Order of lifeboat launching


Tad G. Fitch

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Dec 31, 2005
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Hello again David, how are you? I hope that you had a nice day.

You wrote:
"I think Senan, Teri and others have more than adequately characrterized the lack of evidence of any problems launching Collapsible C, as well as the ample, direct and very clear evidence to the contrary."

I disagree and think that the posts in this thread speak for themselves. I also feel that myself and others have "adequately characterized" the evidence of a disturbance while launching Collapsible C, as well as the ample, direct and very clear evidence regarding it. The evidence goes far beyond Woolner (Thayer, Harry Senior, the Goldsmith's, the whole list of others included in this thread which has not been addressed by Senan or yourself).

Not to come off as rude, as I am always glad to hear differing opinions and constructive criticism (as long as it isn't coupled with a personal attack as has been the case previously by some individuals in this thread), but do you have any evidence to add to this discussion? We have already addressed and discussed the information mentioned by Senan and Teri, so your saying that you agree with it and that you have something coming out in the future about the subject is not advancing the discussion at all. This isn't a popularity contest.

You wrote:
"Woolner's testimony is far too ambiguous and confused, I think, to support your position absent any other more substantial basis for it."

As discussed in this thread, there is a more substantial basis for it. If you choose not to address the evidence presented already or opt not to present your own evidence, then I do not know what to say. Nobody can say for 100% certain everything that happened during the sinking, but just because evidence disagrees with your opinion doesn't mean it isn't "substantial." Calling it ambiguous and confused without providing evidence that shows that to be the case does not make it go away. In fact, the approach that you have used in your last two posts could be construed as an attempt to talk down to us, which I am sure is not your intention at all.

You wrote:
"As for the twenty minute delay between the departures of Collapsible C and D this was accounted for by Bright. Lifeboat 2--which was launched within five minutes of Collapsible C, around 1:45 with Captain Smith and Wilde in charge--occupied the davits needed by Collapsible D."

What evidence do you have that indicates Lifeboat # 2 and Collapsible D were launched so close together? The rest of your times seem to be relying rather heavily on that point. You also are relying an awful lot on Quartermaster Bright, while ignoring that Woolner and Steffanson left Collapsible C and barely made it to Collapsible D in time, hardly indicative of a twenty minute gap in between the launching of those two boats. Those two men were at both of those boats as they lowered, while Quartermaster Bright was only speculating about when Collapsible C left.

Just for everyone here, Quartermaster Bright testified that he did not see Collapsible C lowered away for himself and could not say how much time elapsed between the launch of C and the launch of D. His later surmise that "I suppose it was 20 minutes or more" was based on guesswork.

For those that are not aware of it, David published a rebuttal to our article in The Titanic Commutator # 167. In that rebuttal he also claimed that on page 837 of the American Inquiry Quartermaster Bright says that Collapsible C was launched at 1:30 a.m. Nowhere on that page of the inquiry does Bright make that claim. Bright actually says that Collapsibles C and D were the last two boats on the ship, demonstrating that Collapsible C was launched after Lifeboats # 2 and # 4.

It seems that we are retreading a lot of old ground here David. You told Bill that you have new evidence, but based on the evidence that you have discussed so far, it seems that your claims are the very same ones that you used in your rebuttal to our article a few years ago, which we responded to in kind. Maybe we should post our response to your rebuttal here for the benefit of the readers.

Difference in opinions aside, I hope that you are having a good week and that the weather is better at your location than it is here right this second.
Kind regards,
Tad Fitch
 
Mar 22, 2003
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I guess I'll add some additional information to this discussion which has not been addressed as far as I'm aware of.

When Rowe left in C he said: "When we left the ship the fore well-deck was awash." He also said "All the time my boat was being lowered the rubbing strake kept on catching on the rivets down the ship's side, and it was as much as we could do to keep her off...It took us a good five minutes to lower the boat on account of this rubbing going down...When the boat was in the water the well deck was submerged."

There is a big difference between the well deck being only "awash" we they left the ship and the well deck being "submerged" after they reached the water.

Correlate this to what Bright said: "When I left, the forecastle was going under water...What we call the forecastle head was just going under water. That would be about 20 feet lower than the bridge, I should say."

