After a one day delay due to very high winds the Titanic departs her Harland & Wolff builders yards April 2nd at 8 am. The high winds has died down and the huge liner was easily moved from her dock by the yard’s tugs. Lines were made fast and she was slowly turned around and pulled out into the river Lagan that lead to Belfast Lough where her trials would be held.
Titanic was under the power and direction of the four yard tugs. Her engines were now on ‘standby’ and her three huge screws motionless only awaiting the signal from the bridge for the Engineers to turn the valves and feed the steam into the engines and turbines. On board the Titanic a skeleton crew in the deck department was poised to take in the cables and lines from the tugs once the ship was ready to begin her engine and maneuverability trials.
At 10 am the lines were cast off and the order from the bridge was given by Captain Smith – “Half ahead - all engines”. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, Titanic started to move forward. The very first time she was fully under her own power. It was a breathtaking moment for all aboard and for the hundreds of well wishers that lined the shores to watch her depart. She turned to starboard in a long curving arc and steadied her course into the Lough.
Titanic’s speed slowly increased as more and more steam was fed into the engines. Ten knots became twelve then fifteen. Slowly the speed increased to twenty knots, about 23 land miles per hour, as Titanic’s huge bulk plowed through the calm seas the sun glinting off the fresh paint on her hull, superstructure and four tall funnels.
A series of leisurely turns to port and starboard were executed to check Titanic’s maneuverability in response to her wheel on the bridge. Speed was increased to twenty-two knots and another series of turns were executed this time more tightly. These were crash turns to test the response time it would take Titanic to avoid an object ahead of her.
After these tests Titanic, again steaming at twenty-two knots, was put through a series of crash stops where the engines were stopped, then reversed. It took the ship about a full minute, a distance of about a mile and a half, to reach a complete dead stop from this high speed. Everyone on the bridge and the officials from Harland & Wolff were extremely pleased at Titanic’s operation during these trials.
Titanic returned to the entrance of the river Lagan where she dropped anchor. It was nearly 8 pm and the sun has set to the west. A Harland & Wolff work boat arrives at her side with additional pieces of furniture and related articles. These were quickly loaded on board. Also at this time the yard staff and workers were debarked. A group of fourteen men, all top professionals in their various trades, were to remain on board Titanic to complete and further test the liners facilities.
They would also sail on the maiden voyage. They were the “guarantee group” from Harland & Wolff. It would be their responsibility to make sure everything was in tip top shape for this newest addition to the White Star Line.
Her anchor raised, speed again increased as Titanic turned once more and headed due south to begin the 36-hour voyage to her home port of Southampton, England where she would have an additional week of preparations before her maiden voyage departure of noon on Wednesday, April 10th, 1912.