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Musings on the Californian Issue from a psychological perspective

Discussion in 'Ships that may have stood still' started by Mel Sharp, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. Mel Sharp

    Mel Sharp Member

    Hello All,

    I have recently been doing a lot of research on this matter, there are many, many threads on this topic, what has become apparent on reading them is the strength of passion this arouses in both sides of the argument.

    There are those who feel that if only the Californian had acted upon seeing the rockets the number of deaths could have been reduced. As human beings with empathy, of course we want to save every person who perished and the thought that someone could have helped but did not (in theory of course) would make anyone more than a little angry at Lord and his crews inaction. I can understand that in a way.

    On the opposing side we have those who feel the Californian, Captain Lord in particular was held responsible for the deaths of over 1500 people who were not on his ship, who he never met and who he had no legal or moral responsibility to look after. Understandably some see this as an injustice, regardless of whether or not they knew or should have known the Titanic was sinking. Again as compassionate people many see this as an injustice and a terrible burden to place on anyone's shoulders. The weight of blame on Captain Lord seems very unfair, of course people want to at least point out that things from the Californian are far from clear and there are many issues that are subject to conjecture.

    I think what we fail, sometimes, to understand (when looking at the facts) is that, everyone, crews, passengers, rescuers and bystanders, even you and I, we are all flawed in someway, that in times of great stress our recollections can be unreliable, that experience is a personal thing and who you are affects how you deal with any issue, that hindsight is valuable, but irrelevant to the people at that time and their views. Events happened as they happened, we know probably more about Titanic's sinking than any other shipping disaster at least of its time and yet it is still not clear exactly what happened in every tiny detail.

    Fact is for whatever reason The Californian did not interpret the rockets as distress signals until morning. You can hold Lord responsible for that or you can understand these were human beings. You and I make mistakes all the time, really there are no excuses for any mistakes or misinterpretation any of us make, thankfully for us our mistakes are not scrutinized as thoroughly, I'm certain I wouldnt look so good if anyone did. What can be interpreted as a mistake with hindsight may be, at the time common sense.

    It was a senseless tragedy, so many things that happened led to the accident, sinking and rescue or or lack thereof, had just one of those things not happened, had luck been on their side many more or all would have survived. I see absolutely no evidence that anyone involved had any mallace or intent to cause harm and every single one of them is dead now. For those who lived with the aftermath of that night the Titanic must have haunted them until their final days and 100 years later is it not time to let them all rest in peace? Blame of a personal nature will not help anyone anymore.
     
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  2. There is another side to all of this, and it has nothing to do with placing blame or exonerating anyone. It has to do with uncovering the reality of what happened that night, including what was actually seen by eyewitnesses and why things may have been interpreted the whey they were.
     
  3. I would argue there are many sides to the California saga. Its more like an eight sided cube. People on this site have made good arguments for both points of view. They have studied it in far more detail and depth than I ever could. The next few lines are just my opinion, I cant prove them. By the actions that Capt. Lord took to make sure his ship was safe tells me he was a responsible Captain. Circumstances and procedures at the time set him up to be a target to shift blame away from the Titanic and the White Star Line. I agree he and his officers could have done some things better but I don't believe with the situation that Titanic was in it would have made any difference. But that being said I've learned a lot about that night by reading both sides of the argument.
     
    Tim Aldrich likes this.
  4. Harland Duzen

    Harland Duzen Member

    Californian's Carpenter James McGregor told the press on Boston that when Lord heard the news of the Titanic's sinking, Lord ''...had the appearance of being 20 years older when the news reached him..." which suggests the shock he and the Officers might have experienced.

    Also Stone is frequently stated to have suffered and is known to have a suffered a mental breakdown while working as a dock worker in later life.

     
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