2nd Officer Stone's Interrogation.

Jim Currie

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I borrowed Eric Clements' book "Captain of the Carpathia" out of the Newport Library again last week, but have been a bit busy the last few days.

I've done quite a few pages of detailed notes, with quite a few queries, and questions to ask and discuss.

I don't want to be accused of thread drift, so will first ask of Jim if he is happy for me to post about this on his thread as it is currently the most active Californian thread; others may consider resurrecting an old thread to be more appropriate?

Cheers,

Julian
I have no problem with that, Julian. However I suggest you watch "Schooner Seen by Captain Moore " which i am working on at the moment and post MT observations there. A very interesting subject.
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Jim,

Thanks for that. I will avoid the "schooner seen by Captain Moore" thread regarding Carpathia... 4 ships who did not know where they were for certain (one of which struck an ice berg) is quite enough for me without considering Captain Moore's green light seen of this 'schooner' was one of Boxhall's flares!

All I will add tonight is that clearly, with hindsight, Rostron did not know where he was, or exactly where he was going, and what speed he was doing and over what distance, and where he thought he ended up. All of this actually has quite a bearing on 'The Californian Incident'.

Cheers,

Julian
 

Julian Atkins

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Thanks to a lot of help with extra documentation provided to me today, it does seem to me that so far as the issues raised by Stone's testimony are concerned, or for that matter Captain Lord as well, all the principal key players deliberately or inadvertently 'muddied the waters', almost as if to be complicit in ensuring that no complete picture could be pieced together of the events of 15th April.

Untangling this web of deceit - and I do put it this highly - is not at all easy. Ok, some of this is errors in memory too. But it is quite remarkable that no one that night or the following morning got their story straight, with very few exceptions.

I am referring to all the Captains; Lord, Moore, and Rostron, and also Gambell. Also Groves, Stone, Gibson, and Bissett. And Boxhall.

Not one of them gave a coherent account that is not without criticism. Given the gravity of the event, I find this quite remarkable.

It is almost as if the British Mercantile Marine Service deliberately sought to confuse both Inquiries.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Not one of them gave a coherent account that is not without criticism. Given the gravity of the event, I find this quite remarkable.
It is very rare I would imagine to get a completely coherent story from anyone. The inquiries took place well after the events took place. I would imagine that what people retained was greatly affected by the level of stress they found themselves under at the time, as well as what they heard from others afterward. It is well known that the mind does not work like a recording device, and is easily influenced by outside factors. That is what makes all of this so interesting. Trying to create a coherent account from so much incoherent evidence.
I found the same problem working other historical events such as the Olympic/Hawke collision and the Andrea Doria/Stockholm collision.
 
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Julian Atkins

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Hi Sam,

I am not so sure.

I've spent years being especially interested in UK Railway disasters; all investigated by the same Board of Trade (though a different section) of the same era, and UK Railway disasters were meticulously investigated, and far better evidence obtained from witnesses. The railways also kept meticulous records, especially signalling records. A humble low paid signalman working very long hours would be subject to the most detailed examination, of everything he did, minute by minute, if not less than a minute.

What on earth was going on in the British Mercantile Marine Service in 1912? Perhaps simply 'laissez faire'? Or lots of Captains having a rather poor habit of record keeping, or attitude to same? Or having a sort of aversion to any Inquiry? Captain Lord is scolded for not providing his compass deviation book, and very soon after the British Inquiry bemoans the Chief Engineer's Log wasn't to hand. Captain Rostron turns up at the USA Inquiry without his Log Book! Cottam says the Titanic CQD message is still on his desk (hadn't brought it with him)! No Captain seems to have realised that every single message sent or received must be impressed on the operator to be recorded in the PV, just like you would expect a UK railway signalman to do in his Register.

Cottam gives up on his PV just before midnight on the 14th, yet on the reconstructed PV he had little to record of messages he sent after this time, so was arguably hardly taxed. Then The Virginian's PV later has nearly a 6 hour gap despite having 2 Marconi operators.

