Mount Temple


Paul Rogers

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Let's all remember the 93:7 rule please: i.e. 93% of communication has nothing to do with the words used.

Without access to body language and tone of voice it is all too easy to read meanings into text that were not intended by the author. For example, I found neither Senan's post to Sam, nor Tad's post containing his question for Yuri, to be either insulting or confrontational. For others, their mileage may (and obviously does) vary, but I would urge everyone to give their fellow members the benefit of the doubt, especially when discussing emotive topics.

PS: Oh, and perhaps we should all consider how our words may be interpreted when posting (he says, having forgotten this postscript!).
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>I don't think any competent captain, much less two, would cross a dense icefield such as that in the dark.<<

Just as an aside, I would put it forward that few if any competant captains would willingly cross a dense icefield like that if they had full knowladge of just how dense that icefield really was. The problem is that we can't assume everyone puttering around that night had the extent of knowladge that we do or ran into the sort of roadblock that prompted Captain Lord to stop for the night. How this applies to the purported "mystery ships" I can't really say but it's not out of the realm of possibility that they found some gaps they thought they could safely transit. In the dark of the night how would they know what was out there waiting for them unless they actually saw it? Especially in a day and age where not everybody had wireless.

All some of these ships had was the same old Mark I Eyeball that sailors had been using for thousands of years.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled debate, already in progress.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hi Michael: I understand what you are saying but cannot agree with your assumption here. When the Californian was coming up to the icefield at 11 knots they spotted the loose field ice at distance of around 1200 ft or less according to 2/O Groves. Because of the speed they were doing, Capt. Lord was forced to go full astern. According to Lord they came to a stop about 1500 ft from the thicker pack ice ahead. When Capt. Moore was forced to come to a complete stop about 4:30 AM his ship was prceeding slowly. How slowly he didn't say, but I would assume he was carrying 1/2 speed if not less at that time. He too was able to see the thick pack ice in time to stop.

As far as a easy path through the ice which could be navigated safely in the area of interest, there was non. When civil twilight began, Moore backed his ship from the western edge of the ice pack and headed SSE true looking for such an easy path through the field. Failing to find one, he came north again and stopped a little before 7 AM when they took that Prime Vertical sun sight to get their longitude. When the Californian started out at 6 AM, about a 1/2 hour after the sun came up, Lord had to cross 2 to 3 miles of pack ice which took him about 30 minutes. When he turned to cross back to the other side about 7:30 AM (after seeing the Carpathia picking up lifeboats) he went at full speed ahead crossing the 5 to 6 miles of pack ice down there in about 1/2 hour. No matter what people may want to think of Lord, he was willing to take risks once the extent of what happened became known. Somehow all of that is conveniently overlooked.

However, at night, even under the extremely clear conditions of the 14th of April, the prudent thing to do is what both Lord and Moore had done when they got close enough to see the ice. Stop and wait until daylight. Any other course of action would have been foolhardy, even with a dozen lookouts posts.
 
May 9, 2001
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I agree with Sam 100% that Lord acted bravely and without hesitation once the sun came up and he became aware of what was happening. But would he have been able to cross the icepack at night? Even if he had known the desperation of Titanic's situation before midnight, would he have crossed the ice? Moore didn't and he knew exactly the situation. He cruised south, then back north for miles looking for a passage and finding none. That's why I'm puzzled that both Californian and Carpathia were able to cross the ice pack when Moore could not. Why didn't he simply follow Californian in the morning?? The tramp steamer ahead and south of Mount Temple was stopped by the ice as it headed east. Moore doesn't say how or if the tramp eventually made it across. But it was still on the western side of the ice until at least 9am, well after sunrise.

