How Far Apart were Titanic and Californian?

Jim Currie

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Can we perhaps call 'half time' and go back to the dressing room, and then re-emerge for the final half?

Mila seems to have some set agenda here, ignoring what has been accepted for very many years, and trying to suggest that Stone and Gibson saw Boxhall's green flares from his lifeboat, which is utter nonsense.

Mila also fails to accept the glaring faults in Captain Rostron's evidence as to his speed and distance and his navigation that night on the rescue and the simple common sense fact that lots of people that night got things very wrong in their recollection whether innocently or deliberately, through incompetence, inexperience, confusion, poor memory, not noting things that were important, PTSD/shock, illness, pressure from above, concocted defensive plans, and sheer unadulterated lying. Add to that lots of accounts that were never tested on oath in evidence such as Beesley's.

Then you have the selectivity of those in the 1950s and 1960s in their research. Harrison and Walter Lord decided not to interview certain key individuals. Harrison decided not to contact Herbert Stone before he died in 1959. Walter Lord interviewed and corresponded with Charles Groves, but made no attempt to contact Captain Lord, or Stone. Neither made any attempt to contact Gibson before he died in 1963.

Lets take this up a stage? Go to the British Inquiry and have a good look at Gibson's testimony of the rockets fired from the Carpathia. He is all over the place by this stage in giving evidence and his timings are seriously out and he is getting quite muddled, despite getting an easy time in the witness box like Groves. What I would term 'witness fatigue'. You would normally ask for an adjournment when this becomes apparent.

But very few comment on this, and Gibson's muddled testimony at the end of his time in the witness box. So we shift and quote instead from his very neat carefully written statement to Captain Lord on 18th April 1912.

It is abundantly clear that Captain Rostron ordered Cottam to send out a general Marconi message to all ships 'We are firing rockets', and both he and Bissett say these rockets - which would have been distress rockets as imported by the Marconi wireless message - were fired at 15 minute intervals. If Rostron ordered 'company signals' also to be seen, no one ever saw them. Rostron got his timing wrong in his evidence and affidavit, working backwards with a wrong speed and distance and a few other errors. He fired his first rocket around 3.15am on the 15th which tallies with the Marconi wireless message warning of rockets being fired.

Captain Rostron got quite a few things muddled in his recollection of that night.

So did quite a few others!

Cheers,

Julian
Hello Julian. I enjoyed that approach. I suggest that the principals outlined in the following article be applied to the transcript of evidence:
sfnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2014/03/The-accuracy-of-witness-testimony-and-the-psychology-of-investigations.pdf.

Having been in the same seat as the witnesses from the Californian, I can well imagine how the younger witnesses felt - particularly young Gibson since as a 19-year-old, I was the sole Apprentice on a ship similar to the Californian... the SS Wellpark.
When considering the evidence of Gibson, it should be borne in mind that at the age of 19, he would have been very unsophisticated and easily overawed by the occasion. The reason for this was that for his entire life, he would have been subordinate to everyone he knew.
Up to the age of 14 years- it would have been his parents. Thereafter, at pre-sea training and at sea everyone except a Junior Apprentice would treat him with at the very least, indifference. Back in the old days, there was a saying that a Deck Apprentice was "the lowest form of animal life on board."

As far as I am concerned, the whole matter of the distance separating the 2 vessels lies with the evidence concerning what was seen at 3-30 am that morning from the upper bridge of the SS Californian.

The evidence

Gibson said he saw a light or lights which to him looked like pyrotechnics right on his horizon and drew Stone;'s attention to what he saw. it is not sufficient to say that Gibson lied about that. If he did, why would he do so? If he was mistaken, how was it possible to mistaken about an isolated incident?
Stone confirmed the sighting of a light or lights in the direction indicated by Gibson. He too saw them right on the horizon. Was he mistaken? Or did Gibson defer to him and agree like a dutiful subordinate?

At the time these pyrotechnics were sighted, there was no sign of the source, nor were frequent green flares seen.

Carpathia sent up a pyrotechnics signal at or near to the time Gibson and Stone saw their light or lights. If Gibson and Stone were not lying or mistaken, did they see Carpathia's signals or signals fired by another vessel?

I put it to you that in the absence of contrary evidence or conflicting evidence regarding this particular incident, then it must be accepted that the distance between Boxhall in Titanic's Boat 2 was greater than 12 miles and most certainly not less than that.

You mentioned the signed statements made on April 18 by Stone and Gibson. How do you think these would have been viewed by Lord Mersey et al?
 

