Mystery ship candidates


Mike Spooner

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I am a great admirer of Paul Lee book too. It certainly will makes a change from the other ships we keep hearing about, so let it be good indeed.
 

Paul Burrell

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Hello Paul.

When you Interpret the moving vessel evidence of Boxhall against what criteria do you or, for that matter, anyone else, measure it?

However, leaving that aside for a moment, ask yourself the following very simple question

1. If, as we are asked to believe, Californian was stopped and in plain sight from before the moment Titanic stopped and Captain Smith knew his ship was sinking ten minutes after she did so - why, on God's green earth did he and his officer wait for over an hour before sending up distress signals or trying to contact that vessel by morse light?

2. I presume that you and others on this site accept that Captain Smith knew a thing or three about the handling of lifeboats and the sea. That agreed; do you really accept that such a man directed under-manned lifeboats to row across fourteen miles or even 9 miles of ocean to the ship in plain sight, land survivors then come back for more, if he did not think it was possible?
Hi Jim

Two good thought provoking questions here.

As to the delay in sending up distress signals and starting morse, I expect that given the opportunity to answer for himself, Smith would have said that everything happened so quickly that it felt like minutes, rather than over an hour to take these actions. This is not an excuse, I just don’t know the answer.

As to the lifeboats, there are a whole raft of decisions that should have been taken sooner. I agree with you, Smith’s order to row to the light, drop off passengers and return does not make sense. Likewise, Lightoller’s order for Nichols (probably, but not confirmed) and six ABs to open the gangway doors and load boat 6 from them does not make sense. Likewise, Lightoller’s plan - later rescinded - to load lifeboat 4 from the deck below does not make sense. Likewise, sending the boats away not at full capacity (or, in many cases, somewhere even close to full capacity) does not make sense. Although, tellingly, the later lifeboats were filled to capacity.

It still surprises me how many people saved themselves rather than being saved. What I mean by this is how many people survived without being placed in a lifeboat. So, anyone in collapsible A, on collapsible B, the six picked up by lifeboat 4 and the three picked up by lifeboat 14 after the sinking.

My theory as to all this and the answers to your two questions is that these decisions were made at an early point in the sinking when the amount of time left for Titanic was not fully understood or accepted. Whether that is through shock, not believing the prediction of the sinking time or something else, I don’t know. Or, as others have suggested, it could be a symptom of Smith not adequately informing his officers of the timescale of the ships demise.
 

Arun Vajpey

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My theory as to all this and the answers to your two questions is that these decisions were made at an early point in the sinking when the amount of time left for Titanic was not fully understood or accepted.
That is a very good point. Although Thomas Andrews (reportedly) gave his slightly pessimistic impression of how long the Titanic had by about 12:10 am or so, I think that some of the people on board might have thought that the ship was going to last considerably longer when the rate of dip of the bow slowed down in the second hour as the water within equilibrated in the spaces available.
 

Jim Currie

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A great example that Smith was not losing his capability, Jim
The captain of a ship has many responsibilities, Cam.
In the situation confronting Captain Smith, he had to think about many different things at the same time. He would also have had the heads of his departments demanding attention. However, he had the luxury of six officers to look after the Deck Department. All of them were Master Mariners and some even Extra Master. All of them were qualified ship captains in their own right - each one qualified for command. With such talent, the idea that some sort of pre-action huddle should have taken place is absurd.
In reality, His senior Officer Wilde, had oversight of both boat decks, Murdoch and a Junior to starboard, Lightoller and a Junior to port, and the Captain and a junior on the bridge or near thereto as the command and control center.
If a decision was to be made, the Chief officer made it or if he was not forthcoming then the captain made it and that is exactly how the boat deck ran during the disaster.

It has been suggested that Smith based his actions on the advice given by the Builder's representative on board. I doubt that very much, although he would not have ignored it and would have used it to verify his own assessment of the situation. Since the builder's rep was not a fixture; what would Smith have done had Titanic survived the first voyage and this had this happened on the next one or any subsequent one?
What so many do not know (or fail to appreciate if they do know} is that Smith and ALL of his officers have formal training in Ship Construction and Stability, and consequently, each of them was perfectly qualified to assess the situation when given all of the facts.
However, Smith would not ignore what the man said but would have checked for himself. In fact, If I remember correctly, Captain Smith left his bridge and worked his distress position long before he even had the conversation with the Yard man.
 
