A Trapped Captain


Jim Currie

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Hello Jake!

I'm sure I don't need to caution you about newspaper accounts. However, others reading this thread should be very carefull when doing so. They should remember that a newspaper report is not a clinical assessment of the facts. If there's any journalists reading this, I'm sure they can fill you in on that aspect of journalism.

I offer a prime example of where researchers have jumped-in with both feet:

In the early hours of Monday morning, Californian's wireless operator was called by the Chief Officer and told to find out what ship's were around. Within a very short space of time, he had word from 'Mount Temple' and the German ship 'Frankfurt' that Titanic had hit an iceberg and was sinking. Both ships gave him the Titanic distress position.
Evans wrote down the position and gave it to Chief officer Stewart, who took it along to Captain Lord. After he had gone, the wireless operator on the Leyland Liner 'Virginian' under the command of Captain Gamble also contacted Evans and confirmed the news about Titanic.
Up until then , all these wireless mesages had been between ship's operators so were not considered official. Evans knew this and also knew that his own Captain Lord would request an official confirmation i.e. a Captain to Captain confirmation message. Lord would not move his ship on the basis of wireless gossip only. So Evans requested this official message from Captain Gamble.

Meantime, Lord reacted to Chief Officer Stewart's news exactly as Evans had predicted; Lord and Stewart came back to the wireless room to get Evans to obtain the official confirmation. And so, when the two senior officers arrived in the wireless room, Evans had the official confirmation, ready and waiting. Lord did not loose a moment, he had all the proof he needed and immediately set-off in the direction of Titanic's last known position.

The London Times newspaper published a lengthy interview with Captain Gamble of the SS Virginian in which he is quoted as stating:

"Times 22/4/12:
At 5.45 a.m I was in communication with the Leyland liner Californian. She was 17 miles north of the Titanic, and had not heard anything official of the disaster. I sent a Marconigram to her as follows :- 'Titanic struck iceberg, wants assistance urgently, ship sinking, passengers in boats, her position lat. 41.46, long. 50.14'."

Now this was the very first official communication between Captain Gamble and Captain Lord. Before this, it had been operator to operator gossip! Yet, because of the distance '17 miles north of the Titanic', this was pounced upon as clear proof of the initial distance between Californian and Titanic. But is it? How did Gamble get the 17 miles distance?
Only two ways: either as a figure in the body of a message or by calculating it himself from a DR position of Californian given to him.

When Chief Officer Stewart first visited Evans at about 5-40am, he would not be equipped with a DR position for Californian. He merely wished to know what ship's were around and if anyone was in trouble. When he got the first news, he high-tailed it for the bridge. When Evans got the Virginian confirmation, they did not exchange positions. Evans because he didn't have that information and 'Virginian' because she did not give it. Here is the proof of that:

"9107. (The Commissioner.) Yes, but you did not know their [Virginian]position?
- No, my Lord.
The Solicitor-General:
That is what I wanted to know.

So when did Captain Gamble receive Californian's DR position from where he deduced she was 17 miles from Titanic's CQD position?
We know the two ships did eventually exchange positions but when did that happen?

According to Captain Lord, it was at 6-30am, the time Californian cleared the west side of the pack ice. If his DR navigation was reasonably good, Californian would be at 42-02' North, 50-08.5'West at that time. Half an hour earlier, he would be 3miles to the NE x North.

Because of this times newspaper report and because of the notoriety of Captain Lord, researchers have completely ignored the obvious. Even going as far as to say that Captain Lord got his time half an hour wrong! But was he wrong? Back to the 'Times'.

Later in the same newspaper report, Captain Gamble is alleged to have stated:

"“At 6.10am I sent a Marconigram to the Californian :- 'Kindly let me know condition of affairs when you get to Titanic.' She at once replied :- 'Can now see Carpathia taking passengers on board from small boats. Titanic foundered about 2 a.m.' “

Again, researchers pounced on this as proof-positive of Lord's guilt! That he was close enough to see the proceedings.
Again they were too eager in their anxiety to prove blame.

Think! Gamble's first official message to Californian was at 5-45am when Californian was 17 miles away from the target. Yet 25 minutes later, he is getting information that Lord can see Carpathia recovering passengers from the boats?

