Stanley Lord guilty as charged

I have read many books on Titanic and believe Capt. Lord was a tyrant who bullied his men and scared them to the point where they dared not go against him insisting they go help Titanic which was obviously in distress. It is against maritime law laws of the courts and the laws of God and decency not to go to the aid of a ship in distress. Californian was within 10 miles or so of Titanic and could have saved every soul on board but chose not to. White rockets mean only one thing; SOS. Lord chose not to leave his warm bunk and his men, having watched the rockets and told him of this, dared not pursue it further. The loss of those left on board is all on Lord's shoulders, he did not do his duty and he will forever be seen as what he was; a monster.
 
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>>I have read many books on Titanic and believe Capt. Lord was a tyrant who bullied his men and scared them to the point where they dared not go against him insisting they go help Titanic which was obviously in distress.<<

Then you better start reading PRIMARY sources. Not one of them supports this claim.

>>It is against maritime law laws of the courts and the laws of God and decency not to go to the aid of a ship in distress.<<

Not entirely accurate I'm afraid. You might want to back off and take some time to learn about Admiralty Law (Which is the kind we can at least prove exists.) The requirement to go to the aid of a distressed vessel is trumped by the obligation under the law the captain has to the safety of his ship FIRST. This is reasonable since you can't rescue anybody if you're on the way to the bottom yourself.

>>Californian was within 10 miles or so of Titanic and could have saved every soul on board but chose not to.<<

The first is debatable and the second in absolute nonsense. Even if the Californian had been right there at the time of the accident, it would have taken a minimum of ten to twelve hours to transfer all the officers and crew from one ship to the other by boats.

>>White rockets mean only one thing; SOS.<<

Not entirely accurate. The law of the period specified rocket of ANY colour.

>>Lord chose not to leave his warm bunk and his men, having watched the rockets and told him of this, dared not pursue it further. The loss of those left on board is all on Lord's shoulders, he did not do his duty and he will forever be seen as what he was; a monster. <<

Again, debatable and not an absolute fact. In my own opinion, Lord screwed up. However, even as I hold to that opinion, I'm mindful of the fact that there were a lot of things going on which could have and probably did effect his decision making for better and for worse. As a retired sailor, I'm painfully aware of how uncertainty enters the picture and why. Whatever the case may be, Captain Lord was no monster. If he had been, he would have just gone on his merry way in the morning. Instead what he actually DID was transit the icefield not once but TWICE in an effort to get to the site of the sinking when he became aware of it.

Ineffectual?

Yes.

The actions and behavior of a monster?

No.
 
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TimTurner

Member
The problem with viewing Captain Lord as an Arch Villain is a lack of explanation of his motives. You can give me any number of reasons that Lord made a mistake, or any number of reasons he did the right thing. Maybe he was stupid, or misinformed, or hesitant, or cowardly. But is there any reason on earth the man would in full consciousnesses say to himself "Wow, there's a sinking ship full of drowning people, I better let all them die"?
 
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Adam Went

Member
There is no one person or thing responsible for the deaths of those who remained on board the Titanic. That would be too simplistic. It is a multitude of things, some of which date back years before the ship struck the iceberg - the hype over it supposedly being unsinkable, for instance. Or the powers that be which allowed her to sail far too quickly into an ice field which they had received warnings about. And, once the damage was done, more lives could have been saved if the boats hadn't been launched half full, and passengers hadn't believed the Titanic to be safer than a lifeboat. No, there are many different factors at work here.

Having said that, Lord was extremely incompetent that night. Ships don't just fire rockets and appear to list in the middle of the night in the middle of the ocean for no apparent reason. At the very least the Marconi operator should have been roused to find out what all the fuss was about.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
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TimTurner

Member
Doubtless that Lord could have saved more lives than zero. And certainly he is responsible and to blame for the poor running of his ship. But I doubt he stood their cackling like some cartoon villain.

One of the most difficult things I have reading theories against Lord is that often they seem to imply that he intentionally allowed people to die. I can understand all manner of incompetence. I can understand that he wrongly prioritized the marcconi operator's sleep over understanding conditions at sea. I can understand that he was confused about what he was seeing and had a brain lapse and forgot that it was his job to figure out what the problem was. I can understand that he might have run his ship on a shoot-the-messenger philosophy and ended up discouraging his crew from informing him of problems. I can understand that he didn't study hard enough at Captain's cram school and forgot what white rockets were supposed to mean. I can understand that he might have been reasonably or unreasonably afraid of endangering his own ship. But I have the hardest time wrapping my mind around the idea that he and his officers knew that people were dying and just shrugged it off.

