107 #42: If Titanic had carried searchlights, the lookouts would have seen the ice earlier.

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lookouts titanic

TRUE (possibly!). In theory, searchlights would have alerted the lookouts to the fact that Titanic was at that time steaming through an area containing a large number of icebergs and a large icefield, which were invisible in the calm and moonless conditions which prevailed that night, and this knowledge would have caused the Captain to order a reduction in Titanic’s speed.

Lightoller pointed out that although searchlights might have made a difference that night, he had little experience of them and would have to use them himself to say for sure whether they would be of use in spotting ice or whether they would make things worse. He also pointed out that they could be dangerous in narrow navigation channels to those in oncoming ships, effectively blinding them.

Capt. Francis Miller, Assistant Hydrographer to the Admiralty, thought that searchlights were of use in detecting ice and rocks, and for use in life-saving, but agreed with Lightoller that there was a considerable danger of blinding other ships, especially when not in open water. He concluded that on balance, it was better for ships not to carry them as a standard practice, although this practice was introduced after the Titanic disaster by the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.

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