Mystery ship candidates


James23

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Could anyone provide me with a list of potential mystery ships during the Titanic sinking. I've been doing research on supposed mystery ships but can't find much. I've heard of the Mount Temple, Almerian and a mystery schooner reported by Captain Moore of the Mount Temple. Are there any other suggested mystery ships and is there any proof of them? Thanks.
 

William Oakes

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Seal hunting ship, Samson was supposedly in the vicinity that night illegally whaling and may have ignored Titanic's distress rockets to avoid trouble.
 
Nov 14, 2005
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Seal hunting ship, Samson was supposedly in the vicinity that night illegally whaling and may have ignored Titanic's distress rockets to avoid trouble.
The Samson theory has been pretty well debunked over the years. Besides whaling wasn't illegal in 1912. The first whaling regulations that had any force behind them didn't come about until 1946. There was an agreement for fur seals in 1911 but my understanding was that was for the pacific northwest as many countries were arguing over who had fishing and sealing rights for that area. The Atlantic seals weren't really protected until 1972 with the Marine Mammal Protection Act from my understanding. Plus from what I've read Titanic was in area that was outside of the seal ranges. Cheers.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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The Samson theory has been pretty well debunked over the years.
Precisely. That and other similar candidates. Defenders of Captain Lord have come up with pretty ridiculous theories and even written books about it. You only have to read Leslie Harrison's A Titanic Myth to realize that. The book often meanders around issues that are completely irrelevant to either the Titanic or Californian and pretends to make some sense out of it.

IMO, there was no 'mystery ship' of any kind. The lights seen by the Titanic were those of the Californian and vice versa. That said, I am not one of those who blames Lord but feel sorry for him. As far as his ship was concerned, he took the right actions and then was resting - in full uniform in the chart room and not his pajamas. IMO the duty officers on the Californian did not interpret the lights they saw for what they were and if they had any suspicions, did not communicate them strongly enough to their Captain. Their subsequent testimonies were aimed at covering themselves as much as they could and in doing so they pointed the finger intentionally or unintentionally at Captain Lord. Perhaps even he was not as alert and forthright as he could have been that night but that is far from almost held responsible for the Titanic deaths. Even if he had acted as soon as the lights were reported or the first distress call came through, IMO the best the Californian could have done was to pick-up a handful of half-dead people from the sea. But they fact that they did not even try went against them for all time.
 
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Precisely. That and other similar candidates. Defenders of Captain Lord have come up with pretty ridiculous theories and even written books about it. You only have to read Leslie Harrison's A Titanic Myth to realize that. The book often meanders around issues that are completely irrelevant to either the Titanic or Californian and pretends to make some sense out of it.

IMO, there was no 'mystery ship' of any kind. The lights seen by the Titanic were those of the Californian and vice versa. That said, I am not one of those who blames Lord but feel sorry for him. As far as his ship was concerned, he took the right actions and then was resting - in full uniform in the chart room and not his pajamas. IMO the duty officers on the Californian did not interpret the lights they saw for what they were and if they had any suspicions, did not communicate them strongly enough to their Captain. Their subsequent testimonies were aimed at covering themselves as much as they could and in doing so they pointed the finger intentionally or unintentionally at Captain Lord. Perhaps even he was not as alert and forthright as he could have been that night but that is far from almost held responsible for the Titanic deaths. Even if he had acted as soon as the lights were reported or the first distress call came through, IMO the best the Californian could have done was to pick-up a handful of half-dead people from the sea. But they fact that they did not even try went against them for all time.
Yes. Pretty much agree with what you wrote. I would only add that any of the bridge officers could have had the sparks get up to have a listen. They didn't do a good job in that respect. Not that it would have made any difference except the optics would have looked better in them trying. As for them trying to cover for themselves that's understandable once they realized they were being made the designated scapegoat. Titanic sank because of what Titanic did that night. Nobody else was the blame. But before this turns into another Californian thread did any of the crew members of the Samson ever say later that they were there? It's been awhile since I looked into her. I recall someone made a good case that she was in port at the time of the sinking.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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I would only add that any of the bridge officers could have had the sparks get up to have a listen. They didn't do a good job in that respect.
Absolutely agree. But believe it or not, there are people here, one of them a retired Master Mariner, who argue why it was "unnecessary", "uncalled for" etc for crew or anyone else to have woken Cyril Evans to check what was going on - and that after a point was made about the several distress rockets that the Titanic sent-up.
As for them trying to cover for themselves that's understandable once they realized they were being made the designated scapegoat.
True, but in doing so, they inadvertently pointed the finger at their own Captain. Marine hierarchy being what it was in those days, a ship's captain was forced to accept responsibility for what happened on board his ship, even if it was something not entirely under his control.