Californian's people could not have seen this unless they were on the same side of the ice as Carpathia and we know that was sometime between 8-15am and 8-30am. We also know she passed Mount Temple an hour earlier at 7-30am
Logically, when Captain Gamble gave a time of 6-10am for the second message, it was New York time. However the time of his first official communication...5-45am...that could not have been New York time because we know from the PV of Mount Temple, that the first message received by Californian from Virginian was 4-00am New York time..5-55am on Californian. It had to be later than that when Captain Gamble exchanged positions with Californian.

The title of this thread is 'A trapped Captain'. Unfortunately Captain Lord's traps were sometimes of his own making.

Five months after the event, he wrote a letter to the Board of Trade. In it he wrote:

"April 15 about 6:30 am gave my position to S.S. Virginian before I heard where the Titanic sunk,
that also gave me 17 away"

As we have seen, this is wrong! He knew that Titanic had sunk before he was in contact with Virginian.

In all probability, he did give his position to Virginian at about 6-30am ship's time that morning and Californian was 17 miles to the north of the distress position!

Jim C.
 

Jake Peterson

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Hi Jim;

Thanks for the read! I'm in the process of reading the chapter on Californian in Halpern's book. This chapter was written by Halpern himself. I see that the line of dialogue "No, this isn't right, you must give me a better position" has this addition added to it: "We do not want to go on a wild goose chase.". This line still, as in Butler's book, does not have a footnote # by it, so I'm still curious as to where it came from? Did it come from the AI/BI inquiries, or from Lord's Affidavit in 1959, or what?

The reason I wanted to have a look at Lord's Apr 18th interview, was because I wanted to confirm whether or not Lord, as claimed by Butler in his book, actually said in the article "At no point did I, at the point of a revolver, order any man in here to write a testament of what they saw"
 
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Jake, as a journalist, I'm going to second Jim's caution. Newspaper reporting is one of the very trickiest fields in journalism, because reporters may be assigned to a story on any subject, with little regard for their prior knowledge (or lack thereof), under intense deadline pressure. With the best will in the world, a reporter may not possess enough information to ask the right questions or to spot inaccuracies or lies emanating from interview sources. The best newspapers, such as the New York Times, work to assign reporters who know something about the subject in question, to give them enough time to develop the story properly and to fact-check the result, but this is by no means a universal practice. And even the Times ends up with egg on its face from time to time. It's just the nature of the beast.
 

Jim Currie

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Hello there Jake!

Seek and ye shall find!

This from the UK Inquiry:

"11295. The wireless operator told you?
- No; he did not tell me. The chief officer was delivering the message. I was on the bridge, and he was running backward and forward to the operating room.

I said, "Go back again and find the position as quickly as possible." So he went back, and he came back and said "We have a position here, but it seems a bit doubtful." I said, "You must get me a better position. We do not want to go on a wild goose chase." So in the meantime, I marked off the position from the course given me by the Frankfurt in the message just from one operator to another. I marked that off and headed the ship down there.

Hello there Sandy!

I figured that the 'Times' reporter who filed the Bramble report would have been bogged-down with tid-bits of information... loads of times tied to incidents.
Even the fact that he was a 'Times' Reporter (I just couldn't resist that!) It would have been very hard for him to sort out the difference between EST, Marine New York Time, Local Meant time, Ship's time, partial clock change time etc. And not only that... get them in chronological order!

Jim C.
 

Scott Mills

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I have always been curious as to what motivation the crew of Californian had to lie. She was carrying no passengers and if they were as close to Titanic that night as some argue, then the events as seen that night would be much more different than the crew describes--like rockets going up to a very low height in relation to the ship they saw.

So I would understand that in the morning when you discovered Titanic had foundered, you'd be inclined to lie, but why would you admit to seeing rockets at all? Seems to me that you'd much more inclined to say "I saw nothing."

Also the behaviour of Californian in the morning wasn't that of the guilty. They were authentically surprised and took great risk loosing through ice at full speed to get to Titanics reported position. Seems to me if they were that close to the sinking Titanic they would have known exactly what happened, or if not figured it out pretty quick, and would not have put their ship at great risk to get to the SOS position.

