A Trapped Captain


Erik Wood

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Captain Stanly Lord played a part of the Titanic story that none of us would want. But he (in my opinion) is villianized by people who do not understand certain things about maritime travel.

When thinking on the fact that Lord "ignored rocket signals" and several other things it is important to remeber several things.

Lord's responsibility lay with his ship and crew and ONLY his ship and crew. About two hours before this Lord had rammed his ship head on into the very ice field that Murdoch hoped to avoid. Lord made a crash stop which resulted in the question mark like track the Captain Brown suggests but more importantly it showed Lord just how bad the ice really was. Lord did the right thing by telling his wireless operator to relay a ice warning of his situation to Titanic which he knew was nearby. For reasons that we all know it never got through.

When the watch offiers on the deck of Californian saw the lights of a liner and reported them to the Captain, Lord now knew that Titanic was with in eye sight and the following changes in position did not bother him and shouldn't.

We have to remeber that a Captains job is to see to the safe navigation of HIS ship not that of others. Lord was stuck or hove too in the ice and intended to stay that way so that he did not go to the bottom. Lord knew a ship was nearby but in reality didn't care. Nor should he. Up to this point it was just another ship passing in the night.

Once the Officers of the Californian saw rockets they again called the Captain to report what they saw. This time Lord told them to attempt to contact the other ship. I believe that Lord still believed that the ship was Titanic. The WHITE rockets most likely confirmed that. He assumed that it was some kind of party fireworks or the other ship hailing another fleet mate. But he made a fatal mistake. He attempted to reach them via morse lamp and not Wireless. Yet Lord did make a attempt to reach the ship but in his eyes they ignored him.

Lord now knew something was going on. He knew full well that Titanic on her Maiden Voyage he was still under the assumption that his prior order to deliver the ice warning had been sent he assumed that Titanic's Captain would have heeded the warning and flares where nothing more then party decoration. Even so would he have left his spot in the ice knowing Titanic was sinking?

Another way to look at this is like this. When the Edmound Fitzgerald went to the bottom she was in front of the Arthur M Anderson skippered by Bernie Cooper. Both Captain Mcsorely(Fitzgerald) and Captain Cooper (Anderson)had been in constant communication. Once it was clear to Captain Cooper that the Fitz had gone to the bottom he radioed the Coast Guard for help. Who in turn turned for help to the ships that where safely riding out the storm in Whitefish Bay. Once Cooper made it there he was finally convinced to leave and search of the Fitz or any survivors and one other ship followed. But the rest stayed in port. All the Captains that where in that port knew full well that fellow sailors may be meeting there maker yet they stayed in. To protect there ship and themselves.

Captain Cooper is the Captain Rostrom of the Fitz story and Captian Lord is the others who stayed in Whitefish Bay. We also have to take note of the fact that Lord knew first hand how bad the ice was. It was by the grace of god that he didn't go to the bottom. Rostrom only knew of the ice not it's exact location and not it's intensity.

I am hoping that this will spark some talk to get me to think about my statements so when I put them in my book they make sense.

Erik
 

Erik Wood

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One very commonly missed thing is the following. If we pretend that the Californian was only 7 miles away. Lord couldn't just move his ship. He would have to restart his steam plant and then navigate his way through the ice. Starting the plant alone and getting ship ready for sea would have taken the better part of 75 minutes. That is from personal experience with steam plants. Then he would have had to attempt to back out of the field the same way he came in in order to avoid the Titanic's fate. It still would have taken at least an hour. So Titanic would have been at the bottom. Before Californian could have reached her.

My sources on this range from my experience to Lords own testimony. To books by Eaton and Haas.

Erik
 

Erik Wood

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I have just read and reread Captain Lords testimony and as usual I noted the obvious holes. However one thing strikes me as odd. Lord testifies that if he had gotten underway as soon as he heard about Titanic it would have taken up to 2 and half hours to get there. Yet he is by some accounts less then 7 miles away. The ship could have traveled up to 13 and half knots according to Lord. Something doesn't make sense here. Lord judged that the distance was more a long the lines of 19 to 20. I don't by that. It is closer to 15 to 17. The rockets where seen at almost water level. But he also stated that they could not tell the difference between sea and the begining of the horizon. Hence no course plotted using the stars. So those rockets could have been fired from up to 19 or 20 miles and still have been seen. But could have been mistaken as a shooting star or would have been so low to the water they may not have been seen at all.

So you have to debunk my starting the plant theory. Upon further investigation Lord stated that he had the Chief Enigneer have steam up. But still claims it would have taken him up to 2 and half hours to get there. I still stand by my stance that Lord was a good Captain who made one wrong decision. Not to wake his wireless operator. But the fact that he was stuck in the ice and the distance still shows that it wouldn't have mattered. I think

We will see. I am still doing so further research into this. More and more reading. I think my eyes are going to explode.