Some observers have described Captain Stanley Lord as bit of a martinet. I don't know if that was true but if it was, fear of repercussions might have been a factor why the deck officers and other crew hesitated fatally before informing the Captain about their suspicions.

But before this turns into another Californian thread did any of the crew members of the Samson ever say later that they were there? It's been awhile since I looked into her. I recall someone made a good case that she was in port at the time of the sinking.
I believe that you are right. I cannot recall the specific references off the top of my head, but I have read in several sources that the Samson was in port at the time the Titanic had its fatal encounter with the iceberg.
 
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Absolutely agree. But believe it or not, there are people here, one of them a retired Master Mariner, who argue why it was "unnecessary", "uncalled for" etc for crew or anyone else to have woken Cyril Evans to check what was going on - and that after a point was made about the several distress rockets that the Titanic sent-up.

True, but in doing so, they inadvertently pointed the finger at their own Captain. Marine hierarchy being what it was in those days, a ship's captain was forced to accept responsibility for what happened on board his ship, even if it was something not entirely under his control.

Some observers have described Captain Stanley Lord as bit of a martinet. I don't know if that was true but if it was, fear of repercussions might have been a factor why the deck officers and other crew hesitated fatally before informing the Captain about their suspicions.

I believe that you are right. I cannot recall the specific references off the top of my head, but I have read in several sources that the Samson was in port at the time the Titanic had its fatal encounter with the iceberg.
So I went and looked around. From threads on this site and others here's a few points I found. A lot came back to me that I had forgotten as I read them.
1. There were crew Samson members who claimed they were there that night. But their claims were debunked (changing stories and claimed many years later..ect).
2. One Titanic historian says he obtained port records that put her in Iceland on April 6th and April 20th. According to the math it wouldn't have allowed the Samson to be near Titanic on the 14th/15th. I haven't seen those records that I remember. If anyone has them would be nice to see them.
3. The whole illegal fishing/sealing theory has been pointed out by many to be a made up thing. There was nothing illegal about it in 1912 especially in international waters.
I'll stop there as this has been covered quite extensively on this board and others. Many threads here if anyone is interested further. Just use the search function. Cheers all.
Edited by me to add link. Had this one bookmarked in files. From 30 years ago. Interesting article. A few minor points I don't agree with but pretty much covers the Samson story/myth.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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1. There were crew Samson members who claimed they were there that night. But their claims were debunked (changing stories and claimed many years later..ect).
I can very well believe that. In the immediate aftermath and probably till before WW1 started, the Titanic disaster did make a lot of headlines and was extensively talked about because of the scale and circumstances involved. Therefore, it is not surprising if the crew of the Samson (and probably Delilah as well ;) ) wanted to be 'in' on it. But thereafter the two World Wars, the depression in between etc took over public interest till Walter Lord and others renewed the interest in the Titanic in the 1950s.
2. One Titanic historian says he obtained port records that put her in Iceland on April 6th and April 20th. According to the math it wouldn't have allowed the Samson to be near Titanic on the 14th/15th.
Yes, I have read about that too, probably in an older thread in these very forums. The so-called 'Mystery Ship' has been discussed quite extensively. IMO, the only 'realistic' candidate for that is the ship that I mentioned above in Post #2 of this thread :D
 
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When one looks into all the details, one must invent at least three mystery ships to match most of the available evidence. I like call them vessels X, Y and Z. And some people believe there were more than that in the vicinity of the disaster scene, but played no real role. X is the vessel that stopped near Californian. Z is the vessel that stopped near Titanic. And Y is the vessel that showed up around 4am south of Californian.
 
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James23

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From my reading I've found out that both Captain Lord of the Californian and Captain Rostron of the Carpathia attested to have seen another ship. I don't remember the exact quote but Rostron said he had seen a black funneled ship and Lord had said he'd seen a pink and black funneled ship. Is this not proof of at least another ship in the area? After all Mount Temple had a yellow funnel and Carpathia had a Cunard Red/orange funnel.
 
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From my reading I've found out that both Captain Lord of the Californian and Captain Rostron of the Carpathia attested to have seen another ship. I don't remember the exact quote but Rostron said he had seen a black funneled ship and Lord had said he'd seen a pink and black funneled ship. Is this not proof of at least another ship in the area? After all Mount Temple had a yellow funnel and Carpathia had a Cunard Red/orange funnel.
Given the area (shipping lanes) and at night you would think there would be all kinds of ships sightings going on that people weren't sure of who they were. That's not proof but highly plausible as for your question. Plus I don't know how the fishing industry was in 1912 but being close to the grand banks one would think there would be fishing boats out chasing the cod. If they went that far out that is in 1912.
 

