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Lifeboats of the RMS Titanic

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Title: Lifeboats of the RMS Titanic  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: RMS Titanic, RMS Titanic Lifeboat No. 1, Maritime history of the United Kingdom, Margaret Mannion, William Denton Cox
Collection: History of the Atlantic Ocean, Lifeboats, Maritime History of the United Kingdom, Rms Titanic
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Lifeboats of the RMS Titanic

Partly flooded with ice-cold seawater, the Titanic '​s Collapsible Boat D approaches RMS Carpathia at 7:15 a.m. on 15 April 1912.
RMS Titanic, showing 8 lifeboats along the starboard-side boat deck (upper deck): 4 lifeboats near the bridge wheel house and 4 lifeboats near the 4th funnel.
 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, 2 & 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. One of the ship's legacies was that she had too few lifeboats to evacuate all those on board. The 20 lifeboats that she did carry could only take 1,178 people, even though there were about 2,223 on board. Titanic had a maximum capacity of 3,300 passengers.

All 20 lifeboats were used, loading between 12:40–2:10 a.m., although Collapsible Boat A floated off deck partially submerged, and Collapsible Boat B floated away upside down minutes before the ship upended and sank.

Many lifeboats carried only half of their maximum capacity; there are many versions as to the reasoning behind half filled lifeboats. Some sources claimed they were afraid of the lifeboat buckling under the weight, others suggest it occurred because the crew were following the strict maritime tradition to evacuate women and children first. Additionally, doors and hatches were locked to prevent passengers from lower decks accessing and storming the boats. 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 a.m., two hours after the Titanic sank to the bottom of the sea, and the rescue continued until the last lifeboat was collected at 8:30 a.m. 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.[1]

Although the sinking showed the number of lifeboats insufficient, Titanic was in compliance with maritime safety regulations of the time (albeit the Titanic disaster proved the regulations outdated for such large passenger ships). The Inquiry also revealed White Star Line wanted fewer boats on the decks, to provide unobstructed views for passengers and give the ship more aesthetics from an exterior view.

It was also believed in the event of an emergency, Titanic '​s 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 all passengers and crew would have to be evacuated rapidly at the same time.

Compounding the disaster, Titanic '​s crew were poorly trained on using the davits (lifeboat launching equipment). As a result, boat launches were slow, improperly executed, and poorly supervised. These factors contributed to lifeboats departing with half capacity.

Around 1,500 people did not make it on to a lifeboat and were aboard Titanic when she sank to the bottom of the sea at 2:20 a.m. on 15 April 1912. Around 705 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 4 hours & 30 minutes, from about 4 a.m. to 8:30 a.m., and 13 of the lifeboats were also taken aboard. The lifeboats were returned to the White Star Line at New York Harbor, as they were the only items of value salvaged from the shipwreck, but subsequently vanished from history.


  • Number and types of lifeboats 1
  • Use and locations aboard Titanic 2
  • Lack of lifeboats and training 3
  • Launch of the lifeboats 4
    • Boat 7 (starboard) 4.1
    • Boat 5 (starboard) 4.2
    • Boat 3 (starboard) 4.3
    • Boat 8 (port) 4.4
    • Boat 1 (starboard) 4.5
    • Boat 6 (port) 4.6
    • Boat 16 (port) 4.7
    • Boat 14 (port) 4.8
    • Boat 12 (port) 4.9
    • Boat 9 (starboard) 4.10
    • Boat 11 (starboard) 4.11
    • Boat 13 (starboard) 4.12
    • Boat 15 (starboard) 4.13
    • Boat 2 (port) 4.14
    • Boat 10 (port) 4.15
    • Boat 4 (port) 4.16
    • Collapsible Boat C (starboard) 4.17
    • Collapsible Boat D (port) 4.18
    • Collapsible Boat B (port) 4.19
    • Collapsible Boat A (starboard) 4.20
  • Recovery and disposal of the lifeboats 5
  • Notes 6
  • Bibliography 7
  • External links 8

Number and types of lifeboats

Titanic '​s wooden lifeboats in New York Harbor following the disaster. This particular image has been doctored to add the words "R.M.S. Titanic". In fact the lifeboats bore the name "S.S. Titanic" on a plaque mounted at the other end of the boat.