For the well deck to be submerged, not just awash, the forecastle head would have to be under water. This means that by the time C reached the water, which took a good 5 minutes if not more, the forecastle head must have gone under. To me this says that C left 5 to 10 minutes at most ahead of D. I cannot see a 20 minute gap there unless Rowe's 5 minutes was really 20.

The other evidence about C being launched much later than 11:40 unadjusted Titanic time comes from an external source. Before I get into the details, consider what happened after the last distress signal was sent up. [I inserted the boat numbers into the following testimony to keep things clear.]

Bright: "After we had finished firing the distress signals there were two boats left. I went and assisted to get out the starboard one; that is, the starboard collapsible boat [C]. Rowe went away to help to get the other one out, and I went away myself...I assisted to get it up...As soon as the boat [C] was up in place I was sent away to clear another one in place [D]...I have only learned since, that Rowe, the man that was working with me, got into that boat [C]. He was in charge of the boat, Rowe was. I was in charge of the other one [D]."

What we have here is that Bright first first went to help crewmen complete the setting up and swinging out of C on the starboard side, and then was sent over to the port side to work on setting up D. He did not assist in the loading of C. Rowe, on the other hand, had assisted in the loading C and was put in charge. The loading process began soon after Bright went to the port side to work on D. I'll leave it to the reader to guess at how long Bright spent at C before he went over to the port side to work on D. But then you still must add a few more minutes to load C before they began the lower it.

OK. So when did all of this begin? According to both Rowe and Bright, it was after the last rocket was sent up. When was that? "I saw the last of the rockets as near as I can say about 1.40." This came from 2/O Herbert Stone on the Californian. When then asked "That would be twenty minutes between seeing the last rocket and the sending of Gibson to the Captain?" Stone's response was a simple "Yes." Now the time that Gibson went down to talk to Capt. Lord we can pin down with some certainty. According to Gibson it was "Five minutes past two by the wheelhouse clock." So Stone's estimate for the last rocket at 1:40 AM Californian time was about right.

Californian time was 1:50 ahead of NY time. Titanic time was about 2 hours ahead of NY time. That means the last distress signal fired was about 1:50 AM Titanic time if Stone's estimate was close. Now add the time that Bright was at C plus the loading time spent there, and you are easily coming up to 2 AM if not a little later.

Bottom line, there is obviously no way for C to have been launched as early as 1:40 Titanic time.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Excellent post Sam, very insightful! The bit about the Californian is very interesting and correlates with the other evidence of a later launch time for Collapsible C. As far as I am aware, "Lordites" and "Anti-Lordites" both are in full agreement that the Californian saw the Titanic's rockets, even if the two sides cannot agree on whether the ships themselves were in visual range of one-another.

I find it interesting that if you look at the testimony, you see the rapid progression of the sinking, which reveals the timing and does indicate a later launch time for Collapsible C. We have:

1) Quartermaster Rowe's testimony of the forward Well-Deck being "awash" when Collapsible C began to leave and "submerged" by the time they reached the water. There is no debate that Collapsible C left before D.

2) The we have Quartermaster Bright's testimony of the forecastle (which he estimated as being 20 feet below the bridge) submerging as he left the ship in Collapsible D. As Sam pointed out, for the well deck to be submerged, not just awash, the forecastle head would have to be under water. This means that by the time C reached the water, which took a good 5 minutes if not more, the forecastle head must have gone under.

3) The rate of sinking is consistent with what Hugh Woolner and Bjornstrom Steffanson experienced. As Collapsible C was swung out and began to be lowered, they went down to A deck. While they were there (Woolner says "a very few minutes"), water began pouring over the A-Deck railing. Collapsible D was at that time being lowered past Woolner and Steffanson, so they jumped down into it. The boat touched down in the water right after they leapt, in fact, Woolner's feet dangled into the water as he hung on to the edge as it was lowering.

Of further interest, Woolner estimated that Collapsible D was about "nine feet out from the side of A deck" as it was lowered past them. This indicates that there was a fairly severe list to port at the time, which according to the testimony of Quartermaster Rowe, the ship did not list severely in that direction until Collapsible C was being lowered.

So we have the well deck awash, then submerged by the time Collapsible C reached the water, and the forecastle submerging as Quartermaster Bright left the ship in Collapsible D. As Sam pointed out, the well-deck could not flood completely without the forecastle being submerged, so this definitely indicates how close together C and D left. Woolner and Steffanson barely made it to Collapsible D, which was nearing the water as A-Deck began to flood.

