Rule Of The Road!

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Mike. the Board of Trade was not as casual as you seem to think. Its regulations contain standards for distress signals that were arrived at indirectly, by approving devices made by various companies. In the case of Titanic, she had socket signals made by the Cotton Powder Company and approved by the Board. An alternative would have been Cundall's signals, which were big Roman candles that threw red balls. These were not visible from as great a distance as the socket signals. Other devices were approved to take the place of flames on the vessel. In the case of guns, standards were prescribed for the calibre and the quantity and type of powder to be used and the equipment to be kept with them.

It's all in the archives, which used to be available on CD. The original CDs are now so old that you need an old computer to run them readily.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Jan 31, 2018
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Mike. the Board of Trade was not as casual as you seem to think. Its regulations contain standards for distress signals that were arrived at indirectly, by approving devices made by various companies. In the case of Titanic, she had socket signals made by the Cotton Powder Company and approved by the Board. An alternative would have been Cundall's signals, which were big Roman candles that threw red balls. These were not visible from as great a distance as the socket signals. Other devices were approved to take the place of flames on the vessel. In the case of guns, standards were prescribed for the calibre and the quantity and type of powder to be used and the equipment to be kept with them.

It's all in the archives, which used to be available on CD. The original CDs are now so old that you need an old computer to run them readily.
Dave. The very things you mention are what I am interested in to see for myself for clarification in details of the Rules of the Road.
As I guess is what the officers had to know to pass their master exams.
Yes I do have a computer with CD drive and another one with very old CD drive too! So do you know where might find one?
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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The one I'm thinking of was put out by what was then the Public Record Office in about 1998. The Paperless Archive two CD set is another thing that duplicates much of the other material and adds several books. Both suffer from their age.
 

Mike Spooner

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What I can see at present Article 31 A Cannon or Explosive Device fired at one minute intervals.
Followed by Article Class 3. The sight signal which is a rocket of any colour one at a time at short intervals! No definition what a short interval is?
If the distress rockets were fired at 4-6 minutes intervals. As a legal case this do not comply to the rules! Therefore cannot be classified as distress signals!
It makes wander if Boxhall or Smith had never fired distress signals before and didn't understand the rule of one minute intervals!
 

Dave Gittins

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Titanic was using visual signals, so the "short intervals" applied, not the one minute. Any bangs were incidental. There does seem to have been a hole in officer training. Boxhall said he had never seen signals fired until he fired them himself. On Californian, Groves said he had never even seen a box of signals.

The firing of signals was pretty scrappy. Titanic had 36 signals and it was no time for economy. Boxhall was flitting about between firing signals and working with boats. Somebody should have been told to do nothing but fire signals, perhaps every three minutes by the wheelhouse clock.
 

Mike Spooner

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Jan 31, 2018
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Titanic was using visual signals, so the "short intervals" applied, not the one minute. Any bangs were incidental. There does seem to have been a hole in officer training. Boxhall said he had never seen signals fired until he fired them himself. On Californian, Groves said he had never even seen a box of signals.

The firing of signals was pretty scrappy. Titanic had 36 signals and it was no time for economy. Boxhall was flitting about between firing signals and working with boats. Somebody should have been told to do nothing but fire signals, perhaps every three minutes by the wheelhouse clock.
Dave thanks for reply and understand you yourself are an experience seamen and would to put forward a few questions, that's if you don't mind please. Or any other seamen too.
I am coming to the conclusion that the Rules of the Road in 1912 were a bit of mess and unclear what was required!
They is quite a bit of talk seamen from both ships Titanic and Californian can see a ship lights 5-6 miles away. As not been an seamen myself how do they came to that conclusion?
1. Is just years of experience has taught them to guess the range? As for a passenger with very limited sailing time, I can see there guess in miles is not been very reliable evident when been questioned in a inquiry or a court case.
2. There is talk of distress signals or rockets reaching heights of 600-800 feet! At present I can not find that is a requirement in the Rules of the Road?
3. If the height is mention in the rules. Were does one measure from what point, and taking in count of the earths curvature to?
4. Was it possible for the crew members of Californian to guess the miles from the fired rockets which are very really used our never been seen before?
5. How did they work out the height and distance of a rockets in the pitch dark in those days? Was it a trigonometry calculation which might of be just possible? As for the use of a sexton in the pitch dark I cannot see they had time adjustment reading to any form of accurate measurement for a rocket!
As for the inquiries I don't see this questions been discussed or raised?
 

Jim Currie

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Interesting posts here concerning lifeboats and firing intervals. Here are a few other points you might like to consider.

