How Far Apart were Titanic and Californian?

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,531
512
183
Funchal. Madeira
Hi Jim,

You might want to re-visit this tomorrow!

Witnesses often provide a recollection of what they think they ought to have seen, rather than what they actually saw, especially when latterly they find out what they did not know or see for sure at the time. The circumstances of Titanic's sinking, and all that involved, was not conducive to accurate witness accounts.

Anyway, enough for tonight for me.

Cheers,

Julian
True, Julian. But then, we must completely bin every account by eyewitnesses who saw Titanic sink after the lights went out.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,531
512
183
Funchal. Madeira
Again , I am directing this to what I call the "real sailors" on these forums , such as Sam and Jim.
Would you say that there is ever evidence of "total darkness" at sea ?
I post this from an incident in my brief sea duty.
There was a night with a heavy overcast.
No moon , stars or horizon could be seen.
This seemed to be to me to be total darkness.
Or was this just a case of my eyes not being "dark adapted" and it really couldn't be considered as being "total darkness " ?
This is another case of a caveat to experienced Mariners by an inexperienced rank layman. :--)
At least in the case of the Titanic survivors in the lifeboats , the night was very clear, even to the point of "seeing stars rising and setting on the horizon".
Hello Robert.

Never underestimate yourself. If you have been to sea in a ship in any capacity then you were a "real sailor."

As far as I know, Sam has never been to sea, consequently, as the old saying goes, you have "squeezed more salt water out of your sea-boot socks" than Sam has sailed over. I fear that your observation regarding setting stars will somehow be twisted by non sailors.
 
Hi Ive just watched that documentary. What is the evidence there was no light refraction when other ships in the vicinity at the time recorded in their log book that there was. Just interested. The documentary seems compelling in its conclusions and light refraction explains much of the disaster and is backed up by eye witness testimony according to the doco.
Cheers and my first post in a while.

PS does anyone know where the Californian berthed in NYC afterwards and Titanic was due to berth as I'd like to visit during my trip there in October.
 

Rob Lawes

Member
Jun 13, 2012
1,045
580
143
England
Constantly beating someone over the head because of your perception of their experiences can be dangerous thing.

The little boy wasn't a qualified, experienced tailor but knew the Emperor had no clothes on.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,531
512
183
Funchal. Madeira
Its looks to me like what ever Lord have to say in the British inquiry. Lord Mersey has made his mind before the start of the inquiry that captain Lord will be found guilty whether you like or not! As IF ONLY Lord had a top line Barrister for his defence things would of be very different were,, Mersey would never got away with some of his outrageous statements followed by no re-hearing allowed. One can some up the inquiry as a farce for the real true. An scape goat indeed!
Hello Mike.

The problem as I see it was as you describe - to a certain extent.

The UK Titanic Inquiry was ordered by the Government of the day. They charged Lord Mersey with the task of finding the answer to twenty four questions, none of which named the SS Californian. In fact in his opening address to Lord Mersey, the Attorney General,stated: "We submit those questions now, not as containing every question which it may be necessary to put; your Lordship has power, and there is power also in the Board of Trade, to supplement those questions at the end of the case which we are presenting to the Court; but they have been carefully considered, and I think it would be convenient if we just referred to them.
My Lord, those are the questions which we submit to the Court at the present moment, and, as I have indicated and as your Lordship will see, by reference to the Rules, we are at liberty at the close of our case to supplement those questions or to modify them if we think fit. "

Concerning extra questions,
The Solicitor General also added: " My Lord, I saw the questions this morning and at present nothing occurs to me; but of course it will be very carefully considered, and if any further questions occur to me as desirable, of course we will lay them before the Court.
The foregoing was on Day 1 ... There was no mention of the SS Californian until Day 7 and that was the day that Captain Lord appeared in front of the Inquiry. At that Time, the Attorney General told Lord Mersey..."I propose therefore to ask them '[Lord and his men] a few questions. I do not propose to go into it at any length, but to ask them on such as would be essential, so that your Lordship will be enabled to form some opinion as to whether or not this story told by the donkeyman is right. At the present moment he is not in England. "
Now read the interrogation in detail. I wonder how long Lord would have been in the dock if the Attorney General had gone to "great length"?

