Launching the lifeboats

Oct 15, 2010
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Hi, I'm new to the site, just wanted to ask, has there ever been any serious research done to try and establish how long it took to launch each individual lifeboat from the Titanic.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Not that I'm aware of. You can average it out if you like but the problem with trying to figure out how long it took to launch an individual boat wss that nobody was standing around with a stopwatch and a record book. They had little enough time as it was and much better things to do with it.
 

Thomas C.

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Sep 6, 2017
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Quick question.
Can someone describe me the process of uncovering the lifeboats?

From the survivors accounts, this process took about 15-20 minutes. How did it look like?
In James Cameron's movie it looks like it took 1 or 2 minutes. In the movie: Titanic 20 years later, James Cameron assumed that process of taking the covers off, took about 2 minutes.
 
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William Wates

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Aug 9, 2018
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A friend of mine who is an engineer has suggested that the passenger capacity of the lifeboats could have been increased significantly, or even doubled, by tying them together in pairs (and thereby converting them into stable multi-hulls) using the inside oars to connect them and the outboard oars to steady them, in the fashion of out-riggers. As the sea was flat calm, the boats could then be loaded until the gunwales were much lower than the designed level, with no risk of a capsize or swamping. It's an intriguing idea. But I suspect that tying the boats together and loading them on a pitch-black night with inexperienced boat crews and uninformed passengers would not have been possible, particularly later in the night when panic started to set in. Furthermore although the sea state at night was calm (we now know that a flat calm can be a sign of a nearby ice field), a swell got up in the morning, so there would have been a possibility of swamping then.
 
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Deleted member 162143

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There were two sets of blocks for each boat, one forward and one aft, with threefold purchases - one block at the davit and one at the lifeboat. Another line went from the block at each davit to Titanic's deck - it was used for lowering each end of the boat. For each foot that the lowering line was released, the boat would drop 1/6 of a foot. That results in a 6:1 mechanical advantage. (I think I've got the numbers right.)

I can't say for sure what was depicted in the movie.
Thank you for this information.

I have another question though, what type of pulleys did Titanic have on the lifeboats (i.e. hoist pulley, movable pulley)?
 
Jan 14, 2015
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Whilst reading accounts the other day and looking over a diagram of the ship, I realized how at a loss I am about how the emergency lifeboats were launched. All the others make sense, but as those were already prepared to be launched, what about Collapsable C and D being totally in the way? How did they load passengers in 1 and 2, given they being launched before C and D, when they're totally blocked? Obviously they were moved somehow or 1 and 2 were loaded from the Promenade Below. Does anyone have an answer on how this was done?
 
Nov 13, 2014
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Lifeboats 1 & 2 were also hanging in the davits, ready to be lowered. In fact, these boats were called 'emergency cutters' as those boats were always ready to be swung out in case of emergency. If there wasn't enough time to launch the regular boats, these emergency cutters could always be lowered much faster than the others.

Boats 1 & 2 were loaded from the Boat Deck, and there is no survivor telling he/she helped moving boats C & D out of the way, or seeing people move them. Although your annotation makes sense, maybe boats C & D could be a hinder for the loading of boats 1 & 2, but it seems like that wasn't a big deal after all.
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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In the above picture, you can see No.2 Emergency boat hanging in its davits ready to launch. It was not a lifeboat but a boat used to recover any thing or person from the sea in an accident, That's why it was always stowed outboard. The crew were all seamen and trained lifeboatmen. That particular boat was under the command of 4th Officer Boxhall.
If you look closely, you can see that the boat is suspended from davits deployed over the side. These could be turned inboard. When the emergency boat was used as a lifeboat and had gone away from the ship, the davits would be wound inboard and their rope falls attached to each end of the collapsible you can see stowed on the boat deck. The men would then heave on the ropes at each and and lift the first collapsible off the deck. The davits would then be wound back out over the sea and the first collapsible would be loaded and lowered away as with boat No.2. It would be unhooked from the falls when afloat and, like boat 2, move away. Meantime. the collapsible on top of the deckhouse would have been man-handled down onto the boatdeck. Once again, the davits would be wound inboard and the launching sequence for the second collapsible would repeated as for the first. Hope I'm clear enough?

