Rule Of The Road!

Mike Spooner

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Looking into the history Rule of the Road. A brief history started in 1838 act of Congress in the USA. The prevention of collision. 1846 steam navigation act of passing port to port. 1848 steam vessels to display Red & Green sidelights with White masthead light. US & UK are the leaders into the new rules of the sea.
1863 The British Board of Trade with the French Government are putting forwards new ideas. 1864 thirty other countries had adopted those new international regulations. Followed by more changes were made up to 1897. Then no more changes until the loss of Titanic in 1914.
When looking at Article 31 Rule of the Road at night in 1912, ones wander if they have been written by a 12 old school boy!
1. A gun or other explosive signal fired at intervals of a minute! What an earth is that all about? No type of gun or explosive is mention. A minute can only be a minute!
2. Flames on the vessel as from a burning tar barrel or oil barrel! What are they trying to do, setting the ship a lite?
3. Rockets or Shells, throwing stars of any colour or description, used one at a time at short intervals! What type of rockets and shell do they mean? What is a short interval to? I don't see the 600-800 feet height been mention to.
4. A continuous sounding with any fog-signal apparatus! Is there a time limited on continuous and sound distance?
Surely there must be more information on the above. If so I be please to hear about it.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Your 12 year old school boy must still be 12 years old Mike.

Annex IV - Distress signals
1. The following signals, used or exhibited either together or separately, indicate distress and need of assistance:
(a) a gun or other explosive signal fired at intervals of about a minute;
(b) a continuous sounding with any fog signalling apparatus;
(c) rockets or shells, throwing red stars fired one at a time at short intervals;
(d) a signal made by any signalling method consisting of the group . . . - - - . . . (SOS) in the Morse Code;
(e) a signal sent by radiotelephony consisting of the spoken word "MAYDAY";
(f) the International Code Signal of distress indicated by N.C.;
(g) a signal consisting of a square flag having above or below it a ball or anything resembling a ball;
(h) flames on the vessel (as from a burning tar barrel, oil barrel, etc.);
(i) a rocket parachute flare or hand flare showing a red light;
(j) a smoke signal giving off orange-coloured smoke;
(k) slowly and repeatedly raising and lowering arms outstretched to each side;
(l) a distress alert by means of digital selective calling (DSC) transmitted on:
(i) VHF channel 70; or
(ii) MF/HF on the frequencies 2187.5 kHZ, 8414.5 kHZ, 4207.5 kHZ, 6312 kHZ, 12577 kHZ or 16804.5 kHZ;
(m) a ship-to-shore distress alert transmitted by the ship's Inmarsat or other mobile satellite service provider ship earth station;
(n) signals transmitted by emergency position indicating radio beacons;
(o) approved signals transmitted by radiocommunication systems, including survival craft radar transponders.
2. The use or exhibition of any of the foregoing signals except for the purpose of indicating distress and need of assistance and the use of other signals which may be confused with any of the above signals, is prohibited.
3. Attention is drawn to the relevant sections of the International Code of Signals, the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual, Volume III and the following signals:
(a) a piece of orange coloured canvas with either a black square and circle or other appropriate symbol (for identification from the air);
(b) a dye marker.
 

Mike Spooner

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Hi Sam,
The list you have given still looks like a 12 old school boy!
(a) a gun or other explosive signal fired at intervals of about a minute; Still does not tell me what type of gun or explosive devise is used? A about minute is a minute.
(b) A continuous sounding with any fog signalling apparatus; This does not tell me how much sound is required for a fog horn?
(c) rockets or shells, throwing red stars fired one at a time at short intervals; Still does not tell me what type is used?
(d) a signal made by any signalling method consisting of the group . . . - - - . . . (SOS) in the Morse Code; What is the standard range requirement?

(e) a signal sent by radiotelephony consisting of the spoken word "MAYDAY"; The wireless is not the standard equipment required by the Board of Trade and many ships do not have them. If ships have them what range is expected?
(g) a signal consisting of a square flag having above or below it a ball or anything resembling a ball; Is not much use at night time!
(h) flames on the vessel (as from a burning tar barrel, oil barrel, etc.); Still does not tell me the range can be seen at?
(i) a rocket parachute flare or hand flare showing a red light; Still does not tell me what height and range can be seen?
(j) a smoke signal giving off orange-coloured smoke. still does not tell me what range can be seen to?
(k) slowly and repeatedly raising and lowering arms outstretched to each side. Not much good at night time!

