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.
You are correct in one thing. Long before David Beaty was born, Merchant and Royal Navy crews were trained to act in exactly the way you describe. Particularly on the bridge where each officer normally served below his qualified ran
However, you are way off base in respect of 2nd officer Stone or any other of the Deck Officers with perhaps, the exception of Californian's 3rd Officer who I think allowed personal problems to cloud his evidence, but that's another matter.
If we accept the evidence of Captain Lord and of Apprentice Gibson, then Stone did exactly as he was expected to do. He saw signals which he did not match to any known signal and immediately reported it to the Master and left it up to him to decide any further action necessary. In fact Stone said exactly that in his evidence given on Day of the UK inquiry. I quote:
" I just took them as white rockets, and informed the Master and left him to judge.
7854. Do you mean to say you did not think for yourself? I thought you told us just now that you did think."
(That final remark was sarcastic intimidation of the very worst kind.)
What you, Stone's tormentor, and many others do not seem to know is that there was a saying among bridge Officers in the Merchant Service, perpetuated by Nautical Colleges throughout the UK it was "If in doubt, get the Old Man out."
Not only that but normally, the bottom line of the Master's Night Order Book was "if in any doubt, do not hesitate to call me."
All Watchkeeping Officers were duty-bound to sign the Order Book.
Stone was, if anything, a "by-the-book" Officer.