|Lifeboat id numbers on deck (stern to bow):|
|(16) (14) (12) (10)||(8) (6) (4) (2)|
|← Stern of||(B) \(D)|
|← Titanic||(A) /(C)|
|(15) (13) (11) (9)||(7) (5) (3) (1)|
|Lifeboats 7, 5, 3 & 8 left first. Collapsible lifeboats A, B, C & D were stored inward. Boat A floated off the deck, and Boat B floated away upside down.|
The lifeboats of the RMS Titanic played a crucial role in the disaster of 14–15 April 1912. The ship infamously had too few lifeboats to evacuate all those on board; the 20 lifeboats that she carried could only take about 1,100 people, even though she had over 2,200 on board at the time of her sinking and could carry up to about 3,300 people.
All 20 lifeboats were used, loading between 12:40–2:15 am, although collapsible Boat A floated off deck partially submerged, and Boat B floated away upside down minutes before the ship upended and sank. Many lifeboats were only half-filled due to time delays to guide the women and children first into boats, or no open doors to release passengers on lower decks. Few men were allowed into the port-side lifeboats, but the starboard side allowed many men into boats after women and children first. Some final lifeboats were over-filled, and passengers noted the seawater was near the rim of some lifeboats. As the half-filled boats rowed away from the ship, they were too far for other passengers to reach, and most lifeboats did not return toward the wreck, due to protests from passengers or crewmen to avoid being swamped by drowning victims. Two lifeboats returned to pull survivors from the water, but some of those later died. The RMS Carpathia did not reach the lifeboats until 4 am, 2 hours after the sinking, and the rescue continued until the last lifeboat was collected at 8:30 am. The survivors among the men were relatively more crewmen, then more First Class and Third Class, with 92% of men dying from Second Class. However, the third-class women and children also died in relatively high numbers, with 66% of those children dying.
The lack of lifeboats was the result of a combination of outdated maritime safety regulations and the White Star Line's wish to leave the decks unobstructed so that the passengers could have better views. In addition, it was believed that in the event of an emergency, Titanics design would enable her to stay afloat long enough for her passengers and crew to be transferred safely to a rescue vessel. It was never anticipated that everyone would have to be evacuated rapidly at the same time.
In addition to the shortage of lifeboats, Titanics crew were poorly trained in their use. The evacuation was slow and poorly managed and many of the lifeboats left half-empty. Around 1,500 people were still aboard Titanic when she sank at 2:20 am on 15 April 1912. Around 710 people, mostly women and children, remained in the lifeboats until later that morning when they were rescued by the RMS Carpathia. Those aboard the lifeboats were picked up by Carpathia over the course of about 4 hours, from about 4 am to 8:30 am, and 13 of the lifeboats were also taken aboard. The lifeboats were returned to the White Star Line at New York harbour, as they were the only items of value salvaged from the shipwreck, but subsequently vanished from history.
Number and types of lifeboats Edit
Titanic had twenty lifeboats of three types:
- 14 clinker-built wooden lifeboats, measuring 30 feet (9 m) long by 9 feet 1 inch (3 m) wide by 4 feet (1 m) deep. Each had a capacity of 655.2 cubic feet (18.55 m3) and was designed to carry 65 people. The rudders were made of elm – chosen because it resisted splitting – and were 1.75 inches (4 cm) thick. The exterior of the boats were fitted with "grablines" for people in the water to hold on to. They were fitted with a variety of equipment to aid the occupants, comprising 10 oars, a sea anchor, two bailers, a painter (effectively a tow-rope) 150 feet (46 m) long, two boat-hooks, two 10 imperial gallons (45 l) tanks of fresh water, a mast and sail, a compass, a lantern and watertight metal provision tanks which contained biscuits. This equipment was not kept in the boats, for fear of theft, but in locked boxes on the deck. In many cases, the equipment was not transferred into the boats when they were used on 15 April and ended up going down with the ship. Blankets and a spare lifebelt could also be found in the boats.
- 2 wooden cutters intended to be used as emergency boats. They were of a similar design to the main lifeboats but smaller, measuring 25 feet 2 inches (8 m) long by about 7 feet (2 m) wide by 3 feet (1 m) deep. They had a capacity of 322 cubic feet (9 m3) and could carry 40 people. They were equipped similarly to the main lifeboats but with only one boat-hook, one water container, one bailer and six oars each.
- 4 "collapsible" Engelhart lifeboats. These were effectively boat-shaped rafts, with heavy canvas sides that could be raised to form a boat. They measured 27 feet 5 inches (8 m) long by 8 feet (2 m) wide by 3 feet (1 m) deep. Their capacity was 376.6 cubic feet (10.66 m3) and each could carry 47 people. The Engelharts, built to a Danish design, were built by the boat-builders McAlister & Son of Dunbarton, Scotland. Their equipment was similar to that of the cutters but they had no mast or sail, had eight oars apiece and were steered using a steering oar rather than a rudder.
The main lifeboats and cutters were built by Harland & Wolff at Queen's Island, Belfast at the same time that Titanic and her sister ship Olympic were constructed. They were designed for maximum seaworthiness, with a double-ended design (effectively having two bows). This reduced the risk that they would be flooded by a following sea (i.e. having waves breaking over the stern). If a lifeboat had to be beached, the design would also resist the incoming surf. Another safety feature consisted of airtight copper tanks within the boats' sides to provide extra buoyancy.
Use and locations aboard Titanic Edit
All but two of the lifeboats were situated on the Boat Deck, the highest level of Titanic. They were located on wooden chocks at the fore and aft parts of the Boat Deck, on either side of the ship; two groups of three at the forward end, and two groups of four at the after end. The two cutters were situated immediately aft of the bridge, one to port and the other to starboard. While Titanic was at sea they were slung outboard so that they could be lowered immediately in the event of an emergency, such as needing to rescue a person who had fallen overboard. The lifeboats were given odd numbers on the starboard side and even numbers to port, running from forward to aft, while the collapsible lifeboats were lettered from A to D.