(l) a distress alert by means of digital selective calling (DSC) transmitted on:
(i) VHF channel 70; or
(ii) MF/HF on the frequencies 2187.5 kHZ, 8414.5 kHZ, 4207.5 kHZ, 6312 kHZ, 12577 kHZ or 16804.5 kHZ;
(m) a ship-to-shore distress alert transmitted by the ship's Inmarsat or other mobile satellite service provider ship earth station;
(n) signals transmitted by emergency position indicating radio beacons;
(o) approved signals transmitted by radiocommunication systems, including survival craft radar transponders.
2. The use or exhibition of any of the foregoing signals except for the purpose of indicating distress and need of assistance and the use of other signals which may be confused with any of the above signals, is prohibited.
3. Attention is drawn to the relevant sections of the International Code of Signals, the International Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue Manual, Volume III and the following signals! e-3 The above does not sound like 1912 equipment!

(a) a piece of orange coloured canvas with either a black square and circle or other appropriate symbol (for identification from the air); Air? did they have airplanes?
(b) a dye marker. Not much use in the pitch dark!

The above required items are still lacking in details. There must be better information for the above items? If not shame on the Board of Trade!

Mike.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Suppose you are on a small sailboat. Do you think that you will have available the same type of rocket or shells available to large cruise ship? The vagueness is there for a good reasons. If you don't have a watch available to time the firing of a gun or some other type of explosive device that makes a loud sound, at least you can guess as to the length of a minute between firings and be in compliant with the rule and its intent. I still don't know how short a short interval is, and that to me is a little too vague and highly subjective. They could have said about intervals 5 minutes, or perhaps no more than N minutes apart, or something like that, but the way it is written is the way it stands.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Sam,
You make an interesting point on a small sailboat. If in the 1900 century time, some of the Rules of the Road did not a apply to a non paying passenger ships. However there must be more detail information which I can not find at present to judge for myself if the Rules are a benefit to the shipping companies or the legal department! A gun or explosion noise sounds very vague to me especially when dealing with a court case as defence barrister will what to know the meaning of the type noise and explosion.
We can see an inconsistency in lifeboats between cargo ships and passenger ships. For some extraordinary reason the Californian a cargo ship part passenger ship is carrying far more lifeboats that the living souls on board. Even to the point if the ship was full is still well in the limit.
At this point I can only see the Rules of the Road set by the Board of Trade of been bit of a shambles, and if challenge in a court room case would not look to good for the Board of Trade department!
 

Dave Gittins

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By 1912 the rules for preventing collisions were set by international agreement. As you say, they were a bit vague in places. The rules for lifeboats were still set by individual nations. In Britain, that meant the Board of Trade. They did what was practicable, given the technology of the time. That why Californian had boats for roughly twice the number of her crew and passengers. Most passenger ships had "boats for all" because they only carried a few hundred passengers or fewer. After the disaster the Australian government assured the public that our coastal ships already had boats for all. The problem was with the big North Atlantic liners, which carried up to 4,000 passengers, often in ship much shorter than Titanic. These ships couldn't carry boats for all, except by piling boats up in all sorts of ways that made it impossible to launch them all in a crisis. Imagine four boats to each pair of davits and boats that in theory could be slid across the deck. That sort of thing went on well into the 1960s.

After the disaster, the rules were changed, but they still made concessions to practicality. To this day, a passenger ship must carry boats for at least 75% of her company. The rest take their chances in rafts. The number of rafts has been increased since 1912, but otherwise nothing much has changed, except the boats are better. Most cargo ships are now required to carry a single free-falling lifeboat, which can easily hold all the crew.

There's still a good deal of hopefulness about. Does anybody really think those new 370 person lifeboats will ever be successfully launched in a major accident?
 
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Bob_Read

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People have focused on the numbers of lifeboats and wonder why their numbers weren’t increased. The most significant life-saving development in the early 20th century was watertight subdivision of the ship’s hull. The most common type of accident was a collision with another vessel. With watertight subdivision it was believed that the ship would stay floating long enough so that all aboard could be rescued by other ships. They believed that the lifeboats would be used to ferry passengers to other ships rather than having to get everybody aboard into boats in a short span of time. The other development which bolstered the belief that rescues would be accomplished relatively quickly was the development of wireless technology.
 

