Rockets


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Nienke B

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what went wrong when they fired the rockets? i've once read something about the wrong rockets (wrong colour). Can someone tell me want exactly happened...?
thanks!
Nienke
 
Jul 9, 2000
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As far as I know, nothing went wrong with the rockets. They were the prescribed white socket rocets which were used to signal distress, and they worked just fine.

The arguement is over their being seen by the Californian and that ship, for whatever reason, did nothing about them.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 

Dan Cherry

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Dec 14, 1999
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Nienke,
I fully agree with Michael. For what it is worth, the only time I have ever heard any misgiving about the rockets was in that awful 1996 CBS miniseries. Capt. Smith, played by George C. Scott, looks up at the rocket and says something like, "They're WHITE! They're supposed to be RED, for distress!"
I don't know where the writers got their material for that show. There was a LOT of bad, made-up stuff in that mini-movie. More stuff than good, I recall.

Dan
 
N

Nienke B

Guest
i think it probably was that mini serie i saw then... 'cause that was what i was thinking of, red instead of white.
but i can't remember seeing cahterina zeta-jones in it... but ofcourse i'm a girl. if it would have been, i don't know... brad pitt. that would have been better.
Nienke
 

Haowei Shi

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Aug 25, 2010
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Hey guys!The last rocket is fired about 0145.It fade out atop the fore peek which is just above the water.I will show you the last rocket is fired.
tit_copy1.jpg



Haowei
FULL SPEED AHEAD!!!
 

Tommy

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Dec 16, 2001
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There was nothing wrong with the rockets colour - they were (and supposed to be) white, not red.

Nienke,
I fully agree with Michael. For what it is worth, the only time I have ever heard any misgiving about the rockets was in that awful 1996 CBS miniseries. Capt. Smith, played by George C. Scott, looks up at the rocket and says something like, "They're WHITE! They're supposed to be RED, for distress!"
I don't know where the writers got their material for that show. There was a LOT of bad, made-up stuff in that mini-movie. More stuff than good, I recall.

Dan

There was also a misgiving about the rockets in Titanic (1943).
 

Scott Mills

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Jul 10, 2008
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As far as I know, nothing went wrong with the rockets. They were the prescribed white socket rocets which were used to signal distress, and they worked just fine.

The arguement is over their being seen by the Californian and that ship, for whatever reason, did nothing about them.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart

Michael,

To be fair, at least given crew testimony, they were not being fired at the correct intervals (a minute I think), but yes I agree.

Re: rocket color

Colored rockets were found in the debris field recently validating passenger accounts of colored rockets (blue at the very minimum) also being fired, which refutes officer testimony. Given this I also find it interesting that Californian witnesses saw no colored rockets, but those who claimed to see rockets from Mt. Temple did report multiple colors in addition to white being used.

But that last bit is a digression. :D
 

Dave Gittins

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Mar 16, 2000
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The one minute rule applied only to sound signals. The rule on visual signals was vague. What are "short intervals"?

I'm not convinced that the signals seen on the bottom are multi-coloured. There was no earthly reason to have such signals. The colours on them could be anything from corrosion to marine growth. I can't see any kind of labelling lasting 100 years. I hope somebody fishes them up.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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In a 2012 National Geographic special with James Cameron, definitive statements were made by Don Lynch and Parks Stephenson that the distress signals sent up from Titanic were colored. Words like "they went up white and burst into colored balls" was stated, and that a box of signals found at the wreck in 2004 show unfired signals that have a viewing port cut out in the nose cones to let you see the color of the balls that would be thrown out. Recently, on a Facebook page, Parks admitted that the box of signals seen in the broadcast was color enhanced by the NatGeo art team for the TV audience.

After doing some considerable research, and gaining access to a set of high quality, un-enhanced photos of the box of signals from the 2004 dive, I cannot support the definitive conclusions stated in the broadcast that the Cotton Powder Co. supplied socket distress signals that threw bright colored balls of various colors, and that they had viewing ports on the signal to allow one to see the color of the balls that were inside. My research and findings - which includes details about these socket distress signals, such as their construction and how they were fired, as well as verbatim statements from eyewitnesses who said they saw colors in the falling stars as well as those that said they were white - are documented in a 16 page paper that can be accessed on my website at: http://www.titanicology.com/Californian/WhatColorWereThey.pdf.
 

Jim Currie

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Short intervals are that... short. Not long intervals.

When a ship is in distress, there may be plenty of people on board who can take care of all the vexing things that happen during a distress. Ships which have few crew will invariably find that each crew member has a multi-function role to play.

In the first vessel, an individual or individuals can be dedicated to letting off distress signals and utilising other visual signals to attract attention. In the second, a man might let off a rocket, then go and operate the light signal, then blow the whistle while at the same time direct others or help others nearby.

In every instance, a sound or sight signal is to attract attention then to keep that attention until rescue is achieved.
To keep the attention of observers, you must ensure that they don't get bored. I would say that if I saw a signal of any colour at night, I would be mildly curious. I would watch for a while. Depending on my attention ability, I might keep watching for 5 minutes. But I cannot think what would make me keep watching much longer than that.
However, if I saw a signal with a specific meaning, then I would keep watching. i.e. red is distress. I would keep watching for more red signals.
The regulations of the day specified signals of any colour sent up at short intervals. 5 or 6 minutes is not by any means a short interval. Think about how you'd feel if it took 6 minutes for your computer or phone to respond.

Titanic was a ship with 3 people dedicated to attracting attention; 2 QMs and a navigating officer. She had two signal lights as well as the rockets.
They should have sent up at least 16 rockets in the time available.. 48 minutes. So many rockets in that intervals, no matter what colour, would have banished doubt from the minds of observers.

