How Long Did It Take to Build the Titanic?

We are often asked how long did it take to build the Titanic? Today, we will provide all the answers about this famous ship.

The RMS Titanic is arguably the most famous ship ever built. For its time, it was a true engineering marvel and the ultimate symbol of luxury and class. While many people today assume that its fame is primarily due to its tragic sinking, the reality is that the previously unimaginable scale of the ship really captured the world’s attention.

Today, we will explain in great detail how long it took to build the Titanic. Not only will we provide you with a detailed breakdown of the interesting timeline of the Titanic’s construction, but we are also going to compare it to the build times of modern-day cruise ships.

Whether you have a deep interest in the history of the Titanic or you just have a general curiosity for everything related to the cruise industry, we have the answers you are looking for!

When Was the Titanic Built?

Construction of the Titanic began in 1909 in Belfast, Ireland. Irish ship-building company Harland & Wolff constructed the ship. The Harland and Wolff shipyard worked alongside the shipping company White Star Line, a British company that acted as a subsidiary of an American company called International Mercantile Marine Co.

Who Ordered the Construction of the Titanic?

The Titanic was ordered and owned by White Star Line, founded in 1869. By the time construction began on the Titanic, White Star Line had been building and operating luxurious ocean liners for nearly 40 years.

White Star Line Ad
White Star Line Ad (Photo Credit: chrisdorney / Shutterstock)

Naturally, the Titanic and the sister ship Olympic were meant to be the crown jewels in White Star Line’s fleet. When laying out designs and intentions for the Titanic, it was envisioned as the world’s most luxurious and expensive transatlantic passenger ship.

How Long Did It Take to Build the Titanic?

As mentioned, construction on the Titanic began in 1909. The Titanic’s enormous keel was laid down on March 31st, 1909, often taken as the official first day of construction.

While there is some debate about the official date of completion, as some take the date to be the day construction ended, while others say it was not complete until its first sea trial, the commonly accepted completion date is April 2nd, 1912.

How Tall Was the Titanic
Photo Credit: Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock

This means there were exactly 1,098 days between the start of construction and the generally accepted final day of construction. Simply put, it took three years and two days for the Titanic to be built. 

Construction workers toiled night and day to complete the ship quickly. The enormous project ended up claiming the lives of eight workers.

What Steps Were Involved in Building the Titanic?

Like any ship, the Titanic was built in phases. Given the Titanic’s unprecedented scale at the time of its construction, each phase required significant effort and manpower. To help you understand how the Titanic was built, here is a simple breakdown of the main phases of its construction.

Read Also: Ocean Liner vs Cruise Ship – What are the Differences?

Design

Before construction, White Star Line assembled some of the most well-respected naval engineers to create plans for the Titanic. Given the immense scale of the Titanic, planning took much longer than a typical passenger liner would.

Titanic Design Blueprints
Titanic Design Blueprints (Image Credit: Elena Kozak / Shutterstock)

Start of Construction and Framing

After the designs were finalized, construction began on March 31st, 1909. At the peak of construction, the shipyard employed over 14,000 men, giving you an idea of the project’s immense scale.

After roughly one year of construction, the Titanic’s massive steel frame was complete, which was the most time-consuming aspect of the construction.

Titanic Construction
Titanic Construction

It took almost 3.5 million rivets to hold the steel plates that formed the Titanic’s hull in place to give you an idea of how much labor was involved in this phase.

Assembly of the Interior of the Ship

Once the frame and side plating of the ship were held together, work could begin on the interior of the Titanic. This phase took thousands of workers, all completing various jobs. The entire project took nearly a year to complete, from installing the ship’s enormous engine and propellers to building various decks and rooms.

Outfitting the Ship

The outfitting phase could begin once the ship’s interior and exterior were complete. During this lengthy phase, the ship’s interior could be outfitted with luxurious amenities. Everything from grand staircases and opulent dining areas was installed, which took months to complete.

