On This Day

17 February


1912 Titanic’s final stages of fitting out

Click to enlarge

The White Star liner Titanic (Yard No. 401) is warped out of the Thompson Graving Dock after receiving her propellers and her hull being painted. With the assistance of harbour tugs Titanic is moored at the Deep Water Jetty in the Victoria Channel where work continued on her fitting out.

Over the next few weeks all her lifeboats were craned onboard; the resulting outfit of lifesaving equipment was approximately 17% in excess of the requirements laid down in Board of Trade regulations, but still far too few to evacuate all those on-board. Had every lifeboat been filled, they could only have evacuated 53 percent of those on-board.

The ship's designer, Alexander Carlisle, had originally proposed three times as many lifeboats at each station - 48 boats plus four collapsible types - enough to accommodate everyone on board, but this was reduced to only one boat at each station - 16 lifeboats plus four collapsible - by the managers of the White Star Line who wished to maximise deck space for the enjoyment of the passengers.

It was standard practice at the time for ships to carry insufficient lifeboats because the North Atlantic was a busy passenger route and if a ship was in distress it could rely on a nearby vessel to provide speedy assistance. Lifeboats were simply regarded as a means to ferry passengers between ships.

After the Titanic disaster international safety regulations were improved and all ships were obliged to carry enough lifeboats for all passengers on board.
See Ship Fact Files - Titanic


1942 ‘Ocean’ type Tanker

The 8,194-ton ‘Ocean’ type tanker Empire Spenser (Yard No. 1079) was launched today for the Ministry of Shipping (managed and operated by: Anglo-Saxon Petroleum Company (Shell)).