Were there any survivors of the Titanic who never got into one of the Titanic's lifeboats?

Jun 2017
3,027
Connecticut
According to this, Titanic should have fired rockets at 1 minute intervals to signal distress She didn't.

When Is A Rocket Called A Distress Signal Or Just A Flash In The Sky? - Titanic Historical Society

According to information entered into the record at the British Enquiry, the Titanic carried thirty-six socket signals. The White Star Line provided these thirty-six signals to be used in case of emergency, and they were the latest pyrotechnics for maritime use. What made them different from previous illuminations was they carried an explosive device or report [a loud sound in addition to illumination] in the nose of the rocket and also sent a shower of white stars cascading down as the “socket signal” exploded several hundred feet above the ship firing them.
The 1912 International Rules of the Road governing Signals of Distress are quite clear: Article 31: Class 1, called for – a cannon or explosive device [with report] fired at one minute intervals. The device’s report was the sound of distress.
Article 31: Class 3, covered the sight of distress which is a rocket of any color fired one at a time at short intervals.
For the Titanic to fire distress signals using the rockets supplied her, the crew should have fired its socket signals at one minute intervals. It was that simple. By doing so, the rockets would be international “signals of distress.” An explosion or report at one minute intervals satisfies the sound signal requirement and the white shower of stars at one minute intervals satisfies the sight requirement. If this procedure had been followed, no one could ever question the meaning of the Titanic’s rockets
That might be true and all but the proper procedure isn't neccessarily standard practice. There's lots of black letter regs that aren't standard practice because they don't need to be and this is one of them. It's like yelling fire, people aren't going to ignore you cause you don't follow a rule that requires you to do it in certain intervals if it's serious. The crew messed up in a lot of ways that night but not doing everything they could to contact assistance isn't one of them. They used morse(and the supposed initial conversation that ended is a fascinating topic), they used rockets, they used wireless. They even used both the old(CQD) and new code(SOS) just in case people weren't using the new one yet(probably the most competent thing the Captain did after the sinking was directing the wireless operators to do that). If the rockets indeed scared away a third ship which I think is what likely happened, it's not like the absence of rockets would have meant they'd have neccessarily came to help.
 

Fiver

Ad Honorem
Jul 2012
3,776
According to this, Titanic should have fired rockets at 1 minute intervals to signal distress She didn't.

When Is A Rocket Called A Distress Signal Or Just A Flash In The Sky? - Titanic Historical Society

According to information entered into the record at the British Enquiry, the Titanic carried thirty-six socket signals. The White Star Line provided these thirty-six signals to be used in case of emergency, and they were the latest pyrotechnics for maritime use. What made them different from previous illuminations was they carried an explosive device or report [a loud sound in addition to illumination] in the nose of the rocket and also sent a shower of white stars cascading down as the “socket signal” exploded several hundred feet above the ship firing them.
The 1912 International Rules of the Road governing Signals of Distress are quite clear: Article 31: Class 1, called for – a cannon or explosive device [with report] fired at one minute intervals. The device’s report was the sound of distress.
Article 31: Class 3, covered the sight of distress which is a rocket of any color fired one at a time at short intervals.
For the Titanic to fire distress signals using the rockets supplied her, the crew should have fired its socket signals at one minute intervals. It was that simple. By doing so, the rockets would be international “signals of distress.” An explosion or report at one minute intervals satisfies the sound signal requirement and the white shower of stars at one minute intervals satisfies the sight requirement. If this procedure had been followed, no one could ever question the meaning of the Titanic’s rockets
The link incorrectly cites the International Rules of the Road. There was no requirement for both a sound signal and a sight signal. There was no requirement that rockets be fired at one minute intervals.

Here is the appropriate section:

Distress Signals
Art. 31 When a vessel is in distress and requires help from other vessels or from the shore, the following shall be the signals to be used or displayed by her, either together or separately, viz:-

In the daytime-
1. A gun or other explosive signal fired at intervals of about a minute;
2. The International Code signal of distress indicated by NC;
3. The distant signal, consisting of a square flag, having either above or below it a ball or anything resembling a ball.
4. A continuous sounding with and fog-signal apparatus.

At night-
1. A gun or other explosive signal fired at intervals of about a minute;
2. Flames on the vessel (as from a burning tar-barrel, oil-barrel, &c,);
3. Rockets or shells, throwing stars of any colour or description, fired one at a time, at short intervals;
4. A continuous sounding with and fog-signal apparatus.