The whole Californian thing was a farce from start to finish and I suggest, pre-judged based on hearsay and newspaper reports. Because the US Inquiry Report was not sent to the Clerk's desk until 28th May and the above took place between 2nd and 15th of May. The man who started it all, Ernest Gill, did not give evidence in the UK until June 4th...almost 3 weeks later.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Mike Spooner

Julian Atkins

Member
Sep 23, 2017
793
379
73
South Wales UK
I agree with Jim's post above, in response to Mike's post 437, though neither have anything to do with the title of this thread.

The only corroborated evidence of where The Californian was prior to Titanic hitting the ice berg is the 5.35pm NYT message send by Captain Lord to Captain Japha of The Antillian also of the Leyland Line of 3 bergs seen at 6.30pm ships time on the evening of the 14th April. The original Marconigram Service Form in Evan's and Captain Lord's own hand survives (somewhere) and has been photographed and is in Booth's book.

The 42 3 as opposed to 42 5 latitude is only a matter of some 2 miles, and bearing in mind Captain Lord was basing all this on noon sightings on the 14th is not particularly significant in itself. The ships log and hydrographic report gave 42 5, but The Antillian message on the evening of 14th, and a message from The Californian to the Olympic (wireless operator Ernest Moore via his USA Inquiry testimony) give 42 3.

As Sam has pointed out many times, there are lots of reasons for accepting the 42 3 latitude, but the 2 mile difference does not solve the puzzle.

I have been quite keen on working backwards from when The Californian got alongside Carpathia, and I have been equally struck by the Louis Ogden pics of The Californian alongside and how far away The Californian was in the well known pic of his that forms the header to this thread, given the limits of photography at the time, and significantly the album note being 8am, not 8.30am.

Groves and Captain Moore can see the Carpathia on the other side of the ice field - why does't Captain Lord see the Carpathia earlier across the ice field, and Captain Rostron not see The Californian earlier across the ice field ?

Cheers,

Julian
 
Last edited:
May 3, 2005
2,130
166
133
Hello Robert.

Never underestimate yourself. If you have been to sea in a ship in any capacity then you were a "real sailor."

As far as I know, Sam has never been to sea, consequently, as the old saying goes, you have "squeezed more salt water out of your sea-boot socks" than Sam has sailed over. I fear that your observation regarding setting stars will somehow be twisted by non sailors.
Hello Jim and once more thanks -
By being a ''real sailor'' I meant that I considered my self more as just a specialist in the field of the electronics equipment , in particular the surface search and air search radars on the ship. ET's and RD's in particular.
I considered the ''real sailors'' as those who regularly stood watches ''24/7'' and performed duties in navigation and the running of the ship.
In particular the officers and enlisted men on the bridge. QM',s in particular.

On the other hand , I have a sister-in-law who lives in California who is a member of a ''tall ships'' organization . I would consider her more of ''a real sailor'' than myself. I am also a terrible acrophobic and aquaphobic !

The comment on the ''seeing stars rising and setting on the horizon'' was taken from something I read about reports of what the Titanic survivors in the lifeboats saw while waiting for relief.

And I never got my socks wet so I never ''squeezed salt water out of my sea-boot socks.'' Matter of fact, I never wore any things
you might consider ''sea boots'' only during ''Boot Camp''. I was rather good at ''spit shines.'' LOL.
 
Last edited:
Hi Samuel do you mean Boston MA the city ? what about where the Titanic was due to berth. I'll try googling and a search on this site later.

I'm fascinated by this light refraction theory and the Titanic encountering the cold Labradoran current causing the cold air it brought to come underneath the warm air of the Gulf stream then causing light to bend so the crow's nest lookouts couldnt see the iceberg as was under a false horizon with the stars blocked out so was cloaked up until 30 seconds before the collision - normally on a clear night they could have seen it from 30 minutes away. Binoculars had nothing to do with it as they're only for better views of something once detected so they had to rely on the naked eye. Californian crew thought Titanic was a passenger steamer because its appeared of lower height out of the water than it actually was so thats why they said it couldnt have been the Titanic the ship that they sighted. And the light scintillation explaining the sparkling stars. All backed up by eye witness accounts and other vessels recording a mirage and massive gradient dip in temperature as they went through the Labrador flow as the Titanic's passengers encountered rapid dip in temparature just before the collision. Horizon obscured reported by many due to the light refraction. I was convinced so wanting to know why this isnt the case ? Cheers and I havent had a tot !
 

