Titanic Timeline

A detailed timeline of the notable events and dates in the history of Titanic. This timeline encompasses everything from Titanic's inception, to launch, the maiden voyage and fateful sinking to the aftermath and eventual discovery and conservation of artifacts.


  • January 27, 1850
    Captain Edward John Smith is born.


  • July 18, 1867
    Molly Brown is born.


  • The idea of Titanic was conceived by Lord Pirrie, chairman of Harland and Wolff shipbuilders, and J. Bruce Ismay, the director of the White Star Line.


  • March 31, 1909
    Work began on building Titanic in the Harland & Wolff shipyards in Belfast, Ireland.


  • May 31, 1911
    Titanic was launched and became the largest manmade object ever moved. More than 100,000 people came to the shipyard to watch Titanic be launched. For the next ten months, Titanic was being "fit out".


  • February 2, 1912
    Milvina Dean, the youngest person aboard the Ship and the last living survivor of Titanic is born.
  • April 2nd, 1912, 8:00 pm
    The crew of Titanic participates in sea trials before leaving Belfast, where the Ship was built, for Southampton.
  • April 10th, 1912, 6:00 am
    Just after sunrise the first members of the crew began to board Titanic. All of the officers except Captain Smith had already spent the night on board. Captain Smith arrived later that morning around 7:30.
  • April 10th, 1912, 12:00 pm
    Titanic starts maiden voyage, leaving Southampton and ventures to Cherbourg, France, and Queenstown, Ireland (this is the official sailing date for the Ship).
  • April 11th, 1912, 1:30 pm
    Titanic raises anchor for the last time and leaves Queenstown.
  • April 14th, 1912, Morning
    Lifeboat drills were neglected after church services, although the crew has to complete the procedure.
  • April 14th, 1912, 10:55 pm
    Californian, completely surrounded by ice, stops for the evening and warns the Titanic of the impending danger.
  • April 14th, 1912, 11:40 pm
    Frederick Fleet sights an iceberg. First Officer Murdoch gives the "hard a-starboard" order while having the engines stopped and reversed; activates lever that closes watertight doors. The Ship, traveling at approximately 20 knots (26 mph), turned slightly to the left, avoiding a head-on collision. Below the water the iceberg punctures the hull. Five, possibly six of the Titanic's watertight compartments flood.
  • April 15th, 1912, 12:15 am
    Captain Smith assesses the damage. He orders his telegraph operators to send the distress signal, "CDQ," after estimating the ship will remain afloat for two hours. He gives the order to uncover the lifeboats and evacuate the women and children.
  • April 15th, 1912, 12:45 am
    First lifeboat leaves the Ship with only 19 aboard, although it could carry 65.
  • April 15th, 1912, 2:05 am
    Titanic's bow begins sinking as the last of the lifeboats are lowered into the water. An estimated 1,500 people were left stranded on the sinking boat.
  • April 15th, 1912, 2:20 am
    Titanic sinks.
  • April - May 1912
    Within weeks of Dorothy Gibson's rescue her studio, Eclair Film Co., capitalized on the connection by releasing a ten-minute feature "Saved from the Titanic." In the film, Ms. Gibson wore the same dress in which she had boarded a Titanic lifeboat. She was actually one of the first in a lifeboat, whereas in the film the heroine helps rescue several people and is one of the last to enter a boat. This film no longer exists and there were undoubtedly several other silent film versions of the Titanic disaster which did not survive.
  • May 1912
    Coast Guard starts due to Titanic: After the disaster, international demand arose to begin patrolling the ice fields as a preventive measure. In May 1912, two U.S. Navy vessels began patrolling. However, in 1913 the Navy was no longer able to offer its services and the Coast Guard's predecessor, the Revenue Cutter Service, assigned the cutters Seneca and Miami to perform the duties. Then, an international conference for the safety of life at sea convened in London on Nov. 12, 1913. Out of that conference was born an agreement, signed Jan. 20, 1914 to establish and maintain an ice patrol on a continuous basis over the most threatening areas to shipping. On Feb. 7, 1914, the U.S. Coast Guard assumed the duty of running the International Ice Patrol (IIP) and has patrolled this area non-stop with the exception of World Wars I and II. The functions of the IIP are specifically designated by both international treaty and U.S. law.


  • May 26, 1931
    Helen Herron Taft (widow of President Taft) unveils Titanic Women's Memorial in Washington DC. This memorial honors the men who died in Titanic. In the 1997 film Titanic there is a scene in which Kate Winslet imitates the statue's pose on the bow of the Titanic.