When a tragedy was unfolding hardly anyone was keeping proper records, whether retaining scrap logs, keeping their PVs accurate, or turning up at Inquiries with all the relevant Logs and books.

In most cases in UK Railway accidents of the period in the UK, the witness statements are read into the Report, and the actual testimony/examination of these witnesses also recorded and compared, in each case as against all the other records and witness evidence as well.

What on earth was going on in 1912 in the Merchant Navy? Why did Stone and Gibson never say or hint to the British Inquiry they had previously made written statements to their Captain on 18th April? Why was Captain Lord so sure he would not be found out that he had these statements which he deliberately failed to disclose?

(When Dunlop let slip he had Leyland Line Solicitors' statements from The Californian witnesses he was asked/ordered to hand them in!)

Cheers,

Julian
 
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AlexP

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If the red light seen by Wynne was 40 feet above the sea, then he could not have seen it more than 8 miles away when in a lifeboat.
If that red light was seen in conjunction with a single white masthead light, then it could not have been on the Californian because the Californian had two white masthead lights.
Here is a quote from Mila's unpublished book reproduced here with her permission


At the same time and from the same place, Boxhall’s steamer was showing both masthead lights and the Port sidelight, while Rowe’s steamer was showing a single masthead light. At the same time as Boxhall’s steamer, showing two masthead lights and the Port sidelight, was approaching, Hichens’s and Symons’s steamer, showing a single light, was going away and Lightoller’s steamer, showing a single light, was stationary. At the same time and from the same place, Rowe’s steamer with a single light was located ½ point off the Titanic’s Port bow, while Fleet’s steamer with a single light was located 4 points off Titanic’s Port bow. Rowe and Lucas observed a steamer showing her red Port light sometime after Boxhall’s steamer opened her stern light and steamed away.
If we are to accept mystery ships allegations, how many mystery ships should have been present in the area to account for all these sightings?

The answer is none. There were no mystery ships.

There were only two ships in the area, and these two ships were the Titanic and the Californian.


Unexplained sightings that contradict each other are the result of the emotional distress of the survivors, of the mistaking stars for the navigational lights and of occasional, short observations of people busy with other tasks.
 

Jim Currie

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Here is a quote from Mila's unpublished book reproduced here with her permission


At the same time and from the same place, Boxhall’s steamer was showing both masthead lights and the Port sidelight, while Rowe’s steamer was showing a single masthead light. At the same time as Boxhall’s steamer, showing two masthead lights and the Port sidelight, was approaching, Hichens’s and Symons’s steamer, showing a single light, was going away and Lightoller’s steamer, showing a single light, was stationary. At the same time and from the same place, Rowe’s steamer with a single light was located ½ point off the Titanic’s Port bow, while Fleet’s steamer with a single light was located 4 points off Titanic’s Port bow. Rowe and Lucas observed a steamer showing her red Port light sometime after Boxhall’s steamer opened her stern light and steamed away.
If we are to accept mystery ships allegations, how many mystery ships should have been present in the area to account for all these sightings?

The answer is none. There were no mystery ships.

There were only two ships in the area, and these two ships were the Titanic and the Californian.


Unexplained sightings that contradict each other are the result of the emotional distress of the survivors, of the mistaking stars for the navigational lights and of occasional, short observations of people busy with other tasks.
Do you really want me to comment on this?
 

Jim Currie

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Here is a quote from Mila's unpublished book reproduced here with her permission