Titanic had 20 lifeboats of three different types:

  • 14 clinker-built wooden lifeboats, measuring 30 feet (9.1 m) long by 9 feet 1 inch (2.77 m) wide by 4 feet (1.2 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 (4.4 cm) thick. The exterior of the boats were fitted with "grablines" for people in the water to hold on to.[2][3] 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.[4] 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.[3] 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 (7.67 m) long by about 7 feet (2.1 m) wide by 3 feet (0.91 m) deep. They had a capacity of 322 cubic feet (9.1 m3) and could carry 40 people.[5] They were equipped similarly to the main lifeboats but with only one boat-hook, one water container, one bailer and six oars each.[6]
  • 4 "collapsible" Engelhardt lifeboats. These were effectively boat-shaped unsinkable rafts of kapok and cork, with heavy canvas sides that could be raised to form a boat. They measured 27 feet 5 inches (8.36 m) long by 8 feet (2.4 m) wide by 3 feet (0.91 m) deep. Their capacity was 376.6 cubic feet (10.66 m3) and each could carry 47 people.[5] The Engelhardts, built to a Danish design,[7] were built by the boat-builders McAlister & Son of Dumbarton, Scotland.[8] 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.[6]

The main lifeboats and cutters were built by Harland and 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.[2]

Use and locations aboard Titanic

Plan of the Boat Deck of RMS Titanic showing the location of the lifeboats. The main lifeboats are marked in green, while the emergency cutters are highlighted in red. Two of the collapsible lifeboats are marked in purple. The other two (not on this diagram) were situated on the roof of the officers' quarters behind the wheelhouse.

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.[9] The two cutters were situated immediately aft of the bridge, one to port and the other to starboard.[10] 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.[7] 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.[9]

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 Titanic '​s sinking, the latter two turned out to be very badly located. They were 8 feet (2.4 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 released, 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.[4]

The lifeboats were intended to be launched from davits supplied by the Welin Davit & Engineering Company of London. All lifeboats but the collapsibles were slung from the davits, ready to be launched.[6] 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.[5] 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.[10] 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 keel 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.[9] 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.[11]

Lack of lifeboats and training

Arrangement of lifeboats on the forward part of the Boat Deck of Titanic, shown on a large-scale model of the ship

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.[11] The shortage of lifeboats was not due to a lack of space; Titanic had been designed to accommodate up to 64 boats[5] – 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.[12] The reason lay in a combination of outdated safety regulations and complacency by the White Star Line, Titanic '​s operators.[13]

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.[4] By comparison, Titanic had a gross register tonnage of 46,328 tons.[14] 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 six that did were just marginally over 10,000 tons); 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. A random sampling of ships that exceeded 10,000 tons in 1912, of various different shipping lines in the United States, Canada, and Europe, show the ship that came the closest to carrying enough lifeboats for all its passengers was the French Line's La Provience which carried enough boats to accommodate 82 percent of her passenger capacity. Walter Lord stated in his 1987 book The Night Lives On that the lack of lifeboats on the Olympic-class liners might have had much to do with economics as one might have thought. Had the Olympic and Titanic been properly provisioned with enough lifeboats it might have drawn notice by the press that other smaller, and perhaps less safely equipped liners, were lacking sufficient lifeboats. This could have created a domino effect leading to a call for more stringent regulations concerning lifesaving equipment onboard ships that would have cost various shipping lines a considerable amount of money to accommodate. [15]

The regulations required a vessel of 10,000 tons or more to carry 16 lifeboats with a total capacity of 9,625 cubic feet (272.5 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 (320.77 m3),[8] which was theoretically capable of taking 1,178 people.[5] The regulations required that lifeboats should measure between 16–30 feet (4.9–9.1 m) with a minimum capacity of 125 cubic feet (3.5 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 (0.028 m3) of tank capacity.[2]

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, Titanic '​s 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.[16]

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 64.[5] During the design stage, Alexander Carlisle, Harland & Wolff's chief draughtsman and general manager, submitted a plan to provide 64 lifeboats. He later reduced the figure to 32, and in March 1910 the decision was taken to reduce the number again to 16.[8] The White Star Line preferred to maximise the amount of deck space available for the enjoyment of the passengers[17] (and the area that was free of lifeboats was, not coincidentally, the First Class promenade[18]). 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.[19]

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:

Remember 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.[19]

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.[20] 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.[21] This fact is what led to the harsh condemnation of Captain Stanley Lord of the Californian who both American and British inquiries into the disaster felt could have saved many if not all of the passengers and crew had she heeded the Titanic '​s distress calls. In this scenario, the Titanic '​s lifeboats would have been adequate to ferry the passengers to safety as planned.[13] However, it is worth noting that the ferrying of passengers between two ships would have been a long, arduous process even under the best conditions. It took the Carpathia well over four hours to pick up and account for all of the Titanic '​s lifeboats in the morning after the disaster. During the sinking of the aforementioned Republic in 1909, it took nearly half a day to ferry all of her passengers to rescue ships, and during the sinking of the Italian liner Andrea Doria in 1956 it took nearly eight hours to ferry all her passengers to safety. Both liners sank at a much slower rate, roughly half a day, in contrast to the Titanic which sank slightly shy of three hours after her collision with the iceberg.

