Californian...a question.

Mar 22, 2003
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It was clear enough for Gibson to note: "I then got the binoculars and had just got them focused on the vessel when I observed a white flash apparently on her deck, followed by a faint streak towards the sky which then burst into white stars." This was a vessel which he thought looked like a tramp steamer about 4 to 7 miles away.. The only vessel firing rockets at that time was Titanic. The rocket Gibson described was the 6th one seen by Stone.
 
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Dec 2, 2000
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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 ?
No, we don't *know* it. I'm confident that IF they had gone full speed and not had any close encounters with some solid objects along the way, they might have arrived there just in time to see the Titanic go down. This assumes (A very dangerous pastime!) that the 10 to 12 distance of separation advanced by Lord's critics is accurate, that they would have figured things out in a reasonable amount of time or brought up the Titanic on Wireless in time to find out what was going on, and got underway as quickly as possible.

If the ships were separated by the19-20 miles as advanced by Captain Lord's critics, there's just nothing which bears discussion. They might have arrived in time to find the boats and see Carpathia's smoke and flares on the horizon.
 
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Mila

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It appears that at 3:30 am Californian was 7-8 miles from some lifeboats. If we are to assume these particular lifeboats traveled 1 or 2 miles from the wreck site towards Californian, we could say that Californian was 9-10 miles from the sinking Titanic, maybe closer at some times. I do not believe that even if Lord acted at once, he would have been able to save everybody. However, it does not matter. What matters is that not only Lord did nothing, he also tried to cover up his inaction, for example lying about rockets, or “loosing” important parts of the log.
 