So no ship we know of crossed the ice pack that night. Not until dawn did anyone try to navigate the icepack.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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I believe that small 2 masted, black funneled, tramp that you refer to did not try to cross, at least not in the vicinity of the wreckage. The last observation I'm aware of was mentioned by Capt. Lord who said it was steering north down to northwest. He said it had a pink funnel with black top, but Moore and Californian's 2/O Groves said it had a black funnel. Groves also mentioned seeing that tramp heading northward as they were heading down along the western edge of the ice before cutting across to where the Carpathia was. This was also as they were passing the Mount Temple. Where did that small tramp go? Did they find a place to cross to the northward? We just don't know. Nor do we know the name of that vessel. A true mystery ship as far as I'm aware of. I wonder if it were a ship of the Hansa line or the Deutsche Levante line from Moore's description of its funnel?

Could the Mount Temple have crossed during daylight? Yes, but Moore claimed he was not allowed to unless there were a clear path per company instructions as I posted above.

"So no ship we know of crossed the ice pack that night. Not until dawn did anyone try to navigate the icepack." That is a correct statement.
 
May 9, 2001
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Moore mentions the tramp may have tried to follow him to the North, thinking Mount Temple was on an easterly route. Californian must have passed both Mount Temple, then the tramp as both were headed north.

Can we suppose that since Mount Temple had spotted Californian as it crossed the ice, that Moore could see the opening/lane through the pack ice used or made by Lord. If so, then can we also suppose that since Moore did not cross the pack at the same place as Californian that the lane used by Lord to cross the pack ice was too dangerous for Mount Temple? Thus telling us that Lord took a big chance by driving his vessel through ice which was considered to be unpassable. Or perhaps Moore was exceedingly hesitant to cross over for some reason.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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I don't think the MT ever went as far north as where the Californian came from. I think Moore was quite reluctant to cut across field ice even where some other vessel had cut a path through it. The ice was obviously passable since the Californian cut through it twice. Moore's only explanation was his company's instructions saying that he was to avoid field ice even if it were thin. I don't believe he ever presented those instructions in evidence. It was his claim.
 
May 9, 2001
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Moore says he rang stand by to his engine room at around 3:25am when he met ice. But he goes on to say that he didn't stop. He continued ahead slowly through the ice until he reached Titanic's CQD position around 4:30am. Then he had to stop because he could see the icepack ahead of him, to the east.

So Moore was willing to steam through the ice at night, albeit slowly and with double lookouts, despite his company orders. But he didn't try to push his luck by crossing the pack. Was the ice so thick and continuously unbroken in the area just ahead of Titanic that the only passable breaks in it were almost 20 miles to the north, and almost 5 miles to the south of Titanic's course? If so then that is a very large field of ice is it not?. Moore estimated it to be 5-6 miles wide as well. If the iceberg hadn't caused Titanic to halt, this 100+ square mile area of ice would have.

Had there been a convenient passage through the pack, it seems likely Mount Temple would have shared the opportunity to rescue survivors along with the Carpathia. They would have arrived at almost the same time. And it may be a bit of a stretch, but seems possible that the tramp steamer may also have been able to cross the pack ahead of Mount Temple, perhaps an hour earlier. I wish someone could have found the identity of that steamer and interviewed its crew. Being several miles at least ahead of Mount Temple, its crew might have seen the last of Titanic's rockets and come to help.

But that's all wishing on a star.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Yuri: I'm not sure where you are getting that information from on the ice field limits being 20 miles north and 5 miles south. From the wreckage area it was said to extend northward and southward as far as the eye could see. A very good picture of what this field looked like from the Carpathia was published in several places. One of them, if you have access to it, is in THS Commutator No. 142 in the Chapin story. You can also see in this photo some loose ice floating in the near field of the photo, well before the edge of the pack ice seen in the far field of view. The field was estimated to be 5-6 miles wide in the area of the wreckage. Where the Californian cut across, between 6:00 and 6:30, it was about 3 miles wide. We also know from Lord that it extended well to the north of where they had been as far as the eye could see. On the western side it ran approximately from NNW true to SSE true. This comes from two witness accounts, Capt. Moore and from Capt. Lord. (I can give you exact references to where in the inquiries you can find this if you need it.) Capt. Rostron had mentioned that on the eastern side the ice field appeared to run more from NW to SE. So it is not too hard to picture why the width of the field was somewhat less several miles north of the wreckage. But it was pack ice, not loose ice. At 3:25 AM, when Moore cut his engines he was running into loosed ice scattered about.

