This question has been discussed in other threads on this message board already. I am not sure which threads though.
To answer your question though, I would say that it would not have made a difference if they had 64 lifeboats.
First, they did not even get the 20 lifeboats they had launched before the ship went under, and as the ever wise Michael Standart said in one of those earlier threads "Under the circumstances it was a miracle they did that."
Second, lets remember that early on many passengers and much of the crew did not believe the ship was going to sink and did not want to get into the boats which is one of the reasons many of the early boats launched were not full. It was only after the ship took on an appreciable list that they began to realize they were in trouble.
Now I know what you are thinking, could they have floated off any boats that were not launched as the ship sank? I believe that there would probably be a rush for these boats and many would wind up overturned in the panic rendering them all but useless in the 30 degree water.
That is my two cents worth. Do you agree or disagree?
>>If Titanic had the 64 lifeboats possible would the 2228 or so souls on board survived?<<
There would have been more people saved and there would have been no reason to not fill the boats to their full capacity. However, it's well to remember that of the 20 they had, only 18 were successfully launched before the ship went down. The last two had to be floated off.
The only reason having boats for all would have even been practicable in this instance was because the Titanic sank in a dead flat calm with reletively little list. Conditions in the North Atlantic are rarely ever that benign. As a general rule, you're safer if you can stay with the ship as long as possible. That's why a lot of effort was put into building ships which could act as their own lifeboats at least until rescue arrived.
I would imagine that more boats may have added up to more survivors, since the water temperature was the big killer. However, as has been pointed out, correctly, most of them would've been floaters. I suspect those would've gone to the fittest, not the weak, old, women, and kids.
>>An additional "what-if" might be - would a setup such as the Brittanic had have made getting more people into the boats and getting them launched easier? <<
Possibly, but that still presupposes that a lot of things would have happened that just plain didn't. You can have the Starship Enterprise hovering over you but that's of no real use at all if nobody knows how to operate the transporters or the shuttlecraft.
In the Titanic's case, the issue is the "shuttlecraft" ipso facto the lifeboats. The ship only had sixty-six people in the deck department and not all of them were trained seamen. Some had to remain behind to handle the davits so if you assume a guy at the rudder and four oarsman...about the minumum needed to safely operate the boat...you see that you need 100 men to do the job.
In other words, you've got a serious problem on your hands in that you have more boats then you have trained seamen to man the things even in the Titanic's real-world configuration. Adding more boats doesn't address that problem. Having more trained crew does and that's exactly what they didn't have.
Something else which needs to be addressed here is topweight. While the Olympics were very stable ships, adding the weight of an additional 30 to 40 boats plus the proposed gantries is not without it's penalties and it's noteworthy that this was never attempted with the Olympic.
The extra boats, yes, but not the gantries.
That they could get away with it with the Britannic is due in no small part to the extra 18 inches of beam the ship had which kept the centre of gravity, metecentric hight, and righting moment where it needed to be.
>>Does anyone know of any passenger liner that sank as did Titanic: at night and with no rescue ships nearby -- and, with 100% success in preserving both passenger and crew lives?<<
Dave, our little group has been asking that question for what...seven years now? So far, no takers. The closest one I can think of is the Achille Lauro which burned and sank in the Indian Ocean. 100% evacuation but then this all took three days to happen from ignition of the fire to the sinking of the ship.
Unfortunately, Titanic didn't have that kind of time.
The most logical reason for assigning stokers to lifeboats would have been as muscle power. Two skilled sailors would have provided seamanship, and the "black gang" the power to pull passengers from the sinking ship to a nearby rescue ship.
The problem faced by Captain Smith was not so much lack of capacity of lifeboats as it was what we might call "disaster response philosophy." Titanic was subdivided such that with its pumping capacity it was expected to be "its own lifeboat." When Mike S. speaks of the lack of time, he speaks to the issue of Titanic being "it's own lifeboat."
The pre-iceberg disaster response concept in place aboard Titanic was to use the Marconi system to call for help, then transfer passengers using the lifeboats to responding ships. The lifeboats were never meant to carry 100% of the ship's complement at a time.
For whatever the reasons, on that night Titanic failed to be "its own lifeboat." This meant the whole life-saving system came apart like wet tissue paper. With no nearby rescue ships and Titanic flooding out of control, Captain Smith and his crew had to improvise rather than implement an evacuation plan.
I believe that it was already planned to make Britannic slightly wider than her 2 sisters. Extra strengthening in the superstructure allowed her to carry the gantry davits.
There were also expansion joint changes as a result of experience with Olympic.
What if Titanic had been fitted with 32 boats instead of 16? With overcrowding, nearly everyone could have been crammed into them. Unfortunately, I doubt it would have made a huge difference.
>>Unfortunately, I doubt it would have made a huge difference.<<
There's still that nagging issue of time which they needed and didn't have. Double the number of boats and you just add to the flotsom and debris floating around the Titanic's grave. The only real difference it would have made is that there would have been something substantial for the survivors to climb on to.
To answer the initial question of this thread, more boats would have succeeded in rescuing more people, but not everyone, for the reasons given.
That's the bottom line.
Also consider this: With more boats, fewer boats might actually have been launched on time than were because more boats would have given those on board a false sense of security to the point that loading and launching might have slowed down some ("Why hurry? We have plenty of boats at our disposal"). Basic psychology--appearance affects behavior.
Agreed, and it's not just limited to boats either. With so little apparant change in the ship's condition until very late in the sinking process, a number of people saw no reason to take to the boats since the ship appeared to be the safer bet.
It was a very bad bet, but that's how it appeared.
And this was a major contributing reason, perhaps, why they ran out of time and the last two collapsibles floated of the boat deck. Keeping up with the what if scenario, IF the passengers and crew had known of the dangers early enough, they would have likely started launching the boats sooner and more quickly, and the last two boats (i.e. A and B) would just as likely have been lowered correctly with some time to spare. In this instance--and in this instance only--time might have been available for lowering additional life boats, had there been any. How much time and how many additional boats are both hard to say. I will say, though, that no matter what, there would NOT have been enough time to safely launch another 16, let alone 44, boats.