The collapsibles were stored in two places. Two of them were stowed on the deck in their collapsed state underneath the cutters, while the remaining two were situated on top of the officers' quarters. Although the first two were erected and launched without difficulty during Titanics sinking, the latter two turned out to be very badly located. They were 8 feet (2 m) off the deck and lowering them required the use of a piece of equipment held in the boatswain's store in the bow. By the time this was realised, the bow was already well underwater and the store was inaccessible. They had to be manhandled down and floated away freely as the deck flooded.
The lifeboats were intended to be launched from davits supplied by the Welin Davit & Engineering Company of London. All but the collapsibles were slung from the davits, ready to be launched. The davits were of a highly efficient double-acting quadrant design, capable of being slung inboard (hanging over the deck) as well as outboard (hanging over the side) to pick up additional lifeboats. The davits aboard Titanic were capable of taking 64 lifeboats, though only 16 were actually fitted to them. The collapsibles were also intended to be launched via the davits. Each davit was doubled up, supporting the forward arm of one boat and the after arm of the next one along. A bitt and sheave was located at the heel of each davit to facilitate the lowering of boats, and the falls could be taken across the deck so that a number of men could work simultaneously on each boat and davit. They had to be lowered by hand, ideally by a team of between eight and ten men. Although Titanic did have a number of electric winches, these could only have been used to winch the lifeboats back out of the water.
Lack of lifeboats and training Edit
Notoriously,Titanic did not have enough lifeboats to evacuate everyone on board. She only had enough lifeboats to take about a third of the ship's total capacity. Had every lifeboat been filled, they could only have evacuated about 53 per cent of those actually on board on the night of her sinking. The shortage of lifeboats was not due to a lack of space; Titanic had been designed to accommodate up to 68 boats – nor was it because of cost, as the price of an extra 32 lifeboats would only have been some $16,000, a tiny fraction of the $7.5 million that the company had spent on Titanic. The reason lay in a combination of outdated safety regulations and complacency by the White Star Line, Titanics operators.
In 1886, a committee of the British Board of Trade devised safety regulations for the merchant vessels of the time. These were updated with the passage of the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 and were modified subsequently, but by 1912 they had a fatal flaw – they had been intended to regulate vessels of up to 10,000 tons, a limit that had long since been exceeded by shipbuilders. By comparison, Titanic had a gross register tonnage of 46,328 tons. Other ships were in a similar situation. 33 of the 39 British liners over 10,000 tons did not have enough lifeboats for all aboard; the RMS Carmania was perhaps the worst of them, with only enough lifeboats for 29 per cent of her occupants. Foreign ships, such as the German liner SS Amerika and the SS St. Louis similarly had only enough lifeboat space for about 54–55% of those aboard.
The regulations required a vessel of 10,000 tons or more to carry 16 lifeboats with a total capacity of 9,625 cubic feet (273 m3), sufficient for 960 people. Titanic actually carried four more lifeboats than she needed under the regulations. Her total lifeboat capacity was 11,327.9 cubic feet (321 m3), which was theoretically capable of taking 1,178 people. The regulations required that lifeboats should measure between 16–30 feet (5–9 m) with a minimum capacity of 125 cubic feet (4 m3) each. The cubic capacity divided by ten indicated the approximate number of people that could be carried safely in each boat and also dictated the size of the airtight buoyancy tanks incorporated into the boats' hulls, with each person corresponding to 1 cubic foot (0 m3) of tank capacity.
In reality, the given capacity was quite nominal, as filling the boats to their indicated capacity would have required some passengers to stand. This did in fact happen to some of the last boats to leave Titanic; at the subsequent British enquiry, Titanics Second Officer Charles Lightoller testified that the nominal capacity could only have applied "in absolutely smooth water, under the most favourable conditions." The appropriate capacity would have been more like 40 people per boat under typical conditions.
Titanic and her sister ships had been designed with the capability of carrying many more lifeboats than were actually provided, up to a total of 68. During the design stage, Alexander Carlisle, Harland & Wolff's chief draughtsman and general manager, submitted a plan to provide 64 lifeboats (it would have required 63 to accommodate all on board). He later reduced the figure to 32, and in March 1910 the decision was taken to reduce the number again to 16. The White Star Line preferred to maximise the amount of deck space available for the enjoyment of the passengers (and the area that was free of lifeboats was, not coincidentally, the First Class promenade). The reasoning for this was explained by Archibald Campbell Holms in an article for Practical Shipbuilding published in 1918:
The fact that Titanic carried boats for little more than half the people on board was not a deliberate oversight, but was in accordance with a deliberate policy that, when the subdivision of a vessel into watertight compartments exceeds what is considered necessary to ensure that she shall remain afloat after the worst conceivable accident, the need for lifeboats practically ceases to exist, and consequently a large number may be dispensed with.
It is notable that Holms made his comments six years after the sinking of Titanic, an indication of the persistence of the view that "every ship should be her own lifeboat". Sailors and shipbuilders of the time had a low opinion of the usefulness of lifeboats in an emergency and considered it more important to make a ship "unsinkable". Admiral Lord Charles Beresford, who served simultaneously as a high-ranking Royal Navy officer and Member of Parliament, told the House of Commons a month after the disaster:
[R]emember that on not more than one day in twelve all the year round can you lower a boat. With the roll of the ship the boats swing and will be smashed to smithereens against the side of the ship. The boats then should not be overdone ... It might be fairly supposed that had the Titanic floated for twelve hours all might have been saved.