As far as to where the Californian cut across at 6 AM it certainly was not 20 miles to the north. You must keep in mind that the ice, the lifeboats and wreckage, ships moving or stopped, were all drifting with the local current in the area for several hours. Nothing was really at a stop. As Capt. Moore was coming back up toward the north he mentioned that he noticed the Californian going from east to west across the field ice. This puts the time between 6 AM and 6:30 AM. At the same time he saw this, he mentions that the Californian appeared to be about the same distance northward from the Carpathia as he was to the westward of the Carpathia. Since Moore mentioned that the field was 5-6 miles wide where he was, and that the Carpathia was on the other side of this field, some people have wrongly taken this as proof that the Californian was 6 miles north of the Carpathia. The Carpathia was a good 4-5 miles from the edge of the field for most of the morning according to Rostron. This means that the closest approach of the MT to the Carpathia would have been between 9 to 11 miles if these estimates were about right. It is interesting that Sir james Bisset wrote in his book that he had seen smoke from a steamer about 10 miles away on the fringe of the field as it became light and noticed that she was under way after 6 AM.

Based on the reported movements of the Californian, we find her cutting across 3 miles of pack ice going about 6 knots till 6:30. Then she turned southward (actually SSE) to go along the western edge of the field as C/E Stewart testified to, and was coming down to where the MT was. The two ships came very close together somewhere about 7:10 AM if take the information in Durrant's PV as accurate. The MT had taken that longitude line about 15 muniutes before (which I got from an astronomical program). My estimate is the when the Californian came out of the pack ice at 6:30 it was a good 8 miles from where the MT stopped prior to taking that sun line. The Californian had to run up from 6 to 13 knots after coming out of the pack ice. It also had to go south of the MT for about another 4 miles before cutting across to get to the Carpathia in order to spend the minimum time cutting across the ice. This would be at reached at 7:30. Rostron said he saw the Californian coming across the field from the WSW true about 8 AM. This means the Californian was heading ENE true perpendicular to the western edge which makes perfect sense. When Bisset came to take over as OOW on the Carpathia (8 AM), he noticed the Californian a little more than a mile off. It was shortly after that that flag signals were exchanged between the two ships.
 
May 9, 2001
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Its my understanding that Californian was round about 20 miles north of Titanic's CQD position and on the east side of the ice. If they proceeded directly across the pack then the passage they used to cross the pack would have also been near about the same distance north of the CQD position as the Californian was. Also, if Moore steamed northward along the west side of the pack and watched Californian cross the pack going east to west, then surely the Mount Temple would have taken an open passage east across the pack if it had seen on available. It did not. And it must have been able to see far enough north along the pack to where Californian crossed. So that means to me that the first passage, (break in solid ice pack creating a lane of broken ice), was where Californian crossed. ie. about 20 miles north of the CQD position.

To the south, Carpathia located and rescued Titanic's lifeboats about 5 miles southwest of the actual wreck position and on the east side of the icepack. Then the Carpathia steamed west to cross the pack and proceeded to the Titanic's CQD position. Californian also proceeded several miles south of the CQD position before crossing back east to meet with Carpathia. That says to me that the first available passage to the south was about 5 miles or so from the CQD position.

Thus a rough area of 20 - 25 miles long and about 4-5 miles wide. 20*5=100miles^2 or 25*4=100miles^2 These are just rough estimates of the area of the solid ice pack which was directly in Titanic's path and does not include any additional packs floating farther north or south of the two passages I mentioned. Thats how I arrived at my statement of size and locations of passages.

