Californian...a question.

Mike Spooner

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The more you into the idea of Captain Lord coming to the rescue of 1500 the drafter it gets. Not only the logistics side of the matter, but the time factor is one enemy. It looks like another case were the law is making an ass of itself. All very well saying the law you must responded to distress rockets! Were has the common sense and the safety factor gone? Like asking a fireman to day to enter a blazing building in danger of collapse, yet saying that what you are paid for, therefore get on with the job!
I am quite shock what that very highly mature respected Judge could make that statement in the first place. I expect a statement like that to come from a 12 old school boy!
 

mitfrc

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Well, the countervailing argument is that even if the Californian, proceeding with an acceptable level of risk for a rescue mission, only arrived in time to pluck twenty or so hardy men from the water over and above those rescued historically, shouldn't that have been done and wouldn't it be worth it? Captain Lord couldn't have done much, but shouldn't he have done something? But I am agnostic, because the passage of years and sheer amount of information/debate from the different sides makes it hard to decide what reasonable is.
 

Mike Spooner

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IF only Lord had acted at 1.00am and travel one mile towards Titanic.
Would of that satisfied the law for the legal men?
To say his ship stood still and did nothing is incorrect. As by 5-6 in the morning he came to the rescue and took a bigger risk than any other ship by having to navigate the icefield 3 times without damaging the ship. If he had damaged the ship he would of got NO thanks from his shipping company and probably facing dismissal as in the company policy!
If the Carpathia ship hadn't been there, Captain Lord would of been the hero of the day!
For a human-being and not a robot been held responsible for the death of 1500 must of been utterly devastating for the poor man. Just remember he never got a fair hearing to hear his side of the story and no re-appeal was allowed!
 

mitfrc

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If Californian had advanced at a prudent speed toward the Titanic and been repulsed by the inability of navigating through dense pack at any speed while making a continuous and dedicated effort, with all reasonable prudence, to continue doing so, then yes, Lord would have unambiguously satisfied the legal requirement. Wooden ships have made progress, albeit very slow, against far denser ice. Speed matters, and it generally matters as a power function. Titanic was in an order of magnitude more danger at 22 kts than Californian would be at 6 kts, 5 kts. The law is ironclad because in the collectivity of all circumstances at sea, the requirement to save life is unyielding. Having read pretty much everything there is on Great Lakes shipwrecks, there are a lot of examples of ships far less resilient than Californian--Great Lakes freighters are basically powered barges in terms of their internal subdivision--making insane efforts in the worst of gales to rescue ships like their own which had foundered as a consequence of that same gale. There are also men who hove-to and did not respond, judging the danger too much.

I personally don't hold that against Lord, but I do believe the law is appropriate because it encourages measured risks in the sake of satisfying its expectations. And I believe that to remove all blame from himself, Lord should have gotten underway with the utmost haste--and then proceeded with the utmost care. I believe the result would be that precious few if any additional survivors would be found; Lord would have recovered some of the boats, maybe a few more hardy men on the collapsibles would have been rescued before they perished in the sea. And that would have been worth it, because the risk would have been measured and responsible. Perhaps it was totally impossible to make way through the ice; then with utmost care she should have started to prod her way around at dead slow working her way cautiously around the pack. Morally, Lord's decision is understandable, assuming it was a decision (I am unconvinced he wasn't just exhausted and acting on imperfect information), but I also believe the law exists for a reason -- to motivate behaviour "above and beyond" that society considers praiseworthy, expected, and appropriate for men of his profession. And so, even if conditions meant it accomplished nothing, as they almost certainly did, he should have tried to get underway.
 

Mike Spooner

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The practicality of the rescue plan has been well discussed by Professional seaman and prove the idea if had set off after the second distress rocket 12.50, he would of never got there in time, and fraught with dangers in the pitch dark. The idea of picking up the1500 of a sinking ship is just a crazy idea fraught more dangers. How long can they serve in the freezing cold water? How long did it take to rescue 700 already in lifeboats on to the Carpathia 4 hours!
Its only legal men come up this crazy ideas? Captain Lord a professional seamen was never given a chance to tell his side of the story. NO re-appeal was allowed in the court hearing!
A clear case POLITIC was the order of the day, and Lord was the perfect the SCAPEGOAT for there cover ups in the rigged inquiry!
 
