Rowe spotting a lifeboat


James Penca

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I am compiling a time line and something doesnt add up.

Rowe says he saw a lifeboat in the water at about 12:25. He called the bridge and was ordered to get the rockets by Boxhall.

The first rocket was fired at 12:45

However, the first lifeboat (7) was lowered at 12 45 as well.

How could he have seen a lifeboat (which he thought was 15 or 13) if they werent even launched yet?
 
Dec 4, 2000
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James, you have run into the problem created by changing the time as the ship steamed westward. Each day for the ship was longer than 24 hours by the amount of westward movement. On Sunday, April 14, the "day" was to be 24 hours plus an extra 47 minutes. Those extra minutes were to be split between the Starboard and Port Watches.

According to both Lightoller and the rules governing timekeeping, all of the extra minutes had to be served and the clocks set back the full 47 minutes at midnight. Most people are unaware that "midnight" has a specific horological meaning. It is the moment when today becomes tomorrow.

On Titanic, Midnight should have occurred at 2447 hours of Sunday, April 14th, which would have been the same as 0000 hours of Monday, April 15th. Note that I have used the 24-hour system of timekeeping for clarity. And, that Sunday was not 24 hours long like a normal day on shore, but that plus the extra 47 minutes caused by the ship's westward passage for a total length of day of 24 hours and 47 minutes.

To split the crew's extra 47 minutes of time meant one Watch had to serve 23 extra and the other 24 extra minutes. In my reckoning I give the Starboard Watch (on duty at the time of the accident) the 24 extra minutes.

Despite the specific definition of midnight, the crew also used the term colloquially to mean the time of their change of watch. We know that April 15th had to begin at 2447 hours April 14th. Subtracting the 23 minutes not yet served by the off-duty Port Watch makes the time of the crew's "midnight" change of watch 2424 hours in April 14th time.

Personal timepieces were still expensive and not rugged enough for a typical sailor's life in 1912. So, ship's bells were still used to mark the passage of each watch. Each strike of the bell marks a half hour. Two quick strikes mark each passing hour. The key thing is that eight bells always marks the end of one watch and the start of another. So, for Titanic's crew 8 bells that night should have struck at 2424 hours.

The time most important to Rowe as he paced the cold and windy poop deck was 8 bells or crew midnight (2424 hours April 14th) when he could go below and to his warm bunk. So, it appears he set his personal timepiece back 24 minutes to match crew time. That way, when his timepiece said 12 o'clock, it would have been 2424 hours and time for his relief, quartermaster Bright, to take the deck.

We know the accident took place 20 minutes prior to change of watch. The famous 11:40 o'clock was not in true April 14th ship's time, but crew time set back 24 minutes. If we add back those minutes, we get the time of impact as 2404 hours April 14th.

Rowe's timepiece, of course, said 11:40 o'clock as the ship struck. Twenty minutes later his personal timepiece said 12 o'clock and 8 bells sounded. Bright took the deck, but Rowe stayed on the poop deck talking about the unusual events of the night. About 12:25 o'clock on Rowe's timepiece the two men saw boat #7 in the water.

Nobody stood on the boat deck with a stopwatch and clipboard to check of lifeboat launching times. However, there is general consensus that boat #7, the first launched, was lowered about 2450 hours in April 14th time. If we add back the 24 minutes by which Rowe and the crew's time were retarded, we get the launch time of #7 in April 14th shp's time per the quartermaster's timpiece:

12:25 (Rowe) + 24 extra minutes = 12:49 o'clock April 14.

So, Rowe got the time as close to perfect as he could have on a dark deck that freezing cold night. Here's a table showing how it worked:

Impact on Berg: 2404 April 14th = 11:40 o'clock Crew & Rowe
Change of Watch: 2424 April 14th = “midnight”￾ Crew & Rowe
Boat #7 Launched: 2450 April 14th = 12:24 o'clock Crew & Rowe

We can now solve one other mystery, that of quartermaster Hichens saying he stayed on duty until 12:23 o'clock. Note that the crew's watch change took place just then. It was and still is standard for the man coming on duty to relieve the man he's replacing about a minute early. So, Hichens was correct. He was relieved at 2423 hours April 14th right on schedule at crew “midnight.”￾

— David G. Brown
 

James Penca

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David,

You are a true historian. I know a lot about the Titanic but you were a huge help. Just a few questions.

