Why bother lowering lifeboats at all?


Steve Butcher

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Apr 2, 2012
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Question: Since they knew the Titanic was going to sink anyway, why bother lowering the lifeboats at all? Just have everyone climb into them while in the davits, and have a seaman w/ a knife in each one. When the water level finally rises to where the lifeboat is, just slice the ropes and let the boats gently float away. They did this basically with the collapsible rafts since there was no time to get them off the roof. The passengers would have stayed calmer too if the boats were left in the davits. They could have BS'ed them and said "don't worry, we are just going to sit in the boat until we are sure it's safe to get back on the main ship."

Without having to waste all that time actually lowering lifeboats, they could have used the little time they had more productively, like making rafts out of mattresses and the inner tubes from all the Model T Fords that were in the cargo hold.

Also, I wonder if there was any chance they could have removed the engine from one of the Model T ford cars and quickly rigged up a makeshift outboard motor for lifeboat #1 (the smaller emergency cutter). It's not as crazy as it sounds since Model T engines were used to power tractors, bandsaws, aircraft, and all sorts of farm equipment. If they had a power motor like that on one of the lifeboats, it could have quickly made it to Californian and told them of the emergency. Model T's could do 45 mph, so if Californian was 10 miles away they would have made it there in like 15 minutes.
 

Kyle Naber

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Oct 5, 2016
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I like your thought process, but in actuality, this would have been disastorious. In the final moments, after the break, the rising stern would literally flip the aft boats completely upside down, over the side etc. and even if the vessel hadn't broken in two, the acceleration of the sinking would create such an impact on the water, that he boats would have been torn to shreds.
 

Steve Butcher

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Apr 2, 2012
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I like your thought process, but in actuality, this would have been disastorious. In the final moments, after the break, the rising stern would literally flip the aft boats completely upside down, over the side etc. and even if the vessel hadn't broken in two, the acceleration of the sinking would create such an impact on the water, that he boats would have been torn to shreds.

Yes, but they could have counterflooded the other compartments so that it would have sunk nice and level. A lot of people think counterflooding would have kept them afloat until even the Carpathia arrived. Also if they could have rigged up an improvised outboard motor for the cutter by scavenging an engine from a Model T ford, they'd have easily made it to the Californian in probably 15 minutes and woken up Col. Lord and gotten him over there to rescue them. In that millpond ocean that night the Model T powered cutter would have literally flown across the water, esp, with a small crew of three guys. One for lookout, one to steer and do the motor, and another for backup. With that little weight and a Model T engine they would have eaten up that distance in no time.

I seriously wonder why no one thought to have gasoline outboard motors on at least half the lifeboats from the get-go. Today I think all lifeboats have pretty big engines and all sorts of amenities. Titanic's company was so stingy they didn't even have ENOUGH lifeboats and the few they had were pretty spartan. They wasted plenty of money on other nonsense luxury items that's for sure.
 
Mar 12, 2011
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Yes, but they could have counterflooded the other compartments so that it would have sunk nice and level. A lot of people think counterflooding would have kept them afloat until even the Carpathia arrived.
A lot of people are misinformed. Testing a Titanic model in a tank shows that she sinks faster with the watertight doors open, for one. For another, she lacked the pumping capacity to move ballast fast enough to make a difference. Also, I'm not even sure the watertight doors could be rigged to remain open. It's my understanding that the watertight doors were equipped with a float at the tank top level that would trigger them to close if lifted. I don't know if it was feasible to disable that mechanism, but I highly doubt it.

Also if they could have rigged up an improvised outboard motor for the cutter by scavenging an engine from a Model T ford, they'd have easily made it to the Californian in probably 15 minutes and woken up Col. Lord and gotten him over there to rescue them.

This is pure fantasy. Besides, there wasn't enough time for Californian to get there and do much more than pick a few half dead people out of the water.

I seriously wonder why no one thought to have gasoline outboard motors on at least half the lifeboats from the get-go

Because nobody envisioned a large ship needing to use it's lifeboats for anything other than ferrying passengers to another nearby ship
 
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Steve Butcher

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Also, to this day it bugs me why they bother having life jackets for everyone? Granted most cruises today are in warm waters like Carribean etc, but I think it makes a lot more sense to give everyone an inner tube. It would take up less storage space since it could be stored deflated, and there could be air nozzles all around the deck to quickly inflate them in case of emergency (powered by a big central air compressor).

The life jackets on Titanic were worthless since the freezing water would kill you anyway. There was hardly any point in even having them at all on the N. Atlantic where water is always cold. A nice inner tube you could just sit in and only get your buttocks wet, and since it's a fatty area it wouldn't be that bad. Probably 70% more people would have lived if they had inner tubes instead of "life" jackets. Plus by roping a bunch of them together and then throwing a dining table top on them, you'd have a pretty decent raft. Overall a much more useful tool than a stupid cork "life" jacket that results in 95% of your body being immersed in freezing water.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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Also, to this day it bugs me why they bother having life jackets for everyone?

That were the rules, without them they would have not been allowed to sail (or any other ship).

Granted most cruises today are in warm waters like Carribean etc, but I think it makes a lot more sense to give everyone an inner tube. It would take up less storage space since it could be stored deflated, and there could be air nozzles all around the deck to quickly inflate them in case of emergency (powered by a big central air compressor).

The life jackets on Titanic were worthless since the freezing water would kill you anyway. There was hardly any point in even having them at all on the N. Atlantic where water is always cold. A nice inner tube you could just sit in and only get your buttocks wet, and since it's a fatty area it wouldn't be that bad.

Such tubes did not existed back then. What was tested after the sinking were a special life jacket which was more like a jacket and should keep the swimmer afloat and warm. I know it was tested in May 1912 but can not remember the results. Also it was not in use (see the sinking of the Lusitania, where they had the normal lifebelts and most people died of hypothermia).
 

robert warren

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Feb 19, 2016
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Just to clarify there were no Model Ts in the cargo hold.The only car was a red Renault that belonged to Mr Carter in 1st class.This was stored in a compartment that would have been among the first to flood. By then there was not a snowballs chance in hell anyone would have been able to use any mechanics from the car for anything.I would like to know who told Mr Butcher there were Model Ts on the Titanic???
 

robert warren

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One of the most terrifying things about being on a sinking ship is not knowing what happens from one minute to the next. You could be standing on an even keel and 10 seconds later you and hundreds of others are thrown into the water as the ship lurches on its side.Or a fire suddenly out of control or any number of mishaps.Can you imagine how much more tragic things would have been if the lights went out halfway through the evacuation.The Lusitania was on her side sinking within 15 minutes after being opened up to the sea.Having passengers get into the lifeboats and wait for the ship to sink is an interesting thought.However that would be like telling people in a burning building to get under the ceiling sprinkler.When the fire gets closer, it will set it off, everyone will get wet and immune to getting burned.
 

Stephen Carey

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Apr 28, 2016
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Getting an engine out of a car and making a makeshift outboard motor?? Come on - I was 18 years at sea as a marine engineer and there is no way you carry the equipment or skills to do that sort of thing even on a ship that isn't sinking. A "Scrapyard Challenge" on a sinking ship is not the time to start thinking out of the box, either.
As for the rubber rings - don't know about you but a rubber ring is difficult to get into, and tends to chuck you out in anything other than a flat calm. With hundreds of people in the water grabbing at you for a handhold means you wouldn't last long, and the water temperature at the time was warmer than the air temperature. They blow away in a wind, and as for a compressor with air lines on deck.... Sorry Steve, but none of your ideas would wash in a real situation, but nothing wrong with airing them!
 

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