Hello Scott.I tend to agree with this entire discussion. The binoculars would have been useless; however, sometimes I think about the 'haze' Fleet and Lee testify to on the horizon.
I know there are many interpretations of what that haze really represented--including that they just made it up; however, if I am being honest I have almost always just assumed that the haze these men saw was the field ice itself, and that it just appeared as an indistinct 'haze like' entity on the horizon because of environmental conditions that Sunday night.
With that in mind I do sometimes think to myself that they did indeed "see" the field ice well in advance of a piece of it appearing out of the darkness right in Titanic's path. If so, would this have been a case where lookouts could have possibly used binoculars to identify the ice field--and not the individual offending iceberg--well in advance of any need to try and conduct emergency avoidance maneuvers? Or, even if they had binoculars, and saw the haze on the horizon as they testified to, would they have even bothered trying to look at (or through) that haze with those binoculars?
The lookouts made a single mistake...they or at least one of them...assumed that what they were seeing was a "haze". In fact it was an anomaly which, because of the prevailing conditions of a clear horizon up to that time, they should have immediately reported to the bridge, using the phone.
Not the bell. because It is possible that Murdoch would not have seen it due to him being some 40 feet lower than the lookouts. Knowing there was something there would be enough for Murdoch or any OOW. He would then likely have called Smith and thereafter continued to focus his binoculars ahead. In such a scenario, we might not be having this discussion and the world population would be a little larger.