Titanic II – Part 2: And About Those Life Boats ….

titanic-lifeboats-onlook-siNo discussion of the Titanic II is complete without a mention of the lifeboats. The lack of adequate lifeboats on the original Titanic was a major contributor to the deaths of over 1,500 passengers. Unfortunately, as reported in the press, it appears that the new ship will not have adequate lifeboat capacity to meet the current Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) rules. Frankly, we think that  this  is  carrying  authenticity  a bit too far.  As reported by the Daily Mail and elsewhere:

There will be capacity for 2,435 passengers and 900 crew. There will also be lifeboats that can carry 2,700 and a life rafts with an additional capacity of 800. The original Titanic had just 16 wooden lifeboats that accommodated 1,178 people, one third of the total capacity. Some 1,502 people died when it sank on April 15 1912.

So here is how the math works out. 2,435 passengers + 900 crew = 3,335 people.  The advertised lifeboat and raft capacity is 2,700 + 800 = 3,500.  The problem is that SOLAS regulations require that there are sufficient lifeboats and life rafts to accommodate 125% of the total number of people on board, which in this case would be 3,335 *1.25 = 4,169.  So based on the press reports, the new ship would be 669 lifeboat/liferaft spaces short.

No doubt, there is some mistake here and the actual ship, when and if it goes into service, will indeed have an adequate number of lifeboats and liferafts.  Nevertheless there is something darkly amusing in that the original Titanic had more lifeboats and liferafts onboard than were required under the safety regulations of her time, while based on press reports, the Titanic II would not meet the current regulations as dictated by SOLAS, the Safety of Life at Sea Convention. The first International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) was, of course, convened in 1914 to improve the standards of ship safety after the tragic sinking of the Titanic.

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5 Responses to Titanic II – Part 2: And About Those Life Boats ….

  1. beachmama says:

    “the original Titanic had more lifeboats and life rafts on board than were required under the safety regulations of her time . . .” Who knew?! I’ve never heard this before. Thanks for the information!

  2. Rick Spilman says:

    Titanic carried 20 lifeboats, enough for 1178 people. The existing Board of Trade required lifeboat capacity for 1060 people, so the Titanic didn’t exceed the requirements by much but they did exceed the requirements.

  3. Aquestion says:

    Was it the case that the Board of Trade requirements were based the assumption that a ship on a trans-Atlantic route would meet requirements to stay afloat for a period allowing passengers to be conveyed to another ship by liferaft?

  4. Rick Spilman says:

    The UK’s Passengers Act of 1855 required lifeboats with a maximum capacity of only 215. As ships were carrying many many more passengers and crew than 215, the Merchant Shipping Act of 1894 sought to correct this requiring that the lifeboat capacity be a function of the gross tonnage of the ship. The problem with the statute was that the requirements stopped at 10,000 gross tons. Above 10,000 gross tons the requirement was for 16 boats with a capacity of 910 persons (another source says 1060.) The Titanic, with a gross tonnage of around 46,000, had 22 boats with a capacity of 1,176, so it exceeded the statutory requirements.

    There seems to be two views about why the law was never updated. The first is that improved design and technology meant that a ship would take a day or two to sink and therefore, as you suggest, there would be time for other ships to arrive. The other view was that the regulations simply never kept up with the technology, which continues to be a problem to this day.

    Failure to Update the Law a Titanic Mistake

  5. Malcolm says:

    I wonder how Palmer is going to design the steerage cabins. I can’t imagine too many modern passengers buying 4-6 berth cabins with no natural light, bunk beds and no private shower or toilet.

    I also don’t think he will be able to segregate the classes. If I purchased a 3rd class cabin I would expect to be able to visit all of the public rooms and dine in 1st and 2nd class at least occasionally.

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