If we would have been there in 1912, we probably would have standing on the shores of Belfast Lough, watching the Titanic take her first strides through the water.
April 2, 1912
After the previous day's unfinished venture, the Titanic was once again towed back to Belfast Lough in the bright early morning. The weather conditions permitted the sea trials to begin. Spectators watched from the banks of the channel as the Titanic's steam puffed into the air, propelling herself for the first time. Steering of the ship was tested, her siren blasted through the air, and other basic ship maneuvers practiced. When trying an emergency stop, the Titanic could come to a complete halt in just over 3 minutes--a good timeframe for her size of ship! Overall, the Titanic readily passed the trials as best as possible. The Titanic was perfect. Throughout the afternoon of April 2nd, 1912, the practicing continued and the townspeople watched from the shore. It was quite the social event, and if you lived in the Belfast area, you probably would have been there watching too.
Later into the evening, the final test came of raising and lowering the 3 mighty anchors. Altogether these anchors weighed 30 & a half tons---it took that much to hold the Titanic still in the water! When the Board of Trade inspector approved of everything he had seen that day, he presented a certificate that read: "Good for one year from today 2.4.12." Little did they know, she wouldn't be around for her next yearly inspection.
An interesting fact here is that the Titanic's sea trials lasted only a few hours that day. This is the only testing that was ever practiced before she set out and left land behind. Ships that were smaller than the Titanic could easily have sea trials that lasted several days, and in some cases, weeks. Captains, officials, and crewmembers usually wanted to understand everything about the new ship they were trying out before collecting passengers for a real voyage. With the Titanic being so much larger than normal steam liners, wouldn't it have been quite informative to be able to understand the ship even better, in how she would react in certain scenarios? Would it really have been too much trouble to practice with her immense size just a little bit longer before setting out to sea?
As soon as the scanty sea trials were finished, more work was still to be done for the day: the Titanic's first trip. This wasn't her first voyage, but it was only a small journey from one city to another, so that in the new harbor, the final preparations could be made for the big voyage that was approaching. As the daylight departed from Belfast, so did the Titanic. She started on a 570 mile trip through the Irish Sea to Southampton (a city on the south coast of England). The route is shown on the map below. Southampton is where she would stay for several more days, as the crew and officials prepared for the Titanic's anticipated voyage to America.
Wondering what happens next? Well, the people of Southampton were wondering the same thing, as the Titanic made her towards their port.
I'm excited to continue with my series of posts about the Titanic tomorrow, and the days coming after that. What facts about the Titanic have you learned so far?