I know there is no laid-down interval for 'short' but common sense tells us that 6 minutes is not a short interval. Boxhall and Smith fouled-up in that department. There was no excuse for them not yelling HELP big-time with a fireworks display to end all fireworks displays.

Distress signals are signals used to convey distress.

It is significant that neither Boxhall or Stone of the Californian had ever seen a distress rocket fired.
It is equally significant that the rules were changed after the Titanic affair. How many ships had fired distress rockets before then? What would have been done with the distress signal regulations if the particular Titanic circumstances had not happened?

Jim C.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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>>Short intervals are that... short.<<

Unfortunately, to this very day "short" is not defined. But whatever those in charge of sending them up viewed as being short, Stone saw a series of these signals going up at intervals (which he thought to be about 3 or 4 minutes) but left it for Capt. Lord to decide what they were. Lord remained below and left it for Stone to decide what was going on, and so no action was taken other than trying to communicate with the vessel by Morse lamp. Stone said he saw 5 go up in about 25 minutes time (which agrees more with Boxhall's estimate that he fired them at 5-6 minute intervals - which Boxhall and Smith obviously viewed as short enough), and Lord said he was told only about one rocket being seen. And that to me is the real problem if what Lord said was true, not the precise intervals that they were fired. Stone had no illusions about these signals being anything other than there was something not right about the vessel. It's really a sad story about poor communications and reluctance by the OOW to take a real initiative in my opinion.
 

Scott Mills

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Sam,

Thanks for the link. Fascinating stuff. I am still, however, inclined to believe that rockets of multiple colors were fired.

You suggest that the perception of color might be an artifact of the initial burst. My problem with this is that it requires these witnesses to be staring directly at the rockets as they detonated, and then immediately ceasing to pay attention to them.

I find this scenario unlikely. Indeed, I also find it unlikely that most of the people who say these rockets was just standing around watching them.

My suspicion would be that the color of the rockets would be noticed by way of incidental observation while performing some other task, or by the color the rockets threw on the deck. As you point out, detonation completely illuminated the deck, and I would expect partial illumination to continue until the balls extinguished, or fell below the boat deck. During that time any illumination would match the color of the stars.

As for the box of lights, I tend to agree with what you've written here in as much as we cannot be sure of the color(s). The only real solution is to retrieve those rockets from the wreck.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Scott,

I tend to agree that most people would not necessarily be staring directly at the burst, but would tend more to notice the stars as they were falling downwards if they bothered to looked up. But as I have discovered elsewhere, even white stars when they flame out tend to show various colors, and I believe that is what most of the people who said they saw colors remembered seeing, being so close to these exploding shells. But that is not the same as saying that each signal was designed to throw stars of a particular color. Boxhall, who was in charge of firing these signals and fired several himself, was very clear as to what they looked like to him from deck of the ship. He was asked about these and was very specific as to how they looked to him when they went off, that they threw out bright white balls as he called it, and then they "burst." From afar, the initial flash of signal and the bright white stars that broke out would be seen.

I would like to see evidence that signals of particular colors were supplied as distress signals to steamships at that time, and that the color of the signal could be seen in a viewing port on the signal itself as claimed in the broadcast. Nothing of the sort was ever mentioned in period advertisements or articles. Nor was anything of the sort mentioned by those such as Boxhall or Lightoller who provided details about these signals. In fact, just the opposite. As Boxhall said, Titanic was supplied by "standard distress signals," and that it was private night signals that were "colored as a rule."

It has been stated elsewhere that witnesses who insisted that Titanic broke in two were dismissed as unreliable before the wreck was found in 1985, and that we should not dismiss witnesses who said they saw colors in light of new evidence discovered. Yet, the eyewitnesses who paid particular attention to the distress signals being sent up from Titanic, both near and far, and insisted that those signals threw stars that were principally white in color, are now being dismissed based on what appears to be someone's faulty interpretation of what is seen in this box. Think about it. Does those tips that show almost black mean that the signal threw stars that were black?

Anyway, people are obviously free to form their own opinions. I believe it is job of the researcher to offer the evidence and present the arguments.
 
Mar 18, 2008
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Sam, a very interesting read (and also the images)!
What I find now interesting is how many rockets were really fired. We know Californian saw 8 but what if they missed a few? Lightoller also mentioned 8 but Lightoller also said many other things which were not true and were he was contradicted by other survivors. However, taking that box, we see 11 rockets missing. Assuming that the box in the debris field have the same contend when it went down this would indicate that 11 were fired.
 

Scott Mills

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Sam,

I agree with by in large. My only hesitation is that the witnesses who claimed to see colored rockets were just as firm in their recollections as Boxhall was in his.

I also think we should take some things into consideration vis-a-vis Californian. I, at least, am unsure about the position of Californian as related to the position of Titanic that night.

I am not saying Californian did not see Titanic's rockets, but some things bother me.

First, the number of rockets seen by Californian that night seem to be too few. Second, the position of the rockets "half-way up the mast" of the ship Californian saw. Third the failure of either Californian or Titanic to reach each other by morse lamp. Lastly, the color of the rockets seen on Californian.

I am willing to concede that your explanation for the apparent color of the rockets reported by witnesses is absolutely reasonable; that said, the falling stars did appear to be colored whether intentionally so or no.

It seems that this effect would be more pronounced at a distance resulting in either misidentification of color or, more likely, a twinkling effect which would make the observed color unstable.
 
Hey guys!The last rocket is fired about 0145.It fade out atop the fore peek which is just above the water.I will show you the last rocket is fired.

tit_copy1.jpg



Haowei
FULL SPEED AHEAD!!!

Haowei, I am sorry to tell you that this painting by Ken Marshall is showing the ship at 12:30 - 12:45. That is why none of the lifeboats were lowered yet.
Hope it helps.
 

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