Captain Rostron


Arun Vajpey

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Jim's comment that Rostron was in some kind of competition to get to Titanic I don't think makes sense, nor that it was thought Titanic had not sunk.
It never made any sense. The first thought that Rostron would have had - and Lord, IF he had only bothered to check earlier - would be try and save lives. If Lord had ordered Evans to check early and realized what was happening, it is quite possible that the Californian and Carpathia would have shared the survivors between them without any thoughts of salvage or competition; to suggest otherwise is an insult.

PS: In the above hypothetical scenario, can you imagine Rostron ordering Cottam to send out a message to the Californian "Leave Lifeboat #9 alone! We saw it first!" o_O
 

James B

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It never made any sense.
The claim is based on ahearsay of aconversation that might have taken place (or not), Capt Lord tried allegedly to claim he wouldnt have missed the chance to gain money if he knew the Titanic was there, mybe to to justify the lack of action in avery sharp manner as if he was waiting for such an event all is life. I do respect that the fact that he protected his ship, as aperson and ahuman I dont understand his actions or the attempt to justify them, there is no law known to man or a checklist to be simply human sometimes even when it doesnt personaly concern us.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Capt Lord tried allegedly to claim he wouldn't have missed the chance to gain money if he knew the Titanic was there, maybe to to justify the lack of action in a very sharp manner as if he was waiting for such an event all is life.
Considering the impact that the loss of the Titanic had in the minds of the general public with its profound loss of life (including so many families and children), I very much doubt if Captain Lord or anyone else would have made such a comment. If indeed someone claimed that such a conversation took place, it strikes me as one of those innumerable Titanic related myths that some shady reporter dreamed-up.
 

James B

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Considering the impact that the loss of the Titanic had in the minds of the general public with its profound loss of life (including so many families and children), I very much doubt if Captain Lord or anyone else would have made such a comment.
Its possible, you never know, mybe he was agood company man which took care of his personal matters and his ship, cold and calculated person, noting more, noting less, he could have lived to be a 1000 years old and have an easy life but as we sadly know fate was not on his side.

I dont wish on my worst enemies the witch hunt and the curses from all languages around the world that he faced all his life.
 

Arun Vajpey

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I dont wish on my worst enemies the witch hunt and the curses from all languages around the world that he faced all his life.
True. I never considered Captain Stanley Lord in such an unfavourable light as some reviews do. As far as his own ship was concerned, he took all the right actions in stopping it for the night in the ice field etc. It was when the Titanic came into the picture that things started to go pear shaped for Lord and his crew.

IMO, the main problem that night was a major lack of communication and/or misunderstanding between Lord and his crew and the latter have to take at least some of the blame for it. Stone and Gibson were IMO rather vague and inconsistent in their testimonies and probably did not impress their true suspicions about what they were seeing to their captain. Having said that though, Lord himself should have realized that something was not right and gotten his wireless op to check. In not doing that, Lord made a serious error, no matter what Jim and a few others claim.

I believe Lord realized that lack of communication (his own reference to 'laxity' on board his ship) as well as the resultant inaction from both his crew and himself when the full scale of the tragedy became apparent later that Monday. But he was a proud man and was not going to get into a situation where he was getting into "their words against mine" situation with his own crew. Therefore, to some extent he was left with no option but to accept the situation as it turned out and while there were definite shortcomings on his side, Lord did not deserve the role of the scapegoat.
 

James B

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True. I never considered Captain Stanley Lord in such an unfavourable light as some reviews do. As far as his own ship was concerned, he took all the right actions in stopping it for the night in the ice field etc. It was when the Titanic came into the picture that things started to go pear shaped for Lord and his crew.

IMO, the main problem that night was a major lack of communication and/or misunderstanding between Lord and his crew and the latter have to take at least some of the blame for it. Stone and Gibson were IMO rather vague and inconsistent in their testimonies and probably did not impress their true suspicions about what they were seeing to their captain. Having said that though, Lord himself should have realized that something was not right and gotten his wireless op to check. In not doing that, Lord made a serious error, no matter what Jim and a few others claim.
Sometimes some people like to shape reality into what is comfortable to thier intrests. Unqoute of course, I will let others to decide what to make of it (signaling to avessel which was not close to them? Seems like astrange order to give to his officers under the circumstances).
 