Why is it the "starboard" and "port" watches? Why were they split in that way? Because surely both sides of the ship were watched!
happy.gif

What bell would be struck? The crownest bell? the bridge bell?
If the iceberg really struck at 2404, then when I pause to remember the Titanic at 11:40pm every year on April 14th, I am actually way off, correct? Actually, I live in Ohio, so I am WAY off. How could I determine the time of night on the east coast? I want to be able to mark exactly 100 years this coming April!

So from a passengers perspective: a passenger would go to bed at 10PM, and at 12:04AM the iceberg would hit. They would run out into the lounge and the clock would still read 12:04AM because the clocks would not be set back until 12:47AM. Then this passenger would hear 8 bells ring at 12:24AM. Assuming that things were not too hectic, at 12:47AM, a steward or someone would walk by and set the time back at 12:00AM on April 15th.

So when reading the inquiry papers, do we just have to assume what time they are referring?

And am I right in saying that if the clocks were set back as they should have been, Lifeboat 7 was launched at roughly 12:03 of the new day of April 15th?

If that is true, then did the titanic sink at 2:20am or 2:20 according to the crews inaccurate timepieces?

Sorry for all the questions. This is a part of the disaster I had only briefly read about. And being that I am trying to compile a collection of time lines (one for each interviewed witness)I need to know what times they are referring!
 
Dec 4, 2000
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James --

Good luck with your timeline. My has been "under construction" for a decade and is still being revised. Also, thanks for the kind words although I fear not everyone agrees with you about my skills as an historian.

The terms "Port Watch" and "Starboard Watch" go back to antiquity during the age of sail. When possible, the men of the Port Watch were quartered on the port side, etc.

There is an echo of the past in the locations of the officer cabins in Titanic. If we ignore the Captain for the moment, all of the officers were quartered on the port side of the deck house behind the bridge. The lone exception to this rule was the 4th officer -- who was in charge of the Starboard Watch. His cabin is on the starboard side.

Captain Smith's cabin is also on the starboard side, but for a different reason. After the adoption of the Rules of the Road it became necessary for steamboats to "give way" to vessels crossing from the starboard side. Officers began standing watch on the starboard side of the bridge for that reason, and tradition put the master's cabin to starboard.

As far as commemorating the time of the accident, look toward Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). Impact took place at 0302 hours GMT. Eastern Standard Time is 5 hours behind, so that works out to 2002 hours EST (10:02 p.m. o'clock).

Traditionally, the sounding of the ship's bells for timekeeping initiated on the quarter deck and then later the bridge. The lookouts would "echo" the strike as proof they were still awake. A bow lookout might also "echo" the strike for the same reason, and to make the strike audible to men in the forecastle where the crew was quartered.

Passengers probably only heard the strikes of ship's bells by accident. The time kept by the crew was of no significance to the guests. As designed, Titanic contained two master clocks even though only one was necessary. This suggests the ship was "zoned" into "passenger time" and "crew time." During most of the day both "zones" would have enjoyed the same time of day. Differences would have arisen only during the period of time change when the extra minutes were shared by the two crew Watches.

To my eye, the preponderance of evidence is that one of the two master clocks was not operational during the maiden voyage. Safety and company rules specified that clocks in the engine room show the same time as those on the bridge. This would have required the one operational master clock to be set to crew time -- admittedly a confusion to passengers. But, that would explain why most passengers did record the time of impact at 11:40 p.m. just as did the crew.

Each of the 47 clock dials aboard ship was not reset manually. All were reset from the master clocks maintained in the officer's chartroom on the bridge.

Times contained within the two testimonies are seldom, if ever, given a reference. This allows lots of confusions to develop. In doing my timelne (contained on this website) I found it helpful to convert times to GMT and then put them into chronological order. In most cases, there is no hard-and-fast time for events. So, you have to organize a chronology and that will tell you GMT from which the o'clock time can be imputed.