This is all indicative of a 2:00 AM or later launch time.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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David:

Thanks for the reply.

What you describe doing with your newest, is exactly what George, Tad and I did with our article - intergrate the departures with the rescue as a whole. Where we differ is that we did not attempt to revise the Mersey timeline, but to figure it out on our own. Obviously, we came to many of the same conclusions as the British Inquiry - but with a number of differences. Collapsible C, #10, and #6 and #8.

Sam and Tad - thanks for your postings.
 
Jan 10, 2006
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Bill,

I've always appreciated being able to discuss these matters and others with you, so though we disagree I don't feel you (or Tad or George) have ever been disagreeable. I refer to your work a good deal in my book, as you will see, and I am looking forward to your feedback.

DG
 
Jan 30, 2005
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Frequent references to the “audience”￾ or “readership”￾ in this topic have tempted me into actually posting. I think I could be considered a member of that “readership.”￾ (Given my number of posts, I doubt that I qualify as much else.) So I’m not trying to advance brilliant arguments here; more like impressions and questions that I had while reading the topic. I normally don’t open my mouth wide enough to put my foot in it, but maybe everyone should risk that once in a while…

General impression:
I wanted to accept Senan’s theory at first, mainly because I have a strong interest in Collapsible A and any possible mayhem thereat. However, as the discussion progressed, it seemed to me that he was using a confident, sarcastic tone to make very debatable points seen beyond dispute. No one can prove absolutely whether or not Woolner lied, or what various people did with their watches. Personally, I haven’t quite made up my mind about the launch times, but I don’t think the chaotic lifeboat described by Woolner, Gracie, and Thayer was Collapsible A. It’s hard for me to believe that everyone mistook a boat being washed from the deck for a boat being lowered from the davits. Having all the people washed out of it is hardly “getting away safely.”￾
I have to say (or not, but I guess I’m saying it) that tone of some of these posts is really…off-putting. It seems like the main participants have (California-related?) issues with each other beyond this topic. I’m not sure whether Senan, in particular, just prefers this style of argument, or whether he actually feels that much contempt for people who disagree with him. Maybe I shouldn’t let anyone’s tone bias me, but I do get suspicious of people who sound like they have axes to grind.

Random thoughts:
It’s not all that relevant, but I also think that Snow might have mis-spoken when he claimed to have been on the “starboard”￾ side. He ended up in B, and most water-to-collapsible survivors reached the collapsibles that they had been closest to when the sinking occurred. But as for the boat being damaged, Lightoller did say this about B:
“Hour by hour the compartments in this collapsible boat were surely filling with water, due, no doubt to the rough and ready treatment she had received when dumped incontinently from the top of our quarters, with a crash on to the boat deck…”￾

Peter, thank you for posting the information about the Goldsmiths. I thought I had read that somewhere, but I couldn’t find it. I did notice some interesting but wild stuff in a Collapsible C topic when I was looking for the Goldsmith information.

Post by Michael Findlay:
“Just last month, Mary Nackid's grandson told me that his grandmother, who didn't like to speak about the disaster, told him that she saw two men from Lebanon shot as she entered her lifeboat. She was so upset about it that she covered up her husband, who had managed to get in the boat with her, with her skirt. Other women covered him as well according to Mrs. Nackid.”￾
Post by Inger Sheil, quoting an article:
“Abraham Hyman, of Manchester, England, who was coming to this country to join a brother in Paterson, N.J., is one of the passengers who told about seeing Chief Officer Wilde rushing around with a revolver in his hand. Mr. Hyman was a third class passenger, and is one of the few men on that list that escaped with his life. He said after the lifeboat in which he left the steamship put out some distance shrill cries and screams could be heard distinctly.
There was not much panic before he left the Titanic, he said, except when the chief officer fired into a belligerent group of third class passengers. A man standing next to him had his chin shot off, he said.”￾
However, others in the topic said that Mr. Hyman was more likely in Boat 13 than C.