Mike Spooner

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Hi Julian sorry for the late reply,
(Do you have an axe to grind here against Lawyers and a personal story you need to get off your chest?).
I most certainly do in the way the UK inquiry was conducted for the real true.
The inquiry was suppose to be the investigation into the loss of Titanic causes and resulting in the death of 1500. It should of been an independent inquiry and not arranged by the Board of Trade!
The inquiry turned into a one sided court case hearing were many more could of given evident but never ask, and landed up with a very respectable man of the land, making outrages slander statements against a Captain as follows:
When she first saw the rockets the Californian could have pushed through the ice to open water without any serious risk and so have come to the assistance of Titanic. Had she dune so she might have saved many if not of the lives were lost!
First why wasn't this brought up in the inquiry for discussion?
Why wasn't the Captain allowed to appeal against such an outrageous statement?
The discussion of ice risk and danger was well mention in the inquiry by a top line professional seaman king of the ice Sir Ernest Shackleton. He could not spelled it out any better the risk and dangers of icebergs and icefields, and clearly outrage of any ship speeding through ice area. It don't not go without notice when pushing through ice they have avoided the word of icebergs may be in the way and its pitch dark with no searchlight on the ship! Did this fall on deaf ears of Mersey?
Was the plan of how to save many lives if not all! Was this discussed? Nope.
Was the time factors whether he could there in time discussed? Nope.
Was the correct procedures of firing distress rockets by the Board of Trade discussed? Nope. Why only 8 and not 36?
Was the rockets and Californian ever mention in the submitted of the 26 questions been ask by the Board of Trade for discussion? Nope.
After 28 days into the inquiry amendment was made to question 24 to included rockets and other ships. Are they changing the goal post to suit there argument to shift the blame else were? After all the Californian and rockets were brought up in the US inquiry
and newspapers. So why were they not included in the original 26 questions?
I see the inquiry was a very intimidating and threatening place to be in as follows:
If one looks at the photos of the Scottish Drill Hall in London been turn into a temporary court room. On the raised platform is the formidable bench to represent the Board of Trade and well paid by the Government to!
Right Honourable Lord Mersey a retired Judge in charge of the inquiry, with a successful career as a lawyer and fine barrister indeed.
To assist him SIR Rufus Isaacs one of the top line barrister of the day. A very smart and intelligent man. The main driving force behind the inquiry.
SIR John Simon solicitor with barrister skills to.
SIR R. Mc Kenna.
Mr B Aspinall for B.O.T.
Mr Raylatt for B.O.T.
Mr R Asquith barrister son of Prime minster
Rear Admiral S.A. Gough-Calhorpe.
Captain A.W. Clark R.N.
Commander F.C.A. Lyon P&O Captain.
Professors J.H.Biles of Navel Architecture.
Maine Engineer Mr. E.C. Chaston R.N.R.
I see this as a formidable line up for the Government benefit.
So what has the defence got to offer?
Robert Dunlop solicitor for the Leyland Line.
Sir Robert Finlay represent for White Star Line
Thomas Scanlan behalf National sailors & fireman union
Mr Thomas Lewis union represent large crew members.
Mr W. Harbinson behalf of third class passengers
Looks like a David & Goliath battle here!
The there is witness stand on raised platform a table and chair.
The general public area of between 100-200 who will have their beady eye fixed on the witness stand!
But one thing missing in court room that there is NO public jury answer to!
Protocol from a LORD and SIRS who hold great power esteem and respect of the land and must be treated with caution and replied by SIRS and YES MY LORD, NO MY LORD. MY LORDSHIP, enough to put a cool chill down any ones back. Then the ones who be cross exam by a clever intelligence barrister were Mersey will keep cutting in a hostile manor.
Those young men who have never face a witness stand before must of been a terrified experience for them, and having to be on their guard at all time not to criticise the company in fear jeopardising their future! They must of been overwhelm and bag of nerve in this situation. How can one concentrate and think straight under such interrogation, Its not surprising they made mistakes.
Then some of those poor seamen on Titanic who have only recently been through an horrendous survival of live and seeing death around them, no doubt mental scarred for life. Quite frankly this has turn into a callus heartless brutal inquiry failing to understand they were members of the humans race and not robots.
I must of felt like the interrogation of the GESTAPO on hand!
They need a dam good barrister to stand up this cross exam, which they never got.
I see further problem with the ones who represent the two shipping companies Leyland Line and White Star Line. They may be two individual companies but come under the one company of IMMC. Cannot criticise each other much as they like to so!
I personal think Robert Dunlop did his best but overwhelmed with the situation and cut short when digging too deep in fear of criticise been made against the B.O.T. no thanks to Mersey! The poor acoustic of the hall did help matter either too.
It not surprising second officer Charles Lightroller called the inquiry as a white washing inquires and a fast.
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)?
Captain Lord is not a lawyer but a fine profession seamen with an impressive track record behind him which was never brought up in the inquiry. In his situation of cross exam he needed a top line barrister for his defence which he never got and not allowed to appeal.
Failure to respond to a vessel in distress?
How many times did Lord give the orders to Morse lamp to a ship? As Mersey stated the Titanic was no more than 7-8 miles away! Morse lamp range 10-12 miles. So much for Mersey statement!
Forced resignation from the Leyland Line?
Leyland Line never wanted him to resign and certainly recognise him as a first class Captain. It was only a Leyland Director from the London office threatened to resign if he was not removed from the company. If he was such an villain why did he receive full pay and bonuses? Or was the Director a friend of Mersey?
He was very lucky not to have lost his Masters certificate or be tried and convicted (with a prison sentence)?
If any one should be tried dragged over the coals and reprimanded is Lord Mersey for making false statements without checking the facts with Lord!
As you properly gathered by now I have a poor opinion of both inquiry's for the real true in the loss of Titanic, and the1500 whom lost their lives of the majority through no fault of they own.
Sad to say the inquiry was a political game to save their necks or careers.
Thanks to ET I have learnt a lot more nearer to the true than you ever learn from the inquires.
Julian when I see the Grenfell Tower fire inquiry in progress. That's what I call a proper inquiry were months of investigation had taken place before the start of the inquiry. Something like 500-600 will give evident and freedom of speech in the event on how they saw it, without been cross exam by a intelligent barrister!!
How much time of investigation took place beforehand for the Titanic inquires?

Mike.
 
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Julian Atkins

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Hi Mike,

I actually agree with quite a bit of what you have posted above. There were lots of things seriously wrong with the British Inquiry.

I just happen to think that some of The Californian witnesses, in certain parts of their testimony, lied or were evasive and or inconsistent. You can see this quite clearly when Captain Lord and Stewart are cross examined on their own 'wreck commissioner's' statements made just a few days beforehand!

On 2 occasions both Stone and Stewart fail to answer questions and remain silent. Captain Lord at one point said that Stewart was the Officer on the bridge during the middle watch, and as a result all the other Californian witnesses are ordered out of the court room!

I don't believe that Captain Lord having a better Barrister would have made a jot to the evidence he gave, and if he had been separately represented with a well briefed QC it would not have made any difference.