Mike Spooner

Member
Jan 31, 2018
505
101
53
The point I am trying to make as much is been made and said of the distance between the two ships, and do a appreciate the amount of research of the ET members have contribute. But in the end of the day in the British inquiry, they are not that much interested, as Lord Mersey has decided the distance for himself and completely ignored the professional seamen statements! To the point he knowns more about sea matters than the ones hold Master or Extra Master certificates!
There is a enough evidence to show the Californian was more than 10 miles from the professional seaman point of view, and not 6-8 miles as Mersey will persist with, and nothing is going to change his mind to!

Mike.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Jim Currie

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,531
512
183
Funchal. Madeira
I agree with Jim's post above, in response to Mike's post 437, though neither have anything to do with the title of this thread.

The only corroborated evidence of where The Californian was prior to Titanic hitting the ice berg is the 5.35pm NYT message send by Captain Lord to Captain Japha of The Antillian also of the Leyland Line of 3 bergs seen at 6.30pm ships time on the evening of the 14th April. The original Marconigram Service Form in Evan's and Captain Lord's own hand survives (somewhere) and has been photographed and is in Booth's book.

The 42 3 as opposed to 42 5 latitude is only a matter of some 2 miles, and bearing in mind Captain Lord was basing all this on noon sightings on the 14th is not particularly significant in itself. The ships log and hydrographic report gave 42 5, but The Antillian message on the evening of 14th, and a message from The Californian to the Olympic (wireless operator Ernest Moore via his USA Inquiry testimony) give 42 3.

As Sam has pointed out many times, there are lots of reasons for accepting the 42 3 latitude, but the 2 mile difference does not solve the puzzle.

I have been quite keen on working backwards from when The Californian got alongside Carpathia, and I have been equally struck by the Louis Ogden pics of The Californian alongside and how far away The Californian was in the well known pic of his that forms the header to this thread, given the limits of photography at the time, and significantly the album note being 8am, not 8.30am.

Groves and Captain Moore can see the Carpathia on the other side of the ice field - why does't Captain Lord see the Carpathia earlier across the ice field, and Captain Rostron not see The Californian earlier across the ice field ?

Cheers,

Julian
Hello Julian.

You wrote: "The only corroborated evidence of where The Californian was prior to Titanic hitting the ice berg is the 5.35pm NYT message send by Captain Lord to Captain Japha of The Antillian.

No it is not, because that evidence gives a wrong position and we have witness and written evidence of the true position. I remind you/

As you know. Stewart claimed that he calculated the true latitude at 10-30 pm GMT...7-20 pm ship time using the Pole Star. Anyone who questions the accuracy of that statement or the result of the Pole Star calculation is delusional or sadly lacking in practical knowledge, given the then prevailing conditions of flat calm and a clear horizon combined with Stewart's skill as a Navigator.
When Stewart had obtained a true latitude, he would have done exactly as was done pre -Noon...he would have combined the results of his 7-20 pm Pole Star latitude with that of an accurate longitude obtained in the late afternoon before the sun was too low. The result was a fixed position for 7-20 pm. This, he would record in the Scrap Logbook. Captain Lord would have used that same 7-20 pm position to obtain his 10-21pm DR stopped position.
Those who pounce on the 2-minute /2mile difference in latitude between Log Book entry and wireless warning miss an essential bit of evidence.
The notation for the 7-20 pm ship's position appearing in the Official Logbook was copied directly from the Scrap Logbook by Stewart.
The Official Ice reports were compiled from Official Logbook extracts. Such reports only used DR positions if fixes were not available. The practice allowed the Hydrographers to more accurately plot ice movements.
The ice warning to the Antillian was based on a DR position, before an accurate latitude was obtained.

However, as I have demonstrated to you, Sam and others: if we accept the evidence of Stone and Gibson regarding the sighting of Carpathia's rockets. then we know that at 3-30 pm., Californian was between 22.6 and 25.3 miles from Boxhall in boat 2. Can it be a pure coincidence the stopped position for Californian given by Captain Lord is exactly 22.7 miles north ( and 12.7 minutes of longitude west of) the wreck site? I think not!