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Jim Currie

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If Californian had advanced at a prudent speed toward the Titanic and been repulsed by the inability of navigating through dense pack at any speed while making a continuous and dedicated effort, with all reasonable prudence, to continue doing so, then yes, Lord would have unambiguously satisfied the legal requirement. Wooden ships have made progress, albeit very slow, against far denser ice. Speed matters, and it generally matters as a power function. Titanic was in an order of magnitude more danger at 22 kts than Californian would be at 6 kts, 5 kts. The law is ironclad because in the collectivity of all circumstances at sea, the requirement to save life is unyielding. Having read pretty much everything there is on Great Lakes shipwrecks, there are a lot of examples of ships far less resilient than Californian--Great Lakes freighters are basically powered barges in terms of their internal subdivision--making insane efforts in the worst of gales to rescue ships like their own which had foundered as a consequence of that same gale. There are also men who hove-to and did not respond, judging the danger too much.

I personally don't hold that against Lord, but I do believe the law is appropriate because it encourages measured risks in the sake of satisfying its expectations. And I believe that to remove all blame from himself, Lord should have gotten underway with the utmost haste--and then proceeded with the utmost care. I believe the result would be that precious few if any additional survivors would be found; Lord would have recovered some of the boats, maybe a few more hardy men on the collapsibles would have been rescued before they perished in the sea. And that would have been worth it, because the risk would have been measured and responsible. Perhaps it was totally impossible to make way through the ice; then with utmost care she should have started to prod her way around at dead slow working her way cautiously around the pack. Morally, Lord's decision is understandable, assuming it was a decision (I am unconvinced he wasn't just exhausted and acting on imperfect information), but I also believe the law exists for a reason -- to motivate behaviour "above and beyond" that society considers praiseworthy, expected, and appropriate for men of his profession. And so, even if conditions meant it accomplished nothing, as they almost certainly did, he should have tried to get underway.
You pose a reasonable argument.

Californian's engine was on standby. She was ready to move at a moment's notice.
All UK Ship Captains of ships like the Californian were required to have a Master mariner (FG) Certificate awarded after very strict examination.

Let us develop an Examination question based on Californian's situation that night and seek an answer which would have satisfied HM Examiner for Master & Mates.

Q. You are the Master of a vessel which is stopped surrounded by light ice with heavier ice visible half a mile to the southward of her position. Visibility is perfect and the sea is flat calm...no wind. Your engines are on standby.
The officer of the Watch reports that he has seen what looks like white rockets in the direction of a vessel which is stopped 5 miles away. Describe your actions.
 
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mitfrc

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Bearing in mind that I've never handled something longer than 48' for pleasure purposes or work responsibilities (and those were just keeping a bunch of undergrads from falling overboard while deploying buoys) and never been more than part of the cargo on an extended deep-ocean voyage of anything larger than that, so I'm approaching this strictly from the perspective of a process safety manager:

All hands will be called, the Mates will be briefed on the situation. Because it is their duty station the wireless operator will be directed to listen for any signal and attempt contact. The engine officers will be briefed and will be warned to make all preparations while moving ahead to have the engines ready for "full astern". With a double lookout posted the order will be "dead slow ahead" and to steer for the vessel presumed in distress. As ice is sighted the helm orders will be given as required to jog the ship northard since the ice is seen to be thinner to the north, in an attempt to work around the heavier ice to south and make way toward the vessel.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Can someone tell me what speed is achievable for Californian to push through the ice in the pitch dark! If I put a side the pitch dark what speed is achievable? We hear the top speed of the ship is 13 knots, that's only when the boilers have reach maximum pressure. The boilers were on standby at the time how long does that take to build up to maximum pressure? To push a ship through ice at 13 knots! (wow!) your going to need a double and triple supercharge engine to achieve such a figure.
You only have to see the documentaries of modern Canadian ice breaker ships who have serious amount of horse power on board and built for the job, they to will struggle to achieve any high speed. In fact there are times they are beaten back by dense pack ice.
Was any discussion in the inquiries of the Californian capability performance in cutting through ice? Nope.
Who said the Titanic was only 8 miles away? Legal men and not professional seamen.
How did the NON professional seamen Lawyers arrive at such a figure? In fact at one time they had a figure of only 5 miles in there head!
Did they listen to the professional seamen story reporting of seen other ships of only 5-6 miles away?
It sounds to me very much a case the Legal men have decided the ship 5-6 miles is the Californian to suit there argument. Knowing only to well there is NO Barrister to challenge such a figure. Plus they only know to well there is to be NO-APPEAL against there decision!
 

