Sam, I have to disagree with your line of reasoning on this because IMO it does not quite add-up. Please forgive me for saying so but you seem to be occasionally contradicting your own statements regarding Nichols' whereabouts in the 12:40 to 01:05am timeframe. With regard to Lightoller, I'll be the first one to agree with you that not only was he vague and sometimes inconsistent with his statements but also used a lot of "I can't say" or "I think so" type of statements on both sides of the "Pond". But having said that, he was at the end of the day the only surviving Senior Officer of the disaster and was asked more questions than any other survivor; we cannot dismiss everything he said but try to take it in the right perspective.
Getting back to Nichols, you said above that:
Nichols was busy over on the forward starboard side of the ship well before any of the port side boats were lowered.
That translates to a statement that Nichols was active with the forward starboard boats before Lifeboats #8 and #6 were lowered; I am not sure of you included the early "lowering" of Lifeboat #4 to the A-deck in that statement.
As far as evidence goes, the forward starboard lifeboats were lowered in the order #7
(12:45 to 12:48am), #3
(12:55am) and #1
(01:05am). Some people argue that Lifeboat #7 was Nichols' "designated lifeboat"; I don't know it it was or was not, but he did not go in it anyway. Lookout George Symons clearly testified that he worked with Boatswain Nichols (identified the rank and named
him) during the loading of Lifeboat #3 and then again Lifeboat #1 before leaving the ship in himself in the latter. I don't think we can dismiss arbitrarily Symons' statement and if we accept, it places Nichols in the general vicinity of the forward starboard lifeboats certainly in the 12:50am to almost 01:05am timeframe, very likely a little bit earlier. As you said yourself, he was busy with the starboard forward lifeboats before any of the port forward boats were lowered.
Boat #4 was lowered to A deck before 12:40.
All right, when
then do you think Lightoller did that? Also, Lightoller admitted on the first day of the US Inquiry that it was a mistake on his part;
for him to have realized that, he must have gone down and seen the locked windows on the Promenade Deck and made arrangements for them to be unlocked. He admitted that: On lowering it down I found the windows were closed. So I sent some one down to open the windows and carried on with the other boats, but decided it was not worth while lowering them down, that I could manage just as well from the boat deck.
So, Lightoller left Lifeboat #4 on A-deck for the time being and got back to the boat deck and went to Lifeboat #6; even accepting your opinion that #6 was swung out and ready by then and
Lightoller ordered Hichens to start loading it, we have:
Hichens said he found the boat already swung out and ready for loading. He said he worked there ay #6 for about 15 to 20 minutes before being sent away.
One assumes by "being sent away" Hichens meant that he was ordered to get into and take charge of Lifeboat #6, which he certainly did. But he would have received that order before they started lowering Lifeboat #6 and realized the shortage of seamen on board
. Then there is the admittedly unsubstantiated but oft quoted scenario of Bess Allison hysterically getting out of Lifeboat #6 with Loraine (mentioned by both Colonel Gracie and Major Peuchen) just as it was ready to be lowered. Finally, there was the attempted lowering of the boat, the realization that there were not enough men to row and Peuchen's "Grand Entry" down the falls. All that would have taken time and IMO there is no way Lifeboat #6 could have reached the water between 12:55 and 01:00am. As I said before, things do not add-up for it to have done so.
Meanwhile, Lifeboat #8 was not encountering any of those issues and IMO was lowered to the sea by around 01:00 am as is generally believed. As I have admitted previously, it might have been slightly behind Lifeboat #6 in preparation and start of loading but I do believe that Lifeboat #8 at some point 'overtook' Lifeboat #6 and reached the sea first. That is supported by what we discussed in another thread recently where Lightoller's statements suggested that he had seen and/or be involved with another port side forward lifeboat that reached the water first and then Lifeboat #6 was loaded under "same order and same conditions".
Getting back to Nichols, Lightoller testified (sorry for requoting): 13906. (The Solicitor-General.) Yes. (To the witness.) Can you help us when it was that you gave this order to the boatswain? I mean, can you give it us by reference to boats. Was it before you had lowered No. 4 to the a deck or after?
- I think it was after and whilst I was working at No. 6 boat.
I don't think we can dismiss that entire statement simply because Lightoller used the word "think"; it was during Day 1 of an official testimony. So, if we go by your timelines, how could Nichols have been near Lightoller and Lifeboat #6 during its loading within the same timeframe as when he was busy with the starboard forward boats?
Also, as already quoted above, Lightoller thought that the ship was starting to list to port just as Lifeboat #6 was being lowered; he mentioned it twice and also confirmed that he did not notice a starboard list at the time. That ties in with various delays that Lifeboat #6 experienced due to one reason or another.
Once again with the greatest respect Sam, we have to disagree on these issues for the time being at least.