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Titanic the Unsinkable
God himself couldn't sink this ship
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[QUOTE="Erik Wood, post: 189869, member: 138579"] Tom, You are discounting about 7 cardinal rules in ship evcuation that have been time tested. I have been involved in one passenger ship evcuation (not due to the ship sinking) as a JO. There was no immediate danger to the ship, but the fact that we where off loading passengers in mass, and the passengers left with the knowledge that they would not be returning caused some relatively minor panic. Familes had to be seperated due to errors by hotel staff (which caused even more panic). Those who new the ship was taking water paniced once they where told, realizing that the half hour mandated by international maritime law isn't nearly enough time to safely evcuate 3200 passengers. Once you have one paniced passenger it spreads like wildfire see an unrelated story about a fight onboard below. When you put hundreds or thousands of folks in a concentrated place, and tell them that they need to leave the ship for there safety (whether you use the word [i]"precaution"[/i] in the sentence or not) it is going to cause some amount of panic. People and ship evcuations don't mix. In some intances or I could even venture to say most instances Titanic was abandoned in a proper manner by my schooling. The ships commander knew full well the situation regarding lifeboats, he also knew that his boat deck could only hold a fraction of the total number of passengers on board (Titanic was in the pre muster station era), and once all of the passengers where made aware of the situation, and as they saw lifeboats leave and fewer left to hold large numbers, those with any mark of intelligence would have realized that seats in a lifeboat where going to become hard to come by. In addition, the boat deck remained fairly clear in the sense that those lowering the boats had the room to do so, this no doubt aided in the safe lowering of all of the boats that left (with the exception of the two that washed off the deck). Inviting 2000 crew and passengers to the boat deck that couldn't hold half of that would not only have caused panic but probably killed a few in the rush and attempt to get there. People standing in mass and standing still is another good way to start a panic on a ship that you have just announced is going to sink. When you take into account the abandoning of the Andrea Doria or the Archilli Lauro, those ships not only had more then enough lifeboats but the ship although showing some signs of sinking was not in a immediate foundering situation. In the Andrea Doria's situation she had lost the use of all of the lifeboats on one side, but help was clearly on scene and available. In both instances the passengers knew the basic situation and where being told what to do, the ship layout and the systems and policies the ship had in place could support the type of evcuation and kept it in a orderly manner. Smith didn't sound an alarm because he wanted to retain command of his ship. He didn't have enough lifeboats, that is why in my opinion he shouldn't have given all of the information available to him to his passengers, it isn't there business. Remeber that ships don't run like a fire in a building. The ships commander is under no obligation (if it will retain order and safety to his passengers) to communicate any problems that the ship is having with his passengers or hotel staff (anybody that has taken more then 4 cruises has been onboard during some kind of fire or other emergency, and probably was completely unaware of it). During the recent Norwalk virus outbreaks no major passenger annoucments where made, this was done in order to prevent panic. The ships commander, once his ship is wounded in anyway shifts to the safety of his passengers and his passengers only. Usually this means securing or making the ship safe and putting/keeping it in a inhabitable condition, in others that means getting his paying passengers off. How he does this, whether sounding some mass alarm or not, does not matter, his decision SHOULD be based on getting the most passengers off in the safest, fastest and most prudent manner available to him. The trained seaman, firemen, engineers and such on most ships is outnumbered 3 to one. Which makes it like a jail situation. The passengers if they wanted to or if they where paniced, could take the ship over at any time and any thought of a safe and orderly evcuation can be kicked out the window. The only thing that prevents this is the belief that the officers and crew of the ship know what they are doing and a general belief in the laws of the sea. You see an officer you do what he says end of story. Suggesting that the deaths of 1500 passengers and crew is the fault of the officers and crew for not giving them all the information available is both IMO out of line, requires a lot more research and degrades each and every officers ability to use reason, his ability to be a seaman, and more importantly paints Captain Smith as not only a incompetent commander, but just plain ignorant. Niether of which IMO are true. The Captain of the Ectasy didn't disclose the entire situation to his passengers, nor did the Captain