Collapsible Boats


Bob Godfrey

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The boat on the davits is not a lifeboat as such - it's an 'emergency cutter', kept permanently swung out and uncovered for use if, for instance, somebody fell overboard. There were two of these, one on each side of the ship. They could of course be used as lifeboats, in which case the two collapsibles stored on deck alongside them could be lowered from the same davits. Given time, two more collapsibles stored on the roof of the officers' quarters could then be lowered, again from the same davits. This last possibility turned out to be wishful thinking. Of course it would have been more convenient and certainly quicker for the lowering to have a separate set of davits for every boat but the four collapsibles wre something of an afterthought, not required by regulations and it was never envisaged that they would ever be needed.
 

TitanicNerd

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The boat on the davits is not a lifeboat as such - it's an 'emergency cutter', kept permanently swung out and uncovered for use if, for instance, somebody fell overboard. There were two of these, one on each side of the ship. They could of course be used as lifeboats, in which case the two collapsibles stored on deck alongside them could be lowered from the same davits. Given time, two more collapsibles stored on the roof of the officers' quarters could then be lowered, again from the same davits. This last possibility turned out to be wishful thinking. Of course it would have been more convenient and certainly quicker for the lowering to have a separate set of davits for every boat but the four collapsibles wre something of an afterthought, not required by regulations and it was never envisaged that they would ever be needed.
So when the ship sank, people used the emergency cutter for a lifeboat? And then put the collapsible's on the davits and lowered them? The ones near the emergency cutter, not on the roof of the officer's quarters
 

TimTurner

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Yes. They tried also to lower the collapsible lifeboats on the roof, but I believe those were both washed off as the ship sank. At least one of those was the upside-down lifeboat that Officer Lightoller and others stood on top of. They were trying to get it ready it when a wave washed over it and flipped it over.
 

Bob Godfrey

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No boat was overturned by a wave. When it was manhandled off the roof collapsible B landed on the boat deck upside down, and there was no time to right it.
 

TimTurner

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Well, any of them really. But I was thinking specifically of his story of high adventure and daring do as recorded by the newspapers. His whole story seems to me to be, well... ornate. I, personally, rank him fairly low for reliability as a witness. But I believe he testified at the American hearings that he had been in that collapsible boat when he said a wave turned it over and threw him under it.

That's where I got that factoid from, thought I wouldn't be surprised if it were fabricated.
 

Bob Godfrey

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'Unreliable witness' is certainly a phrase that comes to mind! With the newspaper accounts the variations in detail could be at least partly due to journalistic licence, but even when testifying at the two inquiries he manages to contradict himself time and again. I don't recall him ever claiming that the boat was overturned by a wave, but he does tend to use the terms 'in' ond 'on' (the boat) interchangeably. Possibly the closest to an unvarnished account is the long letter he wrote to his Marconi traffic manager, in which he makes it pretty clear that the collapsible was already 'upturned' when he and it were washed off the deck.
 

TimTurner

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On Day 10 of the American hearings, there is this interchange:

Mr. BRIDE.
No, sir; I think I was the only one that was in it.

Senator SMITH.
When did you get in, before it left the side of the Titanic?

Mr. BRIDE.
I was not exactly in it, either; I got hold of it. That was as far as I got.

Senator SMITH.
You got hold of it?

Mr. BRIDE.
Yes.

Senator SMITH.
And as it fell into the water it fell over, upside down; is that correct?

Mr. BRIDE.
Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH.
So that you were down under this overturned boat?

Mr. BRIDE.
Yes; sir.

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On day 14, American Hearings, Senator Smith reads a letter from Bride to the Marconi company which includes this text:

I now assisted in pushing off a collapsible lifeboat, which was on the port side of the forward funnel, onto the boat deck. Just as the boat fell I noticed Capt. Smith dive from the bridge into the sea.

Then followed a general scramble down on the boat deck, but no sooner had we got there than the sea washed over. I managed to catch hold of the boat we had previously fixed up and was swept overboard with her.
 

Bob Godfrey

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Ah, Bride in conversation with Senator Smith. A recipe for ambiguity and confusion! And it doesn't help that the Senator is putting vague words into Bride's mouth. Which, incidentally, could be taken as literally true - "as it fell into the water it fell over, upside down" - the boat deck was already awash when the collapsible was tipped off the roof. Lightoller stated in his memoirs: "We had just time to tip the boat over, and let her drop into the water that was now above the boat deck, in the hope that some few might be able to scramble on to her as she floated off." Which is presumably what Bride attempted to do.
 
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Other crew members (like Hurst if I remember right) who worked at that boat reported that boat B landed overturned on the boat deck and was then washed off. Lightoller stated the same in 1912.
 
D

Deleted member 162143

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After the emergency cutters were launched, how did the crew/officers attach the collapsible boats to the davits? Did the pull the falls back up to deck level, then crank the davits back in, raise the canvas sides on the boats, and then attach the falls to the boat and hoist it over the ships side again? Or did they do it another way?
 
D

Deleted member 162143

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In multiple books I have read that the collapsible boats on the boat deck were stowed upside down. Does anybody why they were upside down? How did the crew flip the boat back over to attach it to the davits?
 

Bob Godfrey

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Many Titanic books, notably the quickly-written potboilers knocked out by non-specialist journalists, involve little research and simply repeat the errors of earlier and equally unreliable books, and this is a case in point. The collapsibles were NOT stowed upside down. I don't think any book has ever suggested that was so except in the case of the pair on the roof of the officers' quarters. The delusion of thinking they were inverted might be partly due to Lightoller's comment about collapsible B: "We just had time to tip the boat over" - by which he meant tip it over the edge of the roof. It was the right way up at that time, but as we all know it was upside down by the time it hit the deck.
 
A

Aaron_2016

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Was it pushed upside down? My understanding is the boat was too big and heavy to be pushed upside down, but when it was pushed towards the davits, one side was hooked up and in the process of being winched over before the other side was attached, the wave came, and twirled the boat upside down as one end was attached and as it washed over into the sea it landed upside down with Harold Bride falling into the water with it as it twirled over with him temporarily trapped underneath.


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Jim Currie

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hahn_02.jpg
 
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Aaron_2016

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Surprising how large the collapsible boats were:


collapsible.PNG



Edited with 40 men aboard.

boat40.PNG



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