Would More Lifeboats Have Been Worse?


Kyle Naber

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I already know that this is going to cause a firestorm, but here it goes: If there wasn't enough time to properly launch the 20 boats the Titanic had, then wouldn't even more be worse? If there were an extra row of boats inside the others, it would take more time to swing those out, convince people to get in, and launch them in time, not? The last two boats had to be floated off as the ship went down, and I think if there were more lifeboats, as funny as it may sound, more people would have perished. What do you think?
 

Gaston Sam

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I don't think time would much of an issue if the ship had enough ABs with their proper boatdrill training. Another thing is strategic launching order: it's clear the first boats to launch should the front ones, which in Titanic's case would be lifeboats 1 and 2, and the 4 collapsibles; followed by the aftermost boats starting with the last ones and working ahead, because the ship's descent would certainly make it difficult to launch these. But again, it's all a matter of getting things well organized and enough men to work, and that's certainly something you cannot improvise.
 
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I don't think time would much of an issue if the ship had enough ABs with their proper boatdrill training.
As there was a drill on every voyage the ABs were drilled, however some might have not work before with a welin davit. But as Pitman said it was much easier to work with welin then the old fashioned one. The available seamen would have been too less if the ship would have carry the 32 boats as it was mentioned to the BOT before they decided for the 16.
I do not think time was a big factor, they sure would have been able to launch a few more lifeboats (it seems work on the collapsible boats took a little more time especially with boat A & B). The more interesting question is how they would have filled the boats. As there would have been more boats they might have send several more half empty to the sea....

However the remaining boats could have cut free and could have been used as boats A & B.
 
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If the intent is to carry enough boats to actually act as lifeboats in the true sense of the word, then more boats of the kind they had would be of little value. Most vessels develop a list to one side or another in a damaged condition making the launching of lifeboats somewhat difficult under these conditions. The problem is in the design of the boats and the davits such that the number of boats under davits would be enough to take on the full complement of passengers without needing to put a second or third boat under the same pair of davits to be launched afterward, and to be able to launch them with a list up to a certain margin point. The other problem is having enough trained crew to launch and then work the boats once underway so that a controlled evacuation of the vessel could be done in a relatively short period of time before launching becomes impossible. Having a lifeboat drill would also be prerequisite so passengers would know where they are supposed to be should the need arise. The worse thing that could happen is a panic. About Titanic everyone talks about the lack of lifeboats for all, but the numbers saved were well below the capacity of the boats that they launched. If the primary goal was to save all women and children, then they failed miserably because they had no plan to implement such a procedure. There was enough boat capacity not only to save every women and child but every family member of those travelling together on that voyage.
 

Rob Lawes

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When you consider that the crew had around 2 hours (which they didn't really know at the time) in which to launch the boats, they prepared, filled and launched one boat every 13 minutes from each side.

That doesn't sound like a great deal but when you consider, apart from the small incident between boats 13 and 15 there were no issues and as far as I'm aware, not a single life lost due to a failure of the launch process, that is quite a remarkable achievement and testament to the skill and calm efficiency of the crew.
 

Jim Currie

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If the intent is to carry enough boats to actually act as lifeboats in the true sense of the word, then more boats of the kind they had would be of little value. Most vessels develop a list to one side or another in a damaged condition making the launching of lifeboats somewhat difficult under these conditions. The problem is in the design of the boats and the davits such that the number of boats under davits would be enough to take on the full complement of passengers without needing to put a second or third boat under the same pair of davits to be launched afterward, and to be able to launch them with a list up to a certain margin point. The other problem is having enough trained crew to launch and then work the boats once underway so that a controlled evacuation of the vessel could be done in a relatively short period of time before launching becomes impossible. Having a lifeboat drill would also be prerequisite so passengers would know where they are supposed to be should the need arise. The worse thing that could happen is a panic. About Titanic everyone talks about the lack of lifeboats for all, but the numbers saved were well below the capacity of the boats that they launched. If the primary goal was to save all women and children, then they failed miserably because they had no plan to implement such a procedure. There was enough boat capacity not only to save every women and child but every family member of those travelling together on that voyage.
For me, the biggest problem was the method of lowering the boats. The new davits were a great improvement. However the method of lowering was unchanged. It consisted of a man surging (slacking in jerks) a manila rope (fall) rove through a three part purchase, rove to advantage.
I reckon that the maximum design, regulation weight of 30 feet long wood boat, full of stores and equipment and loaded with 65 people would have been 7.3 long tons. By calculation, the strain on the hauling/lowering part of the lifeboat fall would therefore be 1.8 long tons. The safe working load of 4 inch diameter manila rope is 2.3 long Tons therefore if such lifeboat falls were supplied to Titanic, the boat could safely be loaded fully laded from any height. However, the breaking strength of 4 inch manila rope is 5.33 tons. Since the total weight to be carried was 7.3 tons, a sudden jerk on the fall would cause it break and spill the boat contents into the sea. This means that the rope must not experience a sudden load above, say, 5.25 tons. That being the case then the boat should not be initially loaded with any more than 39 people. Since it was designed to carry 65, this means that the loading of each boat, would take much longer that desired. More boats would simply compound the problem
 