The White Star Line never envisaged that all of the crew and passengers would have to be evacuated at once, as Titanic was considered almost unsinkable. The lifeboats were instead intended to be used to transfer passengers off the ship and onto a nearby vessel providing assistance. While Titanic was under construction, an incident involving the White Star liner RMS Republic appeared to confirm this approach. Republic was involved in a collision with the Lloyd Italiano liner SS Florida in January 1909 and sank. Even though she did not have enough lifeboats for all passengers, they were all saved because the ship was able to stay afloat long enough for them to be ferried to ships coming to assist. Had the Californian responded to the Titanic's distress calls, the lifeboats would have been adequate to ferry the passengers to safety as planned.
While Titanics supply of lifeboats was plainly inadequate, so too was the training that her crew had received in their use. Only one lifeboat drill had been carried out while the ship was docked. It was a cursory effort, consisting of two boats being lowered, each manned by one officer and four men who merely rowed around the dock for a few minutes before returning to the ship. The boats were supposed to be stocked with emergency supplies but Titanics passengers later found that they had only been partially provisioned. No lifeboat or fire drills had been carried out since Titanic left Southampton. A lifeboat drill had been scheduled for the morning before the ship sank, but was cancelled for unknown reasons by Captain Smith.
Lists had been posted on the ship allocating crew members to particular lifeboat stations, but few appeared to have read them or to have known what they were supposed to do. Most of the crew were, in any case, not seamen, and even some of those had no prior experience of rowing a boat. They were now faced with the complex task of coordinating the lowering of 20 boats carrying a possible total of 1,100 people 70 feet (21 m) down the sides of the ship. Thomas E. Bonsall, a historian of the disaster, has commented that the evacuation was so badly organised that "even if they had the number [of] lifeboats they needed, it is impossible to see how they could have launched them" given the lack of time and poor leadership.
Launch of the lifeboats Edit
It was not until 12:40 am, an hour after Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 pm on 14 April, that the first lifeboat was lowered into the sea. The boats were lowered in sequence, from the middle forward then aft, with First Officer William McMaster Murdoch, Third Officer Herbert Pitman and Fifth Officer Harold Lowe working on the starboard side, and Chief Officer Henry Tingle Wilde and Second Officer Charles Lightoller working on the port side, with the assistance of Captain Edward Smith. The collapsible boats were dealt with last, as they could not be launched until the forward davits were clear.
Smith had ordered his officers to put the "women and children in and lower away". Murdoch and Lightoller interpreted the evacuation order differently; Murdoch took it to mean women and children first, while Lightoller thought it meant women and children only. Lightoller lowered lifeboats with empty seats if there were no women and children waiting to board, while Murdoch allowed a limited number of men to board if all the nearby women and children had embarked. This had a significant effect on the survival rates of the men aboard Titanic, whose chances of survival came to depend on which side of the ship they tried to find lifeboat seats.
Two contemporary estimates were given for the number of occupants in each lifeboat, one by the British inquiry that followed the disaster, and one by survivor Archibald Gracie, who obtained accounts and data from other survivors. However, the figures given – 854 persons and 795 persons respectively – far exceed the confirmed number of 712 survivors, due to confusion and misreporting. Some of the occupants were transferred between boats before being picked up by the RMS Carpathia. More recent research has helped to produce estimates of the number of occupants that are closer to the total number of survivors rescued by Carpathia.
Boat 7 (starboard) Edit
Boat 7 was the first to be launched, at about 12:40 am, under the supervision of First Officer Murdoch, supported by Fifth Officer Lowe. It had a capacity of 65 persons but was lowered with only about 28 aboard. The two officers had tried for some minutes to persuade passengers to board but they were reluctant to do so, preferring the warm interior of the ship. Lowe later testified at the US Senate inquiry into the disaster that the ship's officers had believed that the lifeboats were at risk of breaking apart if they were lowered while full. They had intended that once the boats reached the water they would pick up passengers from doors in the ship's side or would pick up passengers in the water. The first did not happen at all and the second only happened in one instance, and Harland & Wolff's Edward Wilding testified that the lifeboats had in fact been tested at the shipyard with the equivalent of a full load of passengers being lowered safely. However, the results had not been passed on to the crew of Titanic.
Among the occupants of Boat 7 were:
- Dorothy Gibson, American actress, model, and the writer and star of Saved From the Titanic, the first film about the disaster
- Pierre Maréchal, French aviator and father of the racing driver Pierre Maréchal
- James McGough, Philadelphia buyer
- William T. Sloper, Connecticut banker
- George Hogg, Titanic lookout, manned the boat along with fellow lookout Archie Jewel.
- Margaret Hays, New York heiress also brought her dog named Lady into the lifeboat
The lifeboat was launched either without its plug or with the plug displaced somehow, causing water to gush into the bottom of the boat. As Dorothy Gibson later put it, "this was remedied by volunteer contributions from the lingerie of the women and the garments of men." Those aboard had to sit for hours with their feet soaking in ice-cold water. When Titanic went down at 2:20 am, the noise of hundreds of people crying and screaming for help was heard by the lifeboat's occupants, a sound that Gibson said would "remain in my memory until the day I die." Hogg wanted to turn back to pick up some of those in the water but was shouted down by the lifeboat's occupants. They drifted for some time until they came within reach of lifeboat 5. The officer in charge of the latter lifeboat decided to transfer a number of survivors from his boat, which he thought was overcrowded, into lifeboat 7. The two boats were lashed together for the rest of the night until they separated to rendezvous with the RMS Carpathia.
Boat 5 (starboard) Edit
Murdoch and Lowe were joined by Third Officer Pitman and the White Star Line's chairman J. Bruce Ismay to help them lower Boat 5, which left at 12:43 am. The boat was loaded primarily with women and children. A few husbands also permitted to board with their wives after someone among the crowd of watching passengers shouted, "Put the brides and grooms in first!" Most of those on deck were unaware of the seriousness of their situation and made no attempt to board. John Jacob Astor, who was subsequently among the victims of the disaster, remarked: "We are safer on board the ship than in that little boat." J. Bruce Ismay, the chairman of the White Star Line, disagreed; still wearing slippers and pyjamas, he urged Pitman to begin loading the boat with women and children. Pitman retorted: "I await the Captain's orders," and went to the captain for the approval. Ismay returned a short time later to urge a stewardess to board, which she did. In the end, only 41 people boarded, including Pitman himself, on Murdoch's orders.
