Saving more lives

John Jaeger

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Sep 11, 2015
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He would have been a raving lunatic!

To fill every lifeboat to capacity at the onset would have been gross negligence and exhibit a dire lack of seamanship knowledge. The reason for this is very simple. Unlike modern lifeboats which use a single drum controlling two special steel wires to lower both end of the boat simultaneously, the ends of Titanic's lifeboats were lowered separately using individual manila ropes. This meant that boats would be lowered in jerks and at uneven rates.
Tell me, did a single lifeboat spill out the people inside, as a result of these imperfect, uneven rates? I don't believe one did. Not one.

There was also a possibility that one end could get "hung-up".
An empty boat could get "hung-up," could it not? Lifesaving procedures need not be perfect in order to be quite effective. The alternative is certain death. Does nobody here but me recognize the simplicity of doing something, trying something, as opposed to going down to certain death?

You must bear in mind that control of the lowering depended on clear, precise communication between those on the boat in darkness and those 50 or 60 feet above them. You should try it some time.
1. Virtually all the lifeboats were lowered, without losing passengers. Why do you insist on trying to rewrite events as cynically as possible?
2. The next time I am on a sinking ship, with manila ropes for lowering life rafts, I will indeed do that. Your wisdom is notable.

To deprive everyone of a life jacket assumes that the weather will stay calm until a rescue vessel arrives and more to the point, finds all the lifeboats. Not a good idea. "I'll be keeping mine thank you!"

The life jackets on passengers in life rafts were not used, and therefore worthless. Storms do not typically arise in an hour or so. The captain knew the Carpathia was on its way. Nor was daylight far off. Your lack of chivalry is compounded by a false sense of security, that the jacket would somehow have helped. It wouldn't.


Bad thinking Bat Man! For all the same reasons above. In addition: sure it was calm but that was abnormal for that part of the world. Believe me, if boats were loaded as you suggest and the usual South Westerly force 10 or 12 gale arrived, we would now be talking about close to 100% casualties.
"IF" that gale arrived...
Bad reasoning, Rude Man.
Mob mentality seems to rule here. Condescension seems to be universal among critics, even those who claim to be so tolerant and patient.


Let's say for the sake of argument, your system used up another 15 minutes, That means you would have 15 minutes left to construct rafts. How many such raft would be constructed by untrained hands on a ship with a main deck tilted down by the head and heeled to port?
1. There were several decks, not just the main deck.
2. No doubt many of the third class passengers were adept with tools and woodwork.
3. Is there absolutely no optimism by anyone else here except me? Has nobody else read books on survival at sea?
It doesn't have to be easy.
ard rafts to remain seated at all times, for stability.[/COLOR]

The foregoing needs not an answer since it is totally impracticable.
Says you. In fact every single life raft would have been a useful adjunct to saving lives. Every single one.
You and all your friends blithely dismiss creative ideas in a manner that I find offensive.

I admire your imagination John.
Look, a compliment! Amidst volumes of criticism and negative assumptions, it is virtually lost.

Have you ever been at sea in pitch darkness? I don't think so. It would make an excellent book though. It would need however to be categorised as science fiction.
I have been at sea many hundreds of hours, and underwater in pitch darkness one or two hundred hours. You never know what can be done without trying.
This forum abounds with armchair know-it-alls, pooh poohing ideas and analyses without considering the possibilities, the alternative of which was certain death. What was to lose by searching for the iceberg and checking for a landing site? Nothing. What was to lose by filling life boats? Only more lives.

I have been very patient John and tried to be as constructive as possible but you must allow me this question: Would the officer in question have changed into a blue, skin-tight suit with a cape and the letter "S" emblazoned on his chest? Sorry John, I couldn't resist it.

I leave comment on that last bit to wiser men than me.


It has not been my intention to belittle your effort but I draw the line at your observation that Captain Smith was an idiot; he most certainly was not and I doubt very much if you are qualified to judge him or any of the lads on that ship. For your information, that evacuation was almost text book for 1912. It is highly unlikely that given the same circumstances, another crew would have done equally as well.

Jim C.
In fact it HAS BEEN your intention to belittle my effort. You and Samuel Halpern fly in here in your own little superman costumes and huff and puff with supreme arrogance. For your information, Smith proceeded at almost full speed, even as another ship nearby had cut its engines for the night, for obvious reasons of safety.
Smith failed to break open containers with binoculars inside. Smith failed to properly supervise evacuation. And on and on. Your excuses for a man who sank his ship, killing 1,517 or so people are just that - excuses, and nothing more. He was responsible, and he failed miserably.
 
Nov 13, 2014
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This has gone far enough. None of us here thinks he knows everything. Not Jim, not Sam, not me, and not John either. It's time to look at the facts from a neutral POV.
You seem to blame Captain Smith for the disaster by neglecting to perform a few simple actions which, for your information, could not have saved the ship at all.