While Titanic '​s 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 Titanic '​s passengers later found that they had only been partially provisioned.[22] No lifeboat or fire drills had been carried out since Titanic left Southampton.[22] A lifeboat drill had been scheduled for the morning before the ship sank, but was cancelled because Captain Smith wanted to deliver one last Sunday service before he went into full retirement .[23]

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 [25]

Launch of the lifeboats

Lifeboat tally
Boat Aboard   Boat Aboard
  2 17   1 12
  4 30   3 32
  6 26   5 41
  8 25   7 28
10 57   9 40
12 42 11 70
14 40 13 55
16 52 15 68
B (14) A 13
D 20 C 43
Total: 323 Total: 382

It was not until about 12:40 a.m., an hour after Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 p.m. 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.[26]

Smith had ordered his officers to put the "women and children in and lower away".[27] 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.[28]

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 occupants were transferred between boats before being picked up by the RMS Carpathia.[29] 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.[30]

Boat 7 (starboard)

Dorothy Gibson in a promotional photo for Saved From the Titanic (1912), wearing the clothes she wore the night of the sinking

Boat 7 was the first to be launched, at about 12:40 a.m., under the supervision of First Officer Murdoch, supported by Fifth Officer Lowe. It had a capacity of 65 persons but was lowered with only 28 aboard.[30] The two officers had tried for some minutes to persuade passengers to board but they were reluctant to do so.[31] Later testimony at the US Senate inquiry into the disaster stated the ship's officers believed the lifeboats were at risk of breaking apart if they were lowered while fully loaded. They 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. Moreover, Harland & Wolff's Edward Wilding testified that the lifeboats had in fact been tested safely with the equivalent of a full load of passengers. However, the results had not been passed on to the crew of Titanic.[8]

Among the occupants of Boat 7 were:

  • Dorothy Gibson, American silent film actress who starred in Saved from the Titanic (1912), the first motion picture produced about the disaster
  • Pierre Maréchal, French aviator and father of race car driver Jean-Pierre Maréchal
  • Frederic Kimber Seward, prominent New York corporate lawyer
  • James McGough, Philadelphia department store buyer
  • William T. Sloper, Connecticut banker, who was falsely accused of dressing as a woman to get into the lifeboat
  • George Hogg, Titanic lookout, who manned the boat along with fellow lookout Archie Jewel[32]
  • Margaret Hays, New York heiress, who brought her Pomeranian "Lady" with her
  • Alfred Nourney, who used the pseudonym Baron Alfred von Drachstedt
  • Dickinson Bishop, businessman, who was also falsely accused of dressing as a woman that night

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."[33] Those aboard had to sit for hours with their feet soaking in ice-cold water.[34] When Titanic went down at 2:20 a.m., the noise of hundreds of people 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 boat's occupants.[35] They drifted for some time until they came within reach of Boat 5. The officer in charge of the latter decided to transfer a number of survivors from his boat, which he thought was overcrowded, into No. 7.[36] The two boats were lashed together for the rest of the night until they separated to meet the RMS Carpathia.[37]

Boat 5 (starboard)

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 a.m.[30] The boat was loaded primarily with women and children.[38] 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!"[39] 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."[40] 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,"[39] and went to the captain for the approval. Ismay returned a short time later to urge a stewardess to board, which he did. In the end, only 36 people boarded, including Pitman himself, on Murdoch's orders.[30]

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.[38]

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.[41] 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.[41]

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.[30] 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.[42]

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."[43] At about 6:00 a.m., they were rescued by Carpathia.[44]

Boat 3 (starboard)

About 32 people boarded Boat 3, with Able-Bodied Seaman George Moore put in charge by Murdoch.[30] Again, mostly women and children boarded, with a few men allowed in at the end.[45] They included Henry S. Harper, who was accompanied by his valet, dragoman and Pekingese dog, Sun Yat Sen.[46]

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.[45] 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.[46] 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.[46]