Incidentally (I do not mean to sound like a broken record or to suggest I am positive Mount Temple was the guilty party) the only ship whose behavior was odd in the morning was Mount Temple. First she reported Titanic sunk early in the morning when everyone, including Carpathia was still operating on the assumption Titanic was still floating but not transmitting. Second she stopped dead and watched other ships during the first part of the day go the wrong direction through the ice (since Moore says he was at the SOS position and knew there was no ship or wreckage there) without correcting then or transmitting at all. Third, Mount Temple did not fire rockets or make any attempt to locate survivors or lifeboats.

AND to get back to my original point, Moore testified that he saw NO rockets that night. No light of any kind actually, then asserted the presence of a suicidal schooner and a black funneled tramp steamer seen at night and identified by their lights. ;)
 

Jake Peterson

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Thanks Jim!

Reading Halpern's book, I had a feeling Lord's statement might have been from one of the inquiries, but hadn't got around to looking at the complete testimony of Lord's. I had read a few pages, and it felt like a question-answer-question instead of letting Lord go into detail about what he saw. To be fair, though. I think I only covered 2 or 3 pages of the testimony hearing. The most surprising was that Lord stated he only had 6 lifeboats with him. Interesting, since the 1894 BOT regs state all ships of 10,000 tons and up should have at least 20 boats. I realize Californian was only 6220 tons, but 6 boats still seem like a miniscule amount for a ship of that size.

I also realize newspaper articles (past or present) will have a certain bias to them, or be under-researched. I just want to confirm whether Lord actually made the claimed statement I mentioned in the above post, as Mr. Butler in his book stated.
 

kari kob

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I have one question regarding the navigation of Californian to Titanic's reported CQD location. The reported CQD coordinates were west of the actual location of the sinking & southwest of Californian's overnight position. Captain Lord went west through the ice-field & then south to reported coordinates then had to go back east to where Carpathia was picking up survivors. I'm wondering why he didn't choose to go south 1st especially considering all the activity that was witnessed to the south by the officers on watch during the night as well as the following morning.
 

Jim Currie

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No mystery here.

Captain Lord did not know about the disaster until after 5-30am that morning. By that time it was broad day light and he could see across the pack ice. Once he knew the coordinates for the distress position, he was able to calculate the shortest route between where he was and that position. It was south 16 degrees west. He therefore started out with the intention of making good that course as well as he could... ice allowing. After all, even at sea, the shortest short distance is a sraight line. (becomes more of a curve as the distance increases).

Jim C.
 

Jim Currie

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PS. In 1912, they didn't know about the real position. You must ask yourself this question:

If you were captain of a ship and your men told you that earlier there had been a ship firing rockets to the SE of you but at the same time, no less than three ships have told you that a ship was sinking to the SSW of your position.What direction would you go in?
In fact, Captain Lord did not accept the first two position he was given for Titanic, even although they were the same. he waited until he had a captain to captain signed verification from Virginian before he moved his ship.

Ask the same question, but this time you receive the above information at 01-15am on your ship which was either 01-27am or 01-03am on Titanic.

JC
 
C

Caroline Mendes Ferreira

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Capití£o lord unreacted

There are accusations because he did not help the Titanic, also by the fact that the Californian sent messages but the only operator of the Titanic ignourou. Some of the officers of the Titanic saw a light from afar and realized it was a ship and decided to turn on the lamp but no morse resposta.Más when Evans Enviu the Feedback Phillips was unable to hear it.
the captain was sleeping woke up without any initiative, he preferred to stay all night stopped because a quantity of ice. The most interesting that the crew did not see anything or rockets almost nothing.U.S. survey by the california would have saved many lives if not for the failure of Captain Staley Lord.

[Moderator's note: This message was originally a separate thread addressing the same subject as this one, among others. MAB]
 

Jim Currie

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Boa Tarde Caroline. Como esta?

Desculpa. Eu fazer tevtativa escrito en Portuguese.

Todos os gente quem accuse o Captao Lord nao compreender ou reconhencer todos os testimunho.

Agora en Englise:

The light (luz) seen from Titanic was moving and getting closer. Californian was stopped( estationario) Therefore, the light seen from Titanic was not Californian.

Os interrogators ignorar this evidence.

Have a good day.

Jim C.
 
