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Titan Raft

Discussion in 'Lifeboats general' started by Georges G., Mar 21, 2017.

  1. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    It is anchored in the people’s mind that Titanic total lifeboat capacity was insufficient or for something like 1,084 passengers, thus short of 1,116 «seats». The numbers of seats were probably calculated from the lifeboat «linear» room availability, something like a mere 11 inches per seat. If a seat would’ve been occupied by two passengers, a man seated on the side bench or thwart and a women or children on his knee, the problem of lifeboats capacity couldn’t have been resolved?

    Number of lifeboats x seat capacity = Total passenger capacity
    (14 x 65) + (2 x 47) + (2 x 40) = 1,084

    1,084 x 2 = 2,200 passengers!

    We would need to amend our paradigm from «seat capacity» to «weight capacity». Here some calculations;

    We have;

    number of lifeboats x length(ft) x breadth(ft) x depth(ft) x seat capacity(#)
    14 x 30’ x 9’ x 4’ x 65#
    2 x 28’ x 8’ x 3’ x 47#
    2 x 25’ x 7’ x 3’ x 40#

    Which give a loading capacity of;

    number x length(m) x breadth(m) x {depth(m) x 50% freeboard} x coefficient block x salt water density = loading capacity
    14 x 9.1 x 2.7 x {(1.2 x 0.5)} x 0.8 x 1,025 = 169,000kg
    2 x 8.5 x 2.4 x {(1.0 x 0.5)} x 0.8 x 1,025 = 17,000kg
    2 x 7.6 x 2.1 x {(1.0 x 0.5)} x 0.8 x 1,025 = 13,000kg
    For a total loading capacity of = 200,000kg

    One passenger weight in 1912 approx 130lbs or 60kg
    60kg x 2,200 passengers = 132,000kg

    Loading Capacity reserve;
    200,000kg - 132,000kg = +68,000kg at +/- 50% freeboard!

    In theory, it seems that the total lifeboats loading capacity was over that it needed to save everyone! The lifeboat depth of 1.0 - 1.2m was probably calculated to have a remaining safe freeboard, at maximum lifeboat seat capacity and in a Beaufort Sea state scale around 4-5. But that fateful night the sea was «oily» calm, so we could reduce the freeboard safely.
    The order would be to load the lifeboats on a Family First and then, on a first come first served basis, to assure sufficient man power. As soon as the lifeboats were cleared away, filled or not, to bring them all together at swimming distance. Once shoulder, securely fasten up the lifeboats together with ropes to create a gigantic and stable rescue raft. Transfer passengers to the center of the raft on a weight capacity basis (pile up) to free up space at the perimeter.

    After all boats cleared away, rig the Jacob’s ladders or knotted lifelines along the shipside so to permit for a while… to descend instead of jumping. The chaos would settle, the remaining passengers would jump as they did anyway, but all could try to swim a short distance to reach the raft. There would not be any serious danger to capsize the nearby raft, as the lifeboats would’ve been made fast together. At the end, they could’ve row the raft some distance away.

    The abandon ship and rescue exercise would’ve been obviously chaotic, but I am positive that much more life would have been saved. All… definitively not. Regrettably, I don’t think the technique of building such a raft was really known then. If they had known, they would’ve tried …
  2. "What's done can't be undone." - William Shakespeare.
  3. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    An ideal, Georges but totally impractical.

    Passengers come in all shapes, sizes and sexes. There would also have been a goodly number of the elderly and infirm. The super raft would have had to have been constructed during the time the ship was sinking and would have taken a considerable time to organise.. they had under two hours to marshal the boats and people, during which the ship was sinking.

    You must also keep in mind that all rescue craft were being directed to a position which was 12+ miles to the eastward of where Titanic sank. If the navigation of Carpathia had been even mediocre, she and every other potential rescue ship would have headed for the wrong side of the ice. The survivors in lifeboats would have been invisible to their potential rescuers. By dawn the wind had risen from the North and was strong enough to create a chop which caused one of the heavier loaded lifeboats to steer into the seas to avoid shipping water. Just think how difficult it would have been to turn all these boats bow-on to the sea. There is also the absolute certainty that the wind would have continued to rise as the barometer fell and the swell would have returned as would the seas.
  4. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    If one of the boats began to flood because of overcrowding or no plug in the boat, would the swamping of one lifeboat cause a chain reaction and pull the other boats down with it?

