Standing room only


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Paul Lee

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Hi all,
Sorry if this is in the wrong place - it didn't seem appropriate anywhere else (not even "Which lifeboat") - anyway, the mods can move it if they see fit
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I see numerous references in survivor's accounts that they had to stand in the lifeboats; e.g., I recall Ruth Becker saying that their lifefboat was so full,. there was standing room only. Surely allowing people to stand in a lifeboat is a very stupid thing to do? This would raise the centre of gravity, make the boat highly unstable and prone to tipping over!

Anyone got a view on this?

Cheers

Paul

 
Jun 11, 2000
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Hello, Paul.
Don't have a place to move this at the moment - but you never know. If we do move it, you will all be told though. So no worries.
What you raise is an odd business. If you look at photos of the lifeboats arriving at the Carpathia, none looks as though any would have been standing room only. Or maybe I've missed some pictures....
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Anyone got a view on this?<<

Only that they were lucky that all this happened in a flat calm. According to This Article Ruth Becker was one of 47 people known to have been saved in lifeboat 13. As this was one of the big 65 person boats, I'm wondering if they ended up picking up some people along the way or if the boat she was in was correctly identified. Be that as it may, towards the end, the officers were less reluctant to load the boats with as many people as would come along. Taking to the boats was at least a sporting chance of survival whilst remaining with the ship offered an outcome that was as near to a dead certainty as you could get...with the emphisis on "dead."

It may have been dicey, but they did what they had to do.
 

Paul Lee

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I would say it was a bloody stupid thing to do! With the boats being lowered, in some cases, in a series of jerks, it wouldn't have taken much to upset the whole boat!

Cheers

Paul

 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>I would say it was a bloody stupid thing to do!<<

Some of the officers may well have agreed with you as well. If Cdr. Lightoller's testimony is on the level in this regard, that was why they didn't have the boats fully loaded when they were lowered. Still, when the only choices you have are between "really bad" and "way worse," you do what you have to in order to avoid "way worse" and that's exactly what they tried to do.
 
Jun 12, 2004
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Michael, supposedly the boats were tested with the weight of a full load beforehand, just to ensure that the boats wouldn't buckle, and I presume that the lifeboat(s) passed the test(s) in flying colors. Perhaps (as I've read) the officers hadn't known this, but presumably Andrews did. Did he at all inform the captain and officers that the lifeboats could be lowered safely at full capacity, as depicted in Cameron's movie? It has been suggested that the reason the earlier boats (such as LB 1 lowered with a grand total of 12) lowered at less than full capacity wasn't that the officers hadn't been aware of the previous test results, but because many people (passengers) had complacently decided not to go. Anywho, regardless of whether or not the officers actually knew that the lifeboats could be lowered at full capacity, there was more that they safely could have done, and there is obviously evidence of this:

(1) the test results
(2) the fact that later boats were lowered at full capacity (and quickly, I might add, since the pressure was on) and made it safely to the water.

I am not putting blame on the officers, as that's pointless at this time, but I am asserting that, despite Lightoller's testimony, more could have safely been done regarding the lowering of the lifeboats. It may have been stupid to pile in people (considering the possibility of the boat tipping over was a real threat), especially when chaos reigned on board during the later hours, but 47 out of 65 is unnecessarily undercutting it a bit, don't you think? You can safely load a boat to, or near to, its full capacity without the threat of the boat tipping over. As said, the evidence showed this to be true.

By the way, don't worry--I'm not arguing or challenging you, hehe. I am only curious about the points I've made. I do intend to read Lightoller's entire testimony to see exactly what he said. It's definitely an important read. You have twenty-odd years experience on the sea, so I wanted to know your response to this.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Did he at all inform the captain and officers that the lifeboats could be lowered safely at full capacity, as depicted in Cameron's movie?<<

I've no idea. Testimony to what Andrews said is extremely limited, may not be accurate, and he didn't live to speak for himself. Personally, I wouldn't be surprised at anything, especially miscommunications of important information like this. It's not like this sort of thing is not known to happen. Lightoller's testimony may well have been a dog and pony show intended to deflect hard questions about why the boats weren't fully loaded. (Which didn't work BTW ) Or it may have been an honest recollection and expression of his opinions on the matter. Boat operations are very dangerous even under the best of conditions. One of our own members...Captain Erik Wood...was nearly killed in a test that happened in port while tied to the pier. I can't say as I blame anyone for being skeptical of what the boats and davits could safely handle. All I can say is that you'll have to check Lightoller's testimony and judge for yourself.

>>but I am asserting that, despite Lightoller's testimony, more could have safely been done regarding the lowering of the lifeboats.<<

Quite right, it could have been done. Unfortunately, it wasn't until it was very late in the game. I'm not sanguine about being too judgemental of the people involved on this question. While armchair quarterbacking is part and parcel of historical research, it's a risky game to play. They may not have known what we do now, but we don't know all of what they knew or believed and why they held to the beliefs that they had.
 
