Dave Gittins

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20 x 120 explains why Mike had trouble aiming them. That means the object lenses are 120mm in diameter and they magnify 20 times. In any sort of seaway they would simply have too small a field of view. In nice weather and on a big ship they are probably OK but trouble doesn't choose nice weather.

James, in 1912 binoculars were not standard issue to lookouts on merchant ships. Officers always had them, either their own or the company's. I've seen a pair from Olympic and at a guess I'd say they were about 6 x 35 or 40. I wouldn't expect much of them.

I've looked at the Californian affair more carefully than most and I do have a suspicion that some of the people in Titanic's boats may have been deceived by a star. Some thought so at the time. For about half an hour Capella, somewhere about NNW of Titanic, gave a fair imitation of a ship's stern light sailing away.

As for those on Californian, they used binoculars but were not helped much due to the distance and the limitations of the glasses. Much of the problem was due to them seeing Titanic almost head on, which makes things very hard.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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>>...but trouble doesn't choose nice weather.<<

You got that right! We had an incident on the USS Frederick 12 years ago where an armoured vehical broke it's restraints in the tank deck. And this happened while our task force was dodging typhoons and going through heavy seas. At the time, it was so bad, that poor ship was taking 35 degree rolls on the average.

Paul, thanks for that link on the Big Eyes. That was the very instrument I used.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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James Maxwell

Guest
Dave,
"binoculars were not standard issue"

Thanks for this information, it goes a long way towards answering my question as to why they were not brought on board at Cherbourg or Queenstown. Also your opinion as to 1912 optics bears out what I would have imagined.


Michael,

My reference to Stanley Lord's reputation stems from the fact that as we all know he was heavily censored for his actions ( or inaction ) at the subsequent Boards of Enquiry and died a bitter man. Please note that I am offering no opinion as to his culpability or otherwise here - to do so would probably mean me being whipped to death right here on this message board!! However I have always felt that the conclusions reached were reached on the basis of position reports, which have been changed back and forth over the years, and also largely on the testimony of witnesses as to various sightings at the time of the disaster. Now all you mariners will know how unreliable sightings at night at sea are. As a non sailor I would never dare comment on this matter - you are the guys with the practical experience - but as a physicist I can say that objects seen through what may appear to be clear air are often not what they seem at all. Air is a fluid medium and as such is subject to all sorts of effects caused by reflections,refraction, diffraction and a whole host of prisming effects.
Neither is air ever completely still, there is always movement caused by temperature inversions,convection effects and the spinning of the Earth on it's axis in addition to pressure differences in adjacent air masses. All this means that distant objects can appear close and vice-versa; large objects can appear small and single objects because of diffraction can appear as multiple objects. The list of illusions is really endless. Clear air is also something that never really exists even though it may appear clear. Because it is a fluid it can contain all sorts of things in suspension - various amounts of water vapour, ice crystals and various quantities of pollutants (not necessarily man made) such as dust particles carried for thousands of miles from distant land masses, and gaseous and other debris from volcanic activity half way around the world. This means that lights in particular viewed through what appears to be clear air may again not be what they seem at all. White light for example because of scattering can appear as yellow, green, red or even blue and coloured light can appear as white. (end of physics lecture!!)
What I'm really saying is that none of the reports of distant vessels or lights seen at the time of the disaster can be looked upon as really reliable. Bearing all this in mind I think that anything that would help to clarify what was seen and where on that night would help to more accurately determine the positions of both Californian and Titanic, and this would impinge on our opinions of Stanley Lord's actions at the time - Which brings me back to my binoculars. (thank God do I hear you say?)
I posed the question in in the first place only to hear if anyone out there thought that if binoculars had been used on Titanic more information may have been gathered regarding those vessels that may have been close by - either the Californian or the mysterious third ship (possibly the sealer Samson?) Michael I'm sorry if my questions seem in any way inane or that I have laboured this question or have not expressed myself very well, but it was only a genuine attempt on my part to get my head round what has always been for me one of the most controversial aspects of this great tragedy for those who suvived both on Titanic and elsewhere
regards
James
 
Jul 9, 2000
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"Reverand" James, you're 'a preachin' to the choir on that one!
wink.gif


I managed to find time to take flying lessons a couple of years ago, and the instruction manuals were loaded with warnings on optical illusions. I've seen a few myself, especially when flying at night, so I never trust what I see completely. Things in motion look stationary and non-moving objects look like they're moving.

Don't worry about the question sounding inane as it wasn't.