As to April 15th time....err...it never really existed aboard Titanic. So, the times of events like lifeboat launchings are properly left in April 14th hours. Of course, this raises the problem of expressing time in the o'clock fashion. That's why I favor the 24 hour system. It avoids ambiguities.

The 2:20 a.m. time of the sinking fits best in straight April 14th ship's time. This famous time seems to mark when the stern section went dark and disappeared into the darkness. There are some times taken from stopped pocket timepieces that indicate their owners did not get wet until 2:25 a.m. April 14th time, so the stern may have floated a bit longer in the darkness than people in lifeboats could observe.

The one exception to this rule is stewardess Annie Robinson. She had set her timepiece to April 15th time before retiring for the night. Robinson said her timepiece showed 1:40 a.m. in April 15th time, which corresponds to 2:27 a.m. in April 14th hours.

If you accept 2:20 o'clock (2620 hours) in April 145h time, then the ship floated for 2 hours 16 minutes after impact. The stopped pocket timepieces of Austin Partner and Wallace Hartley indicate a floating time of 2 hours 21 minutes. And, Robinson's time gives 2 hours 23 minutes. Take your pick.

-- David G. Brown
 

Senan Molony

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The first rocket was not fired at 12.45. There are no good grounds for believing that - see Research Articles on this subject and site. Rockets were fired much earlier by study of the empirical evidence.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Senan --

Re: rockets, I'm not sure. Nobody logged the time. However, the earlier time for a first pyro makes best operational sense. A sinking ship cannot call for help too early!

We know from their testimony that Rowe and Bright went forward with signals after seeing boat #7 in the water and calling the bridge. This says nothing about when the first signals were fired, however, as there should have been a ready stock forward as well.

Checking my timeline, however, I place the first pyrotechnics about 12:30 crew time. This was about 2455 hours April 14th time. The interim between when Rowe saw boat #7 and the first rocket would have been just long enough to walk forward with the "detonators."

-- David G. Brown
 

Senan Molony

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Exactly, David. A ship in sinking condition fires rockets immediately that is realised (in this case midnight) - whether any other ship is in view or not.

There wasn't another in view at this point, as testified by the lookouts. But any vessel over the horizon would see them, as was intended with rocket ascension into the sky.

We know Boxhall had been firing rockets before he instructed quartermasters Bright and Rowe to bring further rockets to the fore bridge.

The old and BAD assumption was that the first rocket was simultaneous with the first boat launch, falsely put at 12.45am.

Therefore if Rowe first saw a boat in the water and reported it, then this was the time of his call. No earlier than 12.45am by this level of facile reasoning.

Boxhall, we know, at the end of this telephone call, asks Rowe to bring more rockets to the bridge. Why would he ask for more at 12.45am, by this way of thinking, if only one had been fired, and, as you say, there were plenty forward? As there were indeed.

Here's what Boxhall testifies, after he goes back onto the bridge following his post-impact inspections:

15387. Did you see the light [of the Mystery Ship]?–Yes, I saw…
15388. But before I saw this light I went to the chart-room and worked out the ships position.
15391. …I submitted the position to the Captain first…
15392. And then you saw this light? – Yes…
15393. Could you see it distinctly with the naked eye? – No, I could see the light with the naked eye... by the aid of a pair of glasses I found it was the two masthead lights of a vessel... she was too far off then.
15394. Could you see how far off she was? – No, I could not see, but I had sent in the meantime for some rockets...

He "told the Captain I had sent for some rockets, and told him I would send them off, and [implies NEXT] told him when I saw this light. He said, “Yes, carry on with it.” I was sending rockets off and watching this steamer. Between the time of [solo] sending the rockets off and watching the steamer approach us I was making myself generally useful round the port side of the deck. [No mention of telephone call from aft yet!]
15395. How many rockets did you send up about? – I could not say, between half a dozen and a dozen, I should say, as near as I could tell.

