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Are Lifeboats Always Safe?

When a single torpedo caused a massive explosion aboard Lusitania, in May of 1915, the ship’s lifeboats became a liability for some of the passengers.

Lifeboats on Lusitania’s port (left) side had swung inward and were unusable because they couldn't be launched. The crew had to get as many people as possible into lifeboats on the ship’s starboard (right) side.

One of the sinking ship’s lifeboats, holding more than 50 passengers, fell to the boat deck. It crushed people who were below it. Another lifeboat similarly crashed.

Because the Lusitania was sinking so quickly, after the torpedo strike, there was not enough time to fully and safely launch all available lifeboats.

What does the word “lifeboat” mean to you?

Are lifeboats always safe?

Do you think passengers traveling aboard a large ship like Lusitania, which is actually smaller than many of the 21st-century’s cruise ships, should practice getting into lifeboats while at sea? Explain your answer.


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