of the Archilli Lauro (I can't spell today), nor did Captain Turner of the Lusitania (so I have read). [b][u]RULE #1 OF SHIP EVCUATION IS:[/u][/b] Do not give cause for alarm to the passengers and in no way indicate that things are bad, remain calm cool and collected and release only what needs to be released. Or in simple terms: [u][b]MAINTAIN ORDER AT ALL COSTS!!![/b][/u] This usually means giving them only half of the story if that. In the situation I mentioned that I was involved in the Captain only said the ship had grounded, and was taking a small amount of water, but for the safety of the passengers and crew the ship needed to be evcuated. He didn't mention that he had no tanks below the engine room floor, or that he had a aux machine space flooded or that when the tide changed the ship could break in two and roll over. The evcuation was slow, controlled and for the most part panic was averted by the likes of officers and trained crew. If Captain Smith had made a blanket statement that the ship would sink and all passengers and crew needed to report to the boat deck with lifebelts on, what would have happened?? None of us will know for sure, but common sense says that 2200 people going to one place that can't hold half of that, and letting them know that the boat they are on is about to disappear beneath there feet is a bad thing. You have 2 master at arms to quell problems on 882 feet of ship, while the rest of the officers and trained seaman are attempting get lifeboats ready while folks push and shove to get in line. There are some very large logistical problems involved here. That is why shipping companies and law makers developed the Muster Station. You are breaking up the body of passengers into smaller managable groups, and escorting them to the boat they need to be in. Everybody in each group is getting a seat at the same time. There is no fight for a seat it is assigned. Boats are leaving the ship (if all goes according to plan) 4 at a time. Now you have smaller more manageable groups of passengers organized by a large group of crew or personnel trained to deal with the situation. Titanic didn't have this luxury. This also goes to the heart of why a Captain is the Captain. People are under the illusion that the Captain (in Smith's situation) was to get ALL of the people off. Smith didn't have the resources, equipment or time to get that accomplished, and IMO the testimony shows that he understood that. Smith's job was to save as many as he possibly could, he had to load lifeboats and tell others that there turn was coming, full well knowing that there wasn't a seat for everybody, this also meant restricting the flow of information. The Captains job is to save as many as possible (hopefully that is everybody and until he can know otherwise he assumes everybody). The Captains job is to look at the big overall picture, not the small picture. Smith knows the eventual out come, he knows that he only has so many lifeboat seats and almost twice that number in persons needing a seat, he also knows that he is in a time frame to get people off (which isn't flexible), given the resources and trained personnel on hand he has to make a decision on how best to save as many of his passengers as he can ([b]NOTE:[/b]Smith can't save all so he has to save what he can) and that every minute that goes by the deck gets steeper and the ship sinks faster (not technically speaking) and harder it will become to load lifeboats. Tom said: [u][i]". If Smith had held a lifeboat drill, of course, this state of affairs would have been drastically different.[/i][/u] While I agree 110% that a lifeboat drill should have taken place, it wouldn't have done much good. There where still not enough lifeboats, and no system in place to make a orderly evcuation, and that would have been more then obvious to passengers once required to show up to there boat station, especially to the third class would have been last to arrive. The point of this next bit is that every shipboard alarm or emergency isn't always dire, and that alerting passengers and telling them the whole story could create and would create more trouble then it is worth: [indent]Every morning at about 0430 on the SS Norway a fire alarm goes off on the bridge alerting the bridge and galley crew that there is excessive heat in a corridor next to one of the resturants. The fire alarm sounds in the corridor, the galley and the bridge and fire doors close. They man a fire team and send a officer to investigate. Every day it is the same thing, the grill when heating up warms the metal bulkhead and warms up a crew corridor and causes the heat cenors to trip. But everyday they do the same thing. Do they wake everybody up no. When a passenger asks they tell them. When early risers see crewmen in fire gear running with hoses people tend to wonder what the heck is going on.[/indent] Panic is a disease on a ship, once one person has it, it can spread rapidly and uncontrolled and every second that is wasted in attempting to stop this panic order is slipping away. Captain Smith and his officers and crew deserve a hand shake for there handling of the evcuation. Now the handling of what occured before contact with the berg....well....that is another story. [/QUOTE]
I which year did the Titanic sail?