As the phrase "either together or separately" clearly indicates, any ship using one or more of those signals was clearly signaling distress. The key part was actually quoted into the record in the British Inquiry - That is Article 31, dealing with distress signals: "When a vessel is in distress and requires assistance from other vessels or from the shore, the following shall be the signals to be used or displayed by her, either together or separately"; and then, as your Lordship pointed out, "At night" No. 3 is "Rockets or shells, throwing stars of any colour or description, fired one at a time, at short intervals."

The British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry examined this

Testimony of Titanic Fourth Officer Joseph G. Boxhall
15395. How many rockets did you send up about?
- I could not say, between half a dozen and a dozen, I should say, as near as I could tell.

15396. What sort of rockets were they?
- The socket distress signal.

15397. Can you describe what the effect of those rockets is in the sky; what do they do?
- You see a luminous tail behind them and then they explode in the air and burst into stars.

15398. Did you send them up at intervals one at a time?
- One at a time, yes.

15399. At about what kind of intervals?
- Well, probably five minutes; I did not take any times.

Testimony of Californian Second Officer Herbert Stone

7832. Now, will you tell me what you had seen?
- First of all, I was walking up and down the bridge and I saw one white flash in the sky, immediately above this other steamer. I did not know what it was; I thought it might be a shooting star.

7833. What was the nature of the flash?
- A white flash.

7834. You did not know what it was?
- No.

7835. How long have you been at sea?
- Eight years.

7836. You know distress signals?
- I know what they are, yes.

7837. Was it like a distress signal?
- It was just a white flash in the sky; it might have been anything.

7838. I know, but what did it suggest to your mind? What did you say to yourself? What did you think it was?
- I thought nothing until I brought the ship under observation with the binoculars and saw the others.

7839. Then you took up your glasses, apparently, and looked?
- Yes.

7840. And how many more did you see?
- I saw four more then.

7841. What were they, rockets?
- They had the appearance of white rockets bursting in the sky.

7842. Did they come in quick succession?
- At intervals of about three or four minutes.

The Titanic fired a series of rockets "one at a time, at short intervals", which should have been a clear signal of distress to any competent sailor. Second Officer Stone of the Californian saw rockets fired "one at a time, at short intervals". Stone tried to dance around the subject, but the Inquiry Comissioner got Stone to acknowledge that the rockets were not the normal "way in which steamers communicate with each other " and that the rockets were "not being sent up for fun ", though Stone persisted in claiming he had no idea what a series a series of rockets "one at a time, at short intervals" meant. That leaves two options - Stone was lying or Stone was incompetent when he said he did not consider the possibility that the rockets might be signals of distress.
 
Sep 2013
916
Chattanooga, TN
And they also thought Titanic, the largest ship on earth was very small. If they were as close as alleged that mistake would not have occurred especially on such a clear night. The Californians crew thought a lot of things. To put in context how close the Californian allegedly was, Captain Smith(or perhaps Murdoch or Lightoller did this given the situation with him) actually ordered the first life boats to row to the ship and come back. The biggest hole in the theory though is Californian and Titanic both saw the described ship leave(and considerably earlier than the sinking). Now neither ship was moving, Californian was stuck in ice which is proven by earlier wireless messages in addition to testimony and Titanic was sinking dead in the water. So both ships were spotting movement that wasn't taking place on Californian or Titanic. In a crowded shipping lane.

Well the issue with me is I don't think she could have got there in time. The Californians size would have been a logistical issue regardless but if she had half an hour upon arriving I imagine almost everyone would have been saved(Carpathia was an hour away and Mount Temple would have been the rescue ship if Carpathia's wireless operater hadn't received the CQD before falling asleep). But the issue is distance. Here's all the issues with blaming Californian besides my belief it was a third ship. And of course I agree Californian was iresponsible not waking up the wireless operator, disagree whether that negligence made a difference.

But here's the reasons I doubt Californian could make it if she was any further away than the most extreme close estimates.
.
a-The Californian scapegoat theory being accurate relies on Californian being super close(something which was not neccessary to see the rockets) within about 10 miles. Californian was more realistically 20-30 miles out.

b-Californian's speed was about 12 knots and she was stopped because she was in an ice field. Carpathia was going at 17-18 knots. Now if Carpathia is at least twice as far you can say Californian will still get there first and you are probably right but Carpathia got there about an hour and a half too late so Californian would have to get there 2 hours earlier just to get to Titanic at the very end(when rescue operations would have been very harazrdous).

c-To demonstrate how important those 5-6 knots are, let me bring up the Mount Temple. The Mount Temple was the closest ship to the distress call(that received it, the whole issue with the third ships is wireless wasn't universal and no wireless doesn't mean no ships) less than 50 miles away however had about the same speed as Californian. As a result Carpathia got there first despite starting further away(about 10 miles further).

