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Lifeboat evacuation in the Aquitania during the 1920's

Discussion in 'Aquitania' started by Marcelo Jenisch, Jul 9, 2018.

  1. Hello everyone,

    This will not be a thread directed to Titanic specifically, but one can quickly realise it's from a common related subject.

    So, I have found this video:

    It's a propaganda newsreel about the safety features of the Aquitania in the 1920's. In regard to the lifeboats, it claims the ship's 77 lifeboats "can be got away in less than half an hour". So my question is: was this realistic? I'm not supposing a scenario with bad weather and/or other complications. For the sake of simplicity: let's suppose an "ideal" scenario like the one Titanic foundered. I think even if it took one hour to launch 77 boats, it would be quite an advance if we view the situation compared to the Titanic in 1912. Of course, this film is from 1923, so more than a decade old after the Titanic disaster. The things must definately have improved by then. Neverthless, the numbers caught my attention and I would like to figure out if they were indeed realistic.
  2. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Hello Marcelo.

    The UTube film is most certainly a propaganda effort. The davits being used were an up-market version of the old-fashioned radial davits which took much longer and more people to deploy that the radial, davits used on Titanic.

    Any number of lifeboats can be sent away" in under half an hour if you have enough people to do the "sending".

    In the film, there are at least 4 men to each boat. They show 12 boats being "got away" on the starboard side. It would have taken 4 men to launch each boat and at least 2 men to go in each boat. Consequently, the first wave of 24 boats would use up 48 crew members. That would leave 29 more boats to be prepared, filled, manned and launched.

    The film shows passengers efficiently rowing a partly filled boat away from the ship's side so no difference to the Titanic as far as being partly filled is concerned.

    You ask if the claims made by the film were realistic. I say "most certainly". However, it is not the act of "getting away" that takes the time, it is the pre-"getting away" preparations including emoving boat securing systems and covers, clearing ropes. swing the boats out and securing them for embarkation and thereafter, the method of loading that occupies a lot of crew time.

    Titanic buffs get a bonus from your film.

    For a long time, people have condemned Titanic's crew for not filling the boats at the boat deck. Have a look at the situation around the end of the first minute after the start of the film.
    Note that the boats are partly filled and that they are being lowered in uneven jerks, thus causing shock loads to the lowering ropes. Immagine what might happen if one rope failed.

    Bottom Line? It took the present day American President to show us all that the media have long been past masters at manipulating information to produce a "dark" or "light"
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2018
    Marcelo Jenisch and Aaron_2016 like this.
  3. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    On a related note. I edited and slightly colourized the footage to make it appear she is sinking.

    Harland Duzen likes this.
  4. Hi Jim,

    First of all, thank you for participating in the thread with your maritime knowledge.

    My point here is actually to draw a comparison with the case of Titanic. Of course, I'm not considering factors such as Aquitania being another vessel, if it would react in the same way as Titanic in aspects such as stability had it suffered similar damage (assuming the damage was proportional to it's specifications), etc. I'm just wondering if the crew would have been able to launch such a large number of boats at the time of this propaganda film. And as you have answered: yes, as long as there was enough men. Which inevitably leads me to another question that I don't know if you have the answer: by that time the liners had more people qualified to lower and man the boats in order to launch them in a better way than Titanic despite the inferior davits Aquitania used?