Titanic timeline

The luxury liner leaves Southampton, England, on April 10, 1912.
(Associated Press file photo)

May 31, 1911: Titanic, part of the White Star Line, is launched in Belfast, Northern Ireland; interior work begins soon after.

April 10, 1912: Titanic leaves from Southampton, England, on its maiden voyage under the command of Capt. Edward J. Smith but has to maneuver to avoid hitting the ship New York, which is docked.

Evening of April 10, 1912: Arrives in Cherbourg, France. Passengers must be tendered in — that is, sent to the port in small boats — because the dock is too small. Ship departs two hours later.

Morning of April 11, 1912: Docks in Queenstown, Ireland.


Evening of April 14: Ship approaching an area known for icebergs. It is about 400 miles south of Newfoundland.

7:50 p.m.: The ship Mesaba, sailing as a freighter, sends a warning to Titanic about ice.

9:40 p.m.: Titanic receives the Mesaba message, but the information is not sent to the bridge.

10:55 p.m.: The Californian, a liner, radios Titanic that it is surrounded by ice. The Titanic radio operators are displeased that their work, which is mostly sending passenger messages, has been interrupted.


11:40 p.m.: Lookouts spot an iceberg. The bridge is notified. First officer orders the engines reversed and a left turn.

11:40 p.m.: Iceberg rips the Titanic

Exact time undetermined: Capt. Smith orders the radio operator to send a distress signal.

12:20 a.m. April 15: The Carpathia receives the distress signal but is too far away to respond immediately. The Californian is closer, but its radios have been shut down for the night.


Exact time unknown: Lifeboats are launched; women and children are to go first.

Exact time unknown: Lifeboat No. 7 is the first to leave. It carries 27 people; its capacity is 65.

2:18 a.m. Titanic breaks in two

2:20 a.m.: Titanic goes under, taking hundreds of passengers and crew. Among the dead: Thomas Andrews, the designer of the ship. Among the survivors: J. Bruce Ismay, chairman of White Star.


3:30 a.m. Carpathia arrives in the area and rescues all survivors.

8:30 a.m. Californian arrives, too late to rescue survivors.

9 a.m. Carpathia leaves for New York.

April 18: Carpathia arrives in New York. (A German U-boat sinks the Carpathia in 1918.)


April 19-May 25: U.S. investigates, ultimately blaming the British Board of Trade for the disaster.

May 1912: Britain opens its investigation and, after 28 days of testimony, it blames the speed of the Titanic and the Californian and its captain for failing to help.

Sources: Encyclopedia Britannica, National Geographic, “A Night to Remember” by Walter Lord