Arun Vajpey

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Here, I am only concerned with keeping to the thread title etc about Sir Arthur Rostron.
Agreed, but because of their actions and inactions on the night of April 14th-15th 1912, the destinies of Captains Lord and Rostron are invariably linked to some extent.
 
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Jim Currie

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I would like to think we could have a reasonable considered debate about Rostron and concentrating on the facts.

Jim is well known as being provocative on here ... I won't comment further though I could do.

Jim's comment that Rostron was in some kind of competition to get to Titanic I don't think makes sense, nor that it was thought Titanic had not sunk.

Durrant made clear in his testimony to the British Inquiry that at 5.15am (Californian time) on the 15th April he told Evans that Titanic had sunk.

Rostron and Cottam ought I suggest to have concluded exactly the same as Durrant had.

Rostron didn't in my view institute a period of radio silence. We don't know the full facts. We know that the Carpathia ignored many wireless messages that early morning and Cottam didn't send out another message till after all the boats had been rescued. My supposition is that Rostron told Cottam to get some 'kip' and breakfast. I have no evidence for this, but neither has Jim's suggestion that Rostron called for radio silence.

What we do know is that Cottam was subsequently exhausted and Bride (ill, and with frost bitten feet) was asked to help Cottam.

As for the suggestion of Rostron being aware of "competition" I don't think this can be substantiated. The only other possible contender was the Mount Temple. Everyone else via the Marconi set was too far away to be any "competition".

What we also know is that the Carpathia had quite an old Marconi set, and in the Smithsonian is a duff capacitor off the Carpathia when the set was repaired when it got to New York.
Julian and the rest of you - Get your thinking caps on,

Up until 4 am Carpthia time...2-14 am EST, no one knew the fate of the Titanic.
Over three hours later - at 5-20 am EST- Olympic was being urged by the owners to try and make contact with Titanic.
Strangely enough....in the middle of this lot, we have a notation in the wireless log of the Baltic which reads:
"
5.05 a.m.​
Signals Carpathia, Unable to work owing to persistent jamming by Californian, who is talking all the time."​

So if no one, including the owners, knew about the fate of Titanic by 5-20 am EST, and Carpathia was maintaining wireless silence - why was Baltic trying to contact Carpathia at 5-05 am EST? Not only that, but the available records, show there was no record of Baltic being on-air before 7-30 am EST.that morning.
Carpathia was not on the air until 6-45 am EST..therefore. no one could have known Titanic had sunk before that time.
Californian called CQ at 5-15 am and Mount Temple was even nearer to Carpathia at that time and answered...Carpathia did not. Why?

The crime here is that during that time, the slowest vessel would have diverted off course into an ice region for at least 50 miles. Vessel who were really anxious to know more were being jammed or accused of jamming and potential rescuers were potentially being diverted to a position southeast of the true position of the survivors by bogus rockets..
 

Arun Vajpey

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The crime here is that during that time, the slowest vessel would have diverted off course into an ice region for at least 50 miles. Vessel who were really anxious to know more were being jammed or accused of jamming and potential rescuers were potentially being diverted to a position southeast of the true position of the survivors by bogus rockets..
"Crime"?

Not sure what is being implied here. Are you suggesting that Rostron ordered Cottam to maintain radio silence and fired those rockets to deliberately mislead the Californian and send it off course so that he could keep the "prize" to himself?

If so, another way of interpreting such a frankly ridiculous claim would be to say that but for uncalled for 'interference' by Rostron and the Carpathia, Lord and the Californian would have pulled off the sea rescue of the century.
 
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Julian Atkins

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Hi Jim,

Of the Titanic presumed to have sunk, I am not going to labour the point, as it seems common sense to me and obvious. You already have from me what Durrant said to the British Inquiry on all this.

