Board of Trade and Lifeboats


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Alyson Jones

Guest
Stanley-I'm not saying american ships in the atlantic run,i knew that there was no American ships running the atlantic,i think America got there first ship built just after ww2 to do the Atlantic run. The program stated that American ships carried alot more life boats than British ships,but America don't have ships that run so i'm confussed so i decided to asked on here.
Maybe the program meant American ships on other runs?
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Hello Bob,

This gives an indication of the American law: http://copperas.com/titanic/engrdis.htm
"......The American law requires that in vessels of 20,000 gross tons, the boats carried should have a capacity of 12,420 cub. ft., with an addition of 225 cub. ft. for each successive 500 tons above 20,000 tons. There is no doubt, that the accommodation in the Titanic greatly exceeded the requirements of the British law, but was less than those of the American law. ...."

Based on 46,000 tons I am calculating that as 52 x 225 = 11,700 + 12,420 = 24,120 which on the basis of 10 cub ft per person would have given boats for 2,412.
 
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Alyson Jones

Guest
Hi Lester,I was the one that started the board of trade life boat *post*.So that means my program was dead on. Yay i'm right for the first time on this forum!

Regards
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>i knew that there was no American ships running the atlantic,<<

Actually, there were. Some were even record breakers but they just didn't dominate the North Atlantic liner trade the way the British did. The New York...the ship the Titanic almost crunched whan departing Southamptom...was an American flagged vessel.

You might find http://www.greatoceanliners.net/index2.html to be a useful resource in researching this.
 
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Alyson Jones

Guest
The ship that Titanic nearly smashed was New york!my statments was about American ships had more life boats than British and it turns out i'm right for once Whoooooooooo!
I only said that America had none cause i just wanted to agree with him than having an aguement with him.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>I only said that America had none cause i just wanted to agree with him than having an aguement with him.<<

I wouldn't worry about that. Debate is the lifeblood of any forum, and so long as it doesn't turn hostile, we don't mind it.

Americans had always been a presence on the oceans, having by necessity been a maritime nation since Colonial times. American liners were always there but they just didn't have the dominating presence in the passenger trade that the British as well as some of her rivals did.
 
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Alyson Jones

Guest
I already having a debate on another thread ,so i just don't want to be having two debates at the same time,but yes you're right . There'a alot of debates on each forums.

Like Britain and Germany being the main shipping countries.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Witney
I did not say that there were no American ships on the North Atlantic. Indeed, I specifically mentioned the Collins Line as an example of a purely American undertaking (as I have done on previous occasions). I did, however, pose a question about the position of American-owned and flagged ships in 1912 because (without consulting the records) I could not think of any important vessels apart from those that had been purchased by J.P.Morgan.
 
Dec 29, 2006
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Witney
This question is by no means a simple one because the vast majority of these trans-Atlantic companies were, in effect, Anglo-American concerns with shareholders on both sides of the Atlantic - the situation being made even more complicated by the activities of the Morgan combine. I was careful to cite the Collins line as a 100 per cent American company, but the slightly later Guion Line seems to have had partners on both sides of the ocean - and where did Samuel Cunard come from? (that question is of course rhetorical!)
 
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Alyson Jones

Guest
It,s True Standley did only ask about American lines and did not state there was no American ships back then. I must of miunderstood his post.

Regards
 

Richard Brown

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Sep 15, 2010
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Not sure if this is the right place but anyway.

Why was the regulation on lifeboats based on tonnage? Clearly there must have been a reason. Any reasonable person would say it should be based on passengers. Was it just traditional? In which case, where did it originate from, the Navy? Or was it when trans atlantic crossings were more infrequent and boats would often carry cargo and every now and then carry passengers? To stop them from claiming they carried no passengers (and thus claim to only need a minimum number of lifeboats) it forced them to take on lifeboats enough for if they did carry passengers? Surely if they were going to carry passengers they would have to be reexamined and thus they would have to declare how many passengers (and get enough lifeboats). Basically what was the rational for the tonnage calculation?

[Moderator's note: This message, originally a separate thread in a different topic, has been moved to this pre-existing thread addressing the same subject. MAB]
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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It's a messy business. It certainly didn't come from the navy, which rarely had 'boats for all' and went its own way. Imagine trying to get 2,000 men off a battered battleship as it sank. That's war!

Tonnage gave a rough idea of carrying capacity, and the formula served well for all by about 90 British passenger ships. The big majority had 'boats for all'. Freighters had 'boats for all' on both sides, even if they carried a few dozen passengers.

Where it broke down was with emigrant ships that carried more than 1,000 passengers in a ship of maybe 8,000 GRT. These ships were only around 600 feet long, and length is the real limiting factor when you try to carry boats. Right now, there are cruise ships that don't have 'boats for all' because of this.

There was a deliberate policy of encouraging owners to use ships that were as nearly unsinkable as possible. If a ship met strict standards, she could carry fewer boats than the rules normally required. This didn't apply to Titanic, but some smaller ships did qualify for a reduction.

Another factor was a lack of faith in lifeboats. Ships tend to be sunk in storms, when boats can't survive being lowered. The Titanic incident was not typical.

