Titanic was launched on the 31st May 1911, the same day that the Olympic was officially handed over to the White Star Line. Tragedy struck the launch when shipwright James Dobbin was critically injured by a shoring beam and died in hospital. Titanic was manouvered the short distance to the Thompson Graving Dock to begin her luxurious fitting out.
Ten months later on April 1st 1912, she was ready for sea trails which would to get the Board of Trade certificate for plying the Atlantic. This was nine days before her first scheduled voyage from Southampton to New York which was to depart on 10th April.
The sea trails were postponed a day due to weather but went ahed the next day. On April 2nd 1912 she was towed down Belfast Lough and two miles off Carrickfergus she moved under her own steam and began a day of trails with the inspectors aboard.
Returning to Belfast around 7pm, her Board of Trade Certificate was issued by a Mr Carruthers and those not bound for Southampton were ferried ashore. the liner left Belfast at 8pm arriving in Southampton the next day and tying up at berth 44, seven days before her first scheduled trans atlantic sailing.
At noon on April 10th 1912, Titanic left her berth in Southampton under the command of Captain Smith who had also been Captain of the Olympic. There was an near collision as the displacement of water from the Titanic forced the liner ‘New York’ to snap her stern moorings and drift towards the Titanic, the skill of the tug boats and crews adverted a collision. The two ships came within four feet of each other.
Titanic sailed for Cherbourg to pick up 274 passengers, anchoring offshore due to her draft. The Traffic and Nomadic (now in Belfast under restoration), both purposely built for the job at Harland & Wolff, ferried the passengers, luggage and mail out.
Under two hours later she was underway for Queenstown, Ireland, arriving the following morning and anchoring two miles offshore. Again two small tenders the ‘Ireland and ‘America’ ferried the passengers, luggage and mail out.
On the afternoon of April 11th, with a compliment of 2206 passengers and crew, Titanic hauled in her anchors off Queenstown, Ireland and began her maiden voyage across the Atlantic to New York.
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