mitfrc

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Can someone tell me what speed is achievable for Californian to push through the ice in the pitch dark! If I put a side the pitch dark what speed is achievable? We hear the top speed of the ship is 13 knots, that's only when the boilers have reach maximum pressure. The boilers were on standby at the time how long does that take to build up to maximum pressure? To push a ship through ice at 13 knots! (wow!) your going to need a double and triple supercharge engine to achieve such a figure.
You only have to see the documentaries of modern Canadian ice breaker ships who have serious amount of horse power on board and built for the job, they to will struggle to achieve any high speed. In fact there are times they are beaten back by dense pack ice.
Was any discussion in the inquiries of the Californian capability performance in cutting through ice? Nope.
Who said the Titanic was only 8 miles away? Legal men and not professional seamen.
How did the NON professional seamen Lawyers arrive at such a figure? In fact at one time they had a figure of only 5 miles in there head!
Did they listen to the professional seamen story reporting of seen other ships of only 5-6 miles away?
It sounds to me very much a case the Legal men have decided the ship 5-6 miles is the Californian to suit there argument. Knowing only to well there is NO Barrister to challenge such a figure. Plus they only know to well there is to be NO-APPEAL against there decision!

The Barristers may have assumed that Captain Lord responding would have resulted in something dramatically different than it actually did. But that isn't what I'm discussing. I'm discussing how a rational, professional response which would satisfy the law would be conducted. The Californian would never advance at 13kts going through ice. Based on the described conditions perhaps the top speed would be 5kts, and the actual rate of advance would be less. Do remember that visibility is excellent. It's a matter of speed, and the speed needs to be low. Nobody is suggesting ramming through pack ice. I understand you feel very strongly about this, but the reality is that society considers it a commendable virtue to respond to disasters at sea and expects mariners to try their best to accomplish it. The question is what Lord's best was in the circumstances. And nobody is suggesting it is what the 'Barristers' thought it was -- but I am reasonably convinced, the way non-professionals think, that any response would have quieted most of the criticism against Lord. "We tried for four hours to work our way through dense ice and by the time we did it was too late" is simply a reasonable attempt at life-saving whereas remaining halted at night comes off as indifferent to life at sea in the eyes of the law, public, and most of all, society. If the law is not strictly rational, it is because human society is not strictly rational, and honestly I wouldn't want to live in one that was. Because Lord didn't act at all, he opened himself to being accused by being compared to the one in a billion standard.
 

Mike Spooner

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Can someone tell me what speed a ship like the Californian can do pushing through ice? We hear the top speed is13 knots at maximum steam pressure. If she on stand by steam how long will that take to build up to maximum steam? Then there is the pitch dark fraught with danger problems, were they ever discussed in the inquire? Nope.
For a ship to push through ice at high speed the engine will have to be double or triple supercharged!
Seeing those documentaries of a modern Canadian ice breakers with a serous amount of horse power on board and built for the job, is a huge drain on horse power, and no high speed is not in operation. There are times when the ice just too thick to past through.
Was the ice capability of the Californian as a standard bog cargo ship, and never built as an ice pusher. Was that ever discussed in the inquiries? Nope.
Who said the Titanic was only 8 miles away? Lawyers and not professional seamen. In fact the legal men had got into there head of only 5 miles away! Were did that figure came from? Was it some thing to do with the professional seamen who said they saw another ship moving between them as they were both stationery at the time!
Worth remembering in the inquiries there was NO Barrister to challenge the figures and they knew it too! Was there ever RE-APPEAL to the outcomes of the inquires? Nope. They knew that as well and the inquires paper work was keep under lock and key for the general public information!
So perhaps the professional seamen were nearer the true by saying a figure of 16-20 miles away was more of a realistic figure!
 
