Heroes and Villains (that really were not)

Julian Atkins

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Gibson provided two accounts and so would never survive cross-examination in court.... Well, you're the solicitor, but I just assume that's pretty much the death knell of any testimony.
Hi Marina,

I will have to get back to you on all this in a few days time.

Someone, some years ago on here provided an excellent analysis of Gibson's 2 accounts and their timings. It might have been Paul Slish. One of Gibson's accounts is that Stone had reported 5 rockets seen to Captain Lord via the speaking tube. This was Stone's second speaking tube conversation with Captain Lord.

Cheers,

Julian
 

Mike Spooner

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I think of all heroes or not has to be the two Marconi wireless operators. Jack Phillips and Harold Bride. If Phillips had not used his own initiative by fixing the fault on the wireless which was obliged by company policy to wait for shore repairs by Marconi technicians to fix the problem.
If the fault was not fixed and wireless closed down. NO CQD or SOS would of ever been sent out. Those 700 who survived in lifeboats could of well be never been found and dead with exposure from the freezing cold weather.
Bride survival on the Carpathia was another hero welcome. The man suffered badly frost bitten feet which is very painful when thawing out and discomfort for concentration. Yet went on to take over the exhausted Harold Cottam wireless job. I bet that was not in his contract to work for a arrival shipping company Cunard and not paid for it to! He may well be awarded $500-1000 for a newspaper story, but at the time he wouldn't of known that.
 

Jim Currie

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Hi Marina,

I will have to get back to you on all this in a few days time.

Someone, some years ago on here provided an excellent analysis of Gibson's 2 accounts and their timings. It might have been Paul Slish. One of Gibson's accounts is that Stone had reported 5 rockets seen to Captain Lord via the speaking tube. This was Stone's second speaking tube conversation with Captain Lord.

Cheers,

Julian
Hello Julian,

As you know, Gibson wrote that Stone told him that he, Stone had reported to lord after the first identified signal. in his evidence in the UK, Gibson said more or less the same thing:
" Q: You have told me that the Second Officer said to you that the ship had fired five rockets? A: - Yes.
Q: Did he tell you anything else about what he had been doing while you had not been there? A: - He told me that he had reported it to the Captain.
Q: Did he tell you what the Captain had instructed him to do? A: - Yes.
Q. What was it? A: - To call her up on the Morse light.
Q: Did he tell you whether he had tried to call her up on the Morse light?A: Yes.
Q: Had he? A: - Yes.
Q: What had been the result? A: - She had not answered him, but fired more rockets.

Logically, if Stone told Gibson that a total of 5 had been seen before the latter arived on the bridge, and the "more rockets fired were after Stone had reported to Lord then the "more rockets had to be part of the total of five and Stone must have initially reported less than five before the "more" were fired.

Right?
 

Jim Currie

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I think of all heroes or not has to be the two Marconi wireless operators. Jack Phillips and Harold Bride. If Phillips had not used his own initiative by fixing the fault on the wireless which was obliged by company policy to wait for shore repairs by Marconi technicians to fix the problem.
If the fault was not fixed and wireless closed down. NO CQD or SOS would of ever been sent out. Those 700 who survived in lifeboats could of well be never been found and dead with exposure from the freezing cold weather.
Bride survival on the Carpathia was another hero welcome. The man suffered badly frost bitten feet which is very painful when thawing out and discomfort for concentration. Yet went on to take over the exhausted Harold Cottam wireless job. I bet that was not in his contract to work for a arrival shipping company Cunard and not paid for it to! He may well be awarded $500-1000 for a newspaper story, but at the time he wouldn't of known that.
True, Mike, but don't forget the engineers who to a man, stood by their stations to the very last moment and, who, to a man, went down with the ship.
Then there is the much-maligned Joe Boxhall, whose quick-thinking ensured that Carpathia had a target to aim for and also ensured that that same ship and her passengers and crew did not join those in the water and in the boats from Titanic.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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I think of all heroes or not has to be the two Marconi wireless operators. Jack Phillips and Harold Bride. If Phillips had not used his own initiative by fixing the fault on the wireless which was obliged by company policy to wait for shore repairs by Marconi technicians to fix the problem.
Bride survival on the Carpathia was another hero welcome. .
Mike, by that comment you are going to make poor Julian have an apoplectic attack. The poor guy is already suffering from a cold.
For what it is worth, I do not consider the two Titanic "sparks" as heroes, but they were not villains to be primarily blamed for the disaster either.
 
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Mike Spooner

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True, Mike, but don't forget the engineers who to a man, stood by their stations to the very last moment and, who, to a man, went down with the ship.
Then there is the much-maligned Joe Boxhall, whose quick-thinking ensured that Carpathia had a target to aim for and also ensured that that same ship and her passengers and crew did not join those in the water and in the boats from Titanic.
I thought it was Boxhall who gave the wrong position and it was more luck that the Carpathia found the lifeboats. Or are you rereferring to Boxhall firing the green flares!
 