Boxhall is clearly talking of himself alone, and only in the timeframe of the approach of the mystery ship!
He later confirms, six questions later, that ‘this is all with the aid of a pair of glasses up to now,’ when seeking to define the mystery ship, when she is approaching and before she has stopped.
‘Up to now’ shows the timeframe of his answer about this early tranche of rockets. It was during the approach of that vessel. Before any phone call.

The answer at 15395 has constantly been taken out of context, yet all the questions before are about what he personally did... such as visit the Captain and Marconi room. Rowe and Bright were not with him then. There was no ‘we’ or ‘they.’

His US evidence confirms this situation:

Boxhall (US): Yes, sir. I had been firing off rockets before I saw her side lights. I fired off the rockets and then she got so close. I could see her sidelights.
(US p.910)

Boxhall clearly fired more rockets in the remainder of his service aboard, but the number of these additional rockets was never teased out. But other witnesses referred to ‘plenty’ (Crawford), and said they were going off ‘incessantly’ (Lowe)and ‘simultaneously’ (Symons).

Boxhall said (Q. 15420): – I was sending the rockets up right to the very last minute when I was sent away in the boat. [ascribed by the BR to 1.45am, rightly or wrongly.]

Boxhall said at Q. 15592. ‘The only order I heard was clearing the boats, and then I was employed the greater part of my time with these rockets on the bridge.’

The clearing the boats order was given at midnight, according to widespread evidence. I will not bother to cite any. But Boxhall is thereafter immediately busy with rockets.

12.45 is wrong for the first rocket. But this time is used - utterly stupidly - also because it happens to chime with Stone on the Californian seeing his first flash at 12.45am by his ship's time. But this is not the same as Titanic time. So much for child-like assumptions...

Five minutes go by, and Stone sees another. He then rings Lord "immediately" - and it is 12.50am. Ten to one. By *his ship's time.*

Californian time was 1h50 advanced on New York. Titanic time was given by her officers in evidence as 1h33 in advance. Difference between the two ships, 17 minutes. Subtract this from Californian time for Titanic time.

At 12.55 Californian time, Titanic has fired five rockets that were seen, meaning that at least five rockets had been fired by her by 12.38am her time.

This is the situation, and I would submit that is plainly expounded. Titanic has to fire distress rockets as soon as she realises she is in distress!

Why be a complete dummy and wait 45 minutes, or even half an hour?
 
Dec 2, 2000
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The problem with establishing the time that anything happened is due in no small part to the fact that passengers and crew, and often the crew themselves, appear not to have been on the same page. Whatever you think of Captain David's work or those of his esteemed opponants, I think they've been very effective at proving that much even if nobody can possibly agree on the details.

Whether or not anybody bothered to log the times that any of the rockets were fired as well as when each boat was sent away is anybody's guess.

I would think that with the ship sinking in freezing water, the crew would have had more important concerns then writing entries into a logbook which probably wouldn't survive and in fact didn't survive.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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I think Senan has started what deserves to be a new discussion thread.

Right off the top, I suspect his parsing of Boxhall's testimony is generally accurate. And, if so, we have to agree that pyro was used prior to Rowe's alleged phone call. That said, I'll reserve judgement as to when the first rocket was fired and how many were expended.

There is no reason to pin the time of the first rocket on Rowe's phone call. It is probable that more pyro was stored aft than forward. I understand this was to facilitate testing of the signals without risking passenger inconvenience. Third class could be cleared off their upper decks without bothering first or second class passengers. I am certain, however, that paragraph 42 of the IMM/White Star rulebook gives permission to test signals if requested by government officials. That same rule requires passengers be ordered "from the deck to their rooms below before such trial is made."

So, if Boxhall did begin firing rockets earlier...and if the bridge supply was less than that carried aft...then it would have been logical for him to request more be sent forward. One question I have is which way did the phone call originate. We know Rowe said he called the bridge, but that would have been highly irregular. The phones were reserved for the bridge to call the ratings, not the reverse. So, could it be that Boxhall called for more "detonators" when he began running low?

I did some quick checking of the time meridians for the two ships. Titanics was 50 30 West, which is the meridian where the crew's "midnight" change of watch should have taken place.