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.[45] 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.[47] After Titanic sank the lifeboat drifted, while the bored women passengers passed the time by bickering with each other over minor annoyances.[48] The occupants had a long wait in freezing conditions and were not rescued until about 7.30 a.m. when the Carpathia arrived.[44]

Boat 8 (port)

Isador and Ida Straus, who refused to board a lifeboat while there were younger people still waiting to board

Boat 8 was loaded with 28 people under the supervision of Second Officer Lightoller and launched at about 1:00 a.m., with Captain Smith and Chief Officer Wilde participating. Boat 8 was the first lifeboat launched from the portside. Ida Straus, wife of New York merchant Isidor Straus was asked to join a group of people preparing to board but refused, saying: "I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die – together." The 67-year-old Isidor likewise refused an offer to board on account of his age, saying: "I do not wish any distinction in my favor which is not granted to others." The Strauses were last seen alive on deck arm in arm.[49] Major Archibald Butt, military aide to US President William Howard Taft, escorted to the boat Marie Young, a former music teacher to the children of President Theodore Roosevelt. She later recalled 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, asking her to "remember me to the folks back home."[50] Other single women were brought to the boats by men who had earlier offered their services to "unprotected ladies," as the conventions of the era dictated.[50]

The occupants of Boat 8 numbered around 25 people,[30] including:

  • Ellen Bird, maid to Ida Straus
  • Noëlle, Countess of Rothes, who took charge of the lifeboat's tiller and helped row
  • Gladys Cherry, a cousin of Noëlle Rothes' husband
  • Thomas Jones, Able-Bodied Seaman, who was in charge of the boat[49]
  • Emma Bucknell, wife of the founder of Bucknell University

After Titanic sank, Jones suggested going back to save some of those in the water. Only three passengers agreed; the rest protested that the boat might be capsized by desperate swimmers. Jones acquiesced, but told them: "Ladies, if any of us are saved, remember I wanted to go back. I would rather drown with them than leave them."[50] The passengers' conduct during the subsequent hours presented some striking contrasts. Lady Rothes – who had been one of the few passengers to support a rescue attempt – took charge of the tiller and put others to work at the oars.[51] 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 fact, when Walter Lord, author of A Night to Remember, interviewed the Countess and Seaman Jones in 1954, he discovered their mutual admiration had led to a lifelong correspondence.[52] By contrast, Ella White was so annoyed that the stewards in No. 8 were smoking cigarettes that she complained about it at the US Senate inquiry into the disaster;[48] she was particularly indignant that one of the ship's crewmen had said to another during the night: "If you don't stop talking through that hole in your face, there will be one less in the boat!"[51]

The occupants of Boat 8 spent the night rowing towards what they thought were the lights of a ship on the horizon, but turned around 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;[53] it was not until 7:30 a.m. that they were picked up.[44]

Boat 1 (starboard)

The lowering of Boat 1 at 1:05 a.m.[30] became one of the most controversial episodes in the aftermath of the disaster, both because the craft contained just 12 people and because of the alleged misconduct of two of its occupants, Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and his wife, Lucy, Lady Duff-Gordon, famous as the dress designer "Lucile" of London, Paris and New York. The boat was one of Titanic's two emergency cutters with a capacity of 40.[49] Of the twelve people aboard, seven were crewmen and the remaining five were First Class passengers.[54]

Its composition was not, however, a departure from Murdoch's interpretation of the "Symons,[49] whom he placed in charge of the boat. There was no else nearby, as the crowd on deck had moved farther along toward the remaining lifeboats, and Murdoch must have felt it better to get the boat safely away rather than have to send for others to fill it. As the under-loaded craft was lowered, Greaser Walter Hurst, watching the procedure from a lower deck, remarked to a crewmate: "If they are sending the boats away they might as well put some people in them."[55]

Boat 1 had room for about another 28 passengers but, as was the case with almost all other lifeboats launched that night, it did not return to rescue those in the water after Titanic sank. Fireman Charles Hendrickson claimed he told his boat mates: "It's up to us to go back and pick up anyone in the water" but found no support.[42] At least three other crewmembers, as well as the Duff Gordons, Solomon and Stengel, denied hearing any suggestion to go back or opposing any proposition to do so. In the media later, the Duff Gordons in particular were widely criticised for what was interpreted as their callousness in the face of the disaster. For instance, as Titanic sank, Lucile reportedly commented to her secretary: "There is your beautiful nightdress gone." Although it was likely an absent-minded remark uttered in a moment of shock, Fireman Pusey replied that she shouldn't worry about losing her belongings because she could buy more. Pusey proceeded to complain to Sir Cosmo that the crew had lost all their kit and that their pay stopped from the moment of the sinking. Sir Cosmo, out of charity but also to avert a dispute, responded: "Very well, I will give you a fiver each to start a new kit!" Aboard the recue ship Carpathia, he did as he promised, presenting each of the seven crewmen in his lifeboat a cheque for £5.

