British Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry


Detailed Description - Decks and Accommodation

The Boat Deck was an uncovered deck, on which the boats were placed. At its lowest point it was about 92 ft. 6 in. above the keel. The overall length of this deck was about 500 ft. The forward end of it was fitted to serve as the navigating bridge of the vessel and was 190 ft. from the bow. On the after end of the bridge was a wheel house, containing the steering wheel and a steering compass. The chart room was immediately abaft this. On the starboard side of the wheel house and funnel casing were the navigating room, the captain's quarters, and some officers' quarters. On the port side were the remainder of the officers' quarters. At the middle line abaft the forward funnel casing were the wireless telegraphy rooms and the operators' quarters. The top of the officers' house formed a short deck. The connections from the Marconi aerials were made on this deck, and two of the collapsible boats were placed on it. Aft of the officers' house were the first class passengers' entrance and stairways, and other adjuncts to the passengers' accommodation below. These stairways had a minimum effective width of 8 ft. They had assembling landings at the level of each deck, and three elevators communicating from E to A decks, but not to the Boat deck, immediately on the fore side of the stairway.

All the boats except two Engelhardt life rafts were carried on this deck. There were seven lifeboats on each side, 30 ft. long, 9 ft. wide. There was an emergency cutter, 25 ft. long, on each side at the fore end of the deck. Abreast of each cutter was an Engelhardt life raft. One similar raft was carried on the top of the officers' house on each side. In all there were 14 lifeboats, 2 cutters, and 4 Engelhardt life rafts.

The forward group of four boats and one Engelhardt raft were placed on each side of the deck alongside the officers' quarters and the first class entrance. Further aft at the middle line on this deck was the special platform for the standard compass. At the after end of this deck was an entrance house for second class passengers, with a stairway and elevator leading directly down to F deck. There were two vertical iron ladders at the after-end of this deck, leading to A deck, for the use of the crew. Alongside and immediately forward of the second class entrance was the after group of lifeboats, four on each side of the ship.

In addition to the main stairways mentioned, there was a ladder on each side amidships, giving access from the A deck below. At the forward end of the Boat deck there was on each side a ladder leading up from A deck, with a landing there, from which, by a ladder, access to B deck could be obtained direct. Between the reciprocating engine casing and the third funnel casing there was a stewards' stairway, which communicated with all the decks below as far as E deck. Outside the deck houses was promenading space for first class passengers.

On the decks was provided generally, in the manner above described, accommodation for a maximum number of 1,034 first class passengers, and at the same time 510 second class passengers and 1,022 third class passengers. Some of the accommodation was of an alternative character, and could be used for either of two classes of passengers. In the statement of figures the higher alternative class has been reckoned. This makes a total accommodation for 2,566 passengers.

Accommodation was provided for the crew as follows; about 75 of the deck department, including officers and doctors, 326 of the engine room department, including engineers, and 544 of the victualling department, including pursers and leading stewards.

Access of passengers to the Boat deck. - The following routes led directly from the various parts of the first class passenger accommodation to the Boat deck: From the forward ends of A, B, C, D, and E decks by the staircase in the forward first class entrance direct to the Boat deck. The elevators led from the same decks as far as A deck, where further access was obtained by going up the top flight of the main staircase.

The same route was available for first class passengers forward of midships on B, C, and E decks.

First class passengers abaft amidships on B and C decks could use the staircase in the after main entrance to A deck, and then could pass out on to the deck, and by the midships stairs besides the house ascend to the Boat deck. They could also use the stewards' staircase between the reciprocating engine casing and Nos. 1 and 2 boiler casing, which led direct to the Boat deck. This last route was also available for passengers on E deck in the same divisions who could use the forward first class main stairway and elevators.

Second class passengers on D deck could use their own after-stairway to B deck, and could then pass up their forward stairway to the Boat deck, or else could cross their saloon and use the same stairway throughout.

Of the second class passengers on E deck, those abreast of the reciprocating engine casing, unless the watertight door immediately abaft them was closed, went aft and joined the other second class passengers. If, however, the watertight door at the end of their compartment was closed, they passed through an emergency door into the engine room, and directly up to the Boat deck, by the ladders and gratings in the engine room casing.

The second class passengers on E deck in the compartment abreast the turbine casing on the starboard side, and also those on F deck on both sides below could pass through M watertight bulkhead to the forward second class main stairway. If this door were closed, they could pass by the stairway up to the serving space at the forward end of the second class saloon, and go into the saloon and thence up the forward second class stairway.

Passengers between M and N bulkheads on both E and F decks could pass directly up to the forward second class stairway to the Boat deck.

Passengers between N and O bulkheads on D, E, F and G decks could pass by the after second class stairway to B deck, and then cross to the forward second class stairway and go up to the Boat deck.

Third class passengers at the fore end of the vessel could pass by the staircases to C deck in the forward well and by ladders on the port and starboard sides at the forward end of the deck houses, thence direct to the Boat deck outside the officers' accommodation. They might also pass along the working passage on E deck and through the emergency door to the forward first class main stairway, or through the door on the same deck at the forward end of the first class alleyway and up the first class stairway direct to the Boat deck.

The third class passengers at the after-end of the ship passed up their stairway to E deck, and into the working passage, and through the emergency doors to the two second class stairways, and so to the Boat deck, like second class passengers. Or, alternatively, they could continue up their own stairs and entrance to C deck, thence by the two ladders at the after-end of the bridge on to the B deck, and thence by the forward second class stairway direct to the Boat deck.

Crew. - From each boiler room an escape or emergency ladder was provided direct to the Boat deck by the fidleys, in the boiler casings, and also into the working passage on E deck, and thence by the stair immediately forward of the reciprocating engine casing, direct to the Boat deck.

From both the engine rooms ladders and gratings gave direct access to the Boat deck.

From the electric engine room, the after tunnels, and the forward pipe tunnels, escapes were provided direct to the working passage on E deck, and thence by one of the several routes already detailed from that space.

From the crew's quarters they could go forward by their own staircases into the forward well, and thence, like the third class passengers, to the Boat deck.

The stewards' accommodation being all connected to the working passage or the forward main first class stairway, they could use one of the routes from thence.

The engineers' accommodation also communicated with the working passage, but, as it was possible for them to be shut between two watertight bulkheads, they had also a direct route by the gratings in the engine room casing to the Boat deck.

On all the principal accommodation decks the alleyways and stairways provided a ready means of access to the Boat deck, and there were clear deck spaces in way of all first, second and third class main entrances and stairways on Boat deck and all decks below.