Because the Empress of Ireland sank so quickly in fourteen minutes, many of the lifesaving procedures could not be accomplished. Most passengers were in bed at the time and were only on board the ship for a few hours; therefore, they were very unfamiliar with the layout of the ship. Although the Empress carried more than enough lifeboats for all passengers and crew, the time that it took the Empress to sink would make the lifeboats useless-as no one could lower and man them in such a brief time period.
The Empress lies on it starboard side in the slightly muddy bottom of the St. Lawrence. If we dive straight down to where the impact area was, we see that the top deck levels have slid downward towards the starboard side. Slightly forward of the midships area, you can observe the framework of several wooden lifeboats that never got released from their davits. These lifeboats are in very good condition and their woodwork is fairly pristine. The depth of these lifeboats are about 147 feet depending on the swift tidal currents. Although relatively shallow in depth, the Empress is very cold with water ranges of 28-37 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the summer, the currents are extremely swift and it is very, very dark on the ship-as very little surface ambient light can make it down to the wrecksite.