Californians is for 47 30 West. That's 135.2 miles east of Titanic's time meridian. At 11 knots, the ship would have taken 10 hours and about 15 minutes to reach 50 02 West, which is about where my computations say Titanic struck the berg. If so, this is proof that Californian stopped in the ice at 10:20 o'clock its time just north of where Titanic later came to grief.

All of this is a roundabout way of saying that the navigational data generally confirms the time difference of 17 minutes between Titanic and Californian as specified by Senan.

Senan, I look forward to more from you on this subject.

-------------

In a way I really toungled my tang when I said a ship in distress can't fire pryo too early. It most certainly can. The rule of thumb is to conserve your limited supply of signals until you have a potential rescue vessel (or, today, aircraft) in sight. Then let 'er rip.

Firing rockets with no other vessel in sight is probably a total waste of time and valuable distress signals. Chances are that no one will see your pyro if the horizon is empty.

Boxhall did not have the authority to launch pyro. Only the captain had that. Most likely, Boxhall was given an open-ended order to fire when he saw anything that might be construed as a rescue vessel. If this standard maritime practice was followed, it would confirm Senan's version of events as preparations for launching the boats got started.

Keep in mind that speculation even when based on solid reasoning is still speculation. It proves nothing by itself. All I am saying is that Senan's version of events follows more closely the ordinary practice of seamen than does the conventional wisdom on this subject.

-- David G. Brown

[Moderator's note: This message was originally posted to a different thread. MAB]
 

Jim Currie

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What about this lads!

If Boxhall fired 12 at 5 minute intervals then he was firing them for about an hour. The other vessel probably covered about 13 miles between the time Boxhall first saw her until she turned away. That too points to about 12 rockets. Now the trick is to work back from when Boxhall finished firing them.
If Boxhall left the ship half an hour before she sank and stopped sending up rockets 20 minutes before that then he first stated firing rockets an hour and 50 minutes before Titanic went down. If time of sinking was 02-20pm on a partially retarded clock, it would mean that in fact, Boxhall sent for those rockets at 12:30am bridge time...10 57 NY time.. 32 minutes after the CQD was sent out. QM Rowe said it was 12:25am!

JC
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Senan -- I'm not going to compare your proposal here against my timeline. This is to avoid arueging over fly specks in the pepper. I think the overall idea of earlier pyro is correct. And, I'm also of the opinion that more pyro was fired than conventional wisdom claims. Your concept (above) really only works if the ship did fire more so-called "rockets" than is thought.

Maybe I'm leaving too many details in the dark, but overall I have to agree.

-- David G. Brown
 

Senan Molony

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Boxhall
15592. – The only order I heard was clearing the boats, and then I was employed the greater part of my time with these rockets...

The very next question confirms that the clearing of the boats order came about midnight:

15593. Except the order for clearing the boats, which came very early in the proceedings? – Boxhall - Yes.

(We don't know whether he paused here, but he next goes on): I knew one of the boats had gone away, because I happened to be putting the firing lanyard inside the well-house after sending off a rocket, and the telephone bell rang. Somebody telephoned to say that one of the starboard boats had left the ship..."

The telephone rang after he fired "a" rocket. The use of the singular does not mean "the first rocket." Quite the contrary, it means "yet another rocket to those I had fired before!"

If it had been Boxhall's first rocket, it is abundantly likely that he would have said that the telephone rang "after I had fired my first rocket."

Not so.

I have argued for over two decades that Titanic fired possibly multiples of the "eight rockets" lazily claimed as a result of the British Inquiry fix, which was specifically designed to skewer the Californian's seeing of only eight rockets and to make that linkage as part of a series of arranged "coincidences." This was a Grand Deception.

I say such things over and over and over again until free-thinkers like David G. Brown begin to listen and accept such intrinsic truths as this - that eight rockets seen does not necessarily mean eight rockets fired.

There is another obvious point. Three men with an individual box of rockets each can fire a helluva lot of rockets.

Lightoller lied in his evidence. He did it pathologically, as part of a strategy he subsequently admitted, and he did it here too.

