That meant that on a boat that was supposed to carry up to forty passengers, only twelve people were present. As we’ve already laid out, the Titanic had a small number of lifeboats, even if the ship wasn’t at its full capacity. This meant that setting to sea with less than a fourth of the carrying capacity was little more than dooming people to an unkind fate.
There’s a reason that the sinking of the Titanic was one of the worst maritime disasters ever. They weren’t prepared, and the things they had prepared weren’t used well by the people who escaped.
Crew, Passengers, and Boats
The Titanic had plenty of space for all sorts of people. Official numbers tell us that it had a passenger capacity of two thousand four hundred and fifty-three guests and a crew of eight hundred and forty-seven. That means the ship could hold a total of three thousand three hundred and twenty-seven people on board, but even that number is disputed – it could have been about two hundred more.
As for lifeboats, there were twenty. We're told that means there was enough space for one thousand, one hundred and seventy-eight people, which means each lifeboat could hold...fifty-eight-point-nine people. Clearly, something had gone wrong here. How do you make a lifeboat for nine-tenths of a person?
Back to the Duff-Gordons
According to the testimony that Lucy gave, she, Cosmo, and Francatelli were put into the remaining boat along with a pair of American passengers who had been close enough to see it. We all know who gets to go on the lifeboats first regarding an emergency – women, and children.
When it comes to aquatic emergencies, it is one of the first things they can tell you about lifeboats. Despite Captain Smith giving this exact order, the lifeboat entered the water carrying a mere 12 passengers. These 12 consisted of three male passengers, two women, and seven male crew members.
The lifeboat carrying the Duff-Gordons and the others came across the Carpathia, a Cunard Line vessel that had been pulling out all the stops to reach where the Titanic had sunk. April 18th saw the surviving passengers of the terrible tragedy pull into New York a mere day after they had been scheduled to arrive.
News travels fast even then, so the docks were full of people trying to find their loved ones or those who wanted to see what had happened. The world's press had also collected, looking for any way they could to find out more about this legendary tragedy.
Blurring the Lines
Thanks to all the press, all the survivors, and all the people who thought they knew better, fact and fiction became horribly mixed. The news hit the front page that many, many women and children from the second and third class were still missing, while fifty-seven men from the first class were present on the lifeboats.
The idea that a man would choose to save himself instead of a woman or child – even someone of a lower class – was a terrible thing, and survivors suddenly found themselves feeling the public's anger. Even men that were reported down with the ship were being attacked. Both the captain and John Jacob Astor, perhaps the richest man in the world at the time and someone who did perish during the sinking, were attacked.