Jom Currie is a captain too and I assume he knows what it's like to be a captain under pressure. Captains carry the responsibility to arrive at their destination in time. You said you were a licensed pilot? Then consider this situation. You're flying an overnight flight of 20,000 kilometers from Heatrow to Sydney. A tropical storm suddenly formed ahead of you and is now blocking your path, no way to go around or go over it. Would you abort the flight and land at the nearest airport to wait for the storm to clear your path or would you try to get through it, because you know other planes made it through, only a few suffering minor damage?

The choice would have been made. And this is not the only thing I need to comment on.

The binoculars. Haven't you done ANY proper reading of other message boards? It has been said more than enough times that binoculars wouldn't have saved the ship at all.

You also said the senior members here think they own the message board and are rude to every new member here. You seem to forget every one of them also started here as new members. Believe me, you will get rude answers if you think you know everything and discover you actually knew nothing. I've been through that too and I really own Sam, Jim, Ioannis, Mark and many other people here for dramatically improving my knowledge about what happened that fateful night.

If you wouldn't brutally reject the realistic answers you would get to your hypothesis at the beginning of this thread, none of us would have to be rude.

I was only promoted to senior member days ago for reaching 100 posts, and I don't think my posts will ever have as much impact as other one's.
 
Nov 13, 2014
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Nevertheless, I would like to analyze your hypothesis once more in a neutral way. I quoted it here again and point out errors in this thing.
Now, suppose there had been one thoughtful officer on board, intent on saving as many passengers and crew as possible, as is every crewman's greatest responsibility.

If he had ordered:

1. The crew to fill every lifeboat to capacity, confiscating all life jackets from women and children before they debarked. In addition to the rated capacity, ten additional women and children were then loaded into each successive lifeboat launched. Then, after all the children and women were safely away,

2. Men to be loaded in lifeboats, likewise with ten additional passengers in each lifeboat over its rated capacity. There was more than ample freeboard for such an overload, and the sea was calm. These two steps alone would have saved an additional 540 people.

3. Every able-bodied man on board to bring up on deck all wooden deck chairs, tables, and any furniture suitable for constructing as many wooden rafts as possible.

4. Every crewman to bring up on deck all hammers, saws, axes, wires, ropes, cables, straps, screws and nails suitable to fashion rafts with life jackets securely tied underneath them for buoyancy. Fabricated wooden rafts would be stiffened with longer pieces of wood or lightweight metal rods and a minimum of two paddles fabricated per raft of ten by ten feet. Simple boards would also work for paddles. All men aboard rafts to remain seated at all times, for stability.

5. Two officers and eight able-bodied men to take the first raft fabricated and carry hand tools to the iceberg and chip steps out and insert poles with hand ropes so that passengers and crew could climb off rafts, especially if there was an insufficient number of rafts constructed. (Approximately 100 would be needed.)

Then that one wise senior officer would have saved virtually all 1,517 who perished would have survived in the calm waters, until the Carpathia arrived just four hours later.

I estimate that the improbable series of events leading to the loss of Titanic has a compound probability of 1 in 250 trillion trillion. Even if you were to use your own estimates and adjust them upward substantially upward, I doubt that you could achieve anything more likely than 1 chance in 10,000,000,000.
The lifeboats were calculated on the weight of 1178 people in total, and there was the theoretical possibility to 'overload' them until there were about 1400 people in the lifeboats. This still left 800 men depending on wooden rafts for their survival.

You did get it right about the launching of the lifeboats. Captain Smith ordered to abandon ship about midnight, and Senator Smith carried out a test with Olympic's lifeboats as part of the US Inquiry. He concluded that the 16 non-collapsible lifeboats could have been perepared, loaded (not overloaded) and launched within an hour. Calculate 10 minutes overall to 'overload' the boats with additional passengers and crew and another 30 minutes to lower all collapsibles, it would be 1:40 A.M. when all 20 lifeboats were gone in the ideal scenario.

The problem is, there are many obstructions to this ideal scenario. The passengers were scattered throughout a 400 m³ ship and stewards would need time to collect them all to the boat deck, eating valuable minutes. And what about 'women and children first'? It would make women and children even more reluctant to board tiny, creepy lifeboats, leaving their beloved ones behind on the largest ship ever built and considered unsinkable. Many women refused to board the first lifeboats, and even more valuable minutes were eaten.

With all life jackets been confiscated from women and children who entered the lifeboats, one could install those life jackets underneath rafts to give them more floating capacity. If Jack & Rose carried this out on their raft, they both could have made it out alive. Jamie and Adam tested this in the Mythbusters episode about the Titanic film, and they told Cameron that life jackets underneath rafts could have saved additional lives. But they also said the film got the hypothermia part right: if you didn't board a lifeboat and failed to find a raft, you're doomed. So each of those 800 men would need a raft to survive. I'm not talking about 800 rafts, I'm talking about enough rafts to save 800 men.

