Question At what point did they know that no ship would make it to them in time?

M

Mike D726

Member
I've seen nothing in the record regarding "final" acknowledgment that no ships near enough were answering the wireless distress signals, or if the lack of potential rescue changed anything.
For example, I could envision the captain and senior officers checking at the wireless room every few minutes.
By 1:00 a.m., the rate of sinking was obvious and the calls had been going out for some time. They had only a little over an hour more.
One may wonder why the captain did not order every lifeboat to be filled to capacity as quickly as possible -- at least once it became obvious that no ship would reach them in time. Thoughts? Has anyone seen this topic mentioned in testimony at all?
 
Steven Christian

Steven Christian

Member
Your reply makes my point, Steven.

A lifeboat cannot be loaded "poorly"; it has to be loaded and lowered properly and, more to the point - safely.
To determine what is safe and proper, you have to know what you are talking about. Having loaded and lowered more lifeboats than I care to remember - including Titanic-type and even older, allow me to advise you.

A Lifeboat capacity was decided by dividing the internal volume in cubic feet by ten. The standard 30 ft lifeboat had an internal volume of about 648 cu.ft. which means it was designed to carry +/- 65 people. These would first occupy the seating and the remainder stand between the thwarts.

In 1912, lifeboats were lowered using two individual manila ropes about 6.3 or 7.9 inches in circumference - situated- one at each end of the boat. Titanic's lifeboats probably had the larger diameter ones.
Each rope was individually slackened -off by "surging" around a crucifix bollard mounted on the boat - one each end of the boat on the boat deck. Consequently, the lowering method was subject to jerks and jambs on the way down.
If we use an average of 140 lbs per person ,it means that a full, full-size boat and contents weighed close to 6.5 tons.

The ultimate strength of these lifeboat fall /ropes was found by dividing the circumference squared by 3. Thus for the thinner rope it was 13.25 tons and for the thicker one - 20.8 tons. "More than enough", you might say.

However, on page 37, the Seamanship manual of the day "Nicholls's Seamanship", very clearly states:
"one sixth of its [ manila rope} ultimate strength offers a good factor of safety in order to resists excessive stresses due to sudden jerks on the fall. When occasional lift is made there is not so much wear and tear on the gear and C squared divided by 7 may be accepted as giving a safe margin."

Consequently, using the less cautious factor of 6 - Titanic's safety margin for her lifeboat falls was either 2.25 tons or 3.5 tons. If we use the one seventh-"belt and braces" recommendation, the problems is even greater.

If the above, less cautious and bigger rope fall factors are applied to Titanic, then we find that the lifeboats should not have weighed more than 3.5 Tons fully loaded. This suggests that each boat should not have intially been loaded with more than 24 to 26 persons.

It follows that, by limiting the initial number boarding a lifeboat, a well-trained seaman would actively reduce the possibility of a lifeboat fall parting - caused by "excessive stresses due to sudden jerks on the fall" resulting in the sudden stopping of the lowering process. Which initially would be caused by less than smooth slackening-off of the falls. ( Phew!)
This would most certainly have been the case when there was the least urgency and divided opinions of those on board.
Have a look at the time-line:
It was 20 minutes before they started getting the boats ready and another twenty before they started loading them. By that time, the distress calls had gone out. The first lifeboat - No.7 - was launched before bridge permission had been given.. it had 29 people on board - not one of them was a child.
Within one hour and 10 minutes, all the boats had gone. and before that time " despaerate times require(d) desperate measures."