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Seumas

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Jim, if I could get your attention for a wee moment ..

I was reading your article "Ninety Years and Counting" (which was very interesting and I certainly learned something from it) just there.

You know that labelled photo you have at the top claiming to be group photo of all the Titanic's officers ? It frequently appears in books as such but it's wrong.

Only two of those men in the photo (Smith* and Murdoch) were ever on the Titanic. The rest were officers from the Olympic who never set foot aboard the Titanic. Some of them, particularly "Wilde", "Boxhall" and Lowe" look nothing at all like the actual trio.

"Wilde" is Joseph Evans.
"Lightoller" is Henry Cater.
"Pitman" is Robert Hume (who later survived the Britannic's sinking).
"Boxhall" is David Alexander.
"Lowe" is Harold Holthouse.
"Moody" is Alphonse Tulloch.

Credit must go to those magnificent Australians Dave Gittins and Inger Shiel who were pointing this out years ago.

*Hugh McElroy is also in the original but is often cropped out.
 
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Jim Currie

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Hi Jim

Two good thought provoking questions here.

As to the delay in sending up distress signals and starting morse, I expect that given the opportunity to answer for himself, Smith would have said that everything happened so quickly that it felt like minutes, rather than over an hour to take these actions. This is not an excuse, I just don’t know the answer.

As to the lifeboats, there are a whole raft of decisions that should have been taken sooner. I agree with you, Smith’s order to row to the light, drop off passengers and return does not make sense. Likewise, Lightoller’s order for Nichols (probably, but not confirmed) and six ABs to open the gangway doors and load boat 6 from them does not make sense. Likewise, Lightoller’s plan - later rescinded - to load lifeboat 4 from the deck below does not make sense. Likewise, sending the boats away not at full capacity (or, in many cases, somewhere even close to full capacity) does not make sense. Although, tellingly, the later lifeboats were filled to capacity.

It still surprises me how many people saved themselves rather than being saved. What I mean by this is how many people survived without being placed in a lifeboat. So, anyone in collapsible A, on collapsible B, the six picked up by lifeboat 4 and the three picked up by lifeboat 14 after the sinking.

My theory as to all this and the answers to your two questions is that these decisions were made at an early point in the sinking when the amount of time left for Titanic was not fully understood or accepted. Whether that is through shock, not believing the prediction of the sinking time or something else, I don’t know. Or, as others have suggested, it could be a symptom of Smith not adequately informing his officers of the timescale of the ships demise.
Hello Paul,

I agree with your theory. However, as I told Cam, the training and experience of all the officers when made aware of the true extent of the flooding would have told them all was not well. In fact, anyone who noticed the ship getting deeper in the water and the trim continuing to change after any reasonable length of time would know that measures to counteract sinking were not working. There would then be no doubt that she was sinking - only then, would there have been a true sense of urgency but also, it would be a time not to over-react.
The evidence tells us that Smith called for help less than 20 minutes after the ship hit the ice. and ordered the boats made ready.
He knew that the engineers were using every available pump to try and control the flooding and two or three glances at the commutator or angle of heel indicator, would help to tell him if this was working.
He would be reasonably happy if the list to starboard was decreasing and the bow did not appreciably sink anymore.
Five or 10 minutes later into the sinking, a light, singular, was seen ahead. At both Inquiries, It was described as "approaching and the sequence offered backed this up.
Now, if you look at the boat launching sequence, you will see that lifeboats 5 and 7 left before any signals were sent up. Then, Shortly after that, the first signal was sent up. Then, fifteen or so minutes later, a vessel showing two white lights and a red sidelight was seen from the boat deck of Titanic. All of which, is indicative of a an approaching vessel.

Distress signals were and still are, designed to attract and retain the attention of a potential rescuer. However, if a potential rescuer is already stopped and in plain sight, then, in theory, such signals should not be necessary. So why, if the vessel in sight was stopped, and so near (5 miles away), that its coloured sidelight was visible with the naked eye from the deck of Titanic, was it necessary to send up any signals at all? Why not simply send boats across to it?