I'm not trying to justify Captain Lord, but I'm enormously skeptical of any kind of conspiracy theory about him intentionally killing Titanic passengers for his own perverse amusement.
 
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Jim Currie

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Hello schuylervanjohjnso.

Your problem and that of many researchers is in the opening statement of your post: "I have read many books on Titanic".

Instead of reading books about Titanic.. read carefully, and I mean carefully, the evidence given by Captain Lord and his crew during the UK Inquiry. I have done so and written two books on the subject. The first one is a novel woven round the factual evidence I refer to above and the second is a disection of the evidence itself.
The evidence clearely shows that if there was any guilt to be apportioned concerning the part played by the Californian in the Titanic affair, it should be at the feet of Lord Mersey the King's Wreck Commissioner and Sir Rufus Isaacs, the UK Attorney General.
The principal clue to Captain Lord's actions lies within the evidence given by James Gibson, Californian's Deck Apprentice. If you are curious enough, read "The Scapegoat" parts 1 & 2.

Jim C.

Scapegoat Cover.jpg
 
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Even if the Californian had been right there at the time of the accident, it would have taken a minimum of ten to twelve hours to transfer all the officers and crew from one ship to the other by boats.

This article provides further details of the various challenges that the crew of the Californian would have had to face, if they had come to Titanic's assistance:

The Californian Incident, A Reality Check by Tracy Smith, Michael H. Standart & Captain Erik D. Wood - Titanic Research
 
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Jim Currie

Member
Having said that, Lord was extremely incompetent that night. Ships don't just fire rockets and appear to list in the middle of the night in the middle of the ocean for no apparent reason. At the very least the Marconi operator should have been roused to find out what all the fuss was about.

Cheers,
Adam.

Hello Adam.

In fact, Lord was extremely competant and at the height of his competancy. Your comment about the middle of the night comes directly from a sarcastic remark made by one of the interrogators.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Jim, any chance you could give us an excerpt from that book regarding the testimony of James Gibson?

I can do better than that Tim.

As you probably know, Lord requested that 2nd Officer Stone and Apprentice Gibson each wrote a separate statement of their actions during the 12 to 4am Watch on the morning of April 15, 1912.. These were written on April 18... 3 days after Californian had left the scene of the disaster and the day before she arrived at Boston on April 19. The evidence which clears Lord of any wrong-doing comes from the statement of James Gibson. I quote:

"Arriving on the bridge again at that time, the Second Officer told me that the other ship, which was then about 3 ½ points on the Starboard bow, had fired five rockets and he also remarked that after seeing the second one to make sure that he was not mistaken, he had told the Captain, through the speaking tube, and that the Captain had told him to watch her and keep calling her up on the Morse light"

Lord told his questioners that he knew of one rocket for sure and that Stone had reported it to him. Gibson's statement confirms this.
Lord did not know about the multiplicity of rockets until the vessel seeming to fire them had moved away and disappeared from sight. This being the case; what would be th point in calling his wireless man to make a CQ... all -ships call? Such a call would have to have taken the form of:

"CQ-CQ-CQ-All ships- All ships- All ships..... Please advise which one of you fired-off 8 rockets recently? Are you OK Now?


Only a 2 operator ship would have received that call. A ship without a wireless .. and there were many of these... would not have heard it at all. In the highly unlikely event of another ship being contacted, all that Lord would have discovered was that it fired the rockets for a reason which was no longer current.

It should be remembered that Californian's bridge officers and Apprentice Gibson continuously unsuccessfully attempted to contact the nearby ship for a period on more than 2 and a half hours.
They used the most common method of contact at night.. a powerful signalling lamp.

The idea of Lord calling his wireless operator under the circumstances prevailing is pure nonsense.
 
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>>The problem with viewing Captain Lord as an Arch Villain is a lack of explanation of his motives.<<

Actually, the problem with portraying Captain Lord as the arch villain in fact lies in the portrayal of him AS the arch villain. You see the same approach used by a prosecutor on a criminal case where a defendant is portrayed as combining all the vices of Hitler, Pol Pot, and the eeeeeeeeevile Snidely Whiplash with none of their virtues. It's not enough that they screwed up, everything about them is made to look like there's sinister intent involved everywhere.

Sorry but in the case of Captain Lord, (As we say in the 'lil ol South) That dog don't hunt!