As to the Samson, you can be very sure she was nowhere near the area. Icelandic port records put the 6 knot capable ship in Ryjekevik on the 6th of April and the 20th. There's just no way that she could have possibly made the round trip to the site of the sinking and back in that amount of time. If there was a mystery ship, she wasn't it. Check out Dave Billnitzer's website at http://home.earthlink.net/~hiker1217/titanic.html for more detailed information on that.

Cordially,
 

Sam Brannigan

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James

I believe that binoculars were used on Titanic. Even though the look outs didn't have any, the officers did.
However, as for what they saw, and any comments regarding the providence of a "mystery ship", I don't think I have ever seen any testimony or recollections that any of the surviving officers used binoculars.

It seems that Lightoller, Pitman and Lowe were too busy loading the boats to even think about using them. That leaves Boxhall and Quartermaster Rowe (who both seemed to have been convinced that what they saw with the naked eye WAS a ship). They fired rockets and even used the morse lamp. Surely the captain, at the very least, must have checked and rechecked (with binoculars) that this was not merely an illusion they had before them before going so far as to morse the "ship". Is it possible that a number of highly skilled and experienced mariners, well used to the vagaries of life at sea could have all been mistaken?

As for your observation about the fluidity of air, I remember reading about particles of ice suspended in the air and glowing near deck lights. Can anyone enlighten me as to the name of this phenomenon?

Regards

Sam
 

Dave Gittins

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Boxhall at least mentions looking at the ship with binoculars. At one stage he had Rowe work the Morse lamp while he watched for a reply through binoculars. Rowe mentions Smith having binoculars in his hands, so surely he used them.

On Californian Gibson and Stone both used them.
 

Tracy Smith

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With all due respect, James, Stanley Lord did not die a bitter man. After losing his position as Captain of the Californian, he was hired a few months later by the Lawther/Latta Line. He soon rose to a position within this company, similar to what Captain Rostron later acheived with Cunard. In 1916, Latta's newest ship was reserved for Lord's command upon its completion, though Latta had captains senior to Lord in age, experience, and seniority with the company.

Lord enjoyed fifteen happy, trouble free years with Latta. Because of wise money management and some inheritances, Lord was able to retire at the early age of 50. He lived another 34 years, happily in the company of his wife and son.

After the First World War began, Lord forgot about the Titanic, until the movie ANTR premiered in 1958. Disturbed at what he considered an inaccurate portrayal of his role in the disaster, he approached the MMSA wishing to have his name cleared once and for all. After Lord's death in 1962, Leslie Harrison and Lord's son continued to work to exonerate him. Though unhappy with ANTR, he did not die a bitter man. He had a long and successful life. Indeed, his post-Titanic career was much more successful than any of the surviving Titanic officers'.

I don't mean to come down hard on you, James, but I've read the "Lord died a bitter man" thing so many times that I had to speak up.
 
J

James Maxwell

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Tracy,
You haven't "come down hard on me" I have learnt a long time ago that once Stanley Lord's name is mentioned all sorts of passionate opinions begin to be expressed - yours was rather mild compared to some I've heard. However I just don't agree with you! I think that Lord was bitter. You are quite right of course in saying that he went on to have a very successful maritme career in the years following the Titanic disaster, but this is irrelevant in regard to his feelings about the fact that he was accused of standing idly by while people were dying on the night in question. Lord of course was a very complex and far from straightforward character and in after years virtually never spoke of what occurred on the fateful night, however there is I think some evidence to suggest that he was more deeply affected by the Boards of Enquiry findings and how he was portrayed than he would ever openly admit. In "The Ship That Stood Still" by Leslie Reade for example, which I think is one of the best researched books I have read on the matter, Groves the third officer of the Californian tells of an incident that occurred in 1925 ,13 years after the disaster. Groves along with a companion met Lord in Australia.
"Are you Lord of the Californian?" the companion to Groves enquired. ....."What of it?" Lord snapped, as if overwhelmed by sudden,unpleasant, memories.
You are also right in saying that when ANTR came along years later, he was unhappy with his portayal - but it was more than that, he was unhappy to such an extent that even after 46 years he went in person to the MMSA in order to re-open the files on the matter. In view of these and other facts your assertion that,"Lord forgot about the Titanic" is clearly not true. In any case how could anyone so closely involved in the tragic happenings of that awful night ever "forget." I just don't think that it would ever be possible.
I do think that Lord was always convinced of his innocence, but I also think that the blame that was attached to him was something that bothered him for ever afterwards. His own son also called Stanley hints at this himself. In the foreward to Peter Padfield's "The Titanic and the Californian" Stanley writes of Lord, "Although he normally concealed his feelings about the matter it is obvious that it must have affected him deeply." So sorry Tracy I can't go along with this idea that Lord lived happily ever after,he was just good at hiding his feelings on the matter. I think maybe we'll just have to agree to differ on the matter
regards
James.


