Jerry is undoubtedly sincere in his posting and I do not want to discourage his enthusiasm. However, wishful thinking does not change reality.
Captain Smith had lifeboats being prepared even before he knew the total extent of the flooding. He started launching boats even before it was an agreed certainty that Titanic would sink.
If we assume that a convenient iceberg was located to port and another equally convenient berg to starboard; and if we assume that using these conveneient bergs was the plan from the beginning; there was still not enough time to save everyone. Reality is that the ship sank at a rate which matched the time required to launch 18 of the ship's 20 boats. There was no additional time left to Titanic for the arduous and time-consuming job of rowing to the bergs, discharging passengers, and rowing back to the mother ship for another load.
If such a plan had been followed, it would have been necessary to place a minimum of 10 trained crew in each lifeboat. One skilled oarsman per or times eight, plus a coxwain, plus a bowman to jump onto the berg at landing and handle the painter. The need for trained crew for a transfer (unappreciated by 1912 regulations) means that the capacity of passengers per transfer drops from 65 to 55 per large lifeboat. And, since there were fewer than 50 trained seamen in the crew, only about five lifeboats could have been properly manned.
"Properly manned" is a more telling expression than it might seem. Almost anyone of adult size can swing a lifeboat oar. But, rowing with skill is quite a different matter. It takes some practice for a crew to work together so as not to "catch a crab" or tangle oars. Then, some skilled maneuvers such as backing oars on one side of the boat while simultaneously "tossing" oars on the other would have been required to get alongside the berg. All of this had to be done in the dark of night.
Five boats properly manned could cary 250 survivors per trip. To complete the evacuation would have taken 9 round trips of the fleet. Loading, rowing, unloading, and rowing back to the ship would have been time consuming. At 30 minutes per cycle, the total evacuation would have taken 270 minutes, or four and a half hours. The last passengers thus rescued would have been loaded around 5 a.m. after treading water (cold water!) for more than two hours.
Icebergs are not the most stable of platforms. A 1909 (predating Titanic) publication of the U.S. Hydrologic Office stated, "Often the bergs are so nicely balanced that the slightest melting of their surfaces causes a shifting of the center of gravity and a consequent turning over of the mass into a new position..." If a little melting can upset an iceberg, what might be the effect of landing multipule tons of human "beef" on top of one?
So, while initially attractive, the concept of transferring passengers to nearby icebergs would not have worked. It would have taken longer than the time allotted and would have raised the threat of a cold and wet death due to capsize of the supposed safe haven.
The whole concept of lifeboats is questionable even today. Ask Captain Erik about the "safety" of these supposed life-saving devices. Putting people into a container and then swaying that container down to the sea on cables is not exactly the safetst of endeavors. That it was done so successfully by Titanic's crew speaks to both the high level of seamanship and the calmness of the ocean that night.
And, history has shown that providing 100% lifeboat seating is not the same as ensuring 100% survival of everone on board. The sinking of Andrea Doria (cited as an example in an earlier post) proved this. Due to an immediate list of Doria, none of the boats on the port side could be launched. Doria passengers found themselves in exactly the same situation as passengers on Titanic--half enough boats for everyone aboard.
Which comes full circle back to Captain Erik's well-stated premise (on another thread) that the only sure way to have "saved" everyone on boars would have been total avoidance of the iceberg. The harsh reality of life at sea is that people die when things go wrong. Or, more precisely in the case of passenger vessels, the more people there are on the ship, the more people who die when things go wrong.
-- David G. Brown