At the same time and from the same place, Boxhall’s steamer was showing both masthead lights and the Port sidelight, while Rowe’s steamer was showing a single masthead light.
A steamer does not show a single masthead light without a colored side light. If she shows a single white light, it is either a stern light or an anchor light. The latter can be ruled out due to the depth of water,
At the same time as Boxhall’s steamer, showing two masthead lights and the Port sidelight, was approaching,
If Boxhall's vessel was approaching, then it was not Californian; she had been stopped for over an hour before Titanic hit.
Hichens’s and Symons’s steamer, showing a single light, was going away and Lightoller’s steamer, showing a single light, was stationary.
The only way you can be sure that a steamer is going away is to take a bearing of the light and it changes or diminished gradually.
At the same time and from the same place, Rowe’s steamer with a single light was located ½ point off the Titanic’s Port bow,
Rowe saw his white light fine on the port bow when he took the detonators to the bridge and it was 2 points on the port bow when he left the ship. He thought it was a sailing ship. Californian never did show a single white light in the direction in which the rockets were seen. Her white stern light was pointing westward when the nearby ship was abeam to starboard. Her bow swung to the right. as it did, her white stern light was swinging to the north as well... through the NW quadrant, North and finally. east. When Titanic sank it was pointing roughly North but never in the direction of the sinking Titanic.
while Fleet’s steamer with a single light was located 4 points off Titanic’s Port bow.
Fleet and Hichens left in boat 6 at least an hour before Titanic sank. At that time. there was a white light on the port bow and Lightoller told them to row for it.
Rowe and Lucas observed a steamer showing her red Port light sometime after Boxhall’s steamer opened her stern light and steamed away.
AB Lucas saw a red side light and a single white masthead light out in the direction of Titanic's starboard quarter, not on her port bow. Californian had two white masthead lights and would have been on Titanic's starboard, not port bow. He probably saw the ship seen by Rostron on Carpathia.

If we are to accept mystery ships allegations, how many mystery ships should have been present in the area to account for all these sightings?

The answer is none. There were no mystery ships.

There were only two ships in the area, and these two ships were the Titanic and the Californian.

The evidence shows possibly 6 ships... yes 6. A ship between Californian and the sinking Titanic, a ship seen from Carpathia to be to the eastward of Titanic, a ship to the westward of the sinking Titanic and a ship to the southward of Californian. (Groves)
Unexplained sightings that contradict each other are the result of the emotional distress of the survivors, of the mistaking stars for the navigational lights and of occasional, short observations of people busy with other tasks.

There is no evidence to show that Titanic turned Northward after she struck. In fact, she was incapable of doing so as her engines were rapidly slowing down after the first helm order and she was losing rudder effectiveness. QM Hichens categorically denied that there was a second helm order as part of the avoidance maneuver. The MAIB report suggests much the same thing. It also concluded that there was at least one other vessel in the area.
The turning north idea was contrived to make Californian fit with the other evidence.
It should be noted that Californian was stopped for over an hour before Titanic stopped. If the lights seen from Titanic and from lifeboats after she stopped had been from a stopped vessel, then they would have been visible to the lookouts long before she hit the iceberg. There were no reports of lights being sighted between 10 pm up to Midnight, when Fleet and Lee were relieved in the Crow's Nest.
I have commented in red where appropriate to ensure that remarks are in the right place. I recommend that Mila goes back to the drawing board
 
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AlexP

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A steamer does not show a single masthead light without a colored side light. If she shows a single white light, it is either a stern light or an anchor light. The latter can be ruled out due to the depth of water,
She sure does, if a) a colored side light is below the horizon; b) if a colored side light is not as bright as the masthead lights; c) if a single light is not a masthead light at all, but a star.
If Boxhall's vessel was approaching, then it was not Californian; she had been stopped for over an hour before Titanic hit.
Not, if unknowingly to Mr Stone and Mr. Gibson the Californian was drifting in an eddy.
The only way you can be sure that a steamer is going away is to take a bearing of the light and it changes or diminished gradually.
Partly agree. However the lights of the sinking steamer could also diminish gradually.
Rowe saw his white light fine on the port bow when he took the detonators to the bridge and it was 2 points on the port bow when he left the ship. He thought it was a sailing ship. Californian never did show a single white light in the direction in which the rockets were seen. Her white stern light was pointing westward when the nearby ship was abeam to starboard. Her bow swung to the right. as it did, her white stern light was swinging to the north as well... through the NW quadrant, North and finally. east. When Titanic sank it was pointing roughly North but never in the direction of the sinking Titanic.
And that is why Mr. Rowe was probably looking at a setting star.
AB Lucas saw a red side light and a single white masthead light out in the direction of Titanic's starboard quarter, not on her port bow. Californian had two white masthead lights and would have been on Titanic's starboard, not port bow. He probably saw the ship seen by Rostron on Carpathia.
Captains Rostron's steamer had 2 masthead lights. As the setting sun, so the setting stars could become red. Mr. Lucas could have believed such setting, reddish star was a sidelight. However, by the time of Mr. Lucas observations the Californian became visible off the starboard side pf the Titanic. Remember Mr. Stone testified that the ship that was firing rockets was changing bearing?
The evidence shows possibly 6 ships... yes 6. A ship between Californian and the sinking Titanic,
6? Then there should had been 6 mystery ships at the same time because it appears that everybody was looking at his own mystery ship.
It should be noted that Californian was stopped for over an hour before Titanic stopped. If the lights seen from Titanic and from lifeboats after she stopped had been from a stopped vessel, then they would have been visible to the lookouts long before she hit the iceberg. There were no reports of lights being sighted between 10 pm up to Midnight, when Fleet and Lee were relieved in the Crow's Nest.
All that time the Californian was approaching the Titanic. Her navigational lights became visible gradually as she approached close enough.
 