As for your question regarding Californian's proximity to Carpathia? Consider the evidence from 4 witnesses...1 on Mount Temple...1 on Carpathia and 2 on Californian.

1. As far as I can determine, no more than 4 minutes separated the clocks on all three vessels.
2. At 8 am Carpathia was stopped about 3.5 miles east of the ice barrier. Her captain saw Californian about 6 miles away and approaching Carpathia from the WSW.

One and two allow us to plot the relative positions of the two ships at 8 am

3. Captain Lord said his ship was making about 12,5 knots and that he followed a SSE course down the west side of the ice.
4. Californian's 3rd officer said Carpathia was abeam to port at about 7-45 am.

Three and four allow us to plot the relative positions of the two vessls at about 7-45 am.

5. The Captain of the Mount Temple said that Californian passed a mile off heading south at about 7-10 am
6. Californian's 3rd Officer said he saw Mount Temple on the Starboard Bow when he arrived on the bridge.
5 and 6 allow us to plot the course of the Californian from just before 7 am.

Here's what it looks like to scale:
PLOTA.jpg
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,531
512
183
Funchal. Madeira
Constantly beating someone over the head because of your perception of their experiences can be dangerous thing.

The little boy wasn't a qualified, experienced tailor but knew the Emperor had no clothes on.
Oh, I'm quite able to look after myself, Rob. However, I appreciate your warning. Perhaps you should spread your wisdom a little wider?

In the meantime, since I know you were a seaman, perhaps you might like to contribute to this debate in a positive way?

As for your quotation from Hans Christian Andersen? Think about the following:

"use of the story's title [The Emperor's new Coths] refers to something widely accepted as true or professed as being praiseworthy, due to an unwillingness of the general population to criticize it or be seen as going against popular opinion"

Forgive me for pointing out the obvious... I am the one who does not accept as true what is being repeated continuously. Consequently, I am the one who is very willing to go against popular opinion. As for a clothing quote? How about "Expensive clothing is a poor man’s attempt to appear prosperous.”
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,531
512
183
Funchal. Madeira
Hello Jim and once more thanks -
By being a ''real sailor'' I meant that I considered my self more as just a specialist in the field of the electronics equipment , in particular the surface search and air search radars on the ship. ET's and RD's in particular.
I considered the ''real sailors'' as those who regularly stood watches ''24/7'' and performed duties in navigation and the running of the ship.
In particular the officers and enlisted men on the bridge. QM',s in particular.

The comment on the ''seeing stars rising and setting on the horizon'' was taken from something I read about reports of what the Titanic survivors in the lifeboats saw while waiting for relief.

And I never got my socks wet so I never ''squeezed salt water out of my sea-boot socks.'' Matter of fact, I never wore any things
you might consider ''sea boots'' only during ''Boot Camp''.
I fully understood what you meant Robert. I was simply pointing out an error in your perception. I never got my sea boot socks wet either because I stayed out of deep water;)
However, I bow to your superior knowledge of electronics. I have read about the subject, and used electronic navigation systems at work, but would not argue about the guts of them in any great detail. In electronics, as far as I am concerned, you are an "Emperor", with or without clothes. :oops:
 
Mar 22, 2003
4,966
567
243
Chicago, IL, USA
How about accepting Gibson's evidence that he was able to see the flash of one of the signals when it left the deck and followed the shell up into the sky where it burst into white stars while looking through binoculars? If you accept that, then the maximum distance between vessels was no greater than about 16 miles.
 