The occupants included:
- Karl Behr, American tennis star and banker
- Annie May Stengel, who was knocked unconscious and broke two ribs when overweight First Class passenger H.W. Frauenthal jumped on top of her into the lifeboat as it was being lowered.
- Third Officer Herbert Pitman, put in charge of the boat by Murdoch.
The boat's progress down the side of the ship was slow and difficult. The pulleys were covered in fresh paint and the lowering ropes were stiff, causing them to stick repeatedly as the boat was lowered in jerks towards the water. One of those watching the boat being lowered, Dr. Washington Dodge, felt "overwhelmed with doubts" that he might be subjecting his wife and son to greater danger aboard the boat than if they had remained on Titanic. Ismay sought to spur those lowering the boat to greater urgency by calling out repeatedly: "Lower away!" This resulted in Lowe losing his temper: "If you'll get the hell out of the way, I'll be able to do something! You want me to lower away quickly? You'll have me drown the lot of them!" The humiliated Ismay retreated up the deck. In the end, the boat was launched safely.
After Titanic sank, several of those aboard lifeboat 5 were transferred to lifeboat 7, leaving about 30 on board by the time she reached the Carpathia. Herbert Pitman wanted to return to the scene of the sinking to pick up swimmers in the water and announced: "Now men, we will pull toward the wreck!" The women on board protested, one begging a steward: "Appeal to the officer not to go back! Why should we lose all our lives in a useless attempt to save others from the ship?" Pitman gave in to the protests, but was haunted by guilt for the rest of his life.
The occupants of the lifeboat endured a freezing night. Mrs. Dodge was particularly badly affected by the cold but was helped by Quartermaster Alfred Olliver, who gave her his socks: "I assure you, ma'am, they are perfectly clean. I just put them on this morning." At about 6:00 am, they were rescued by Carpathia.
Boat 3 (starboard) Edit
Around 32 people boarded Boat 3, with Able-Bodied Seaman George Moore put in charge by Murdoch. Again, mostly women and children boarded, with a few men allowed in at the end. They included Henry S. Harper, who was accompanied by his valet, dragoman and Pekingese dog, Sun Yat Sen.
As happened many times that night, male passengers helped their wives and children to board and then stood back, accepting that they would go down with the ship. A notable example was the railroad manager Charles Melville Hays who saw his wife into Boat 3 and then retreated, making no attempt to board any of the remaining lifeboats. Margaret Brown later described the scene in an interview with The New York Times:
The whole thing was so formal that it was difficult for anyone to realise it was a tragedy. Men and women stood in little groups and talked. Some laughed as the boats went over the side. All the time the band was playing ... I can see the men up on deck tucking in the women and smiling. It was a strange night. It all seemed like a play, like a dream that was being executed for entertainment. It did not seem real. Men would say 'After you' as they made some woman comfortable and stepped back.
The occupants included:
- George Moore, able-bodied seaman put in charge of boat
- Charlotte Drake Cardeza, a Philadelphia heiress who also brought into the boat her son and two servants
- Henry S. Harper, owner of a New York City publishing firm also brought into the boat his wife, Myra, pekinese dog Sun Yat Sen and servant
- The Spedens, wealthy family from philadelphia
- Clara Hays, wife of wealthy Canadian Charles Melville Hays
- Harry Anderson, a Wall Street stockbroker
Eleven crewmen were among the occupants of this boat. It suffered the same problems with lowering that Boat 7 had encountered, with the lifeboat descending in fits and starts as the lowering ropes repeatedly stuck in the pulleys, but eventually reached the water safely. After Titanic sank the lifeboat drifted, while the bored women passengers passed the time by bickering with each other over minor annoyances. The occupants had a long wait in freezing conditions and were not rescued until about 7.30 am when the Carpathia arrived.
Boat 8 (port) Edit
Boat 8 was loaded under the supervision of Second Officer Lightoller and launched at about 1:00 am, with Captain Smith and Chief Officer Wilde also participating. Ida Straus was asked to join a group of people preparing to board but refused, saying: "I will not be separated from my husband [Isador Straus]. As we have lived, so will we die – together." The 67-year-old Isador likewise refused an offer to board on account of his age, saying: "I do not wish any distinction in my favour which is not granted to others." Both went below, presumably back to their cabin, and went down with the ship. Major Archibald Butt, a military aide and friend of US President William Howard Taft, brought to the boat Marie Young, who had been a governess to the children of President Theodore Roosevelt. She later recalled that he "wrapped blankets about me and tucked me in as carefully as if we were going on a motor ride." He wished her farewell and good luck, and asked her, "don't forget to remember me to the folks back home." Other single women were brought to the boats by men who had earlier offered their services to "unprotected ladies", as the conventions of the time dictated.
The occupants of Boat 8 numbered around 25 people and included:
- Ellen Bird, maid of Ida Straus
- Noël Leslie, Countess of Rothes, who took charge of the lifeboat's tiller
- Gladys Cherry, cousin of the Countess
- Thomas Jones, Able-Bodied Seaman, in charge of the boat
- Emma Bucknell, Philadelphia heiress
After Titanic sank, Jones suggested going back to save some of those in the water. Only three of the passengers agreed; the rest protested that they would be at risk of the boat being capsized by desperate swimmers. Jones had no choice but to acquiesce, but told the complaining passengers: "Ladies, if any of us are saved, remember I wanted to go back. I would rather drown with them than leave them." The passengers' conduct during the subsequent hours presented some striking contrasts. The Countess of Rothes – who had been one of the few passengers to support going back to mount a rescue attempt – took charge of the tiller, putting the women to work on the oars. Her conduct was later complimented by Jones, who called her "more of a man than any we had aboard" and gave her the lifeboat's numeral 8, in a frame, as a keepsake. In contrast, Ella White was so annoyed that the stewards aboard were smoking that she complained about it to the subsequent US Senate inquiry into the disaster; she was particularly indignant that one of the ship's crewmen had told her, "If you don't stop talking through that hole in your face there will be one less in the boat!"