Sam - bout ye
Re your question about ice crystals glowing near deck lights - could you be referring to the "halo" effect. This is caused by refraction of light by ice crystals close to a light source (or the sun or moon). The commonest form is a circle of coloured light surrounding the light source, the light being bent by the crystals at an angle of 22degrees towards the observer. Sometimes a secondary circle can be seen at 46Degrees from the light. Coloured images of the light source itself can also sometimes be seen. These are called parhelia.
There are however many of these optical effects. Perhaps there may be some metereologists on the message board who know much more about these effects than I do and could enlighten you further.
regards
James.
 

Tracy Smith

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I didn't mean that Lord never, ever thought about the Titanic incident or that he had anything but unpleasant memories about it, but what I meant is that he didn't allow the Titanic to eat him up and dominate the rest of his life. Life went on for him like it did for others.

And in the years between the First World War and 1958, the Titanic certainly was not the dominating factor in his life. Sure, he had unpleasant memories --he was human-- but he did not allow these memories to limit his life. And I imagine that anyone who had felt they had been railroaded and made a scapegoat would naturally find such memories unpleasant. And it is a perfectly natural thing to want to set the record straight.

Leslie Harrison mentions the same incident that Reade mentioned in his book. Harrison says that Lord told him that he regretted his knee-jerk, instinctive response after it was too late to do anything about it. Lord told Harrison that he wished he'd sat down with Groves and compared notes with him. Lord had run into Chief Officer Stewart in 1916 and had been able to do so with him.

So far as Reade's telling of this incident, if I'm not mistaken, Reade never met Stanley Lord, so his interpretation of Lord's mindset at the time is conjecture, his opinion.

But perhaps you and I aren't on the same page when it comes to the definition of "a bitter man". To me, "a bitter man" is someone who allows an unpleasant event to dominate and color their entire life for the rest of their life to the point where they can hardly think of anything else and cannot get any enjoyment out of life. Obviously this was not Lord. Though naturally affected by this event, he did, on the whole, have a happy and successful life. He had a happy marriage and was devoted to his wife, and also enjoyed a close relationship with his son.

And being an introvert, it was in character for him not to trouble his son with his thoughts and feelings on the matter. It was simply his nature as a private man to keep his own counsel on such matters. I would no doubt imagine he shared his feelings with his wife, but that such things remained between them.

I've read some wild things about his later life: that he died a homeless drunken bum, which is obviously false, is a common story, as is the one that his career "effectively ended" with the Titanic disaster, which is also untrue.

I'm not annoyed with you, James -- I just feel kind of protective towards Stanley Lord.
 
J

James Maxwell

Guest
Tracy
There is nothing wrong with being protective towards Stanley Lord - lots of people are, but I think that bitterness can be hidden away deep inside people without affecting the normal lives that they lead and I just get the impression that this was the case with Lord. Of course the problem in deciding these things is in part because of the complex character of the man. At the time he was captain of the Californian he comes accross as being dictatorial to the extent that his officers seemed almost to be frightened of him (with the possible exception of Groves) later in life he comes across as a mellow old seadog happy in the bosom of his family. There is no doubt that he was an excellent seaman. He appears to be all things to all men - to some the devil incarnate, responsible for the death of 1500 people while he stood by and did nothing; to others an innocent sacrificed on the alter of political and official expediency. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.
He is a potent symbol that has come down to us across all the years, reminding us of human frailities. While many people (myself included) would like to think we would act differently in the position he found himself in, we should not be too hard on Stanley Lord. He was at the end of the day only a human being who shared all our human strengths and weaknesses, neither was he the only man who was culpable that night. His misfortune was that fate decreed that he would be present on a small space of ocean on a brilliant starlit night when one of the great tragedies of modern times was being played out. There but for the grace of God go I.
Have a nice day Tracy
James.
 
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Got the perfect experiment.
Go to a store and buy a king-sized water bed.

Set up the water bed on a frame with coaster wheels in an average college sized basketball stadium right at the home team basket.

Place a huge dark grey back drop made of felt at the other end under the opposing side's basket.

Now, take your grandmother's opera glasses and stand on the water bed facing the home team's basket.