Jim Currie

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Hi Jim, maybe you could help me with this question. Let us forget about eddies. Let us assume that Stone was correctly taking bearings of a mystery steamer located 5 miles away. What should have been the steaming speed of this steamer in order for her bearings changing the way they did in the time they did, exactly as in the situation that was presented by Stone? Thanks.
Stone and Gibson described a ship turning in a fairly wide circle to the right...east...through south to the southwestward.
If she did, then she went through the ice barrier at the same or nearly the same place Californian went through 4 hours later. If so, then the bearings would change very slowly to the left at first...steady...then slowly to the right. Once the vessels had cleared the ice on the western edge, she would increase rapidly and the bearing would change very quickly thereafter.
Captain Lord offered his take on the situation: "He was stopped until 1 o'clock, and then he started going ahead again; and the second reported he changed from south-southeast to west-southwest, 6 1/2 points; and if he was 4 miles off, the distance he traveled I estimated to be 7 or 7 1/2 miles in that hour."
 

Mila

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Hello Julian. I enjoyed that approach. I suggest that the principals outlined in the following article be applied to the transcript of evidence:
sfnotes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2014/03/The-accuracy-of-witness-testimony-and-the-psychology-of-investigations.pdf.

Having been in the same seat as the witnesses from the Californian, I can well imagine how the younger witnesses felt - particularly young Gibson since as a 19-year-old, I was the sole Apprentice on a ship similar to the Californian... the SS Wellpark.
When considering the evidence of Gibson, it should be borne in mind that at the age of 19, he would have been very unsophisticated and easily overawed by the occasion. The reason for this was that for his entire life, he would have been subordinate to everyone he knew.
Up to the age of 14 years- it would have been his parents. Thereafter, at pre-sea training and at sea everyone except a Junior Apprentice would treat him with at the very least, indifference. Back in the old days, there was a saying that a Deck Apprentice was "the lowest form of animal life on board."

As far as I am concerned, the whole matter of the distance separating the 2 vessels lies with the evidence concerning what was seen at 3-30 am that morning from the upper bridge of the SS Californian.

The evidence
Disappointing, but hardly surprising, Jim. Once again you have chosen to agree with about any... (you know what I mean ) only because it supports your estimation of the distance. Yet you cannot explain why Gibson made sure to point out the difference in the bearings of the distant flashes he saw at 3:20, yet you cannot explain why Rostron would have fired socket signals(rockets) every 3 minutes, when it endangered the ship because it prevented the lookouts from seeing icebergs, yet you cannot explain why Stengel and Beesley also described the rockets or whatever they saw in a very, very similar way as Stone and Gibson did.
I appreciate your expertise in the navigation, Jim, but I refuse to admit that it means you are always right. I have got an impression that you are not interested in learning the truth, but are interested only in protecting Lord. I agree there are some evidence that hard to explain without a mystery ship or two. That is why I am trying to find answers, trying to account for some testimonies that were not accounted for before.

Have you read this book
Titanic
A Fresh Look at the Evidence by a Former Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents
JOHN LANG

The author, a former chief inspector of Marine Accidents is sure that there were no mystery ships there and that the Titanic was watching the Californian and the Californian was watching the Titanic.
 
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Jim Currie

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Disappointing, but hardly surprising, Jim. Once again you have chosen to agree with about any... (you know what I mean ) only because it supports your estimation of the distance. Yet you cannot explain why Gibson made sure to point out the difference in the bearings of the distant flashes he saw at 3:20, yet you cannot explain why Rostron would have fired socket signals(rockets) every 3 minutes, when it endangered the ship because it prevented the lookouts from seeing icebergs, yet you cannot explain why Stengel and Beesley also described the rockets or whatever they saw in a very, very similar way as Stone and Gibson did.
I appreciate your expertise in the navigation, Jim, but I refuse to admit that it means you are always right. I have got an impression that you are not interested in learning the truth, but are interested only in protecting Lord. I agree there are some evidence that hard to explain without a mystery ship or two. That is why I am trying to find answers, trying to account for some testimonies that were not accounted for before.