So what would be the situation?
  • 800 men who had been busy escorting their beloved ones into lifeboats and did not have any time yet to focus on their own survival. They now completely depended on wooden rafts, enforced with life jackets.
  • 3000 life jackets to enforce the rafts.
  • 4 officers (Smith, Wilde, Murdoch and Moody) who had been busy with launching lifeboats up until now and did not have any time yet to focus on the men. The other officers manned lifeboats.
  • 11 seamen who didn't man lifeboats.
  • 40 minutes until the ship foundered in the ideal scenario, even less in a more realistic scenario.

Now John, it's your turn. Give a detailed scenario of what the thoughtful officer had to do to save these 800 men with the very limited amount of wood scattered throughout the rapidly sinking ship.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
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Hello John.

You really must calm down and take something for your nerves. If you are sitting comfortably, I will try and comment so as not to upset your obvious sensitivity. Before I go any further, allow me to explain my response to your posted ideas. A bit about me first:

I am a Master Mariner of the old school, having been trained by and sailed with men who were actually at sea during the Titanic disaster. I spent 55 years of my working life in the marine industry, the first 15 years of which, were spent sailing in many ships build before WW2. Three of which were passenger ships built along exactly the same lines as Titanic . I also spent a considerable time on the UK, New York run. In my final 30 years of working life, I spent 24 years as a marine Accident Inspector for Lloyds Underwriters. The final 6 years were spent as a Harbour Master. Given the foregoing, I'm sure you'll understand that while not the ultimate expert, I do have considerable hands-on experience of the subject matter so there's no need for me to huff puff or make any other such gesture. :rolleyes: Now to answer your last post:

Tell me, did a single lifeboat spill out the people inside, as a result of these imperfect, uneven rates? I don't believe one did. Not one.

No it did not, John. The reason for that was most certainly because the boats were not initially filled to capacity. had they been so filled than the possibility, even probability of such an accident would have been increased a hundred-fold. However there was at least one incident where the bow end got ahead of the stern end.

An empty boat could get "hung-up," could it not?

I can't see the occasion when an empty boat could get 'hung-up'. Please explain what you have in mind and what relevance it has to this discussion.

"Lifesaving procedures need not be perfect in order to be quite effective."

Quite true. But life saving procedures are not made up on the spur of the moment. They are the response to a perceived problem that might arise during the act of saving life augmented by lessons learned during real life situations. By the time Titanic was built, a great deal of historic information had been turned into practical solutions. This included design of lifeboats, their gear and methods of launching them. It also incorporated a method of training for the seamen involved. That training told them that it was dangerous to lower a fully loaded boat. My training as a Cadet was with manila falls and that is exactly what I was told.

Does nobody here but me recognize the simplicity of doing something, trying something, as opposed to going down to certain death?

Of course everyone does. It's called "self preservation". But that does not seem to be what you are getting-at.

1. Virtually all the lifeboats were lowered, without losing passengers. Why do you insist on trying to rewrite events as cynically as possible?

I don't know how to explain this to you. I'm not trying to re-writing anything, I'm trying to get through to you the reasons why the boat were not filled from the start. I'm sure you can understand the concept that if the lifeboats had been filled to capacity at 70 feet above the sea and the boats were lowered as normal and there was a sudden shock load exceeding the capacity of the rope, people WOULD have been spilled into the water. What is cynical about that? You're the one that criticising the actions of men long dead. I'm the one that's trying to defend those who cannot defend themselves

2. The next time I am on a sinking ship, with manila ropes for lowering life rafts, I will indeed do that. Your wisdom is notable.

I take it that is as sort of joke? Liferafts on ships are not lowered. I'll leave it up to you to find out how they are deployed. It's all of 64 years since I saw manila ropes use on any approved lifesaving appliance.

The life jackets on passengers in life rafts were not used, and therefore worthless.

Explain this statement. Passengers did not get their lifejackets from any boat and Titanic did not have liferafts.

Storms do not typically arise in an hour or so. The captain knew the Carpathia was on its way. Nor was daylight far off. Your lack of chivalry is compounded by a false sense of security, that the jacket would somehow have helped. It wouldn't.

Oh yes they do but we are not talking about anything 'typical'. You really do not understand what it's like to be lost at sea. Think man! The captain of a ship must not assume anything where the lives of those he is responsible for are at risk. One little example of how far off base you are: We all know that the distress position given by Titanic was 13 miles out. If Carpathia's navigation had been any good, it is perfectly possible that Rostron would have missed those lifeboats and ended up on the wrong side of the pack ice as did every one else.

