The RMS Titanic was the second of three Olympic-class liners build at Harland and Wolff for the White Star Line. Built between 1909 and 1912, the ship sank on its maiden voyage after hitting an iceberg in the north Atlantic. In its time, RMS Titanic surpassed RMS Olympic to become the largest vessel in the world (a volitile title in the pre-war years). The sinking is one of the greatest nautical disasters of all time, the lessons learned directly leading to a number of safety improvements in worldwide regulations.
The ship was designed by naval architect Thomas Andrews, draughtsman Alexander Carlisle and Lord William Pirrie. The vessel was designed to compete with the RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauretania, aiming to exceed these vessels in terms of size and luxury (while she was the largest vessel afloat at the time of launch, it is unlikely this title was a 'true' design goal; as the Imperator overtook this title in less than 2 months). The vessel was designed, in conjunction with her sister ships, to provide economical bulk trans-Atlantic passenger and cargo on a routine service; as such, top speed was less a concern (This can be seen in the conservative propulsion and general arrangements).
RMS Titanic was a monohulled displacement vessel of rivetted plate construction. The vessel was single-hulled with a double-bottom. The stem was plum with limited flare, the midbody was full, and the aft had a counter stern. The vessel had a raised poop deck aft and a fo'c'sle deck forward. Between the superstructure and the foc'sle/poop, the top of the bulwarks were rapidly curved into the main deck edge. There was a modest amount of sheer, particularly forward, and all decks above the tank top were cambered. There is some tumblehome through the midship area.
RMS Titanic was constructed to a two-compartment standard. As a large, coal-fired vessel requiring many subdivisions for transverse strength and fire containment, the Titantic was generally more capable of sustaining damage, largely meeting a 3 compartment standard (and capable of surviving 4 compartment flooding in some conditions, see ). To reduce roll, 300' long x 25" wide bilge keels were fitted through the midsection.
Titanic was designated hull 401. Keel laying commenced on March 31, 1909, the vessel was launched on May 11, 1911, and outfit completed March 31, 1912. Of notable consequence to sinking of the vessel, the bulkhead deck was not watertight (allowing for sequential flooding over the top of the watertight bulkheads as the bow submerged).
Sea trials were conducted on April 2nd, 1912.