The 20th of October, 1910, marks the date of R.M.S. Olympic's launch into Belfast's River Lagan from her Harland & Wolff number 2 slipway, 108 years ago, as the first in her class and the eldest sister-ship to R.M.S. Titanic and H.M.H.S. Britannic.
It had taken 22 months for the shipyard workers of Harland & Wolff to build the Olympic, from laying down her keel to the launch with work commencing on the 16th of December, 1908.
On the morning of the 20th of October, two rockets were fired at 10:50am, to signal the imminent launch of the ship, followed by the firing of a single rocket at 11:00am, the hour of the launch, initiated via two hydraulic triggers(rams). As the 20,600tonne hull slid down slipway No.2 which had been thickly coated with liquid soap and tallow, she was already traveling at a speed of 12.5knots(shy of 24kph), taking merely 62 seconds before she was afloat.
Ready for fitting out, Olympic was then moored at the Alexandria Wharf in Belfast Harbour, before entering the Thompson dry dock for final completion where her propellers were installed and her hull painted on the 1st of April, 1911.
With the building and fitting complete, Olympic set out for her sea trials on the 29th May, 1911, taking a period of two days to complete, and with her Passenger Certificate endorsed, was handed over to White Star Line, in a joint ceremony on the same day as the launch of her sister, Titanic, on the 31st of May, 1911, before departing for Liverpool, England later that afternoon at 16:30, arriving on the 1st of June. Following departure from Liverpool, Olympic arrived at the port of Southampton on the 3rd of June, 1911, ready for her maiden voyage.
On the 14th of June, 1911, with 1,313 passengers on board(489 first class, 263 second class, 561 third class), R.M.S. Olympic departed Southampton for her maiden voyage, skippered by R.M.S. Titanic's future captain, Edward J Smith, arriving at the White Star Line’s Pier 59 in New York on the 21st of June, 1911.