Nov 14, 2005
611
231
113
Binoculars gather light - even in the "dark ages" of 1912. There is no such thing as total darkness in the open air. At sea, on a dark moonless night with no wind or swell, the sea appears black compared to the sky. If the stars were setting or rising right on the horizon then you have a distinct marker. At the scene of the disaster, survivors were able to see the sinking ship outlined in black after the lights went out. You would know all this if you had spent 10 minutes aboard a ship on such a night.
I was always amazed just how bright it could be at sea at night by just starlight. I often had to go out when the the ship was blacked out to take mag temps on our flare lockers just above the fantail. After a few minutes to let your eyes adjust it was something to see. The conditions described the night of Titanic were very much the same. At least as far as starlight goes. Robert if you went to sea you were a sailor...you just weren't an AB. But even if you never went to sea and were in the Navy I would still you call you a sailor. My sister retired as an MCPO (E-9). 28 years. She was an airdale and before the time women were allowed on ships. Never set foot on a ship. But she had as much or more of a right to be called a sailor in the US NAVY than I did. I don't think they had E-8 and E-9's when you were in.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,531
512
183
Funchal. Madeira
Binoculars gather light - even in the "dark ages" of 1912. There is no such thing as total darkness in the open air. At sea, on a dark moonless night with no wind or swell, the sea appears black compared to the sky. If the stars were setting or rising right on the horizon then you have a distinct marker. At the scene of the disaster, survivors were able to see the sinking ship outlined in black after the lights went out. You would know all this if you had spent 10 minutes aboard a ship on such a night.
I was always amazed just how bright it could be at sea at night by just starlight. I often had to go out when the the ship was blacked out to take mag temps on our flare lockers just above the fantail. After a few minutes to let your eyes adjust it was something to see. The conditions described the night of Titanic were very much the same. At least as far as starlight goes. Robert if you went to sea you were a sailor...you just weren't an AB. But even if you never went to sea and were in the Navy I would still you call you a sailor. My sister retired as an MCPO (E-9). 28 years. She was an airdale and before the time women were allowed on ships. Never set foot on a ship. But she had as much or more of a right to be called a sailor in the US NAVY than I did. I don't think they had E-8 and E-9's when you were in.
Be careful, Steven/ Claiming to actually have witnessed a dark night at sea might be construed as wish-craft and you could be burned at the alter of the Goddess Myth. the "mythtress" of many of those posting on this site.
How could you, a mere mortal sailorman possibly know anything about being aboard a ship ay night? Shame on you!:eek:
 
  • Like
Reactions: Steven Christian

Rob Lawes

Member
Jun 13, 2012
1,045
580
143
England
In the meantime, since I know you were a seaman, perhaps you might like to contribute to this debate in a positive way?
Step into my parlour said the spider to the fly?

I have two questions that need an answer. One I've had for a long time and one has only recently occurred to me.

The first, as I have posted some time ago, supports a greater distance between the two vessels, Titanic and Californian, which is as follows:

If the Titanic was the vessel seen approaching the Californian and was clearly visible doing so for a good length of time before 23:40 Titanic time, how come there is no report of any vessels being sighted on a reciprocal from the Titanic during the same period. The only reports of vessels in the area occur after impact?

Having said that, my next question is more important. In the matter of the Californian, distance is irrelevant. Its like asking how far away was your hand from catching the falling vase? 6 inches or 6 feet, it makes no difference. We still watched as the vase hit the floor.

We know how close the Californian was. Close enough to the Titanic to see her socket signals detonate in the sky.

The question that needs answering is not how far apart we're they but what did Stone think he was seeing at the time.

You, Jim, describe Stone's treatment at the British Inquiry as bullying or harassment. I disagree. The questioners then are having the same difficulty we are now in understanding how Stone interpreted what he was seeing. He (Stone) says, and we all agree they were white rockets. The question is, what did he interpret them to be? One or two could be a company signal, maybe. But after the third, fourth, fifth, sixth? What then? They were fired at regular intervals and even if we suggest a rate of one every 7 minutes that's still well over half an hour of doing absolutely diddly squat other than continue to send a flashing light call up that hadn't worked at any stage up to that point so there is zero reason to believe it would at any stage there after.

So that's the real question we need to answer. What did Herbert Stone interpret those signals to mean? Sadly we will never now what went through his mind during those fateful hours but within it lies the answer to the whole story.

That's my contribution.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,531
512
183
Funchal. Madeira
How about it? That was 2 hours earlier and the ship Gibson was talking about subsequently moved.

How about "I observed a white flash apparently on her deck," The word "apparently" is used to indicate that the information you are giving is something that you have heard [0r seen], but you are not certain that it is true."
or
7440. Did you form any view as to how far away the ship was? A: Gibson - From four to seven miles.
According to Lord, the ship he saw was 4 miles away. With Groves it was 6 miles and Stone thought it was approximately 5 miles away.