Mike Spooner

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Yes Jim I would agree with you that was a smart move. Certainty years ahead of the Board of Trade regulation thinking, and quite surprise that the B.O.T hadn't giving any thought on such a simple idea. Well done Boxhall for a change!!
I believe the correct name was: Waterproof hand-held Green pyrotechnic lights.
 

Mike Spooner

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Mike, by that comment you are going to make poor Julian have an apoplectic attack. The poor guy is already suffering from a cold.
For what it is worth, I do not consider the two Titanic "sparks" as heroes, but they were not villains to be primarily blamed for the disaster either.
Yes whether we like it or not if Phillips hadn't fix the wireless fault and hadn't been able to sent out the distress messages CQD/SOS, those 700 in lifeboats would of all chance never be found in time and perished in the freezing cold weather.
Phillips and Bride were the savers for the 700 who survived!
I also recognised the engineers and crew members who didn't survive as hero's too, keeping the ship a float as long as was possible.
 

Rob Lawes

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I don't think anyone is arguing that Phillips and Bride did an excellent job in standing at their posts to the point at which water was lapping at their cabin door.

The fact that they repaired the wireless set in contravention to Marconi rules wouldn't have made much difference either way. The issue with the set was that after prolonged use the main AC transformer was starting to short to its case. This was effecting the range of the set. It was an issue that had already been identified during periods of heavy traffic on Titanic's Sea trials. She would have still been able to transmit her CQD / SOS. Ironically however, if she could no longer reach Cape Race, Titanic may have been in comms with other ships and perhaps would have been able to receive Californian's stopped and surrounded by ice message.

Also, should the main set have failed Titanic had an emergency set with a day rated range of 80 miles (compared to 250 miles for the main set) which would have been more than enough to reach the ships Titanic spoke to on the night of the 14th / 15th.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Rob you makes some good points of the back up wireless with a shorter range and time. So why didn't they use it? Or was the case their time was use up in fixing the main wireless set?
 

mitfrc

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I don't think anyone is arguing that Phillips and Bride did an excellent job in standing at their posts to the point at which water was lapping at their cabin door.

The fact that they repaired the wireless set in contravention to Marconi rules wouldn't have made much difference either way. The issue with the set was that after prolonged use the main AC transformer was starting to short to its case. This was effecting the range of the set. It was an issue that had already been identified during periods of heavy traffic on Titanic's Sea trials. She would have still been able to transmit her CQD / SOS. Ironically however, if she could no longer reach Cape Race, Titanic may have been in comms with other ships and perhaps would have been able to receive Californian's stopped and surrounded by ice message.

Also, should the main set have failed Titanic had an emergency set with a day rated range of 80 miles (compared to 250 miles for the main set) which would have been more than enough to reach the ships Titanic spoke to on the night of the 14th / 15th.
Now that's a funny thing to think about--if Phillips and Bride were stuck on the backup set, they may have actually had an extended conversation with Evans for the want of anything else to do.

Hindsight is a helluva thing. Of course sometimes safety procedures make a situation more dangerous--but the majority of the time they save lives, and that's why they're in place. You can never have regulations which cover all circumstances, just most of them.

Rob you makes some good points of the back up wireless with a shorter range and time. So why didn't they use it? Or was the case their time was use up in fixing the main wireless set?
Once they fixed the main set they had no need of the backup--it wasn't like they could run both sets at once, because interference would result.
 
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Mike Spooner

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You like Rob both make some good points of how vital a wireless communication was and a true saver for the 700 who were saved In lifeboats. It just go to show how out of date the Board of Trade regulations were at the time! Failing to move with the times of the new technology available?
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Mike,

We are at crossed purposes here I suggest. (I still have a very bad cold by the way).

As in the following thread

Jack Phillips' final moments

Had Bride and Phillips done their job properly before the ice berg was struck, it is my contention that the ice berg would never have been struck.

What they later did was heroic, but what they had both in their own way beforehand to cause the disaster was definitely not IMHO, and was a primary contributing factor as to why the disaster occurred. The only mitigation would be if we could prove that if every ice warning message had been sent to the bridge by Bride and Phillips, the Watch Officers and Captain Smith would have proceeded regardless at full speed and on their course ignoring all the more serious ice warning messages that didn't get to the bridge.

For myself, I can imagining Bride and Phillips being told by Captain Smith that the ship had hit an ice berg and was fatally sinking and to send his CQD, and thinking 'OH SH-T' 'What have we done?!' Looking at the Marconigrams of ice warning messages on the desk NOT sent to the bridge for the sake of giving priority to perhaps £20 pounds worth of trivial passenger messages of no consequence whatsoever.

