Lifeboat specs


T

Talira Greycrest

Guest
Titanic's original design planned for the ship to carry a total of 64 lifeboats. This would have been enough to provide a seat for everyone on board. However, key figures at either the White Star Line or the IMMC (International Mercantile Marine Company) insisted on larger promenades, which were gained at the expense of the lifeboats. Why were larger promenades (probably for the rich and famous people) put before passenger safety? If the number of lifeboats hadn't been reduced from 64 to 20, it's possible that all on board would have survived.
 
Mar 18, 2008
2,384
710
248
Germany
There was no real plan showing 64 boats. The larger promenade claim in false. The reduction from the first planned 32 boats to 16 had more to do with the rules of the board of trade. The Boat of Trade which was then out of date was stating that ships of over 10,000 gross tonnages had to carry 16 boats with a minimum capacity of 5,500 cubic feet. Based from the old times of sailing ships, the lifeboat provision was based on their registered tonnage and not how many people were on board.
 
T

Talira Greycrest

Guest
It's true the number of lifeboats was based on the weight of the ship rather than the number of people on board, but those Board of Trade regulations were established way back in 1894. This hadn't been unreasonable as the largest ship at the time weighed roughly 12,952 tons. However, by the time Titanic was built 18 years later, these regulations hadn't been updated, despite the fact that Titanic weighed more than 46,000 tons and could carry more than four times as many passengers and crew. A man by the name of Alexander Carlisle was well aware of the safety issues and (from what my most expensive Titanic book is telling me) his original design for the ship included 64 lifeboats. Unfortunately (according to my book), his arguments about the safety issues were overridden by someone at either the White Star Line or the IMMC wanting larger promenades and he was forced to decrease the number of lifeboats to 40, then 32, then finally 16 - with tragic consequences. It was only after Titanic sank that new safety regulations were established, requiring ships to carry enough lifeboats to provide a seat for everyone on board and to also conduct regular lifeboat drills.
 

mitfrc

Member
Jan 3, 2017
185
149
78
37
New England
A 30 foot wooden boat of solid construction with a screw (a steam launch) will be about 5 metric tons, which is your upper limit for the weight most likely. The best evidence I can personally find is from the Marine Review, Vol.42, referencing research done during debates in the aftermath of the Titanic sinking, which basically say 68-72lbs of dead weight per rated passenger for an open lifeboat and 40lbs for a collapsible. So that would, assuming the lower end for larger boats, which are more weight-efficient, 4,420lbs per 65-person lifeboat; high end for the cutters, 2,880lbs each, and the collapsibles at 1,880lbs each.

Titanic was never seriously designed for more than 32 boats based on all I've seen of the original design work. And there's good reason for this. The wreck of the SS Valencia and also the wreck of the SS Clallam explains why "the ship is the best lifeboat" was a very real argument. The counterpoint of course is the SS Princess Sophia, where the crew, well aware of the Clallam and the Valencia, refused to launch boats until the worsening situation guaranteed death for all aboard. Those are rather graphic tales of how a chain of events meant the wrong decision for the circumstances was successively and repeatedly made.
 
T

Talira Greycrest

Guest
If Titanic was designed to carry a maximum of 32 lifeboats, why was she only carrying 16? There must be some reason why the other 16 boats were taken away.
 

mitfrc

Member
Jan 3, 2017
185
149
78
37
New England
If Titanic was designed to carry a maximum of 32 lifeboats, why was she only carrying 16? There must be some reason why the other 16 boats were taken away.
Preliminary design. The removal was during iteration from initial sketches in the series to more refined ones. It could have been as simple as some of the marketing people say during the design review phase "you realise that putting more boats than the law requires on will open us to claims the ship is unsafe, right?" At any rate, I recall the precise reason being quite well documented already.
 
Mar 18, 2008
2,384
710
248
Germany
A man by the name of Alexander Carlisle was well aware of the safety issues and (from what my most expensive Titanic book is telling me) his original design for the ship included 64 lifeboats. Unfortunately (according to my book), his arguments about the safety issues were overridden by someone at either the White Star Line or the IMMC wanting larger promenades and he was forced to decrease the number of lifeboats to 40, then 32, then finally 16 - with tragic consequences.
That is not quite right. Carlisle was expecting that the Boat of Trade rules would be changed and calling for more boats, but the Board of Trade did not change the law (as a side note he himself signed the document in 1911) he never expressed his opinion about the boats during the meetings, he only presented a plan of the davits stating they could hold up as far as 4 boats. He himself believed 48 would be enough. There was no issue about "promenade" space (actually Titanic had less promenade space than Olympic did). Sadly the same myth and misinformation about Carlisle and the lifeboat question had been repeated over the years.
The final decision was for 32 boats but as the law had not been changed it was decided to go by what was required by law.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user
Mar 22, 2003
5,840
1,114
383
Chicago, IL, USA
www.titanicology.com
The final decision was for 32 boats but as the law had not been changed it was decided to go by what was required by law.
What most people also don't realize is that there were not enough trained people on board to launch and man as many as 32 boats within a reasonable amount of time. If they were to have carried that many boats, more crew, probably from the victualing staff, would have to have been trained and drilled in handling them.
 