Cottam hears a message of 'putting the passengers off in small boats', and the final message he hears is 'engine room full up to boilers'. He reports to the bridge, then hears nothing more from Titanic.

His infamous New York Times scoop includes the quote "when I didn't hear it I was sure that he had gone down".

Captain Rostron stated in Scribners Monthly magazine in March 1913 the 'engine room full up to boilers' he regarded as "a case of all up".

That Rostron didn't order Cottam to report the 'news' to other ships till around 8.30am on the 15th, instead of shortly after Boxhall had reported to Rostron some 4 hours earlier - well, he (Rostron) was rather busy at the time.

I perfectly accept the point that if Cottam had heard Durrant's message to Evans at 5.15am, or The Virginian's MSG to Evans some 50 minutes later, Cottam could have said 'Don't bother coming, Titanic has definitely sunk' etc.

There is no evidence as to why Cottam was unresponsive from approximately 3.15am till 8.30am. (My own assumption, for what it is worth, is that Cottam wasn't at his set during these times).
 
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Jim Currie

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Hi Jim,

Of the Titanic presumed to have sunk, I am not going to labour the point, as it seems common sense to me and obvious. You already have from me what Durrant said to the British Inquiry on all this.

Cottam hears a message of 'putting the passengers off in small boats', and the final message he hears is 'engine room full up to boilers'. He reports to the bridge, then hears nothing more from Titanic.

His infamous New York Times scoop includes the quote "when I didn't hear it I was sure that he had gone down".

Captain Rostron stated in Scribners Monthly magazine in March 1913 the 'engine room full up to boilers' he regarded as "a case of all up".

That Rostron didn't order Cottam to report the 'news' to other ships till around 8.30am on the 15th, instead of shortly after Boxhall had reported to Rostron some 4 hours earlier - well, he (Rostron) was rather busy at the time.

I perfectly accept the point that if Cottam had heard Durrant's message to Evans at 5.15am, or The Virginian's MSG to Evans some 50 minutes later, Cottam could have said 'Don't bother coming, Titanic has definitely sunk' etc.

There is no evidence as to why Cottam was unresponsive from approximately 3.15am till 8.30am. (My own assumption, for what it is worth, is that Cottam wasn't at his set during these times).
Hi there- Julian,
I can hardly believe that any responsible captain would allow his only wireless operator to skive-off in the middle of a rescue dash - can you?

Cottam's excuse for not writing down a single word after receiving the CQD was that he was "too busy". I don't by that either - do you? What was he busy doing - writing down the football scores?

As for Rostron being too busy to keep his fellow mariners up to date and warn them of ice etc? This was the man who was portrayed as the "live spark" - the man who was so precise that at the US Inquiry, he even managed to produce a detailed "menu" of his actions leading up to the rescue. I suggest to you that in doing so, he was painting a picture of a captain in full command of a situation - a captain who thought of everything and knew how to delegate. Such a man is never "too busy" - before, during, or after an event. He is, to quote the man himself -Rostron - "always on the "qui vive"

I remind you of the exchanges between Captain Haddock and the Parisian regarding the shape of the ice field and how to approach the (supposed) scene of the disaster.
At 12-50 pm EST....01-36 pm on the Carpathia, Haddock on Olympic still had no idea what was going on and by that time, Carpathia and Olympic must have been closing at a combined speed of close to 37 knots and well within wireless range.

Rostron changed or embellished his stories to order.
No, Julian - as for the wireless mystry? I smell a scent that has the distinct odour of Italian bum-covering. :D :D :D
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Jim,

On certain points you raise I am with you.

But others I am having difficulty with.

I would tentatively suggest you consider other sources that I have quoted.

I do think that Rostron did have a certain agenda, but I don't think it was as you propose.

I would suggest instead that the enormity of the Titanic disaster rather overtook events.

Bisset did a double watch that night, as did Rostron. Cottam had been up late the 2 previous nights, and was already exhausted, and his Marconi set was not as good as that on The Californian, and nothing like as good as on Titanic. Though strangely he could get Cape Cod whereas Titanic was communicating with Cape Race at the time.