Cheers,

Julian
 

Mike Spooner

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Hi Julian,
A Captain is a captain and not Phillips & Bride. As far I can see Smith had decided to take on the icefield with speed. Those decision only come from the bridge. Who is at fault on the bridge is another story.
We hear about messages not received from other ships to the bridge. I don't think it would of made a blind bit of different if the messages had reach the bridge. Smith had made up his mind through the icefield not to lose any time. But one has to question Smith precaution beforehand and seeing what other ships are doing is poor.
Phillips and Bride have no say in the matter and only did what the Smith requested for to send out the CQD/SOS right up to the point of the water reaching there feet. What a lifesaver that turn out to be for the 700!
As harsh I may be Smith was not a hero that night and should of never got himself in that mess in the first place.
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Mike,

As I have stated, the only mitigation for Phillips and Bride is to prove that had they sent to the bridge all the other ice warning messages, they would nevertheless have all been disregarded.

Your above post is no proof of this whatsoever!

Cheers,

Julian
 

Mike Spooner

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Hi Julian,
Sorry to hear of your heavy cold in progress one of the things that us human race has to put with. Yet hope you recover soon.
I don't know if we are at a miss understanding here.
As I believe want ever ice messages and timing sent to the bridge. Smith had already made his mind to pass through the icefield as the shortage route to New York, but was poorly plan for safety.
So why take on such a risky route?
I see in another thread under Ismay role in the ship navigation, by Jessie M. today 31 March. Which I believe had a strong connection on the matter of the risky icefield route. I hope to rely tomorrow on the thread.

Mike.
 
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Just another one of those ''dumb questions'' to be filed with the footnote of ''the only dumb question is the one you don't ask'' ............But here goes anyway.......LOL

In the opinions of the more learned naval experts on this forum do you think that if Captain Smith would have been influenced by all the ice reports - received or not received - that he would have chosen to stop for the night as California did ? Or would he have risked his job if he did so ?
 

mitfrc

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I suggest to you that a Merchant Ship's crew in 1912 was the classic example of what you term CRM. Without a clear understanding of individual function and inter-connection between crew members, a ship would never have left the dock. A merchant ship then, and for very many years thereafter, only functioned efficiently if every man knew exactly what he had to do and clearly understood the working relationship between what he did and what the man on each side of him did. I worked in the business right up until 2004 and the same system applied even then although fewer were needed.
All right. So I am going to spend a while answering this because, frankly, it's a really important subject which I later intend to bring up in regard to the performance of Titanic. If we are going to be analyzing human factors on the Californian, I assure you, there are glaring issues in more than one place on this unfortunate night.

So, the field began with The Human Factor in Aircraft Accidents, written by David Beaty, who was an RAF pilot and later BOAC commercial pilot. The book came out in the late 1950s, but it took a while for it to evolve into the field we today call "CRM". Adding on to this in the 1970s was some work by NASA psychologist John Lauber, who studied the way interactions in the cockpit actually functioned and the consequences of them.

The critical issue is that you have a fundamental tension between the fact that everyone in a crew--aircrew or even a 1912 steamship--is a highly trained and experienced individual who knows their job and knows their job environment well. But there is also a strict chain of command. The critical breakthrough in Crew Resource Management is really the management of information flow in that chain of command. Since being highly used in the aircraft industry, the basic principles have gone into everything involving dangerous, time-critical decisions. I've certainly been exposed to them in the safety work for my refrigerated tow tanks and other facilities.

Probably the most important observation here from cockpit voice recordings of aircraft accidents is THIS ONE, and I use all-caps because of how important it is: Junior personnel frequently bring critical information to the Captain's attention in an indirect and ineffective manner because of social hierarchy. The failure to provide an assertive statement results in the Captain processing the information badly because the context around it is now telling him that it is not important.

Lightoller was about the only man to use assertive but respectful communication correctly that night if you believe his own memoirs when he assertively requested permission from Captain Smith to begin loading the boats.

If Stone had been using an assertive approach as CRM would teach, his conversation with Captain Lord would have gone something like this:

"Captain, Sir. I'm concerned that these rockets we've sighted are distress signals. They meet the definition, even though they're slow, and this is a very dangerous patch of water tonight. I recommend we wake Evans to listen for a distress signal. Do you concur?"

Opening -- Concern -- Problem -- Solution -- Buy-in -- five step communication process. The whole point, the whole problem that has to be addressed, is that the impulse of many people lower down in a hierarchy is to present information in a "respectful" manner, but this also creates the impression in someone hearing that information that it is less important.

Teaching Crew Resource Management to senior officers is about teaching them to proactively inspire their subordinates to disrupt and avoid this tendency to "soften" information going up the chain. It's about treating the entire crew as "equal but different" in a certain respect -- each person has a role assigned to them, and in that role, they are the expert. Information they are passing up from their area of competency is relevant by definition.

On the junior side, it's about learning to communicate information both effectively and respectfully.

I would say that in 1912 a "good" crew already practiced this -- one where the junior officers trusted that their Captain would back them up if they made the right call, and one where the Captain had reason to trust his junior officers to make decisions appropriately. A ship where the men were respected as experienced seamen who could be relied upon to communicate any issues with the ship or operations effectively because they trusted their chain of command would show them right. The process wasn't systematized, but might well have been an ideal which reflected a good command culture.

I think the evidence suggests neither Titanic nor Californian had such and it profoundly impacted what they did that night.
 
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