Titanic Departs Southampton on Maiden Voyage (10 April 1912)

Titanic at the docks of Southampton, 10 April 1912
Unknown Author
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

Titanic captain Edward J. Smith boards the ship at 7:30 am. Since it docked in Southampton on 3 April, the ship has taken on crew and supplies for the voyage. At 9:30 am, passengers would begin to arrive as the London and South Western Railway train from London would arrive. The railway station was on the quayside alongside where Titanic was berthed. There was a large number of Third-Class passengers (called Steerage back then) so they had to board first. First and Second-Class passengers would have stewards escort them to their cabins. First Class passengers were greeted by Captain Smith. Third Class passengers had to undergo inspection for ailments and other conditions that might deny them entry to the United States. If refused to enter the United States, White Star Line had to carry them back. 920 passengers boarded at Southampton: 179 First Class, 247 Second Class, and 494 Third Class. Additional passengers were to be picked up in Cherbourg and Queenstown.

Titanic reversed her course, drifts back toward the mouth of White Star Dock, as New York is manouevered to a temporary mooring in the River Itchen (Daily Mirror)
Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

At 12 noon the ship’s horn blew and Titanic began its departure. Due her large size, Titanic generated a huge displacement causing smaller ships docked nearby to be momentarily lifted by the bulge of water. The liner New York’s mooring cables were unable to handle the strain and snapped, swinging the ship stern-first towards Titanic. A nearby tugboat came to assist and took New York under tow. On Titanic, Captain Smith ordered the engines be put full astern to give her enough speed to avoid colliding with New York.  Collision was avoided but it was close at 4 feet. Due to this incident, Titanic was delayed leaving Southampton for an hour while the drifting New York was brought under control making it safe for all ships to arrive and depart.

After navigating out of Southampton, and dropping off the Southampton pilot, Titanic headed out into the English Channel and her next destination of Cherbourg, France. The journey would take 77 nautical miles (89 miles). Weather to Cherbourg would be windy, cold, and overcast. Arriving at 6:30 pm the same day, Titanic would take on passengers by tender as Cherbourg lacked docking facilities for it. The two tenders, SS Traffic and SS Nomadic, were designed for ships like Titanic. 274 additional passengers would board in Cherbourg: 142 First Class, 30 Second Class, and 102 Third Class. 24 passengers departed at Cherbourg having only booked passage to France. The transfer of all passengers and their luggage was done by 8 pm. Titanic would depart for its final stop in Queenstown, Ireland before heading off to New York. The weather to Queenstown would remain cold and windy.

[To be continued on April 11]



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