d-This is also assuming Californian left right away and again she was stuck in ice would have taken time to get the ship moving. Californian DID head to the spot once day broke and the wireless operator woke up but the ship only got there as Carpathia was about to leave at 8.30. Carpathia turned within minutes of the initial distress call(which was about 2 hours before ship sank).

e-The time the exact ship left it's position would be really revealing about how far Californian was cause we know when the ship got to Titanic's position(about 8.30). This would indicate the ship took about 2 hours to get there(pretty slow if as close as the mystery ship). We don't know and it wasn't in the crews interest to be truthful if you are correct and they were right there. But even if we knew and the ship was further away one can just say it doesn't mean anything cause of the ice field.

Now I don't think it's impossible Californian could have gotten there by the time the ship sank. But it's very close to being such it would be a real stretch even if everything had went perfect.
Was that kind of reckless of Carpathia's captain to travel towards Titanic's lifeboats at 17-18 knots? 18 knots is approximately 20 mph. Isn't that about the speed Titanic was doing when titanic hit iceberg? It would not help Titanic's passengers and crew if carpathia hit an iceberg and sank as well.

Titanic was such a giant boat with over 2,000 people on it. Do you think that the California's captain could have been reluctant to rescue the people from the Titanic for fear that it might be too many people and the great hordes off people might swamp the California and sink the California? I ask this question because i have no idea of the size of the California. Not every boat in the ocean can take an additional two thousand people on board without sinking.
 
Jun 2017
3,027
Connecticut
Was that kind of reckless of Carpathia's captain to travel towards Titanic's lifeboats at 17-18 knots? 18 knots is approximately 20 mph. Isn't that about the speed Titanic was doing when titanic hit iceberg? It would not help Titanic's passengers and crew if carpathia hit an iceberg and sank as well.

Titanic was such a giant boat with over 2,000 people on it. Do you think that the California's captain could have been reluctant to rescue the people from the Titanic for fear that it might be too many people and the great hordes off people might swamp the California and sink the California? I ask this question because i have no idea of the size of the California. Not every boat in the ocean can take an additional two thousand people on board without sinking.
Ill answer one by one.


To the first question, yes that was reckless(knowingly so they are speeding through an icefield) though they took all the precautions that could be taken speeding through an icefield(Titanic's crew wasn't really aware of that, Smith took all necessary precautions with the info he knew, early effects of climate change meant ice was slightly more south than crews experience would suggest). That's part of why I am so skeptical Californian(which was even slower) could have made it despite being closer. On the other hand Titanic sank from an iceberg collision cause of the way the ship hit the iceberg and ships smaller than both Titanic and Carpathia(one of the Guion ships from the 1880s can't remember which off the top of my head) had survived iceberg collisions in the past. Usually smaller ships hit icebergs(or other objects) straight forward and this is where the reinforcement on all ships including Titanic was located, and the collision that brought down Titanic wasn't really a hypothetical scenario that was on the mind of any shipbuilder. Furthermore because of the Titanic's distress signal several ships were making towards the scene and would have likely saved everyone on both ships.

To the second question Carpathia was still considerably slower than Titanic was going though she was going 2-3 knots more than her service speed. Titanic I think was going about 22 to 22.5 knots at time of collision. The ship was not at full speed(last "auxillary" boilers were set to be lit at midnight so the ship would have reached it's full potential the following morning) and I think the boilers might have actually been lit following the collision incredibly enough(at midnight much of the ship wasn't aware things were wrong). Tbh the decision which screwed the Titanic as far as the collission went was ordering the engines to reverse instead of just turning which would have taken considerably less time(this is one thing the Titanic movie for all it's faults captures quite well) . The speed of course didn't help but the unique environmental conditions, the unusual southern location of the ice and Murdoch's orders to reverse the engines played a considerably larger part IMO.

Well if he'd been made aware of the situation that is a logical point(in turns of room on the boat not actually sinking Californian, Titanic had almost no suction when it went down) Californian would have struggled to save everyone if she'd made it in time(though the ship was pretty much empty unlike Carpathia). Carpathia was incredibly crowded but Carpathia(despite being larger) had quite a few people on board while Californian had a skeleton crew. But my answer is no given the moment he was aware of the situation(when he woke up) he sped towards the scene immediately. While the captain should have ordered the wireless operator waken up, that oversight is minor compared to the officers ignoring the distress signals and not waking the captain. Given they were stopped in a hazardous environment in the freezing cold at 12-1 am the fact they saw rockets and thought it was people partying is downright embarrassing. Of course I don't think Californian had the ability to make it in time to save 2000 people regardless. Making it before Titanic sank is a real reach that I think the Board of Trade went with in the name of finding a scapegoat to blame that the facts doesn't support. And Lord also wasn't aware the ship was Titanic and it likely wasn't(what they saw, the rockets which were obviously from Titanic didn't necessarily come from the ship they were looking at, and both Californian and Titanic saw a ship move away which means said ship wasn't Californian or Titanic cause neither ship moved) they thought it was a small ship.