The occupants of Boat 8 spent the night rowing towards what they thought were the lights of a ship on the horizon, but turned round at daybreak when the Carpathia arrived on the scene from the opposite direction. They had travelled further from the scene than any of the other lifeboats and had a long row back; it was not until 7:30 am that they were picked up.
Boat 1 (starboard) Edit
The lowering of Boat 1 at 1:05 am subsequently became one of the most controversial episodes of the disaster, both because it was lowered with just twelve people aboard and because of the behaviour of two of its occupants, Cosmo Duff-Gordon and his wife Lucile. The boat was one of the two emergency cutters with a capacity of 40. Of the twelve people aboard, seven were Titanic crewmen and the remaining five were all First Class passengers.
Its composition was a notable departure from Murdoch's "women and children first" directive. Duff-Gordon had been standing with his wife and secretary watching Boat 3 being lowered. As Boat 1 was being prepared, he asked Murdoch if his party could board. Murdoch assented and also allowed two Americans, Abraham Solomon and C.E. Stengel, to enter. He also instructed a group of six stokers to board along with a lookout whom he put in charge of the boat. As it was being lowered with its twelve passengers, Greaser Walter Hurst remarked, "If they are sending the boats away they might as well put some people in them." The occupants included:
- Cosmo and Lucille Duff-Gordon
- Laura Francatelli, secretary to the Duff-Gordons
- George Symons, lookout, in charge
The boat had room for about another 30 people but, as with almost all of the others, its occupants showed no willingness to return to rescue those in the water after Titanic sank. Fireman Charles Hendrickson told them: "It's up to us to go back and pick up anyone in the water" but found no support. The Duff-Gordons were subsequently widely criticised for what was interpreted as their callousness in the face of the disaster. As Titanic sank, Lady Duff-Gordon told her secretary: "There is your beautiful night-dress gone." Fireman Pusey told the Duff-Gordons that the crew had lost all their kit and their pay would be stopped from the moment of the sinking (as indeed it was). Sir Cosmo, seemingly irritated, retorted: "Very well, I will give you a fiver each to start a new kit!" He did as he promised, writing the seven crewmen aboard a cheque for £5 each. He was later accused of effectively bribing the crew not to return to the scene of the sinking and his reputation was all but ruined as a result. To add to the appearance of a lack of empathy, once the survivors from Boat 1 were aboard the Carpathia, Sir Cosmo organised a group photograph on Carpathias foredeck with all those involved wearing their lifejackets for the camera while the rest of the survivors watched incredulously.
Boat 6 (port) Edit
Lightoller launched Boat 6 at 1:10; it was photographed as it approached Carpathia, so it is known to have had 26 people aboard at that point. Denver millionairess and socialite Margaret "Molly" Brown was among its most prominent occupants. She did not board voluntarily but was picked up by a crewman and dropped bodily into the boat as it was being lowered. Only one man, Quartermaster Robert Hitchens, was aboard so Lightoller appealed to the crowd still on deck for anyone who had sailing experience. Major Arthur Godfrey Peuchen of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club volunteered and shimmied down the falls into the boat.
Relations between those aboard were strained throughout the night. Hitchens apparently resented Peuchen's presence, perhaps fearing that the major would pull rank and take charge. The two men quarrelled and Hitchens refused Peuchen's request that he assist with the rowing, as there was only one other able-bodied man at the oars. With only two rowing, the boat could only make slow progress away from Titanic. When Captain Smith ordered Hitchens to bring the boat alongside the gangway so that more passengers could board, Hitchens refused, telling the occupants: "No, we are not going back to the boat. It's our lives now, not theirs."
When Titanic sank, Peuchen, Brown and several others urged Hitchens to turn around and rescue some of those in the water. Hitchens refused, ordering the men to stop rowing and telling the passengers: "There's no use going back, 'cause there's only a lot of stiffs there." The cries for help soon died away. Brown asked Hitchens to let the women row to help keep them warm. When he refused, she threatened to throw him overboard. He protested and swore at her but was told to shut up, and a stoker told him: "Don't you know you're talking to a lady?" She took charge of the tiller, prompting the American press to dub her subsequently the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown.
Boat 6 eventually found and tied up to Boat 16 after Titanic sank. It was one of the last to be rescued by the Carpathia, at 8:00 am.
Boat 16 (port) Edit
Sixth Officer Moody supervised the launching of Boat 16 at about 1:20 am. Around 52 people are believed to have been on board by the time it reached Carpathia; most of those aboard were said to be women and children from Second and Third Class. Among the occupants was stewardess Violet Jessop who, uniquely, survived the accidents that befell all of the Olympic-class liners: the collision of Olympic with HMS Hawke in 1911, the sinking of Titanic in 1912 and the mining of Britannic in 1916.
Boat 14 (port) Edit
About 40 people were aboard boat 14, with Wilde, Lightoller and Lowe supervising its launch. By the time it was launched at about 1:25 am, Titanic was well down in the water and some passengers still aboard were beginning to panic. Lowe fired three shots from his revolver to warn off a crowd of passengers pressing up against the rails. As the boat was lowered, a young man climbed over the rails and tried to hide under the seats. Lowe ordered him to leave at gunpoint, first threatening to "blow your brains out", then appealing to him to "be a man – we've got women and children to save." The passenger returned to the deck where he was left lying face-down to await his fate. Another male passenger, Daniel Buckley, managed to get into Boat 14 by concealing himself under a women's shawl.