When this act was made public, it was interpreted by much of the press as a bribe to prevent the crew from returning to the scene of the sinking to rescue others. The British Board of Trade's official inquiry into the disaster investigated the allegation but found the charge of bribery to be false and exonerated Sir Cosmo fully. Even so, the bad publicity injured his reputation.[54] A misunderstanding also resulted from a series of photographs of the occupants of Boat 1, taken aboard the Carpathia. Lucile had consented to a request from a Carpathia passenger, Dr. Frank Blackmarr, to take these images. But the sight of some of the crew posing in their lifejackets understandably disturbed some fellow survivors who subsequently complained about the incident.[56]

Boat 6 (port)

Margaret "Molly" Brown presenting Captain Arthur Rostron of the RMS Carpathia with a loving cup for saving the survivors of Titanic

Lightoller launched Boat 6 at 1:10; it was photographed as it approached Carpathia, revealing it to have had 28 people aboard, though it had a capacity of 65.[30] Denver millionairess Margaret "Molly" Brown was among No. 6's most prominent occupants, along with Washington, D.C. writer and feminist Helen Churchill Candee. Brown did not board voluntarily but was picked up by a crewman and dropped bodily into the boat as it was being lowered. Quartermaster Robert Hitchens was placed in charge of the craft along with lookout Frederick Fleet. While being lowered, pleas from women in the boat for additional oarsmen forced Lightoller to solicit the crowd on deck for anyone who had sailing experience. Major Arthur Godfrey Peuchen of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club volunteered, shimmying down the falls (ropes) into the boat.[38] Peuchen was the only male passenger Lightoller permitted to board a lifeboat.

Relations among the occupants of Boat 6 were strained throughout the night. Hitchens apparently resented Peuchen's presence, perhaps fearing the major would pull rank and take charge. The two men quarreled, and Hitchens refused Peuchen's request that he assist him at the oars, since there was only one other man rowing.

When Titanic sank, Peuchen, Brown and others urged Hitchens to return to rescue people struggling in the water. Hitchens refused, even ordering the men at the oars to stop rowing altogether. "There's no use going back," he called out. "There's only a lot of stiffs out there," adding: "It's our lives now, not theirs."[57] The cries for help soon died away but Brown asked Hitchens to let the women row to help keep them warm. When he balked, Brown ignored him and started passing out oars anyway. He protested and swore at her, and at one point moved to physically stop her. She told him to stay put or she'd throw him overboard. Others joined in to back her up, telling Hitchens to keep quiet. But he continued swearing, shocking a stoker who finally asked him: "Don't you know you're talking to a lady?" Taking an oar herself, Brown organised the other women in shifts, two to an oar. When her heroic actions were published in the press, she became known as the "Unsinkable" Molly Brown."[58] Brown's leadership was supported by Helen Candee, who herself assisted in the rowing despite a broken ankle received when she fell into the boat while boarding.[59]

After the Titanic sank, Boat 6 eventually tied up with Boat 16. It was one of the last to reach the Carpathia, coming alongside at 8:00 a.m.[44]

Boat 16 (port)

Sixth Officer James Moody supervised the launching of Boat 16 at about 1:20 a.m. 40 people are believed to have been on board by the time it reached Carpathia;[60] most of those aboard were said to be women and children from Second and Third Class.[61] 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 loss of Britannic in 1916.[62]

Boat 14 (port)

About 58 people were aboard Boat 14, with Wilde, Lightoller and Lowe supervising its launch.[60] By the time it was launched at about 1:25 a.m., 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.[63] 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 "Throw him over-board", 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 woman's shawl.[64]

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 rescue bid was mounted too late,[63] (Lifeboat #4 port was the only other lifeboat to rescue people from the sea). 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. Four men (the steward Harold Phillimore, the first class passenger William Fisher Hoyt, the third class passenger Fang Lang and a fourth unknown person, possibly the second class passenger Emilio Ilario Giuseppe Portaluppi) were pulled from the sea but most were already dead or dying.[65][60] Hoyt died in the boat, while the other three survived.