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Aaron_2016

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Perhaps the answer can be found by examining the sinking of HMS Audacious in 1914. The Olympic came to the rescue and lowered her lifeboats. Did they lower all of the lifeboats and did they experience any difficulties as the number of crew needed to man each boat would mean that fewer and fewer were left aboard to take charge of each boat? Did they lower the boats simultaneously or did the crew have to wait for the officer in charge to give the order to lower each one as this would cause a delay? Lightoller said the crew do not wait for bells and whistles when there is an emergency. They just use their own intuition and experience to handle the situation to the best of their ability. Would this mean that if the officers of the Titanic were engaged with several boats, the other crew members (stewards and stokers) would take the responsibility themselves to fill and lower and take charge of the remaining lifeboats?


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When you consider that the crew had around 2 hours (which they didn't really know at the time) in which to launch the boats, they prepared, filled and launched one boat every 13 minutes from each side.

That doesn't sound like a great deal but when you consider, apart from the small incident between boats 13 and 15 there were no issues and as far as I'm aware, not a single life lost due to a failure of the launch process, that is quite a remarkable achievement and testament to the skill and calm efficiency of the crew.
Well for one. Lifeboat five was lowered unevenly. One sdie going down fast then the other. Life boat 14 was dropped four feet into the water after the falls jammed. And finally they forgot about boat four until the water was up until b deck . So yeah there were alot more incidents than one
 
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Well for one. Lifeboat five was lowered unevenly. One sdie going down fast then the other.
That was because Murdoch and Lowe had a kind of race who would be faster (according to Steward Crawford). However other boats had a similar experience (as Nos. 7 & 13 for example) which was not unusual as the boat was lowered into the night.

And finally they forgot about boat four until the water was up until b deck . So yeah there were alot more incidents than one
Boat No. 4 was not forgotten, the glass had to be lowered first and for that they needed a spanner. So the officers turned to the other boats first. When No. 4 was lowered the water was about C Deck.
 

Jim Currie

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The responses on this subject are forgivable in that I do not think any of you have ever lowered a wooden lifeboat in the manner in which they were lowered that morning. If you had done so, you would know that these men performed magnificently given the tools they had to work with.
The story about the 'race' between Lowe and Murdoch was either misinterpreted or downright nonsense. I know for an absolute fact that experienced sailormen working at each end of the same boat would attempt to lower evenly. If they did not, the officer in charge would have bawled 7 bells of the nasty stuff out of them.

Next time any of your are near a ship's lifeboat station, have a look at the gear. You will see that the development of life boat launching from the days of Titanic is, among other things, as follows:

1. The wind out system for the davits remained but the method of lowering was the simultaneous slacking-off of falls by a single action.
2. Improvement continued. As well as simultaneous single handed deployment of the falls. The deployment of the davits was made whereby they could be wound out simultaneously by the activation of a single lever by a single sailor.

The lifeboat falsl from each davit are led to a central drum where they are slackened off simultaneously by the activation of a single lever either outside or within the boat. The speed of lowering is governed by a weight. Here is a couple of photographs which hopefully show the progress.
Welin Davit development 1 2017-05-03 001.jpg

Welin Davit development 2 2017-05-03 001.jpg
 

Georges Guay

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«Next time any of your are near a ship's lifeboat station, have a look at the gear. You will see that the development of life boat launching from the days of Titanic is, among other things, as follows:»

 

Dave Gittins

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You ain't seen nuthin' yet!


These things are now compulsory on bulk carriers and tankers. If you are going to get wrecked you might as well have fun!
 
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Georges Guay

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Titanic was equipped with a steam turbine, steam dynamos, automatic WTB doors, elevators, etc. but with the most primitive way of lowering lifeboats for half the passengers capacity. That gives you an idea of how far was the passengers safety priorities. But the band was playing…
 
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Georges--

Please tell us what better type of lifeboat lowering equipment was available in 1909 when Titanic was fitting out. Thanks.

-- David G. Brown
 
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Titanic was equipped with a steam turbine, steam dynamos, automatic WTB doors, elevators, etc. but with the most primitive way of lowering lifeboats for half the passengers capacity. That gives you an idea of how far was the passengers safety priorities. But the band was playing…
If lifeboats were thought to be that important back in 1912 then the BOT would have had different requirements on the number and type fitted on passenger carrying vessels. It took the Titanic disaster to change the mindset.
 

Rob Lawes

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Following the Titanic sinking I can't think of a major maritime disaster where there was the time and organisation to carry out a full evacuation of a vessel using the full lifeboat capacity required for all onboard.

I don't think I wrong in saying having lifeboat space for all (on Titanic sized ships) would have made no difference to any post April 1912 disaster.

It also, once again confirms how effective the Titanic's evacuation was
 

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