At the back of it all were the limitations of the technology of the day. Using boats of the period, it was impossible to provide 'boats for all' on an emigrant ship without resorting to all sorts of unseamanlike and impractical schemes. After the sinking, ships carried stacks of collapsible boats, put several boats under one set of davits, or even put boats on rails, to be slid across the deck to the best side for launching. It was not until the 1960s that these things were banned and problems exist to this day.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Bravo! to Dave Gittens. He has clearly and succinctly described the thinking and physical considerations surrounding the number of lifeboats carried on ships in Titanic's era. Dave's post should be required reading for everyone interested in Titanic.

-- David G. Brown
 

Richard Brown

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Sep 15, 2010
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Yes, thankyou Dave. I always assumed there would be some logic to why they picked tonnage. It doesn't make sense that they would just randomly make something up. Indeed, I would have assumed they did some investigation, held meetings, discussed things etc etc before coming to that desicion. Interesting to see how they derived policy. I get the impression that it was the wireless (and probably long range wireless) which really changed things, up until that point if a ship went down away from land it would usually result in a loss of everyone, right? By the time anyone realised days would have passed. Unless you had a superb navigator (although I heard that of all the lifeboats from a ship that sunk in Austrailia, the only one not found was the one best provisioned and with experienced saliors).

I was myself thinking of how the titanic was unique. The Britanic didn't lose many when it went down, and it went down a lot quicker than the Titanic. Was this a success of the new lifeboat policy (or was it just because it was near land, not freezing cold water and had few people on board). But I cant think of any other ship that took 2 hr to sink, and went down with only a slight list.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>I get the impression that it was the wireless (and probably long range wireless) which really changed things, up until that point if a ship went down away from land it would usually result in a loss of everyone, right?<<

That was about the size of it. Oddly enough, sometimes the ship was found but not the people who decided to take to the boats. The often exaggerated case of the Mary Celeste is one such example. Bermuda Triangle stupidities notwithstanding, there was nothing really all that mysterious about what happened. There was a problem with the cargo of alcohol...some barrels were broken open...and the crew took to the boats to avoid the possibility of being aboard if the stuff exploded. The problem was that the wind carried the ship away and the boat couldn't keep up. The Mary Celeste was found several days later but the lifeboat was never found.

More often then not, in the days before radio, a ship would sail beyond the horizon never to be heard from again.


I think with the Britannic, it was a combination of adaquate lifeboats and the fact that the ship wasn't carrying any patients at the time. The only people aboard were the crew and the hospital staff. Had they been carrying wounded, the disaster would have been much worse. Ambulatory patients might have had a shot, but non-ambulatory patients wouldn't have had a chance.

I'd hesitate to say that training had improved since two boats were launched without permission while the ship was still moving with deadly results. They were drawn into the propellors and chopped to pieces. This is where most of the fatalities occured.
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Radio didn't exist when the rules were made, but when it came along it reinforced existing attitudes. This was mentioned in Mersey's court.

As of January 1912, the policy seemed to be working. The people on Republic and Slavonia had been saved by a combination of radio and other ships, though both ships were lost. In the 20 years before Titanic, only 85 passengers were lost from British ships, most of them from two small ships that were lost inshore.

It didn't seem to be broken, so they didn't fix it.
 
Apr 27, 2016
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Board of Trade and lifeboats regardless of the Titanic's disaster

Hello everyone,

As all of us, I like to look for myths in the regard to the Titanic. And I have a hypothesis about the lifeboats and the Board of Trade that I would like to share with you in order to check it's feasibility.

Basically what I heard about lifeboats for big ships before the disaster of Titanic is that they were not to be used for a large scale evacuation. Rather than that they were supposed to be used just for tasks such as transfer passengers from an incapacitated, but still floating vessel to another. However Titanic's boats carried itens such as a compass. Would this not be an indication that the regulations were just outdated, but not that there was a belief that the boats were not to be used in a large scale evacuation and prolonged exposure to the sea?

And another question related to the first: the introduction of collapsible lifeboats by the time of the introduction of the Olympic-class liners (I know the Titanic carried two of them), would not meant that even if the Titanic disaster didn't happened, the Board of Trade would in a short future impose the necessity of them to be carried onboard without much prejudice to the companies, as they could be carried beneath the wooden boats as was actually done subsequently in RMS Olympic?

In other words: the disaster of 1912 didn't just speed up inevitable changes in lifeboat regulations that would come anyway?

Thanks since now the attention,

Marcelo Jenisch
 

TimTurner

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Dec 11, 2012
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I believe that the lifeboat provisions were specified by law, you'd have to look up the 1912 legal code to be sure. Anyway, there is a difference between design and intent. I can design a lifeboat to last for a week at sea, but that doesn't mean I intend to use it that way. It's entirely possible that those things were put there "just in case the worst happens". In general, one might question the use of a compass in a lifeboat at all - you certainly aren't going to cross the Atlantic in a rowboat. It would be pretty rare that lifeboats on a passenger ship would be rowing to a destination out of direct line of sight.

I support the theory that lifeboats were only for transferring passengers, but I've never seen real proof of this theory, only speculation.

On regulations, we have no way of knowing if regulations would keep up. Politicians respond to public opinion - if nobody is concerned about lifeboats then it's unlikely that lifeboats would be on their agenda.
 

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