107 #71: Titanic’s first officer allowed a lifeboat with a capacity of 40 to leave with only five passengers in it

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titanic lifeboat

TRUE. First Officer Murdoch, loading lifeboats on Titanic’s starboard side, allowed men into lifeboats as long as there was space left and no women or children were waiting in the immediate vicinity. Therefore, when the Duff Gordons asked him if they might enter Titanic’s emergency lifeboat No. 1, he agreed. Even so, this boat was lowered with only 12 people in it, mostly men, and only five of whom were passengers. This was because most passengers on that part of the deck had already left by lifeboats 7, 5 and 3. Indeed, the previous lifeboat, No. 3, had been sent away with about 10 Firemen in it, because no more passengers were nearby who were willing to go. Murdoch needed to get emergency boat No. 1 away quickly in order to have enough time to first launch Titanic’s starboard stern boats, and then launch Collapsible A down the same falls as Boat No. 1, particularly in view of the alarming list to port which Titanic was developing at this time, and which threatened to make further launching of the starboard boats impossible. Despite his haste, Murdoch still did not succeed in launching Collapsible A before it was washed off the deck in Titanic’s final moments.

Like all the officers, Murdoch was racing against time to get all the lifeboats launched before the ship sank, even if it meant leaving some with places in them. Hindsight is a wonderful luxury to have, and Murdoch worked under almost unbearable stress to get Titanic’s lifeboats away, despite his being fully aware of the ship’s grave condition, as testified by Third Officer Herbert Pitman, whom Murdoch ordered away in only the second lifeboat to leave the Titanic, at 12.45 a.m.:

15034: (Mr. Butler Aspinall) ‘Did Mr. Murdoch, in addition to telling you to keep handy to come back to the gangway, say anything more to you?’

‘No; he only shook hands and said, “Good-bye, good luck”; that was all.’

15035: ‘When he said “Good-bye” to you in that way, did you think the situation was serious; did you think the ship was doomed then?’

‘I did not, but I thought he must have thought so.’

Similarly, Titanic’s Chief Second Class steward, John Hardy, testified at the US Inquiry:

JOH063: ‘People even then thought she would float?’

‘Of course I had great respect and great regard for Chief Officer Murdoch, and I was walking along the deck forward with him, and he said, “I believe she is gone, Hardy”; and that is the only time I thought she might sink; when he said that.’

In fact, 386 people were saved from the starboard side, where First Officer Murdoch worked almost exclusively all night, whereas only 279 people were saved from the port side.

If you’d like to read the full book of101 Things You Thought You Knew About The Titanic…But Didn’t!, or any of my other books on Titanic, please visit my Author Page on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.co.uk/tim-maltin/e/B005LNHYEQ/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_1

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