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AlexP

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She sure does, if a) a colored side light is below the horizon; b) if a colored side light is not as bright as the masthead lights; c) if a single light is not a masthead light at all, but a star.
I forgot to mention one more situation. Sometimes a sidelight is not seen because there is too much glare of deck lights just as Mr. Groves testified happened when he was watching the approaching Titanic.
 

Paul Burrell

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A question please. I understand that a captain cannot be expected to be on the bridge every time he is called or consulted. What I don’t understand in the case of the Californian is why Lord would not react to rockets which may (I say ‘may’ bearing in mind the testimony of Stone whereby he is doubtful of the reason for the rockets, which has already been discussed at length here) be distress rockets. That should be a cast iron reason to attend the bridge - potentially a vessel in distress, then make a judgement on how to respond. Surely these rockets at intervals were not common occurrences?

I guess I have a hard time believing that there is another vessel other than Titanic stopped, her lights looking odd, firing a number of rockets and then disappearing in the vicinity of the Californian. Unless someone can convince me otherwise.

My personal opinion is that Lord was fully aware of the messages passed to him about the rockets. It was only upon learning of the Titanic’s fate later in the morning that he had a realisation that he had ignored the rockets. A big ‘oh no’ moment if you like. His account of admitting to having a conversation with the apprentice and then saying he was asleep was, frankly, laughable. Its difficult to comprehend the exact circumstances but I have spent many months on defence watches in the RN but never had conversations with people while being asleep!
 
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AlexP

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I guess I have a hard time believing that there is another vessel other than Titanic stopped, her lights looking odd, firing a number of rockets and then disappearing in the vicinity of the Californian. Unless someone can convince me otherwise.

My personal opinion is that Lord was fully aware of the messages passed to him about the rockets. It was only upon learning of the Titanic’s fate later in the morning that he had a realisation that he had ignored the rockets. A big ‘oh no’ moment if you like. His account of admitting to having a conversation with the apprentice and then saying he was asleep was, frankly, laughable. Its difficult to comprehend the exact circumstances but I have spent many months on defence watches in the RN but never had conversations with people while being asleep!
Some members of this forum allege there was not just one but six mystery ships between Titanic and Californian. LOL.

From my own experience I could understand that a person might be so tiered that he just cannot wake up even if it appears he understands what he is told. I believe Mr. Stone should have made sure that the Master listens and understands what he is told. I believe that Mr. Stone should have woken up the wireless operator.
However, I do not think that anything that the Californian’s officers and her Master had done during the night was done in purpose to ignore the rockets. I believe later on their way to Boston they got scared and destroyed some important logs.

I think that Mr. Stone really observed the Titanic changing her bearing while it was the Californian herself that was drifting in an eddy. I think that he really was thinking that a steamer in distress does not steam away, and when he saw she did, he decided to let it go.
 