The boat reached the water safely, with Lowe himself aboard to take charge. After Titanic sank he brought together Boats 10, 12, 14 and Collapsible D, transferred many of those aboard Boat 14 to the other lifeboats and took the boat back to the scene of the sinking to try to find survivors. This was the only rescue bid mounted that night, and it came too late. By the time Lowe's boat reached the scene of the sinking, the sea was filled with the bodies of hundreds of people who had died of hypothermia. A few individuals were pulled from the sea but most were already dead or dying. Only three of those picked up from the sea survived.
Boat 12 (port) Edit
Lightoller and Wilde lowered boat 12 at 1:30 am with about 42 people aboard. It was first manned only by Able-Bodied Seaman Frederick Clench and was subsequently put in the charge of Able Seaman John Poigndestre. A male passenger jumped into the boat as it was lowered past B Deck. Difficulty was encountered in unhooking the boat from the falls, requiring Poigndestre to use a knife to cut through the ropes. Several passengers from other boats were transferred into boat 12 after the sinking and it was heavily overloaded by the time it reached Carpathia with at least 69 people aboard. It was the last lifeboat to be picked up by Carpathia, at about 8:15 am.
Boat 9 (starboard) Edit
The lowering of Boat 9 at 1:30 am with about 40 aboard was supervised by Murdoch, possibly with Moody assisting. Boatswain's Mate Albert Hames was put in charge with Able-Bodied Seaman George McGough at the tiller. Most passengers were women, with two or three men who entered when no more women came forward. One elderly woman refused to board, making a great fuss, and retreated below decks. May Futrelle, the wife of novelist Jacques Futrelle, was likewise initially reluctant to board; but after her husband told her, "For God's sake, go! It's your last chance! Go!", an officer forced her into the boat. The millionnaire Benjamin Guggenheim brought Léontine Aubart, his French mistress, and her maid Emma Sägasser to Boat 9 before retiring to his stateroom with his valet, Victor Giglio. Both men removed their lifejackets and put on their evening dress. Guggenheim told a steward: "We've dressed in our best, and are prepared to go down like gentlemen. There is grave doubt that the men will get off. I am willing to remain and play the man's game if there are not enough boats for more than the women and children. I won't die here like a beast. Tell my wife I played the game out straight and to the end. No women shall be left aboard this ship because Ben Guggenheim was a coward."
Kate Buss and her friend Marion Wright were standing with their shipboard acquaintances Douglas Norman and Dr. Alfred Pain, watching the boats being lowered, when a call came for "Any more ladies". The two men brought Buss and Wright to Boat 9, who beckoned Norman and Pain to join them. However, the men were barred from entering by crewmen on the deck. Horrified, Buss demanded to know why they had not been allowed aboard. Haines told her: "The officer gave the order to lower away, and if I didn't do so he might shoot me, and simply put someone else in charge, and your friends would still not be allowed to come." Norman and Pain both perished in the disaster. The boat was picked up by Carpathia several hours later, at about 6:15 am.
Boat 11 (starboard) Edit
Boat 11 was lowered under Murdoch's supervision at 1:35 am with Able-Bodied Seaman Sidney Humphreys in charge. By now the lifeboats were being filled much closer to their capacity, and it is estimated to have had about fifty people aboard. One occupant, Steward James Witter, had not intended to board but was knocked into it by a hysterical woman whom he was helping aboard while it was being lowered. First Class passenger Edith Louise Rosenbaum brought along her lucky toy pig, which played the Maxixe. She had wrapped it in a blanket to protect it but was too frightened to enter the lifeboat; thinking it was a baby, a steward took it and tossed it to one of the women already aboard. Rosenbaum could not bear the thought of losing the pig and boarded the lifeboat to retrieve it. Both Rosenbaum and the pig survived; it is now part of the collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, London.
On reaching the water, the lifeboat was nearly swamped by a jet of water being pumped out of Titanic in a futile bid to stem the ship's progressive flooding. Tempers flared among the crowded passengers, some of whom had to stand, as the lifeboat was rowed away from the ship. Rosenbaum used her toy pig to entertain the children aboard. The lifeboat was met by Carpathia at about 7:00 am.
Boat 13 (starboard) Edit
Boat 13 was partly filled from the Boat Deck and partly from A Deck after it had been lowered to that level when it was launched under the supervision of Murdoch and Moody at 1:40 am. Again, it was heavily occupied, with about 55 people aboard and Leading Fireman Frederick Barrett in charge. The occupants were mainly Second and Third Class women and children, with some men also aboard including Lawrence Beesley, who subsequently wrote a popular book about the disaster . Dr. Washington Dodge was also aboard, having earlier seen his wife and child aboard Boat 5. He owed his presence aboard the boat to the apparent guilty feelings of Steward F. Dent Ray, who had urged the Dodges to sail on Titanic in the first place. Just before Boat 5 was lowered, Ray bundled Dodge aboard. Others did not want to board at all. A woman on deck became hysterical, crying: "Don't put me in that boat! I don't want to go in that boat! I've never been in an open boat in my life!" Ray told her: "You have got to go and you may as well keep quiet."
While it was being lowered the lifeboat was nearly caught by "an enormous stream of water, three or four feet in diameter" coming from the condenser exhaust which was being produced by the pumps, far below, trying to expel the water that was flooding into Titanic. The occupants had to push the boat clear using their oars and spars and reached the water safely. The wash from the exhaust caused the lifeboat to drift under Boat 15, which was being lowered almost simultaneously. Its lowering was halted just in time, with only a few feet to spare. The falls aboard Boat 13 jammed and had to be cut free to allow the boat to get away safely from the side of Titanic. A few hours later the occupants saw the Carpathia coming to their rescue and began rowing towards it to an accompaniment of the song "Pull for the Shore, Sailor." They were picked up at about 6:30 am.
