Californian Incident true of false


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William Conrad

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I expect that this topic has been covered a number of times, but my purpose of posting a message on this subject is to get the most up to date theories from all the other titanic enthusiasts who frequent this website...

So, how many of you believe that the 'mystery ship' seen from the Titanic was indeed the Californian? If you don't believe it was the Californian that Boxhall and the other Titanic officers saw that night, what do you think they saw instead? I'd be interested in your current personal opinions on the subject?

Now, I know that I'm opening a BIG can of worms here, as this subject can raise temperatures with some people, but my personal opinion is that the vessel seen from the foundering Titanic was indeed the Californian! I'm afraid all the other theories I've heard don't seem too believable to me. Not wanting to incur the wrath of all you Lordites out there, I'd like to stress that this is just my PERSONAL opinion...

Any and all opinions are welcomed...
 
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Tracey McIntire

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Dear William,
Well I'm getting out the can opener! I have always been interested in this aspect of the Titanic story. I tried to approach the topic with an open mind when I first started reading up on it. One book, however, has definitely swung my opinion to the anti-Lordite side--"The Ship That Stood Still," by Leslie Reade. I have never read such a comprehensive study of the Californian incident--the author has certainly done his research. If you haven't read this book and are interested in this whole story, I highly recommend it. As it is out of print, it took me several months to track it down. You might try one of those book-finding web sites. It is definitely worth it.
Sincerely,
Tracey McIntire
 

Mike Herbold

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Dec 13, 1999
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Share your opinion William regarding the siting and yours Tracey regarding the book.
Maybe Phil Hind should add a poll like he did with the salvage/ anti-salvage issue.
 

Pat Cook

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Apr 26, 2000
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Wow - I don't want to be around when Molony gets here.

From a bunker somewhere in Texas,
Cook
 
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Tracey McIntire

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Good idea about the poll, Mike. I'd be curious to see the results. Perhaps Phil will take our advice. Don't worry, Cook. Conflict sometimes leads to enlightenment!

Tracey M.
 
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Traci Miller

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I think a poll is a great idea. It would be interesting to see how many people fall on each side of the California debate.

Thanks for the website info, William.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Traci, polls may be useful in revealing what people beleive, but just because a majority feels a certain way does not mean that what they beleive is a fact.

Re the Californian; whatever claims may be made about the ship's location, the fact remains that they SAW the rockets being fired by the Titanic, and this one just won't go away no matter what anyone says.

For a far better discussion of the matter then I'll ever be able to offer, Dave Gittens has a website dealing with this at All at Sea with Dave Gittins
I hope you find it useful.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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Collect your fee later, Mike!

A site that shows the methods used by Lord's apologists is George Behe's. He includes letters between himself and Leslie Harrison. George berates Harrison for his contempt for historian's methods. I would point out that Harrison was no historian. He was a union official trying to mount a case in defence of a member and he used the methods we might expect. The main one is to avoid mentioning anything unfavourable to his client but he also drags in red herrings galore.

George's site is at Titanic Tidbits
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Hi Dave, keep the fee! ;-) I just have to go with the hard reality that the Californian saw the rockets, and so far, I have yet to hear of any claims that anyone else was firing any.(If anybody has any candidates, name 'em.) At the very least, Lord and Co. should have roused the wireless operator and gotten underway to investigate. They didn't.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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Actually, the best thing Lord could have done would be to steer for the rockets without stopping to mess with the radio. The ship firing rockets may have had no radio for all he knew. Indeed, had he used the radio it would have caused confusion. Rockets were seen roughly in the SE and the radio would have said Titanic was sinking in the SW on the other side of the icefield. I've always wondered why in the morning Lord set off to the SW through the ice towards the SOS position. Why not use the radio to check first? It must have seemed unlikely that Titanic had got through the ice and hit a berg on the far side. Perhaps he thought she had gone round the southern end. It's as inexplicable as the rest of Lord's actions that night.
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Dave, good point. It wouldn't have taken more then a few seconds to power up the radio, but what then? Follow the position given by the Titanic and not account for the possibility of error, or follow the rockets where it was all too obvious that something was going on? The people on watch on the Californian didn't impress me as intellectual giants.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Bill DeSena

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An old saying is a captain can do no wrong when he palces his ship next to an enemy refering to warships in a battle. I think a captain/mariner can do no wrong when they inquire why a ship is firing rockets and not doing so while not guilty of murder, certainly of apathy. I've looked at the site that covers this area pretty closely and the maps of locations of vessels at various times and the testimony and its obvious the California could have only been seeing the Titanic. The rockets they saw were seen at about the exact time they were being fired and the steamer "disappeared" about the time Titanic sank. I still find it unbeleivable that any seaman could have stood a watch that night and seen what the Caifornia saw and not at the very least awakened the wireless operator to raise the ship and see what all the fuss was about.

