CHRONOLOGY OF EVENTS WITH REFERENCES AND NOTES

 

This chronology reflects the order of events pertaining to the maiden voyage of Titanic. It is the most comprehensive and extensively referenced chronology of Titanic’s maiden voyage ever assembled, and first appeared in: Samuel Halpern, et al., Report Into the Loss of the SS Titanic – A Centennial Reappraisal, The History Press, 2011.

 

The chronology is based upon evidence that comes from survivor accounts as given in sworn testimony, affidavits, letters and other credible sources. The sources for the events included in the chronology are listed alongside each set grouped under a specified time. There is also a set of notes that explain how certain event times were derived, or offer additional pertinent information.  In some cases, reference is made to specific articles and other publications where more details and in-depth explanations can be found. For most of the wireless messages shown, reliance was heavily placed on primary sources such as wireless logs or wireless station office forms that are available, rather than using some previously compiled list.

 

In all cases, we have tried to insure the relative accuracy of event sequences. However, the accuracy of event times themselves cannot be guaranteed. The reader must understand that actual clock times were only known for a relatively few events where someone took the time off of a clock or a watch. Even for the times associated with wireless messages, where messages were recorded using a standard time reference such as mean time for New York or Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), we find variances in the reported times put down by different operators describing the same communication. Some of this may have been caused by small inaccuracies in the clocks being used. In many cases, a time given was simply rounded to the nearest 5-minute interval. For example, if an event took place at precisely 11.43, you may find some people saying that it happened at 11.40 while others may say it happened at 11.45. And we find that this was true for times put down in many of the wireless logs where time was taken off of a nearby clock. In many situations, we have people guessing as to the time some event took place, or how long it was since the collision or some other event happened. And here we can only rely on what they said, or try and correlate their time estimate with the time of some other event or what others had to say.

 

The other difficulty arises from the fact that ships at sea did not carry the same time. They each carried what is called Apparent Time Ship (ATS) which was based on the ship’s noontime longitude, or expected noontime longitude, for a given day. It was rare indeed for two ships to have been keeping the exact same time unless they happened to have crossed the same meridian when the sun reached its highest point in the sky. In this chronology, we use New York Time (NYT) as the standard time reference for all events because most of the wireless messages presented in evidence were recorded for ships that were west of the 40°W meridian, and the times put down in their wireless logs, called a procès-verbal, were recorded in NYT. To get to GMT, the reader simply has to add 5 hours.

 

We also show time as it would have appeared on Titanic’s wheelhouse clock. This was referred to in the IMM Co. rule book as ‘Bridge Time’ and was the time that was kept in the wheelhouse on the bridge, down in the engine rooms, and in crew spaces in the forecastle. It was the time that controlled when ship’s bells were struck. For the most part, clocks in passenger places such as the main staircases, the lounges, reception rooms, saloons, libraries, and other public areas, would also show the same time as in the wheelhouse except between the hours of midnight and 4a.m. The reason for this is that the wheelhouse and engine room clocks served the needs of the deck and engine department crew who stood regular watches, and those watch sections had to share extra time imposed each night because of the nightly clock adjustments that were made as the ship traveled westward on her voyage. Those adjustments were made on a master clock in the chart room in two separate steps every night, one at midnight and the other at 4a.m., while clocks in passenger areas, controlled off of a second master clock in the chart room, were adjusted only once per night near midnight. It has been noted that a number of passengers happened to stay up late each night in the smoking rooms waiting for the midnight clock adjustment to take place so that they could set their personal timepieces accurately to the new time.

 

The level of detail presented in this chronology varies. The greatest level of detail is given beginning with 14 April through the morning hours of 15 April. More event details and additional references can be found in other sections of Centennial Reappraisal book, or in the listed references and notes provided in this chronology.

 

In the interest of saving space, several abbreviations are used throughout this chronology such as:

AB=Able-Bodied Seaman;

ATS=Apparent Time Ship;

BR=Boiler Room;

C/E=Chief Engineer; 2/E=Second Engineer, etc.;

C/O=Chief Officer; 1/O=First Officer, etc.;

DR=Dead Reckoning;

ETA=Expected Time of Arrival;

MSG=Master Service Gram;

OOW=Officer of the Watch;

PV=Procès-Verbal;

QM=Quartermaster;

TR=Time Rush;

WSL=White Star Line;

WTB=Watertight Bulkhead;

WTD=Watertight Door, etc.

 

We also list the three-letter wireless call signs of the individual wireless stations, both ship and shore, that were involved.

 

There are five columns in the chronology tables: 

  1. Mean time and date for the 75th meridian, also referred to as New York Time (NYT)  [add 5 hours to get GMT]
  2. Wheelhouse clock time on board Titanic, also referred to as ‘Bridge Time’ or ship’s time
  3. The events occurring at or close to the time specific
  4. List of specific source references from which the events listed for that time were obtained
  5. Reference number (N) to list of additional explanatory notes where more information about the event and the time can be found

 

To view the complete Chronology of Events, click here:  CHRONOLOGY

 

To view the list of explanatory notes referred to in the chronology, click here:  NOTES