Given the prevailing conditions, is totally absurd and utter nonsense to suggest that four men with a combined experience of over 40 years and who spent their entire working hours at sea in all conditions were so incompetent as to be unable to gauge the approximate distance of a stopped ship from their own stopped ship. Or for that matter, unable to discern a fully lit, giant passenger ship from a modest cargo ship. Even the least experienced witness.. friend Gibson gave those clowns a lesson in simple seamanship:
7706. Why did you think so? A: - She had no appearance at all of a passenger boat. ..- A passenger boat is generally lit up from the water's edge. (As would have been the Titanic)

Which brings me to your observation " If you accept that, then the maximum distance between vessels was no greater than about 16 miles."


I only accept that Gibson stated that the flash seemed to come from the deck of the ship. You have developed your argument on that single, flimsy isolated bit of information while completely ignoring the complete picture.

1. Gibson saw 3 pyrotechnics and Stone saw 8 of them, yet only one "apparently" came from the deck of the vessel in sight.
2. Gibson and Stone saw the other vessel' red light but not the green one.
3. Any ignition flashes at deck level on the Titanic would have been shielded by a solid bulwark and to the immediate left of her green sidelight.
4. Gibson was watching the vessel using binoculars and almost continuously sending the double-A call-up signal using a powerful, all-around signal lamp. At the same time, according to QM Rowe on the Titanic, he was doing the same thing in the direction of the vessel in sight of Titanic. Both signal lamps were located clear of obstructions. So tell us all - how was it possible for either of these two men to avoid seeing the other's signals yet for one of them to see a flash on the deck immediately below it?
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
4,531
512
183
Funchal. Madeira
Step into my parlour said the spider to the fly?

I have two questions that need an answer. One I've had for a long time and one has only recently occurred to me.

The first, as I have posted some time ago, supports a greater distance between the two vessels, Titanic and Californian, which is as follows:

If the Titanic was the vessel seen approaching the Californian and was clearly visible doing so for a good length of time before 23:40 Titanic time, how come there is no report of any vessels being sighted on a reciprocal from the Titanic during the same period. The only reports of vessels in the area occur after impact?

Having said that, my next question is more important. In the matter of the Californian, distance is irrelevant. Its like asking how far away was your hand from catching the falling vase? 6 inches or 6 feet, it makes no difference. We still watched as the vase hit the floor.

We know how close the Californian was. Close enough to the Titanic to see her socket signals detonate in the sky.

The question that needs answering is not how far apart we're they but what did Stone think he was seeing at the time.

You, Jim, describe Stone's treatment at the British Inquiry as bullying or harassment. I disagree. The questioners then are having the same difficulty we are now in understanding how Stone interpreted what he was seeing. He (Stone) says, and we all agree they were white rockets. The question is, what did he interpret them to be? One or two could be a company signal, maybe. But after the third, fourth, fifth, sixth? What then? They were fired at regular intervals and even if we suggest a rate of one every 7 minutes that's still well over half an hour of doing absolutely diddly squat other than continue to send a flashing light call up that hadn't worked at any stage up to that point so there is zero reason to believe it would at any stage there after.

So that's the real question we need to answer. What did Herbert Stone interpret those signals to mean? Sadly we will never now what went through his mind during those fateful hours but within it lies the answer to the whole story.

That's my contribution.
Fine, Rob! I will try and answer the difficult bit.

You and others may have difficulty interpreting Stone's evidence. I suggest to you that anyone who has seen a fireworks display should have no difficulty at all.
First, let us assume that Titanic's distress signals were designed to rise to a height of 600 feet above sea level. They were fired from her boat deck which was 70 feet above sea level. So in total, they burst at a height of about 670 feet above sea level.
Titanic's white masthead light was 175 feet above sea level, therefore, the signal burst (stars) would be seen at about 495 feet above her white masthead light. here is how Stone described them:
" 921. Tell me what you said to the Chief Officer?
- I have remarked at different times that these rockets did not appear to go very high; they were very low lying; they were only about half the height of the steamer's masthead light and I thought rockets would go higher than that."

Does the foregoing answer your question?