Dec 2, 2000
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How did the NON professional seamen Lawyers arrive at such a figure? In fact at one time they had a figure of only 5 miles in there head!
This was very likely from knowing what the Californian was capable of doing, at full power, with a clean bottom, and fresh out of drydock or newly completed.

The catch is that once in the water, ships seldom stay in like-new condition for long. There is a huge difference between what is achieved on the measured mile under set piece conditions and what is achieved as a matter of routine in actual service conditions. Unfortunately, the maximums achieved under the ideal are often confused for what the ship would be able to do under real world conditions. Sailors understand the difference but non-mariners frequently do not.
 
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Mike Spooner

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I am sorry I may of repeat myself as the computer was telling me it had crash out!
But as you gathered I feel very strong about Lord who never got a fair trail and shabbily treated. Were this high power Lawyers took full advantage of there position. I fact I though the whole inquires were a shambles for the real true and very much a political decision. I may have too expect than is how inquires were done a 100 years ago! As today they would of never got away with it. Even looking at that disgraceful show off Captain Schettino Francesco of Costa Concordia in 2012 responsible for 34 deaths, failed to take any risibility and blame others too. Yet he still got a fair trail! I have to say I thought he got a very light sentence of 16 years!
On the positive side been a member of ET I have learnt a lot more of the real true than one would ever learn from the inquires!
 

mitfrc

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I respect that you feel very passionately about this. It is a myth, and a long perpetuated one unfair to Captain Lord, that he could have saved the entire complement of the Titanic, an absurd myth too. He is not responsible for the deaths of 1,500 people. However, to be perfectly blameless and practically responsible in the circumstance, he should have responded to the rockets, brought his wireless up and gotten underway, steering as a responsible and competent Master to avoid the ice, as slowly as that required, until he made it through to Titanic's position. Most of this ice, that far south, was going to be pans, floes and brash, not dense pack. A regular ship can make way against it with the utmost caution.
 
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Mar 22, 2003
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But as you gathered I feel very strong about Lord who never got a fair trail and shabbily treated.
You are entitled to your feelings, but Capt.Lord did a horrible job of trying to cover up his inaction on the night in question, including denying that any signals were seen by anyone on his ship when he got to Boston. As for the question asked in this thread about fast could his ship go cutting through pack ice, this is what Capt. Lord said: "I came through the ice full speed to the ship [Carpathia]" after telling them that his full speed was 13 knots.
 

Mike Spooner

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Sam,
You may be right to say Captain Lord didn't exactly cover himself in glory in the inquiry! But then who did? After all when1500 have died who in their right mind wants to take the blame for it?
13 knots after the icefield yes. Push through the icefield at 13 knots as the Lawyers thought he should of done NO.
 

Julian Atkins

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No, Mike!

You are missing the point here. It was not the Lawyers at the Inquiry who assumed The Californian went 13 knots through the ice, but Captain Lord's own evidence, when going back again through the ice field to get to the Carpathia, as Sam has told you!

I can also quote to you what Captain Lord told the Boston Newspapers of his 'heroic' 'Gun Ho' rescue attempt at 'full speed'.

You really must be a bit more reasoned with your posts on here!

I also happen to agree with you that Captain Lord did not go 'full speed' through the ice, but not because of trickery of Lawyers

(Do you have an axe to grind here against Lawyers and a personal story you need to get off your chest?).

It is a simple matter of common sense...

