Order of lifeboat launching

Mar 22, 2003
Chicago, IL, USA
Bill, Tad:
I'm not arguing. I was just wondering what Brown was doing all that time. I don't see he him just hanging around at C unless he was there with only one or two others while everyone else left to go elsewhere. And he was a steward, not a seaman, although there was a shortage of the latter types by then. According to Bright, when they finished with the distress signals and Boxhall left in No. 2 he, Bright, went to help set up and swing out C on the starboard side before going to work on D on the port side. So clearly C was not ready for loading until after No. 2 was launched. That still leaves a gap of about 45 minutes for Brown to fill. What would he be doing during that time unless it was he and maybe one other working alone to set up the sides of the collapsible? Otherwise, I would assume he would have gone to help work on one of the other boats that were being filled aft. But his story does not indicate that to be the case.

Tad G. Fitch

Dec 13, 1999
Hi Sam, how are you? Good I hope.

"What would he be doing during that time unless it was he and maybe one other working alone to set up the sides of the collapsible? Otherwise, I would assume he would have gone to help work on one of the other boats that were being filled aft. But his story does not indicate that to be the case."

That is a very good question. As you've said, maybe there were only a couple of them working on C during this time. Since he wasn't a seaman, perhaps Brown (and whoever else may have been on the scene) were struggling to get the canvas cover off, the sides raised up, and the block and tackle hooked up on their own. I suppose this could have taken him a half an hour until the loading resumed. Then again, maybe they were smoking cigarettes and standing around waiting for one of the officers to come back, although I agree with you that it is unlikely that he would have just waited around for that long without helping elsewhere unless he was occupied with some task at C.

Paul Lee

Aug 11, 2003
I recently read Rowe's letter to Walter Lord, c.1955, which is held by the National Maritime Museum. He says that after being lowered, and pulling for ten minutes, they heard a noise "like an immense heap of gravel being tipped from a hopper and then [The Titanic] disappeared".

Which would put the lowering of boat C closer to 2.00am than 1.45am.

João Carlos Pereira Martins

That's right, I suppose. The last evidences show that boat C could have been launched close to 2.00 instead of 1.45.

Timothy Trower

In the grand scheme of determining the exact sequence of the launching of the lifeboats, and with knowing that #2, #4 and C and D were, indeed actually launched from the falls; since A and B floated off of the ship probably at the same time, does that make life boat #2 or collapsible B the preantepenultimate boat launched?

Timothy Trower

Naw, at least an A for effort! (But Sam is right -- that should have been C.)

Senan Molony

Jun 28, 1998

”I have now been able to speak to Mr Rowe again (by telephone) and, in answer to your question — NO, he definitely did not adjust his watch.”

This reply, stamped in receipt by the MMSA, is now in the files of the Merseyside Maritime Museum, reference D/LO 3/4/24. (Publication permission granted by Nautilus, successor organisation to the MMSA. [snip - moderator].)

Deleted member 162143

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
Do you know where I can find this article?

Thomas C.

Sep 6, 2017
What is the most correct order of launching these boats? I have read many opinions from various authors. In each case the order was different. I don't care about the exact time when these boats left the ship, or their relationship with those on the starboard side. I tried to make my own timeline of events on the ship, but I stuck in this part. The order which seems to me to be the most correct for now is
No16 first, then No12, No14, and No10.
I am open to any advice or correction.

Thomas C.

Sep 6, 2017
Thanks Seumas and Ioannis for your answers. I have one more thing to ask. I don't know if anybody have a good explanation for that, but there is one issue that bothers me. When I was reading testimonies from the inquiry the order of lowering was rather clear.

Frank Mooris was loading No16. He then moved to No14.

5301. Were any orders given about who was to be put in?
- Women and children first.
5302. Did you help to put them in?
- I did.
5303. Was the boat lowered then?
- I did not stand by 16 all the time.
5304. Did you see No. 16 lowered?
- No, it was being lowered away while I was standing by No. 14.

According to Mooris No16 was lowered before No14. Seaman John Poingdestre provides answer when No12 was lowered.

2925. Now what happened with regard to your boat, No. 12?
- We filled her up with women and children - me and Mr. Lightoller, the Second Officer.
2929. Now having, to use your own phrase, filled it up with about 40, what was done with that boat?
- It was left there.
2930. Left on a level with the boat deck?
- Yes, with the boat deck.
2931. How long was it left there?
- I went away, and helped fill another boat after that
2932. Which boat did you go to help with?
- No. 14.
2933. That is a boat immediately abaft No. 12?
- Yes.
2934. How long were you away with No. 14?
- A matter of about ten minutes.
2939. Were people put into that boat?
- The boat was filled with women and children also.
2940. About how many?
- About 40.
2941. And was that boat left, as you call it?
- No, the boat was lowered.
2942. That boat was lowered into the water, and who went away in that boat?
- I could not say.

