How could more passengers have been saved? [was: Titanica Members' Remarkable Obsession with Trivia]


R.M.S TITANIC

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About the life jackets, considering they were made out of hard cork I believe compared to whatever is in modern life jackets, jumping off the ship, especially the stern as is shown in the movies, you would break your neck 9/10 times. I can't believe people did not try and get things that float that are big enough out; also why do battle ship disasters usually take all the hands with them?
 

Rob Lawes

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why do battle ship disasters usually take all the hands with them?

Not all of then do however there are some notable examples. Firstly, the biggest problem was not with Battleships but with Battle Cruisers. During the first world war the Royal Navy developed the Battle Cruiser to have the firepower of a Battleship but the speed of a cruiser. To achieve this they reduced the amount of armour to save weight. During the Battle of Jutland in 1916 HMS Queen Mary and HMS Indefatigable both exploded due to hits on their main explosives magazines. Only 11 crew survived out of well over 2000 sailors.

Later, in the Second World War, the Flagship of the Royal Navy, the Battle cruiser HMS Hood exploded after a brief exchange of gunfire with the German battleship Bismarck. Only 3 sailors survived.

As we used to say in the navy, if you invited someone to go to see in a metal box crammed with thousands of gallons of flammable fuels, dangerous chemicals and tons of explosives they would probably turn you down.

The purpose of a warship is to deny the enemy the use of the air and sea in the area of operation. Sadly, survivors are counted and worried about after the action.
 
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Aaron_2016

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About the life jackets, considering they were made out of hard cork I believe compared to whatever is in modern life jackets, jumping off the ship, especially the stern as is shown in the movies, you would break your neck 9/10 times. I can't believe people did not try and get things that float that are big enough out; also why do battle ship disasters usually take all the hands with them?


Survivor Frank Prentice jumped from the stern and he estimated the drop to be over 100 feet as he passed the propellers on the way down. He was wearing a life jacket and said the impact "knocked all the wind out of me." He was wearing a second life jacket tucked under and also a cushion, so he was well protected from the hard impact. There were many deck chairs thrown into the water, but he found a wooden box floating and held onto it and paddled his way towards the boats. Charles Joughin estimated that he threw about 50 deck chairs overboard to give others a chance of survival and also for himself as he later ended up in the water. In the days that followed the sinking a number of passing ships found bodies floating and witnesses reported that a number of them had lashed themselves to doors and pieces of wood in a desperate attempt to stay alive, but sadly the cold had killed them.

I believe a large number of people were killed on battleships because the fatal explosion would sometimes set off the armaments inside and blow the ship up from the inside and sometimes the shock wave from the explosion would travel across the ship and shatter their bones. I recall the bombing of the night club Cafe de Paris. A bomb fell onto the dance floor and a number of victims were found still sitting in their chairs at their tables without a mark on them. The shock wave from the blast had broken their necks. Rather morbid, but at least it was quick. Here is a short documentary about the Battle of Jutland in which a number of warships sank with all hands.




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About the life jackets, considering they were made out of hard cork I believe compared to whatever is in modern life jackets, jumping off the ship, especially the stern as is shown in the movies, you would break your neck 9/10 times.

Interestingly this claim came up very often but is not based on any facts. The bodies recovered (several were buried at sea as the was not enough space on the recovering ships) did not proof that claim.
 

Dave Gittins

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I understand the replica lifebelts caused problems to stuntmen during the filming of A Night to Remember. Apparently they rode up when the jumpers hit the water, with the risk of neck injury.
 
Not all of then do however there are some notable examples. Firstly, the biggest problem was not with Battleships but with Battle Cruisers. During the first world war the Royal Navy developed the Battle Cruiser to have the firepower of a Battleship but the speed of a cruiser. To achieve this they reduced the amount of armour to save weight. During the Battle of Jutland in 1916 HMS Queen Mary and HMS Indefatigable both exploded due to hits on their main explosives magazines. Only 11 crew survived out of well over 2000 sailors.

Later, in the Second World War, the Flagship of the Royal Navy, the Battle cruiser HMS Hood exploded after a brief exchange of gunfire with the German battleship Bismarck. Only 3 sailors survived.

As we used to say in the navy, if you invited someone to go to see in a metal box crammed with thousands of gallons of flammable fuels, dangerous chemicals and tons of explosives they would probably turn you down.