Lights claimed eight rockets were fired in order to help fix the Californian with blame in a subsidiary blackwash to his (and others') whitewash of White Star. He was enabled to do this because Californian witnesses were made to give evidence before he did. All he had to do was dovetail his claimed number to what they had seen.

Let's be honest. Lightoller was frantically busy on the port side all evening ("Hello, Lights, aren't you warm?"). He was not looking up into the sky, dreamily counting rockets. He could not supply a total and should have said so. It was background noise. But he did supply a specific total, and he did it for a REASON.

He thus deliberately contradicted many crew who spoke of a spectacular fireworks show from the sinking ship as many passengers did. The corpus of their accounts - of many rockets fired - represents the actual truth, despite the "official" truth.

Why is there no finding as to the number of rockets fired by the US Inquiry? Answer: Because that inquiry was not working to any particular agenda through this question...

If Californian, despite seeing what are acknowledged as low-lying pyros from Titanic in 1912, did not see ALL that were fired, but just SOME, then there are obvious implications...

But I will confine myself to one other obvious point, should anyone else wish to free themselves from the only-eight-fired straitjacket (while even fixer Mersey chose to say 'about eight' - very cunning, and does not rule out more).

It is this.

Why economise on rockets over two golden working hours when a ten million dollar liner is sinking?

S
 

Senan Molony

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>>One question I have is which way did the phone call originate.<<

QM Bright (who was on the poop with Rowe) corroborates that Rowe rang forward. All three parties, including Boxhall, say this. Nobody contradicts.

>>We know Rowe said he called the bridge, but that would have been highly irregular. The phones were reserved for the bridge to call the ratings, not the reverse.<<

Exactly!

But this helps us see the point... and the reality...

Rowe (with the connivance of Bright) rang forward because they had seen **plenty of rockets** and were alarmed.

They were one-sixth of a mile away and wanted to know what was going on.

Seeing a boat in the water, by reporting it, gave them a golden chance to get the hell off the poop!

I am sorry to constantly say the most perfectly ordinary things, but this exactly parallels what the relief lookout, Hogg and Evans, did after midnight.

They wanted to get out of being stuck, too, except they were marooned in the crow's nest, this time forward of the bridge.

Hogg (US evidence):
"We stopped about 20 minutes, and lifted up the back cover of the nest, the weather cover, and
I saw people running about with life belts on.
"I went to the telephone then, to try to ring up on the bridge and ask whether I was wanted in
the nest, when I saw this. I could get no answer on the telephone..."

Eventually the lads got down. But Rowe and Bright used a lifeboat in the water (after seeing a plurality of rockets) as an excuse to remind the bridge not to forget about them.

Think about it.

A lifeboat in the water will have been authorised by central command (on the bridge), particularly if it is full... It has not fallen off the ship.

Centre does not have to be told by the periphery about the effect of its own decision-making.

Mention of the lifeboat (which causes Boxhall to shrug, knowing the situation - and which proves the pointlessness of this pretext) is not the motivating purpose of the call...

So what spooks the two boys?

A number of rockets going up, and before they have an excuse to make themselves available for release from their isolation, just like Hogg and Evans.

Hence those who unthinkingly believe nonsense about no rocket fired before 12.45am are exactly that - unthinking.
 

Jim Currie

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>>We know Rowe said he called the bridge, but that would have been highly irregular. The phones were reserved for the bridge to call the ratings, not the reverse.<<

Not true! The docking bridge phone was for communications between the bridge and the stern during docking operations. It was a two way communication system. When used at sea, as it was on Titanic, it would be the QM on 'stern lookout' who would advise the bridge of anything untoward happening. Normally those on the bridge would be looking ahead... not astern.

<hence>those who unthinkingly believe nonsense about no rocket fired before 12.45am are exactly that - unthinking.>

But they do think Senan! However their thoughts are clouded by three fixed ideas:

The bridge (Watch) clocks had not been set back.
The ship seen by Boxhall and others was stopped.
Titanic was turned north during the iceberg
avoidance action.

As long as their thought processes are so entrenched, we can argue until the cows come home.