Have you read this book
Titanic
A Fresh Look at the Evidence by a Former Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents
JOHN LANG

The author, a former chief inspector of Marine Accidents is sure that there were no mystery ships there and that the Titanic was watching the Californian and the Californian was watching the Titanic.
Mila, I have attempted to reply to your questions countless times. However, this latest display by you of bad manners means that our conversations are at an end.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Captain Lord offered his take on the situation: "He was stopped until 1 o'clock, and then he started going ahead again; and the second reported he changed from south-southeast to west-southwest, 6 1/2 points; and if he was 4 miles off, the distance he traveled I estimated to be 7 or 7 1/2 miles in that hour."
Jim, you cannot honestly accept what Lord said, can you? Stopped until 1 o'clock? You admit those signals came from Titanic, so the bearing to the steamer could not have changed until after the last signal was fired from Titanic. Those signals were fired over a period of about an hour, and the last signal from Titanic seen by Californian was about 1:40 according to Stone. Anyway, if what Lord said were true, then there is no possible way that the green sidelight of that steamer was shut out to Californian all the ime. Geometry doesn't lie.
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Mila

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Mila, I have attempted to reply to your questions countless times. However, this latest display by you of bad manners means that our conversations are at an end.
Well, it is a pity, although on the other hand after you wrote this

I don't have a problem, Mila, for such things, look close

What you and others seem to forget is the fact that had it not been for Greaser Gill on the Californian, there would have been no need for Stone, Gibson Stewart or Groves to have remembered any of what happened before Californian picked up the news about Titanic. Only Captain Lord, like Captain Moore of the Mount Temple would have been called as witnesses who answered that call. Ask this question: If Stone, Gibson, Stewart and Groves had been subpeonaed in the US, what evidence would they have given?
Your decision does not really bother me, Jim. Maybe I misunderstood your comment, but if I understood it right, it appears that you are sorry that the Californian involvement in the events of the night became well known and were discussed during inquiries. If this is the case then there is no use to ask you more questions. Besides who could have thought that asking valid , polite but inconvenient questions could be interpreted as “ bad manners” . ;)
Be well, Jim.
 
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Jim Currie

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Jim, you cannot honestly accept what Lord said, can you? Stopped until 1 o'clock? You admit those signals came from Titanic, so the bearing to the steamer could not have changed until after the last signal was fired from Titanic. Those signals were fired over a period of about an hour, and the last signal from Titanic seen by Californian was about 1:40 according to Stone. Anyway, if what Lord said were true, then there is no possible way that the green sidelight of that steamer was shut out to Californian all the ime. Geometry doesn't lie.
View attachment 44341
Why should I not accept Lord's answer as quoted? He simply repeated what he was told by his officer.
His officer, Stone, did not readily accept that the pyrotechnic he had seen came from that steamer...in it's direction yes, but way beyond it. Do you only accept the descriptives "direction" and "stars" but reject "height" at which the stars of these signals were relative to the masthead light of the nearby vessel? If you accept all three then you must also accept that the nearby vessel could never have been Titanic.

I suggest to you that Lord simply made a calculation based on all things being equal. i.e. he assumed as you do, that the bearings he used were either true bearings or compass bearings. However he was talking about a distance made good in that time, not necessarily a course made good. In fact, having himself followed a similar path through the ice so was perfectly aware of the limitations of his answer.
What we know is that if his stopped DR position was correct, then the sinking Titanic was bearing SSE true from the Californian...not SE true.
We also know that there seems to have been confusion regarding true and compass bearings and headings. Withis in mind, i have made a little plot using true bearings only and the evidence as given by the witnesses. Surprisingly, things "fit" very well with the evidence and suggest that the nearby vessel was in fact, a 14-knot cargo ship similar to the Californian. See here:
Stern light dips..jpg

King to knights pawn... check!
 

Mila

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Well, Jim, you decided stop responding my comments, which is perfectly fine with me, but I still could comment on your posts, could I not?

So once again you are ignoring that Stone testified he was sure at least one rocket came from the steamer he was watching and that the bearings of the rockets were changing together with the bearings of the steamer.

Now, if at 1:28 a mystery steamer in your chart started heading east, why Stone testified she was changing her bearings to south towards west?
 
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The other really big problem is that the red sidelight was visible to Gibson when he arrived on deck after the fifth rocket was seen by Stone, after Stone called down to Lord on the speaking tube, and that sidelight did not disappear until after the seventh rocket was seen.
 

Jim Currie

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Actually, I don't see that as a problem Sam. We do not know how that other ship was heading when seen at first.just her bearing. She had a single white masthead light so no clue there. All we know is that the red light was abaft the white one.
In theory, that ship could have been stopped heading in any direction from NNW around to East and would have been heading East when her red light disappeared.
When her captain decided to move, he would have pulled ahead...eastward from the ice and "ported" turned right in a tight circle. In doing so, her bearing would first change to the left...steady-up...then fall away to the right. This first movement would be at a very slow speed. The change of bearing became more obvious between the sighting of signal 5 and 7 as illustrated by Gibson's evidence.
 

