch was 35 ft. By way of comparison, the Olympic‘s original wing propellers were the same size and had the same number of blades, but had a pitch of only 33 feet. The Olympic, when first completed, sported a 16 ft 6 inch center propeller. It was made of a single cast, and had 4 blades. It has been often assumed that the Titanic‘s center propeller was essentially of the same, or of the exact same, design as her sister’s, especially since the Britannic was eventually fitted with a 4-bladed propeller identical to Olympic‘s.

Olympic Propellers-Not Titanic

This photograph is often said to be the Titanic in early 1912. It is not. This photograph actually is of the Olympic, and it was taken on January 29, 1924, nearly a dozen years after the Titanic sank. There are no known photographs of Titanic showing her central propeller in place; all of the ones available at this time are actually of the Olympic. If they are labeled “Titanic“, they are mis-captioned. As such, the photographs of Olympic‘s propellers can not be used as proof that the Titanic had a four-bladed central propeller. (Harland & Wolff photo 1796, Courtesy Jonathan Smith Collection)

However, maritime researcher and author Mark Chirnside has recently written an article entitled, “The Mystery of Titanic’s Central Propeller.” (Published in Titanic International Society’s quarterly journal Voyage, No. 63.) Therein, he cites original documented evidence from a period Harland & Wolff engineering notebook which gives the propeller and engine specifications for a number of vessels, including Olympic and Titanic. This evidence seems to suggest that Titanic was fitted with a 3-bladed center propeller with a diameter of 17 ft 0 in. In light of further photographic evidence (either of the wreck, or in original photographs from the period, either contradictory or supportive), this is the best evidence that we have on the design of TItanic’s center propeller. I would highly recommend picking up a copy of Mr. Chirnside’s full article so that you can review this new and fascinating information for yourself. — My thanks to Bruce Beveridge for his willingness to answer a couple of questions on this particular subject, and to Mr. Chirnside for producing the original research on this matter.

For further details:

Q: Was Thomas Andrews really last seen in the First Class Smoking Room?
A: No. Although this story has been repeated in virtually every Titanic book, and portrayed in nearly every film and documentary on the subject, this does not appear to have been the last sighting of Thomas Andrews. The story of this sighting came from Verandah Cafe Steward John Stewart; he reported seeing Andrews in the Smoking Room, with his lifebelt draped over a nearby chair. However, Stewart actually left the ship at 1:40 am. The story was apparently first made public in Shan Bullock’s book about Andrews, but Bullock never claimed that it was ‘the last sighting’ of Andrews. In fact, he pointed out that there were sightings of him after that point.

Indeed, during the research phase of On A Sea of Glass: The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic, my co-authors and I found two parallel first-hand accounts by Mess Steward Cecil William N. Fitzpatrick (his name is occasionally given incorrectly on some crew lists). These accounts placed Andrews on the Bridge with Captain Smith in those last moments just befor ethe ship took its ‘slight but definite plunge’. The two men, Fitzpatrick said, entered the water together.

Although less well known, this is actually the best-documented last-sighting of Andrews.

For further details:

  • On A Sea of Glass: The Life & Loss of the RMS Titanic by Tad Fitch, J. Kent Layton and Bill Wormstedt (Appendix L: Thomas Andrews’ Fate)

Above: This photograph shows an authentic piece of paneling from the TItanic‘s First Class Lounge. Originally, it stood over the double doors leading aft from the Lounge toward the aft Grand Staircase. It was found in the sea shortly after the sinking, almost certainly torn loose as the ship broke up, and now resides in the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic in Halifax, Nova Scotia. You can compare this piece of Titanic with the panel from the same location on the Olympic, which now resides in the White Swan Hotel in Alnwick, England, There are both similarities and minor variations (Olympic‘s panel is shown below for comparison).

As an aside, this recovered piece of Titanic‘s paneling was the basis for the piece of “hero” paneling that saved the character Rose in James Cameron’s 1997 film Titanic. Although commonly referred to as a “door”, that is incorrect–it was deliberately designed as a near-match for this piece of paneling, which originally sat above the doors that gave access to the room, and which was probably torn loose and floated away as the liner broke up. (This photo of Maritime Museum of the Atlantic is courtesy of TripAdvisor)


This is Olympic‘s Lounge panel – a nearly-perfect match for the piece recovered from the Titanic wreck site, seen above, although there are subtle variations. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Please click here to go to the Olympic‘s Home Page.
Please click here to go to the Britannic‘s Home Page.
Please click here to go to the Nomadic‘s Home Page.