Titanic
Photo Credit: Everett Collection / Shutterstock

It is important to note that the Titanic was meant not just to be one of the largest passenger vessels ever made, it was designed to be the peak of luxury travel, so the outfitting stage was incredibly time-consuming. Every detail was completed with meticulous attention to detail.

Launching of the Titanic and Tests of Sea-Worthiness

An enormous crowd gathered to see the Titanic first enter the water towards the end of 1911. While this was an important event, as it proved the massive ship could float, it was far from the date of the ship’s completion.

After it first entered the water, nearly an entire year worth of tests and finishing touches to the interior were required. These finishing touches delayed the estimated completion date by several months. 

When Did the Titanic Set Out on Its Maiden Voyage?

There was a short time between the Titanic being completed in Belfast, Ireland, to setting sail on its first passenger voyage from Southampton, England.

In fact, you can measure the length of time in days! With many believing that the official completion date for the Titanic was April 2nd, 1912, as this was the date of its final sea-worthiness test, it set off with passengers just eight days later on April 10th, 1912.

Titanic Voyage
Titanic Voyage

As you likely know, on April 15th, 1912, the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank in the North Atlantic Ocean. Out of the 2,240 on board, more than 1,500 passengers and crew members lost their lives.

How Big Was the Titanic?

The Titanic was a genuinely enormous ship for its time. Its length is still comparable to the largest cruise ships of today. To give you a better appreciation for its impressive size, here are the Titanic’s official dimensions and statistics:

  • Length of Keel – 852.5 feet
  • Overall Length with Propellers – 882.7 feet
  • Breadth – 92.5 feet
  • Depth – 59.6 feet
  • Total Weight in Tonnage – Gross 46,329
  • Number of Decks – 7
  • Total Passenger and Crew Capacity – 3,320 (2,435 passengers and 885 crew)

To learn more about how big the Titanic was, consider reading How Tall Was the Titanic – Actual Size Guide.

How Does the Titanic Compare in Size to Modern-Day Cruise Ships?

While a direct size comparison is difficult, as the Titanic’s design differs greatly from that of a modern-day cruise ship, it is still worth comparing a few statistics.

Where the Titanic was just over 100 feet tall, most modern-day, largescale cruise ships are about 200 feet tall. Another way to measure the difference in size between the two is that the Titanic had nine passenger decks, whereas the average ocean-worthy cruise ship today tends to have about 12 to 14 passenger decks, plus additional decks for various types of amenities.

RMS Titanic
RMS Titanic (Photo Credit: D. Ribeiro / Shutterstock)

In terms of weight, the Titanic had a gross tonnage of 46,328, which set a record for the time. By comparison, a modern cruise ship weighs more than double, with the average gross tonnage sitting around 120,000.

Today, some of the largest cruise ships in the world, like the Royal Caribbean’s Oasis Class ships, have an incredible gross tonnage of 230,000!

This is not to diminish the immense size of the Titanic, which was groundbreaking for the time and a truly historic achievement in shipbuilding; it goes to show how far cruise ships have come since the early 20th century.

How Does the Titanic’s Construction Time Compare to the Build Time for Modern-Day Cruise Ships?

While a build time of just over three years may sound short when you consider it was one of the most ambitious construction projects of the time, the construction of the Titanic took a lot longer than it takes to build a modern-day cruise ship.

In contrast to the Titanic’s three-year build time, a large-scale modern-day cruise ship takes about two years to build from start to finish, thanks to computer-aided design programs, prefabricated parts, and modern-day tools, materials, and hydraulic construction equipment.

Titanic Dry Dock
Titanic Dry Dock (Photo Credit: navorolphotography / Shutterstock)

The comparatively accelerated building timeline of a modern-day cruise ship also owes much to the incredible popularity of the cruise line industry. With the demand for large-scale vessels higher than ever, shipbuilders have more resources to adopt the latest technologies in their shipbuilding yards.

Is the Titanic Being Rebuilt?

There have been ongoing plans to recreate the Titanic as part of a project called Titanic II. This replica ship will act as a fully functional modern-day replica of the original Titanic.

