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The Titanic.

Built by
Harland & Wolff
of Belfast.


When the Titanic was launched on the 31st May 1911 it was the largest man made moveable object in the world, it had a displacement of 46,348 tons. Its launch marked the end of a gargantuan effort on the part of the workforce of Harland & Wolff, who in the space of 26 months built the hull ready for launching, a further 10 months saw Titanic successfully undergoing sea trials and on the 2nd April 1912 she left Belfast for Southampton to embark her passengers and the remainder of her crew.

At Southampton which was to be her home port, and from where a large proportion of her crew were drawn, Titanic was met by exuberant crowds. Besides passengers The White Star Line held the mail contract for Britain and America, Titanic loaded bags of mail. In early 1912 Britain was in the grip of a coal strike, the bunkers of the Oceanic and the Adriatic were raided to supply enough fuel for Titanic's crossing

Provisioning a luxury liner for an ocean crossing is a fascinating exercise in logistics, following is a brief list of some of the items taken aboard Titanic at Southampton, 35,000 eggs, 40 ton potatoes, 75,000 lbs of fresh meat, 1,000 bottles of wine, 15,000 bottles of ale and stout.

Shortly after noon on the 10th April all was ready and Titanic crept slowly from the quay assisted by her tugs, at this point disaster was narrowly avoided when the displacement of such a large volume of water in the confined space of the dock, combined with an offshore wind caused another liner the New York to snap her mooring lines, Captain Smith immediately cut his engines, then engaged his port engine using the wash of the port propeller to halt the swing of the New York, whose stern passed the Titanic's port quarter by only a few inches.

Captain Smith maneuvered the ship skillfully down Southampton water and through the Thorn Channel, when in open water the order for full speed ahead was given and with Titanic's head set towards Cherbourg on the French coast, the passengers settled in for the short crossing of the English channel. That evening Titanic lay at anchor in Cherbourg Roads, awaiting passengers who had been holidaying in the fashionable resorts in the south of France, some of these passengers had with them their servants and a prestigious amount of luggage.This was the first meeting in service of The Titanic and Nordic two ships which had been born side by side in Belfast, one hundred and fourtytwo passengers were embarked at Cherbourg

The Nomadic is now in Belfast awaiting restoration which will hopefully bring her back to her former glory, she is the only surviving ship of the White Star Line from the transatlantic passenger liner era. We can only hope this venture is a success, as it would surely attract thousands of visitors to Belfast.

After the new passengers were loaded Titanic set sail for Queenstown (Cobh) in Ireland to collect more passengers and mail. Late in the forenoon of 11th April the coast of Ireland was sighted, Titanic took a pilot on board and steamed slowly around Roshes Point dropping anchor two miles offshore. Some 150 passengers embarked at Queenstown most of which were young women setting out for a new life in America, the majority with third class tickets. It was at this point that several passengers saw the soot encrusted face of a fireman appear at the top of one of the funnels, this and previous foreboding he had had prompted a young fireman John Coffey to desert the ship.

A short time later Titanic's siren sounded as her three gigantic propellers powered by 50,000 horse power threshed the Atlantic waters, stirring the sleeping vessel into life and setting her off towards the Nantucket light vessel off the Massachusetts coast of America some two thousand miles distant. Titanic took the standard route used by mail steamers this was the Great Circle Course 'The shortest distance between two points on the globe.' It was about this time the lookouts requested binoculars, a request which had previously made without success.

By early on Friday the 12th Titanic was well out in the Atlantic, the weather was exceptionally fine for the time of the year, offering the opportunity for a fast passage. The passengers were enjoying the many luxury facilities the ship offered as she forged her way towards her destination as steady as a luxury hotel set in a city center,

The Titanic was not the first ship the White Star Line had lost on its maiden voyage The Tayleur a full rigged ship left Liverpool on the 26th January, 1854, bound for Melbourne with 581 passengers and 71 crew. She encountering fog off the Irish coast, the vessel stranded on Lambay Island and 380 people were drowned. Read a full account on The MightySeas.com .

Mayo Titanic Society read more

Go to Belfast Shipyard home page.