I deal with this subject in my new book. I hope that it will help to clear the fog of conjecture which surrounds this part of the disaster.
I know boats were lowered with less than half the capacity. That's all I need to know to show me they were incompetent at their jobs for whoever was running that show. I'm not talking about crewmen handling the ropes. I'm talking about management. If the ships designer tells you you got an hour, hour and half left then toss the friggin rule book and decorum and do what it takes to get the boats full. If nobody was sure of the capability of the boats then that's reflects poorly on the WSL and their training. They should have known that beforehand not trying to guess about it when the ship was sinking. I know it's all hindsight and monday morning quarterbacking. But the results speak for themselves. They could have gotten more people in the boats. But we obviously have a different take on the situation and that's ok with me. Cheers and thanks for the response.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
I know boats were lowered with less than half the capacity. That's all I need to know to show me they were incompetent at their jobs for whoever was running that show. I'm not talking about crewmen handling the ropes. I'm talking about management. If the ships designer tells you you got an hour, hour and half left then toss the friggin rule book and decorum and do what it takes to get the boats full. If nobody was sure of the capability of the boats then that's reflects poorly on the WSL and their training. They should have known that beforehand not trying to guess about it when the ship was sinking. I know it's all hindsight and monday morning quarterbacking. But the results speak for themselves. They could have gotten more people in the boats. But we obviously have a different take on the situation and that's ok with me. Cheers and thanks for the response.
I have to say it, Seven - that's a crock.

The book I referred to was not a Rule Book - it was, and still is, a training manual for seaman.

What you and so many other lands folk forget is that every bit of equipment on a ship, including a lifeboat, is finite... you can't order a replacement on the net. Consequently, a good seaman will always take action to ensure that the equipment will do what it is designed to and be capable of doing it more than once if necessary.
Although the hour and a half lifetime opinion was given, that is all it was - an educated guess. Early on, no one could be sure the ship would sink or whether the boats would need to be recovered back on board when the excitement was over. If you read the evidence carefully, you will find there were those who thought that - including the Third Officer.

The ship's designer was not on board, Steven, and if he had been, he would not have had any say in the matter, but the opinion of any other likewise qualified individual, would have been welcomed.
All Masters and Extra Masters were trained in ship stability... every officer on Titanic was so qualified.
Not until the soundings were taken and after a sufficient time to estimate flooding rate had been determined, would anyone with sufficient technical knowledge be able to estimate life-span of the ship.

I have shown you the limitations of the gear in use and the weakest link...the rope falls. No competent seaman would have permitted a boat to have been launched with full capacity thus creating a potential problem until the risk of drowning was greater than having everyone spilled out of one end of the boat and the boat being rendered useless thereafter.
Titanic's boats were not designed to be launched with a full complement and that had damn all to do with any member of her crew.
Modern launching systems were upgraded to prevent what was possible in Titanic.
Try to imagine what would have happened if only one rope fall had broken just after launch? I don't have to, I have seen the result and that was with a modern, twin wire, automatic system. It was not a pretty sight.

Then we have the people themselves.
Have you ever had the job of marshalling crowds of people who don't believe what is happening to them? Nothing has changed -just look around you today and see how many shrug off or even recoil from the ideas of masks and shots.
 
Steven Christian

Steven Christian

Member
Well I'll just make one more comment on this as I'm just repeating myself and leave it at that. Lifeboat capacity 1178. People in the boats 705 give or take a few. 1178-705 = 473 left to die that didn't need be. The numbers don't lie. They muffed the job. Anything else is just spin.
 
G

Gygantor92

Member
"It is widely believed that captain Smith, as well as the senior and junior officers, wanted to load in the passengers from the gangway doors after they were lowered down. This however was never done."

I have often wondered why they didn't load/overload the boats to the max. It was the only thing they had any control over that would have made a difference once they struck the berg. Everything else was out of their control. I know some (including some crew) that thought it wasn't probably that bad. But once Smith was informed by Andrews he should of made sure they were filled, even overfilled. It's really the only fault I have with that night after the collision. Nothing else was going to make a difference. Cheers.
Regarding your comment of the lifeboats not being filled, it was a doomed ship in a nautical disaster with just one of many reasons being only a tiny fraction of crew had any maritime experience. The majority of people were hired from hotel service. By the sounds of it, not every lifeboat being filled and lowered was handled by true seamen. Even one of the seamen and captain's crew Murdoch (I believe) misinterpreted the captain's order of "Women and children FIRST." as "Women and Children ONLY." This tunnel vision interpretation caused many of the male passengers to lose their life. Early on, most of first class wasn't taking the danger seriously and headed back indoors for warmth. So as Murdoch searched the deck for women and children he found very few and knew that he would need to move on to lowering other boats. So in the beginning some boats only had a dozen or so in them!!! So sad how many things went wrong on that fateful night....