Response to Senan’s 10 points:
1. You do have a valid point that Rowe didn’t mention, and directly denied, chaos at Boat C. Same with Ismay and Pearcey. There’s a frustrating discrepancy here, and I don’t think choosing which side to believe (crew or passengers, official or unofficial) is an easy matter. What bothers me is that you seem to have changed your own position. In The Irish Aboard Titanic, you express deep skepticism about White Star employees’ testimony at the inquiries. You also criticize Lord Mersey for ignoring passengers’ statements to the press. Now you’re defending the White Star employees and refusing to accept any unofficial passenger statements.
2. Possibly because they were “under the thwarts,”￾ and the people clearing the boat didn’t realize that they’d missed a few. Alternatively, they might have sneaked in and hidden at some earlier stage, especially if it’s true that C was sitting around by itself for some time while officers worked at other boats. Nobody seems to know how that “Italian”￾ got into Boat 6, either.
3. “Any”￾ meaning any of the people who testified? I guess this is part of the “testimony reliability”￾ issue. Maybe also the “crew vs. passenger account”￾ issue.
4. *laughs* Yeah, I guess that would make him look rather bad. I think this also falls into the testimony reliability and passenger/crew categories, and my comment is the same as for question 1.
5. Hm…Was Woolner really the only one who placed Murdoch at C? I honestly have no idea. I tried to check the references on Bill Wormstedt’s page, but I don’t see any page numbers in the online American Inquiry transcripts. I assume he was using a written version. I’d like to hear more about this question.
6. Wilde might have already headed over to Collapsible D at that point. I’m not sure whether you accept that Wilde actually was at D, since you cite Lightoller’s comment about last seeing Wilde long before the ship sank as evidence that C left long before D. Even the British Inquiry has D leaving at 2:05, and Lightoller wrote in his autobiography that he saw Wilde there. Do you believe Lights was mistaken about Wilde having ordered him into D, since Titanic and Other Ships, like Thayer’s account, was written years after the sinking? Even considering that, I don’t see what Wilde’s presence at C has to do with Lightoller’s last sighting of him, since Lights was on the port side and probably never saw Wilde at C anyway. I do wonder whether Wilde had enough time to launch D, on the opposite side of the ship, five minutes after C.
7. More or less the same issue as question 6.
8. People have already covered the time adjustments as regards Weikman’s watch. You never did answer the question of how, accepting Weikman’s 1:50 and the British Inquiry times, boats managed to get launched when the boat deck was already underwater.
9. Woolner does claim the boat he saw was “swung out,”￾ whereas Collapsible A…I was very confused about why you at first seem to suggest extreme chaos at A, and then suddenly start arguing that A ended up on the davits, actually being lowered. And why on earth did you cite Hemming as evidence for this, ignoring his conversation with Moody when A was still on the roof of the officers’ quarters? Now that I re-read your post, I get the idea that you weren’t actually arguing for A being swung out, but were using Hemming’s supposed claim that it had been as an example of ridiculous faulty evidence. However, you that doesn’t change the fact that you ignored the part of the account which makes it clear that Hemming wasn’t talking about A.
10. Bill *has* supplied other accounts similar to Woolner’s, especially that of Amy Stanley, who mentioned a warning shot in a private letter…not in a newspaper. I must say I’m puzzled that you seem so skeptical about newspaper stories now, considering some of the things I read in your book. If we agree to ignore the possibility that Mrs. Goldsmith and Mrs. Whabee noticed shooting, may we also dismiss Margaret Murphy’s allegations that John Kiernan was “beaten by sailors,”￾ that crewmen shut hatches on “trapped third-class passengers,”￾ and that a Chinese man was killed in the vicinity of Boat 16? (This isn’t a rhetorical or sarcastic question, by the way. I really would like to know whether you’ve changed your mind about any of these things, especially in light of your article about that famous boat-deck portrait.) After relating Margaret’s story, you say, “So much for the orderly lowering of boats described at the official inquiries.”￾ If you believe that ugly incidents at the aft port boats might have been “whitewashed,”￾ why couldn’t the same have happened with Collapsible C?

-Kate
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Hello Kate, how are you? Excellent post! I just wanted to say that I thought you raised some very good points in your post and put some things into perspective. It is always good to get someone else's opinions and views on these matters, particularly since you have no reason to be biased and do not have an ax to grind and are a member of the, as you said, "readership."

As I've said, I welcome discussion and constructive criticism, but personal attacks are uncalled for no matter what the circumstances. In my opinion, it is just unprofessional and childish. It is interesting how certain people seem to have an unhealthy obsession with criticizing George and Bill, and often go out of their way to attack their research or them personally, even without reason to do so. I am not sure why that is, but it does make for an unpleasant tone to some of these discussions unfortunately.

