04 January 2010

Unsinkable



From the "Ships and Travel" column of the Montreal Gazette on this day in 1936:

Queen Mary's Lifeboats

When the new Cunard White Star liner Queen Mary leaves Southampton on her maiden voyage to New York next May, she will equipped with the greatest fleet of lifeboats ever carried by an Atlantic liner. The fleet will comprise 24 massive all steel boats. Twenty-two of the boats measure 36 feet long, 12 feet wide and 5 feet deep, the remaining two being 30 feet long, 9 feet wide and 4 feet deep. Each boat will be large enough to accommodate 145 people--a greater number than the entire complement of 115 passengers carried by the first Cunard steamship "Britannia" in 1840.

All of these lifeboats are driven by powerful Diesel engines, capable of a speed of six knots. This is the first complete installation of Diesel driven motor life boats. Among their leading advantages are complete immunity from electric failures, greater safety than gasoline life boats, and speedy starting in cold weather. Two of the life boats will be specially fitted with high speed diesel engines of 18 H.P. and will also carry an up-to-date wireless unit.

Special engine heating circuits are provided at the davits so that the lifeboats can be lowered fully loaded with their engines running in the coldest weather under the control of a single man. Each boat, on touching the water, will be automatically released.

Each lifeboat will be "unsinkable.," [sic] thanks to copper tanks allowing an overload safety margin of 25 per cent. A flat side deck level with the top of the gunwale will permit rapid embarkation and access, reducing the danger of injury to occupants when boats are lowered.

In case of an emergency, the number, size and arrangement of the lifeboats will ensure every child, woman and man on shipboard locating their place in a lifeboat with the least possible delay.

The equipment of each lifeboat will consist of 21 pounds biscuits per passenger; one quart of water per passenger; one pound tin of condensed milk per passenger; one tin of red distress flares; one oil lamp to burn eight hours; one tin of oil for same, one box of matches in soldered tin; one gallon tin of fish oil--for calming rough waters; one canvas sea anchor; draft line and tripping line; two axes; one compass spirit type with lamp; one set of oars and two spares [sic] one and half set of rowlocks [sic] one bucket; one bailer; one mooring rope or painter, and two bilge pumps.

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