"IF" that gale arrived...
Bad reasoning, Rude Man.
Mob mentality seems to rule here. Condescension seems to be universal among critics, even those who claim to be so tolerant and patient.
1. There were several decks, not just the main deck.
2. No doubt many of the third class passengers were adept with tools and woodwork.
3. Is there absolutely no optimism by anyone else here except me? Has nobody else read books on survival at sea? It doesn't have to be easy. ard rafts to remain seated at all times, for stability.


The idea is OK , it was just not practical. If you cannot accept that then that's your problem. As for rudeness: if you cannot stand the heat, perhaps you should stay out of the kitchen?


You and all your friends blithely dismiss creative ideas in a manner that I find offensive
.

I don't have friends on this site - just acquaintances. Your ideas are dismissed for the reason of impracticability. If you can't accept criticism, that again, is your problem.


I have been at sea many hundreds of hours, and underwater in pitch darkness one or two hundred hours. You For your information, Smith proceeded at almost full speed, even as another ship nearby had cut its engines for the night, for obvious reasons of safety.

Good for you on both counts! We are talking about survival here.
Smith did nothing of the kind. The other ship had stopped because it was confronted suddenly with pack ice. Before it did stop, it was making full speed as every other ship was doing. Get your facts right laddie!

Smith failed to break open containers with binoculars inside.

No he did not. it was not his responsibility to see that the lookouts had binoculars. That was the job of Lightoller, the 2nd Officer. Read the facts before commenting.

Smith failed to properly supervise evacuation. And on and on. Your excuses for a man who sank his ship, killing 1,517 or so people are just that - excuses, and nothing more. He was responsible, and he failed miserably.

That last remark would be taken seriously if you had the ability to back it up with hard evidence. You have not. Instead, you chose to blindly believe what others have written and in doing so, smear the character of a man who is unable to defend himself. I throw your own question back at you: "Why do you insist on trying to rewrite events as cynically as possible?" You accuse me of being rude. Perhaps you should not stoop to my level then.

One of the first things I ever learned from an old AB was that "he who urinates into the wind gets his own back" Not a bad lesson to be taken to heart.

Jim C.
 

Mark Baber

Moderator
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Dec 29, 2000
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Moderator's hat on, again:

John Jaeger, you continue to personalize your messages and insult several board members and, it seems. President Obama. As I said in my earlier message, leave it outside.

Moderator's hat off.
 

John Jaeger

Member
Sep 11, 2015
90
3
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So what would be the situation?
  • 800 men who had been busy escorting their beloved ones into lifeboats and did not have any time yet to focus on their own survival. They now completely depended on wooden rafts, enforced with life jackets.
  • 3000 life jackets to enforce the rafts.
  • 4 officers (Smith, Wilde, Murdoch and Moody) who had been busy with launching lifeboats up until now and did not have any time yet to focus on the men. The other officers manned lifeboats.
  • 11 seamen who didn't man lifeboats.
  • 40 minutes until the ship foundered in the ideal scenario, even less in a more realistic scenario.

Now John, it's your turn. Give a detailed scenario of what the thoughtful officer had to do to save these 800 men with the very limited amount of wood scattered throughout the rapidly sinking ship.
The cynicism of this forum is pervasive.

1. "These 800 men" means that 700 would NOT HAVE PERISHED! That is a profound improvement for the thousands of lives involved with 700 people, including their parents, grandparents, children, and friends. But no, it is not nearly enough to suit anybody here.

2. Notice that you overlooked the overloading of the lifeboats, which would have saved hundreds more. Women and children weigh considerably less than large men. That fact has been neglected by all present.

3. Also neglected was the POSSIBILITY of delivering survivors to the floating iceberg(s) nearby. How can you possibly know? You weren't there. I made no claim of its certainty, only that it might have been explored.

4. I have taken several cruises and took leisurely naps on wooden lawn chairs, on various decks. I saw a great deal of wood even on modern ocean liners. Hundreds of life vests would further enhance the buoyancy of available wood, and other materials, as I alluded to, but everyone of course ignored.That insufficient wood MIGHT, not certainly, but MIGHT not have been adequate for 80 life rafts, or 60, or even 50, does not begin to preclude the attempt to save lives. The alternative was clearly death.

5. Various steps clearly could have been taken which were not. Untold lives undoubtedly could have been saved which were not, and for the most inane of reasons, such as not breaking into the locker holding binoculars.

6. An assessment of the compound probability of the critical path of events leading to this tragedy has not, to the best of my knowledge, never been done before I did so. That was the most important lesson here, but it was trivialized and attacked by Samuel Halpern, who demanded that I give him justification for my estimates.
This simply moves the criticism downstream, where he could claim that my justification did not suit him either. He could have made his own estimates, but that would have taken time and thought, which he could not invest.

Criticism is easy and art is difficult. The cynical and hypercritical nature of this forum is discouraging, even shameful.

Now you gentle folks continue to carp and condemn among yourselves. Nothing I say seems to be remotely satisfactory to any of you, so why should I even bother to try.

