Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

Titanic: Why was lifeboat not full?

The hull of the S.S. Titanic. under construction in dry dock. The tragic sinking of the Titanic nearly a century ago can be blamed on low grade rivets that the ship's builders used on some parts of the ill-fated liner, two experts on metals conclude in a new book. Photograph © National Museums Northern Ireland. Collection Ulster Folk & Transport Museum

Lifeboat number 6 turned up again in the British investigation into the disaster, when it centred on the reason why the lifeboats weren't filled to capacity.

Though designed to carry 65 people to safety, it left with ony 40 on board. The senior surviving officer, Charles Lightoller, when questioned about this, said he feared that a full lifeboat would have collapsed the lowering mechanism that held them.

But Lightoller also admitted that he had made no arrangement to fill the boats once they were afloat. This was despite the fact that the lifeboats had been tested successfully in Belfast with 70 men in each carried safely.

Though the Titanic was designed to carry 32 lifeboats, this already inadequate number was reduced to 20 for fear that they would “clutter up the deck”.

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