As for proximity?

Given that the boat deck area was lit at the time, then the night vision of any observer's on that deck was compromised. Consequently, there is no way a red light could have been clearly visible to the naked eye when it was any farther away than 5 or 6 miles. To claim otherwise is absurd. In fact, I am surprised it was even possible.
So how was it possible for a single white light to become two white lights and finally two white lights and a red light on a vessel which was stopped?
The only rational answer to the foregoing is that the nearby vessel was not originally "nearby". In fact, the evidence suggest it was approaching for a period of 30 to 40 minutes.


The order to prepare the lifeboats was given at or near to the time the first distress signal was sent by wireless. Consequently, there was little or no delay in getting them ready should they be needed.
The impatience was ostensibly on the part of Ismay and Lightoller(?). Ismay was present at the launching of the first lifeboat 7, and if Lowe and Pitman's evidence is anything to go by, Ismay jumped the gun and got the sharp end of Lowe's tongue.
Pitman simply ignored him and consulted the captain.
Lightoller claimed that he went over the head of the First Officer and got permission to load a boat. The fact that Pitman an Lightoller got permission to load boats tells us when Smith's estimate of the situation took a turn for the worst.
 
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Jim Currie

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Jim, if I could get your attention for a wee moment ..

I was reading your article "Ninety Years and Counting" (which was very interesting and I certainly learned something from it) just there.

You know that labelled photo you have at the top claiming to be group photo of all the Titanic's officers ? It frequently appears in books as such but it's wrong.

Only two of those men in the photo (Smith* and Murdoch) were ever on the Titanic. The rest were officers from the Olympic who never set foot aboard the Titanic. Some of them, particularly "Wilde", "Boxhall" and Lowe" look nothing at all like the actual trio.

"Wilde" is Joseph Evans.
"Lightoller" is Henry Cater.
"Pitman" is Robert Hume (who later survived the Britannic's sinking).
"Boxhall" is David Alexander.
"Lowe" is Harold Holthouse.
"Moody" is Alphonse Tulloch.

Credit must go to those magnificent Australians Dave Gittins and Inger Shiel who were pointing this out years ago.

*Hugh McElroy is also in the original but is often cropped out.
I've always got time for a fellow Newtonmearnsian, Seamas ;)

I had forgotten all about that one. If I remember rightly, I copied and pasted it from somewhere else. Thanks for the heads-up.
I did the same for my article "The SS Mesaba" File. Then, my error was immediately pounced-on. However, the content was what I was trying to get across, so I'm glad it gave you food for thought.

Regards.
 
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Distress signals were and still are, designed to attract and retain the attention of a potential rescuer. However, if a potential rescuer is already stopped and in plain sight, then, in theory, such signals should not be necessary. So why, if the vessel in sight was stopped, and so near (5 miles away), that its coloured sidelight was visible with the naked eye from the deck of Titanic, was it necessary to send up any signals at all? Why not simply send boats across to it?
I agree. Why waste time with those silly rockets? Send the boats across, and have them come back for more. And, while your at it, why not let all the able bodied men just swim for it?
 
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Cam Houseman

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Hi Sam, I hope you're well!

I have a question for you,
say your ship struck a rock or so, and began to sink. You were in command of a passenger liner. You are boarding the lifeboats.
You see a ship, just faintly, by your estimates, maybe 10 miles away.
They are not responding to the distress rockets

Would you send your passengers to row over to that vessel and have her come at once to your ship?
 
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Jim Currie

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Hi Sam, I hope you're well!

I have a question for you,
say your ship struck a rock or so, and began to sink. You were in command of a passenger liner. You are boarding the lifeboats.
You see a ship, just faintly, by your estimates, maybe 10 miles away.
They are not responding to the distress rockets

Would you send your passengers to row over to that vessel and have her come at once to your ship?
I suspect that it would be claimed that the ship hadn't actually hit a rock, Cam, but that it was in collision with an empty beer bottle which, by The Rules, had right of way. That the lookouts should have seen it glistening in the light of a star which had an amazing magnitude and was seen 22.7796666 degrees above the horizon.
Besides which, the master and his officers did not know how to fill the lifeboats and were all so blind drunk on Captain Morgan rum that they only imagined that they saw another vessel 10 miles away which was actually 47 miles away. Not only that, but the Apprentice couldn't find the matches to light the rocket fuses. :D:D:D:D
 
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Arun Vajpey

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You see a ship, just faintly, by your estimates, maybe 10 miles away.
They are not responding to the distress rockets

Would you send your passengers to row over to that vessel and have her come at once to your ship?
Sorry Cam, I know that the question was meant for Sam but I want to put in my two pence.

