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


Thomas Krom

Member
The alternate explanation put forward by Walter Lord that Nichol's and his men got "trapped below" and drowned was just ridiculous. I don't believe that for a second, those men weren't daft.
I agree that it is indeed false that they were trapped below decks. Nichols was later seen on deck at the lowering of lifeboat number 13 and emergency lifeboat number 2.
 
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Jim Currie

Member
Paul Lee wrote quite an interesting theory about that.

He argued (using Occam's Razor) that Bo'sun Nichol's and his six men did go below to open one of the gangway doors at approx. 01:00-01:10. However, upon opening it they found that the sea was now too close to the door for it to be a viable option for evacuation. Their "mission" a failure, they then returned to the boat deck to help with the final few boats by approx 01:30-01:40.

The alternate explanation put forward by Walter Lord that Nichol's and his men got "trapped below" and drowned was just ridiculous. I don't believe that for a second, those men weren't daft.
Halo Semas, tha mi an dòchas gu lorg seo gu math thu.

As you say - these men weren't daft. However, if they were ordered to do something and could not. for any reason carry out that order, then the man in charge was duty-bound to report back to the person who gave the order - that was how it worked. Only in Hollywood are arbitrary decisions made.
It follows that either the doors were, or were not, opened and events overtook protocol and the Bosun forgot - or was waylaid by another, more pressing need.

If, as Lightoller said, he sent the bosun below on that errand, then he did so after the boats were ready and before the men were needed to lower and man the boats. This puts the time somewhere before any of the port boats were filled and launched, so there would have been very little evidence regarding heel or trim.
Additionally, Captain Smith would have temporarily lost the skills of his most senior Petty Officer and almost 25% of his skilled sailors.

We have no idea whether Lightoller's gangway door order was general or specific, (or if he was "gilding the lily), we can only assume that he meant the gangway doors on D deck, since these were the only viable option as far as transferring large volumes of passengers to boats was concerned. At the time ion question, the bottoms of these doors would have been around 20 feet above sea level. Anyone opening them would have night blindness and be unable to make any meaningful judgement regarding viability as a means of escape.

However, if any gangway doors had been opened on D deck it would have been very obvious since these entrances were 6 ft high -almost 5 ft wide, and when opened, would have exposed a brightly lit hallway. Boxhall was questioned about this since he lay, close-by off both sides of the ship for a space of time This was his answer:
"15474. Was that to stand by the gangway door or what?
- I do not know whether it was to stand by the gangway door
; I do not remember any gangway doors being open."

Food for thought?
 

Thomas Krom

Member
Although it is unrelated to the topic of this thread, from my head speaking I know that the gangway doors were 6 feet in height and 4'6" and 4'5" wide respectively. When the wreck was discovered in 1985 it was noticed that the forward 4'6" wide gangway door on the port side was in it's opened position along with the decorative folding gate that closed the gangway door off from the port side boarding area folded in it's closed position unlike all the 3 gangway doors and 3 sets of folding gates which are all closed and properly locked in their closed position. Some believe this exact gangway door was shortly opened after 1:10, where it has been speculated that boatswain Nichols and the 6 seamen (we aren't certain if these were all able bodies seamen or 4 able bodied seamen and the two seamen) saw the water near the gangway door when they opened it and closed it as fast as possible.

The theory that some believe however must not be taken as factual.
 
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>>They muffed the job. Anything else is just spin.<<

I beg to differ. It's reality in an extreme situation where what they had was all they had. Keep in mind that of the boats they had, there were not enough trained crew to both properly man and also safely launch the boats. 62 people in the deck department...that's it...with two of them being the ships surgeons.

Scratch crews had to be put together to man the boats using firemen and passengers because quite simply, they were running out pf trained seamen long before they ran out of boats.

Then there was the question of how do you get people into the boats who don't understand the danger, and don't want to leave a nice warm ship for the dangers of the freezing open ocean in the middle of the night. What do you tell them? The naked truth right off the bat and magnify the risk of a panic?

The fact that the crew managed to get 18 of the 20 available boats launched and away without any sort of serious accident in the time they had was an incredible accomplishment. I know this because I've worked Welin style davits. It's not the easiest thing to do even when your not under pressure to get people away as fast as possible, which they were!

Did they make mistakes?
Of course they did!
But keep in mind that the crew did the very best they could with what they had available to them at the time in terms of resources (Demonstrably inadequate given what happened!) and their understanding of the situation.

Please be mindful of that before presenting yourself as a judge.
 
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Seumas

Member
Halo Semas, tha mi an dòchas gu lorg seo gu math thu.

As you say - these men weren't daft. However, if they were ordered to do something and could not. for any reason carry out that order, then the man in charge was duty-bound to report back to the person who gave the order - that was how it worked. Only in Hollywood are arbitrary decisions made.
It follows that either the doors were, or were not, opened and events overtook protocol and the Bosun forgot - or was waylaid by another, more pressing need.

If, as Lightoller said, he sent the bosun below on that errand, then he did so after the boats were ready and before the men were needed to lower and man the boats. This puts the time somewhere before any of the port boats were filled and launched, so there would have been very little evidence regarding heel or trim.
Additionally, Captain Smith would have temporarily lost the skills of his most senior Petty Officer and almost 25% of his skilled sailors.

We have no idea whether Lightoller's gangway door order was general or specific, (or if he was "gilding the lily), we can only assume that he meant the gangway doors on D deck, since these were the only viable option as far as transferring large volumes of passengers to boats was concerned. At the time ion question, the bottoms of these doors would have been around 20 feet above sea level. Anyone opening them would have night blindness and be unable to make any meaningful judgement regarding viability as a means of escape.

However, if any gangway doors had been opened on D deck it would have been very obvious since these entrances were 6 ft high -almost 5 ft wide, and when opened, would have exposed a brightly lit hallway. Boxhall was questioned about this since he lay, close-by off both sides of the ship for a space of time This was his answer:
"15474. Was that to stand by the gangway door or what?
- I do not know whether it was to stand by the gangway door
; I do not remember any gangway doors being open."

Food for thought?
Slainte Mhath Jim ;)

Regarding Lightoller's testimony, it's also been suggested that he may have been a wee bit "economical with the truth" in taking the credit for ordering those men below to open the gangway doors. There's a fair chance it may have been Wilde or Murdoch who gave the order rather than Lightoller.

Indeed, wouldn't you say that it's much more likely that the Chief Officer would be much more likely to be giving such orders in the circumstances to the most senior deck rating rather than the Second Officer ?

It does look like Nichols and his gang did leave the boat deck for perhaps half an hour or so before returning to help with the later boats. A few passengers and crew did report a dearth of seamen (particularly on the port side IIRC) with stewards having to assist with the falls and even Captain Smith helping to the lower one boat for lack of men.

Ioannis Georgiou (if he's reading this !) is really the man to go to for the whole gangway door conundrum. He's posted quite a lot of common sense about it in the past.
 
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