T

Talira Greycrest

Guest
There was supposed to be a lifeboat drill on April 14th, but Captain Smith cancelled it. Anyone got any theories as to why the drill was cancelled?
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,016
248
333
The weight of a fully loaded large lifeboat was 5½ to 5¾ tons. (Edward Wilding at the British inquiry).
 

Doug Criner

Member
Dec 2, 2009
428
44
133
USA
There was supposed to be a lifeboat drill on April 14th, but Captain Smith cancelled it. Anyone got any theories as to why the drill was cancelled?
What is your source of this information? The ship sank in the early a.m. of April 15.

My impression is that boat drills, like modern ones involving the passengers, were not conducted in the time of Titanic. A boat drill might have consisted of swinging out one or two lifeboats, but I have not heard of that being done during Titanic's voyage.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,016
248
333
A drill was held in Southampton. Two boats, each with a few men, were lowered and rowed about the dock. About all it proved was that the lowering gear worked.

There is testimony on the proposed 14 April drill from Archie Jewell, Alfred Shiers and Edward Wheelton. It would have consisted of crew gathering at their muster stations, with no passengers present. It's not clear why it was cancelled. It may have been because the muster stations for the 'black gang' had not been posted on Sunday morning. Maybe it would have disrupted preparations for Sunday dinner.
 

Dave Gittins

Member
Apr 11, 2001
5,016
248
333
It's true the number of lifeboats was based on the weight of the ship rather than the number of people on board, but those Board of Trade regulations were established way back in 1894. This hadn't been unreasonable as the largest ship at the time weighed roughly 12,952 tons. However, by the time Titanic was built 18 years later, these regulations hadn't been updated, despite the fact that Titanic weighed more than 46,000 tons and could carry more than four times as many passengers and crew. A man by the name of Alexander Carlisle was well aware of the safety issues and (from what my most expensive Titanic book is telling me) his original design for the ship included 64 lifeboats. Unfortunately (according to my book), his arguments about the safety issues were overridden by someone at either the White Star Line or the IMMC wanting larger promenades and he was forced to decrease the number of lifeboats to 40, then 32, then finally 16 - with tragic consequences. It was only after Titanic sank that new safety regulations were established, requiring ships to carry enough lifeboats to provide a seat for everyone on board and to also conduct regular lifeboat drills.
It might surprise you to know that there has never been a law requiring lifeboats with seats for all. To this day, the requirement is lifeboats with seats for at least 75% of those on boards, plus liferafts. The liferaft rules have varied a bit. Today there must be lifeboats under davits (little cranes) for 25% of those on board, plus enough for another 25%, stowed as you please. Cruise ship owners take advantage of these rules and often carry boats enough for the passengers and a few crew to operate them. Anybody else must take their chance with liferafts.

Lifeboats and other safety gear remain problematical to this day. Normally the capacity of lifeboats is limited to 150 persons, but a loophole in the rules has allowed 370 seat boats on recent ships. There are also incredible liferafts holding up to 700 persons and entered via chutes. Look up MarinArk for some fun. If you are going to get wrecked, you might as well have fun!
 

mitfrc

Member
Jan 3, 2017
185
149
78
37
New England
It might be argued that liferafts were actually more effective than lifeboats before modern quick-launch chutes, especially for offshore workboats, were developed. Liferafts after all can be cut loose and float, so in most sinkings which occur in far less time than the Titanic's, they are at least there for the passengers and crew to swim for them.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Mar 18, 2008
2,384
710
248
Germany
There was supposed to be a lifeboat drill on April 14th, but Captain Smith cancelled it. Anyone got any theories as to why the drill was cancelled?
That so called drill was nothing more than a muster of the crew at their boat stations. Nothing more. It was up to the Captain to decide when to do it. Such musters had been held on every voyage (no passengers included). The boat list for the black gang had not been posted before noon on April 14th so making such a muster not possible which would had been done at about 11:30 p.m.


(I had published a research Article about the drills aboard Titanic in Voyage 95, Magazine of the Titanic International Society.)
 
D

Deleted member 162143

Guest
Does anyone know the weight of an empty titanic lifeboat and a lifeboat loaded with 65 people?
 

Similar threads