Your question can be considered either "generally" or as specifically relevant to the Titanic's actual situation.

Let us take the Titanic's actual situation first. If the other ship by the Captain Smith's estimate was about 10 miles away, it would have taken a lifeboat over 3 hours just to reach it, let alone anything else. By then the Titanic would long have been on the ocean floor. Smith more or less knew that by what Thomas Andrews had told him after a proper damage assessment and so under those circumstances Smith's order made no sense.

On the other hand, if Andrews' calculations had shown that the Titanic would stay afloat for 8 to 10 hours, then Smith's order would have made perfect sense. Also, by then other ships could have also come for the rescue.
 
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Cam Houseman

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Sorry Cam, I know that the question was meant for Sam but I want to put in my two pence.

Your question can be considered either "generally" or as specifically relevant to the Titanic's actual situation.

Let us take the Titanic's actual situation first. If the other ship by the Captain Smith's estimate was about 10 miles away, it would have taken a lifeboat over 3 hours just to reach it, let alone anything else. By then the Titanic would long have been on the ocean floor. Smith more or less knew that by what Thomas Andrews had told him after a proper damage assessment and so under those circumstances Smith's order made no sense.

On the other hand, if Andrews' calculations had shown that the Titanic would stay afloat for 8 to 10 hours, then Smith's order would have made perfect sense. Also, by then other ships could have also come for the rescue.
That's ok Arun, wouldn't be a message board if we all didn't chime in with our two cents ;)

I understand what you mean. But its also on the passengers as well who at first didn't want to board the lifeboats, Like Emergency cutter No. 1, which left at 1am, only 12 people wanted to leave in that lifeboat. but 30 minutes later, lifeboats began to leave full and overflowing as the passengers began to know she didn't have long left above the Atlantic.

Captain Smith also ordered the lifeboats back to be filled from the lower gangways, but the seamen never came back. So I think we can begin to divide some of the blame here as well
 

Cam Houseman

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I suspect that it would be claimed that the ship hadn't actually hit a rock, Cam, but that it was in collision with an empty beer bottle which, by The Rules, had right of way. That the lookouts should have seen it glistening in the light of a star which had an amazing magnitude and was seen 22.7796666 degrees above the horizon.
Besides which, the master and his officers did not know how to fill the lifeboats and were all so blind drunk on Captain Morgan rum that they only imagined that they saw another vessel 10 miles away which was actually 47 miles away. Not only that, but the Apprentice couldn't find the matches to light the rocket fuses. :D:D:D:D
and don't forget Captain Morgan was in on a conspiracy about sinking the ship on purpose because the ship was damaged in a collision previously :eek:
 

Seumas

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That's ok Arun, wouldn't be a message board if we all didn't chime in with our two cents ;)

I understand what you mean. But its also on the passengers as well who at first didn't want to board the lifeboats, Like Emergency cutter No. 1, which left at 1am, only 12 people wanted to leave in that lifeboat. but 30 minutes later, lifeboats began to leave full and overflowing as the passengers began to know she didn't have long left above the Atlantic.

Captain Smith also ordered the lifeboats back to be filled from the lower gangways, but the seamen never came back. So I think we can begin to divide some of the blame here as well
Dr Paul Lee has looked into that one and came to the conclusion that it is likely a myth (i) that Smith ordered such a thing and (ii) that Alf Nichols and his men went below and never made it back topside.