I don't think that any of this has been adequately examined fully to date.
 

Arun Vajpey

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Thanks for your level headed posting Julian.

Cottam hears a message of 'putting the passengers off in small boats', and the final message he hears is 'engine room full up to boilers'. He reports to the bridge, then hears nothing more from Titanic.

His infamous New York Times scoop includes the quote "when I didn't hear it I was sure that he had gone down".

As you say, even the dullest wireless op would have interpreted that the Titanic was sinking / had sunk from those messages. But of course, anyone can construct a conspiracy theory if the pick and choose evidence to suit their beliefs.

There is no evidence as to why Cottam was unresponsive from approximately 3.15am till 8.30am. (My own assumption, for what it is worth, is that Cottam wasn't at his set during these times).

Two things here. Cottam was busy in the immediate aftermath of the receipt of the first distress signals. The atmosphere on board the Carpathia at the time must have been one of organised chaos with extra lookouts and so forth. If you have a copy of John Booth and Sean Coughlan's Titanic: Signals of Disaster, there is a whole chapter dedicated to "Carpathia Captain's Messages Sent and received" and two more to private messages sent and received, the latter obviously after the survivors were picked up. Most, like well known "Safe, Bert" message, would have been attempts to reassure their loved ones that they were saved etc. There are a few mentions on a few survivors' ET bios here that their messages could not be sent at all because Cottam was so overworked.

Admittedly, some of Rostron's outward messages were not fully attested in terms of time etc but if you read the content, you can see that they were stretched to the limit. There are too many messages to detail here but I strongly suggest that you read the book and draw your own conclusions rather than listen to one-sided and strongly biased views.

Also, in light of those messages, including the private ones, we cannot assume that Cottam was not at his station between 03:15 am and 08:30 am. But even if Rostron had allowed him to take a break, that would be undertstandable; Rostron would have known that once the rescuers were picked-up, Cottam would be more than a little overworked sending out both official and private messages.


I would suggest instead that the enormity of the Titanic disaster rather overtook events.
Bisset did a double watch that night, as did Rostron. Cottam had been up late the 2 previous nights, and was already exhausted
That would be the simple size of it. Searching for 20 lifeboats in the semi-darkness with ice around, once found the enormous task of hauling over 700 cold, wet, exhausted and emotionally shattered survivors onto a medium sized ship and sorting them out to some sort of warmth and comfort would have been a task that would have taken-up all reserves of every crew member on board the Carpathia. It is not easy to visualize something like that and so inappropriate throw criticisms from the comfort of one's armchair.
 
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Jim Currie

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Hello Julian.

As before - I will answer in reverse.

I suggest that the reason this subject has not been adequately examined is that it does not immediately jump out of the page at the layperson. The glamour of the rescue appeals more to the romantic part of the psyche and it clashes with the hero image.

Regarding Bisset, Rostron and Cottam being exhausted - not really. These are excuses, not reasons for seeming incompetence.
Long, tiring hours were normal at sea it came with the job. For instance -poor old condemned Stone and Apprentice Gibson on the Californian were - except for 2 hours,- on duty from Midnight 14 until 4-30 pm in the afternoon of the 15th.
Their Captain had, except for brief 4 hours interrupted sleep - fully dressed on a settee - not been in a bed between 6 am 14th and until they cleared the western side of the ice on the afternoon of the 15th.

The luxury of being the only wireless operator on a ship was that you made your own hours. As I pointed out to you before, these lads had flexi hours...density of wireless traffic and location, dictated working hours. Tiredness at sea is not an acceptable excuse.

Power of the wireless equipment at a range of 60 miles as it was, played no part in the problem, Carpathia's kit had a range of 250 miles.