What I can say is that I can state with full and 100% confidence that George, Bill and myself would be more than willing to reconsider our views if confronted with evidence that disproved our position. As it stands, we have not seen any reason to do so, and feel that these discussions have strengthened our conclusions rather than weaken them.

An answer to one of your questions, both Wilde and Murdoch were reportedly seen at Collapsible C, and Thayer stated (in 1912, 1920 and 1940) that he saw Purser McElroy there. Woolner and Fireman Harry Senior specifically mentioned First Officer Murdoch firing shots into the air at this boat, while Thayer believed it was McElroy who did this. Many others mention shots fired at Collapsible C by an officer, but could not, or did not identify him. Woolner seemed to have recognized Murdoch's voice (he was the only Scottish officer), which is how it appears he identified him.

As an aside given your interest in the topic, I do believe that the evidence indicates that there were shots fired, potentially at people, during the last few moments before water came onto the boat deck during the attempted launch of Collapsible A, but that is a topic for another discussion down the road.

Again, thank you for your observations and insights. You have given us some good perspective and food for thought. I hope that you'll have a nice weekend.
Kindest regards,
Tad
 
Apr 25, 2001
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Hello everybody. Many interesting thoughts from you all, I must say! One other thought: Do we actually know who entered boat C and what did they say about the launching time ? I have investigated the interviews relevant to those known to have been in the boat and there is, strangely, not much said about it. QM Rowe stated he thought boat C had been in the water about 20 minutes when the Titanic sank, Pearcey stated 'twenty minutes to two', and Hilda Hellström (who I believe was in that boat considering her statements) said they were very close to the ship when it sank. That's it! Ismay didn't want to see the disaster and Carter didn't mention anything about it as far as I know. The Goldsmiths, Badman, Roth...nothing substantial.....
Personally I always thought C left at two o'clock rather than 1.40, mainly based on Rowe's testimony.
Also: Abraham Hyman seems indeed to have left in 13, he describes his boat almost being swamped by a jet of water from the ship's side among other things.

Best regards,

Peter
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Katherine - thanks for the the intelligent comments on this thread!

If you still have questions about my references about Murdoch at C, let me know, and I'll dig them up. I see Tad did list some, though. I'll be out of town for a few days, but back early next week and can find them then.

Tad is speaking for all of us regarding our willingness to change our minds when presented with good hard evidence.

Peter: regarding the specific times. As you know, many people listed different times for the same events, and it is hard to come up with exact times. What we've tried to do, in our lifeboat chronology, was first present a *sequence* of events. Then, try to fit that sequence into the timeline of the entire sinking. Being we feel Collapsible D lowered very shortly before the collapse of Funnel #1, and Collapsible C lowered shortly before that, it puts all these events into a short time frame, shortly before the final sinking. Of course that also ties into what Bright and Rowe saw of the foredecks going under shortly before and during their leaving of the ship.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Hello again Peter, how are you? Thank you for your interesting observations. You're right, Quartermaster Rowe did say that the ship sank around 20 minutes after Collapsible C left. Bill and I also agree that Abraham Hyman was most likely rescued in Lifeboat # 13, likewise based on him describing the water from the condenser nearly swamping his lifeboat.

I hope that you'll have a nice weekend.
Kind regards,
Tad
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Regarding additional evidence of shots fired at Collapsible C, one account that has not been mentioned thus-far is the account of crewmember Walter Hurst. Hurst was rescued aboard Collapsible B, and wrote of shots fired at Collapsible C in his memoirs in the 1950s.

Hurst said that there was some trouble at this boat, and that the "chief officer" fired off two shots. Hurst said that he was not close enough to see if anyone was hit.

There is an additional account from Hugh Woolner which was written onboard the Carpathia and which has not been mentioned so far. It was in Walter Lord's collection. In this account (which matches Woolner's Senate Inquiry testimony exactly), Woolner again mentions the shots fired at Collapsible C, and the fact that this boat was being lowered away, again contrary to the suggestion that the boat he was near was actually Collapsible A:

"We then turned our attention to a boat ready on the starboard side, where there was shouting going on.

We saw the first officer twice fire a pistol in the air ordering a crowd of the crew out of the boat. We ran in and helped bundle the men onto the deck and then we got a lot, about ten, Italian and other foreign women into that boat and when we saw it was being safely lowered we went away and made a final search on the deck below."