Go just over half way down the page below and read the lengthy section entitled "The Disappearing Boatswain". I think you will find it deeply interesting and Dr Lee explains his reasoning in painstaking detail, provides helpful graphics and provides a source at every step:

 

Jim Currie

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and don't forget Captain Morgan was in on a conspiracy about sinking the ship on purpose because the ship was damaged in a collision previously :eek:
Kidding aside, Cam, if contributors to this thread cannot, or fail to accept the firm evidence from at least five (5) separate witnesses that Californian was showing a green side light in the direction of Titanic at the time a red one was seen from Titanic's decks , then they are hiding something. Because, unless the evidence for this can be disproved, there was most certainly a mystery vessel seen from the deck of Titanic and it was not the Californian.
All the rowing for miles...the incompetence of the master and or the crew is simply a substitute for a rebuttal of the red light evidence. Because, as is obvious to a blind sailor on a dark night, if that red light evidence cannot be explained, then all the long-winded nonsense about Californian being on Titanic's port bow is simply a collection of words designed to defend the indefensible.
Another childish ploy used as a decoy is the "If you can't name the mystery vessel it didn't exists" brigade.
The existence of an entity does not require a label in order for it to exist. However irrefutable evidence of its existence cannot be denied. ;)
 
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Seumas

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Alrighty

I trust Dr. Lee's research but I don't think we can 100% rule it out definitely rule it out
I have a feeling that once you've read "The Disappearing Boatswain" though, you will have ruled it out. ;)

He points out that the whole "the Bo'sun and six seaman went below to open gangway doors and got trapped" story actually doesn't make any sense when you consider the approximate time it was supposed to have taken place at and the level the water was at in relation to the gangway doors at the time.

So it is most likely yet another myth. I actually used to believe it was true myself.
 

Cam Houseman

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I have a feeling that once you've read "The Disappearing Boatswain" though, you will have ruled it out. ;)

He points out that the whole "the Bo'sun and six seaman went below to open gangway doors and got trapped" story actually doesn't make any sense when you consider the approximate time it was supposed to have taken place at and the level the water was at in relation to the gangway doors at the time.

So it is most likely yet another myth. I actually used to believe it was true myself.
Ok, but the gangway door was definitely opened during the sinking. Ken Marschall has noted the safety gate was drawn open, and in the open position, the door was in no visible area of Hull deformation, and the doors on the starboard side are shut and locked tightly.

They're even barely visible on the wreck
NOAA 2003

Starboard D-Deck Gangway Doors.JPG
 

Seumas

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Ok, but the gangway door was definitely opened during the sinking. Ken Marschall has noted the safety gate was drawn open, and in the open position, the door was in no visible area of Hull deformation, and the doors on the starboard side are shut and locked tightly.

They're even barely visible on the wreck
NOAA 2003

View attachment 76424
Dr Lee touches upon that and provides graphic to explain why this myth just isn't a runner. It's a good read, go through it, you'll enjoy it.

Regarding the open gangway door on the wreck:

"There are vertical buckles running vertically down the port side from C Deck downwards, below the forward expansion joint (and not too far from the doors), but not the starboard side - this may have a bearing on which gangway port opened, perhaps popping open the portside one open upon impact. With the bow down by the head, a growing list to port, and this "open" D deck door hinged on its forwardmost side, it would have easier to open this door than its couterparts; the door would swing freely open. But, of course, if any portion of the door was submerged, this would have hindered attempts to open it."
 
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Jim Currie

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Dr Lee touches upon that and provides graphic to explain why this myth just isn't a runner. It's a good read, go through it, you'll enjoy it.

Regarding the open gangway door on the wreck:

"There are vertical buckles running vertically down the port side from C Deck downwards, below the forward expansion joint (and not too far from the doors), but not the starboard side - this may have a bearing on which gangway port opened, perhaps popping open the portside one open upon impact. With the bow down by the head, a growing list to port, and this "open" D deck door hinged on its forwardmost side, it would have easier to open this door than its couterparts; the door would swing freely open. But, of course, if any portion of the door was submerged, this would have hindered attempts to open it."
Can you point me to this, Seamas?

A vertical buckle on the hull below C Deck suggests damage incurred due to a longitudinal bending moment...e.g....what's known as "hogging" .the bow hitting the sea bed first ... digging in then the rest, slowly settling onto the sea bed This would but the upper decks C, D and E in tension, and the lower decks in compression. Add to this a bulging outward force due to sea bed resistance and you have a recipe for side door failures. However, I would suspect the doors would simply spring but remain in situ.
 
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