Mike Spooner

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As for Titanic Alexander Carlisle from H&W had 64 lifeboats in mind to start with, but was soon cut down to 48 followed by 40 then all line up for 32. Again reduce to 16 wooden and with 4 collapsible boats thrown in for good luck! Putting 20% over the Board of Trade regulation. One has to ask if Carlisle had waken up to the fact and recognised the Board of Trade regulations were just years out of date!
However the mount of lifeboats is only half the story. The planning and drill training is just as importance If Titanic had a 100 lifeboats without that practical drill training the boats come useless. As on large planes with hundreds on board evacuation is 90 second. The plane makers have included this in mind and the airline crew must prove that can be done before a airworthy certificate is issued.
So lets hope this very large cruise ships with 370 on board in lifeboats have had proper drill training and is practice ever year! Which is more than can be said for the ships in the Titanic days.
Back to thread Rules of the Road. I have yet been convinced that the Rules set by the Board of Trade were no more than a shambles and vague to the point, were left for the shipping companies to sort out the mess. Then had the dam cheek in the UK inquiry to sift the blame on to crew members!
 

Dave Gittins

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Carlisle gave a pretty imaginative account of his thoughts on lifeboats. What can be documented is that, as a member of a Board of Trade committee inquiring into new lifeboat rules, he signed off on proposed rules that would have required Titanic to carry even fewer boats than she had. The reality is that White Star's custom was to comply with the rules, then add a few more boats for PR. She would have been legal without the four collapsibles.

An important point that is usually overlooked is that the supposed capacity of the boats was wildly exaggerated. I've subjected them to modern rules, just to show how limited they were. The large boats come in with a capacity of 24 persons. With only a slight bending of the rules, they could take 34. Even in 1912 their capacity was known to be unrealistic, as testimony from Lightoller and Harold Sanderson shows. The silliest of all was the supposed capacity of the emergency boats. These were about the size of an average trailer sailer, yet they were supposed to hold 40 persons. That's a weight of more than three tons, never mind the space needed.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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As for Titanic Alexander Carlisle from H&W had 64 lifeboats in mind to start with, but was soon cut down to 48 followed by 40 then all line up for 32. Again reduce to 16 wooden and with 4 collapsible boats thrown in for good luck! Putting 20% over the Board of Trade regulation. One has to ask if Carlisle had waken up to the fact and recognised the Board of Trade regulations were just years out of date!
However the mount of lifeboats is only half the story. The planning and drill training is just as importance If Titanic had a 100 lifeboats without that practical drill training the boats come useless.
Those cut downs are commonly repeated but not based on any facts. A plan with 64 boats never existed and Carlisle from his own testimony thought 48 to be enough. Plans to do so with them "cutting down" never existed. The only one was a plan by Welin Company for 32 boats but then it was decided to go with the law of 16 and add additional 4 boats.

The drills back then had no plan for a complete evacuation. There were drills on every voyage, mainly a muster of the crew and one were two boats were swung out and lowered into the water (similar to the BoT drills).
 
Nov 14, 2005
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Carlisle gave a pretty imaginative account of his thoughts on lifeboats. What can be documented is that, as a member of a Board of Trade committee inquiring into new lifeboat rules, he signed off on proposed rules that would have required Titanic to carry even fewer boats than she had. The reality is that White Star's custom was to comply with the rules, then add a few more boats for PR. She would have been legal without the four collapsibles.

An important point that is usually overlooked is that the supposed capacity of the boats was wildly exaggerated. I've subjected them to modern rules, just to show how limited they were. The large boats come in with a capacity of 24 persons. With only a slight bending of the rules, they could take 34. Even in 1912 their capacity was known to be unrealistic, as testimony from Lightoller and Harold Sanderson shows. The silliest of all was the supposed capacity of the emergency boats. These were about the size of an average trailer sailer, yet they were supposed to hold 40 persons. That's a weight of more than three tons, never mind the space needed.
Interesting point you made about the weight. I've wondered that if today it might even be worse because I see a hell of a lot more "larger" people today than when I was younger. I wonder if they have factored that in for todays cruise liners life boats.
 

Seumas

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Carlisle gave a pretty imaginative account of his thoughts on lifeboats. What can be documented is that, as a member of a Board of Trade committee inquiring into new lifeboat rules, he signed off on proposed rules that would have required Titanic to carry even fewer boats than she had. The reality is that White Star's custom was to comply with the rules, then add a few more boats for PR. She would have been legal without the four collapsibles.

An important point that is usually overlooked is that the supposed capacity of the boats was wildly exaggerated. I've subjected them to modern rules, just to show how limited they were. The large boats come in with a capacity of 24 persons. With only a slight bending of the rules, they could take 34. Even in 1912 their capacity was known to be unrealistic, as testimony from Lightoller and Harold Sanderson shows. The silliest of all was the supposed capacity of the emergency boats. These were about the size of an average trailer sailer, yet they were supposed to hold 40 persons. That's a weight of more than three tons, never mind the space needed.
Great post !

