Originally Posted by Bruce Chafkin1
These people insist on doing things (like prematurely launching lifeboats) that could get everyone killed.
From the admittedly fragmentary reports on the disaster, it appears that the crew were waiting for the order from the bridge to ABANDON SHIP. This is precisely what they were trained to do.
It also appears that the Captain who was responsible for making a calm judgement for the safety of the passengers based on his training and experience was, instead, trying to cover his ass and somehow salvage a destroyed career. It is very probable that he failed to give the ABANDON SHIP command when it should have been given.
It also appears that the First Officer who might have had a chance to recognize the paralysis of the Captain failed to act (there is another thread on this very topic) for the safety of the passengers.
The best laid disaster plans depend on people at the top making calm reasoned judgements and communicating them to others. When that fails chaos is the inevitable result.
From my experience as a military officer I know what is necessary to take command, even of a group of panicked people. A huge presence, a strong voice, and a series of sharp simple commands will go a long way. Having been trained to be polite and respectful to passengers has to disappear immediately. I really am not at all sure that any ship has sufficient officers well trained in command to serve as lifeboat commanders. Usually during a drill some peach fuzz third officer, or even a junior purser, is introduced as the boat commander.
I would like to know whether the designated lifeboat commander has the authority, or the guts, to launch his own boat in such an emergency.