Life Boats

Dave Gittins

Dave Gittins

Member
I don't know which was bigger, but the difference was inconsequential. One was 25'2" x 7'2" and the other was 25'2" x 7'1".
 
Dave Gittins

Dave Gittins

Member
In those days, boats were built partly by eye. Evidently the boats were meant to be identical but when finished and measured they were not quite the same.
 
Christophe Puttemans

Christophe Puttemans

Member
Most of the lifeboats were not fully loaded. Titanic's lifeboats could hold 1,178 people in total:

14 standard boats which could hold 65 per boat = 910
2 cutters which could hold 40 per boat = 80
4 collapsibles which could hold 47 per boat =188

705 people survived in lifeboats. Had they been filled to capacity, they could have saved an additional 473 people.

But even with all 20 lifeboats at full capacity and 1178 survivors, there would still be over 1000 men without a chance of survival.
 
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Steven Wilson

Member
Had the Titanic been equipped with the 68 lifeboats recommended by Andrews, would they have had time to launch sufficient boats to rescue everyone on board. Assembling the passengers, loading the boats, lowering them, and then recovering the gear and repeating the process would be time consuming. What are the numbers on how quickly a boat could be launched under ideal circumstances?
 
Christophe Puttemans

Christophe Puttemans

Member
I have no idea where that number of 68 lifeboats comes from.
The Wellin Davit Company had made a plan to equip the Olympic and Titanic with 48 lifeboats. And Alexander Carlslie, managing director of Harland & Wolff, also suggested in Januari 1910 to the White Star Line to equip 64 lifeboats. Both plans were ignored and Titanic sailed out with 16 boats and 4 collapsibles.
 
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Ioannis Georgiou

Member
The plan of the Welin Company show 32 boats as this was what was told the BOT the ships would carry.

Carlisle believed the ships should carry at last 48 boats. The maximum would have been 64 boats.

In the end it were 16 (+4) which was as required by the law.
The plans were not "ignored" there was simple no reason to place that number aboard.
 
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Steven Wilson

Member
68 was a typo for 48. It was late when i asked the question. And I don't recall where I read that Andrews had recommended a specific number. Isn't it established that he wanted more lifeboats? And, let's return to my original question, was there time to launch sufficient lifeboats to rescue everyone on board? The ship sank quickly, extremely quickly for a vessel considered virtually unsinkable. I consider this question in the same vein as "How much could the Californian have accomplished had she moved toward the Titanic at the first moment they could have determined the Titanic was in distress?" There wasn't time for The Californian to have rescued everyone or even a large percentage. Time was everyone's enemy that night, and the time and space problem applied to the lifeboat situation as well.

True, the first round of boats could have carried more passengers, but, had more lifeboats existed, could additional lifeboats have been loaded and launched in the time available? It's another hypothetical of course and so is only of value as a discussion point. Does anyone here have experience with launching lifeboats? I suspect it's much easier in theory and in drills than under emergency situations.
 
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Ioannis Georgiou

Member
68 was a typo for 48. It was late when i asked the question. And I don't recall where I read that Andrews had recommended a specific number. Isn't it established that he wanted more lifeboats?

No he did not. That is a popular modern made up myth.

And, let's return to my original question, was there time to launch sufficient lifeboats to rescue everyone on board?

No, there was no time to rescue everyone even if she had 32 or 48 boats.

The ship sank quickly, extremely quickly for a vessel considered virtually unsinkable.

How do you base that she sank quickly or not?
Olympic and Titanic (as other ships with watertight compartments) was called practically unsinkable (which was also claimed as unsinkable).
She could have survived up with 4 forward compartments flooded. But she had damage running over the first 6 and (possibly) even at the 7th compartment.
 
Christophe Puttemans

Christophe Puttemans

Member
During the US Inquiry, senator Smith ordered a test on the Olympic. 65 people were lowered in a lifeboat to the water and pulled back up. Smith concluded that the crew needed 18 minutes to prepare, swing out, load, lower and pull up a lifeboat.

Conclusion? All 16 lifeboats already at the davits could have been lowered away at full capacity in less than an hour, leaving plenty of time to prepare all collapsibles and lower them without chaos.

I don't know why this didn't happen, maybe the reluctance of the passengers and other causes claimed their toll?
 
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Steven Wilson

Member
Ioannis,

Thank you for correcting my misapprehension about Andrews' and the recommended number of lifeboats.

I say she sank quickly in that, apparently, had there been sufficient lifeboats to save all on board there would not have been, in your own words, time to launch them all. In other words, if the ship sank before the requisite number of lifeboats could have been launched I regard that as quickly. Granted it's a subjective usage, but I chose it over rapidly which would describe the Lusitania or slowly such as the Andrea Doria. Two hours and 30 to 40 minutes from collision to sinking is quick, too quick apparently to launch a second round of lifeboats which would have been barely adequate to rescue another 1000 people.

Correct me if I'm wrong but wasn't there a general belief that the number of lifeboats was sufficient because it was presumed they would be used to transfer the passengers and crew to rescue vessels as it was thought that it was virtually impossible for the ship to suffer enough damage to sink before those on board could be rescued. In other words, it was thought the lifeboats could make more than one trip.

And speaking of catastrophic damage, has a vessel ever, to our knowledge, suffered such damage through a collision. For the hull to have been split open for nearly 300 feet is damage so catastrophic I don't know how you could reasonably be expected to prepare for it.

Finally, I'm not trying to create an "if only they had done such and such" scenario. I think it's plain despite all the romanticism, hand wringing, blaming, etc that has gone on, once the Titanic hit the iceberg it was an inevitable consequence that at least half of those on board were going to perish. There was simply no means of rescuing them. The Californian or the "mystery ship" couldn't have made a meaningful intervention and even the most efficient loading of the lifeboats was going to leave half of those on board without any means or hope of survival.
 
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Ioannis Georgiou

Member
From the 2 hours and 40 minutes you have to take off about 10 - 20 minutes for the damage inspection until the conclusion the ship was going to sink. Another 15 to 20 minutes to make the boats ready. What took much more time was to load the lifeboats. Many passengers refused to leave the ship, feeling there save or did not want to leave family behind. Several came up later (some crew members missed their boats).

Regarding the boats, yes they were only seen as something to transfer passengers or rescue people from other ships. The ship itself was seen as its own lifeboat. The sinking of the Republic in 1909 show that the watertight compartments would keep the ship hours up until rescue ships called by wireless came to the rescue.
The worst case for the Olympic and Titanic was running aground or collide with a underwater rock, damaging 3 to 4 compartments. What happened was a series of stabs running roughly over the first 6 (to 7) compartments. I do not know of any other ship getting such a damage.
 
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