It's time to end all this pontificating about "the boats could have held 70". It's one thing for Harland & Wolff to allegedly test them with lead weights equalling 70 people but they never actually tested them with seventy adults, all of different weights and heights, both in calm and choppy water and being lowered from the ship's deck.

If Murdoch and Lightoller had loaded all their the standard size boats with 70-75 adults as some people today indignantly say they should have, I think we'd have had at least one case of ropes snapping, davits fracturing and boats spilling their human cargo into the sea.

It was I believe Ruth Becker in boat 13 who recalled how they were packed tightly and had to all swing back and forwards together in unison to allow the rowers to pull stroke properly. Boat 13 (I'm going by ET's own page on 13) had sixty people in it, officially there was still room for five more.
 
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Bob_Read

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Fifth officer Lowe testified that he considered the nominal capacity of the lifeboats to be the waterborne capacity not the davit borne capacity. He testified that he considered 50 passengers to be the upper limit of the davit borne capacity. Tests carried out on Olympic's new davits in 1913 during her post-Titanic refit bolster the notion that full loading in the davits was dangerous. I wrote an article about the alarming 1913 tests of Olympics new davits here: New Evidence of the Possible Danger of Loading Titanic's Lifeboats to Capacity
 
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It's time to end all this pontificating about "the boats could have held 70". It's one thing for Harland & Wolff to allegedly test them with lead weights equalling 70 people but they never actually tested them with seventy adults, all of different weights and heights, both in calm and choppy water and being lowered from the ship's deck.
It sadly seems a quote from the movie has become a fact. Actually the test were done with weights distributed so as to represent a load equal to about 65 people and were only done to test the electric boat winches and not the boats itself (that test was done on May 9th, 1911 aboard Olympic).
 
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Seumas

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Fifth officer Lowe testified that he considered the nominal capacity of the lifeboats to be the waterborne capacity not the davit borne capacity. He testified that he considered 50 passengers to be the upper limit of the davit borne capacity. Tests carried out on Olympic's new davits in 1913 during her post-Titanic refit bolster the notion that full loading in the davits was dangerous. I wrote an article about the alarming 1913 tests of Olympics new davits here: New Evidence of the Possible Danger of Loading Titanic's Lifeboats to Capacity
That was really good reading. Thank you for posting that.

We've got to get good material like yours out there to researchers and those taking an interest in the Titanic for the first time and end this lazy, frustrating myth about the lifeboats.

It sadly seems a quote from the movie has become a fact. Actually the test were done with weights distributed so as to represent a load equal to about 65 people and were only done to test the electric boat winches and not the boats itself (that test was done on May 9th, 1911 aboard Olympic).
Thanks for that Ioannis. I did not know that.

Unfortunately this annoying "the boats could have taken seventy" myth has been repeated fairly often in books and documentaries over the last thirty or so years. It just won't go away.
 

Mike Spooner

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I don't dispute what H&W built as lifeboats and certainly knew what they were doing and well tested with weights of 70 men.
But as for the Board of Trade I can confusion in numbers base on cubic feet? The 14 main lifeboats base on 655.2 cubic ft for 65 persons each. The 2 cutters boats 322.1 cubic ft for 40 persons each. The 4 collapsible boats 376.6 cubic ft for 40 persons.
As for the indicated boat plates we have another figure of 64 persons for the 14 main boats. 33 for the two cutters and 40 for the four collapsible boats?
It all very well quoting cubic feet but how have they arrived at person per cubic ft? Why is not put into plain English it must the width of someone backside that's counts! Certainly looking at some of the phots of lifeboats looks impossible how one can seat those figures as quoted per boat!
There is evident that officers were in doubt how many persons per boat was the save limited before lowering them down.
If that was the case I don't know who was at fault for not passing on the importance information that the boats could take full loads before lowing.
 
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Hey, guys...what do the Rules of the Road (1912 or modern) have to do with lifeboats? That subject comes under a completely different set of international agreements.

Of primary interest in the Rules of he Road vis-a-vis Titanic in 1912 were those regarding pyrotechnics or sound producing apparatus. As described above, they are:

(a) a gun or other explosive signal fired at intervals of about a minute;
(b) A continuous sounding with any fog signalling apparatus;
(c) rockets or shells, throwing red stars fired one at a time at short intervals...

Under (a) the time interval is "about" a minute. under (c) that changes to just a "short interval." Why the ambiguity? Well, let me hazard a guess -- sailors aboard a vessel in distress (usually sinking) simply don't have the opportunity to measure time intervals with scientific accuracy. The "about a minute" goes back to the days of firing minute guns either to announce a vessel's arrival in port or to honor a dignitary. Even under those non-distress circumstances the timing was not always accurate. For instance, one of the "minute guns" might misfire and require bringing the next piece into play with a consequent increase of time.

