The Titanic prepared the launching of its lifeboats at around 12:40 am, with a total of 20 lifeboats capable of holding 1,178 people, not nearly enough for all passengers on board. At the time, lifeboats were determined by the ship’s gross register tonnage, rather than the human capacity. The first lifeboat lowered was Lifeboat 7 on the starboard side. However, even though the lifeboat could hold 65 people, only 28 people were on board the lifeboat. Ten minutes later Lifeboat 6 and 5 were lowered, and Lifeboat 1 lowered with only 12 people on board. In contrast, Lifeboat 11 was lowered with an overwhelming 70 people. The last lifeboat to launch was Collapsible D. The disorganized nature of lifeboat boarding cost more than a few passengers their lives.
Being that Titanic was designed for stability, so as not to capsize from unequal flooding, she showed no immediate signs of danger, making her passengers hesitant to board the small lifeboats. Even the electric power plant of Titanic was operated by ship engineers until its final moments. Furthermore, third class passengers found it difficult to navigate the maze like corridors and barriers of Titanic, and never even saw the secure glimpse of a lifeboat. William Denton Cox was able to lead many third class passengers to safety, however, but the time consuming journey led many lifeboats to be lowered practically empty. Women and children were to be the first to board the lifeboats, but some men were allowed on to act as oarsmen if they were needed. By 2:05 am, passengers became nervous of the danger as the entire bow became engulfed in water, and the lifeboats began launching fully loaded. By this time, however, there were only two lifeboats left.