Chances of Surviving the Sinking of the Titanic

  • Being a man will not save you
  • Class was an important factor
  • Women and children always first

So what were your chances of surviving the sinking of the Titanic? She was sunk on the 15th April after striking an iceberg on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York in 1912. Though the thinking today is that she was severely structurally weakened after a serious fire in the engine room. Apart from the awful tragedy of 1496  people dying, it also spawned the equally awful and unfortunate song by Celine Dion.

Introduction: Chances of Surviving the Sinking of the Titanic

Now if you happened to be aboard that fateful ship, what would of been your chances of survival? Unfortunately we’ll never know the exact number of passengers on the ship. People were using fake documents and there were probably a number of stowaways (yeah…looking at you, Jack!). To that end there is a bit of guesswork. But the main point is that your chances of survival were very dependent on the type of ticket you were holding in your hand at the start of the journey. For example, according to online gambling news, first class passengers had twice the survival rate of poor third class plebs.

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RMS Titanic departing Southampton             Photo: F.G.O. Stuart. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Public_domain

The Winners And Losers

Age/Sex Class/Crew Aboard Saved Lost Percentage saved Percentage lost
Children First Class 6 5 1 83% 17%
Second Class 24 24 0 100% 0%
Third Class 79 27 52 34% 66%
Women First Class 144 140 4 97% 3%
Second Class 93 80 13 86% 14%
Third Class 165 76 89 46% 54%
Crew 23 20 3 87% 13%
Men First Class 175 57 118 33% 67%
Second Class 168 14 154 8% 92%
Third Class 462 75 387 16% 84%
Crew 885 192 693 22% 78%
Total 2224 710 1514 32% 68%

The Sinking of the Titanic: Ladies First

Keep in mind that the possibility of getting a seat in one of the life boats dramatically increased if you happen to be first class, and a woman or child. Of all the female passengers, 86% survived. Conversely, of the men, only a mere 14% were saved, with the rest perishing in the freezing North Atlantic. Like poor Leonardo. Blimey, you get better odds with Party Poker!  You have to remember that the Edwardian notion of the “weaker sex” was an absolute. It was following a strict moral code of male chivalry which saw it’s foundations in the Victorian era. This deep seated behavior was stronger than any law. So when the order was given to separate the woman and children from the men, if was followed to the tee. There were no men rushing forwards. Quite how things would be today, in the age of social equality who knows.

Starboard You Be Livin”

As a man, you chances of survival were also dependent on which side of the ship you found yourself on in  those final fateful minutes. Though the “woman and children first” rule was considered as sacrosanct, if as a man, you were on the starboard side, then you were invited to take any empty seat available. That is, if the life boat was about to launch. And, of course, if there were no woman or children to take those places. And you were not a plebeian.

Portside You Be Deaded

On the other hand, on the port side, the chivalrous rule was strictly enforced, meaning very few men actually escaped from that side. Today they would be stoically chugging down bottles of single malt scotch whilst smoking Montecristo cigars and all the while calmly playing Party Poker, An interesting aside is the number of children who met a watery end. Of the 107 children on board, 50 perished. Yet of those, only 1 child was from first class, with the other 49 coming from steerage. Remember that “chivalry” was a class constraint.

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The Bow of the Titanic              Photo: http://www.gc.noaa.gov/gcil_titanic.html

My Heart Will (not) Go On

It’s interesting to look at the power of social norms after the sinking of the Titanic. All those gallant gentlemen tossing themselves  into the dark frozen waters like lemmings, plunging to their deaths with Celine Dion warbling in the background. And yet online gambling news sites in the UK said  that it transpired that there were more than 1,100 empty seats on the life boats. Bad planning initially saw that there were too few life boats, and then the tragedy was amplified through human error. In fact, had these seats been filled then 54% of total passengers would of lived compared with just 34% who survived.

Selfish Kate

OK…someone’s gotta say it, but here was plenty of room on that piece of wood Kate was lying on. There’s actually a Myth Buster’s episode where they prove that both Leonardo and Kate would of survived. Now, take this pencil, and draw me like one of your French girls.

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