Mystery ship candidates


Mystery ships all over the place. We get it.

I've yet to dive deep into the murky waters of the "mystery ship" debate (but presently just lurk in the shadows) and so admittedly I am open to alternate theories. But in most things Titanic I have discovered that "Occam's razor" is often the most logical conclusion i.e. that the simplest explanation is usually the most accurate. It certainly seems that if the Californian was not the "mystery ship" then it does necessitate a rather complex explanation, as Sam so succinctly puts it. Perhaps this is an important clue.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,661
1,395
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
I've yet to dive deep into the murky waters of the "mystery ship" debate (but presently just lurk in the shadows) and so admittedly I am open to alternate theories. But in most things Titanic I have discovered that "Occam's razor" is often the most logical conclusion i.e. that the simplest explanation is usually the most accurate. It certainly seems that if the Californian was not the "mystery ship" then it does necessitate a rather complex explanation, as Sam so succinctly puts it. Perhaps this is an important clue.
Hello Dan.
I agree with you 100%. the application of the Occam's Razor principal would provide the solution.
However, this only works if we start with a "level playing field" i.e. without pre-judgement. Unfortunately those who first considered this question pre-judged despite the presence of two bits of simple evidence. They were never seriously challenged on these and everyone went home happy.
To fend off a challenge to the Occam's Razor approach, those who agree with the pre-judgement had to ignore two essential
but simple bits of evidence. As long as these two arguments remained "in bed", there was no need to defend the pre-judgement, It was when a challenge came, that the elaborate justification engine went into high gear.
The problem is in two parts:
1. Was there or was there not a Mystery vessel... YES or NO.
2. If YES, what was it's name?

"Occam's Razor" approach can be applied to the first, but not to the second.
However, since you mention him, I would point out that he of all people must not have heard of the famous "razor" since he has gone to great lengths in print to attempt to debunk the simple bits of evidence I refer to.
 

James23

Member
Apr 11, 2021
5
1
3
I would like to point out that the Titanic Inquiry was very specific i.e it primarily focuses on the Titanic and Californian and Carpathia. Very little investigation was done into other ships in the area. It's likely that any mystery ship may not have been British or American. For all we know the mystery ship may have been Asian in origin or a South American vessel. There was no research done about ships from this area.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,661
1,395
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
I would like to point out that the Titanic Inquiry was very specific i.e it primarily focuses on the Titanic and Californian and Carpathia. Very little investigation was done into other ships in the area. It's likely that any mystery ship may not have been British or American. For all we know the mystery ship may have been Asian in origin or a South American vessel. There was no research done about ships from this area.
Exactly! They had already got their "Scape Goat" and did not bother looking for anyone else.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Tim Gerard

Member
Feb 26, 2019
190
107
88
For a few years I've been intrigued on and off by the "schooner or some small craft" that Captain Moore of the Mount Temple testified about at the US Senate Inquiry. It's one of those mysteries that we'll never know for sure, and any guess is speculation, but it is intriguing.
 
Mar 22, 2003
6,527
1,810
383
Chicago, IL, USA
www.titanicology.com
"schooner or some small craft"
It was according to Moore some sailing vessel, but not a steamer. Sailing vessels carried red and a green sidelights (usually oil) and an optional stern light. They did not carry any mast lights. I often wondered why Moore even brought it up since it played no part in anything that transpired. It was a vessel that was crossing his bow from left to right, and Moore was obligated to give way because she was a sailing vessel, which he did. As the vessel got over to Moore's starboard side her red light got shut out. She apparently was not carrying a stern light, but should have lighted a flare-up light aft because she became an overtaken vessel (Article 10 of the rules back then). According to Moore, she sounded a fog horn to draw his attention. It must have been the only thing handy for them at the time.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,661
1,395
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
It was according to Moore some sailing vessel, but not a steamer. Sailing vessels carried red and a green sidelights (usually oil) and an optional stern light. They did not carry any mast lights. I often wondered why Moore even brought it up since it played no part in anything that transpired. It was a vessel that was crossing his bow from left to right, and Moore was obligated to give way because she was a sailing vessel, which he did. As the vessel got over to Moore's starboard side her red light got shut out. She apparently was not carrying a stern light, but should have lighted a flare-up light aft because she became an overtaken vessel (Article 10 of the rules back then). According to Moore, she sounded a fog horn to draw his attention. It must have been the only thing handy for them at the time.

For a few years I've been intrigued on and off by the "schooner or some small craft" that Captain Moore of the Mount Temple testified about at the US Senate Inquiry. It's one of those mysteries that we'll never know for sure, and any guess is speculation, but it is intriguing.
Hello Tim.

Captain Moore was shall we say "frugal" with the truth.