As to the size of Californian she was about half the length of Titanic and half as wide and slightly slower than Carpathia. Tonnage wise she was like an eighth of the size of Titanic. Of course just 35-40 years before she'd have been one of the biggest ships in human history but ships(like buildings) got bigger at the dawn of the industrial revolution MUCH faster in a handful of years than they had for centuries. In 1890 the largest ship were under 10,000 tons 600 feet(Carpathia was around this size), in 1900 it was under 20,000 and 700 feet by 1912 Titanic was almost 50,000 tons and 900 feet. So while Californian was a little shrimp compared to the Titanic and unsignifigant when it was commissioned for a minor line in the 1900s, that is relative, Californian was only a tiny ship because so many larger ships were out there(same is doubly true for Carpathia). For almost all of human history she'd be by far the largest ship on earth.

However Californian would have likely not been appropriate for taking Titanic's passengers to New York likely would have waited for Carpathia and Mount Temple to come, which would have been a few hours. Only reason the larger(but still crowded) Carpathia didn't transfer Titanic's passngers to Olympic is because Olympic is basically the same ship and that would kind of be a mentally torturous thing(especially for Ismay who Rostron let make the call) to put the survivors through. Imagine surviving that disaster and getting on a near replica the next day?
 
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Dec 2013
389
Arkansas
The Capatia did head towards the Titanic and pick up survivors. Could it have gotten there quicker?
Not a chance. The captain of the Carpathia (the real hero of the entire disaster) pushed Carpathia well beyond its maximum speed. To a speed that it never obtained ever again. Despite the dangers of charging into iceberg covered waters.

Note, the famous Chef that drank heavily before going into the water (depicted famously in the movie) also had one more key advantage.

His head never got wet. Which probably played a major role in him retaining his core body heat.
 
Sep 2013
916
Chattanooga, TN
Not a chance. The captain of the Carpathia (the real hero of the entire disaster) pushed Carpathia well beyond its maximum speed. To a speed that it never obtained ever again. Despite the dangers of charging into iceberg covered waters.

Note, the famous Chef that drank heavily before going into the water (depicted famously in the movie) also had one more key advantage.

His head never got wet. Which probably played a major role in him retaining his core body heat.
How did the chef's head not get wet when he first leaped into the water?
 
Sep 2013
916
Chattanooga, TN
Ill answer one by one.


To the first question, yes that was reckless(knowingly so they are speeding through an icefield) though they took all the precautions that could be taken speeding through an icefield(Titanic's crew wasn't really aware of that, Smith took all necessary precautions with the info he knew, early effects of climate change meant ice was slightly more south than crews experience would suggest). That's part of why I am so skeptical Californian(which was even slower) could have made it despite being closer. On the other hand Titanic sank from an iceberg collision cause of the way the ship hit the iceberg and ships smaller than both Titanic and Carpathia(one of the Guion ships from the 1880s can't remember which off the top of my head) had survived iceberg collisions in the past. Usually smaller ships hit icebergs(or other objects) straight forward and this is where the reinforcement on all ships including Titanic was located, and the collision that brought down Titanic wasn't really a hypothetical scenario that was on the mind of any shipbuilder. Furthermore because of the Titanic's distress signal several ships were making towards the scene and would have likely saved everyone on both ships.

To the second question Carpathia was still considerably slower than Titanic was going though she was going 2-3 knots more than her service speed. Titanic I think was going about 22 to 22.5 knots at time of collision. The ship was not at full speed(last "auxillary" boilers were set to be lit at midnight so the ship would have reached it's full potential the following morning) and I think the boilers might have actually been lit following the collision incredibly enough(at midnight much of the ship wasn't aware things were wrong). Tbh the decision which screwed the Titanic as far as the collission went was ordering the engines to reverse instead of just turning which would have taken considerably less time(this is one thing the Titanic movie for all it's faults captures quite well) . The speed of course didn't help but the unique environmental conditions, the unusual southern location of the ice and Murdoch's orders to reverse the engines played a considerably larger part IMO.

