Movie Lies: Titanic Designers Didn’t Cut the Number of Lifeboats For Looks
We all know that the big reason so many (mostly poor) people died after the Titanic lost its fight with that iceberg is because the greedy executives of the White Star Line didn't want to pay for enough lifeboats to rescue everyone in the event of a disaster because they didn't want the deck to look too cluttered and foolishly believed that there was no way their ship could sink. It's in the movie, so it must be true, but more importantly, it completely tracks with what we know about rich assholes.
And it's completely false.
For one thing, according to the accepted procedure at the time, lifeboats were never meant to carry everyone on a ship at one time. They existed to travel back and forth, carrying small groups of passengers to a rescue ship, kind of like how you bring your groceries in from the car. lifeboats were never meant to carry everyone on a ship at one time., but it was famously the biggest ship ever built at that time, and the people in charge simply failed to take that into account when they were making contingency plans.
Well, one guy did -- Alexander Carlisle, the managing director of the shipyard where Titanic was built, recommended that White Star head Bruce Ismay (you know, the snivelly mustached guy in the movie) double his lifeboat fleet ...
... but far from arrogantly dismissing his concerns, Ismay earnestly responded that he'd take Carlisle's concern to the Board of Trade. And he did. And they said it wasn't necessary. That's because they hadn't updated their regulations in almost 20 years and likewise failed to consider doing so in the case of an unprecedented ship. The Titanic actually had more lifeboats than they were legally required to carry.
That's not to say no errors were made where the lifeboats were concerned. Titanic's staff was poorly trained in their use, so there was never a chance the whole thing wasn't going to resemble a group of kindergarteners trying to pilot a caravan, no matter how many lifeboats they had. The hubris of man was a lot more interesting to James Cameron than the garden-variety incompetence of man, though, and Ismay has kind of unfairly paid the price. Don't worry: He could afford it.
Manna, regrettably, has a Twitter.
Top image: F.G.O. Stuart/Wikimedia Commons