A few hours later Lowe rescued the survivors aboard Collapsible A, which was close to sinking, and brought them aboard Boat 14.[66] The boat rendezvoused with Carpathia at about 7:15 a.m.[44]

Boat 12 (port)

Lightoller and Wilde lowered Boat 12 at 1:30 a.m. with about 30 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.[63][67] It was the last lifeboat to be picked up by Carpathia, at about 8:15 a.m.[44]

Boat 9 (starboard)

Jacques Futrelle urged his wife to enter Boat 9 but did not find a lifeboat for himself and died in the sinking

The lowering of Boat 9 at 1:30 a.m. with about 56 aboard was supervised by Murdoch, possibly with Moody assisting.[67] Boatswain's Mate Albert Hames was put in charge with Able-Bodied Seaman George McGough at the tiller.[60] 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.[49] 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."[68]

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.[69] The boat was picked up by Carpathia several hours later, at about 6:15 a.m.[44]

Boat 11 (starboard)

Boat 11 was lowered under Murdoch's supervision at 1:35 a.m. with Able-Bodied Seaman Sidney Humphreys in charge. By now the lifeboats were being filled much closer to capacity, and Boat 11 is estimated to have carried about 70 people.[67] One occupant, Steward James Witter, was knocked into the boat by a hysterical woman whom he was helping aboard as it was lowered.[70] First Class passenger Edith Louise Rosenbaum, a Paris-based correspondent for Women's Wear Daily, brought along her toy pig, a music box that played the Maxixe and had been given to her as a good luck token by her mother. Rosenbaum was too frightened to enter the lifeboat, but when a crewmember, mistaking her little mascot for a baby, tossed it in, she leaped in after it.[69] Definitely the oddest Titanic survivor, the toy is now part of the collection of the National Maritime Museum in London.[71] Second Class passenger Nellie Becker protested her way into No. 11, after placing her son and one of her daughters in the boat. She was initially prohibited from entering by Murdoch who felt the boat was already too full. But Becker made her way aboard. In the chaos, however, her eldest daughter, Ruth, was left behind and was instructed by Murdoch to head for No.13.

On reaching the water, Boat 11 was nearly swamped by a jet of water being pumped out of the ship to stem the flooding. Tempers flared among the crowded passengers, some of whom had to stand, as the boat was rowed away from the ship.[72] Rosenbaum offered some levity by using her musical pig to entertain the children underfoot.[69] The lifeboat was met by Carpathia at about 7:00 a.m.[44]

Boat 13 (starboard)

Painting of lifeboats being lowered down the side of Titanic, with one lifeboat about to be lowered on top of another one in the water. A third lifeboat is visible in the background.
After being lowered into the sea, Boat 13 drifted under the descending Boat 15 (as depicted by Charles Dixon)

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 a.m. Again, it was heavily occupied, with 65 people aboard and Leading Fireman Frederick Barrett in charge.[67] The occupants were mainly Second and Third Class women and children, including the youngest Titanic passenger, nine-week old Millvina Dean, who was also the last remaining survivor.[73] Among the men also aboard was Lawrence Beesley, who subsequently wrote a popular book about the disaster.[74] 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.[75] 12 year old Second Class passenger Ruth Becker was placed in this boat by Moody after being prevented from entering the heavily overloaded No. 11 which her mother and her two siblings had boarded. Becker was one of few passengers who brought blankets from her stateroom into boat which were later used to keep stokers, who were wearing sleeveless shirts, warm while rowing. 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."[69]

While it was being lowered the lifeboat was nearly caught by "an enormous stream of water, three or four feet in diameter"[76] 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.[77] 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."[78] They were picked up at about 6:30 a.m.[67]

Boat 15 (starboard)

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 a.m. Fireman Frank Dyamond was put in charge of what was the most heavily loaded boat at launching, with about 65 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.[67] The boat was one of the last to be recovered by Carpathia, at about 7:30 a.m.[44]

  • Alfred Frank Evans, lookout, put in charge of the lifeboat along with Fireman Frank Dymond.

