Titanic The Lifeboat Launching Sequence ReExamined


Dec 6, 2000
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The current issue of the THS C

The current issue of the THS Commutator (No. 155) contains an article titled "Lifeboat Launching Sequence", by George Behe, Tad Fitch and I.

It appears that, during the course of some rather drastic editing and cutting of the article to
make it fit into the space available in the
Commutator, that quite a lot of the text has been changed. Serious errors in wording, phraseology and punctuation have been introduced into the article and, in a few cases, historical errors have been added that did not appear in the original document. However, our logic for placing
boats in a certain sequence does appear to be largely intact.

We are sorry that the article does not read as well as we would have liked, and we welcome any questions the re-write may have caused. The
original version of the article will eventually appear at my web-site at some date in the future.


Bill Wormstedt
Tad Fitch
George Behe
 
May 8, 2001
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Bill, George, and Tad. I am saddened to learn (before receiving my copy) that several years worth of hard work had been butchered. It must be very disheartening. At least there is hope that we will be able to understand it in it's proper prospective on your web site, Bill. Thank you.
Sincerely.
Colleen
 

Mike Herbold

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Feb 13, 2001
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Bill:
How about posting it here in the ET Research section. Phil prints whatever you give him word for word, even if you spell wrong. Sorry to hear THS injured your contribution. I know how excited you guys were waiting for it to appear.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
Bill, I recieved my copy of the Commutator last Saturday. I found the article quite engaging and I'm sorry to hear it was in your words "butchered." I'll have to go over it some more when I have the time and keep my transcripts handy when I do so.

I would also be receptive to an unadulterated version if you and your co-authors care to publish it here. (Also my e-mail address is available through my profile if that's impractical.)

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 27, 2000
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While I, too, would love to see the original, I'm guessing that this might infringe on the copyright and the agreement with the THS Commutator people, even if they DID 'rearrange' it.

I've been through this sort of thing before.

I know it will be an excellent article, nonetheless, and am looking forward to getting my issue.

Best regards

Cook
 

John M. Feeney

Senior Member
Sep 20, 2000
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Bill (and George and Tad): Great to hear that this has finally hit the presses! Though it's also tragic to discover that it's been heavily bruised by the impact. :-(

I'll anticipate with great relish the arrival of the article on your web site. I know how hard you guys have worked on this piece, and as you know I've been eagerly looking forward to it for some time!

Kudos in advance on what I'm sure will be a splendid contribution from my highly esteemed colleagues.

Cheers,
John
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Dec 31, 2005
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Hello everyone,
How are all of you doing? Good I hope. Thank you for your kind words regarding our article. It was the product of a lot of hard work and research, and I hope that if nothing else, all of you find it interesting. Like Bill said, at some point in the future we will try to make the original version available in some capacity, but we are still exploring our options. Pat, it is good to hear from you again. By the way, how is your Beesley project coming along? John, thank you for your kind words regarding our research. I hope that you will enjoy the article, and as always, it is good to hear from you. I hope that this message finds all of you doing well.
All my best,
Tad Fitch
 
Nov 12, 2000
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Bill, George, Tad,

just wanted to add my congratulations. the content more than makes up for any editorial glitches. this is really an outstanding work of research and compilation. I can only imagine how many hours of pouring through the inquiries were required to pull all the data together.

all the best, Michael (TheManInBlack) T
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi!

I’d like to endorse the comments made, thanks very much Bill, Tad & George. Excellent research and well-written, logically laid-out. There seem one or two typos in the THS magazine, but nothing more that I can tell.

I welcome debate and research on this topic of lifeboat launchings; it has always struck me as funny that most book accounts stick rigidly to Mersey’s findings, reporting for example ‘boat 9 left at 1.20 a.m. with fifty-six people…’ Other shipwrecks we do not have such an order of launchings and I suspect that had Mersey’s commission not listed a table then other researchers would have come to different conclusions over time rather than merely repeat his findings. Britannic’s lifeboat launchings are vague in some aspects; we know roughly which boats went first (i.e. aft port, forward starboard or rough locations…) and a few boats we have exact times for, but no more than that.

It is refreshing to see three such well-reputed researchers working on the matter of Titanic’s lifeboat launch sequence. There is much fresh information and much food for thought. I thoroughly enjoyed the article and appreciate the effort it took. Many thanks for an excellent article again!
smile.gif


Best.

Mark.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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It occurs to me, that there is one thing in the Commutator article that *needs* to be corrected in public.

At the end of the published article, is a short list of names, with no explanation as to why they are there. This was our list of acknowledgements, and originally read:

The authors would like to thank the following people for contributing their own thoughts to us during the research phase of our lifeboat project:

Paul Quinn (for changing our minds regarding the launch order of #6 and #8); Chris Dohany (for his observations in general), Dave Billnitzer (for his
timely comments pertaining a number of key issues connected with Titanic's lifeboats) and John Pulos and Daniel Klistorner (for providing the Chambers
quote from the Lawrenceville Alumni Bulletin).
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Dec 31, 2005
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Dear Michael and Mark,
Thank you very much for your kind words regarding our article and research. It did take a lot of hard work, and I am glad to see that you enjoyed it and found it interesting. I am glad that Bill posted the acknowledgements as they were intended to have appeared in the Commutator, as we wanted to make sure those people get proper credit for their help, as we intended. Mark, I think that you are correct regarding the launch chart that was constructed during the British hearings. Many researchers and writers over the years seem to have adhered to or simply repeated Mersey's findings in that area, instead of critically examining the eyewitness accounts and forming their own conclusions from that.

