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Titanic Lifeboat 6

Lifeboat 6 was one of Titanic’s port side lifeboats, located at the forward end of the ship. It is well known for being the lifeboat in which Margaret “Molly” Brown was rescued in. The boat is usually (traditionally at least) stated to have been the first boat to leave the port side of the ship; however, there were a number of survivors at the British and American Titanic Inquiries who said or indicated that lifeboat 8 was the first to reach the water, meaning that there is considerable evidence that Boat 8 was in the water first, with boat 6 being the second to reach the water.

Titanic Lifeboat 6
Lifeboat 6 approaching Carpathia, 15th April 1912.

2nd Officer Charles Lightoller ordered Quartermaster Robert Hichens to command the boat and also ordered Lookout Frederick Fleet to get in. While the boat was being lowered, Robert Hichens is said to have called out “I cannot manage this boat with only one seaman", resulting in Charles Lightoller halting the lowering to find another seaman; with no other crew member appearing to be free, a first class passenger, Major Peuchen, offered to go to help. After Major Peuchen stated that he was a yachtsman, Charles Lightoller agreed to let him go as long as he was “sailor enough” to climb down the falls and into the boat. As Major Peuchen landed in the boat, his wallet fell out of his pocket and landed in the sea. His wallet was eventually found and recovered from the wreck site in 1987.

The passengers aboard the boat were mostly first class woman; there was also a male passenger that Frederick Fleet and Major Peuchen said was a “stowaway”, who had hidden in the boat and only appeared after the boat started to move away from the ship; although, Helen Candee said that in fact he was ordered in by Captain Smith after the captain had been told that they had no seamen in the boat. As he had a broken arm or wrist he was unable to row.

Despite the fact it was designed to hold 65 people, in total there were around 23 people aboard as the boat pulled away from the ship.

Some of the other passengers aboard lifeboat 6 were critical of Robert Hichens behaviour in the boat, in their opinions, accusing him of refusing to help with the rowing, having a rude and negative attitude, and refusing to return to help those in the water.

Some of the women aboard the boat, including and encouraged by Molly Brown, who said that she was only in lifeboat 6 after a crew member suddenly grabbed her and dropped her 4 feet into the already lowering boat, helped with the rowing.

During the night, after the sinking, lifeboat 6 come alongside and lashed together to Lifeboat 16. The two lifeboats drifted until Molly Brown decided that they should separate so that they could start rowing again to keep warm. When Robert Hichens tried to stop them, Molly Brown threatened to throw him overboard. To help with the rowing a fireman from Lifeboat 16 was transferred to Lifeboat 6.

All aboard Lifeboat 6 were rescued by Carpathia at around 6am in the morning. Lifeboat 6 is often featured more than any of the other boats in many of the films and documentaries that have been made about Titanic. Special attention is often given to Molly Brown, who became well known for her actions in the boat.

Related pages - Titanic Lifeboats, All Titanic Pages

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