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Life-Saving Craft Aboard Ocean Liners - 1912

Pictorial from The Illustrated London News demonstrates the role of lifeboats on the Titanic and other ships of that era, along with the effects of shortchanging passengers with too few lifeboats.

Boats Carried, and Boats Needed to Save All: Vital Figures.

Liners and Their Life-Saving Craft before the Disaster

Liners and Their Life-Saving Craft before the Disaster: White Boats to Represent the Number of Persons for Whom Boats Were Carried; Black to Represent the Boats Required for the Ships‘ Full Complements. The Illustrated London News (11 May 1912) p. 689. GGA Image ID # 100814f3ab

As noted, the white boats indicate the number of passengers for whom life-saving craft, etc., were provided; the black boats indicate the number of those for whom have to be provided if arrangements were made for the saving of all.

Thus the "Titanic" had twenty boats capable of holding 1178, while she was certified to carry 3547 passengers and crew. It should be understood that every vessel shown above carries life-saving craft in excess of that required by the Board of Trade regulations, amongst other things, life-belts, and life-buoys.

Thus, no blame can attach to them; and now, in view of fresh experience, it is certain that every line will increase the number of its boats. etc. Some, indeed, have already done so.

The figures given above are those supplied by the Board of Trade. By the time they are published here, alterations are likely to have been made in many instances.

Again, too, it should be said that boats do not represent the only life-saving devices — the "Titanic" had also, for example, 3560 life-belts and forty-eight life-buoys.

The Boats the Titanic Carried and Those She Might Have Carried

The Boats the "Titanic" Carried and Those She Might Have Carried: The Lll-Fated Liner's Boat-Deck as Planned and as It Was at the Time of the Disaster. The Illustrated London News (11 May 1912) p. 691. GGA Image ID # 10086f3baa

Fitting-Up a Collapsible Boat Aboard the Olympic.

The Lesson Learnt after the Greatest Maritime Disaster: Fitting-Up a Collapsible Boat Aboard the Olympic. The Illustrated London News (11 May 1912) p. 691. GGA Image ID # 1008a4f2da

A paper read at Glasgow some while ago contained the following:  "The two White Star Liners, the ‘Titanic’ and ‘Olympic' . . . are also to be fitted with this same type of double acting davits [the Welin Quadrant Davit]. Each vessel will carry sixteen sets, that is, enough davits to handle thirty-two life-boats. . . .

All inboard boats on these ships are extra boats, fitted in addition to the regulation complement." The “Titanic" was so fitted, that is to say, could have carried thirty-two boats instead of the sixteen she did carry under davits.

Four collapsible were added to the liner's life-saving craft when it was decided not to have the inboard boats in addition to those under davits, which, it must be said, complied fully with the Board of Trade regulations.

The diagram shows the boats carried under davits in white; the boats which might have been carried in addition and handled by the same davits in black. Orders have now been given that, Board of Trade Regulations notwithstanding, no ship of the International Mercantile Marine Company, which includes the White Star Line, the American, the Red Star, Dominion, Leyland, and Atlantic Transport, shall go to sea without boats and rafts for the whole of the passengers and crew. Other companies are following suit.

As It Should Be on Every Liner: Life-Boat Drill on a Steam-Ship

As It Should Be on Every Liner: Life-Boat Drill on a Steam-Ship. The Illustrated London News (11 May 1912) p. 698. GGA Image ID # 1008b55b11

Top Row:

  • Boat-Drill on a Liner: Crews, Each Including a Cook, Lined up by the Sides of the Boats Allotted to Them Ready to Man Them at the Word of Command.
  • The Alarm Sounding the Bugle-Call for the Crews to Muster and to Man Their Boats.
  • Practice in Life-Saving on a Liner: Crews Swinging Life-Boats out from the Davits Preparatory to Lowering Them to the Water.

Middle Row

  • With Her Crew in Their Cork Jackets: A Boat Swinging from the Davits. Half—Way Towards the Water
  • Nearing the End of Boat Drill, Hauling a Boat up a Liner's Side
  • A Boat Safely on the Water

Bottom Row

  • Beginning to Swing Boats out for Lowering.
  • Putting on Cork Jackets before Manning the Boats.

Taking the "Titanic" disaster as a text, but, of course, without definite knowledge as to what happened, there are those who suggest that on some passenger-carrying vessels, at all events, far too little attention is paid to boat-drill, and they state further that on certain liners there is a considerable lack of seamanship among the men who, by reason of the nature of the vessels on which they sail, are attendants rather than seamen in too many cases.

Dealing with this subject, Mr. Gerard Fiennes, writing in the "Pall Mall Gazette" says:  "It is absurd to suppose that the same degree of discipline and training can exist in the mercantile marine as in the Navy.

If the call comes to take the crew off a stricken warship, there are only disciplined men to be dealt with. On board the liner, there is a crowd of passengers, first, second and third class, who have been subjected to no discipline whatever. . . .

On board a liner, even if there is a sufficiency of boats, and if a certain amount of boat-drill, more or less perfunctory, takes place, none of the passengers are told off to particular boats. . . . It is wonderful, under the circumstances, that so many as 700 were got safely away from the ‘Titanic.’ .

. . Next to the sufficiency of the boats carried in point of number, the most important matter is that there should be a sufficient number of officers . . . to take charge of them, and a sufficient number of . . . seamen to man them."