The purpose of this statement was to emphasize that even if Titanic had not encountered the berg, it would have certainly encountered the icepack.

As far as Mount Temple meeting ice at 3:25am and cutting his engines, it was indeed because he was observing broken bits and pieces of ice floating in the water. Yet he continued on at a slow pace. Had he been a 'strictly by the book' kind of fellow he could have deemed this ice as sufficient to halt his approach. He didn't, he proceeded forward. That tells me his reason for not crossing the pack ice later wasn't because he was strictly interpreting the rules of his company, but rather that the icepack was sufficiently thick and wide that he needed no rule to warn him against attempting to break through. Thus I find it illogical to suppose Moore a coward for not crossing the ice and using a company rule to excuse himself.

I would like you to explain how you estimated that Californian broke through the pack to the west side some 8 miles north of where Mount Temple stopped at 4:30am(MTTime), which I believe Moore stated was very near the Titanic's CQD position. This 8 miles estimate seems to place Californian much closer to Titanic's path than I expected. Why 8 miles please?
 

Tad G. Fitch

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This is getting a little off-topic of the current discussion, but does pertain to ships trying to cross the icefield in the dark.

The ship that was sighted from the Californian (whether one holds the opinion that it was the Titanic, or a "mystery ship" is irrelevant to the question) never presented its green sidelight to the Californian, except during the time when Captain Lord initially saw it approaching from the east earlier in the evening.

Once the approaching ship stopped, neither Gibson nor Stone mentioned seeing anything other than her red sidelight, meaning that the ship was presenting it's port side to her, facing somewhat to the northeast.

The vessel never presented its green sidelight to Stone, which would have indicated that it had turned around. If this vessel actually steamed away to the southwest as Stone believed it had, without presenting its green sidelight, then it had to cover approximately eight miles steaming *in reverse* towards the icefield.

Gibson's view of the whole affair is somewhat at odds with Stone, because he apparently thought the ship remained stationary and slowly disappeared, while Stone believed the ship was steaming along. When asked in the Senate Inquiry about the vessel apparently steaming away to the southwest and whether he saw her turn around, Gibson said that he did not.

This ties into the discussion of whether a competent captain would attempt to cross a dense icefield at night. If Gibson and Stone's observations of the ship never presenting a green sidelight to them prior to disappearing are accurate (and we have no reason to suppose they aren't, since both agreed on this point), then I can think of only four logical ways to explain the evidence given by these two men:

1) The vessel that they saw steamed away without turning around, going astern right towards the icefield in full darkness until she was out of visual range. This would be a risky and unexplainable manuever for a vessel even in broad daylight, much less at night.

2) The vessel did turn around, but prior to this, turned off all of its lights including the sidelights and running lights, which is why Stone and Gibson never saw it turn around and present its green sidelight to them. The vessel then steamed away in total darkness, risking collisions with other ships who would be unable to see it(absurd in my opinion).

3) The vessel sank rather than steamed away, and was presenting her port side to the Californian at the time, facing in a north to northeasterly direction.

4) Both Gibson and Stone were such poor observers that both were wrong about the ship never presenting a green sidelight prior to disappearing, even though they were watching it keenly.

I have seen this topic brought up on many occasions and have never seen a good explanation for it other than number 3. Others might disagree and probably will, but I would like to hear other thoughts on the matter.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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One other point. Let me make it clear that I hold the opinion that one cannot blame Captain Lord for the loss of life on the Titanic, regardless of whether he might have been able to rescue more lives if he had taken further action or not.

Afterall, Lord prudently stopped his ship for the night, while the Titanic continued to go full ahead into a known area of ice. It wasn't Lord's fault the Titanic sank. I agree with Sam. Despite any mistakes that were made, Lord's biggest mistake was trying to keep what they had witnessed and what had transpired under wraps after the fact.

