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?
 
Thomas Krom

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.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior 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

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.
 
Michael H. Standart

Michael H. Standart

Member
>>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.
 
Seumas

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.
 
T

tsullivan0568

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.

With all due respect, Captain Currie is providing us all a direct lesson on the dangers involved in the lowering process. He comes by this knowledge by way of first hand experience, so I am willing to accept his wisdom. The tragedy was an awful one, no doubt, and we're here trying to understand all that took place. Simply making a statement that the lifeboats were loaded poorly because they weren't loaded to capacity (which means IN WATER capacity, not necessarily LOWERING capacity) is perhaps missing the reason why this was done. I believe Captain Currie provides the answer: if the lowering is compromised, then all aboard the lifeboat could very well die from a significant fall into the water. Hence, some caution was used, particularly in the beginning when the fate of Titanic was not fully appreciated.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
With all due respect, Captain Currie is providing us all a direct lesson on the dangers involved in the lowering process. He comes by this knowledge by way of first hand experience, so I am willing to accept his wisdom. The tragedy was an awful one, no doubt, and we're here trying to understand all that took place. Simply making a statement that the lifeboats were loaded poorly because they weren't loaded to capacity (which means IN WATER capacity, not necessarily LOWERING capacity) is perhaps missing the reason why this was done. I believe Captain Currie provides the answer: if the lowering is compromised, then all aboard the lifeboat could very well die from a significant fall into the water. Hence, some caution was used, particularly in the beginning when the fate of Titanic was not fully appreciated.
Thank you 't' for your support. and for your balanced observation. (it is much needed :rolleyes: )
My intention has never been to teach per se but to inform.
Members who wish to discover the thought processes of a seaman regarding the use of cordage can easily verify what you point out. They can do this by consulting any good seamanship manual. There, they will find the simple formulae concerning the use of all types of ropes used onboard a ship. In the old days, every Deck Officer was thoroughly examined on his knowledge of that subject. in fact lack of such knowledge resulted in examination failure.
 
Steven Christian

Steven Christian

Member
With all due respect, Captain Currie is providing us all a direct lesson on the dangers involved in the lowering process. He comes by this knowledge by way of first hand experience, so I am willing to accept his wisdom. The tragedy was an awful one, no doubt, and we're here trying to understand all that took place. Simply making a statement that the lifeboats were loaded poorly because they weren't loaded to capacity (which means IN WATER capacity, not necessarily LOWERING capacity) is perhaps missing the reason why this was done. I believe Captain Currie provides the answer: if the lowering is compromised, then all aboard the lifeboat could very well die from a significant fall into the water. Hence, some caution was used, particularly in the beginning when the fate of Titanic was not fully appreci
No problem. I can accept your critique and that of the others. 466 plus or minus a few which is approx 40% is empty spaces that could of been filled. 60% full would be a D- on performance. I stand by what I said earlier in regards to loading of the boats. I'll leave it at that. Cheers.
 
J

James Murdoch

Member
In the movie, is the scene where Thomas Andrew's says to Lightholler--im paraphrasing.

Is there any evidence the below conversation happened and secondly did they do trials with the boats filled to capacity in Belfast? Is there any evidence at all of a discussion between TA and CL on the boat deck? Or is it all pure fiction? I expect it to be fiction, given Cameron's taste for adding scenes with dramatic effect. Thanks once again.
What on earth are you doing man? Sending away boats half full--and I've seen one sent away with only twelve. TWELVE! These were tested in Belfast with the weight of 70 men! Now get a grip for god sake!
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
In the movie, is the scene where Thomas Andrew's says to Lightholler--im paraphrasing.

Is there any evidence the below conversation happened and secondly did they do trials with the boats filled to capacity in Belfast? Or is pure fiction? Thanks once again.
No, just ignore that. There is no evidence that that conversation ever happened. Just more invented dialogue by Cameron and Co.

There are divided opinions about lifeboat capacity.

Personally, I am firmly with Bob Read and his conclusions that H&W were overly optimistic about what their boat davits could handle - http://www.titanic-cad-plans.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Davit-Failure-Article.pdf
 
Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
Is there any evidence the below conversation happened and secondly did they do trials with the boats filled to capacity in Belfast? Is there any evidence at all of a discussion between TA and CL on the boat deck? Or is it all pure fiction? I expect it to be fiction, given Cameron's taste for adding scenes with dramatic effect. Thanks once again.
As Seumas points out, the conversation between Thomas Andrews Jr and second officer Charles Hebert Lightoller is an invention and never happened in real life.