Boat 15 (starboard) Edit
Murdoch and Moody oversaw the lowering of Boat 15 concurrently with Boat 13 and it reached the water only a minute later, at 1:41 am. Fireman Frank Dyamond was put in charge of what was the most heavily loaded boat at launching, with about 68 people aboard. It was so heavily loaded that the gunwales were reported to be far down in the water; one female passenger later said that when she leaned against the gunwale her hair trailed in the water. The boat was one of the last to be recovered by Carpathia, at about 7:30 am.
Boat 2 (port) Edit
The lowering of Boat 2, the second of the two cutters, was overseen by Wilde and Smith at about 1:45 am. When Lightoller moved to the boat to get it ready for loading, he found that it was already filled with a large group of male passengers and crewmen. He ordered them out of the boat at gunpoint, telling them: "Get out of there, you damned cowards! I'd like to see every one of you overboard!" The men fled, but had no way of knowing that his gun was not loaded. Even at this late stage some boats were leaving with plenty of space aboard; Boat 2 appears to have been lowered with only 17 people aboard, out of a capacity of 40. The occupants were principally women, plus one male Third Class passenger. Fourth Officer Boxhall was given charge of the boat.
When Titanic sank at 2:20 am, Boxhall suggested to the occupants that they should go back to pick people up from the water. However, they refused outright. Boxhall found this puzzling, as only a short time before the women had pleaded with Smith for their husbands to be allowed to accompany them, yet now they did not want to go back to save them. The boat was the first to reach Carpathia, at 4:10 am.
Boat 10 (port) Edit
Boat 10 was launched at about 1:50 am under Murdoch's supervision with Able-Bodied Seaman Edward Buley in charge. It appears to have had about 57 people aboard, when it was launched. By this time Titanic was listing to port, making it increasingly difficult to launch lifeboats from that side of the ship, as the ship's list had created a gap of about 3 feet (0.91 m) between the deck and the sides of the port-side lifeboats. An attempt to board by a young French woman nearly ended in disaster when her jump into the lifeboat fell short and she dropped into the gap. She caught the gunwale of the lifeboat while her feet found the railings on the deck below, and she was pulled back on board the ship. She made it into the lifeboat safely on her second attempt. Titanic was clearly not far from sinking and this realisation led to an increased urgency to load the lifeboat; children were rushed aboard, one baby literally being thrown in and caught by a woman passenger. A male passenger, whom Lowe later described as a "crazed Italian", rushed to the rail as the boat was being lowered and jumped in. This male passenger may have been an Armenian from third class. Two of those aboard were later transferred to another lifeboat, and it had 55 aboard when it met Carpathia a few hours later. It was the second last lifeboat to be picked up, at 8:00 am.
Boat 4 (port) Edit
Launched concurrently with Boat 10, the last of the wooden lifeboats was launched under the supervision of Lightoller at 1:50 am with Quartermaster Walter Perks put in charge. It was actually one of the first lifeboats to be lowered on Captain Smith's suggestion that passengers should be loaded from the Promenade Deck rather than the Boat Deck. However, the captain had forgotten that – unlike on his previous command, Titanic's sister ship Olympic – the forward half of the Promenade Deck was enclosed. Lightoller ordered that the windows on the Promenade Deck's enclosure were to be opened, and moved on to deal with the other lifeboats. The windows proved unexpectedly difficult to open and to add to the problems, the lifeboat got caught up on Titanics sounding spar, which projected from the hull immediately below the boat. The spar had to be chopped off to allow the lifeboat to progress. A stack of deckchairs was used as a makeshift staircase to allow passengers to climb up and through the windows and into the boat.
Among the occupants was Madeleine Astor, the pregnant wife of the American millionaire John Jacob Astor. She had endured a long wait, shuttling back and forth between the Promenade and Boat Decks as plans for loading the boat were made and discarded. Now she boarded, helped by her husband, who asked Lightoller if he could join her. Lightoller refused, telling him: "No men are allowed in these boats until the women are loaded first." Astor told his wife: "The sea is calm. You'll be all right. You're in good hands. I'll meet you in the morning." He did not survive the disaster.
Boat 4 appears to have had about 30 people aboard when it was lowered. The number later increased when a few people were pulled from the water and others were transferred from Boat 14 and Collapsible Boat D. By the time it reached Carpathia at 8:00 am it had about 60 occupants.
Collapsible Boat C (starboard) Edit
Wilde and Murdoch oversaw the launch of the first of the collapsible Engelhart lifeboats, which was retrieved from its stored position, the sides erected and the boat attached to the davits. The majority of the forward boats had gone by this time and most of the crowd on deck had moved aft as Titanics bow dipped deeper into the water. The boat was rushed by a group of stewards and Third Class passengers who tried to climb aboard but were driven back by Purser McElroy, who fired two warning shots into the air, while Murdoch tried to hold the crowd back. Two First Class passengers, Hugh Woolner and Swedish Army Lieutenant Björn Steffanson, came to the officers' assistance and dragged out two stewards who had made it into the lifeboat. With the help of Woolner and Steffanson, Murdoch and Wilde managed to load the lifeboat quickly but calmly. J. Bruce Ismay also assisted by rounding up women and children to bring them to Collapsible C. Captain Smith, who was watching events from the starboard bridge wing, ordered Quartermaster George Rowe to take command of the boat. After Wilde called repeatedly for women and children to enter, a number of men took up the remaining spaces in the lifeboat, including Ismay; his decision to save himself was later to be very controversial.