Jim C.

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1556
 
Mar 18, 2008
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No problems. There was space at the side to go around. Some might have gone over the collapsible. The only real problem people described was to get over the bulkhead at that point.

Both boats Nos. 1 and 2 were stopped during the lowering at A Deck but there was nobody there where they stopped and so it was lowered into the water.
 
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Does anybody know exactly how they unfastened, lifted, pushed out, and lowered the lifeboats on the Titanic?
 
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Nov 13, 2014
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The crew were all seamen and trained lifeboatmen.
I always thought lives were lost due to the fact the crew was very UNtrained. They were new with these davits and they had only 2 lifeboat drills: one on March 25th before the construction was finished, and another very short one on the morning of departure. To make matters worse, some officers thought that if the boats were lowered with 50 people they would buckle and break, even while 65 people was the standard capacity and they knew that.

When the emergency cutters were lowered, the nearby collapsibles C & D were... well... collapsed. They didn't take much room when still collapsed and weren't a bother with the loading of the emergency cutters.
 

Mike Spooner

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Jan 31, 2018
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>>As we all know Titanic's lifeboats were not Filled to capacity, my Question is may that be because the davits could not support the weight.<<

Nope. The lifeboats and davits were tested in Belfast at their full load and shown to be plenty strong enough for the job. The problems were on several levels, not the least of which was at first, few people really understood the gravity of the situation. (Why take to a cold uncomfortable boat when you don't believe the ship you're on is sinking in the first place?) By the time everybody realized just how much trouble the ship was in, it was way too late.
I have read the lifeboats tested in Belfast with 70 men with no problems. The burning question how many does it take to sink a lifeboat in calm water? I have seen a figure quoted of 120 men! How you get 120 in a lifeboat must been bit of a challenge, I presume standing order only.
 

Mike Spooner

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Jan 31, 2018
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Alicia and Mike,

What you've pointed out does indeed make sense. Thanks. I'm still glad however that should I ever take a cruise, at least modern ships are equipped with eletric davits
Code:
4858
Not just electric but the power of hydraulics too!
 

Jim Currie

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"I always thought lives were lost due to the fact the crew was very UNtrained"

That story is based in ignorance Christophe.
Most, if not all, Watch-keepers on deck were highly trained Able Seamen. Many of them were ex RN. All, were interchangeable with the Royal Navy. All would have had a minimum experience of 4 years on deck.

In reality, the new patent davits of Titanic were a simplification of earlier versions. In fact, 3rd Officer Pitman refers to this somewhere in his evidence.

Jim C.
 

Mike Spooner

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Jan 31, 2018
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On the subject of launching lifeboats. How long would it take to load 65 in the big lifeboats? As for the collapsible lifeboat 47 seats. Are they less stable than the full wooden boats and may take longer to load?
Jim can't wait for your update on the wrong position given?
 
Mar 18, 2008
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I always thought lives were lost due to the fact the crew was very UNtrained. They were new with these davits and they had only 2 lifeboat drills: one on March 25th before the construction was finished, and another very short one on the morning of departure.

The crew was trained as they had a drill on every voyage.

No lifeboat drill on March 25th.

The lifeboat drill on April 10th was the full drill as called by the BoT.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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The 16 wooden boats were lowered down the side until a few feet above the waterline, a few were lowered into the water. This was a test for the boats and gear and not a drill.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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I have read the lifeboats tested in Belfast with 70 men with no problems. The burning question how many does it take to sink a lifeboat in calm water? I have seen a figure quoted of 120 men! How you get 120 in a lifeboat must been bit of a challenge, I presume standing order only.
If you read that then you read something wrong. In one of Olympic's lifeboat they put half-hundredweight weights as to represent the weight of 65 people. The lifeboat was lowered into the water and then raised again six times. The test was done for the electric boat winches.

Never saw the figure you mentioned about the 120 men to sink a lifeboat. Where can I find it?