Well if he'd been made aware of the situation that is a logical point(in turns of room on the boat not actually sinking Californian, Titanic had almost no suction when it went down) Californian would have struggled to save everyone if she'd made it in time(though the ship was pretty much empty unlike Carpathia). Carpathia was incredibly crowded but Carpathia(despite being larger) had quite a few people on board while Californian had a skeleton crew. But my answer is no given the moment he was aware of the situation(when he woke up) he sped towards the scene immediately. While the captain should have ordered the wireless operator waken up, that oversight is minor compared to the officers ignoring the distress signals and not waking the captain. Given they were stopped in a hazardous environment in the freezing cold at 12-1 am the fact they saw rockets and thought it was people partying is downright embarrassing. Of course I don't think Californian had the ability to make it in time to save 2000 people regardless. Making it before Titanic sank is a real reach that I think the Board of Trade went with in the name of finding a scapegoat to blame that the facts doesn't support. And Lord also wasn't aware the ship was Titanic and it likely wasn't(what they saw, the rockets which were obviously from Titanic didn't necessarily come from the ship they were looking at, and both Californian and Titanic saw a ship move away which means said ship wasn't Californian or Titanic cause neither ship moved) they thought it was a small ship.

As to the size of Californian she was about half the length of Titanic and half as wide and slightly slower than Carpathia. Tonnage wise she was like an eighth of the size of Titanic. Of course just 35-40 years before she'd have been one of the biggest ships in human history but ships(like buildings) got bigger at the dawn of the industrial revolution MUCH faster in a handful of years than they had for centuries. In 1890 the largest ship were under 10,000 tons 600 feet(Carpathia was around this size), in 1900 it was under 20,000 and 700 feet by 1912 Titanic was almost 50,000 tons and 900 feet. So while Californian was a little shrimp compared to the Titanic and unsignifigant when it was commissioned for a minor line in the 1900s, that is relative, Californian was only a tiny ship because so many larger ships were out there(same is doubly true for Carpathia). For almost all of human history she'd be by far the largest ship on earth.

However Californian would have likely not been appropriate for taking Titanic's passengers to New York likely would have waited for Carpathia and Mount Temple to come, which would have been a few hours. Only reason the larger(but still crowded) Carpathia didn't transfer Titanic's passngers to Olympic is because Olympic is basically the same ship and that would kind of be a mentally torturous thing(especially for Ismay who Rostron let make the call) to put the survivors through. Imagine surviving that disaster and getting on a near replica the next day?
I know you think California could not have made it in time to say everyone on the Titanic. But if the California had been a lot closer to titanic than California actually was, and if the California could make it to titanic before titanic sank, do you think california had the size to take aboard another 2200+ people without swamping the California?
 
Jun 2017
3,027
Connecticut
I know you think California could not have made it in time to say everyone on the Titanic. But if the California had been a lot closer to titanic than California actually was, and if the California could make it to titanic before titanic sank, do you think california had the size to take aboard another 2200+ people without swamping the California?
The ship wouldn't sink from having too many people. Since it's carrying capacity was like 300(cargo ship so clearly it could fit more but not really an expert on cargo ships don't know how that would work, Carpathia was a passenger liner with rooms, food) whether or not there was literal space for another 2200 is a whole other issue. The passengers would need to be transferred that's for sure. But the logistics would be the issue not safety(though the captain would likely be worried about suction, we know if only due to hindsight that wasn't a risk). It's worth noting even with only 700 survivors it took Carpathia(Carpathia also had a larger crew) several hours to get them all on board(3-4 hours). 2200 is over 3 times that amount.

This is where Captain Smith's inexperience dealing with crisis really hurt because zero efforts were made to slow the sinking(the watertight doors were opened so the ship would sink evenly to help the evacuation) after Andrews told him the ship was mortally wounded. Titanic's mortal wounds were(initially) reversible IMO and Andrews(a desinger not a seaman) was clearly overly pessimistic(Titanic far outsurvived his grim prognosis)or at the very least could have been slowed down. While people love to fault Titanic for not having enough lifeboats and point to there being too few lifeboats, the lifeboats weren't intended to be refuge from a sinking ship but a way to pilot passengers to a rescue ship since modern ships would take such a long time to sink. This scenario was what happened in the most recent naval disaster with a large ocean liner(the Republic)where the ship took such a long time to sink. Smith mobilized(or directed and sat on the bridge shellshocked) his crew to do an evacuation which he had nor the lifeboats nor the time to complete if the ship was allowed to sink unhindered. We talk about a ship making it in time before Titanic sank but often it is overlooked if that would have made a difference because more time was required for an evacuation regardless. Look at Consta Concordia where there was all the help in the world and no efforts were made to stop the flooding(though captain for all his incompetence saved most of the people on board by going into shallow water) and 30 or so people still lost their life.