Regards
Bill
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Hi Bill, I just found out that the transcript I ordered of the British Board Of Trades Inquiry into the Loss Of The S.S. Titanic is on the way. I intend to reveiw Captain lord's testimony very carefully. The abridged version I have of the American investigation has Lord's testimony as well...which I'll check out tonight. My understanding is that Lord was informed of the rockets being fired, but didn't seem to think it was a big deal. I'll get back with you on this.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Bill DeSena

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Thanks Michael. I know as a former navy man like myself it must seem uncomprehensible that seeing the rockets no one became the least bit suspicious to inquire as to theie cause and source.

Regards
Bill
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Bill, I went over Captain Lord's testimony last night in my abridged version of the American investigation, and I have to say I have some serious misgivings about the way the man expressed himself. The way Captain Lord kept insisting that the mystery steamer he saw was 19 and a half to twenty miles away...even when not specifically asked about it would certainly raise my brows in suspicion. I'll have more to discuss when I reveiw the British Inquiry.

And you're right, it is incomprehensible to me that nobody would investigate possible distress rockets.

BTW, what commands did you serve on/at in you're navy days?

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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Bill DeSena

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Hi Michael,

I was on the USS Ranger for the Vietnam War, then commanded a small cutter in SF Bay for long enough to hit 7 anchored vessels while trying to leave the anchorage. Not exactly Admiral of the Blue, but, I would always report rockets I saw when on watch.

Bill
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Ah, so, you hit some anchored vessels, but how were you at hitting a moving target? More points for those you know! (Ha ha)

Just got my copy of the British Board of Trade Inquiry transcript today, and my copy of the US Senate investigation is on the way. I'll be months going over them, but I'm looking forwrd to it.

Always good to meet another Rangerman too!

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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William Conrad

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Michael H. Standart, as an experienced sailor, is it not the usual custom for all ships to have a 'scrap' log book? I read somewhere that all ships, at least in Titanic's time, carried a 'scrap' log book for entering first hand details and calculations of any voyages. When this was confirmed by the Captain as being correct, the details were then entered into the proper log book. The purpose being to keep the proper log book as neat and presentable as possible...

I also read somewhere, correct me if this is true or false, that the Californian's 'scrap' log book was mysteriously 'misplaced' by the time the ship reached land! Now, if the story about the Californian's 'scrap' log book is correct, could it be possible that when Lord woke up and realised the gravity of the situation, he altered his position further north and got rid of the Californian's 'scrap' log book so as not to implicate himself? Might the Californian's officers have motivation to agree with this?

Ok, ok, I know we only accept things as probable fact that can be corroborated by contemporary evidence. Before all you Lordites ot there try to lynch me, I just want to make it clear that this is just a personal theory, based on what may be unreliable evidence. My point in suggesting it, isn't to proclaim it as fact, but to generate discussion on it.

So, what do you think? Anyone heard of the Californian's 'scrap' log book disappearing before?
 
Jul 9, 2000
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William, I've stood enough deck watches to know a thing or two about logs. What we kept on my ships was not a scrap log per se, but it often worked out that way in practice. The tiniest mistake and we would end up re-writing the whole bloody page.

According to the British Inquiry report I was reading last night, the Californian's scrap log was indeed destroyed. At any other time, this MIGHT (I could be wrong.) not be all that unusual, but it certainly smells in this case. If Captain Lord screwed the pooch...as I'm inclined to beleive...it would certainly be in his best interest to try and cover his tracks after the fact. The problem of course was that the "mystery steamer" which fired the rockets was common knowladge to the crew. The ones who saw it first hand passed it on to their mates, and they weren't reluctant to discuss it afterwards. Especially, as in Gill's case, with the news media of the day.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
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