  5. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    "What’s known to be done will have to be done." – Coast Guard

    My thread intended to demonstrate an alternative mean of survival than the ones we have the chance to read, such as making rafts with doors or table on top of lifebelts or tire inner tubes!
  6. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    Jim, even on a brand new passenger vessel, equipped with the state of the art safety gears along with certified and trained crew and top gun rescuers, there will always be casualties. Please, I do hope that an ordinary seaman can make fast a lifeboat to another one by means of manila ropes. If they needed to keep the bow-on to the sea, they just had to use their sea anchor. If Carpathia could locate a lonely lifeboat, I’m pretty assured that she would locate a super raft...

    I am confident that the exercise would’ve saved much more passengers than their 711 record…
  7. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    You might not be aware that the lifeboats were integrated by buoyancy tanks made of 18 oz. copper to meet the Board of Trade requirements. Those air-watertight thanks were inserted all the way around the side benches, under the thwarts and in both ends like fore and after peaks. If I am right, you would not be able to sink a lifeboat with all its full recommended capacity. I think that the lifeboats were more unsinkable than her mother ship!
  8. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    Well, I'm always a bit skeptical of "what if" ways to save the people. After all, if we can go back in time and change things, why not just avoid hitting the iceberg?

    I think the others here are likely right - the waters were calm, but if they became choppy, then one boat might flood, pulling down all the others one after the the other, much like Titanic herself with her watertight compartments. I also would point out, that they did lash life boats together, transferring passengers from one to the other, so the concept was not unknown.

    The big thing that I would point out is that this plan requires a lot of coordination and logistics - which are very difficult to come by on a sinking ship - precisely the reason they conduct drills and training. Your plan requires the lifeboats come back, yet they were already expected to that night and did not. Many of the people were afraid to get into the boats, which was one of the major reasons the boats went down half empty to begin with. There would also be the dreadful troubles of navigating the super raft close to the Titanic (what if the suction from the Titianic pulled the super-raft down? This was a primal fear created among the passengers, and one of the major reasons the life boats didn't come back). then you must transfer the passengers into the super-raft, a few at a time.

    That's where this becomes very difficult logistically. Some of the boats didn't even get off until the ship was basically sunk. One of them was upside down. Are these going to make it into the super-raft, and if so, are you going to wait until you can round up these boats, tie them into the raft before you begin rescuing passengers? Because by then, it's already going to be 1:45-2:00 am and you've got only 30 minutes at best to load a thousand people into a haphazard raft of of a sloping and sinking deck. And if the ship rolls over (as was feared) or suctions the raft down, or a funnel falls (which did happen) on the raft, then you've lost everyone.

    And you've got to get hundreds of people to agree to this in 2 hours, while the ship is sinking, and many don't understand that the ship is sinking. (Actually less time, because you have to start the whole plan before the first lifeboat is lowered)
  9. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Only if the super raft fired green signals.
  10. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Oh! I nearly forgot.
    Sea anchors would serve for a very short space of time then all hell would be let loose
    Your super raft would have been totally dynamic in that in any type of sea, every single part of it would be attempting to pitch, roll and yaw at different intervals, some of it in direct opposition.
    The manila painter which could withstand such punishment for any length of time would need to have the shock-load strength of a mooring rope. As soon as the first painter parted, many more would do likewise thereafter. Before this happened, the already overloaded boats at the front of the raft would have shipped so much water that the gunwales would be awash. Then he center boats with no sea anchors would broach to and probably capsize, dumping people without life jackets into the water.
  11. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    If you're going to talk about mooring lines parting, be sure to mention snap-back. (i.e. imagine a giant rubber band stretched too far so that it snaps - release enough energy to cut a man in two.)
  12. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Too true. Tim. You would hardly believe the injuries I have seen in my time as a result of just such an event. Think how much more horrific the results after they started using steel wire springs instead of all manila moorings. on one occasion I had to stand on a man's hand to pull out a strand of steel from a broken back spring. At the other extreme, The Chief Officer of a ship moored on the river Clyde physically 'lost his head'.
  13. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    The RN were still using wire ropes long after the rest of the world skipped them. I used to dread working the focsle part of ship and getting detailed by the Leading Hand to work the fore-spring. Captain's always loved springing off the fore-spring and of course, being wire, three hands would have to back it up to prevent it surging on the bollards. In my time as a young seaman I only had one wire let go while I was working it. Bloody frightening but you had a bit of warning as the wire would 'sing'. The new, modern man made fibre springs are a lot tougher but don't give you any warning when they are about to part.
  14. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    Every lifeboat was equipped with a sea anchor. So you could set at least 5 to 7 sea anchors from the forward raft. You would need quite a fresh breeze to part them all. During most of the time, the weather was dead calm. A gentle to moderate breeze lifted early in the morning just prior rescue. Again, would the officers and crew sit down for hours doing nothing? They would’ve had ample time to double up the lines, to place some lifejackets as fenders, etc. Some were seaman, no?
  15. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    We have to apply reality to this, Georges. You have to keep in mind that for the first half hour or so the crew had the devil's job persuading people to actually get on board any lifeboat. Additionally, although, Carpathia was on the way, there was no guarantee she would find the survivors before the weather turned nasty. I think i mentioned elsewhere, that it was only by the grace of God,, Boxhall's green flares and bad navigation that they were found in time.

