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Titanic's Sea Trials

By April 1912 Titanic was ready to be handed over by her builders Harland and Wolff to her owners the White Star Line, there was just one thing left to do before she was handed over and be ready to leave her birthplace Belfast - her sea trials - which, if successfully completed would be followed by her being granted a certificate to sail with passengers and allow her to be handed over by her builders to her owners and begin her career.

The sea trials were to have taken place on 1st April 1912 - little more than a week before Titanic's scheduled departure for her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York - but at near the last moment it had to be cancelled for that day due to the weather conditions, a strong breeze. It was considered too dangerous to attempt to navigate Titanic out in the weather conditions, and so, the sea trials were postponed until the following day.

On 2nd April the weather conditions were good, and so Titanic was made ready for her sea trials to begin. Onboard Titanic to observe the sea trials were, along with her skeleton crew - the minimum required to operate the ship - the rest to be brought aboard while in Southampton, were numerous workers and representatives of Harland and Wollf, including Thomas Andrews, a senior designer of Titanic; Onboard representing the British Board of Trade was Francis Carruthers, an engineer and ship Surveyor, who had been supervising the construction of the Titanic, and representing the White Star Line was Harold Sanderson, a senior manager of the line.

In command of Titanic was Captain Edward Smith who had been handed command of Titanic, in time for the sea trials, just the day before. Titanic's Marconi wireless operators, Jack Phillips and Harold Bride were busy testing the radio, which in less than a fortnight would alert the survivors rescue ship to Titanic's peril, and sending test messages to the Mallin Head radio station at the very top of the island of Ireland and to a station in Liverpool across on the island of Great Britain.

In the morning tugboats began towing Titanic away from Harland and Wolff and out to Belfast Lough. Free of the tugboats, steaming out in the open water, Titanic truly become alive; various manoeuvres were tested, including testing Titanic's ability to turn and the ability to handle the ship. Charles Lightoller, one of Titanic's senior officers, later stated that they were turning circles, which consisted of "seeing in what space the ship will turn under certain helms with the engines at various speeds." While out on her sea trials, the opportunity was taken to undertake the essential task of adjusting Titanic's compasses.

Later in the day, Titanic, still with the representative of the British Board of Trade and the others aboard, was taken out into the Irish sea for a run and was sailed on a relatively straight course for, as estimated by Charles Lightoller, approximately 2 hours, before turning around and heading back to Belfast.

Having returned from her sea trials, which she had completed successfully, Francis Carruthers agreed to sign Titanic's passenger certificate, allowing her to enter service. Titanic was now ready to leave her builders and officially enter the White Star fleet.

With her maiden voyage soon commencing from Southampton, there was no time for delay, and so after those not sailing with Titanic went ashore and some last-minute provisions were brought aboard, Titanic sailed away from Belfast that evening to what was supposed to have been a good career. Thomas Andrew's and a small group of Harland and Wolff employees stayed aboard to finish off any last work and fix any problems. Francis Carruthers and Harold Sanderson also stayed aboard until Southampton. Titanic's first trip from Belfast to Southampton (her delivery trip) had begun.

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