On a seperate topic, have you ever written or considered writing anything regarding the Brittanic's lifeboats? I for one would be very interested in reading it if you have. I would like to know more about how the Brittanic's lifeboats were launched, even if the accounts relating to the Brittanic are much more vague and rare that those relating to the Titanic disaster. Hope this letter finds all of you doing well.
All my best,
Tad Fitch
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Tad!

<FONT COLOR="119911">Mark, I think that you are correct regarding the launch chart that was constructed during the British hearings. Many researchers and writers over the years seem to have adhered to or simply repeated Mersey's findings in that area, instead of critically examining the eyewitness accounts and forming their own conclusions from that.

It is unfortunate, yes. Personally, I believe Mersey's findings essentially regarding the starboard boats, but not so much the port boats or the after port boats. I agree that collapsible #C went at 2 a.m., one reason including Mrs. Carter and her husband leaving her to get in to #C; I agree that the aft port boats were lowered in a different order to Mersey's findings; and I do think that lifeboat #8 may have left before #6.

In a work about the Olympics, I did give some detail of Titanic's sinking and departed from Mersey's findings in several areas - #C, #8 and #6 and aft port boats. The most notable is the aft port boats; I wish that I had more time to discuss this, as it's a topic of special interest to me, but I had considered a possible order of #10, #16, #14 and #12 (the last three, particularly #14 and #12, almost at the same time). As I know you agree, nothing is certain in this area and I am sure researchers will enjoy debates about it for a long time.

<FONT COLOR="119911">...have you ever written or considered writing anything regarding the Britannic's lifeboats? I for one would be very interested in reading it if you have.

I did go into some detail about the sinking in my Olympic class work, including the lifeboats, which is still with a publisher at the moment, and I wrote as much as I could. In my introduction thread, I am posting further developements. (You may find the Britannic Report thread in the Other shipwrecks folder -- a large thread, about 150 posts -- of interest if you haven't seen it, there are some lengthy discussions there as well as the -- I think -- July archive of my intro. thread).

<FONT COLOR="119911">I would like to know more about how the Britannic's lifeboats were launched, even if the accounts relating to the Britannic are much more vague and rare that those relating to the Titanic disaster.

Indeed, I've only come across twelve accounts from the entire ship! One deals with her voyages in detail but has little about the sinking. Some contradict and that is awkward because we don't always have enough extra testimony to balance a conclusion. For me the most striking point was that despite a fast-moving ship for much of the time, in thirty minutes with a heavy list thirty-five boats were lowered safely. That's even with isolated examples of panic aboard. Even five minutes before the end, a Welin-davit's lifeboat was lowered safely, despite being overloaded and the ship almost about to roll over. Just as it left water washed over the starboard bridge and Captain Bartlett walked into the sea. Have you done a Britannic biography on your shipping website? (It is your website isn't it -- last time I asked someone about a website I thought was theirs and it turned out to be someone else's! :))

Best regards,

Mark.
 

Ben Holme

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Feb 11, 2001
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Hmmm...sounds increasingly like I should consider applying for THS membership. It somehow seems more time/cost-effective than ordering endless back issues that take four months to arrive!

Seriously, I'm very glad that you gentleman have decided to tackle this subject as I have always been fascinated by anything lifeboat-related. I'm especially eager to read your viewpoint regarding the launching sequence of the aft port boats. I have no doubt that you have done justice to it, and sincerely hope I manage to pick up a copy in the near futre.

Congratulations in advance!

Regards,
Ben
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Dec 31, 2005
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Dear Mark,
That is pretty amazing that the Brittanic's crew was able to launch so many of its lifeboats in such a short period of time, particularly with the list and the ship still steaming ahead. That says much for the new safety measures in place after the Titanic's sinking, as well as to the affectiveness of the Brittanic's crew as a whole during the sinking. The Titanic's crew was not able to launch the few lifeboats that it did have over a much longer period of time, Collapsible A and B floated off as they were being readied for launch. It is a shame that the press did not provide better coverage to the Brittanic's sinking, it would have provided a more valuable historical record, exaggerations and alterations by reporters and all. I think that the website that you are referring to is actually Bill Wormstedt's website, although I have helped him with one section on that. It has quite a few interesting articles and tidbits on it.

Ben, I would definitely recommend joining the THS. The Commutator alone makes it worthwhile. Their have been and will continue to be some fascinating articles and information published in there, and most of it represents original research or topics. Well, I hope that all of you are doing well and I will talk to you soon.
All my best,
Tad Fitch
 
Jan 5, 2001
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Hi Tad!

It is amazing that Britannic’s crew performed so well under pressure and such conditions. Another good explanation, or rather part of an explanation, is Captain Bartlett’s legendary safety-consciousness; I have personally seen his accounts of lifeboat drills aboard the ship and from survivors it is clear that they were both a very regular and very thorough occurrence. The number of lifeboats lowered in some drills was extraordinary! Both Welin and gantry-davit boats were thoroughly-tested and the two motorboats (from the forward pair of the aft gantry davits on the boat deck) also featured prominently.

<FONT COLOR="119911"> It is a shame that the press did not provide better coverage to the Britannic’s sinking, it would have provided a more valuable historical record,

Yes, it is. There was some pretty reasonable coverage but survivor accounts were lacking and even that coverage mostly covered the angle of the ‘evil’ German submarines and conspiracy theories! Of course, the British viewpoint was always correct. : - )

It may have been Bill’s page —- another faux pas on my behalf!

I’d like to second your comments about the THS, it is relatively expensive but considering the quality of material you get it is more than worth it.

Best regards,

Mark.
 
Dec 6, 2000
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Dec 8, 2000
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Thanks Bill. As someone who only picks up the occasional Commutator secondhand, I appreciate the access to your combined work on this - that, and that it's the updated version too, reflecting even more work since the article's original publication.