Oh my, could the world have been very different. On the fateful day that the Titanic sank, the planned lifeboat drill for that day had been cancelled. When compared to the monetary blunders throughout history, this must take the cake, because human life is priceless. So lets look deeper to understand why the cancelling of lifeboat drills on board the Titanic on the day it sank could have altered history as we know it.
The sinking of the Titanic is one of, if not the best known maritime disaster to ever occur. Early in the morning of April 15, 1912, RMS Titanic sank after hitting an iceberg only 2 hours and 40 minutes earlier. It was on its maiden voyage, carrying passengers and crew from Great Britain to America, and at the time of its sinking had only been in service for less than six days. It took with it the lives of 1,512 people, some of whom should not have perished on that day, for several reasons.
The first reason there were so many needless deaths from the disaster is because of a lack of lifeboats. On the voyage across the Atlantic the vessel carried 2,224 passengers and crew. this was about two thirds of its total capacity. The problem was that to maintain the ships aesthetic appeal, the lifeboats aboard the ship only provided room for 1,178 people. Do the maths, because someone didn’t before she set sail. If you notice, that is a massive shortfall in safety, and a needless one at that. But if you look at the numbers again you will notice something very odd. There were 2,224 people on board the ship. The lifeboats had a capacity of 1.178. But 1,512 people were killed, when it should have been 1046 at the very most. That’s still a lot of people, but far from the disastrous 1,512 lost souls. What happened?
In one of the saddest and ironic chapters in history, the planned lifeboat drills aboard the Titanic were cancelled the very day that it sank. The practice drills weren’t cancelled because of the impact with the iceberg, the impact hadn’t even happened at that time. No one knows why they were cancelled. All that is known is that the practice was cancelled on the orders of the captain. Would this have made any difference at all?
Think back to your last safety drill, be it a fire drill or other emergency training. While it’s not a life threatening situation, the practice prepares you for the possibility of an emergency, and how to react. Without it people are learning for the first time in an actual emergency, at a time where panic and disorder are at their zenith. Certainly, from time of impact until it plummeted to Davy Jones’ Locker, there was 2 hours and 40 minutes to abandon ship, more than enough time. Had the drill taken place, the passengers and crew would have been more alert and aware of what was actually needed at the time, and to follow orders accordingly. With many of the boats only half full when it sank to its grave, a practice drill could have seen all of the available lifeboats filled to capacity when it sank. But hindsight is a wonderful tool to wield.