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>>Boat operations are very dangerous even under the best of conditions.<<

Oh, I know. I almost toppled over in one myself once. It's very important to proceed with caution.


>>They may not have known what we do now, but we don't know all of what they knew or believed and why they held to the beliefs that they had.<<

The particular era would tend to reflect a difference in attitude and knowledge than any other, of course. It's easy for us to use hindsight and say "They should've done this, they should've done that..." We weren't there, and we have the benefit of a century's worth of learning and value change to work for us. That's not to mean that we should belittle the way things were done at that time, though. As you've pointed out in your own words: Things were different then. It is because of the Titanic that we have the attitudes and insights that we have now.

Thanks, Michael.
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Cornelius Thiessen

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I'm not positive about this but I think what Paul is referring to is Lightoller's lifeboat.I'm not sure of the number but it was one of the half swamped collapsibles, I believe it was Lightoller who had the survivors standing in the boat to correct its list, leaning to one side,then the other. They were all saved so maybe it was not an unwise move. Can someone verify for me if this was Lightoller's boat?
Thanks folks......
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>I'm not positive about this but I think what Paul is referring to is Lightoller's lifeboat.I'm not sure of the number but it was one of the half swamped collapsibles<<

That would have been Collapsible B. The boat Ruth Becker was in was Number 13. IIRC, one of the boats was known to be loaded beyond it's capacity, but it was one of the regular wooden lifeboats.
 
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I wonder if Mr. Andrews did tell the Captain and officers that the lifeboat could hold all 65?

If so, wouldn't the Captain have shouted to his second officer, "Cram them in, Mr. Lightoller!" when the latter was loading Boats 4, 6 and the others that were half filled.

I've read a few books (secondary sources) and the Toronto Star's account, and I'm confused if Captain Smith was within shouting distance of Lightoller when Boat 6 was lowered. (I mean, did Major Peuchen offer his yachtsman's services to the captain or to the second officer?)

Anyway, if Andrews told the captain, and the captain was overseeing the lowering of some of Lightoller's early departures, why didn't the captain order Lightoller to put more people into the boats?

Unless Mr. Lightoller was covering himself at the inquest for disobeying the captain's order, then Captain Smith did not give that order. Maybe the captain wasn't there and Major Peuchen was 'expanding' his story when he said he got Capt. Smith's permission to go into #6 when he really got only Lightoller's.

Maybe Lightoller (and Smith) did not believe Mr. Andrews' assertions. Or maybe Mr. Andrews did not make any assertions. Maybe he wasn't sure that the boats could be lowered with 65 squirming passengers inside. Mr. Murdoch did not fill his early boats to capacity either, did he?

Marilyn P.
 
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>>I mean, did Major Peuchen offer his yachtsman's services to the captain or to the second officer?<<

From what I've read, he offered himself to Lightoller. Supposedly, Puechen was the only male adult passenger that Lightoller go off port that night.


>> Maybe Lightoller (and Smith) did not believe Mr. Andrews' assertions. Or maybe Mr. Andrews did not make any assertions.<<

I doubt if they didn't believe them. After all, they believed him when he confirmed the ship was going to sink. Andrews was the 'big man on campus' when it came to the ship's accomodations--that's why he was there--so I'm sure the officers placed a lot of seriousness in his assertions. It is more likely that Andrews didn't say anything, at least not at first. It stands to reason that if actions went against the company findings, such as lifeboat loading, then it was due to Andrews not saying anything, because if Andrews had said anything, rest assured behavior would have been different than it had been. Perhaps Andrews thought the officers already knew, so he didn't feel the need to say anything right away. Who knows, really.


>> Maybe he wasn't sure that the boats could be lowered with 65 squirming passengers inside.<<

No, Andrews was sure about that. It was his job to know. He had taken part in the earlier testing. However, it's much different with 65 squirming passengers than 65 calm passengers, I think. Still, one would presume that Andrews, or at least Carlisle, would have kept that contingency in mind while testing the lifeboat loadings.


>>Mr. Murdoch did not fill his early boats to capacity either, did he?<<

No. The earlier boats on starboard were only partially filled. Lifeboats 11 through 15 were much more noticeably loaded near, or over, capacity.

As for why he didn't load the earlier boats to full capacity, it has been suggested that the circumstances weren't due necessarily to fear of the lifeboats buckling as it was to passenger complacency and unavailability. That coincides with Ismay's testimony that there was no one else on the boat deck at the time he entered Collapsible C. But that was in the later hours...
 

Paul Lee

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My own point of view is that Lightoller wasn't being especially truthful about filling the lifeboats. He adopted the women and children only rule (plus a few crewmen to man the boat), thereby sacrificing a couple of tens of other spaces when men were being turned away and - according to the US Ensquiry, stewardesses too.

It may be that when the final survivor tally came out, he realised that he could have saved more by placing more people in the boats.