The purpose of a warship is to deny the enemy the use of the air and sea in the area of operation. Sadly, survivors are counted and worried about after the action.

Rob, some battleships also sunk with most of their crew. Bismark, Yamato, Barham are the ones that come more quickly to my mind!
 
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Rob Lawes

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Rob, some battleships also sunk with most of their crew. Bismark, Yamato, Barham are the ones that come more quickly to my mind!

Very true. You can find footage of Barham rolling over and sinking on youtube. A magazine explodes and takes out a lot of survivors.

In the case of Bismarck and Yamato, they took a serious battering from air and sea before they sank.

See also the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbour.
 
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Aaron_2016

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A number of survivors were injured by their cork life jackets when the Princess Victoria sank in 1953.


A passenger injured by his life jacket.

pvictoria.PNG


An Inquiry was held and they stated:

"As regards life-jackets the Court is of the opinion that the instructions for the wearing of cork jackets should be amended to include a reference to the need for holding them down in order to prevent the choking of the wearer."


.
 
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Sadly, there is no way to prevent injuries and deaths when a ship is lost at sea. The best we can do is learn from our mistakes and avoid them in the future. 'Tis unfortunate that people are very creative in finding new ways to have the same old catastrophes. But, life is dangerous and death is not an option.

-- David G. Brown
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>To achieve this they reduced the amount of armour to save weight. During the Battle of Jutland in 1916 HMS Queen Mary and HMS Indefatigable both exploded due to hits on their main explosives magazines.<<

Half true. It wasn't a deficiency in armour protection which caused this but some breathtakingly dangerous ammunition handling practices. (See
Naval Firepower: Battleship Guns and Gunnery in the Dreadnought Era
by

Norman Friedman)

In order to achieve higher rates of fire, powder charges were removed from flametight storage canisters and along with the shells, were packed into the hoists leading from the magazines all the way up into the gun houses themselves. They might as well have run an explosive wick all the way down to the magazines because when they took a hit on the gunhouse, with the hoists loaded with powder and shells and NONE of the flashtight doors closed, the results were as spectacular as they were predictable.

As to the question of life preservers, we used both the kapok type life vests as well as the inflatable lifevests in the Navy and we were trained not to be wearing the kapok vests when going into the water because if we did, we would break our necks.

Ditto with the inflatables with the caveat that you could wear them jumping into the water, but you had to hold off inflating them for the same reasons.
 
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Rob Lawes

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Yes that's indeed true. I admit I was generalising a little.

Another factor especially at Jutland was the different type of ammunition in use by the German Navy and the angle at which it penetrated armour. German shells were far more effective at armour piercing than the British type.
 
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You may be thinking of plunging fire. This would become a signifigent issue during the Second World War but it wasn't as much of an issue during the 1st as it was made out to be. As I understand it....I've seen this mentioned in some of my books....divers were actually sent down to examine the wrecks and the found that the armoured decks had not been penetrated.

The overloading of the magazines along with the practice of having shells and powder charges fully loaded on the hoists was discovered by an officer who was part of the investigation into why all these things happened and he also found out that Admiral Beatty knew about it.
 

robert warren

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Id like to know who added the extras about lowering rafts down the ship's sides to my original observation.I just have to add this--would you honestly think and trust the crew to sufficiently make a raft that wouldn't fall apart after prolonged contact with the water? In the haste to evacuate the ship do you think that would happen? If you want to talk about lifeboats that buckle, imagine what a makeshift raft would do with people on it , and being lowered over the side by ropes like you said. Most of these knuckleheads(crew) didn't know how to properly lower the regular lifeboats, a few didn't even know how to row or anything ( like a disgusted Mrs. White said at the inquest) Besides more people would have died as makeshift rafts would not have kept people nearly as dry as a lifeboat.So in the end this whole idea seems fine but I don't think this scenario would have saved that many more lives as simply loading up lifeboats to maximum capacity would have.For anyone who doubts me I say seriously , make a raft out of old furniture or any thing , put it on a lake, and then lie down on it as most people would have and see how long you go without getting wet.Then stay that way for few hours , then get back to me.
 
