Nope! MichaelI 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.
The officers of Californian acted exactly as any other persons faced with the same problem would have acted.
Remember your navy days. When faced with uncertainty, you reported to a senior. It was the senior's duty to evaluate what he was being told by a lower rank and to act accordingly. Here is what Stone told his interrogator:
". I kept the ship under close observation, and I did not see any reason to suppose they were sent as distress signals from this ship...I had had the steamer under observation all the watch, and that I had made reports to the Captain concerning her, and I thought it my duty when the ship went away from us altogether to tell him. it was my duty to do so, and it was his duty to listen to it".
So you can't blame the juniors for doing their job. Nor can you blame the commander if he gave the appropriate orders. This was not "passing the buck". You know as well as I do, a ship is not a Democracy.
As for the mystery ship being a red herring?
As you probably know the expression means to lay a false trail. A false trail away from what?
Consider this: if the evidence of Boxhall had been accepted, then the real culprits in this sad tail would have been those on the ship that steamed within 5 miles of Titanic while she was sinking and crying for help then shrugged and turned away.
This being so, then I ask you and others a simple question:
Supposing by some bit of luck, the identity of the vessel in question is discovered... what would should be the thoughts of those who have twisted existing evidence to fit a popular belief?