The Saving of the 705: Uncrowded Life-Boat's of the “Titanic"

Photographs, Taken by a Passenger on the "Carpathia," Reproduced by Courtesy of “Collier's Weekly."

Survivors Aboard a Collapsible from the Titanic, the Boat Being Rowed Slowly Towards the Carpathia, Immediately before the Rescue of the Passengers.

Survivors Aboard a Collapsible from the “Titanic”, the Boat Being Rowed Slowly Towards the “Carpathia", Immediately before the Rescue of the Passengers. The Illustrated London News (18 May 1912) p. 734. GGA Image ID # 1008b6f007

Drawing Alongside the Carpathia to Be Picked Up, Survivors of the Titanic Disaster, Mostly Women, in One of the Ill-Fated Liner's Less Crowded Life Boats.

Drawing Alongside the "Carpathia" to Be Picked Up, Survivors of the “Titanic" Disaster, Mostly Women, in One of the Ill-Fated Liner's Less Crowded Life Boats. The Illustrated London News (18 May 1912) p. 734. GGA Image ID # 10091c4c07

A "Carpathia" steward describing the rescue of "Titanic" survivors to the "Times." said of the coming of the first boat of passengers: "Just as it was about half day, we came upon a boat with eighteen men in it, but no women. It was not more than a third filled. . . . Between 8.15 and 8.30 we got the last two boats, crowded to the gunwale, almost all the occupants of which were women."

Mr. Kuhl of Nebraska said: "Dawn was just breaking when the Carpathia’s passengers were awakened by the excitement occasioned by coming upon a fleet of life-saving boats. . . The work of getting the passengers over the side of the "Carpathia" was attended by the most heartrending scenes. The babies were crying, many of the women were hysterical while the men were stolid and speechless."

Saved by "S.O.S." - "Titanic" Survivors in the Life-Boats.

Saved by S.O.S. Titanic Survivors in the Life-Boats.

Saved by S.O.S. "Titanic" Survivors in the Life-Boats. The Illustrated London News (18 May 1912) p. 735. GGA Image ID # 100a01e0ea

The "Carpathia" arrived on the scene of the "Titanic" disaster in answer to the wireless distress-signal "S.O.S." not in time to see the end of the great liner, but in time to pick up her boats and took the 705 survivors to New York.

A "Carpathia" passenger, describing the rescue to the "Times", said: "I went up on to the deck and found that our vessel had changed her course. The life-boats had been sighted and began to arrive one by one.

There were sixteen of them in all. The transfer of the passengers was soon being carried out.

It was a pitiable sight. Ropes were tied around the waists of the adults to help them in climbing up the rope ladders. The little children and babies were hoisted on to our deck in bags. Some of the boats were crowded, but a few were not half full. . . .

There were husbands without their wives, wives without their husbands, parents without their children and children without their parents, but there was no demonstration, and not a sob was heard. They spoke scarcely a word. and seemed to be stunned by the shock of their experiences."

Drawn from Material Supplied by Mrs. Cornell, a Survivor.

The Crew and Passengers of One of the Titanic’s Life-Boats after the Disaster.

A Seaman, a Foreigner — and Women: The Crew and Passengers of One of the “Titanic’s“ Life-Boats after the Disaster. Drawn from Material Supplied by Mrs. Cornell, a Survivor. (Proof of the Discipline Aboard the Sinking “Titanic ”: A Boat ‘Load of Women.) The Illustrated London News (18 May 1912) p. 754. GGA Image ID # 100a0cd3ea

Passengers on the Boat-Deck of the Titanic in Cork Harbor.

Passing Boats in Which Survivors of the Disaster Subsequently Escaped: Passengers on the Boat-Deck of the “Titanic” in Cork Harbor. The Illustrated London News (4 May 1912) p. 635. GGA Image ID # 1007f31e01

The ilI-fated "Titanic" left Southampton on her disastrous maiden voyage to New York at noon on April 10, and first crossed to Cherbourg, where some passengers came on board.

She then proceeded to Queenstown, in Cork Harbour, another port of call for American mall-steamers. She arrived there shortly before noon on the 11th, and left at 1:30, having on board 316 saloon passengers, 279 in the second class, 698 in the steerage, and a crew of 903.

The above photograph was taken while the vessel lay in Cork Harbour and shows some of the passengers who were destined, three days later, to undergo such terrible experiences. On the left, may be seen some of the ship's boats in which survivors escaped.

Image # 1007f31e01: Excerpt from "Our Notebook," in The Illustrated London News, New York: The International News Company, Vol. 50, No. 1304, Saturday, 4 May 1912.

Other images and text: Boats Carried and Boats Needed to Save All: Vital Figures (p.689 Image # 100814f3ab); Boats: Those The "Titanic" Carried and Might Have Carried (p. 691); As It Should Be On Every Liner: Life-Boat Drill On A Steam-Ship (p. 698); in The Illustrated London News, New York: The International News Company, Vol. 50, No. 1305, Saturday, 11 May 1912.

Other Images and Text: The Saving of the 705: Uncrowded Life-Boats of the "Titanic." Image # 1008b6f007 p. 734; Image # 10091c4c07 p. 734; and Saved by S.O.S. "Titanic" Survivors in the Life-Boats. Image # 100a01e0ea p. 735 from The Illustrated London News, New York: The International News Company, Vol. 50, No. 1306, Saturday, 18 May 1912.

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