Captain Lord made his way through the ice after dawn sort of westwards after the 'official' Virginian message was received around 6 am. (I happen to think that Captain Lord had already made some headway into the ice at 5.15 am on his Boston course). Once clear of the ice field on the western side, Captain Lord THEN proceeded at full speed down the western side of the ice field in sort of clear water, passing the Mount Temple close by, and lots of silly messages from Evans to Durrant on the Mount Temple as a result. Then quite extraordinarily, Captain Lord for the very first time apparently sees the Carpathia on the otherside of the ice field ie the eastern side where The Californian was to start with! So apparently, by his own account, he goes full steam ahead through the ice field again in the opposite direction to that which he had navigated at 6 am!

I happen to think that Captain Lord went slower that morning than he certainly claimed in his 'Gun Ho' Boston Press reports, and subsequently, as he had to 'spin out' his '3 sides of a square' circuitous route and make distance from his stopped position he claimed.

Lawyers did not lay clever traps for Captain Lord! He created his own downfall, and he was very lucky not to have lost his Masters certificate or be tried and convicted (with a prison sentence) for failure to respond to a vessel in distress.

He retired very early, very comfortably well off, and lived a happy quiet life in retirement with his wife Mabel and son, and their dogs.

In the Board of Trade internal memorandum the Solicitor to the Board of Trade stated Captain Lord should not be prosecuted because 'he had been punished enough' ie his vilification in the UK Press, his censure in Lord Mersey's Report, and his forced resignation from the Leyland Line. (Which demolishes your theory about Lawyers I suggest being against him!)

But actually Captain Lord got his position with Latta within 6 months and never looked back, kept a low profile, and had a distinguished career post-Titanic, and very well paid, and as stated previously was able to retire at a very early age.

Boxhall never got a White Star command, neither did Lightoller, and Boxhall retired in what one would believe on his own account was in some pecuniary circumstances, arguing over the cost of postage to those who wrote to him when sending his replies!

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Dec 2, 2000
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But as you gathered I feel very strong about Lord who never got a fair trail and shabbily treated.
You're right.
He was treated unfairly.

Now, I'll grant that in hindsight, the ruthless and unforgiving verdict of history is very likely the correct one, BUT it takes advantage of over a centuries worth of research which was what it took to clear some very muddy waters.

Captain Lord didn't have 117 years to figure anything out. All he had was a confusing picture which came to him after
a) They had their own frightening and constipation clearing too close encounter with the ice and,
b) information which came to him by a pair of lackluster officers who did a poor job of communicating their concerns IF they thought the matter was as urgent as they stated in testimony.

The U.S Senate investigation into this was, in my professional opinion as a mariner, a sick joke. They should have interrogated everybody on that ship, certainly every officer and rating on watch or suspected of having knowledge as soon as Gill crawled out of the woodwork. Instead, they interviewed Gill (The paid informant) Lord (The suspect!) and Evans. (The guy who only passed on what he was told.)

Anybody see the problem?

Then, Captain Lord goes to London where he is regarded and treated as the suspect without being told he was the suspect, was pretty much thrown under the bus by the rest of his crew, and thereafter, could never clear his name because no criminal charges were ever preferred. He had no recourse because legally, nothing happened.

So yeah, justified or not, it was an ambush!
 
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Another layman's question (which is probably rather in hindsight , elementary and has probably been asked and answered previously.)
Do we even know for certain if Californian could have even reached Titanic safely considering the dark night and what might lay between the two ships ?
 

Andrew

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In answer to Jim's examination question:
1. I've seen rockets. That's enough to arouse in me a certain level of concern, so I will awaken my wireless operator to check the traffic
2. Having caught the Titanic's distress message, my operator asks "Are you throwing rockets? Because we can see some".
3. Titanic operator confirms his ship is throwing rockets
4. To confirm the rockets are Titanic's, I throw a few rockets from my ship; my wireless operator tells the Titanic to look out for them
5. Titanic confirms it can see my rockets.
6. Cautiously, I head in the direction of the rockets
7. I eventually reach the Titanic, although the atmospherics made her appear much closer than she really was.
8. I have passed no other vessels on the way.
9. On arrival, the scene is chaotic but I manage to save about a hundred people.
10. The experience has been highly distressing, but at least I know I did my best.
 
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