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Jul 31, 2012
I realize this question may already have a topic posted, but a search brings up topics about the distance,etc. rather than something on this specific question.

Now for the question, How long would it have taken Californian to get underway? Since the ship was more or less adrift during the night, I would assume the ship would only have enough boilers lit & steam built up for maintaining heating/lighting & electricity facilities aboard ship and maybe for some very limited emergency maneuvering.

Dave Gittins

Mar 16, 2000
Captain Lord was quite specific about keeping steam up in case of danger, so he could have got going in a few minutes. To quote my own e-book---

Aware that he was in an area frequented by shipping, he felt it unwise to let Californian lie immobilised throughout the night. He therefore left the bridge, in search of his first engineer. Summoning him to the saloon deck, he ordered him to keep steam pressure up, remarking, ‘We will keep handy in case some of those big fellows come crunching along and get into it.’
Oct 28, 2000
In support of Dave's post (above) -- Under the Rules of the Road, a ship is considered “under way” unless it is: 1.) Tied up in a dock; 2.) Anchored; or, 3.) Aground. Captain Lord realized that his ship, Californian, met none of these criteria when he ordered it to stop making way that night. Some definitions are in order:

“Under Way” – not tied up, anchored, or aground.

“Making Way” – a vessel that is under way being propelled by oars, sails, or engines.

“Not Making Way – a vessel that is under way, but is currently not being propelled by oars, sails, or engines.

Lord knew that a stopped ship not suffering from a mechanical breakdown was still “under way” and required to maneuver to avoid collision if another vessel approached. Californian did not have engine trouble or a broken rudder. So, it would have been required to maneuver to avoid collision should another ship have approached. Thus, when Lord had his conversation with his chief engineer he was not only expressing a realistic possibility, but he was also indicating he knew the anti-collision Rules that governed his ship.

– David G. Brown

Jim Currie

Apr 16, 2008
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
I have questions.

In his evidence, Captain Lord said he saw a ship coming along before 11pm that night while he was on a lower deck and dicsussed it with his wireless operator. The latter confirmed this and that as intructed at that time, called Titanic about the ice immediately after. The time was 9-05 EST which was 10-55 pm Californian time. This was 20 minutes after Lord had left the bridge.
3rd officer Groves had been alone on the upper bridge since about 10-35pm when Lord left him. That being so, and the nearby vessel stopped bearing SSE at 11-30 pm, then it was in view with the naked eye for at least 35 minute. So, why didn't 3rd Officer Groves , the OOW see the same vessel as Lord before 11pm? Further more, if Lord aw that vessel's green sidelight with the naked eye, why didn't Grove see it? Could it be that his attention was taken-up by a vessel approaching from a different diection?

Mark Baber

Jul 4, 2000
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Moderator's note:

In the years since this thread was last active, the issue of Californian's behavior and that of those on board her has been addressed at considerable length in other discussions. There's no need for this one to be resurrected.
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