The Rule was that a sailing vessel, when under sail, did not carry a white masthead light or lights. However, if that sailing vessel was also power-driven, then when underway and using her engine, whether using her sails or not, she was required to show a masthead light or lights. By coincidence, the Seal Hunter Samson was a power-driven sailing vessel and if the myth about her were to be true, she could have been in about the place where Moore saw his "schooner" and under sail only.
He also said his sailng vessel gave a blast on her foghorn which means " I am on the starboard tack." This again tells us a little.
If the vessel was on the starboard tack, and the wind was, as seems to have been the case, from the North, then depending on how close she could sail to it, she was on a course between NW and WSW.
 
Mar 22, 2003
6,527
1,810
383
Chicago, IL, USA
www.titanicology.com
He also said his sailng vessel gave a blast on her foghorn which means " I am on the starboard tack." This again tells us a little.
The use of one or two blasts on the fog horn to tell which tack the sailing vessel is on is required under foggy or other reduced visibility conditions (Art. 15). That was not the case that night. Moore kept out of the way of sailing vessel by following the rules under Art. 20. Under the explanations for Art. 20, they state:

1618595548309.png


That is exactly what Moore did. The sailing vessel was crossing showing her green light. Moore turned his ship to port to pass starboard-to-starboard. He also reversed his engines for short time to fully avoid collision, again in accordance with the rules of the road that was then in effect.

As far bringing up the Samson, that story has been discredited a long time ago. She was not anywhere close that night.
 

Arun Vajpey

Member
Jul 8, 1999
2,595
983
388
65
By coincidence, the Seal Hunter Samson was a power-driven sailing vessel and if the myth about her were to be true, she could have been in about the place where Moore saw his "schooner" and under sail only.
By definition a 'myth' cannot be true but then perhaps it can be a truth of convenience for some. :D
As far bringing up the Samson, that story has been discredited a long time ago. She was not anywhere close that night.
C'mon Sam, be a sport. The Samson was very likely in a Norwegian port a few thousand miles away but what's that between friends? After all, the earth is spheroid, remember? ;)
 
  • Haha
Reactions: 1 user

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,661
1,395
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
The use of one or two blasts on the fog horn to tell which tack the sailing vessel is on is required under foggy or other reduced visibility conditions (Art. 15). That was not the case that night. Moore kept out of the way of sailing vessel by following the rules under Art. 20. Under the explanations for Art. 20, they state:

View attachment 76338

That is exactly what Moore did. The sailing vessel was crossing showing her green light. Moore turned his ship to port to pass starboard-to-starboard. He also reversed his engines for short time to fully avoid collision, again in accordance with the rules of the road that was then in effect.

As far bringing up the Samson, that story has been discredited a long time ago. She was not anywhere close that night.
Do not try to teach your grandpa how to suck eggs, my friend.

"Other reduced visibility conditions" How about total darkness -the absence of any wind direction indicators- and a decision to alter tack?
In such conditions as prevailed at the time - how was a sailing vessel captain able to indicate the tack he was on or an alteration of tack he was about to make to the bridge Watch of an approaching vessel? What was the one blast for, if not to indicate tack or change thereof?

Mount Temple was on an easterly course, the relative bearing of a crossing vessel would not have opened until after it had crossed ahead. It would have closed toward the bow then widened on the opposite bow after it was ahead.
Not only that, but any vessel crossing ahead from port to starboard would have been showing a green light, which means the vessel seen by Moore was not a crossing vessel but had already crossed from port to starboard and Moore was simply widening the safety margin.
If there was a vessel there at all, and it gave a single blast on its foghorn and there was no fog then it was telling Moore something.
If she was initially showing green, and any wind was northerly, then she was either on the port tack or more than likely, running free and if her captain decided to alter to starboard he would need to indicate to Moore he was going to do so. A square rig vessel when coming about might conceivably hide her navigation lights for a short time during the period she was doing so.
However, if that indeed happened, then the captain of that sailing vessel deliberately altered course and re-crossed ahead of a steamship without knowing if those on her bridge were alert to the situation, and never mind the Rules.
How about green light = green flare... no sound signal and Mount Temple being much farther east than her master wanted anyone to know?

As for the Samson story? Methinks you pounce too quickly. This what I wrote:
"the Seal Hunter Samson was a power-driven sailing vessel and if the myth about her were to be true,"
I suppose you know that a number of years ago, a couple of your compatriots actually went to Iceland and found someone who remembered the Sampson, and that same person said Samson did not arrive in port for repairs when she was supposed to have done but that her docking dues had been paid in advance?
 