As I see it; they have tried to fill-in gaps in the available witness statements. Being unable to imagine shipboard practices, they immediately thought 'conspiracy' and set about proving it.In doing so, they have discarded
Boxhall and Stone's moving ships stories. Boxhall and Lightoller's 1hr 33m. time difference.
Hitchens' evidence of a single emergency helm order and most blatant of all:
the evidence of the lookouts Fleet,Lee,Hogg and Evans.
The first two: that they did not see any vessels before impact and that they were relieved on time at 12 midnight and..
the second two; that they relieved Fleet and Lee on time at midnight and stayed up in the Crow's Nest for another 20 minute and witnessed people on the boat deck wearing lifejackets..40 minutes after impact! This is where they fall short with their arguments...... 12 midnight to these guys would be adjusted time..most certainly not 14th April time.

As for Rowe's evidence concerning rockets: he said he phoned at 12-25am.. 45 minutes after impact. He does not mention seeing a rocket. Boxhall said he started firing rockets after he had been to the radio room. We know that would be some time after 11:58pm. So there is an interval of 27 minutes during which a maximum of 5 rockets might have been fired. However, Hogg and Evans, who were up in the Crow's Nest for 20 of these minutes, did not report seeing any distress rockets.. just people on the boat deck with life jackets.
An excellent indication as to when the first rocket was fired comes from the book of Lawrence Beesely who wrote: "I was now on the starboard side of the top boat deck; the time about 12.20."
By Beesely's reckoning, this was about 45 minutes after impact . He was watching boats 9.11.13 & 15 being prepared. Shortly after that - 12:30am? .. "Suddenly a rush of light from the forward deck, a hissing roar that made us all turn from watching the boats, and a rocket leapt upwards..." This was the first rocket and it fits perfectly with Rowe's evidence. Years later,Rowe said it took him and the other QM about 10 minutes to bring the boxes of rocket forward. That would be about right. He would have to go to the rocket locker, open it and take out the rocket boxes... say 5 minutes? Time 12:30am at that moment Boxhall fired his first rocket. Ten (10) minutes later, the two QMs would arrive at the bridge.. at about 12-40am. By then, Boxhall would have fired at least 2 rockets.
Lowe said he stopped firing rockets 45 minutes later,at about 1:25. At 1 rocket every 5 minutes, a total of 11 or 12 rockets were fired between 12:30am and 01:30am.
This fits perfectly with the timing from when Boxhall first saw the approaching ship and when it stopped and turned away from Titanic.

As a matter of interest, the ship times on board Californian when this was happening were:
1st Rocket...12:47am.
Last Rocket..01:47am.
2nd Officer Stone of Californian said he saw his first rocket at 12:45am and the last one at 1:40am. If these rockets were fired at 5 minute intervals then Stone should have seen 10 rockets.. not 8 of them. However, Rowe's evidence and Stone's timing between 1st and last rockets suggest as many as 12 were fired. Now look at the evidence of Californian's Apprentice James Gibson:
He stated that Stone saw the 5 rockets during the 20 minutes, he, Gibson was off the bridge... from 12:35am to 12:55am. Obviously Gibson and Stone had different times. However they both agreed on a total of 8 rockets.. There are up to 4 rockets missing from the total fired.

JC
 

Senan Molony

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Your irony will be missed by those at whom it is directed, Jim.

I like Beesley. This science master shut himself up in a room on landfall and wrote an instant book. He was not influenced in any way. Judging from his letter to The Times, he started writing detailed notes on the Carpathia.

Beesley wrote chronologically. Leaving aside questions as to the reliability of individual timekeeping, Beesley said his boat was in the water at 12.45am. He says this in two places.

His boat was No. 13. Several lifeboats had gone before.

Look at what is said about lifeboat 13 -

"Mr Beesley had left the steamer in the same boat that I had… The statement of facts by Mr Beesley coincides exactly with my observations." - Washington Dodge.

Lookout Reg Lee (Saved in No. 13) -
2582. Did you see any rockets sent up from the Titanic? – Yes, Sir.
2583. Before you left the vessel? – Before and after.
2584. Were they coloured rockets, or only white ones? – No, coloured rockets.