Woolner also gives a description of how Steffanson and him left the ship, which gives further indication of the late-launch time of Collapsible D, which immediately followed the launch of Collapsible C. He says that the flooding on A-Deck was so rapid after they left, that if they had waited any longer, they might have been pinned to the roof. That indicates that the flooding was getting near the Boat Deck as Collapsible D pulled away. Woolner also states that they rowed hard, but only got 150 yards away before the ship sank:

"Looking out we saw the sea pouring over the bows and through the front of the "Bridge Deck [A deck]. Just opposite us was the collapsible boat which we had seen being hooked onto the last davits on the port side. She was being lowered into the sea and hung about nine feet away from us. I said: “Let’s make a jump for it! There is plenty of room in her bows!” Bjornstrom replied “Right you are!”

We skipped on the gunwale, balanced ourselves for a moment and leaped into the air. He landed fair and square into the boat. I landed on my chest and caught hold with my hands on the gunwale and slipped off backwards. I hauled myself up with my arms and got my right foot over the gunwale. Bjornstrom said, “All right, I’ve got you,” and levered me up by my right foot. But by that time my left leg was in the sea, so it was a near thing. The water was pouring in through the door we had just walked through. It rose so rapidly that if we had waited another minute we should have been pinned between the deck and its roof. We first hauled in another man passenger who was in the sea, and then I climbed over a number of women and children and got out two oars. Bjornstrom took one, I took another, a steward got out another and another man took the fourth.
I handed him a row lock so that he could steer and we began to pull like the deuce to get clear of the ship, which I knew was doomed; but I was anxious to get away from the suction when the big ship went under. I never pulled harder in my life. About thirty women and children were in the boat, with only three oars to pull. However we got away from her and got clear, but only about 150 yards, when I saw the monster take a huge tilt forward and her stern came clean out of the water at least eighty feet."

Walter Lord's notes record the following regarding Woolner's account:

“Woolner mentioned that as they settled into Boat D, between 2:05 and 2:10 am, and looked back to see the promenade (A) Deck forward flooding up to ceiling-level — [with] the water now approaching floor-level on the bridge — a steward in the boat (John Hardy) remarked that this was going to cost a pretty penny to fix up in dry dock. Woolner was astonished that anyone at this late stage could convince himself that the ship was going to get anywhere near dry dock. Hardy, he guessed, must have been the last man to think so."
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Here is another piece of information that Bill Wormstedt noticed in the British Inquiry testimony, which was not mentioned in this thread. This gives further indication that Collapsible C left around 2:00 rather than 1:40.

Edward Brown:

10630. How long from the launching of that collapsible boat with Mr. Bruce Ismay in it, was it that you saw the women? - I suppose it took us
about 10 or 12 minutes to get the other boat down.

Brown is talking about Collapsible A. If Collapsible C left at 1:40 (which as stated in our article and in this thread, we do not believe the evidence supports), then Collapsible A would have been available for loading at or around 1:55 AM. More than enough time to get it loaded and launched.

However, if Collapsible C left around 2:00, then according to Brown, it would have taken until 2:10 or 2:12 to get Collapsible A to the deck - and no time for much else at that point other than trying to get the falls hooked up before the water reached the Boat Deck. Brown's own description of events fits this.
 
D

David Haisman

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The above posts are interesting and testimony driven and we have to believe to a certain degree, what has been written during the abandon ship process.
I am in the process of writing a 4000 word article on Welwyn, Radial, Gooseneck and GRT davits along with Moulded, Clinker, Carvel and Diagonally constructed Lifeboats.
I hope a '' Titanic '' journal may consider printing this article later in the year and hopefully many readers may get a better idea of what was involved for those poor souls on Titanic's boat deck throughout that night.

David Haisman
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Hello David, how are you? Thanks for your thoughts on the above posts.

"I am in the process of writing a 4000 word article on Welwyn, Radial, Gooseneck and GRT davits along with Moulded, Clinker, Carvel and Diagonally constructed Lifeboats."

Sounds interesting! Please keep us updated on the progress of your article, I'm sure that one of the journals will publish it.