The boat was lowered into the water at 2:00 am, becoming the last starboard-side boat to be launched. By now Titanic was listing heavily to port and the boat collided with the ship's hull as it descended towards the water. Those aboard used their hands and oars to keep the boat clear of the side of the ship. As Titanic went down 20 minutes later, Ismay turned his back on the sinking ship, unable to bear the sight. It was the first of the collapsible lifeboats to reach Carpathia, at 5:45 am, and had about 43 people on board.
Collapsible Boat D (port) Edit
By the time Collapsible Boat D was launched at 2:05 am, there were still 1,500 people on board Titanic and only 47 seats in the lifeboat. Crew members formed a circle around the boat to ensure that only women and children could board. Two small boys were brought through the cordon by a man calling himself "Louis Hoffman". His real name was Michel Navratil; he was a Slovak tailor who had kidnapped his sons from his estranged wife and was taking them to the United States. He did not board the lifeboat and died when the ship sank. The identity of the children, who became known as the "Titanic Orphans", was a mystery some time after the sinking and was only resolved when his wife recognised them from photographs that had been circulated around the world. The older of the two boys, Michel Marcel Navratil, was the last living male survivor of the disaster.
About 20 people were on board when it left the deck under the command of Quartermaster Arthur Bright. Two men jumped into it as it was being lowered, one landing upside down and the other landing half-out, before being pulled aboard by the occupants. Carpathia picked up those aboard at 7:15 am.
Collapsible Boat B (port) Edit
By 2:15 am, Lightoller, Moody and others were struggling to retrieve Collapsible Boats A and B from their places of storage on the roof of the officers' quarters. They rigged up makeshift ramps from oars and spars down which they slid the boats onto the Boat Deck. Unfortunately for all concerned, the boat broke through the ramp and landed on the deck upside-down. It reached the Boat Deck upside-down but there was no time to right it as Titanic began her final break-up and plunge to the seabed. Water swept across the Boat Deck, washing the upside-down lifeboat and many people into the sea. Wireless operator Harold Bride found himself trapped underneath the overturned hull. Titanics increasing angle in the water caused the stays supporting the forward funnel to snap and it toppled into the water, crushing swimmers beneath it and washing Collapsible B away from the sinking ship. As Titanic went under, the lifeboat was left in the midst of hundreds of people swimming in the water. Several dozen people climbed onto its hull , including Lightoller, who took charge of it. Also aboard were Jack Thayer, and Archibald Gracie. Bride managed to escape from the air pocket beneath the boat and made it onto the hull.
Those aboard Collapsible B suffered greatly during the course of the night. The boat gradually sank lower into the water as the air pocket underneath it leaked away. The sea began to get up towards dawn, causing the boat to rock in the swell and lose more of its precious air. Lightoller organised the men on the hull to stand up in two parallel rows on either side of the centreline, facing the bow, and got them to sway in unison to counteract the rocking motion caused by the swell. They were directly exposed to the freezing seawater, first up to their feet, then to their ankles and finally to their knees as the boat subsided in the water. For some, the ordeal proved too much and one by one they collapsed, fell into the water and died. Only 14 were left alive by the morning and were transferred into other lifeboats before being rescued by Carpathia.
Collapsible Boat A (starboard) Edit
Collapsible Boat A reached the deck the right way up and was being attached to the falls by Murdoch and Moody when it was washed off Titanic at 2:15 am. In the chaos, the canvas sides were not pulled up and the boat drifted away from the ship half-submerged and dangerously overloaded. Many of the occupants climbed in from the water but most died of hypothermia or fell back into the sea. By the time the survivors were transferred into Collapsible Boat D, only 13 people were left alive, Rhoda Abbott being the only female. Three bodies were left in Collapsible A, which was allowed to drift off; they were not recovered until a month later, by RMS Oceanic, another White Star Line ship.
Recovery and disposal of the lifeboats Edit
Titanics passengers endured a cold night before being picked up by the RMS Carpathia on the morning of 15 April. Boat 2 was the first to be recovered, at 4:10 am, with Boat 12 the last, at 8:15 am. Boats 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 16 were brought aboard Carpathia, with the rest (including all four collapsible boats) set adrift. Collapsible Boat B was found again a few days later by the Canadian cable vessel Mackay-Bennett but an attempt to bring it on board failed and the boat was abandoned for good.
The thirteen lifeboats retrieved by Carpathia were taken to the White Star Line's Pier 59 in New York, where souvenir hunters soon stripped them of much of their equipment. The Titanic nameplates were removed by White Star Line workmen and the boats were inventoried by the C.M. Lane Lifeboat Co. of Brooklyn. They were assessed for salvage at a collective value of £930 ($4,972) as the only salvageable items recovered from Titanic. The ultimate fate of the lifeboats is unknown; they may have been taken back to England aboard Olympic, which left New York on 23 April 1912, before either being destroyed or quietly redistributed to other vessels.
Although nothing now remains of the original lifeboats, some surviving fittings can still be seen, such as a bronze White Star Line burgee removed from the hull of one lifeboat by a souvenir hunter and now displayed in the museum of the Titanic Historical Society. A full-size replica lifeboat is on display in Belfast at the Titanic Belfast visitor attraction.
- ↑ "Women and children LAST". Daily Mail. 16 April 2012. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2130003/Study-sea-disasters-men-better-survival-rate-ships-down.html. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
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- ↑ Balls, John (2012). Lucky for Some - Titanic's Lifeboat 13 and its Passengers. Stenlake Publishing. pp. 40. ISBN 978-1-84033-590-3. http://www.stenlake.co.uk/books/view_book.php?ref=699.
- ↑ Butler 1998, p. 112.
- ↑ Dodge, Washington (15 April 2012). "Survivors share lifeboat; descendants share local ties". The Roanoke Times. http://www.roanoke.com/extra/wb/307439. Retrieved 2 May 2012.
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- Works related to RMS Titanic at Wikisource
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