Mauvais voyage to all of you. You will have it no other way.
 

John Jaeger

Member
Sep 11, 2015
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I cannot help but to be amazed at the remarkable obsession with Titanic trivia by so many people, who overlook what seem to me to be far more interesting aspects of the singular historic catastrophe. What "more interesting aspects," you may ask?

- The remarkable folly, indeed, incompetence of Captain Smith
- The remarkable statistics involved in the sequence of events leading to it, which compound improbability I estimate to be 1 chance in 500 trillion trillion, or so
- How very many things might, and should have been done differently, before, during, and after the collision
- The condescending, militant defense of Captain Smith by some haughty *experts* on all things Titanic, as if only their opinion mattered
_________________________________

Titanic Probabilities
The sinking of the RMS Titanic resulted from a most unlikely culmination of events which cascaded one upon the next, ultimately ending with the loss of 1,496 passengers (712 were saved) and crew, not to mention a newly launched ocean liner. The oversights and mistakes of Titanic's captain, Edward Smith, extended from well before the great ship was launched May 31, 1911 in Belfast, Northern Ireland, to the time the ship's band played Nearer My God to Thee, around 2:10 AM on April 15, 1912.

Perhaps what sets the Titanic's sinking apart from the thousands of others over the centuries is the astounding, indeed head-slapping mistakes that experts in their fields made, each one compounding the previous one in this critical path. Had any one of these critical mistakes (or in some cases, simply random events) not taken place, virtually all of these many hundreds of passengers and crew would have survived, and perhaps the Titanic as well.

Let's consider the a priori probability of the litany of errors, oversights, and shortcuts, all of which are my own personal estimates. If you choose to adjust a few or even many of my estimates such that you increase the likelihood by as much as six or eight orders of magnitude, still the tumultuous fiasco would remain 1 chance in 50 billion trillion.

Before he was given command of the Titanic on this, his final voyage before retirement, Captain Smith commanded the RMS Olympic, which on September 20, 1911, collided with the HMS Hawke, damaging one of Olympic's three driveshafts. In the urgency of returning the Olympic to service, White Star Lines, its owner, scavenged one of the Titanic's driveshafts to replace Olympic's. The Titanic's maiden voyage, scheduled for March 20, 1912, was thus delayed to April 10. Nobody could possibly have known that this separate collision between two other ships would be Event One in the critical path which would culminate with the sinking of the Titanic and the tragic loss of so many innocent people who were simply traveling to America..

My estimate of the probability of Captain Edward Smith causing the minor but critical collision of the RMS Olympic, one of only two ships in White Star Lines, which delays construction and the launch date of the other White Star Lines ship, the Titanic, which Smith will subsequently command, and sink through compound foolhardiness
1 in 10,000.

Reduction of ship designer's original bulkhead height (steel wall, sectioning off parts of the ship below decks in case of serious water leak) ordered by White Star Lines President Bruce Ismay, in order to enhance ballroom design and customer comforts, ultimately at the supreme expense of the safety of ship, passengers, and crew
1 in 20

(After considerable reflection, I think these probability estimates of bulkhead height and lifeboat number should be much smaller. They compromise the safety of the ship, which should be a far greater concern to the ship's owner than beauty or comfort. Nevertheless, I will leave them at 1 in 20, when 1 in 100 now seems more reasonable to me.)

Reduction of number of lifeboats from 48 originally proposed by designer, to 16, as ordered by Ismay, to save money and enhance passenger enjoyment
1 in 20

Use of substandard #3 (instead of #4) cast iron rivets in curved forward section of Titanic, at a savings of mere pennies (The #3 rivets were 9% slag instead of the standard 2 - 3% slag in #4 rivets. This excess slag weakened the rivets, allowing the heads to pop off, and the plates to open up.)
1 in10

Spontaneous combustion of coal in bunker six, from dust buildup, began during speed trials in Belfast ten days prior to the departure from Southampton.
1 in 500

The coal fire was not put out before Titanic set sail, seriously weakening the metal on the starboard side where the iceberg hit.
1 in 1000

Crewman who went ashore forgot keys to locker containing binoculars for lookouts
1 in 10

Failure of Captain Smith to reduce speed from 22.5 knots (almost full speed) despite repeated warnings of icebergs
1 in 10

Failure of Captain Smith to order crew to use tools and break into locker containing binoculars requested by ship's lookouts, to enhance safer navigation of the ship at night
1 in 50

Insufficient moonlight to disclose iceberg dead ahead, struck at 11:40 PM, April 14
1 in 10

Calm seas reduced wave action around the base of the iceberg, making it much more difficult to see until it was too late
1 in 5

Titanic radioman failed to forward last and most critical iceberg warning to ship's bridge, as Californian had stopped dead in the water to avoid a colliding with icebergs
1 in 50

