Encyclopedia Titanica


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200 More Could Have Been Saved


In a Few Instances the Small Boats Were Crowded, but in Many of Them There Was Ample Room for More Survivors – No Sailors in One of Them and the Women Did the Rowing – Sea Plug Left Out in Another and All the Passengers Had to Bail to Keep Craft Afloat.

Many of the lifeboats which bore the survivors of the Titanic to safety were only half-filled. This statement was made today by M. E. Luce, a Pennsylvania business man, who stood at the rail of the Carpathia and saw every one of the sixteen boats arrive.

In this assertion Mr. Luce was corroborated by Lucius B. Hoyt of Albany, John Kuhl of Randolph, Neb. and others. Mr. Kuhl said that one of the boats had held only five persons. He thought it had been the first. Others had only twenty-five. Other boats, nevertheless, held as many as sixty-five.

This means that if the boats had been loaded carefully, to their full capacity, the toll of death could have been cut down by two hundred and more. There were 705 survivors to sixteen boats – an average of fourty-four to the boat, while, if the boats had been loaded with even sixty persons, 960 persons would have been saved.


Mr. Luce, who lives in Titusville, Pa. and was on his way to Europe on the Carpathia with his wife and daughter, declared that some of the boats had no men, not even sailors, in them and that women were doing the rowing. According to his account one person died in a boat, three died immediately after having been brought on board the Carpathia and two died later.

“Several of the survivors told me,” remarked Mr. Luce, “that the reason the boats were so raggedly filled was that the people on the Titanic could not believe that they were going to have to abandon her. They had heard so much about her unsinkable character and so on. They could not believe that her big, broad deck was not the safest place under the circumstances. On board the Titanic the lights were blazing and the band was playing. A voyage on the cold sea in small boats did not appeal to the imagination of many; and to that fact some of those who lost their lives certainly owe their death.”

One of the lifeboats had been launched so hastily that the sea-plug had not been put in place. Consequently, the water poured in in a stream, and the occupants, vainly striving to stop the hole with improvised plugs, had to bail hard through all the dreary hours they were adrift.

John R. Joyce of the City of Mexico, a passenger on the Carpathia said that many of the lifeboats picked up by the Carpathia were not loaded to their capacity. He said that after talks with survivors he had come to the conclusion that the persons on the Titanic were so sure that the vessel could not sink that they stayed on board, despite a chance to escape. One of the boats picked up, he said, contained but twelve people. A steward on the Carpathia declared that there were sixteen men and no women in the first boat. He was evidently wrong.

Mrs. C. F. Crane of Fort Sheridan, Ill. Also spoke of the Titanic boats that came alongside the Carpathia less than half-filled while hundreds remained on the sinking liner’s decks without hope of succor.


“Many boats were only half-filled and the men who had been rowing were completely exhausted,” said Mrs. Crane. “All of the women were calm and there was not a single outburst of grief when the survivors came aboard. They grouped themselves about the railings and watched the boats coming alongside.

“Every one of the survivors watched to see if their loved ones appeared in the little white boats. When no other boats were in sight, then came the first outburst of grief. It was then that they knew that their loved ones were lost.

Mrs. Astor and maid were in the first boat and were put in the captain’s cabin.

“After the survivors had been fed and given clothes,” Mrs. Crane continued, “many had to be put to bed. Others told the story of the wreck. Everyone declared that the reason that many more were not saved was because they refused to leave the Titanic upon being informed that that boat could not sink.

“Many men and women refused to leave in the boats, and other women refused to leave their husbands. That is some men were saved and some women lost.”

That Capt. Smith of the Titanic was himself convinced that his vessel did not have enough boats is indicated by the statement of a friend of his, Glenn Marston, printed on Wednesday in the Chicago Record-Herald.

Marston, on a recent trip to Europe to investigate public utilities, crossed both ways on the Olympic, then in command of Capt. Smith. He also accompanied the Captain to Belfast to inspect the Titanic when the skipper learned that he had been assigned to the new vessel.


Capt. Smith knew that the Titanic did not carry enough lifeboats and rafts,” said Marston. “When he went to Belfast, where the Titanic was built, just after he was notified that he was to take command, he noticed the small number of life-saving devices and was not satisfied, he told me. I got into a discussion with him when I was returning on the Olympic, on what I believe was his last trip on that ship before he took command of the Titanic.

“I noticed the small number of lifeboats and rafts aboard for the heavy passenger carrying capacity of the ship, and remarked upon it to Capt. Smith.

“’Yes,’ he said, ‘if the ship was to strike a submerged derelict or iceberg that would cut through into several of the water-tight compartments, we have not enough boats or rafts aboard to take care of more than one-third of the passengers. The Titanic too, is no better equipped. It ought to carry at least double the number of boats and rafts it does to afford any real protection to the passengers. Besides, there is always danger of some of the boats becoming damaged or swept away before they can be manned’”

Marston asked Capt. Smith why the company took such a chance and whether it was to save money.


“No,” the captain is quoted as replying. “I don’t think its from motives of economy as the additional equipment would cost only a trifle when compared to the cost of the ship, but the builders nowadays believe that their boats are practically indestructible as far as sinking goes, because of the water-tight bulkheads, and that the only need of lifeboats at all is for purposes of rescue from other ships that are not so modernly constructed or to land passengers in case of the ship going ashore. They hardly regard them as life-saving equipment.

“Personally, I believe that a ship ought to carry enough boats and rafts to carry every soul aboard it. I have followed the sea now for forty years and have attributed my success in not having an accident, until we were rammed by the Hawke in the Solent at Southampton, and I was exonerated in that case, to never taking a chance.

“I always take the safe course. While there is only one chance in a thousand that a ship like the Olympic or Titanic may meet with an accident that would injure it so severely that it would sink before aid would arrive, yet, if I had my way, both ships would be equipped with twice the number of lifeboats and rafts. In the old days it was different from to-day, with the mergers and Trusts in the steamship business. Now the captain has little to say regarding equipment. All of that has been taken out of his hands and is taken care of at the main office.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2013) BOAT SPACE LOST (New York Post, Friday 19th April 1912, ref: #19581, published 26 September 2013, generated 3rd June 2023 05:25:48 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/boat-space-lost-200-more-could-have-been-saved.html