Boat 2 (port)

The lowering of Boat 2, the second of the two cutters,with an occupancy of 25 people was overseen by Wilde and Smith at about 1:45 a.m.[67] 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.[79] 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.[67] The occupants were principally women, plus one male Third Class passenger.[80] Fourth Officer Boxhall was given charge of the boat.[67]

When Titanic sank at 2:20 a.m., 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.[42] The boat was the first to reach Carpathia, at 4:10 a.m.[44]

Boat 10 (port)

Boat 10 was launched at about 1:50 a.m. under Murdoch's supervision with Able-Bodied Seaman Edward Buley in charge. It appears to have had about 35 people aboard, when it was launched.[67] 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. Neshan Krekorian, an Armenian passenger from third class, is said to have jumped into Boat 10 as it was being lowered.[81] Two of those aboard were later transferred to another lifeboat, and it had 55 aboard when it met Carpathia a few hours later. [67] It was the second to last lifeboat to be picked up, at 8:00 a.m.[44]

Boat 4 (port)

Launched concurrently with Boat 10, with 42 people aboard, the last of the wooden lifeboats was launched under the supervision of Lightoller at 1:50 a.m. with Quartermaster Walter Perkis put in charge.[82] 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.[83] The windows proved unexpectedly difficult to open and to add to the problems, the lifeboat got caught up on Titanic '​s 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.[80]

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.[80]

Of the seven members of the Ryerson party from first class, only the five females were initially allowed to board, including Mrs. Emily Ryerson, the two daughters, a maid and governess. The son, John, was not allowed, until the father, Arthur Ryerson, stepped forward, proclaiming, "Of course, that boy goes with his mother. He is only 13."[84] All survived except the father, who dutifully stayed behind.[85]

Boat 4 appears to have had about 42 people aboard (about 40 women and children and two or three crewmembers) when it was lowered.[86] As it had been ordered, Perkis steered the boat along the side of the ship in search for open gangways, since he had been told to take on board more passengers through them, but found no one. This way, the boat ended up near the davits of No. 16 (which had been already launched), and two greasers, Thomas Ranger and Frederick William Scott, who were standing near the davits, climbed down the falls to boat 4 (Scott fell into the water but was hauled aboard the lifeboat).[87][88] The boat then rowed away from the ship in order to avoid suction.[86] A third man, lamp trimmer Samuel Ernest Hemming, climbed down the falls of another lifeboat and swam over to No. 4, which was about 200 yards far.[89] Immediately after the sinking the boat rowed back to the wreckage to pick up more survivors (the only lifeboat to try immediately to save people in the water).[87] The boat picked up six or seven more men (fireman Thomas Patrick Dillon, seaman William Henry Lyons, stewards Andrew Cunningham and Sidney Conrad Siebert, storekeeper Frank Winnold Prentice and one or two more unidentified swimmers[90]) from the water.[89][91][92] Two of the survivors (Siebert and Lyons) later died of exposure.[91][92] The number of occupants later increased when other people were transferred from Boat 14 and Collapsible Boat D. By the time it reached Carpathia at 8:00 a.m. it had about 60 occupants.[93]

Collapsible Boat C (starboard)

Wilde and Murdoch oversaw the launch of the first of the collapsible Engelhardt lifeboats, with 44 people, 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 Titanic '​s bow dipped deeper into the water.[62] 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.[94] 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.[62]

The boat was lowered into the water at 2:00 a.m., 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.[62] As Titanic went down 20 minutes later, Ismay turned his back on the sinking ship, unable to bear the sight.[95] It was the first of the collapsible lifeboats to reach Carpathia, at 5:45 a.m., and had about 44 people on board.[93]

Collapsible Boat D (port)

Michel Marcel Navratil, right, and his brother Edmond, left, the "Titanic Orphans" from Collapsible Boat D

By the time Collapsible Boat D was launched at 2:05 a.m., 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.[62] 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.[96] First class passenger Edith Evans gave up her place in the lifeboat to Ms Caroline Brown, who became the last passenger to enter a lifeboat from the davits. Ms Evans became one of only four first class women to perish in the disaster.

In the end, about 25 people were on board when it left the deck under the command of Quartermaster Arthur Bright.[97][98][82] Two first class passengers, Hugh Woolner and Mauritz Håkan Björnström-Steffansson, jumped from A-Deck (which had started to flood) into the boat as it was being lowered, with Björnström-Stefansson landing upside down in the boat's bow and Woolner landing half-out, before being pulled aboard by the occupants.[99][62] Another first class passenger, Frederick Maxfield Hoyt, who had previously put his wife in the boat, jumped in the water immediately after and was hauled aboard by Woolner and Björnström-Steffansson.[98][99] The number of people on board later increased when about 10-12 survivors were transferred to collapsible D from another boat.[97][98] Carpathia picked up those aboard collapsible D at 7:15 a.m.[44]

Collapsible Boat B (port)