Have a friend blind fold you while your other friend places a black wedge of paper about 12 inches at the base and about 8 inches high somewhere on the grey back drop without you knowing where they have placed it.

Now start a stop watch and start bouncing on the water bed.

Turn suddenly looking only through the opera glasses. How long will it take you to see the black wedge of paper?

Now, add adventure to the test. The second time, do exactly the same thing, but have four other friend rolling the waterbed/frame on its wheels heading for the black backdrop.

Mind you, you must walk on the water bed while doing this to get the rolling affects of the ship on the focus of the binoculars.

Thought this was a good place to insert something crazy. Michael Standart is biting his finger nails down to his knuckles right now! he he hehe he he he

Enjoy your day,
Maureen.
 
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James,

I should add that my sister is an astrophysics person with a doctorate from John Hopkins and my posting was just all in fun. I have appreciated what you have stated here and was just having some fun.

A guy here named Dave Gittins is probably shaking his head and saying something like silly Yanks!

Phil Hind is checking his water bed insurance policy to see if is covers use in a college stadium experiment.

Geoff has already doen this experiment.

That is just the nature of this board. he he he he

Maureen.
 
J

James Maxwell

Guest
Maureen,
tried the experiment last night. One small problem - I fell asleep and have only just woke up - I think it was the rocking of the water bed!!
james
 
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Hey Guys,

I think it important to note that these experiments are all well and good but you should also consider that The Big T was doing something like 22 1/2 knots and the temperature was in the freezing range so when you're up in a crow's nest with that cold air whipping in your face, your eyes have a tendancy to tear up.

I know because during the Winter, driving a forklift in freezing cold air at 25mph produces the same effect plus add to that that the berg couldn't be seen till it was too late plus no binoculars, how could you NOT hit the iceberg?

Just a thought......
Bill
 
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James, you must walk on the water bed to give you that Sunami feel to the choppy water effects.

Bill, you are so right.

James, add 100 pounds of shredded ice and a fan to that list of materials and turn the fan on the ice and blow it in the face of the person on the water bed.

Bill, thanks so much.

he he he he he
Maureen.
 
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Hi and special thanks to steve for his topic "I would like to ask you" (join it if you did not before, its really cute!). His topic has lead me to the following statement: binoculars were not useful on Fleets night watch.

I love astronomy (amateur) and I love to look with my 7x50 binocular specially at the brighter nebulars (as the Andromeda Nebular you can see outer town with pure eyes as well). But I know: if you look through this binocular at things on earth you recognise less things as without. A binocular "swallows" some part of the light.

Let me state the following: Would Fleet had sawn the iceberg earlier using a binocular? I don&acute;t think so: in a moonless clear night you better don&acute;t use any binoculars to see things on earth earlier. Specially in that night the bare human eyes were better as equipped with a binocular.
 
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I agree.

Except by the wildest stroke of luck, I would say that using binoculars would have made it extremely unlikely that they would have spotted the berg any sooner. I've stood low visibility watchs at sea at night, and the one thing that was drilled into me was to use one's eyes to scan and bring binoculars into play only after spotting something.

I don't like using something that sctually tends to handicap me on a watch and binoculars certainly do that. All else aside, they restrict one's field of view severely, and spotting things by scanning with them is very difficult. Things tend to pass by in a blur that makes it too easy to miss something, even in the daytime.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
G

Glenn Jaye Watkins

Guest
i was wondering what happend to the binoculars for the look out tower in the movie there was a part where they had missed placed them maybe if they had them they might of seen the ice berg in time do you think that could be a cause for the collision
 

Dave Gittins

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Glenn, this one has been done to death on other threads but as you're a good bloke and a new poster I'll briefly explain.

There were no binoculars for the crow's nest. On the trip between Belfast and Southampton, the then Second Officer, David Blair, apparently saw fit to lend the lookouts the glasses meant for the Second Officer. I think he did this because they were in confined waters and needed to spot lights and landmarks. In addition, there were many ships and small craft about.

The glasses were put back in Blair's cabin at the end of the trip. The new Second Officer, Charles Lightoller, did not see fit to give them to the lookouts. On many ships, this was the usual practice. All this is in the testimony at the US and British inquiries.

It is the considered opinion of the practical seafarers on this forum that the issue of the binoculars in a phoney one. The usual practice at sea is to find distant objects with the naked eye. They then might be identified using binoculars. Binoculars narrow the field of view and those on 1912 were not particularly efficient anyway.

The absence of the binoculars was emphasised during the inquiries and during the civil claims trials by those hoping to prove White Star was negligent. Experts general consider that it didn't really matter.
 

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