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RMS Titanic in detail
Ships that may have stood still
Navigational Inconsistencies of the SS Californian
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[QUOTE="Jim Currie, post: 26786, member: 144215"] Hello Paul! "So the question to me is when did Lord find out about Stewart's latitude derived from Polaris?" That's a good question. The answer probably lies in what went on at change of the Watch when Groves took over charge of the ship from Stewart. At that time, Stewart would have worked up an 8pm DR position for Californian from his Polaris sights. It would be in his work book and perhaps on a 'chitty' on the chart desk for Lord to see. When handing over to Groves, he would give him the 8pm DR position, course, speed and latest compass error. The last was possibly checked earlier by a bearing amplitude of the setting sun. If there was any difference from the previous time the error was checked, Stewart would have adjusted the course accordingly. He would also draw Groves' attention to any special orders from Lord. Perhaps Groves would have seen these already in the Captains' night order book which would be in the chart room and which he would have to sign before coming on watch. We don't know exactly when Lord came on duty but there would be no reason for Stewart to specifically mention the Polaris sight. Lord would have enough confidence in his second in command to trust him to take every opportunity to verify the ship's position. If Lord did talk to Stewart before the latter went off watch, he (Lord) would not need to ask Stewart if he got a 'good fix' - that would be patently obvious due to the prevailing conditions. It must be clearly understood that it is only a very unsure master who goes about checking up on every move made by his juniors. Lord did not come into that category. He was a first class, confidant seaman who clearly was good at his job. However, his confidence was being rapidly eroded when he allegedly wrote this : "I sent my position to the Antillian and Titanic, this gives me 17 miles away, and you will see it was sent some hours before the disaster." 6-30pm When Lord gave Californian's 6-30 position to Antillian it was an hour later at 7-30 on the 14th. At 6-30pm, Titanic was probably 55 to 60 miles astern of her. In fact, at that time, Californian was close to 50 miles ENE of Titanic's CQD position. He also goes on: "April 15th about 6.30 a.m. gave my position to S.S. Virginian before I heard where the Titanic sunk, that also gave me 17 away." I don't know where this transcription came from but I suggest that it was either an 'anxious' mistake by Lord himself or originally read: 'April 14th about 7-30pm. I sent my 6-30pm position to Antillian and Titanic. before I heard where the Titanic sunk. April 15th about 6-30am gave my position to SS Virginian that also gave me 17 away.' The only '17' involved with the position given to Antillian and Titanic is the difference in latitude between the CQD position of 41-46N and Californian's DR latitude at 6-30 pm on the 14th 42-03N - 17 minutes. Completely irrelevant! Perhaps Lord got his 7-30pm and 6-30s mixed up? pm and am? What we do know from the Process verbal of the Mount Temple is that Californian was in radio contact with Virginian at 6am and with Birma 25 minutes later at 6-25am. I cannot find any record of a radio conversation with Virginian around that later time. "To me, I can't see why a man of Chief Officer Stewart's experience and diligence would not have taken some star sight or sights as it began to get dark. A ship heading about due west, it would make perfect sense to take a sight of Polaris for latitude. " I'm not sure what you mean there Paul. However, under normal circumstances, Stewart would have taken a set of star sights but these were not normal circumstances. The ship was entering a danger area - growlers would be the problem - very hard to see in the gloom. Stewart would not want to be off the bridge for any length of time. hence, he would take the best option - a quick, reliable shot of Polaris. The position I gave for Boston is a little offshore to the east of the port where Lord would pick up the pilot. To answer your question about Lord on the bridge. The captain is always in command - on or off the bridge. He would not 'take over ' from Groves but be there as an extra set of eyes. He would let Groves run the minute by minute hours of the 8 to 12 Watch. However, Groves would be in no doubt as to who was really in charge of the ship. When the ship came to rest after avoiding the ice, Lord would go into the Chart room and probably use the 8pm DR position worked by Stewart to determine the Dead Reckoning position of Californian when she stopped at that time. There is always a problem when professionals are questioned by lay people. Gaps are created when lay people interpret answers given by professionals. The fault, as I see it, lies with the professionals. Too often they take people for granted and assume that lay people have a clear mind-picture of what is being described. I do it myself all the time (Sam can vouch for that!) I describe something I have seen or done, assuming that the reader or listener can fill in those (irrelevant to me)gaps. A classic example is the assumption by lay people that when seafarers state the ship turned at 'The Corner', their ship was physically at 42N..47W In fact, they are merely stating that they turned when they thought they had reached the target turning point.... only with GPS can we now accurately aim for that turning point and be fairly sure we got there and did not pass it. Unfortunately too many people forget that although navigators were relatively good at mathematics, the ideal perfect mathematical solution rarely happened. The accuracy of their navigation instruments varied enormously as did the skill of those using them and the conditions under which they were used. Half a mile position accuracy was considered good. It follows that using mathematical exactitudes, while interesting, will not help to find answers but will merely turn up inaccuracies which create more questions. [/QUOTE]
I which year did the Titanic sail?