According to Mooris and Poingdestre No12 was lowered after No14. I was unsatisfied with only 2 people so I began searching in other sources. I found very detailed letter of Charlotte Collyer. She wrote that first boat was lowered with 5 or 6 members of the crew. She then witnesed the launching of the second boat. She then got into the third boat. The most interesting fact about this, is that the officer in charge of the third boat was Harold Lowe. It is accepted that Lowe left the ship in No14. The first boat was propably No16 because No12 was lowered with only 2 crew members; Clench and Poingdestre.

I really hope for any kind of explanation. Did Poingdestre was right and No 12 was lowered after No 14, or Collyer and No 14 was lowered after No 12?
Mar 18, 2008
Here is the summary I have about the aft port boats. This is from part 6 of my research article "The lifeboat story" which must be in Issue March 2014 of Atlantic Daily Bulletin (British Titanic Society) and Issue No. 88 June 2014 Titanic Post (Swiss Titanic Society).

"There is great conflict in which order the aft port boats left the ship. According to Joughin No. 10 was the first which left. He saw how Nos. 12, 14 and 16 were filled but did not saw them leaving.[1] Evans was unable to say which boat left before No. 10 but was sure No. 10 was the last one.[2] Burke believed that No. 12 left shortly before No. 10 but did not see anything regarding Nos. 14 and 16 also not if they arrived after him in the water.[3] Buley was sure that No. 10 was the last one and saw how No. 12 was lowered before him by Evans.[4] Evans already mentioned that he lowered No. 12 first before he got into No. 10. Scott who came late on deck mentioned that he only saw 2 boats which were the after ones and in one the Officer was firing warning shots meaning Nos. 14 & 16. His statement is somehow unclear if there were still other boats or not. But Threlfall who got into No. 14 said it was the last boat but one.[5] 2nd class passenger Charlotte Collyer said that she refused to get into the first 2 boat but was put in the 3rd one. 1st class passenger Miss Kornelia Andrews and her sister Mrs. Anna Hogeboom mentioned that they got into the 4th boat (No. 10) as there was no place for them in the other 3 boats. It is unclear if the other 3 were Nos. 12, 14 and 16. Miss Keene said into the 4th or 5th boat. Mrs. Hart who got in No. 14 said that they had tried at 4 boats but where full and got into the 5th boat. Mrs. Davies said she and her son got into the 3rd boat (No. 14).

As Evans lowered No. 12 before he got into No. 10 it seems that No. 10 was lowered as the last boat. Morris who got into No. 14 mentioned that he helped to lowered No. 12 away.
[6] Clench was in No. 12 and agrees that they were lowered before No. 14.[7] According to Lowe and Poingdestre Nos. 12, 14 and 16 went about the same time. Scarrott mentioned that No. 16 went before No. 14[8] and Morris said that No. 16 left before No. 14[9] Strangely they did not mention No. 10. Did Joughin was right and No. 10 left first? Miss Keene mentioned that she heard that shots were fired when her boat was in the water. If it were the shots Lowe fired this might speak for Joughin. Unless Morris was wrong it seems that No. 16 went first possibly shortly followed by Nos. 12, then Nos. 14 and 10. Possibly Scott was mistaken about the exact locations and the 2 boats he saw were Nos. 14 and 10. Threlfall did not mention which was the other boat and also Mrs. Collyer gave no details. The list to port cannot be of great help here, as Nos. 10, 12 and 14 were hanging about 2.5 - 3 feet away from the ships side. Calculations done by researcher Samuel Halpern shows that the ship had a 10° list to port.[10] "

[1] British Inquiry, Day 6; Questions 6005-6009.
[2] American Inquiry, Day 7.
[3] American Inquiry, Day 9.
[4] American Inquiry, Day 7.
[5] The Daily Mirror 29 April 1912 & Bridgwater Mercury, April 1912.
[6] British Inquiry, Day 6; Question 5398.
[7] American inquiry, Day 7.
[8] British Inquiry, Day 2; Question 397.
[9] British Inquiry, Day 6; Question 5304.
[10] Halpern, Samuel; Report into the Loss of the SS Titanic – A Centennial Reappraisal, Chapter 6, page 118.

Mike Spooner

Sep 21, 2017
I have a question on the order of the launching of lifeboats. Now to me it seem logic that the first boats to be launch should of been 1&2 followed by 2 & 3 and so on. I am thinking on the line of the davits requirements and angle of bow were the ship will sink first.
The davits used on 1&2 boats will be required for the four collapsible boats to. So why have they got out of order here?
Mar 18, 2008
Collapsible C and D which were under boats Nos. 1 & 2 (when not swung outwards) were not ready, also the space there was a little limited. People had to enter boat No. 1 & 2 with the collpasible boats on their way. On the starboard side Murdoch started to load No. 7 first which was the one nearest the entrance to the Gymnasium & Grant staircase were most of the passengers were standing. On the port side Lightoller actually planned to load No. 4 first but from A Deck, this failed due to the closed windows which were opened later.
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