It is also a double edged sword - if the Inquiry had followed the correct procedures in respect of Captain Lord - and he had been given 'defendant' status, and a right to remain silent (which in any event he would have been very foolish to remain silent), then Lord Mersey would not have been prevented in making all sorts of findings in respect of Captain Lord such as a finding on a charge that he had failed to respond to a vessel in distress, and revoking his Master's Certificate (I am a bit unclear whether Mersey could have done this at the British Inquiry, but he had the power to order further proceedings against Captain Lord).

So things could have been far more serious for Captain Lord had the British Inquiry been correctly set up.

They could also have been equally serious for Stone.

Neither Captain Lord or Stone understood the legal niceties of all this.

What is quite clear to me is that at the British Inquiry Captain Lord and Stone and Stewart lied as to what happened on The Californian in certain material respects. Gibson was also probably nobbled a bit by Stewart. As for Groves, well, it is just far too complicated to write out here this evening!

I am also not forgetting what happened in the USA. Captain Lord starts lying immediately The Californian reaches Boston via his newspaper reports, and shifts The Californian 2 miles further away that night in his hydrographic report, despite the Olympic recording his Antillian ice warning message latitude after the tragedy.

At the USA Inquiry Captain Lord states he was told of only one rocket, and makes no mention whatsoever of the Mount Temple. However, Evans describes uproar on The Californian the morning of 15th April, and Captain Lord being called 3 times and rockets seen, and having had conversations with both Gill and Gibson.

At both Inquiries Captain Lord keeps secret the statements of Stone and Gibson of 18th April. That Stone and Gibson also do not refer to these statements at the British Inquiry is yet more evidence of a concerted 'cover up' as to what actually went on.

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Julian Atkins

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and lots of silly messages from Evans to Durrant on the Mount Temple as a result
I should have stated with the Birma and Cannon, not Mount Temple and Durrant. See Balfour's testimony at the USA Inquiry on the Baltic who overheard these messages and recorded them on the Baltic.

Apologies for this error.

Cheers,

Julian
 
May 3, 2005
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No, we don't *know* it. I'm confident that IF they had gone full speed and not had any close encounters with some solid objects along the way, they might have arrived there just in time to see the Titanic go down. This assumes (A very dangerous pastime!) that the 10 to 12 distance of separation advanced by Lord's critics is accurate, that they would have figured things out in a reasonable amount of time or brought up the Titanic on Wireless in time to find out what was going on, and got underway as quickly as possible.

If the ships were separated by the19-20 miles as advanced by Captain Lord's critics, there's just nothing which bears discussion. They might have arrived in time to find the boats and see Carpathia's smoke and flares on the horizon.
I think that's the big problem for us ''Non-sailors/Non-lawyers''....''No luck on the Morse Lamp......Let's just try the Wireless.'' The big problem for us is why didn't they do that ?
 
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May 3, 2005
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I don't think it even occurred to Stone and Gibson to even wake the man up.
This is just speculation again in a "pretend" scenerario . I know it's a bit ''far out''.
Let us suppose that to Stone or Gibson it even occured to them to even listen on the wireless. But I believe if any person other than Evans who might have been able to read Morse Code was Groves or perhaps that might not be true whether or not some of the things you read might not be quite true, such as Groves being able to read code to some extent. Then let us suppose that Groves had observed Evans enough to know how to switch for receiving and wind up the detector, etc. Groves is called in. He does not wake up Evans but listens. Phillips was reported to have sent his "CQD SOS" slower than usual at times so Groves notes that the "CQD SOS" is being sent so many times he begins to pick it up. If this happened do you suppose it might have occurred to him to wake up Evans and ask him if this was something unusual and what or if the "CQD SOS" meant. This is all stretching the imagination quite a bit, but could this could have been a ''what if ?''' Possibility ?
Michael.....my apologies. I know you may read some weird stuff........LOL
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Gibson was an apprentice. His responsibility was to do as told. He had no authority to act independently. Stone however was the OOW. He already talked to Lord and came back with the impression that Lord was not at all concerned. He was told by Lord to continue to Morse the steamer by Morse lamp and to send Gibson down if and when they got a reply. Stone obviously was not a proactive individual but was content to simply do only what he was told to do. And that is what he did despite admitting to Gibson that a ship a night is not going to fire rockets for nothing.
 