However something similar was witnessed by Mr. Albert Adrian Dick, a first class passenger and often a table companion (along with his wife Vera) of Thomas Andrews Jr at the doctor's table. He recalled:
"The last that I saw of Mr. Andrews he was standing by the side of the navigating officer, apparently engrossed in a question of how many more women could be squeezed into the boats that remained." (New York Harald, on the 20th of April 1912).
Mr. Dick witnessed this at the loading of lifeboat number 3, in which he and his wife were in, at around 00:55. The officer in question is believed to have been fifth officer Harold Godfrey Lowe.
 
Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
No, just ignore that. There is no evidence that that conversation ever happened. Just more invented dialogue by Cameron and Co.

There are divided opinions about lifeboat capacity.

Personally, I am firmly with Bob Read and his conclusions that H&W were overly optimistic about what their boat davits could handle - http://www.titanic-cad-plans.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/Davit-Failure-Article.pdf
Hello Seamas.

As I pointed out to Mark; you cannot compare the davits in Bob Ried's article to the ones fitted on Titanic , they were of completely different design. Bob anticipated this objection in his summary.

In fact, as early as 1910 Welin Davits Ltd., submitted davit designs for Olympic and Titanic, to Harland and Wolff or the owners.
The File in the UK National Archives includes detailed tracings of the davits fitted to Titanic and her sister ship the Olympic.
The shipbuilder had nothing to do with the final approval of lifeboat davits fitted to a ship - that was- the remit of the Approval Authority -the MoT
The 1913 test on Olympic's auxiliary davits, was simply an upgrade to the previous MoT test used when both ships were built.

Apart from the foregoing - do you really think that a Company like Welin would not have carried out exhaustive tests n their product before marketing them?
 
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Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Senior Member
As Seumas points out, the conversation between Thomas Andrews Jr and second officer Charles Hebert Lightoller is an invention and never happened in real life.

However something similar was witnessed by Mr. Albert Adrian Dick, a first class passenger and often a table companion (along with his wife Vera) of Thomas Andrews Jr at the doctor's table. He recalled:
"The last that I saw of Mr. Andrews he was standing by the side of the navigating officer, apparently engrossed in a question of how many more women could be squeezed into the boats that remained." (New York Harald, on the 20th of April 1912).
Mr. Dick witnessed this at the loading of lifeboat number 3, in which he and his wife were in, at around 00:55. The officer in question is believed to have been fifth officer Harold Godfrey Lowe.
I think you will find that it was Ismay in conversation with Lowe.
 
Thomas Krom

Thomas Krom

Member
I think you will find that it was Ismay in conversation with Lowe.
I fear you are wrong captain Currie.

This conversation happened at lifeboat number 3, while Mr. Ismay his sudden panic-attack where he shouted: "Lower away! Lower Away! Lower Away" over and over again with one hand on the Welin Davit and the other on the in the air, spinning it about happened at lifeboat number 5, about ten minutes before lifeboat number 3 was loaded. Despite not having seen one other, Mr. Ismay and Thomas Andrews Jr were both active in this area and assisted the officer's with loading the lifeboat number 5 and 3 respectively. Ismay during this conversation said nothing except the repeating of "Lower away!" and it doesn't match the conversation as recalled by Albert Dick.
 
Seumas

Seumas

Member
Hello Seamas.

As I pointed out to Mark; you cannot compare the davits in Bob Ried's article to the ones fitted on Titanic , they were of completely different design. Bob anticipated this objection in his summary.

In fact, as early as 1910 Welin Davits Ltd., submitted davit designs for Olympic and Titanic, to Harland and Wolff or the owners.
The File in the UK National Archives includes detailed tracings of the davits fitted to Titanic and her sister ship the Olympic.
The shipbuilder had nothing to do with the final approval of lifeboat davits fitted to a ship - that was- the remit of the Approval Authority -the MoT
The 1913 test on Olympic's auxiliary davits, was simply an upgrade to the previous MoT test used when both ships were built.

Apart from the foregoing - do you really think that a Company like Welin would not have carried out exhaustive tests n their product before marketing them?
Sorry, Jim but I'm still with Bob on this.

The vital paperwork regarding the Titanic's alleged davit tests (if they were actually carried out) is not known to exist. Nobody can say for definite that they took place or if they did, what the results were.

I want to see that bit of paper. It's that simple.

If such documentation is ever found and the results support the original boat capacity, then I will hold my hands up and admit I was badly wrong. And hey, you never know, Paul Lee claims he has found some unseen Titanic material that he hopes to reveal later this year, so may get to have such satisfaction !

On your final point, Jim, regarding Wellin. It wouldn't be the first time or the last that a company took its eye off the ball during the manufacturing side of things.

I'm sure you must have come across the occasional bit of supposedly brand new but nonetheless suspect piece of ship's machinery or safety gear when you were a MAI ?
 
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