The "short intervals" directive has always been a bone of contention...long before most of you were even born.
Many times in the 50's I heard Apprentices and candidates for the MoT Certificates of Competency asking "How long is a "short interval". Every time, the stock answer was the same: "Not a long one, but essentially, one that must convey urgency." Those who developed these Rules were men who had access to very many tales of survival at sea... men who appreciated that in an emergency, you don't have time to consult a stopwatch. Like most of my lectures and those I sailed with in the early days, many had first-hand WW2 experience of sinking ships.
I do not think the signals used on Titanic were being used to convey a message of urgency but simply to attract and hold attention while the morse signalling was in progress. After all, a socket signal had the dual functions of acting as a distance signals and, like a gun, an attention-getter. In fact, they wee supplied in lieu of guns.

As for lifeboat capacity: the MoT Rule at the time was LxBxD x Coeficient of Fineness divided by 10. That was the rule until lifeboats were calassified. In the 1950s and 60s the following was the case.
LB Capacities. 2019-06-07 001.jpg


In later years, wire rope was used for lowering and it was done simultaneously at each end of the boat from a central point. In 1912, it was done using manila rope falls slackened off individually at each end. This was very dangerous since often, a fall would become jammed in a sheave block causing a sudden jerk at one end which resulted in a shock load on the block and at the lowering bollard. The greater the initial load, the more violent the shock which at times resulted in one end of the boat falling free and spilling the contents. the only way to lessen the effect of such a shock or reduce the possibility of it happening was to half fill the boat for lowering, carefully monitor each end and complete embarkation via ladder or some other means.
 

Bob_Read

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Section D boats (cutters) on Titanic allotted 8 cubic ft. per person, not 10 like the Section A 30 ft. boats.
 
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Jim Currie

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A cutter is not a lifeboat but may be used as one providing it has the equipment specific to a lifeboat. Was there a regulation in force at that time specifying cubic to be divided by 8?
 

Mike Spooner

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We seem to be disusing two articles of lifeboats and distress signals , which both are in a mess for reguations requirement and set by the Board of Trade in 1912?
A cutter is not a lifeboat? This seems the same said for cruise ships using lifeboats as tender boats! With different person capacity rates. For example I see 120 for tender use, and 150 for lifeboat purposes.
The cubic capacity is all very well. But what that is base on is another question. Some were the width of some one backside must come into, and is it base on a man or women?
 

Bob_Read

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Jim: The regulations of the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894-1906 which applied to Titanic stated that for a ship of her tonnage she was required to have 16 boats under davits which had to be Section A boats but a maximum of two of the boats could be Section D boats which in Titanic’s case were the two emergency cutters.
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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We seem to be disusing two articles of lifeboats and distress signals , which both are in a mess for reguations requirement and set by the Board of Trade in 1912?
A cutter is not a lifeboat? This seems the same said for cruise ships using lifeboats as tender boats! With different person capacity rates. For example I see 120 for tender use, and 150 for lifeboat purposes.
The cubic capacity is all very well. But what that is base on is another question. Some were the width of some one backside must come into, and is it base on a man or women?
Hello Mike.

It has all to do with displacement and how much a lifeboat-shaped lump of seawater would weigh. In the case of Titanic, one of her lifeboats would have displaced 30 x9 x 4 x .6 = 648 cubic feet of sea water. Since a cubic foot of sea water weighs 64 lbs this means one of Titanic's lifeboats would have displaced (or been loaded with) 64 x 648 = 41,472 lbs of the ocean before it sank. This includes the weight of the boat and its equipment
In 1912, the average weight of a man was about 140 lbs and of a woman about 118 lbs, So you see, there was plenty of safe room in a fully occupied boat. In fact, fat-endowed individuals would have been a bonus since fat generates heat...a much-needed commodity in an open boat in Mid Atlantic in spring in the middle of an ice field. All tongue in cheek but I hope it gives you ideas.
 

Bob_Read

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The sixteen wooden boats had watertight buoyancy air cases equal to one tenth of their cubic ft. capacity so because of these air cases a boat could be completely swamped yet not sink.
 
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Mike Spooner

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I thought only 14 lifeboats had buoyancy seats built in, as the 2 cutter boats did have them, as can be seen in the photos when the 13 boats are parked up in New York harbour.
As for seating 65 seems to be lacking in space. Some time ago I did see Sam made a diagram of the seating capacity. I can't remember what was the outcome results?
 

Bob_Read

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May 9, 2019
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Mike: Although they weren't required by regulation for a Section D boat, the two emergency cutters on Titanic did indeed have buoyancy tanks. The image below is from the so-called Andrews Notebook. It shows that Olympic's cutters which were identical to Titanic's had copper buoyancy tanks.
 

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