Arun Vajpey

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From my reading I've found out that both Captain Lord of the Californian and Captain Rostron of the Carpathia attested to have seen another ship. I don't remember the exact quote but Rostron said he had seen a black funneled ship and Lord had said he'd seen a pink and black funneled ship. Is this not proof of at least another ship in the area?
No it isn't. As for Captain Lord, he might well have seen another ship but when, where and in what direction? By the time he ordered his ship stopped, throughout the time it took the Titanic to sink and for over 2 hours afterwards, it was a dark, moonless night. So, how could Lord or anyone else make-out a ship with a "pink and black" funnel unless it was much earlier or later when there was daylight? If so, it would have been irrelevant because ships of various sizes and descriptions were passing through that part of the Atlantic Ocean and what Lord saw - if he indeed had done so - would have had no relation to the time of the sinking of the Titanic.

Likewise, Captain Rostron might well have seen a ship with a black funnel, but it would only have been after 5 am or so when there was sufficient light to see and by which time, their rescue work was in progress. That does not mean that the other ship was between the Titanic and the Californian while the former was sinking.
 
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Captain Lord testified that he spotted a small steamer with a pink funnel Monday morning when Californian was heading southward along the western side of the ice barrier shortly after passing the Mount Temple which had stopped. He later wrote that the ship was the Almerian, also of the Leyland line, the same company that owned Californian, which also carried a pink funnel. However, apparently Lord was the only one to have seen a vessel with a pink funnel. His 3rd officer, Groves, said it had a black funnel. Capt. Moore of Mount temple said it had a black funnel with some sort of marking on it. Moore was in sight of that small steamer almost all night, even before arriving on the scene around 4:30am. The small steamer was looking for a way to cross the ice going eastward.

Rostron said he spotted a steamer with two masthead lights, very common for most steamers then, off his starboard bow as he was racing to get to Titanic. He described that vessel as between himself and the position he was heading for, apparently heading between westward and southward. He never said anything more about it, but it apparently played no role in the events that took place that night.
 
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Arun Vajpey

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Rostron said he spotted a steamer with two masthead lights, very common for most steamers then, off his starboard bow as he was racing to get to Titanic. He described that vessel as between himself and the position he was heading for, apparently heading between westward and southward.
Thanks Sam. Would I be right in thinking that a ship in that position and heading could not have been between the Titanic and Californian at any stage earlier that night?
 
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Rostron said that the sighting took place around 3:15, Carpathia was about 45 minutes from picking up the first boat if his time was correct. If that was between T and C earlier, then it had to be pass very close to T and the time she foundered. Nobody saw any vessel very close, by or passing close by, at that time. What always bothered me about that tidbit from Rostron is how he left it. He never said what happened to it after that sighting. We do know that hey spotted a green flare from boat #2 fine off their port bow, almost directly ahead, about then, and they fired rockets in response, but that is all we really know about Rostron's mystery ship. There are others (which shall be unnamed) who try to insinuate that this vessel may have been the one seen from Californian at 4am, which is the time Carpathia arrived by the lifeboat.
 
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Jim Currie

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Rostron said that the sighting took place around 3:15, Carpathia was about 45 minutes from picking up the first boat if his time was correct. If that was between T and C earlier, then it had to be pass very close to T and the time she foundered. Nobody saw any vessel very close, by or passing close by, at that time. What always bothered me about that tidbit from Rostron is how he left it. He never said what happened to it after that sighting. We do know that hey spotted a green flare from boat #2 fine off their port bow, almost directly ahead, about then, and they fired rockets in response, but that is all we really know about Rostron's mystery ship. There are others (which shall be unnamed) who try to insinuate that this vessel may have been the one seen from Californian at 4am, which is the time Carpathia arrived by the lifeboat.
And here's one of the "others". Rostron did not make that sighting up. It was bearing about N30W True. and it was on the east side of the ice and showing (if seen) a red sidelight so was heading in a westerly direction and would eventually have met the barrier. At dawn, Bisset of the Carpathia also saw a vessel about 10 miles to the northward, wrongly identified by him as the Californian. It too must have been on the east side of the ice.
In fact, the records show that between 8 pm on April 14 and the early hours of April 15, there were at least. seven vessels on the western side of the ice barrier.
 

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