The butterfly method of questioning used by Senator Smith makes it hard to interpret Cottams's evidence but it looks like this:
1: At 10 am EST Cottam is listening to Cape Cod transmitting News. he did not write it down.
2: Cottam delivered his message records to the bridge and returned to the wireless room.
3: At 11 am EST Cottam took off his coat getting ready to retire, he had just called Parisian and was waiting for a reply. The airwaves were silent so he turned back to Cape Cod and heard them ending transmitting the evening news.
4: At the end of the news Cape Cod transmitted four messages for Titanic. Cottam took them down with the idea of passing them on to Titanic the next morning. The time was then close to 11-10 EST.
5: Cottam calls Titanic and offers the messages transmitted by Cape Cod. and is told of the distress.
6: Cottam advises Rostron who turns the ship around.

Question: If Cottam had just been in contact with Parisian and had the frequency open, waiting for his reply - why weren't Titanic's calls for help blasting his ears off at that time?

However, by the time the story gets to the UK, the times have been changed as well as the content.

"The Solicitor-General:
We have been supplied by the Marconi Company with a print showing the procès-verbal of this gentleman's communications with the "Titanic." They are arranged in order of time and it is convenient to have them in that form."
"17062. (The Solicitor-General.) Your Lordship appreciates that everything in this printed document which is after the time that the disaster is known to the "Carpathia" has been reconstituted since. It is not an actual copy of the document.

There was no such original document
17068. I see you record at 10 "Good night" to the "Mount Temple" and then at 11.20 p.m. you got your first entry about the disaster?
- Yes, that is what I stated in New York, but I found since it was 10.35 I got the first signals.


Additionally; the PV of the Mount Temple shows the last conversation to have taken place five minutes earlier. yet they had exchanged trs.

Then we have :

17102. Explain it?
- After I had waited a long enough time to get this confirmation, I wrote out the chit of the previous communications during the day and reported them to the bridge. After reporting them I returned to the cabin, and I sat down, and I asked the "Titanic" if he was aware there was a batch of messages coming through from Cape Cod for him, and his only answer was, "Struck a berg; come at once."


Question: What made Cottam change his mind about his US story about waiting to call Titanic the next day?

Also, note the times in the US evidence:
10 pm EST would have been 11-28 on an unaltered Carpathia clock -11-42 on a partly altered one and 11-56 pm on a fully altered one
10-35 EST would have been 12-31 am on a fully altered clock as would have been showing on Rostron's clock.
Interesting!
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Long, tiring hours were normal at sea it came with the job. For instance -poor old condemned Stone and Apprentice Gibson on the Californian were - except for 2 hours,- on duty from Midnight 14 until 4-30 pm in the afternoon of the 15th.
Their Captain had, except for brief 4 hours interrupted sleep - fully dressed on a settee - not been in a bed between 6 am 14th and until they cleared the western side of the ice on the afternoon of the 15th.
Yes, poor Captain Lord and his crew. Imagine getting only 4 hours of interrupted sleep, that too uncomfortably in full uniform! I recall getting far less sleep on overnight hospital shifts and then having to work a full day immediately afterwards, but then that's not relevant is it? Not is the fact that the Captain and crew of another ship were going through the trivial and relaxing pursuit of rescuing 700+ people from the sea while poor Captain Lord was losing his sleep.
 
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while poor Captain Lord was losing his sleep
Because he was informed that there was a ship firing rockets in the night. But that was no reason to go topside to see for himself what was happening. Oh, I forgot, Capt. Smith didn't know the rules about how to fire distress signals, so it was Smith's fault that Stone didn't recognize them as such. Just white rockets showing stars, one at a time at intervals, in response to their failed Morsing attempts to warn Californian that there were big icebergs about.
 