It is being built by Blue Star Line Pty. Ltd., based in Brisbane, Australia. Although it was initially meant to be completed by 2016, various delays have forced the $500 million project to push back its completion date.

Titanic Replica
Titanic Replica

As of now, there is no set completion date. Ironically, even with modern-day technology, the replica Titanic II will take significantly longer to build than the original Titanic, if it is ever completed.

You can learn more about the Titanic reconstruction by reading Full Titanic Replica Now Being Constructed in China.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How Fast Could the Titanic Travel?

The Titanic’s massive, steam-powered triple-screw propulsion system allowed it to travel at 22 knots. 

While it could have been designed to go faster, higher speeds could have caused passengers to feel vibrations and hear loud noises. Since it was intended primarily for luxury and extravagance, slower and more comfortable speeds were believed to be preferable to a faster journey.

Where is the Titanic’s Wreckage Located?

The sunken wreckage of the Titanic was located in 1985. It sits at a depth of 12,500 feet in the North Atlantic Ocean. Its final resting place is roughly 370 miles from Newfoundland, Canada.

How Many People Survived When the Titanic Sank?

While the ship could technically carry more passengers, it left Southampton, England, with 2,224 passengers and crew members on board. Out of all those on board, only 710 people survived long enough to be rescued.

How Much Did It Cost to Build the Titanic?

Given how ambitious the construction of the Titanic was, it is no surprise that it was a costly project. The final cost for the ship’s structure is estimated to be around $7.5 million.

While this figure may seem somewhat low, it is important to consider inflation. When you factor in inflation, a more reasonable estimate for the final cost of the Titanic is about $200 million.

What Was the Titanic Made From?

While the interior of the Titanic featured a wide range of materials, including expensive wood paneling and decorations, most of the ship was constructed using high-grade steel. 

Do Icebergs Pose a Risk to Modern-Day Cruise Ships?

After learning more about the tragic sinking of the Titanic, you may wonder if a modern-day cruise ship could suffer the same fate. Fortunately, modern-day cruise ships have plenty of measures to reduce the likelihood of a collision with an iceberg or any other object that could pose a risk to the vessel, its passengers, and crew.

Norwegian Sun Cruise Ship in Alaska
Photo Credit: SebZet / Shutterstock

In fact, modern-day cruise ships are equipped with radar and sonar systems that can detect icebergs above and below the waterline. Modern ships, including cruise ships, follow carefully planned routes designed to avoid icebergs and other obstacles.

These routes are routinely patrolled and monitored using satellites to ensure safety. High-traffic regions, like the North Atlantic Ocean, have dedicated ice patrols that relay up-to-date updates on iceberg movements, which all cruise ship captains can access.

However, in June 2022, the Norwegian Sun cruise ship actually hit an iceberg, which was a growler, while sailing in Alaska. Thankfully the ship remained seaworthy.

Final Words

Although the Titanic took years to build, it was an incredible achievement in human engineering. Despite its tragic end, it was still a marvel of shipbuilding and a testament to what the shipbuilders and designers of the day could accomplish.

Its sinking should not negate the incredible hard work and craftsmanship it took to bring the dream of the Titanic to life.

You can learn more about the Titanic and how it stacks up to modern-day cruise ships by reading Titanic vs. Modern Cruise Ships – How Do They Compare?

Emrys Thakkar
Emrys Thakkar
The founder of Cruise Hive which was established in 2008 as one of the earliest cruise blogs in the industry. Emrys has been reporting on the latest cruise industry news since the site first launched. Expert insights and tips featured on a number of publications including The Express, Business Insider, and more. Worked for Carnival Cruise Line for 8 years and is well and truly dedicated to cruising! Has also been on a number of cruises so can offer an insight into the industry that many will not be able to do. What's even more impressive is that Emrys has traveled the world by visiting more than 34 countries, lived in China for 8 years, and cruised the Caribbean, Baltic, Mediterranean, Asia, and Europe. Find out more about us here.

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