-Whit
 
Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
Even one of the seamen and captain's crew Murdoch (I believe) misinterpreted the captain's order of "Women and children FIRST." as "Women and Children ONLY."
It certainly wasn't Murdoch who misinterpreted the order, the 11 lifeboats loaded and lowered by first officer Murdoch (lifeboat number 7, 5, 3, 1, 9, 11, 13, 15, 10, collapsible Engelhardt lifeboat C and A) contained most men that survived the disaster. It is more often attributed to second officer Lightoller that he misinterpreted the orders given by captain Smith.
Lifeboat capacity 1178. People in the boats 705 give or take a few. 1178-705 = 473 left to die that didn't need be. The numbers don't lie.
I dislike to be this precise but although the lifeboat capacity is indeed correctly given as 1178 the amount of people that survived is not. 712 people survived the disaster, not 705. That means that the calculation should have a result of 466 people instead of 473. This is 39.56% of the maximum capacity of 1178.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Well I'll just make one more comment on this as I'm just repeating myself and leave it at that. Lifeboat capacity 1178. People in the boats 705 give or take a few. 1178-705 = 473 left to die that didn't need be. The numbers don't lie. They muffed the job. Anything else is just spin.
You repeat yourself because you have reached the limit of your knowledge of the subject, Steven and that is understandable.
By the way - you posted the lifesaving boats as an example of what Titanic had. Has it ever occurred to you or others to ask why the 10 cubic ft/person Rule seems to have been ignored in the case of the cutters and collapsibles? i.e. each of them shows 25% overloaded when full.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
Regarding your comment of the lifeboats not being filled, it was a doomed ship in a nautical disaster with just one of many reasons being only a tiny fraction of crew had any maritime experience. The majority of people were hired from hotel service. By the sounds of it, not every lifeboat being filled and lowered was handled by true seamen. Even one of the seamen and captain's crew Murdoch (I believe) misinterpreted the captain's order of "Women and children FIRST." as "Women and Children ONLY." This tunnel vision interpretation caused many of the male passengers to lose their life. Early on, most of first class wasn't taking the danger seriously and headed back indoors for warmth. So as Murdoch searched the deck for women and children he found very few and knew that he would need to move on to lowering other boats. So in the beginning some boats only had a dozen or so in them!!! So sad how many things went wrong on that fateful night....

-Whit
look at the evidence again, my friend.
First the captain ordered no such thing. I quote from the US Inquiry: "
Mr. LIGHTOLLER.
When I asked him,[the captain] "Shall I put the women and children in the boats?" he replied, "Yes; and lower away. Those were the last orders he gave."

Second: it only took two men to lower a boat and they did not need any technical expertise to do so. It needed two seamen in each boat of whatever rank to ensure the boat was released properly and rowed clear of the ship.. no need to row back to Queenstown.
In fact, if you look at the launching order of the boats, it was done in a very controlled manner - starboard- port -starboard.
Then we have the timing.
The order of priority was to stop the ship and sound all compartments on two separate occasions then compare results. The Carpenter started that without being told to do so -100% to him. Not until the full extent of the damage and rate of sinking was known, would the captain know the full extent of the problem. However, less than 20 minutes after hitting the berg and before he knew the worst - he had sent a distress signal and ordered the boats made ready. The passengers were all mustered during the following 20 minutes. This was done by the catering staff (hotel staff nowadays) most of whom had lifeboat mustered on numerous other vessels during their careers at sea. very few of these except Galley Boys and Scullions were what were known as "First Trippers"
 
Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
However, less than 20 minutes after hitting the berg and before he knew the worst - he had sent a distress signal and ordered the boats made ready.
While it is indeed true that captain Smith ordered the lifeboats to be prepared before he even knew that the Titanic couldn't stay afloat or how long she could stay afloat it isn't true that he ordered a distress call to be send in the first 20 minutes. The first distress call was send at 12:27, however a short shile before he ordered the distress call to be send however captain Smith briefly went to the Marconi wireless room and told senior wireless operator Phillips and junior wireless operator Bride: “We’ve struck an iceberg and I’m having an inspection made to tell what it has done to us. You better get ready to send out a call for assistance. But don’t send it until I tell you.”. It is believed this happened between 11:50 and 12:00.
 
Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

Member
You repeat yourself because you have reached the limit of your knowledge of the subject, Steven and that is understandable.
By the way - you posted the lifesaving boats as an example of what Titanic had. Has it ever occurred to you or others to ask why the 10 cubic ft/person Rule seems to have been ignored in the case of the cutters and collapsibles? i.e. each of them shows 25% overloaded when full.
Jim I ask a question:
If the large lifeboats are set at 10 cu/ft per person, why are the cutter boats and collapsible boats only set at 8 cu/ft per person?
 
Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
Jim I ask a question:
If the large lifeboats are set at 10 cu/ft per person, why are the cutter boats and collapsible boats only set at 8 cu/ft per person?
The Cubic feet capacity of the Collapsible Engelhardt lifeboats was not calculated. The square footage of the deck was calculated and a certain square footage was allowed for each passenger.
 
Mike Spooner

Mike Spooner

Member
The Cubic feet capacity of the Collapsible Engelhardt lifeboats was not calculated. The square footage of the deck was calculated and a certain square footage was allowed for each passenger.
How realistic was 8 cu/ft per person? It would appear they have pack them like sardines to get 40 in a cutter boat and 47 in a collapsible boat.
I thought 10 cu/ft was quite bad enough to get 65 in the larger boats to the point of leaving no room to row!
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
How realistic was 8 cu/ft per person? It would appear they have pack them like sardines to get 40 in a cutter boat and 47 in a collapsible boat.
I thought 10 cu/ft was quite bad enough to get 65 in the larger boats to the point of leaving no room to row!
In fact, the Engelhardt boats were not as 'fine' as true boats. The formula for estimating occupancy is internal dimensions of length x Breadth x Depth time Coefficient of Fineness which is the shape of a ship or boat relative to a box of the same dimensions.
In the case of a standard lifeboat shape, they used 0.6 as the Coeff of f. However an Engelhardt was more box shaped so they used a Coeff. of a little under 0.8 thus if the internal dimensions had been L: 25. 42' x b: 8' x d: 3', this would give internal cubic capacity of 610.08 ft Cu. if we multiply that by 0.8 we get a useable internal cubic of 488.8 ft. Divided that by10 and you get 49. People. It follows that to get 47 people, the internal cubic capacity of the boat had to have been about 470 cu. ft , not 488.8 cu. ft.
OK?
But your right about cramming... have a look at this:
ARC278338 2011 001 AC lowres crop
 
G

Gygantor92

Member
It certainly wasn't Murdoch who misinterpreted the order, the 11 lifeboats loaded and lowered by first officer Murdoch (lifeboat number 7, 5, 3, 1, 9, 11, 13, 15, 10, collapsible Engelhardt lifeboat C and A) contained most men that survived the disaster. It is more often attributed to second officer Lightoller that he misinterpreted the orders given by captain Smith.

I dislike to be this precise but although the lifeboat capacity is indeed correctly given as 1178 the amount of people that survived is not. 712 people survived the disaster, not 705. That means that the calculation should have a result of 466 people instead of 473. This is 39.56% of the maximum capacity of 1178.
Thank you for the clarification on who it was. I am far from expert obviously, and sometimes confuse Lightoller and Murdoch... sigh.
 
David Goodwin

David Goodwin

Member
"It is widely believed that captain Smith, as well as the senior and junior officers, wanted to load in the passengers from the gangway doors after they were lowered down. This however was never done."

I have often wondered why they didn't load/overload the boats to the max. It was the only thing they had any control over that would have made a difference once they struck the berg. Everything else was out of their control. I know some (including some crew) that thought it wasn't probably that bad. But once Smith was informed by Andrews he should of made sure they were filled, even overfilled. It's really the only fault I have with that night after the collision. Nothing else was going to make a difference. Cheers.
Especially given the calm sea conditions. It is also surprising more men didn't jump in and swim to the boats while they were still near the ship. Maybe it just seemed to risky at that time.
 
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