In the crow’s nest, Fleet sees a large iceberg dead ahead and signals the bridge. He quickly reached above him and rang the bell three times. This was to signal that there was something out ahead. Fleet reached for the telephone and waited until it was picked up below. When it was answered he asked “Is there someone there?” “Yes” replied Officer Moody. “What do you see?” “Iceberg right ahead” Fleet answered. “Thank you” Moody replied as he hung up the phone. Sixth Officer Moody relays the message to Murdoch who instinctively orders “Hard-a-starboard” and telegraphs the engine room to stop all engines, followed by full astern. He also closes the watertight doors.
Titanic slowly begins to veer, but an underwater spar from the passing berg scraps and bumps along the starboard side for a 300-foot distance fully opening five forward compartments to the sea, as well as flooding the coal bunker servicing the No. 9 stokehold.
11:42 p.m. Aside from the men on the bridge and those closest to the impact, few realized that anything had happened. George Symons, just off duty as lookout, was lying in his bunk and thought that the anchor had dropped and the scraping sound he had heard was the chain running out of the ship. Henry Sleeper Harper, of the American publishing family, sat up in his bed and saw the iceberg pass his window, pieces of it crumbling as it went by. There were huge chunks of ice on the deck that people were kicking around as if it were a game.
Almost everyone in the first-class smoking room stood up from their seats when the jarring motion disturbed the room. Quartermaster George Rowe, located on the poop deck at the very stern of the ship, felt the jarring motion and, seeing the iceberg, walked to the rail to watch it pass.
11:55 p.m. The post office on “G” Deck forward is already flooding. After a quick inspection of the damage by Wilde, Boxhall and Andrews, Captain Smith knows the worst…that Titanic was sinking and the more than 2,200 people on board were in extreme peril.
Bruce Ismay, who had been asleep in his luxurious suite on B-deck, had also been awakened by the strange noise caused by the iceberg. Without bothering to change out of his nightclothes, he went to the bridge and asked Captain Smith what had happened. “We have struck ice,” Smith replied. “Do you think the ship is seriously damaged?” Ismay asked, hoping that things weren’t as bad as they might be. “I am afraid she is.”
Thomas Andrews, managing director of Harland & Wolff, arrived on the bridge a few minutes after Ismay departed. He told Captain Smith, in detail, of the full seriousness of the Titanic’s current situation. It was clear, based on reports received from throughout the ship, that the Titanic’s first six watertight compartments had been ruptured. The ship had never been designed to take this type of damage. The ship had been gashed opened to the sea.
Monday, April 15, 1912 shortly after midnight, Captain Smith ordered a radio call for assistance. Phillips taps out the regulation distress signal CQD…MGY…CQD…MGY… The 13,600 ton Cunard ship Carpathia recieved the message. Her Captain, Arthur Rostron, immediately turned his ship around and headed at full speed toward the Titanic’s radioed position.
The squash court, 32 feet above keel, is awash. The majority of the boilers have been shut down, and huge clouds of steam roar out of the relief pipes secured to the sides of the funnels. Smith orders that the lifeboats be uncovered and musters the crew and passengers.
12:15 a.m. Wallace Hartley and his band begin to play lively ragtime tunes in the 1st Class lounge on “A” Deck. They would continue to almost the end, and every member of the band would be lost.
12:25 a.m. Smith gives the order to start loading lifeboats with women and children. 2nd Officer Lightoller follows this order particularly to the letter.