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Paul Burrell

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I suppose there may have been another ship around. For the sake of this discussion lets say there were 6 ships. But, surely none of these other ships were firing rockets at intervals. Which brings me back to my original question - how common were rockets being fired at sea at intervals? I think I already read here that firing without being in distress was a contravention of the laws. If that’s right, surely the duty of a captain is to come to the bridge to determine for himself and try and contact the vessel in distress even if his vessel is stopped.

Lord ignored the rockets. He knowingly had a conversation with the apprentice. He could not bring himself to call the apprentice a liar - because it was true. Simply denying it happened if it did not is the easiest thing to do, particularly as the person making the claim was a subordinate.
 

Bob_Read

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Hi Paul: There is no doubt that the crew of the Californian saw Titanic’s distress signals. However the Lordites will tell you that there was no way to know those were actually distress signals and that it was not at all incumbent on Lord to proceed to investigate them. The court of public opinion has ruled otherwise.
 

Jim Currie

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I suppose there may have been another ship around. For the sake of this discussion lets say there were 6 ships. But, surely none of these other ships were firing rockets at intervals. Which brings me back to my original question - how common were rockets being fired at sea at intervals? I think I already read here that firing without being in distress was a contravention of the laws. If that’s right, surely the duty of a captain is to come to the bridge to determine for himself and try and contact the vessel in distress even if his vessel is stopped.

Lord ignored the rockets. He knowingly had a conversation with the apprentice. He could not bring himself to call the apprentice a liar - because it was true. Simply denying it happened if it did not is the easiest thing to do, particularly as the person making the claim was a subordinate.
Hello Paul.
let me attempt to answer your qustion i a sensible way, keeping clear of the number of ships etc.

A. It was no common for ship's to fire rockets at intervals... short or long.
B. It was not the practive of the master of a ship to immediately ruch to his bridge when informed of the sighting of a single rocket.
C. It was not common for distress signals to rise to half the height of the masthead light of the ship firing them.
D. It was not common for ships to fire distress signals to half the height of the masthead light then steam away from the location.

On the other hand:

1. It was commont for a ship to fire distress rockets at "short intervals" if she was in urgent need of asistance...not necessarily sinking.
2. "Short" intervals were by definition, not "Long" intervals since the idea of firing rockets was to convey urgency.
3. The Rules for indication distress also included a sound to attract attention, whether it be by a gun or, in the case of Titanic, a combination of sound and light.

The evience indicates:

X. Captain Lord was notified of but a single rocket before the vessel steamed away. he was not advised of the others before it did so.
( Accoding to the evidence of Captain Lord and Apprentice Gibson.)

As for the so called Mystery vessel stopped nearby to Californian? Here are two facts which many on this site and in the past have ignored, completely dismissed out of ignorance or for a more synister reason:

First: The vessel seen near to the Californian could never have been the RMS Titanic because Californian showed a green light in its direction between the firing of the 1st and 6th signals seen by Stone and Gibson. Whereas the vessel seen from Titanic showed a red light for mosy of the time a colured side light was seen.
Second: The vessel seen from Titanic was on her port bow. This could only have happened if Titanic had turned southward then northward during the iceberg avoiding sequence This did not happen according the QM who was on the wheel at the time.
Third: There is no evidence to show that a second helm order was given as part of the avoidance sequence. If one had been given, it would have been ineffectual. This is because the rudder does not turn a ship, it stops a turn and instigates a turn. The ship generated current actually turns the ship. For a ship's rudder to act at it's most eficient, the engines must be running ahead at Full Power and the ship making headway at full speed. In the case of Titanic, this did not happen. The engines speed and consequently ship speed were dropping rapidly. this had two effects...reduction of speed and reduction of rudder efficiency. In reality, the rudder would have been hard-pressed to check the swing to port, let alone check that swing and cause the ship's head to swing in the oposite direction. If you and any other doubters don't believe this, then I suggest you take the problem to a good school of Naval Architecture and present it as an hypothetical case.
However, in the case of the SS Californian, this may be a waste of time since the "bubbles of belief" have super-strong skins which are almost impossible to burst
 
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AlexP

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I suppose there may have been another ship around. For the sake of this discussion lets say there were 6 ships. But, surely none of these other ships were firing rockets at intervals. Which brings me back to my original question - how common were rockets being fired at sea at intervals?
You are right.
Here's a part from Mila's book (reproduced here with her permission)

The Titanic and yes, the Californian

Many authors and readers still believe that there was a mystery ship or two between the Titanic and the Californian. However, the testimonies of the Californian’s crewmembers themselves leave no room for doubt that a steamer they were watching was the Titanic.