2680. Was it before or after the lowering of your boat that you saw the rockets first go up? –They were sending them up before the boat was lowered into the water.

Beesley subsequently made a statutory declaration, that included the following -

208693.jpg



The widespread implication is that many rockets were fired before the first, orderly, lifeboats were launched, and then many more afterwards. To Beesley's eight fired while aboard must be added those seen by Lee when it was launched...

Boxhall's "between half a dozen and a dozen" gives a mean of NINE, and this before he is rung up from the poop to be told that a lifeboat is in the water.

Rowe and Bright (having been worried about being isolated at the stern with the steerage "where the wild things are" - away from the boat deck island) then bring forward more boxes of rockets. And start to fire them.

Separate to Boxhall. There is evidence of two separate firing positions thereafter. Rockets were then going up "simultaneously" and "incessantly."

Stone noticed plenty of shooting stars from his vantage point some 20 miles away. When he decided he had seen five did not mean only five had been fired. It was likely substantially more than that, and he had missed a number. Beware of revers deduction from what was seen on the Californian. It means nothing as to what was done on Titanic. For one thing, Californian did not see any of the coloured rockets mentioned by Lee and many others (possibly they did not ascend as high).

Many, many rockets fired. I would be very surprised if it was as few as 12.

The above shows that the plethora of rockets can be demonstrated in relation to just one lifeboat.
The evidence is widespread.
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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Hello Senan!

This statutory declaration by Beesley contradicts his book.

As I pointed out: In his book Beesley said that at 12:20am by his watch, he and others were watching the crew preparing boats 9,11,13 & 15. Some time after this, a rocket was fired which brought home to the minds of the watchers the possibility that something serious was going on. Surely if there had been 5 rockets previous to that, he would have said so?

In fact, if 8 rockets had been fired before No.13 was launched then, by Beesley's watch, the first one was fired at 5 minutes after midnight. At that time, again by Beesley's reckoning, he must have been still in his cabin.

JC
 

Senan Molony

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Jan 30, 2004
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David Brown will be interested in this, as it addresses the point (Jim just wants to paddle his own canoe, I think).

208899.jpg


A letter to MMSA general secretary Leslie Harrison recounting an interview with QM Rowe by District Secretary Powell, dated June 1963:

“I have again spoken to Mr Rowe, and his reply when asked about the time the first boats were lowered was:- ‘It was perhaps near to 12.30.’ He said that they were firing the rockets whilst he was still on the after poop, and when he took the other rockets along, they used some of those as well.”￾

Rowe also said elsewhere that he and Bright each brought forward a box from aft, each containing 12 rockets (he thinks, writing in a letter), and in this latter phase that 'I fired most of the rockets. I did not know where Boxhall was.' (Letter of March 5, 1963).

Of course Rowe said a number of contradictory things, but we can clearly see two major tranches of rocket firing - and Boxhall's then absence to Rowe's firing (when he, Boxhall, says he was still himself firing), which would demonstrate three distinct rocket-firing 'pods.'

This should be pondered and grasped.

Rowe also said he was told ‘Bring as many as you can' - now why would they say that if an ultra-conservative eight were ever fired, many before the telephone conversation?

It's bunkum.

So is the idea that the first rocket was fired at 12.45, or that the first lifeboat was launched at 12.45,

Both also bunkum.
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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Hello Senan!

<(Jim just wants to paddle his own canoe, I think).

I presume you mean that I use my own means of travelling toward the same conclusion!

We don't have to go into painful gyrations to discover when they started firing rockets.. it is obvious... leave the twisting to those who know no better!

Boxhall suggested to Smith he should start firing rockets. That was after he had sent the corrected CQD and when he sighted a ship. He would not have waited to fire his first rocket until the ship got nearer since it might not have been approaching Titanic.. might have missed his first signals and might have turned away. He rightly needed to get that ship's attention as soon as possible and keep it!(what a waste of good fireworks!. You can therefore pin the first rocket to the time of sighting that ship.

Jim.
 
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Senan-- An excellent "find." I want to take some time to study the material before commenting. However, you deserve our thanks for publishing that letter.

-- David G. Brown
 

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