I feel that Captain Lord and his crewmembers certainly made some mistakes, but he definitely was no villain. I am convinced that Lord would have dashed to the scene if he had been fully aware of what was transpiring earlier in the night. His actions the following morning when he learned of the disaster are proof of that. Just thought I would point out my feelings on this while we are discussing the evidence, as this is often the reason people are so passionate about this topic and why things often get heated.
 

Henry Loscher

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> Tad, I am sure there will be many who would agree with you "that Lord's biggest mistake was trying to keep what they > had witnessed and what had transpired under wraps after the fact." Others > might argue that his biggest mistake was not to attempt to find out why a > ship was firing rockets in the middle of the night when he was aware there > was danger in the form of an ice field and icebergs nearby.

Regards, Henry Loscher
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Wow! This topic is going all over the place now. Anyway, to first address Yuri's question. Yuri asked how did I arrive at an estimate of 8 miles between the point where the Californian broke through the pack on the west side to where the Mount Temple stopped at 4:30 AM? Just to restate the reference point here, my 8 miles was from that breakout point to where the MT was stopped before 7 AM when she took that Prime Vertical Sun sight after coming back up northward. It was not from where she stopped at 4:30.

Now to the answer. Moore saw the Californian cross the pack between 6:00 and 6:30 while he was still heading back up northward. At that time Moore remarked that he thought the Californian was about as far northward from the Carpathia as he, Moore in the MT, was westward of the Carpathia. I also pointed out, based on the reported width of the ice field between MT and Carpathia, 5-6 miles, and Rostron's observation that he was 4-5 miles from the eastern edge, that the distance between MT and Carpathia must have been about 9 to 11 miles. That would make the Californian about the same distance northward from the Carpathia, and therefore about 14 miles more or less from the MT at that time based on the triangle that is formed by all 3 ships. But the MT was still moving northward while the Californian was moving westward across the ice. A little before 7 AM the MT had come to a stop. I also mentioned that the Californian had to run up from 6 knots to 13 knots after coming out of the ice at 6:30. So I took the average speed over the next 40 minutes, between 6:30 and 7:10, at about 12 knots allowing for the ship to accelerate in the first few minutes. I also said that the two ships came close at 7:10 AM based on Durrant's PV information, which means the stopped MT at 7:10 AM had to be about 8 miles (40 minutes at 12 knots) from the point where the Californian broke out at 6:30.

Tad, let suggest another scenario which allows Stone's mystery ship to steam off to the SW and not show the green side light. The ship leaves the area by taking a hard turn to starboard (hard-aport helm) which results in shutting out the red light and mast light and displaying just a much dimmer stern light as it steams away.

Henry, you raise a valid point if Lord was given enough information for him to get concerned about. The premise of my paper here on ET, https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/item/4622/, is that he did not receive alarming information when initially contacted by Stone regarding rockets. The ship they were watching was stopped for over an hour with no indication of any trouble.

Cheers.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Hello Sam, how are you? Good I hope. Lazy day off here. That scenario that you mentioned is certainly another possibility, even though neither Gibson nor Stone mentioned seeing just a sternlight, and Gibson didn't believe the ship was steaming away at all. I suppose it is possible that they missed the light since it was dimmer. What is your opinion regarding the likelihood of the scenario you mentioned?
 

Henry Loscher

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>Sam, Thanks for the link to your ET article. I will read it carefully I have always thought that the officers on deck of the Californian had a pretty good inkling that what they saw indicated that something was amiss. I think their testimony at the British Inquiry bears this out.

Capt. Lord certainly told a different story about what he heard concerning rocket(s) from what Stone and Gibson related. . Whose story is more credible? That is the central issue.

Cheers, Henry
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Actually Tad, Stone did claim to have seen a stern light (BI 7972) for up to 20 minutes after he sent Gibson down to inform Lord that the ship was "disappearing" in the SW. Gibson, on the other hand, had said he was told to tell the Captain that the ship had disappeared, not that it was disappearing, and that he had seen nothing of her after he was sent down to Lord. He also said he never saw a stern light. He did say he saw the red sidelight disappear but continued to see her mast light and a glare of lights to the right of it. To Gibson, the ship never appeared to turn around.