Mila

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From Gibson's testimony


7771. Did you ever see her green?
- No.
7772. To show you her red light she must have been heading to the northward of N.N.W., on your story?
- Yes.


From testimony of Lord

6798. (The Commissioner - To the Witness.) Is that so. Did you hear him?
- I did my Lord. The steamer was heading S.S.E. by compass till 10 minutes to 1.

From testimony of Stone

8074. (Mr. Laing.) (Demonstrating with models.) Here is your ship heading E.N.E.?
- Yes.

8075. Here is a vessel showing her red light on your starboard beam?
- From the appearance of her lights, she was more that way, heading in the same direction as ourselves.

8076. Showing a red light?
- Yes.


It is unclear how the bearings of a steamer that was" turning right in a tight circle " from either NNW or ENE could have changed to south towards west or to change to any other bearings for that matter.

Here's a quote from another accident investigation Reports of Cases Argued and Determined in the District Courts of the United States Within the Second Circuit
it was apparent from the bearing of the ship's light, that the change of course in the steamer was not changing the relative bearings of the vessels.
 
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FOR MILA: Hello Mila. I watched a docu the other day called Titanic Case Closed. I must have missed it when it first aired. It is a National Geographic production. Although the title is misleading, theres nothing case closed about Titanic. But I was wondering if you had seen it and what you thought about the author conclusions, specifically the optical illusion parts. You are much more well versed in that dept than me and I'm interested in your opinion of it if you have any. It deals with the distance of the Californian so I think this is the proper place to ask. Overall the docu wasnt bad IMHO. Thanks.
 

Mila

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FOR MILA: Hello Mila. I watched a docu the other day called Titanic Case Closed. I must have missed it when it first aired. It is a National Geographic production. Although the title is misleading, theres nothing case closed about Titanic. But I was wondering if you had seen it and what you thought about the author conclusions, specifically the optical illusion parts. You are much more well versed in that dept than me and I'm interested in your opinion of it if you have any. It deals with the distance of the Californian so I think this is the proper place to ask. Overall the docu wasnt bad IMHO. Thanks.
Hi Steven, not only I watched the documentary, but they used my image in it Mila Zinkova - IMDb then the documentary was called "Titanic's Final Mystery." In addition Tim Maltin called me and we have exchanged quite a few emails.If I knew back then about the "theory" what I know now I would have never allowed to use my image to promote this. But I was busy and it took a few more years to actually read the book.

I expressed my opinion on it in 4 articles I published in Journal Weather. To make it fast my opinion is that there is zero evidence that a super refraction was present. In fact, there are some evidence that there was standard atmosphere on that night, For example a ship looming due to super refraction would have been seen in whole. In other words, you would see all lights together. Groves and Boxhall and Lord described approaching ships and these ships were approaching under standard atmosphere. In other words the lights were appearing gradually and were getting clearer all the time. Morse lamp was probably hard to recognize due to flickering, but flickering indicates a turbulent atmosphere not a super refraction.

One scientist wrote that Morse lamp might have been unseen due to so called blank strip that sometimes happens during super refraction displays. However, if Titanic’s Morse lamps was in a blank strip, eventually her masthead light should have reached that blank strip too because Titanic was sinking. However, the masthead light was seen to the end, which means there was no blank strip there.
Here's the sunset sun cut in two by a blank strip


Anyway there was not only movie but also a book. I've posted some opinions in the tread, concerning this so-called theory and got screamed at:

Hi Mila,

I think you are being rather unfair on Tim about the Marengo's position. It is evidence from the log book that a 'mirage'/abnormal refraction had been observed and recorded, and ought (as all the primary source evidence) be considered.

I am in no position to judge the relevance of the Marengo's log book entries to Titanic and 'The Californian Incident'. Tim has been gracious enough to reply to all our questions most politely and promptly.

Mila, if you think the Marengo log book entries are totally irrelevant because of being too far from where and when Titanic sank, then just say so! Anything more becomes personal and beyond a simple disagreement and exchange of views.

(I've been through this countless times over 'The Californian Incident' but despite some very strong disagreements all my adversaries I count as friends).

Mila, your own position is not helped by your own work being subject to a payment to a Journal to access, whereas Tim's work is pretty much in the public arena.