Erik
 
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>>I think my eyes are going to explode.<<

Sounds sloppy, shipmate! Why not just let your lower jaw drop down to the deck? Little neater.

I think you'll find that when Lord and Co. got word of the Titanic going down, they cruised first to the reported position which as we now know was in error. That would account for a lot of wasted time, and backs up Dave Gittins opinion that the best thing the Californian could have done at the time would be to cruise in the direction of the rockets they actually saw. They knew there was a ship there.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Tracy Smith

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Still, to continue with what Dave Brown said in his book, even if he had done just this, the only difference that this would have probably made was that Lord would have taken Rostron's place in history.

As I stated in an email:

Dave said the distance was mainly a moot point anyway, given the difficult logistics of trying to evacuate that many people from a sinking ship in the time allotted. It wasn't simply a matter of Lord zipping over to the Titanic's position and the people transferring to his ship as quickly and efficiently as stepping into an elevator. Indeed, even if Lord had been much closer than the 17 to 20 miles, I believe the only way he could have saved them all or even more than Rostron did, would have been to have Scotty standing by to beam them all over.

We can coulda, shoulda, and woulda about Lord till the cows come home, but it wouldn't change the difficulties of transferring that many people in the time allotted. Too bad Smith had to move the ship again after it hit the ice...if he'd not done this, the Titanic might have stayed afloat for quite a few more hours and we would have had Sir Arthur and Sir Stanley.
 
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I'm not certain that the Titanic would have floated a few hours more. We've been discussing this one in the in the Collisions/Sinking Theories folder "Abandoning ship" strand. Admittedly, the evidence for the ship getting underway again is thin, but it does exist. (Read the accounts written by Mr. Beesley and Colonel Gracie) Forward motion could only serve to force water in at a higher rate. At an initial rate estimated at seven tons a second, it was already too much.

Beesley states explicitly that he saw the ship get moving again, while Gracie mentions seeing a couple on deck who were promanading "against the wind."

On a windless night, the only way this is possible is if the ship is actually moving. But enough on this.

Tracy, you're absolutely right in that transferring people between ships is a complicated affair. Time consuming too. Ask anyone who was on the Andrea Doria about how long it takes and the response is something like "All night." In this instance, it wouldn't make any difference if the Californian responded from 18 miles or 18 yards away as She would have had to stand off, then launch her own boats whilst launching and recovering boats from the Titanic.

Some people have the idea that she could have pulled up, tossed a plank over and have everyone run across.

Wrong answer!

All else aside, I can't think of any skipper that would be foolish enough to pull up and tie up to a sinking ship.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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Well I have results of my little expierments that I conducted. I did this under the proviso that I not release the name of the Captain or the ship that assisted me in my endevour. So here we go

Last night I was broadside and this other "mystery ship was head too on me. The distance was about 9 miles. Now you have to keep in mind that all of my lights are on. I morsed to him with a mag light the following "Markus, can you read this" his response was "yes I took morse too" . He then said that he had diffuculty finding the light to concentrate on but once he did he was able to make it out slowly. At 11 miles we could not see eachother.

So if Mr. Standart is correct is saying that there morse lights only have the power of a flash light then the distance would have been a little more then 9 miles. The rockets is the next thing.

But this leaves a odd theory. That means that at at least 10 miles the it still would have taken about 2 hours. What do you all think??

Erik
 
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I think maybe longer as the Californian was essentially trapped in the ice field. Since stem was already up, getting underway wouldn't have been the problem. Threading their way through a dense and shifting icefield would have been. The ship was capable of 12 knots with the pedal to the metal, but would you go at top speed through an icefield...in the dark?

They already had one brush that night and likely counted their blessings that they didn't sustain any damage. After swallowing their hearts that is. Somehow, I doubt that Lord and Co. would have been anxious to press their luck.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Martin Pirrie

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The problem with Capt. Lord is that for most of that night he did everything correctly.

In some ways Lord was a better captain than Smith. Lord had stopped because of the ice: Smith hadn't: Lord's radio operator had passed on the ice warning messages: Smith's hadn't: Lord appears to have known his limitations: Smith was soon to learn his.

One advantage Lord had over Smith was that Californian was carrying freight not passengers. Lord was in no particular rush. Smith, on the other hand, had schedules to meet. As has been written before, Smith had no need of Bruce Ismay to urge him on, he was his own champion.

I believe that Lord had stopped just too far away to make the rockets a significant event. He saw them but he did not appreciate them. It did not register with him that this was a distress signal. His crew, too, were not sure what they meant and we, with the gift of hindsight, diagnose all this inactivity as criminal negligence.

Was Lord so feared by his crew that they did not dare wake him again? Was this fear so strong that Stewart was not woken and asked to approach Lord?

