An artist’s rendering of the Titanic hitting the iceberg, though the actual collision was likely more glancing.

Despite the warning ‘Iceberg, Right Ahead!’ the Titanic was doomed

Multiple mistakes and miscalculations led to the sinking of the 'unsinkable' RMS Titanic 110 years ago, only a few days into its maiden voyage across the Atlantic.

An artist’s rendering of the Titanic hitting the iceberg, though the actual collision was likely more glancing.
Photograph by Private Collection, Paris, France/Album/Art Resource, NY

Three days after the Titanic set sail from Southampton, England, on its maiden voyage, Captain Edward J. Smith followed a normal Sunday routine. He inspected the ship but declined to conduct a scheduled safety drill. He led a worship service and then met with his officers to fix the ship’s position. According to their calculations, the Titanic averaged a sprightly 22 knots. As the sun set on April 14, 1912, the temperature lowered to freezing. The sea’s surface shone like glass, making it hard to spot icebergs, common to the North Atlantic in spring.

Nevertheless, Captain Smith kept the ship at full speed. He believed the crew could react in time if any were sighted.

Icebergs did indeed lay ahead. By 7:30 p.m., the Titanic had received five warnings from nearby ships. Marconi wireless operator Jack Phillips took down a detailed ship’s message pinpointing the location of “heavy pack ice and a great number of bergs,” but Phillips, busy sending passengers’ personal messages, apparently did not show it to any officer.

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