Titanic radioman ordering Californian's communications room to "Shut up, shut up" as they attempted to warn of dangerous icebergs nearby, just ten minutes before Titanic hit the iceberg
1 in 20

The Californian's radio operator, Cyril Evans, shut his radio off at 11:30 PM after being told to "Shut up!"
(Captain Stanley Lord, commanding the RMS Californian, ordered the ship to a full stop for the night to avoid collision with an iceberg.)
1 in 20

Spotting of iceberg by lookouts had critical timing too late to avoid a collision, but early enough (30 seconds) to commence evasive maneuver which compounded damage beyond survivability - a 230 foot long tear in the Titanic's hull, flooding six separate compartments (Four flooded would not have sunk her)
1 in 10

Watch officer throwing all engines in reverse while ordering the helm hard a-port, robbing the rudder of the authority it had while running at 22 knots. (If instead he had reversed only the port engine, leaving the center and starboard engines in forward, the Titanic would not have sustained fatal damage.)
1 in 20


Inexcusable failure of Captain Edwards or any officers to oversee filling all 18 lifeboats, 2 of which were collapsible, to rated capacity, much less to some arbitrary but reasonable number over theoretical capacity (say ten more people) in view of the exceptionally calm seas
1 in 50

Failure of Captain Lord, of the RMS Californian, twenty miles north, to react immediately to flares reported to him by his crew (He didn't even bother to turn on his ship's radio to call the Titanic, and inquire if there was an emergency. "RMS" stands for Royal Mail Ship)
1 in 50

The compound probability of all successive events multiplied together is one chance in 5 x 10 to the 26th power, or about one chance in 500 trillion trillion.

I did not set out with a goal of some particular probability of the Titanic sinking. I simply made my own reasonable estimate of each successive dependent factor. Make different estimates of your own if you wish. Varying these estimates provides some measure of how unlikely the entire series of events was.

Each of the above factors is arguably on the critical path to the sinking and incredible loss of life. The Titanic might well have survived the collision if not missed the iceberg entirely, or alternatively, all 1,496 passengers lost might have been saved through the elimination of just one of the foregoing events, each of which contributed to the catastrophe. It is noteworthy that there was, on average, 20 empty seats in each of the 18 lifeboats launched. Moreover, an average of 12 crewmen occupied each lifeboat, when only 2 were needed to operate it. Therefore the crewmen put their own lives and safety ahead of their passengers, for whom they were responsible.

[Note on the nature of estimating probabilities: I have had many discussions on the topic of estimating probabilities on the subject of the marvelous, profoundly improbable nature of life and the universe around us, and the obvious, pervasive hand of our Creator. Almost unfailingly, atheists make the absurd contention that if something happened, then the probability that it would happen was 1. (Because it happened.) The chance of you drawing the three of clubs randomly from a shuffled deck of cards is 1 in 52 before the event. Whether or not you actually did draw the three of clubs, the chances of drawing it were still 1 in 52. Estimating probability is how we measure uncertainty, or likelihood, for an event or an event series.]
 

John Jaeger

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Sep 11, 2015
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Now, suppose there had been one thoughtful officer on board, intent on saving as many passengers and crew as possible, as is every crewman's greatest responsibility.



If he had ordered:



1. The crew to fill every lifeboat to capacity, confiscating all life jackets from women and children before they debarked. In addition to the rated capacity, ten additional women and children were then loaded into each successive lifeboat launched. Then, after all the children and women were safely away,



2. Men to be loaded in lifeboats, likewise with ten additional passengers in each lifeboat over its rated capacity. There was more than ample freeboard for such an overload, and the sea was calm. These two steps alone would have saved an additional 540 people!



unnamed.jpg




Survivors being picked up by the Carpathia. Note the enormous freeboard of the lifeboat, and the remarkably calm sea.



3. Every able-bodied man on board to bring up on deck all wooden deck chairs, tables, and any furniture suitable for constructing as many wooden rafts as possible, and the deck kept clear of all passengers except those immediately boarding a lifeboat or constructing rafts. There was more than enough wood on Titanic to build sufficient rafts to save everyone. Here is a tiny sample, showing wooden tables and chairs, in a small section of the Cafe Parisian.



inside_the_titanic_cafe_parisian.jpg






4. Every crewman to bring up on deck all hammers, saws, axes, wires, ropes, cables, straps, screws and nails suitable to fashion rafts with life jackets securely tied underneath them for buoyancy. Fabricated wooden rafts would be stiffened with longer pieces of wood or lightweight metal rods and a minimum of two paddles fabricated per raft of ten by ten feet. Simple boards would also work for paddles. All men aboard rafts to remain seated at all times, for stability.