Paul

 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>It may be that when the final survivor tally came out, he realised that he could have saved more by placing more people in the boats. <<

I suspect he realized this long befor the ship even went down. That would certainly explain why he was less reluctant to fill them later on. You may be right about the man being less then truthful about this later on. Not that he lied outright, but my read of his testimony tends to indicate that he wasn't about to say anything that would raise awkward questions later on if he could avoid it.
 
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>>he wasn't about to say anything that would raise awkward questions later on if he could avoid it.<<

From a seaman's POV, is this preferable or not preferable? Is it possible that he realized their mistakes and was merely covering his own hide? The question I have, though: Was it the right and responsible thing to do? I know that it's apples and oranges comparing our attitude with the attitude at that time, but the reason I ask is out of universal ethics. Even if they had made a mistake, wouldn't it have been ethical to admit that possibility, just so the situation could be investigated based on truth? Awkward or not, those questions are there for a reason (although I realized that Senator Smith, it was claimed, was not the most competent person to conduct such an Inquiry. Better reason for bringing the truth out). I'm sure he realized that his evasiveness would make him look even worse. I'm curious if he had been evasive (if he even had been at all) because he felt guilty or because that was a part of his training.

Again, I'm just wondering...
 
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I'm moving this to Which Lifeboat General thread. Mark - I think you're going to have to phrase your questions one by one. For one thing, there doesn't seem to be such a thing as "universal ethics" so it makes it a bit hard to respond.
 
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>>From a seaman's POV, is this preferable or not preferable?<<

In my opinion, preferable and for some damned good reasons. For one thing, these people linved in a day and age where blacklists were a reality so it was often wiser to avoid saying anything that could be percieved as embarrassing and/or disloyal.

Mariners tend not to trust investigating bodies as the people who conduct them are often what could be considered armchair admirals at best and clueless at worst. Yet even if they had no direct power of their own to threaten somebody's license, it's a certainty that they had the ear of those who did, and Lord Mersey was somebody who would be thought of today as "A hooked up guy." The sort of person who knew those people in high places that could trash a career with the stroke of a pen. When you have a livelihood and providing for your family to be concerned about, you tend to watch your step around people like that.

It's easy enough for us to bandy ethics about, but that doesn't put food on the table or a roof over one's head.

>>Is it possible that he realized their mistakes and was merely covering his own hide?<<

Yes, it's possible. Maybe not be provable, but it's possible. As to who was covering what...if any...you'll have to read their testimony and make your own judgement.
 
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Edward Moyer

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Did The Boats Have To Be Lowered With Few People ? Would The Davits 0f The Time Support The Weight Of 70 Some People ? Maby The Boats Were Never Filled After Lowering ? Before Titanic Boats Were Lowered With Out People Them. After The Boats Were In The Water They Would Have Been Filled .
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>Did The Boats Have To Be Lowered With Few People ?<<

No.

>>Would The Davits 0f The Time Support The Weight Of 70 Some People ?<<

Yes. This was verified by testing of both boats and davits befor the ship ever so much as got underway for her trials. This little factoid is the sticking point that tended to rub some people the wrong way from day one; They could have taken more people and they didn't. Investigators and researchers have been debating the "why" behind this ever since.


As to taking on people once in the water, they accomplished this in one of two ways: By transferring people from one boat to another or by fishing some people out of the water.

Maby The Boats Were Never Filled After Lowering ? Before Titanic Boats Were Lowered With Out People Them.<<

Errrr...no. People were loaded on from the boat deck and the boats were lowered, only partly full.

>>After The Boats Were In The Water They Would Have Been Filled .<<

Curiously enough, that was the stated plan. Pertly load the boats, then fill them all the way once in the water from one of the doorways in the hull. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out that way.
 
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>>For one thing, there doesn't seem to be such a thing as "universal ethics" so it makes it a bit hard to respond.<<

Sorry, Monica. I was referring to ethics in general. It obviously came out wrong.


>>armchair admirals at best and clueless at worst...The sort of person who knew those people in high places that could trash a career with the stroke of a pen. When you have a livelihood and providing for your family to be concerned about, you tend to watch your step around people like that.<<

LOL, you're talking about politicians, or at least bureaucrats. Yes, I know of them, all too well. If it wasn't for the fact that 'Big Brother' is watching, I would share further thoughts on that, so it's best I don't. Besides, there are women present, and I want to watch my language, hehe.


>>It's easy enough for us to bandy ethics about, but that doesn't put food on the table or a roof over one's head.<<

I hear you. Survival first.


>>Yes, it's possible. Maybe not be provable, but it's possible. As to who was covering what...if any...you'll have to read their testimony and make your own judgement.<<

Have started. It'll take a while to get through it, but I'm finding it very fascinating.


>>After The Boats Were In The Water They Would Have Been Filled...

Curiously enough, that was the stated plan. Pertly load the boats, then fill them all the way once in the water from one of the doorways in the hull. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out that way.<<

Originally, it was thought that Capt. Smith had ordered the boats, once in the water, to go to the D-Deck and E-Deck gangway doors to pick up people there, but they never seemed to follow that order, if it was ever, in fact, given.
 
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