Keep in mind that I'm saying this from the vantage point of one of Captain Lord's critics. I have no doubt that he screwed up, but making a mistake isn't the same thing as having malicious and malevolent intent above and beyond the call of malicious and malevolent intent. I've seen no evidence to support such a thing and quite a bit which goes against it.
 

Jim Currie

Member
Tim: I have already written the books. They are available as ebooks on Amazon.com

Tim observed: "The problem with viewing Captain Lord as an Arch Villain is a lack of explanation of his motives."

Tim's right on the money. Lord's actions were laid-out like goods on a market stall. They were, and still are, available for all to see.
Attempts to explain Lord's actions in layman's terms have consistantly fallen on deaf ears. This is easily understood.
Unless a person has actually been involved in a similar decision-making process, it is almost impossible to describe what was on Lord's mind as a coherent, progressive series of thoughts culminating in a decision.
A classic example of what I mean is illustrated by the outrage at the treatment of Captain Lord expressed by ship's masters throughout the world at the time. I have seen this explained away as kind of circling of the waggons.. an example of protecting one's own. That is absolute rubbish! Such an explanations simply illustrates a complete lack of understanding of seamen and seamanship. 99% of all master's who were confronted with a situation as described by Lord and his Apprentice Gibson would have acted in exactly the same way. The problem lies with the evidence of the 2nd Officer Stone. Lord could only have 'screwed-up' if Stone had in fact warned him twice about seeing rockets. The first time after clearly identifying a white rocket and the second time after seeing a total of five. There is strong evidence that he did not.
According to Apprentice Gibson; Stone never warned Lord about the third, fourth or fifth rockets and only finally reported a total of eight after the other vessel had disappeared. If this was indeed the case then Lord had nothing to be ashamed of.
Lord was initially told that the ship nearby had fired at least one clearly identified white rocket. 1hour 20 minutes later he was told it had fired a total of 8 but had since disappeared in a SW direction. That he was told about the 5 rockets is very debateable indeed.
Lord knew that the ship had first been seen to the SE and later disapeared to the SW. That being so, then logically, there was nothing wrong with it and it had moved away... not down. A sinking ship does not change it's bearing from a ship which has been stopped all the time the other was sinking. It follows that Lord never considered that the nearby ship had ever been a problem for him or his ship.
However, Lord had considered it a potential problem from the very beginning. Thus, like any prudent master, he had given strict orders that attempts should be made to contact the other vessel. His men had tried continuously to do so but without success. It finally moved away.

Has anyone ever considered that Lord was protecting his young Second Officer?


Jim C.
 
Jim --

Debate about Californian and Captain Lord is something I avoid. However, as a professional mariner, I thank you for the above posts. You've explained the situation in context with the way ships are operated. And, your last sentence about Lord protecting his second officer...wish I had thought of that.

-- David G. Brown
 

Adam Went

Member
Hi all,

Tim:

I agree with you, it is ridiculous to think that Lord simply layed there and thought "Oh, there's a ship sinking? Well, they can sort their own problems out."
There was certainly no malicious intent. Competence, on the other hand, is a different issue altogether.

Jim:

Congratulations on your book which I was not aware of, I will certainly be seeking it out. For the moment however, I must respectfully disagree.

That the Titanic was firing rockets is an established fact. Sarcastic comment or otherwise, ships really did not and do not fire rockets and appear to be at weird angles for no apparent reason. Fair enough that the morse lamp was used to try and contact them, but when this failed, other methods should have been attempted.

I'm afraid I don't understand why rousing the wireless operator is "nonsense". If there is nobody else capable of operating the equipment, and there is evidently something out of the ordinary taking place, then he should have been awoken to find out what the problem was. He probably wouldn't have needed to send a message out, he would have heard the distress calls of the Titanic loud and clear.

If it proved to be a false alarm, then he could resume his slumber. No harm done, and we wouldn't be sitting here having this conversation now.

As to the argument that the Californian would have been incapable of helping passengers even if she had arrived on the scene in time, that is equally a pointless argument. Passengers would still have entered the water but they would have had a better chance of surviving. No doubt there still would have been casualties but the number would have been reduced.

Now let me be clear about this - I am, as we all are, viewing this with the benefit of hindsight. The crew of the Californian clearly had their reasons for acting in the way that they did. I don't believe they deliberately acted poorly. But that should not excuse them from scrutiny and does not excuse the fact Captain Lord was indeed lax.

Cheers,
Adam.
 
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