5. Two officers and eight able-bodied men to take the first raft fabricated and carry hand tools to the iceberg and chip steps out and insert poles with hand ropes so that passengers and crew could climb off rafts, especially if there was an insufficient number of rafts constructed. (Approximately 100 would be needed in the event nobody could debark to the iceberg. Even if all 100 rafts could not have been constructed, surely many could, and the loss of life would have been further reduced.)



Then that one wise senior officer would have saved virtually all 1,517 who perished would have survived in the calm waters, until the Carpathia arrived just four hours later. Casualties included super wealthy passengers John Jacob Astor IV and Benjamin Guggenheim.
 
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Reduction of ship designer's original bulkhead height (steel wall, sectioning off parts of the ship below decks in case of serious water leak) ordered by White Star Lines President Bruce Ismay, in order to enhance ballroom design and customer comforts, ultimately at the supreme expense of the safety of ship, passengers, and crew
The high and thickness of the bulkheads were under the order of the BoT. No one, be it Ismay, Pirrie or whoever could have come and reduce them.
What Ballroom? The ships did not had a ballroom.

Reduction of number of lifeboats from 48 originally proposed by designer, to 16, as ordered by Ismay, to save money and enhance passenger enjoyment


There was no plan for putting 48 boat's. The ship ended up with 20. Nothing to do with Ismay saving money.

Use of substandard #3 (instead of #4) cast iron rivets in curved forward section of Titanic, at a savings of mere pennies (The #3 rivets were 9% slag instead of the standard 2 - 3% slag in #4 rivets. This excess slag weakened the rivets, allowing the heads to pop off, and the plates to open up.)
Nothing to do with saving pennies. How did they know in 1910 about slag? What do you mean with substandard?
You know the rivets were tested by H&W and also the BoT? If the rivets were so bad why did the bow not fall apart when it hit the bottom of the ocean?

Spontaneous combustion of coal in bunker six, from dust buildup, began during speed trials in Belfast ten days prior to the departure from Southampton.

The coal fire was not put out before Titanic set sail, seriously weakening the metal on the starboard side where the iceberg hit.


Both false. The "fire" which was more a smouldering of the coal was discovered at the day of sailing (there was rumour that it started in Belfast but no one mentioned it). The coal bunker was emptied on April 13. No effect on the ships side.

Crewman who went ashore forgot keys to locker containing binoculars for lookouts

Failure of Captain Smith to order crew to use tools and break into locker containing binoculars requested by ship's lookouts, to enhance safer navigation of the ship at night
There was no locker for the binoculars. The key 2nd Officer Blair had with him was for the crows nest telephone.
Binoculars would have be of no help. The binoculars were useless at night.

Watch officer throwing all engines in reverse while ordering the helm hard a-port, robbing the rudder of the authority it had while running at 22 knots. (If instead he had reversed only the port engine, leaving the center and starboard engines in forward, the Titanic would not have sustained fatal damage.)
There was no full astern order. The only one who claimed that was 4th Officer Boxhall while QM Hichens said 1st Officer Murdoch gave a stop order which is confirmed by Scott and Dillon down in the engine rooms. Even if there was no time to carry it out. The engine went slow astern after the collision. Also the centre propeller could not put in reserve so you statement that all engines were throw in reserve is not right.


Inexcusable failure of Captain Edwards or any officers to oversee filling all 18 lifeboats, 2 of which were collapsible, to rated capacity, much less to some arbitrary but reasonable number over theoretical capacity (say ten more people) in view of the exceptionally calm seas
18 lifeboat of which 2 were collapsible? So you want to say there were only 18 boats? There were 14 wooden lifeboats, 2 emergency boats and 4 Collapsible boats a total of 20 boats.
 

John Jaeger

Member
Sep 11, 2015
90
3
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John, how did you calculate the various probabilities in your first message?
Who said anything about "calculate"? Only you. They are my thoughtful estimates. As I said, if you disagree, as you are welcome to do, then please, substitute your own and carry forward the end result. You will be the first to do so. Others have criticized my estimates, but then stopped, providing none of their own. Criticism is easy but art is difficult.

As to Iaonnis' list of criticisms, I don't wish to get in a you-know-what contest with him. I know what I have read, and I stand behind my comments. Captain Smith was utterly incompetent throughout this entire event, and hundreds of people died as a result. The ships designer originally planned for higher bulkheads and more lifeboats, both of which were denied by the White Star Lines President, who should have gone down with Captain Smith.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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Germany
As to Iaonnis' list of criticisms, I don't wish to get in a you-know-what contest with him. I know what I have read, and I stand behind my comments. Captain Smith was utterly incompetent throughout this entire event, and hundreds of people died as a result. The ships designer originally planned for higher bulkheads and more lifeboats, both of which were denied by the White Star Lines President, who should have gone down with Captain Smith.
Aside that you wrote my name wrong, it was not a list of criticisms, I only pointed out your wrong claims. No idea where you read all that stuff, it is not true. Also I can not see how my post had anything to do with your opinion about Captain Smith. Sorry to say you can not get the simple facts right.
 