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Jim Currie

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Because he was informed that there was a ship firing rockets in the night. But that was no reason to go topside to see for himself what was happening. Oh, I forgot, Capt. Smith didn't know the rules about how to fire distress signals, so it was Smith's fault that Stone didn't recognize them as such. Just white rockets showing stars, one at a time at intervals, in response to their failed Morsing attempts to warn Californian that there were big icebergs about.
Yes, poor Captain Lord and his crew. Imagine getting only 4 hours of interrupted sleep, that too uncomfortably in full uniform! I recall getting far less sleep on overnight hospital shifts and then having to work a full day immediately afterwards, but then that's not relevant is it? Not is the fact that the Captain and crew of another ship were going through the trivial and relaxing pursuit of rescuing 700+ people from the sea while poor Captain Lord was losing his sleep.
No, Arun, your lost sleep is not relevant... not in the least bit. Nor is your reply constructive.
A Medical Intern eventually gets to go home...a sailor's home is his ship and all the discomforts of a ship are with him night and day - weeks on end. Try cleaning tanks for three days without sleep. Or being in a convoy for a week. under wartime conditions.
A sailor worked a minimum of 56 hours a week but a navigating officer worked a minimum of 70. The juniors on Titanic worked 4 on - 4 off 24/7 and that was a normal day. You should try it in a hurricane or a force 12.
I suggest that you really are out of your comfort zone in this instance.

As was your enlightening contribution, Sam. Both of you might have helpfully observed that
The captain of Carpathia did very little...
1 That his crew did all the work.
2. That even then, it was done in daylight and in almost perfect conditions.
3 That he allowed many boats containing exhausted, frightened, women and children to row for safety rather than bring the safety to them.
4. That while this was going on, his failure to keep other potential rescuers informed caused the gallant Captain Lord to take off on a wild goose chase, thus endangering his ship and crew by pushing through the ice, not once, but twice. Actions, which, if the gallant Rostron had done his job properly, would have been unnecessary since both ships were on the same side of the ice and Californian could have been on the scene of the disaster and assisting shortly after 6 am.

By the way, if you want to be constructive and at the same time, taken seriously, Sam, I suggest you quote the evidence as given, and try to resist the temptation to lead with personal, unsupported opinion or, as in this case, a falsehood and sarcasm. Lord did not see any rockets and heard of only one when he was below. Only a green-horn as you Americans call them - a captain with a suspect crew, or an insecure captain would have responded to the sighting of a single rocket in the way suggested by the ill-informed. (or Titanic "historians"?) :D
 
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Julian Atkins

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Hi Jim,

You have adroitly side stepped my response that it must have been obvious Titanic had sunk to debunk your own view. I think that you might now perhaps agree with me on this point?

Rostron in his autobiography, and Bisset, and Gatteridge and many others detail long periods of extended duty on the bridge way over watch hours. Captain Lord seems to be the only individual who could not cope with this on one particular night, when he had ordered steam to be kept up
in case the vessel had to move at anytime, and knew he was very close to an ice field that had caused him stop (and send a Marconi wireless message to Titanic).

The elderly Captain Moore on the Mount Temple did a double watch staying up all night and so did Rostron 10 years or so older than Captain Lord, and Rostron wrote out numerous wireless messages for Cottam to convey on the evening of the 15th April. (See Booth 'Titanic Signals of Disaster' as mentioned by Arun - I have my own copy Arun - in Rostron's own handwriting with pics of the Marconigram service forms).

What we don't know for sure is why Cottam didn't send any wireless messages from approximately 3.15am to 8.30am on the 15th April.
 
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Julian Atkins

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Hi Jim,

Of Cottam waiting up for a reply from the Parisian, we don't know what message Cottam sent to Sutherland and when, but as Sutherland had 'done an Evans' and retired early and closed his set down, and no PV recording this, I think it is reasonable to assume the message sent by Cottam to Sutherland took place much earlier than you suggest. I can't myself think what it was that Cottam wanted off Sutherland on the Parisian that caused him to stay up waiting for a reply. (Cottam clearly wasn't waiting for a reply to a MSG status message to the Parisian).

Am I correct to assume Cottam changed his wavelength to listen to Cape Cod ? Then changed back to another wavelength to send the message to Titanic?

If so, and my ignorance of these things regarding wavelengths may become readily apparent, if Cottam was listening to Cape Cod, would he really be able to receive a reply from the Parisian and Sutherland?

Was it a plausible claim by Cottam? The Parisian hadn't communicated via wireless for some considerable time because Sutherland had turned in and gone to bed. Captain Hains had told him to do so apparently.
 
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