Standard wooden vs Collapsible lifeboat


Arun Vajpey

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I would like to know how the Englehardt Collapsible lifeboat of the type carried by the Titanic compared with the standard wooden lifeboats in terms of storage space, readiness to launch and reliability on the sea if used.

The reason I ask is to know whether it was practically possible to have an all collapsible lifeboat component on the Olympic class of ships.

I don't know if it is true or not but when Alexander Carlisle proposed 48 lifeboats on board the Olympic class of ships, White Star rejected it because so many lifeboats would take up too much space which otherwise could be used (and was) as promenade areas for the passengers. If they had considered using 48 Englehardt Collapsible lifeboats instead (perhaps slightly larger designs to increase capacity), would they have taken up less storage space? Also, if crew were trained specifically for such boats including raising canvas sides etc, could they be launched within the same timeframe as wooden boats and be as safe once adrift as their standard wooden counterparts?
 
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Bob_Read

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It would not be possible to have all collapsible boats because it would violate Board of Trade regulations. The required cubic foot capacity of boats under davits was limited to standard wooden boats of different “section” classifications. The collapsibles were really considered a supplemental auxiliary boat. I wrote an article about lifeboat capacity which contains the regulations here: http://www.titanic-cad-plans.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Titanics-Lifeboat-Capacity.pdf
 
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I don't know if it is true or not but when Alexander Carlisle proposed 48 lifeboats on board the Olympic class of ships, White Star rejected it because so many lifeboats would take up too much space which otherwise could be used (and was) as promenade areas for the passengers.

Unfortunately that is one of the non dying made up myths. Carlisle did believe that the Olympic Class should carry at last 48 boats but never expressed it. All he did during the meetings was that he showed a plan of the welin david set and mentioned that each of it could carry 4 boats. When he retired on 30th June 1910 there was still no decision made about the number of lifeboats the ship should carry.
For Promenade there was still enough space and they also had the other decks as A Deck and B Deck (which was not much used on Olympic and therefore removed for larger 1st class cabins on Titanic).
 

Arun Vajpey

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It would not be possible to have all collapsible boats because it would violate Board of Trade regulations.

Understood but what I am asking is assuming that the BoT regs allowed it, would it be practically safe to carry 48 Englehardt Lifeboats and if so, would they have occupied less storage space?
 
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Bob_Read

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Hi Arun. That’s a big assumption because they were essentially a glorified raft. Carrying 48 collapsibles would be no problem with arranging 48 boats with double acting davits. You could position one boat under the davits and another two one atop the other inboard of the first two. That would add up to 48 boats. I wouldn’t want to be in one in anything other than a calm sea. They don’t have sails either so your only means of propulsion is rowing.
 
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Bob_Read

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Here’s the bigger question: Were the collapsibles strong enough to hold a capacity load of 47 while suspended from the falls? If not, you would need a plan to do additional loading while waterborne from gangway doors. The crew of Titanic managed to launch 18 boats before the ship sank. How are 48 boats going to help? What they lacked more than sufficient lifeboats was a comprehensive plan and a well trained crew to launch them.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I understand what you are saying Bob. In a sense, I am not asking about the BoT regs as they existed, not the comparison between the actual wooden and collapsible lifeboats of the day. What I really want to know is whether the concept of an all-collapsible lifeboat system be possible? Obviously, that would mean a change to BoT rules, larger collapsible boat designs and appropriate crew training. But in theory at least, would that have been possible without compromising safety if the lifeboats needed to be used?
 
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Bob_Read

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The reason the BoT put collapsibles at the lowest classification was safety. As Section E boats, they do not have the quality and safety of a Section A boat like the 30 ft boats. It is certainly possible to install them exclusively on board the ship but at what cost in terms of a compromise in safety? What advantages would they offer other than being cheaper?
 
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Cam Houseman

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Understood but what I am asking is assuming that the BoT regs allowed it, would it be practically safe to carry 48 Englehardt Lifeboats and if so, would they have occupied less storage space?
Hi Arun. In the '97 movie, Collapsible A and B look like the other lifeboats. (Watch where they push A and B over on YouTube) Is this accurate?
 

Cam Houseman

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It would not be possible to have all collapsible boats because it would violate Board of Trade regulations. The required cubic foot capacity of boats under davits was limited to standard wooden boats of different “section” classifications. The collapsibles were really considered a supplemental auxiliary boat. I wrote an article about lifeboat capacity which contains the regulations here: http://www.titanic-cad-plans.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Titanics-Lifeboat-Capacity.pdf
Hi Bob. I'm wondering, was the reddish color for the Gunwale on the lifeboats in the '97 film correct? Have a nice day, and thanks!
 

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