Collapsibles A and B


Tracy Smith

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Apr 20, 2012
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I've always wondered why the two collapsibles stored upside down, away from the davits, were left until the last moments to be attended to.

It always seemed to me that crewmen should have been assigned to get them ready and fitted into the first available davits vacated by already lowered boats. And that this should have been done as soon as said davits had been vacated. I'm sure they had enough crewmen aboard to have had a group assigned to doing just this without having to take men away from the lifeboats already being lowered.

Anyone know why this wasn't done? Was it that they'd only fit into a specific pair of davits? If that was so, then they could have launched the boat already in those davits early on and allowed the group assigned to those collapsibles enough time to fit them in and use them properly.

Waiting until there wasn't time to launch them properly seems stupid to me. If there's a good reason why they had to have been left until last, I'd like to know.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Good questions, Tracy, and the funny thing is that they had more lifeboats to deal with then they had competant crewmen to deal with them. They had to put the priority in getting those boats away that they could. As it happens, C and D were stored right side up next to a set of davits and they were reletively simple to get hooked up and away. If memory serves, they were also the last two lifeboats launched successfully.

What I beleive to be really bizzaar is that Collapsibles A and B were stored upside down on top of the deckhouse! That scene in Camaron's flick showcasing the nightmare they had dealing with this set up is probably a lot more accurate then we may think. In retrospect, it all looks pretty silly to us now, but we had best be mindful of the beleif they held that the ship was unsinkable. Why set up lifeboats for an emergency nobody ever expected would happen?

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dan Cherry

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Michael and Tracy,
The collapsibles weren't stored upside down on the roof of the officers quarters. They were right side up, stowed collapsed, in chocks. I can think of two pictures on the Olympic-class liners which show this, one in Titanic Voices, and one in EE O'Donnell's Last Days of Titanic.
The collapsibles on the roof, if the time came for them to be needed, technically could be lowered from a block and pulley system installed on the funnel stays on either side of the collapsible. Though I have seen this pulley system installed on the Olympic (Titanic and her Sisters book), I have never seen it in any Titanic photos (though you can see the eyehooks in the stays where the block and tackle would have been installed), and therefore I believe she went to sea without them aboard. I have found in my years of research that the ship left Southampton less complete than most people know - missing lifeboat equipment, handrails, unpainted components, to name some items.

Regards,
Dan
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Thanks Dan, I stand corrected. When the mind goes and all that. Still a clumsy arrangement though. George Behe mentioned something about certain fittings and I beleive some rooms that were incomplete when the ship sailed. A far from unusual occurance. Schedules have to be met so sometimes, shortcuts are taken. I've seen that for myself in new construction for warships.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dan Cherry

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Michael,
clumsy arrangement indeed. They just had to make the "more lifeboats" people happy - nobody said it had to make sense!
I don't quite recall where the original writings came from which had said that A and B were stowed upside down on the roof. ANTR and Cameron's Titanic had them correct.
Regarding going to sea incomplete, in Titanic Voices, it mentions a story by a worker who mentioned the Titanic left Belfast without her clock face on the forward GSC. A small, circular mirror was supposedly inserted in its place until the clock could be installed. I don't know if it arrived, was taken aboard and fitted in Southampton. I can't find anything to go either way.

Regards,
Dan
 
Dec 2, 2000
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That upside down thing may be a cerebral short circuit on my part. Sorry about that. I was going over some very detailed plans (The CAD plans advertised om the TMRA website) and the collapsibles are indeed presented as stowed right side up.

The only photo's I have of the clock on the Grand Staircase were almost assuredly taken on the Olympic, so I can't offer much help there. The Olympic was used as a stand in for her unfortunate sister quite frequently.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dan Cherry

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Michael,

Apologies never necessary! :)

I have the CAD plans from the TRMA - if you ever want to build a model - they're a must have!

I am going from oft-failing memory, but I think Walter Lord first described the collapsibles as being upside down on the roof. It's not a cerebral short circuit you had, just remembering that you read it somewhere, but I think Lord just made a deduction based on the best evidence he had at the time.

In researching and corroborating with other Titanic researchers, Olympic pictures can be helpful in obtaining a glimpse of Titanic, though in other aspects it is not, or poses even more questions. Unfortunately for the Titanic researcher, Olympic was the favored sister, mostly because she was the first, and was around the longest. Olympic's building, launching, outfitting and maiden sailing were extensively covered. When Titanic came around, the documentation hoopla had died down. Kind of like the second moon landing...

Regards,
Dan
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>Kind of like the second moon landing...<<

Yeah, until the ship sank. I heard that little manuever raised a few eyebrows.

I have both of Lord's books back in my collection, with kind thanks to the generosity of Karen Sweigart for The Night Lives On. I'll have to double check my texts when I can. So many books, so little time.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
J

jacqueline hall

Guest
In one part of a statement given to the newspaper by my grandfather Harry Senior, a fireman on the Titanic, he states "we got up to the hurricane deck to lower some of the collapsible boats but there was no tackle or anything to load them by. we had to throw them down to the boat deck and run the risk of their breaking"
He was aboard collapsible lifeboat B
 
Dec 12, 1999
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Jacqueline,

Regarding your grandfather, if you look in the "Survivor Suicides" and "PTSD Sydromes" you'll see that it appears that a large number of survivors suffered from some kind of post traumatic syndrome. It appears to be random, but I've also noticed that there are certain trends: the men on the bridge, prominent public persons who survived in the lifeboats, and the men on collapsible B.

With respect to the survivors from B, Jack Thayer committed suicide, Archie Gracie died shortly after the sinking, John Collins ended up in an insane asylum, Second Officer Lightoller suffered various symptoms of PTSD.

To your knowledge, and if you don't mind me asking, did your grandfather suffer any kind of phobia, stress, symptoms, or whatever, as a result of the disaster?
 
J

jacqueline hall

Guest
Jan,
I have asked my mother if her father suffered from any of the disorders you mention and the answer was no. He was a happy family man and an excellent father. Granddad died in 1937 of throat cancer. I hope this answers your query.
 
K

Karen Sweigart

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"with kind thanks to the generosity of Karen Sweigart for The Night Lives On."
You're welcome Michael!!
 
Apr 24, 2003
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I have two questions about Collapsible B:
How many people were already on its keel when the ship sank at 2.20? Harold Bride was under the boat, I know, but who was the first person above?

And second question:
What was the position of B to the ship at that time? I would think the boat should have still swim nearby the submerged bow,( a few meters away of the ship cause of the falling first funnel).
But Eugene Daly and Jack Thayer said (Titanic: An illustrated History) that they were afraid that the STERN could fall on the boat.
How could they were afraid if the boat was nearby the BOW?

Cordially
Manuel Reiprich
 
Dec 6, 2000
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I think A and B were first looked at, AFTER C and D had been launched. Due to location, and that A and B would use the same davits as C and D.

For example, Lightoller helped load and launch D. When done there, he climbed up on the roof with some others, and started trying to get B down to the deck.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Jeremy:

Exactly! Both C and D were lowered just a short distance to the water (10 or 15 feet, I think), and it was coming up fast. By the time A and B were gotten down to the deck, and the crew started trying to attach A to the falls (B being upside down), the water was coming up on deck and it was too late.
 

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