May 3, 2005
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I usually stay outside of these discussions unless I'm sure of facts.
Or on the other hand, I just ask questions.
There are far too many experts who know a whole lot more about Titanic than I do to make personal assumptions.
I was in the U.S. Navy for four years, but you wouldn't believe it from some of my previous questions......LOL
 
I cannot help but to be amazed at the remarkable obsession with Titanic trivia by so many people, who overlook what seem to me to be far more interesting aspects of the singular historic catastrophe. What "more interesting aspects," you may ask?]
Apart from the facts that you mentioned are very objectable, I have to say that taking in such a low regard all the members of this forum and their interests is not a good way to start conversation. I'm not going to say it is wrong... it isn't just the way we do things 'round here.
 
T

Talira Greycrest

Guest
Unless I'm wrong, the total capacity if every lifeboat seat was taken would have been roughly 1,178. This means an extra 473 people could have been saved if each lifeboat had been filled with as many as it was able to carry and the death toll would have been lower, around 1,052.
 
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robert warren

Member
Feb 19, 2016
178
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The idea of building rafts out of furniture and other wood objects is fun to toy with but not feasible in reality.The amount of time needed to have crew make back and forth, up and down trips to places like the Café Parisian would have eaten up so much time,as would have building the rafts as well. As for keeping people out of the way except those boarding lifeboats-good luck.People don't listen or do what they're told under normal circumstances and they're even more blockheaded in times of disaster.Who can blame them though?Also keep in mind most people didn't know how much long the ship had to live-as well as the stats on her lifeboats and how many people they could hold and what have you.Certainly these things would have been lost on the average passenger or even crewmember.Another thing to keep in mind-so many people aboard including crew had such blind faith in the Titanic's unsinkablity.It's pretty hard to convince people to get their butts in gear when the prevailing attitude is "this ship could hit a hundred bergs and not sink,ridiculous!!!" Unfortunately by the time people started realizing how bad it was it pretty much too late.Besides if the passengers during the early stages were reluctant to get into regular lifeboats, can you imagine the "hell no way " horror of convincing them to get on a raft????!!!" WHAT???"" Im gonna get all wet!!!"" You want me to lay on a raft in the middle of the North Atlantic?It will probably sink underneath me!!!!!"'There's no sides or anything to hold on to!!!!"Also how would you go about lowering such a contraption down the side of a ship in the first place?
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,990
617
183
Funchal. Madeira
Who said anything about "calculate"? Only you. They are my thoughtful estimates. As I said, if you disagree, as you are welcome to do, then please, substitute your own and carry forward the end result. You will be the first to do so. Others have criticized my estimates, but then stopped, providing none of their own. Criticism is easy but art is difficult.

As to Iaonnis' list of criticisms, I don't wish to get in a you-know-what contest with him. I know what I have read, and I stand behind my comments. Captain Smith was utterly incompetent throughout this entire event, and hundreds of people died as a result. The ships designer originally planned for higher bulkheads and more lifeboats, both of which were denied by the White Star Lines President, who should have gone down with Captain Smith.
John, reading something is one thing, understanding what you have read is a completely different kettle of fish. Your idea of using probablities is fine. However it was not probabilities that sank the Titanic.

If we all sat down and weighed the probabilies of an event taking place, we would be sitting for a avery long time. You wrote:

"Now, suppose there had been one thoughtful officer on board, intent on saving as many passengers and crew as possible, as is every crewman's greatest responsibility."

You then carry on with a list of 5 actions which, I presume you consider to be "thoughtful actions" of a wise officer.

I am, unfortunately, cursed with the label of "Expert ". I suppose being an unlimited Master Mariner and former Marine Accident Investigator coupled with over 50 years oractical experience helps to catogarize me as such. I therefore ask your forgiveness for the following observations.


An officer who filled to over-capacity and lowered a lifeboat such as carried by Titanic and lowered it a distance of 70 feet was anything but "thoughtful". Such a man needed re-training. The probability of a thoughtful officer doing such a think is zero.
Let me explain:

The boats on Titanic were lowered using manila ropes independently operated for each end. The system was vulknerable to shock loading due to uneven lowering rates. A sudden shock load on a rope in excess of the design shock lod of the rope in question would cause it to break. This would result in the boat being suspended vertically from the remaining sound rope and spilling the survivors 70 feet downward into the sea. if these passengers had been deprived of their lifejackets, they had no personal lifesaving aids. That is of course, if any of them survived the fall.
Here's a wee probablity consideration for you: What are the proibablilties that due to the boat swinging and twisting round the remaining rope causes that rope to part and allowing the boat to fall on top of all those lifejacket-less unfortunates in the water directly below it?

I have to say that the rest of your ideas are totally impractical and the probability of them ever being successful is incalculable.