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>>>I just have to add this--would you honestly think and trust the crew to sufficiently make a raft that wouldn't fall apart after prolonged contact with the water? In the haste to evacuate the ship do you think that would happen?<<

The key point is that the ship is....you know....sinking! In extremis like that, it's not a matter or trust: You make do with what you have. It doesn't have to last long term: Just long enough for rescue.;)
 

robert warren

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Yes but if one doesn't know when ,if, or how long before help arrives, wouldn't more more people have succumbed to the exposure on something that was hastily made and started falling apart before any rescue attempt was made?
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Yes but if one doesn't know when ,if, or how long before help arrives, wouldn't more more people have succumbed to the exposure on something that was hastily made and started falling apart before any rescue attempt was made?<<

You're missing the point: The ship is SINKING. Maybe rescue is around the corner. Maybe it isn't. In a situation like that, you do what you can with what you have. Granted, doing something may not save your life.

NOT doing something WILL kill you.
 
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Aaron_2016

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Passing ships saw bodies that were lashed to chairs and doors with rope. There must have been some effort made by victims to save themselves prior to the ship sinking, although not many. When the Costa Concordia listed over so much that half of her lifeboats were unable to be launched the passengers and crew left behind did not make any attempts (as far as I'm aware) to find anything that would float and use it as a raft. When the Titanic broke in two there was still hope that the stern would remain afloat.

Mr. Buley - "She parted in two, and the afterpart settled down again, and we thought the afterpart would float altogether."

Edith Rosenbaum - "There was a very heavy explosion under water, a second and then a third.....Preceding the sinking of the boat, there was a loud cry, as if emanating from one throat. The men in our boat asked the women to cheer, saying 'Those cheers that you hear on the big boat mean they have all gotten into life boats and are saved.' And do you know, that we actually cheered, believing that the big shout was one of thanks giving."


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robert warren

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I get the point. MY point is that the life saving equipment already there is first and foremost used while other options are put on the back burner. Its like a fire that breaks out , the fire extinguishers are going to be the first things people reach out and use.People are are going to gravitate towards the lifeboats FIRST because they are there right in front of their eyes and the crew will use therm first as well.
 

robert warren

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I think it also bears repeating that most people had such blind faith in Titanic's durability, hell some of them were joking and playing around with remnants of the culprit that sank her in the first place, that for the first hour or so after , they refused to believe anything was seriously wrong. Its one of the reasons the first lifeboats were not loaded up-they didn't want to use the lifesaving equipment that was already there! How do you think you're going to crack that crust of denial by convincing others to build other forms of lifesaving apparatus when the stuff that's there is being scoffed at?These people were largely ignorant of the amount of people these boats would hold, and genuinely believed they would be in them for short time and it was no big deal.Just a damn lifeboat drill in the middle of the night. Secondly, by the time people did realize the ship was SINKING it was too little too late. Like I said earlier , the amount of time need to fetch the supplies and tools needed to fashion rafts or whatever would have eaten up a lot of time, so much that maybe only a couple of rafts would have been made.Then try crafting these things surrounded by hundreds of people for whom the panic button is switching on. Then there would have been the time wasted in coming up with ways to load and lower them down the ship. Yes I know you do with what you have and can use, but again most of the evacuation was a sloppy, mishandled study in incompetence using existing lifesaving equipment ,so I don't know how much these crew could have been trusted to build something that would keep me alive for a few extra hours.Also at this time various crew members were enlisted and struggling to get the collapsibles unlashed from their mounts.Again ,the human mind gravitating to the lifesaving equipment already there. I never insinuated that people should have given up, I just offered some logistics and complications behind such fanciful thinking.Keep in mind, sitting at home on the couch learning about disasters both real and imagined, it's very easy to speculate would you would or wouldn't do or what should have been done ,when until you're actually thrust in that kind of scenario you don't know WHAT you would really do or how you would behave and act.
 
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R.M.S TITANIC

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True. Though what would be better is to try and maximize the amount of people you can fit in the life boat, by having most of the people huddle up and keep the ones that need to row normal. That would make it so more people can fit on one boat.
Also - to get us back to point, what about an Iceberg? I mean, its massive, and its made of ICE. Which is not very good at handling sudden pressure changes. You could easily find something hard and hammer the ice. I know it's cold, but you can do things to minimize the amount of heat leaves your body. Plus staying still keeps you warmer along with moving fast enough. Can anyone point out to me why using a roughly million ton piece of ice will not work?
 

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