By 2:15 a.m., 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.[100] 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.[101] Wireless operator Harold Bride found himself trapped underneath the overturned hull. Titanic '​s 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.[102] 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.[103]

Collapsible Boat B, found adrift by the ship Mackay-Bennett during its mission to recover the bodies of those who died in the disaster

Those aboard Collapsible B suffered greatly during 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. The victims possibly included

  • Works related to RMS Titanic at Wikisource

External links


  • Aldridge, Rebecca (2008). The Sinking of the Titanic. New York: Infobase Publishing.  
  • Barczewski, Stephanie (2011). Titanic: A Night Remembered. London: Continuum International Publishing Group.  
  • Bartlett, W.B. (2011). Titanic: 9 Hours to Hell, the Survivors' Story. Stroud, Gloucestershire: Amberley Publishing.  
  • Beveridge, Bruce; Hall, Steve (2011). "Description of the ship". In Halpern, Samuel. Report into the Loss of the SS Titanic: A Centennial Reappraisal. Stroud, UK: The History Press.  
  • Bottomore, Stephen (2000). The Titanic and Silent Cinema. Hastings, UK: The Projection Box.  
  • Butler, Daniel Allen (1998). Unsinkable: The Full Story of RMS Titanic. Mechanicsburg, PA: Stackpole Books.  
  • Chirnside, Mark (2004). The Olympic-Class Ships. Stroud, England:  
  • Cox, Stephen (1999). The Titanic Story: Hard Choices, Dangerous Decisions. Chicago: Open Court Publishing.  
  • Eaton, John P.; Haas, Charles A. (1994). Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy. Wellingborough, UK: Patrick Stephens.  
  • Gibson, Allen (2012). The Unsinkable Titanic: The Triumph Behind A Disaster. Stroud, Glos.: The History Press.  
  • Gill, Anton (2010). Titanic: the real story of the construction of the world's most famous ship. London: Channel 4 Books.  
  • Gittins, Dave; Akers-Jordan, Cathy; Behe, George (2011). "Too Few Boats, Too Many Hindrances". In Halpern, Samuel. Report into the Loss of the SS Titanic: A Centennial Reappraisal. Stroud, UK: The History Press.  
  • Hutchings, David F.; de Kerbrech, Richard P. (2011). RMS Titanic 1909–12 (Olympic Class): Owners' Workshop Manual. Sparkford, Yeovil: Haynes.  
  • Lord, Walter (2005) [1955]. A Night to Remember. New York: St. Martin's Griffin.  
  • Lord, Walter (1987). The Night Lives On. London: Penguin Books.  
  • Marshall, Logan (1912). Sinking of the Titanic and Great Sea Disasters. Philadelphia: The John C. Winston Co.  
  • Mowbray, Jay Henry (1912). Sinking of the Titanic. Harrisburg, PA: The Minter Company.  
  • Ward, Greg (2012). The Rough Guide to the Titanic. London: Rough Guides.  
  • Wilson, Andrew (2011). Shadow of the Titanic. London: Simon & Schuster.  
  • Wormstedt, Bill; Fitch, Tad (2011). "An Account of the Saving of Those on Board". In Halpern, Samuel. Report into the Loss of the SS Titanic: A Centennial Reappraisal. Stroud, UK: The History Press.  

Online sources

  • AFP/Peter Muhly (15 March 2012). ..."Titanic"Tour the . Hindustan Times. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 
  • National Maritime Museum Press Office (7 April 2003). archive: the Lord-Macquitty Collection"Titanic"National Maritime Museum receives historic . National Maritime Museum. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  • Titanic Historical Society. "Titanic"Lifeboat Flag from . Titanic Historical Society. Retrieved 7 April 2012. 


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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.[109] A full-size replica lifeboat is on display in Belfast at the Titanic Belfast visitor attraction.[110]

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.[106][107] 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.[108]

Titanic '​s 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 a.m., with Boat 12 the last, at 8:15 a.m. 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.[104] 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.[105]

Titanic lifeboats strewn on the deck of the Carpathia on the morning of the Titanic disaster.

Recovery and disposal of the lifeboats

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 a.m. 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 many (at least seven or eight, including the first class passenger Thomson Beattie, the third class passengers Arthur Keefe, Edvard Lindell and Gerda Lindell and a couple of firemen) died of hypothermia or fell back into the sea. By the time the survivors were transferred into Collapsible Boat D, only 13 to about 17-20 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 the Oceanic, another White Star Line ship.[101]

Collapsible Boat A (starboard)


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