If this is true, then there have been modern examples of the same thing. The KLM plane which took over from Tenerife without permission and hit an incoming plane. The captain of the KLM plane was a senior, much respected captain, but a man who would not listen to advice from his co-pilot: he knew better: he had schedules to meet: hadn’t he been flying for more years than anyone else in KLM: wasn’t he the fleet commodore? He killed himself, his crew and all his passengers because he did not appreciate the situation.

Lord’s mistake was not to appreciate what his crew were saying to him. Had his crew been more forceful, then maybe Lord would have paused and thought and history might have been changed slightly.

Martin Pirrie.
 
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I'm not sure Lord didn't have a schedule to meet, but a close encounter with a berg must have given him second thoughts on how worthwhile it was to keep. Better late then sunk.

I don't think the Californian was 19 miles away, but when you have to weave your way through drifting ice, he probably would have had to do a lot of twisting and turning just to get where he was needed most. Whether we like it or not, that eats up a lot of time.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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As I wrote earlier I am not so sure that Califorian was 19 miles away either but she was definitly more then 10 probly around 15 but no more.

Mr. Pirrie wrote a very good piece and I find it very helpful. The fact that Lord did everything right and Smith everything wrong I do believe has something to do with the fact that one is a passenger ship Captain and the other a freight Captain. Mr. Pirrie is somewhat correct in stating the Lord didn't have as tight of a schedule to keep as Smith did. Smith had the burden of this being the ships Maiden Voyage and carrying his own boss.

Lord is often villianized but I think it is at the cost of reality.

Erik
 
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>>Lord is often villianized but I think at the cost of reality<<

Hmmmmmmmm...as odd as this may sound, I tend to think of the Californian as a seperate issue quite apart from the sinking of the Titanic herself. That issue being "Should have tried something but didn't" IMO, that single premise is what puts Lord behind the 8 ball and no other.

The Californian's presence or the lack thereof does nothing about the sinking itself. The most that Lord & Co could have done is fish a few extra survivors out of the water had he been able to respond in a timely manner. He couldn't have made the damage go away, and it's not as if he could have pulled up along side, put the brow across, and let everyone run aboard his ship.

None of this takes away from the crucial mistakes which were the cause of the disaster in the first place. Specifically, a flawed navigation practice of "cracking on" no matter what. Everybody did it, but the Titanic was the one that was bitten by it.

So Erik, point taken.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Erik Wood

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I think that Captain Lord and CO have been often misunderstood and this board has shown me things about the Titanic disaster that I did not know. I have learned alot.

I wish that all saw the way we see it.

Erik
 

Erik Wood

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Another thing about this whole morse light thing is the following.

Titanic had recieved via morse a ice warning from a wounded ship called the Rappahanoc (or something to that effect) the ship was 10 miles to the west. Titanic recieved the message and then sent a reply thanking the ship for the message. This ship had been wounded by the ice with damage to the rudder and bows.

Last night was the first I have heard of this. It is going to require a lot more research especially seeing as this is the first that I have heard of it. I am wondering if anybody else out there has heard of this.

My source of information is not the best. The James Cameron CD. I am going to rifle through my books to see what I can find. The CD is full of mis conceptions but on a whole provides a very good tour of the ship and things that lead up to it's demise. It was well worth the $4 my wife spent on it.

Erik
 

Erik Wood

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I am still looking into it but this "source" says that the Rappahonic (or something to that effect I will get the name directly after) Morsed Friday or Saturday it was the first real warning but everybody passed it off. I was hopping that somebody knew of this. This is the first that I have heard of it. The Niagra isn't even mentioned in this version nor two of the books that I have. (It may be that I just can't see it).

Erik
 

Erik Wood

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Here is somemore information. This "source claims that it is the RAPPAHANNOCK it is the second ice warning recieved at 6 pm on the 13th of April. She has a damaged bow and rudder. From the ice field the Titanic was heading into.

Erik
 
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Gentlemen,

Titanic 'met' Furness Withy's Rappahanock, eastbound from Halifax to London, late on the Saturday night (as given by Lord and Lynch, although Marcus has them meeting on the Sunday). Rappahannock had a badly damaged rudder sustained while negotiating the ice field even though all sources give the crew credit for acting with caution. To add to her on-board woes, she was also sailing under Acting Captain Albert E Smith, following the sudden illness of her original master.

The two ships did communicate by morse, but through a signal lamp - not wireless. (Sorry Michael!) As per Geoffrey Marcus:
[hr]
Quote:


Rappahannock: Have just passed through heavy field ice and several icebergs
Titanic: Message received. Thanks. Good night.
[hr]​
(The distance between the two is not given in any source I've seen so far.)

The passenger ship Niagara (French Line), sailing under Captain Juham, collided with ice bow-on earlier in the week (April 11). She made it into New York despite two holes below the water line and some buckled plates. Her speed at the time of the collision is not given in any source I've seen so far. (This Niagara should not be mistaken for the German oil tanker Niagara which is one of the candidates for the 'Mystery Ship'.)

FWIW,
Fiona
 

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