2nd April 1912 –
Titanic undergoes trials

Titanic ready to leave BelfastHerbert Haddock was appointed on 27th March to command Titanic. Then it was announced that E.J. Smith was to be given command, and Haddock would transfer to Olympic. E.J. Smith arrived in Belfast on 1st April and signed on as Titanic’s cap­tain. There were 78 stokers and trimmers plus 41 officers and senior crewmen aboard for the trials. Twenty Scotch boilers were fired up late on 31st March, as they would take between 8 and 12 hours to reach operating temperature and steam pressure. Once at the operational level, the fires were banked down to maintain an even heat. On 31st March five tugs – Herald, Herculaneum, Hercules, Hornby and Huskisson – arrived from Alexander Towing in Liverpool. Overnight the weather deteriorated and by 10.00am, when Titanic was expected to leave, the north-west wind was too strong and it was decided to delay the trials for 24 hours, to avoid risking the liner in the narrow confines of the Victoria Channel. The next day the weather had improved sufficiently, and the trials were concentrated into just one day: it was considered this would be sufficient.

Titanic in Belfast Lough for trialsOn 2nd April 1912 the crew were aboard early; the stokers and trimmers opened up the boilers from the night before and were soon busy getting everything on line and the steam pressure up. The tugs moved in and at 6.00am helped Titanic down the Victoria Channel and into Belfast Lough. Hornby was on the starboard bow line, Herald was leading, Herculaneum was on the starboard line and Huskisson on the port line. Once into the Lough the little group came to a halt, the tugs cast off and returned to Belfast. The engines and rudder were tested, and the compasses adjusted. Smith ordered the blue and white international code signal to be hoisted – “I am undergoing sea trials”. Titanic then completed several hours of manœuvring trials, speed runs and testing various items of equipment. After lunch, Titanic headed south for around two hours in a continuous power test, before heading back to Belfas, during which she averaged 18 knots during a total run of 80 miles. Titanic was back at Belfast by 6.30pm. After testing the anchors, Francis Carruthers, the Board of Trade surveyor, signed Titanic’s certificate of seaworthiness, valid for one year. With this formality completed Thomas Andrews, on behalf of Harland & Wolff, handed Titanic over to Harold Sanderson as the official representative of White Star Line. At this point Titanic was registered at Liverpool, with the official number 131,428.

1st April 1902 – keel laid for Kaiser Wilhelm II

KWII plating hullNDL laid the keel for its next great liner, Kaiser Wilhelm II, on 1st April 1902, at the Vulcan yard at Stettin. On 12th August 1902 the launch was attended by the Kaiser, dressed in full Admiral’s uniform.  An older NDL liner of the same name was renamed Hohenzollern to free the name. The new liner was again designed to be quickly con­verted into an armed merchant cruiser should the need ever arise. Accommodation was planned for 700 First Class passengers in 290 cabins, plus 359 in Second Class and 799 in Third Class/Steerage. There were two principal suites, each with a drawing room, dining room, bed­room and private bathroom. There were also de luxe suites and large staterooms, each with their own bathrooms.

kwII after launchOnce launched she was taken to the fitting out yard for completion. The main dining room on Kaiser Wilhelm II measured 108 feet by 69 feet, and rose through three floors to a skylight between the pairs of funnels. It even included two minstrels’ galleries. The smoking room was horseshoe-shaped around a funnel casing and also had the benefit of a large skylight. Further aft was a Vienna Café, which allowed both ladies and gentlemen to meet and mingle socially. For those ladies preferring to stay separate there was also a Ladies’ Salon.