Last edited:
Mar 22, 2003
6,527
1,810
383
Chicago, IL, USA
www.titanicology.com
Maybe the grandpa needs to stop sucking eggs.
The vessel was crossing left to right showing a green light. In nautical terms, it would have closed toward the port bow then widened on the starboard bow after it was ahead. not only that, but any vessel crossing ahead from port to starboard would have been showing a green light, which she did.
Moore altered his to port to pass the vessel starboard-to-starboard, green to green in accordance with the rules Art. 20.
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,666
881
563
Easley South Carolina
I would submit to all, regardless of whatever "side" that they take, that the whole "mystery ship" thing is a red herring. A distraction which puts the cart before the horse and is actually unhelpful to the Californian. What's germane is that the two guys on the watch....Officer Stone and Officer Apprentice Gibson saw something out of the ordinary and for whatever reasons....good or bad, failed to act decisively.

You all can, and have, debated the reasons at length and no doubt will continue to do so.
Fair enough. Some of you may even be right.
BUT, it doesn't help the Californian because they still bear the responsibility for how they acted or failed to act.

Not the Mount Temple, not the Almarian, not the Samson, (Which couldn't possibly have been there!) not the Carpathia, or for that matter, not the Queen Anne's Revenge under Captain Blood or Blackbeard. The entire Second and Sixth Fleet could have been there drag racing aircraft carriers and it still doesn't help the Californian.


The Californian's officer bear the sole responsibility for how they either acted or failed to act. Not anybody else, but them. It's all on them. For any other actors in the area if any, theirs is a separate responsibility.

We now return you to your borderline hostile Pro/Anti-Lord debate, already in progress.
 
  • Like
Reactions: 1 users

Arun Vajpey

Member
Jul 8, 1999
2,595
983
388
65
Maybe the grandpa needs to stop sucking eggs.
I agree, especially whole - shell and all. They increase cholesterol and narrow arteries, including cerebral arteries.
I would submit to all, regardless of whatever "side" that they take, that the whole "mystery ship" thing is a red herring. A distraction which puts the cart before the horse and is actually unhelpful to the Californian.
Absolutely true and very well said. Thank you.
The Californian's officer bear the sole responsibility for how they either acted or failed to act. Not anybody else, but them. It's all on them.
True again and even though the best pro-active action by Captain Lord and his crew would perhaps have made no more than 20 more lives saved (if that), the fact that they did not even try will remain against them.
 
Jul 9, 2000
58,666
881
563
Easley South Carolina
True again and even though the best pro-active action by Captain Lord and his crew would perhaps have made no more than 20 more lives saved (if that), the fact that they did not even try will remain against them.

Tracy Smith, Captain Erik Wood and I actually wrote an article on that. They would have needed a full day to effect a transfer of everybody aboard.

They didn't have it. They had a couple of hours from the understanding that they were in trouble to a trip in to Davy Jones Locker. Those are the cold and merciless numbers.
 

Seumas

Member
Mar 25, 2019
720
401
108
Glasgow, Scotland
True again and even though the best pro-active action by Captain Lord and his crew would perhaps have made no more than 20 more lives saved (if that), the fact that they did not even try will remain against them.

Tracy Smith, Captain Erik Wood and I actually wrote an article on that. They would have needed a full day to effect a transfer of everybody aboard.

They didn't have it. They had a couple of hours from the understanding that they were in trouble to a trip in to Davy Jones Locker. Those are the cold and merciless numbers.
That was the golden age of ET forums fifteen-twenty years ago. :)

Captain Wood once wrote a series of marvellous posts years ago explaining in great detail but also in clear, simple English every little thing a ship's master must do and think of when evacuating a vessel. Some of the best posting on ET I have read. Still have it bookmarked.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: 1 user

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
6,661
1,395
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
Maybe the grandpa needs to stop sucking eggs.
The vessel was crossing left to right showing a green light. In nautical terms, it would have closed toward the port bow then widened on the starboard bow after it was ahead. not only that, but any vessel crossing ahead from port to starboard would have been showing a green light, which she did.
Moore altered his to port to pass the vessel starboard-to-starboard, green to green in accordance with the rules Art. 20.
Nonsense! Try reading the evidence properly - and all of it. For your edification

"Mr. MOORE.
We turned her right around at once, sir, and then when he came down we took the chart out and found out where the Titanic was and steered her by the compass north 65° east true.

I met a schooner or some small craft, and I had to get out of the way of that vessel, and the light of that vessel seemed to go out...

When this light was on my bow, a green light, I starboarded my helm.
She was a little off our bow, and I immediately starboarded the helm and got the two lights green to green, sir.
I was steering east and this green light was opening to me.


(He changes his heading like the wind.)

Where does Moore say it was a crossing vessel? He clearly stated it was OPENING which in case you do not understand means that the angle on his bow was getting bigger. See here:
opening.jpg

Grandpa.
 

Similar threads

Similar threads