Here's How Long It Really Took For The Titanic To Sink

The mighty, majestic ship Titanic took more than two years to build, and it was heralded for its luxury and sturdiness, per Britannica. It was part of a set of three special large-scale ships built for the White Star company by Harland and Wolff in Belfast, and the Titanic was meant to provide the latest in comfort for its passengers. The massive ship had a swimming pool, a grand first-class dining room, and other amenities for its guests.

In addition to offering top-of-the-line hospitality to its guests, the Titanic also promised to be an extremely safe vessel for sea travel. The liner was considered unsinkable because of its special design. The ship's hull had 16 compartments so that any damage done could be contained, and the Titanic could stay afloat even if four of those compartments flooded. Sadly, no one was prepared for what would happen if more than four of these sections were damaged. According to History, at least five compartments were punctured when the Titanic collided with an iceberg.

The Titanic's front went into the water first

On the night of April 14, 1915, the Titanic received several messages from other ships warning of icebergs in the area (via Britannica). Not all of these warnings made it to the ship's bridge because the two radio operators were also handling messages for the ship's passengers as well. The two crew members who were acting as lookouts had the extra challenge of not having binoculars. This also contributed to the delay in spotting the dangers that lay in the Titanic's path.

At 11:40 p.m., the Titanic hit an iceberg and water began pouring into the ship through holes in the hull (via BBC). It took about another 25 minutes for the first distress calls to be sent out, and then the lifeboats lowered a short time after that, per Britannica. Reports vary slightly, but around 2:10 a.m., the front of the mighty ship went under the water. This caused all of the lights to go out, and the Titanic's stern, the back of the ship, rose up. The pressure proved to be too much for the vessel, and the ship broke in two. First the ship's front, or bow, descended to the ocean floor, followed by its stern. It only took a few minutes for the two sections of the Titanic to sink.

The Titanic quickly dropped to the ocean floor

There are different ways to measure the sinking of the Titanic. From the initial impact with the iceberg to the ship's two sections hitting the bottom of the ocean, it took more than two-and-a-half hours (via National Geographic). The timeline, however, is much shorter when viewed from the moment that the bow dipped below the water. From that vantage point, it was merely minutes before the ship's sections reached the bottom. Recent discoveries have thrown into question what had previously been accepted as fact about the sinking.

According to a report on, a 2005 expedition to the wreckage of the Titanic determined that the ship sank in five minutes and that the ship had broken into three pieces, not two, as earlier thought. The wreckage had originally been found in 1985 by Robert Ballard about 380 miles southeast of Newfoundland, Canada.

No matter how long the sinking of the Titanic took, it proved to be one of the most infamous disasters at sea. There were approximately 2,200 people on board, and only 705 were rescued by the ship's lifeboats, per Britannica. The tragic incident led to numerous safety changes in the passenger ship industry.