Average speed of Titanic

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Francine Frantz

Hello all. I was wondering if any one can tell me what is the accepted average speed the Titanic was making before the collision. I have found many different answers. Thanks
Jul 9, 2000
Easley South Carolina
For whatever it may be worth, the Mersey Court noted the following;

The entire passage had been made at high speed, though not at the ship's maximum, and this speed was never reduced until the collision was unavoidable. At 10 p.m. the ship was registering 45 knots every two hours by the Cherub log. (Hichens, 965)
The quartermaster on watch aft, when the "Titanic" struck, states that the log, reset at noon, then registered 260 knots, (Rowe, 17608) and the fourth officer, when working up the position from 7.30 p.m. to the time of the collision, states he estimated the "Titanic's" speed as 22 knots, (Boxhall, 15645) and this is also borne out by evidence that the engines were running continuously at 75 revolutions
If accurate, this would point to a likely speed of 22.5 knots at the time of the accident. The U.S. Senate report made the following conclusion:

The speed of the Titanic was gradually increased after leaving Queenstown. The first day's run was 464 miles, the second day's run was 519 miles, the third day's run was 546 miles. Just prior to the collision the ship was making her maximum speed of the voyage - not less than 21 knots, or 24 1/4 miles per hour.
Looks to me like the Wreck Commissions report is a bit more exact.​

Francine Frantz

Thanks for the information. Helps a lot.



Jim Currie

Apr 16, 2008
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
Actually there are two very good clues already mentioned - both the patent log readings.

This was a brand new instrument. No wear and tear. The reading on such instruments can be influenced by sea conditions and adverse currents. Also line wear and/ or moving parts wear . Poor maintenance can also be a problem.

In this case none of the foregoing effected the performance. The weather we are told was calm, fine and clear most of the 14th. and as I have pointed-out; the gear was brand new.

The reliability and performance of Titanic's log can be determined by the following information:

1. Reading at 2200 hrs of 45 nautical miles.
2. Reading at 2340 hrs of 260 nautical miles.
3. Distance of 126.1 miles from Noon to
The Corner
4. Distance of 133 miles from The Corner to the
vicinity of the wreck.

If we add Nos 3. and 4. we get 259.1 miles - the total actual distance travelled by Titanic from Noon to when she hit the berg.
This distance is 99.654% of 260 - the log reading for total distance. It would seem from this that the log was reading about 0.35% high.

Applying this error to the 2200 hr log reading gives a true reading of 44.84 miles between
2000 hrs and 2200hrs. (8pm and 10pm). Divide this by 2 to give the ships average speed over these two hours which would seem to be 22.42 knots.

If we then take the average speed of 22.42 knots and divide the total distance of 259.1 by it we get a total steaming time from Noon of 11 hrs 34 minutes which equates to a collision time of
1134 pm on the 14th - 6 minutes earlier than the declared time of 1140pm.

However, the distance of 259.1 miles divided by this time of 11hrs 40 minutes gives an average speed of 22.34 knots - less than 0.10 of a knot difference from the speed indicated by the log. That difference can easily be explained by the accuracy of log reading times.
It can be shown that if the QM read the log 32 seconds before 8pm and 32 seconds after 10pm that would equate to travelling 45 miles over a period of 2hrs 1 minute 4 seconds. This gives an average speed of 22.3 knots.

I propose that Titanic travelled the entire time between Noon and 1140 pm on the 14th. April at a speed of 22.3 knots and that she was travelling at that speed when she hit the berg.

It has been suggested that Titanic was travelling at around 21.75 knots on the run from Noon to the Corner. This speed was based on propeller slip only. At such a speed she would be at The Corner at around 5-47pm. However if she was travelling at 22.3 knots, and she actually turned at 5.50pm then she would have over-shot The Corner by 4 miles. This would mean she turned late in mileage terms but exactly on time as per the clock.


Jim C.
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