Mike Spooner

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Jan 31, 2018
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Hi Julian,
I am glad you have reply and do respect you as a solicitor and no doubt had a seven year training. I can see your English is better than mine to! As my back ground is from an engineering apprentice of manufacture of diesel and petrol engines. As in the good old days every thing was done under one roof. As for the technical reports the facts were more important than the grammar! As in your job is well part of the job.
I may of been a bit harsh against the legal system, as I see now is more the case the inquiry having been dump with the problem!
The way I see the inquires should of been investigated by independent specials before the inquiry started. Clearly this did not happen. Were Governments have ask the legal department to conducts the inquiry at five minutes notice!
I see this as putting the cart before the hose. I am not anti legal person and do recognise majority case are fair justice. Ok we do get the odd cases were there is miss justices.
I can't help feeling they will try there best to their ability of been lawyers and court cases is there profession career. At such short notice they haven't got time to investigate and look into the facts properly.
I cannot rule out there was a serious attempt by the Government to cover up for there mistakes to!
As if there had been an independent investigation beforehand the Board of Trade and White Star Line may of not come out not looking too well from this situation.
You think if Captain Lord having a better Barrister would have made a jot to the evidence he gave?
Surely a barrister would of well advise him before entering court?
Were the legal section should of enter is after the inquiry were no doubt the sueing game starts. Which was to happen the follow year resulting bankrupt for IMMC.

Mike.
 

Mark Baber

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Were the legal section should of enter is after the inquiry were no doubt the sueing game starts. Which was to happen the follow year resulting bankrupt for IMMC.
What are you referring to here, Mike? IMM's receivership---not bankruptcy---didn't come about until 1915 and had nothing to do with claims relating to Titanic.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Robert, I can't go with "what ifs." I can only go with "What is."

The question advanced was why didn't they attempt to raise the "Mystery steamer" by wireless. Short of finding primary source material, which is to say, something written verifiably by their own hand, we'll just never know. I've seen no evidence that it even occurred to them to try.

If they thought of it, (And they may have!) they didn't do anything about it.
 
May 3, 2005
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Michael -
Thanks for your patience.

Perhaps it is best to drop the speculation(s) of why or why not the wireless wasn't used to inquire from any ships in the area , including Titanic , if anyone knew why the rockets were being fired ?

Moving on . Since the Titanic inquiry (s) , have there since been any inquiries of a similar nature ?
If so, how were they handled ?
In the same, or different manner, than the Titanic inquiries.....both in the USA and UK ?
 
Nov 14, 2005
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Thanks for posting that. Interesting read. I had read it before but its been a long time. I was surprised that they brought up the Samson. I thought even back then the story of the Samson was discredited.
 

Julian Atkins

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You think if Captain Lord having a better Barrister would have made a jot to the evidence he gave?
Surely a barrister would of well advise him before entering court?
Hi Mike,

In the UK a Barrister cannot 'coach' his client as to what to say. The USA allows this I think, but in the UK it is a distinct 'No No', and has always been the case and would have been the same in 1912.

A UK Barrister (unless he was bent or corrupt) in 1912 or 2019 would never have said to a client "you cannot say this"...''you must say this instead'. It is quite forbidden by the rules of professional conduct for The Bar (Barristers) and also Solicitors.

Cheers,

Julian
 
Mar 22, 2003
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It is quite forbidden by the rules of professional conduct for The Bar (Barristers) and also Solicitors.
Hmmm? No coaching? During the Hawke/Olympic trial inn 1911, in a document called 'Advice on Evidence' was prepared by the Butler Aspinall KC, A. Bateman KC and Mr Robertson Dunlop representing the defendants (the government) said that the witnesses for Hawke (who they represented) "ought, if possible, be in agreement about their estimates of distance between the two vessels. If, the vessels were not on parallel courses but on converging courses, the witness should bear the fact in mind in handling the models, and they should be given the opportunities of making themselves familiar with the handling of models to avoid the mistakes which a witness makes when asked in the witness box to show by the models the respective positions of the two ships at a given moment."
 
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Julian Atkins

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Hi Sam,

With the greatest of respect I don't see in your 'Hawke' quote evidence of 'coaching' as such, merely how the evidence ought to appear. Many a lawyer has made such remarks, only to be quite undermined by the resulting witness evidence when the witnesses are in the witness box!

In the UK, 'coaching' of witnesses or defendant by the Barrister has never been allowed in either Civil or Criminal cases or even humble tribunals.

Cheers,

Julian