If it is your aim to 'trash' Tim's work, then might I suggest you would do it from a better position if you made freely public your own work?
So I have decided to follow the request of the screamer and post my opinion on the book in "the public arena" but I've got screamed at once again
Folks, the substance of the disagreements between Mila and Tim are being hashed out at length in another discussion. A "Book Review" should not be used as the vehicle for repeating those disagreements in toto in a second thread.
Mark of course was wrong. It appears he has some difficulties to assume a good faith. I was not "repeating disagreements". I simply wanted to put my review in one place all together to demonstrate why I believe there was no super refraction there , to make it easier to follow and to satisfy the request of the first screamer. Anyway ....
 
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Ok. So you disagree with his conclusions. Fair enough. The reason I asked was because a lot of the documentaries I have watched lately I can barely get thru them. Most just rehash and some just plain bad. This had me interested enough that I watched it all. I was interested in how his opinion of Captain Lord had changed and that was because of what he believes was Captain Lord being decieved by the optics of that night. I didn't know this had already been discussed as it didn't show up when I searched for the docu on here. We'll just let it go. Thank You for your thoughts on the matter.
 

Mila

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For me this documentary was rather boring, but at first it was only boring. Later on, when
I read the book, it became much more than just boring.
 

Mila

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I was interested in how his opinion of Captain Lord had changed and that was because of what he believes was Captain Lord being decieved by the optics of that night.
IMO there is no thing in the world that could clear Captain Lord 's name. Even, if there was a fleet of mystery ships there, as soon as he was told about the rockets the captain of the Californian should have gone to the bridge, woke up his wireless operator, and try to rescue people. Maybe or even probably this effort would have made no difference in the Titanic's situation because of a wrong SOS, icebergs, sea ice and so on, but Lord has never tried to do a thing. "Loosing" scrap log books does not help in clearing his name either.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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IMO there is no thing in the world that could clear Captain Lord 's name.
Mila, you are spot on with this, but there are people, including participants on this site, who have tried to do just that. And that will always be the case I'm afraid.
Lord made a mistake that night, and you pointed that out. He himself admitted to that. But it's not just defending Lord that these people feel compelled to do. They also try to defend the actions, or inaction, of his 2nd officer, who was a terrible observer to begin with, and who left everything of importance for his master to decide that night. And when he gets grilled in the witness box, we are somehow told that we should feel sorry for him as he was being badgered by his interrogators who, like me, had a hard time time trying to believe everything that he said. The same responsible officer who watched a vessel sink while sending off distress signals. An officer who though he did his duty by telling his captain that he saw these rockets, or a rocket, and left everything for him to decide. Oh yes, in their defense, we are also told that it was Captain Smith's fault for not sending these rockets up at shorter intervals, as if that would have made a difference. A classic example of shifting the blame to the other side. Poor innocent Lord and Stone. They were confused and should be forgiven. Perhaps that would work except that Lord and his officers tried to cover up what they saw that night after reaching Boston. And Lord withheld two reports given to him by Stone and the Apprentice Gibson while his vessel was still at sea. Reports that may have proved to be somewhat damaging to his case. It didn't take a week for some of his crew to blow the whistle after they docked in Boston. Yet, all of the crews of these mystery ships that are claimed to have been on the scene that night never said word about the events of the night in whatever language they spoke in after the world learned about Titanic.
 
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IMO there is no thing in the world that could clear Captain Lord 's name. Even, if there was a fleet of mystery ships there, as soon as he was told about the rockets the captain of the Californian should have gone to the bridge, woke up his wireless operator, and try to rescue people. Maybe or even probably this effort would have made no difference in the Titanic's situation because of a wrong SOS, icebergs, sea ice and so on, but Lord has never tried to do a thing. "Loosing" scrap log books does not help in clearing his name either.
Captain Lord was cleared. He was not charged with anything. All the rest was just bread and circuses for the masses.
 

Rob Lawes

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Captain Lord was cleared. He was not charged with anything. All the rest was just bread and circuses for the masses.
There have been many Inquiry's where those named within it have not been charged. That was not the role of the wreck commissioner's inquiry anyway.

A legacy Coroner's inquiry into the Birmingham pub bombings that took place in the UK in the early 70's has just concluded and in that report it names 5 potential I. R. A. Individuals who may have been involved. It is not the job of the Coroner to charge them, investigate further and bring them to trial. That is the job of the Police and the Prosecutors.

My point is, no charge does not meen no guilt.