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The evidence was not ignored. There were others who said the light did not appear to move at all. It is a point of contention, like much of the other evidence that was given. One of Titanic's officers (Pitman) thought the light might have been a lamp from one of their own lifeboats about 3 miles off. Another (Lightoller) thought it might have been the stern light of a sailing vessel about 5 miles off. Through glasses, 3/O Boxhall made it out to be a steamer with two masthead lights and sidelights. Boxhall also thought it was about 5 miles off. He also claimed that he was able to see the sidelights of the steamer with the naked eye at one point, and then only one white light which he took for a stern light when he was sent away in boat #2. Somehow, he managed to lose sight of this steamer after he took to the boat, while others continued to see it until about the time that Carpathia's masthead lights came up over the horizon from the SE.

As far as Lord's actions are concerned, the only mistake, if you want to even call it a mistake, was not going topside to see for himself when 2/O Stone called down to him on the speaking tube that he saw rocket(s) coming from this mysterious steamer that was stopped off their starboard beam. And how many rockets were seen at that point is a point of contention from all three Californian witnesses. Stone said he reported to Lord that 5 were seen, the apprentice Gibson reported that Stone told him that he called down to Lord after the 2nd rocket was seen, and Lord reported that he was only told about 1 rocket when Stone called down to him. So who do want to believe?

Other contentious points are the movements of the mysterious steamer seen from Californian. Stone said the steamer started to move toward the SW after the 2nd rocket was seen, and that the rockets followed the steamer as it steamed away. Gibson said the steamer's red sidelight disappeared after the 7th rocket was seen. Gibson said that he never saw a stern light on this steamer, and that Stone sent him down to tell Lord after the lights of the steamer disappeared at 2am. On the other hand, Stone claimed that he saw the stern light of the steamer for 20 more minutes more after he sent Gibson down to report to Lord that the steamer was disappearing to the SW. If these rockets came from Titanic, and there seems to be little doubt about that these days, then the steamer did not move at all.
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Sam,

Just knew you couldn't resist it. Good on you! However you realy can't get away with the following manipulation of the evidence.

"The evidence was not ignored. There were others who said the light did not appear to move at all. It is a point of contention, like much of the other evidence that was given.

A rose by any other name?

OK my friend and adversory. we'll deal with it your way.

As I explained to Caroline.. this time in English: All those who accuse Captain Lord don't understand or recognise all of the evidence.
I should have used the expression "most of those" since I know you fully understand the selection of evidence available. What I do not understand is why you keep punting the Californian and Titanic within sight of each other nonsense.

Boxhall described perfectly a vessel approaching another vessel on a clear night. Apart from Smith, as far as any of us know, Boxhall was the only witness who studied the other vessel over a length of time and did so with the aid of binoculars or in another version - a telescope. He said it was approaching and saw the two white steaming lights first then eventually the coloured side light(s) with the naked eye. The time scale during which this took place indicated a ship moving at moderate speed.

"At first I saw two masthead lights of a steamer, just slightly opened, and later she got closer to us, until, eventually, I could see her side lights with my naked eye."

Then he joined the rest of your witnesses.. the ones you put forward as a contradiction to Boxhall's original evidence... the ones that fit more comfortably with a Californian in sight theory:

" before I got into my boat, and just before I got into the boat she seemed as if she had turned around. I saw just one single bright light then, which I took to be her stern light.

Let me remind you:

A stern light seen from another ship, even if the ship showing it is moving, will, if viewed for a comparitively short time, seem stationary. If it is on a stopped ship, it will get nearer if you row toward it even if you are a lousy rower. If it is moving away from you, you will never catch-up unless you are one hell of a rower.

We can argue over white lights, moving and stopped ship's until the cows come home but there is one crucial bit of evidence which you and most researchers completely ignore and that is...Californian never did show a single white light to the ship that was stopped near her that night and during part of the folowing morniging.. not a bright one or a dull one!

If you care to go over the evidence of Californian's 2nd Officer Stone and Apprentice Gibson, you will find that they describe the other ship being either on the starboard beam, starboard bow or port bow. Never abaft the beam on any side and certainly not 2 points abaft the beam which it would need to have been in order to see Californian's white stern light.

Incidentally, The stern light of a ship like Californian would have been about 20 feet above the sea. In that case, it could not have been seen from a lifeboat much more than 6 miles away. You cannot mistake a masthead light for a stern light.

Jim C.
 

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