As far as your question to me about do I find the scenario about it turning around and steaming away to be likely? No I don't. What Stone and Gibson were looking at all along were the lights of the stopped and sinking Titanic hull down about 11 miles off. Anything that looked like this ship was moving away was caused by two things, the swinging of the Californian, which I also believe was not always in the clockwise direction all the time as I covered elsewhere, and the changing aspect of the lights as the ship continued to trim down by the head.

As I said once before, this mystery ship stuff is plain non-sense. The need to introduce mystery ships is an invention needed to explain what seems to be unexplainable otherwise. In this particular case, even Mr. Stone admitted that he could "not understand why if the rockets came from a steamer beyond this one, when the steamer altered her bearing the rockets should also alter their bearings." Of course the simple answer is that they didn't. It was the swinging of the Californian that caused the relative bearings to change causing most of this confusion. In my opinion, if Stone would have been a more careful observer he might have realized that.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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You're absolutely right Sam, I had forgotten that Stone mentioned the stern light in his testimony, and that Gibson was the one who testified that he did not see the stern light, even through his binoculars, and said that the ship never appeared to turn around. That's what I get for trying to recall the testimony solely from memory (a dangerous proposition, haha!).

I always found it interesting that in the British Inquiry when Gibson was asked about what he thought the description of the ship as having "disappeared" (given by Stone to be relayed to Captain Lord) meant, Gibson denied that he thought it meant that the ship had gone to the bottom. Then, when asked whether he took it to mean that the ship had steamed away through the ice, Gibson gave no answer at all.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, I appreciate it. Hope your week has gotten off to a good start.
 

Dave Gittins

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"Tad, let suggest another scenario which allows Stone's mystery ship to steam off to the SW and not show the green side light. The ship leaves the area by taking a hard turn to starboard (hard-aport helm) which results in shutting out the red light and mast light and displaying just a much dimmer stern light as it steams away."

I fear Sam's been reading my e-book!

Lawyers in Mersey's court spent a lot of time playing with model ships. They convinced themselves that a ship to the SSE of Californian could not have steamed off to the SW without showing her green light. All that shows is that lawyers can make mistakes!

They didn't realise that all such a ship had to do was turn to starboard and then come to a course that kept Californian always more than two points abaft her beam. Eventually she could even reach a point where she could steer due west without Californian seeing her green light or her steaming light/s.

Of course, if the other ship simply sank by the bow, her red light would disappear and the last that would be seen of her is her steaming light, which would look much like a stern light. Oddly enough, Titanic sank by the bow and had only one steaming light.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Hi Dave, how are you? Good I hope.

Dave wrote:
"I fear Sam's been reading my e-book!"

Either that or you guys both think on a similar wavelength, which we Titanic researchers often seem to do when we pour over the evidence over and over again, haha! Speaking of your book, I've been meaning to get a copy of it myself. I should do so soon, it sounds very interesting to me.

"Of course, if the other ship simply sank by the bow, her red light would disappear and the last that would be seen of her is her steaming light, which would look much like a stern light."

Based on his testimony and wording, it seems to me that the thought that this is exactly what had happened at least crossed Gibson's mind, although he didn't come right out and admit it. Gibson definitely did not believe that the ship turned around, or that he had seen a stern light.

Dave wrote:
"Oddly enough, Titanic sank by the bow and had only one steaming light."

My interpretation of Stone's testimony is that either he genuinely believed that he had seen the other ship's stern light, or that he was trying to convince himself or others after the fact that he had. As you've said, a ship sinking by the bow and displaying just a steaming light could be confused as a stern light from that distance, especially since the hulls of each respective vessel were not visible at night, just the lights.

I hope that you'll have a good day.
All my best,
Tad
 

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