Californian’s third officer Charles Groves testified:

8172. (Mr. Rowlatt.) Did you say what sort of a steamer you thought she was?
- Captain Lord said to me, "Can you make anything out of her lights?" I said, "Yes, she is evidently a passenger steamer coming up on us."

[...]

8178. (Mr. Rowlatt.) How many deck lights had she? Had she much light?
- Yes, a lot of light. There was absolutely no doubt her being a passenger steamer, at least in my mind.

Groves later observed this passenger steamer to stop. The only passenger steamer that stopped at that time in that place was the Titanic. The Titanic struck an iceberg. The Titanic stopped.

Groves was watching the Titanic.

Californian’s second officer Herbert Stone testified:

7922. Well, anything else?
- But that I could not understand why if the rockets came from a steamer beyond this one, when the steamer altered her bearing the rockets should also alter their bearings.

7923. That pointed to this, that the rockets did come from this steamer?
- It does, although I saw no actual evidence of their being fired from the deck of the steamer except in one case.

7924. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) Which is the one case?
- One rocket that I saw that appeared to be much brighter than the others.

7925. Was that one of the five or one of the three?
- One of the three.

7926. That, you felt confident, came from the vessel that was showing you these navigation lights?
- I am sure of it. (my bolding).

The only steamer that was firing the rockets at that time in that place was the Titanic.

Stone was watching the Titanic.

Californian’s apprentice James Gibson wrote in his affidavit:

I then got the binoculars and had just got them focused on the vessel when I observed a white flash apparently on her deck, followed by a faint streak towards the sky which then burst into white stars.

Gibson’s affidavit concurs with Stone’s testimony. The only steamer that was firing the rockets at that time in that place was the Titanic.

Gibson was watching the Titani
c.
 
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AlexP

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First: The vessel seen near to the Californian could never have been the RMS Titanic because Californian showed a green light in its direction between the firing of the 1st and 6th signals seen by Stone and Gibson. Whereas the vessel seen from Titanic showed a red light for mosy of the time a colured side light was seen.
I do agree that this is a problem that anti Lordites have mostly ignored. However, it could be easily explained. Mr. Boxhall saw the green sidelight. However, he did testify he mostly saw the red one. Why? When Californian was showing her green it was hardly visible from the Titanic. By the time she approached (while drifting in an eddy) she was showing her red in the Titanic's direction. That is why Mr. Boxhall testified he saw the red most of the times.
 

Jim Currie

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I do agree that this is a problem that anti Lordites have mostly ignored. However, it could be easily explained. Mr. Boxhall saw the green sidelight. However, he did testify he mostly saw the red one. Why? When Californian was showing her green it was hardly visible from the Titanic. By the time she approached (while drifting in an eddy) she was showing her red in the Titanic's direction. That is why Mr. Boxhall testified he saw the red most of the times.
Think about what you are proposing.
If Stone saw rockets 1, 2, 3, and 4, over the starboard bow and he and young Gibson saw the remaining 5 and 6 rockets over the same bow, then every time they saw one, Californian was presenting her starboard bow in the direction of each rocket. Thus every time a rocket was fired, the ship seen from Titanic would have been showing 2 white masthead lights and a green sidelight. Your idea suggests that Californian's bow was swinging wildly back and forth which is totally contrary to all the evidence.
 

AlexP

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Your idea suggests that Californian's bow was swinging wildly back and forth which is totally contrary to all the evidence.
I suggested nothing of the kind. I suggested that the green was invisible because the Californian wasn’t close enough to the Titanic. At the time she got close enough her green was closed, and her red was opened.