Californian


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Daniel Lakaner

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Hi guys! My name is Dan and I'm a highschool senior. I have a question about the Titanic, so I figured I would ask the experts. ;)

I read this in an article about the Titanic.
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Although the Carpathia was the nearest ship contacted, there was a ship even nearer. This ship was believed to be the Californian. The Californian had tried to reach the Titanic earlier, before the collision, to warn her about ice. The Californian though, was told to shut up and get off the line. The Californian decided to turn in for the night, and turned off their wireless. When they saw the Titanic disappear, they thought she had just steamed away. The officers on the Titanic saw the Californian also, and contact was tried, but failed.
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Is this true??

Thanks guys,
-Dan
 

Bob Godfrey

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Nov 22, 2002
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Daniel, you are about to enter the lion's den. The Californian was a major player in the drama of the Titanic, and its exact position, the behaviour of its Captain and crew and the 'what-if' possibilities remain the subject of endless (and often heated) debate. Back on the index page for the Message Board you will find a section of threads labelled 'Ships that may have stood still.' In there you will find enough theories and arguments about the Californian to keep you reading for a very long time. Enjoy!
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Lion's den? I didn't know the Californian debate was that calm! Learn something new every day I suppose.

Daniel, what you excerpted from that article is basically true, but only covers the bare bones of what happened. You may find it useful to go through the flames messages in the "Ships That May Have Stood Still" folder so you can get a better appriciation of the details as well as the passions this incredibly thorny issue ignites.

On the radio incident, what happened is that the Titanic's radio operator was busy trying to get off a backlog of commercial messages and was working with the station at Cape Race to get them off. The Californian had already stopped for the night after a close call with the ice and Captain Lord asked their Marconi man to get off a warning to any nearby shipping. Unfortunately, it wasn't prefaced with anything indicating it was the sort of official traffic that would take priority. Given the proximity of the ships, the strength of the signal must have just about blown the Titanic's operator right out of his seat. He responded with "Shut up, shut up, Am working Cape Race"

With that, the Californian's operator simply shut down for the night and went to bed.

As to whether the ships saw each other, that's also a matter of some debate. I'm of the opinion that they did. Whether or not it was by direct line of sight, or optical phenomenon like towering or refraction is a matter of conjecture and debate. I'll post a list of URLs below so you can research the dynamics for yourself.

http://users.senet.com.au/~gittins/index.html (Dave Gittin's website)
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Carpathia/ (George Behe's website)
http://home.earthlink.net/~dnitzer/Titanic.html (Dave Billnitzer's website)
https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/articles/lord_californian.shtml (An article on the subject authored by Tracy Smith, Myself and Captain Erik Wood.)

And last but certainly not least, the Titanic Inquiry Project at http://www.titanicinquiry.org/ which has the actual transcripts of testimony from the inquiries themselves. The inquiries included the original investigations into the Californian incident and are essential primary sources.
 
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Daniel Lakaner

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Thank you guys! Very very much appreciated. I'll look into those links you gave me Michael. Thanks again

-Dan
 
Feb 13, 2003
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Dan:

When they saw the Titanic disappear, they thought she had just steamed away. The officers of the Titanic saw the Californian also, and contact was tried, but failed. Is that true??

No! Titanic and Californian were 19 1/2 miles apart, and out of visual range of each other. Furtheremore, the ship that Californian had under observation,stopped 5 miles to the south, was heading in an easterly direction and caried two masthead lights. Titanic, on the other hand,bearing south by west, 19 1/2 miles , was heading in a westerly direction and carried only one masthead light.

When the Titanic impacted the ice, and stopped at 11:40 p.m., there was no other ship in her visual range. When the lifeboats were being cleared away a vessel was observed on the port bow comimg from the west. This vessel later turned back to the west and steamed away. At that time the Californian was stopped at the ice edge 19 1/2 miles to the north.

A full explanation is written in chapter, Giving S.S. Californian's Captain Lord His Due
http://www.breakwater.nf.net/nonfiction/thesinkingofthetitanic.html
 
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Tom Pappas

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"It is a rash man indeed who would set himself up as final arbiter on all that happened the incredible night the Titanic went down."

- Walter Lord (1917-2002)
 
Mar 20, 2000
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Daniel,

There are several - no there are NUMEROUS - threads here about Californian. Read those and you'll see the divergent opinions of the incident. Captain Collins' conclusions above are typical of Californian defenders but are at odds with those who are not.

I would recommend George Behe's website, already credited by Michael, and also the fine ET paper which Michael, Tracy Smith and Erik Wood authored.

In addition I would suggest you get in touch with Tracy Smith if you want to learn more about the person and personality of Stanley Lord. She has done extraordinary research into this man's life.

Randy
 
Jul 9, 2000
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Absolutely get a hold of Tracy Smith. She's the resident expert on Captain Lord the man. I've been researching some of the historical problems surrounding the Californian Incident with her for close to two and a half years and I can attest that she's managed to gather together an impressive body of information on him.
 
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Daniel Lakaner

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Thank you guys, I really appreciate your help.

I'm new to forums so I didn't look around much to find the Californian thread. This is a very popular message board!

Many Thanks,
Dan
 
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