    A fresh breeze would do it, Georges, but I'm not just thinking of that. If a swell set up, which it very often does ahead of a Low, these individual boats would get a lot of motion in them. Lines would start jerking and chaffing. In fact, there was quite a swell by the time the boats were being picked up by Carpathia titanic-lifeboat-6.jpg .

    The above is a standard lifeboat with capacity for 65 people. At a guess I'd say there were about 20 to 25 people on that one. If it were loaded to double it's capacity, it would need to take on board another 105 people. That being the case, survivors would hardly be able to breath, let alone work lines. Titanic had 16 such boats with capacity of 1040 souls not all of whom would get a seat.
  16. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    Jim, the crew might’ve had a devil's job persuading people to get on board lifeboats while the band was playing, but I can tell you that when they had their foot wet, they all jumped over the side. That done, thousands of people had nothing to hang to. If there would’ve been a stable raft closed by, chances of rescuing much more people would’ve been probable, but I must admit, less comfortable.

    You seem to prefer to «Flight» on an empty lifeboat in a moderate breeze, being rock comfortably by small waves of a 1-4 feet significant height in a slight sea like in your picture rather than «Fight» to rescue as much people as you could via a rescue raft? They did not fight for it because they did not know the technique by then.

    I repeat again that the thread intended to demonstrate an alternative mean of survival rather than the ones we have the chance to read, such as making rafts with doors or table on top of lifebelts or car tire inner tubes!
  17. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    An alternative is one which gives an even choice between two practical possibilities. Reality is the alternative to fantasy.

    If there had been such a raft as you describe, and all the boats were loaded as you describe, and the sea remained calm, then there would have been no need for people without life jackets to jump over the side and get wet.

    Georges, 4 feet, short, steep seas in a small boat with vomiting passengers is not "being rocked comfortably". Your should try it on the North Sea or the Scottish Minches... I have done so on many an occasion.

    While it would have been fine to create the raft you describe, such a project requires pre-planning, a properly trained crew and an occasion when the sea conditions are perfect.
    Such training would only be effective in perfect conditions. How often do you think such conditions occur on the New York run?

    Even if the crew had been trained to make such a monster, there was no time to organize such a mammoth task. Not only that, but to embark 65 people from a height of 50 to 70 feet above the sea using the 1912 method was an absolute no-no for even the most experienced of seamen. Only when time was running out was that done; then, all caution was thrown to the winds. Things had reached the desperation stage.
    This means that no more than 50 in each boat could safely be loaded and launched from the davits. After that, the remaining survivors had to be embarked and then the grossly overloaded boats would need to be mustered and formed into a raft while loaded to the gunwales with over 120 people each.

    However,don't let me put you off. I suggest you run this idea past the SAR teams and get their reactions.
  18. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    Jim, that's exactly where the idea comes from ! Thanks ... ;)
  19. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Not the idea of a raft, Georges. Rafting-out was was put into practice a very long time ago. In fact I sailed on a ship that had pre-constructed rafts which doubled as promenade seats for the passengers. I'm sure that SAR meant rafting such as was done by 5th Officer Lowe. What I meant was for you run past them the ideas for a Titan Raft and the scenario you describe here, giving the time scale available and the numbers involved.
  20. Georges G.

    Georges G. Member

    The Titan Raft in assemblage process’s. It looks so stable that you can even stand up on the thwarts!