All my best,
Tad
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Interesting post Tad. The issue I have with Brown's account is timing. Reading his entire testimony he says he first went to No. 5 and helped load it, then to No. 3 and did the same, then to No. 1 and did same, and then to Collapsible C and got it onto the davits of No. 1 and help load it with Ismay there. At another point in his testimony he says he didn't hear the order to launch No. 1 or see it go down because he was cutting Collapsible C loose from under it. So apparently they were preparing C while they were in the process of launching No. 1. Yet, according to the launch times in your fine article written with Bill and George there is a gap of about an hour between the launching of No. 1 and the launching of "C". This gap in time does not at all come across from reading Brown's testimony. The impression given is that as soon as "C" was made ready under the davits they began to fill it up. It should not take an hour to do that. Just compare to the time it took to get "D" ready after No. 2 was sent away. Any ideas?
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Speaking for myself, I think that the gap mainly had to do with other circumstances unfolding on the deck of the ship as she was sinking. While loading and lowering Lifeboat #1 around 1:05 AM, Lowe and Murdoch had trouble finding enough people willing to go, or on the scene to step into the boat, which is why only 12 went.

Right after loading #1, Murdoch went aft to help load the aft starboard boats (he was seen at #9 #11, #13 and #15 before finishing up there in time to cross over and help with #10), and Lowe crossed over to the aft port boats to help there. There were large crowds of passengers there, and the officers probably felt that they were needed at that location rather then waiting around for Collapsible C to get hooked up and ready.

With the ship noticeably down by the head and the large crowds, there was some panic beginning to set in at those aft locations, with, according to the inquiry testimony, it escalating to people being beaten back with a tiller and warning shots being fired at #14 and a rush of some kind at #15.

Once Lowe and Murdoch left the forward starboard side of the boat deck to help with the situation at the aft boats, there were no officers on the scene to oversee the loading and launch of C (Capt. Smith, Wilde, Lightoller and Moody being occupied with the aft boats as well according to eyewitnesses, Pitman having already left, and Boxhall being on the bridge signalling and firing rockets).

Based on the testimony of where they were seen, Wilde went from the aft port boats to help with #2 before heading to Collapsible C, and Murdoch appears to have gone right from #10 to C. If you look at the following chart on Bill's webpage, it shows the movements of the officers as best as can be ascertained from the inquiry testimony. The movements described above make more sense when you look at the graphic:

http://home.comcast.net/~bwormst/titanic/revised.html

As far as why Brown's account does not make any mention of the gap, I cannot really say. There would have been a 40 to 55 minute gap between the lowering of #1 and Collapsible C regardless of whether one believes the evidence to show that C left at 1:40 or 2:00, so that cannot explain the difference.

Brown's testimony rarely gives any specific indication of how much time lapsed between him helping with one boat and going to another (the time between Collapsible C and A being an exception), so I would tend to believe that he simply did not give that detail, since he did not give many details about the timing in general (although I could see how it could be interpreted that he rapidly went from one boat to another).
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Sam - I have to agree with Tad on this.

Except that, since we have a time of 55 minutes between the 'launch' of No. 1 and Collapsible C, it may have actually been only 30 minutes or so between the launch of 1, and starting to load C. Possibly they did get C ready and put on the davits immediately upon No. 1 launch, and due to no officers present, the boat just sat there unattended until the officers got back to that area? Maybe Brown did something else during this time, but it just wasn't important enough to mention, or even remember.

Seems to me that as various parts of the Boat Deck got busy (passenger uproar?), the officers congregated to that area. That could explain the seeming journey of many officers and deck hands to the port aft boats from the starboard side, as passengers piled up there. When the aft boat, both sides, were pretty much done launching, the remaining officers headed forward to finish there - 2 and 4 and D on the port, and C on the starboard.
 

Tad G. Fitch

Member
Dec 31, 2005
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I agree Bill. An inordinate number of officers arrived on the scene and aided in the loading of the aft boats, particularly the 4 port aft boats (Smith, Wilde, Murdoch, Lightoller, Lowe and Moody are all mentioned in the testimony as having been on the scene). Compare that to the 4 starboard aft boats, which Murdoch handled largely by himself, with some assistance from Moody, who was on A-Deck during the loading of #13 and #15. There was a rush of some kind on #15 at that time, probably as people realized it was the last boat in the aft starboard area.

Once the aft boats were gone, there started to be commotion at the remaining forward boats too as people realized that they were the last lifeboats left. The commotion at C described by eyewitnesses must have caused a few minutes further delay at least with that boat.
 

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