The story of Collapsible Lifeboat B is a unlikely tale of survival. Famous for the unfortunate incident that happened to it during the sinking of Titanic, 2nd Senior Officer Lighttoller took control of the Collapsible Lifeboat B that night.
As terrifying as the sinking of the Titanic was, the horror didn’t end when the ship dived into the still waters of the North Atlantic. One of the most horrifying experiences must have been for the men on the Collapsible Lifeboat B. The boat had overturned during the sinking. The freezing water washed away the boat from the deck as men scrambled to climb aboard.
Titanic had 20 lifeboats that could accommodate for 1,178 people. 4 of the 20 were Collapsible canvas lifeboats. Called Collapsible A, B, C and D, they sat on the upper part of the boat deck. During the sinking, Crewmen launched boat C from the starboard side of the ship. Crewmen didn’t launch boats A and B, but instead, the boats washed away carrying panicking passengers and crewmen.
Collapsible Lifeboat B
As crewmen tried to unload collapsible lifeboat B, she flipped over in the process. They were using oars and spars to support the boat as she came down from the elevated ground. Before they could move her to the davits to unload her, a wash of seawater came rushing through, pushing them and collapsible lifeboat B away.
The boat trapped the only surviving wireless officer underneath it, Harold Bride. He eventually ended up on the keel of the boat.
The crewmen who formerly tried to unload the boat quickly climbed to the top of it. 2nd Officer Lighttoller took control of the boat. Lighttoller and many of the men aboard believe mostly crewmen floated on the collapsible. However, over the years, many male passengers have claimed to have been on Collapsible B.
Titanic’s Final Plunge
Lighttoller had organized the men into two halves on the lifeboat, in order to keep them afloat. Washed away by the ocean, the lifeboat stood shakily on the sea. Those aboard watched Titanic take her final plunge in disbelief. Lighttoller recalls, “When she got to an angle of about 60 degrees, there was a sullen sort of rumbling roar as her massive boilers all left their beds and went crashing down through the bulkheads and everything that stood in their way.
Up to that moment, she had stood out as clear as clear with her rows of electric lights all burning. When the boilers broke away, she was, of course, plunged into absolute darkness though her huge black outline was still perfectly distinct up against the stars and sky.
Slowly she reared up on end till, at last, she was absolutely perpendicular. Then quite quietly, but quicker and quicker, she seemed just to slide away under the surface and disappear.
As she vanished, everyone around me on the upturned boat, as though they could hardly believe it, just said, “She’s gone.””
The boat carried 30 men, but a few died during the night, perhaps around 2 or 3. The cold, miserable survivors on Collapsible B stood together in a fragile balance, until salvation came. Lifeboats 4 and 12 had heard Lighttoller’s whistle and transferred passengers aboard. Lighttoller himself was in disbelief that any of those on lifeboat B had survived, including himself. He ended up thanking God for his survival, as he said in Christian Science magazine, 1912 edition.
“About thirty of us floated the remainder of the night on the upturned boat, and I could not overcome the intense cold experienced, yet when a man handed me a bottle of something that smelt somewhat like essence of peppermint, the thought of material means was nothing short of repulsive, and needless to say, it was not taken. At daybreak we found two lifeboats floating near by, into which we were taken. I was the last member of the Titanic to board the Carpathia, and after interviewing her Captain, discarded my wet clothes in favour of a bunk, in which remained for about half an hour, and was not in bunk or bed again till we arrived in New York. Reaction or effects from the immersion – which I was confidently assured would take place – there were none; and though surprise had been expressed by very many, it only goes to prove that ‘with God all things are possible.’“