Similarly, real pyrotechnics (eg. Roman candles, blue lights, or star shells) were not always dependable in action. So, a certain amount of leeway was allowed in the timing. The wording in the Rules was all based on real world situations. The height and visibility are also subject to real-world situations. Some countries (notably Canada) restrict pistols of all types. A hand-held parachute flare usually reaches lower altitude than one fired from a Very Pistol or other launching device.

Although not in the Rules, pyro should not be fired at random. Rather, it should only be used once another vessel has been sighted on the horizon or approaching. They, aerial flares are used to attract attention. Hand held flares come later to guide the potential rescue craft to the scene of the vessel in distress. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this sort of pyro should be used primarily at night.

Moving to non-pyro signals, any black box over a black ball...or similar shapes...is a distress signal. Modern yachts in the U.S. carry an orange "distress flag" withe the ball and square imprinted. These can be used vertically to attract attention of other craft, or horizontally on deck to do the same for aircraft. This signal is obvious for day use only.

-- David G. Brown
 

Mike Spooner

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Hi David,
As much I appreciate your comments. But the lifeboats do come under the Board of Trade regulations and is the same origination that set the Rules of the Road.
The problem I see here the Board of Trade have taken on full responsibility for the heathy and safety of the ships, stating by law you must have seaworthy certificates for paying passengers. But when start looking into details of the rules and regulations ones has to question there definition what exactly do they mean? Was there any training and organisation included into the rules as well!
As when things do go wrong and lands up in a court room case, (which there is no love affair here !) I certainly see from the professional seamen point of view they would of had a strong case to challenge the rules, if only they had dam good barristers for there defence! As in the inquiry it would appear the Board of Trade have move their rules of responsibility on to the seamen. It doesn't go without notice the lack of witness who could of giving available evident were not included into the inquiry to!
Like I have said before the inquires were a shamble for the real truth were a lawyers have taken over the show for the benefit of the Government. How can one conduct an proper inquiry at such short notice within weeks of the disaster ? Or is the case the ESATABLISHMENT have taken over the inquiry?
 
Mar 22, 2003
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THE COLLISION REGULATIONS, 1910
The Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea now in
force were made by the King in Council on the 13th day of
October, 1910 (1) on the joint recommendation of the Admiralty
and Board of Trade, by virtue of Section 418 of the Merchant
Shipping Act, 1894. The Regulations came into force on
the same day as they were made, because, except for some
slight modification, they were identical with the Regulations
that were made by Orders in Council on the 27th November,
1896, 7th July, 1897, and the 4th April, 1906. (2)

These Regulations apply to all British ships, whether
within British territorial waters or not, and to the ships of
the undermentioned countries, with certain exceptions,
whether they are within British jurisdiction or not; and for
the purpose of such Regulations they are to be treated as
if they were British ships:
...

These same regulations were adopted by a number of countries including the United States.
See Acts of Congress, 56 Congress, Sess., i., c. 22; 59 Congress,Sess. ii., c. 300

Oh, David is right. The Rules of the Road have nothing whatsoever to do with lifeboat regulations.
 

Mike Spooner

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THE COLLISION REGULATIONS, 1910
The Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea now in
force were made by the King in Council on the 13th day of
October, 1910 (1) on the joint recommendation of the Admiralty
and Board of Trade, by virtue of Section 418 of the Merchant
Shipping Act, 1894. The Regulations came into force on
the same day as they were made, because, except for some
slight modification, they were identical with the Regulations
that were made by Orders in Council on the 27th November,
1896, 7th July, 1897, and the 4th April, 1906. (2)

These Regulations apply to all British ships, whether
within British territorial waters or not, and to the ships of
the undermentioned countries, with certain exceptions,
whether they are within British jurisdiction or not; and for
the purpose of such Regulations they are to be treated as
if they were British ships:
...

These same regulations were adopted by a number of countries including the United States.
See Acts of Congress, 56 Congress, Sess., i., c. 22; 59 Congress,Sess. ii., c. 300

Oh, David is right. The Rules of the Road have nothing whatsoever to do with lifeboat regulations.
Sam thanks for the reply, but it does not give me any more details into what has been said before! Which at present I find is rather vague and lacking on some of the points. Guns, explosion, fire barrels, distances can be hear at, types of distress signals and timing limits. In fact I can't even see the heights be mention to! Is there some were this details can be found as to the Board of Trade regulations in 1912?