  • November 3, 1960
    Broadway Musical The Unsinkable Molly Brown is released. The musical tells a fictionalized version of the life of Margaret Brown, who survived the sinking of the RMS Titanic, and her wealthy miner-husband.


  • December 16 1958
    J. Arthur Rank production A Night To Remember is released.


  • July 7, 1963
    Titanic Historical Society Formed


  • September 1, 1985
    The wreck site of Titanic was discovered by a French/American team headed by underwater geologist Dr. Robert Ballard of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.


  • In August 1987, Titanic Ventures Limited Partnership (predecessor to RMS Titanic, Inc.) contracted with IFREMER, the French oceanographic research institute, to conduct approximately 60 days of research and recovery operations at the Titanic wreck site.
    Using IFREMER's state-of-the-art technology, including the manned submersible Nautile, the expedition team recovered some 1,800 objects in the course of 23 dives. The expedition also produced some 140 hours of video footage and over 7,000 still images of the wreck and surrounding debris field. All of the recovered objects were conserved in the laboratories of Electricité de France (EDF), the French government owned power utility company, which developed a new method of electrolytic reduction baths to remove the corroding sea salts from the metal objects.


  • On May 4, 1993, RMS Titanic, Inc. acquired all the assets and assumed all the liabilities of Titanic Ventures Limited Partnership. The following month, RMS Titanic, Inc. and IFREMER conducted a second joint expedition to the Titanic's wreck site with the French research and recovery ship Nadir. The French-American team conducted 15 dives.


  • In the summer of 1994, RMS Titanic, Inc., with IFREMER, returned to the Titanic's wreck site and completed 18 dives. The expedition recovered over 700 artifacts. In addition, a 17-ton section of the Ship's hull found lying on the seabed, was painstakingly measured by Nautile for retrieval at a later expedition. The artifacts recovered subsequently went on exhibition at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, England where they were seen by over 720,000 people.
    1994 and 1996: RMS Titanic, Inc. was granted rights to the wreck of the RMS Titanic by a United States Federal Court order. The court award includes the exclusive rights to recover the artifacts from the wreck site.


  • This was RMS Titanic, Inc.'s fourth mission and one that conducted groundbreaking scientific investigations into the wreck. Using the most sophisticated research tools available at the time and advanced techniques of reverse engineering, forensic science, and crash investigation, an international team of naval architects, microbial biologists, metallurgists, and historians from five countries examined the Ship and attempted to solve the mysteries surrounding the disaster. The major purpose of the 1996 expedition, however, was to record and document the wreck in detail and to raise a 17-ton portion of the hull.
  • To determine how fast the Titanic is corroding on the seabed, Canadian microbiologist Dr. Roy Cullimore conducted investigations into the "rusticles," elaborate colonies of iron-consuming microorganisms that cover nearly every surface of the hull.


  • December 19, 1997: Oscar winning James Cameron Titanic movie released.


  • RMS Titanic, Inc. and IFREMER continued many of the scientific investigations begun on Expedition 1996 while also recovering artifacts. In addition to discovering new debris fields west of the stern section, it was also the first time in history that a live fiber-optic television link from the bottom of the ocean was created, permitting viewers to watch in real time the exploration of the wreck by a manned submersible, and earning the record for the deepest underwater live broadcast. In addition, the bow and stern sections were mapped by ultra high-resolution digital photography; a detailed photo mosaic of the Ship was created from these images.


  • On the sixth expedition to the wreck site, RMS Titanic utilized the services of the Russian P.P. Shirshov Institute, its research vessel Keldysh, and its submersibles MIR I and MIR II, under the command of Professor Anatoly Sagalevitch. The purpose of the expedition was to recover artifacts that would help explain the construction and destruction of the Ship and its impact on the ocean floor.


  • RMS Titanic, Inc. conducted its seventh research and recovery mission to Titanic's wreck site. The goals of this expedition were to recover artifacts for exhibition, identify objects for future recovery, inspect the wreck site for alleged harm caused by previous visitors, and, if necessary, to establish guidelines for future visitations. The mission utilized a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) rather than the manned submersibles used on previous expeditions. The ROV, provided by Phoenix International, Inc., was equipped with cameras, lighting systems, and two manipulator arms that allowed for the team to engage in round-the-clock underwater operations and to watch those operations in real time from the surface.


  • RMS Titanic, Inc. conducts what is arguably considered the most technologically advanced scientific expedition to Titanic ever organized. RMS Titanic, Inc. brought together a team of leading archaeologists, oceanographers and scientists including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Waitt Institute to take innovative measures to virtually raise Titanic, preserving the legacy of the Ship for all time.