Discussion in 'Accusations against Captain Lord and Subsequent Di' started by schuylervanjohnson, Sep 23, 2013.
Apologies for my remark at post 757 above. I was out of order.
I don't know whether I have understood your post correctly but I have understood the diagram. If on your plan Californian was NNW of the Titanic, it is not beyond feasibility that Titanic was SE (or even SSE) of Californian?
This would tie in with lots of theories and the evidence of where the Titanic wreck was found - an appreciable distance from Boxhall's reported position.
There is considerable uncertainty of the respective vessel's headings at relevant times. One has to tortuously make certain assumptions to fit with the evidence.
However if Californian was swinging its heading clockwise, and Titanic had initially done the same then surely this would account for the odd side light evidence?
Lord sees a green side light, Gibson sees a red side light. Generally I would have thought that Titanic would have shown a green light to the Californian.
A red side light shown by the Titanic to the Californian requires a great deal of very clever propositioning and technical argument to achieve same - when the ordinary man in the street, or at the time Lord Bowen 'the man in the Clapham omnibus' might take the view a green light 'ought to have been shown'.
When evidence is conflicting and confusing, the 'Clapham omnibus' approach is still adopted 114 years after Lord Bowen's judgement.
Or you simply decide that there is so much uncertainty and missing evidence that no reliable conclusion can be arrived at!
If Captain Lord calculated his stopped position correctly, then the SSE direction of the sinking Titanic from the Californian is carved in stone (forgive the pun). As you probably know, there is a 22.5-degree difference in direction between SE and SSE...too much of a difference to be a simple mistake on the part of a trained navigator.
A lot to swallow, Julian and I can appreciate your position.
Apart from Californian swinging clock-wise, the puzzle is further complicated in that two (2) unidentified vessels stopped within 6 miles of the stopped Californian, that night. These were the one seen by Captain Lord coming from the eastward and stopping to the SE and the one seen by 3rd office Groves seen approaching from the South and stopping to the SSW. I have incorporated them in the last plot that I'm pleased to learn, you understood. The additions are in red.
If you appreciate that Lord later received information to the effect that the disaster was taking place to the south-southwestward of his location and on the other side of the pack ice from where his ship was stopped, you can well imagine the confusion in the minds of these young men when trying to fit what they subsequently learned with what they vaguely remembered.
As for the sighting of ship's lights...Consider the following from the evidence:
1. The ship seen from Titanic was approaching her, Californian was stopped.
2, Of the 8 rockets seen from the Californian, 7 were seen on the side of the Californian that was showing the nearby ship a green light. The last was seen 22 degrees on Californian's port bow when she was showing the nearby ship a red light.
3. The nearby ship disappeard on the Californian's port bow therefore, she never did show that other ship her white stern light.
4. The ship seen from the Titanic turned away and showed those on Titanic, her white stern light.
The above is absolute fact. As such, it proves beyond all reasonable doubt that Californian and Titanic were never within sight of one another.
Here is something that might help better understand ship's lights and how they are specially arranged so that observers can get a fair idea of how ships are heading.
Thank you very much for the above detailed reply. I understand perfectly the amended diagram and your explanation.
(Never did I think I would learn so much about maritime navigation in the last few weeks, and it is indeed a steep learning curve which I am only part way along).
Now, let me throw another perhaps stupid question into the debate.
I lived from 16 until the age of 32 on the Isle of Wight. If a new liner or famous liner was departing from Southampton we would go down to Ryde seafront to see it on The Solent. An old late friend of mine who was Chief Engineer on HMS King George V in the late 1940s filmed the RMS Mauretania leave Southampton the last time in 1965. I saw HMY Britannia leave Portsmouth for the last time.
Surely a ship 'spotter' would have been on the look out for Titanic? It would be quite something to say you had seen the Titanic on her maiden voyage I suggest.
I believe the following photograph was taken from The Isle of Wight, Julian. You may even be familiar with the spot it was taken from.
Then and now.
NO IT IS NOT! Not anymore so than believing that the ship seen from Californian was changing her bearings while the bearings to the rockets stayed above the steamer as it moved to the SW. I don't have the time to deal with this now, but much of what was reportedly observed is very open to interpretation.
I cannot believe you wrote such nonsense, Sam.
Anyone who has spent any time at all, on the bridge of a ship at sea, will tell you in no uncertain terms that:
A: You cannot "interpret" what Boxhall described regarding the ship he saw approaching Titanic because it is a clear, textbook example of what is taught in "How's She Heading" classes in Navigation Schools across the world.
B: You cannot "Interpret" the relative bearings of the rockets seen by Apprentice Gibson as having been seen abaft Californian's port or starboard beams which would be necessary to explain the sighting of Californian's stern light by those on Titanic.
C: You cannot "interpret" the port sidelight of the Californian and her two white masthead lights as the "white stern light" of the Californian.
I stand to be corrected by Julian, but I believe that a story only requires interpretation if there is a possibility of ambiguity, there is more than one version of the same tale, or there are reasons to believe that the tale-teller is lying to hide the truth.
A: Boxhall was the only source of the "moving vessel" tale. Technically, there cannot be any ambiguity concerning what he described. Despite there not being a reason for him to lie, we have to accept or reject the moving vessel story on the grounds that the story-teller was lying.
B: Gibson was the only person who described the relative bearings of the rockets seen from the Californian. Likewise, there cannot be any technical ambiguity concerning what he described. Consequently, we must accept what he described or reject his story on the ground that he was lying.
C: At least 8 people, including Boxhall told the story of seeing exactly the same thing...a single white light they described as a stern light. Thus, no ambiguity or room interpretation but plenty of corroboration, so we must accept that story, warts and all.
Now Sam, please explain to me and everyone else here, how it is possible to interpret the above stories as factual examples of Californian showing her stern to the Titanic at any moment during the entire 50 odd minutes of time that the latter was firing off signals
As for your observation regarding the changing bearing of the nearby ship: have you ever - considered the following extract from the signed affidavit of Apprentice James Gibson?
"Nothing then happened until the other ship was about two points on the Starboard bow when she fired another rocket.
Shortly after that, I observed that her sidelight had disappeared, but her masthead light was just visible, and the Second Officer remarked after taking another bearing of her, that she was slowly steering away towards the S.W. Between one point on the Starboard bow and one point on the Port bow I called her up on the Morse lamp but received no answer. When about one point on the Port bow she fired another rocket which like the others burst into white stars."
One thing stands out like a sore thumb.
If the rockets seen by Stone and Gibson were from the Titanic, and Californian was swinging at about a degree a minute, then the timing between the 7th and 8th rockets seen by Gibson was about 34 minutes. Now we all know that is totally absurd. Think about the following:
Stone stated that the rockets he saw were being fired at between 3 and 4 minutes intervals. If only 8 of these were seen and the first was at 00-45 am, then the last should have been seen no later than 1-17 am...not 1-40 am as claimed by Stone.
According to Bill Warnstedt et al, (yourself included) Titanic's signals were being fired between 00-47 am to 1-50 am. That's an average of one every 9 minutes. Consequently, if Stone saw Titanic's first signal at or near 00-45 am, he would have seen the last of the 8 at around 1-57 am, not 1-40 am as claimed by Stone.
However, we have a very good gauge in the evidence of James Gibson.
We know from him that the first 5 rockets seen by Stone were in the direction between 6.5 and 3.5 points on the starboard bow. We also know that Californian swung 180 degrees between 00-18 am and about 3-23 am. so she was swinging at an average rate of about 1 degree every minute
We also know from Gibson that signal 7, the penultimate one, was seen 2 points- 22.5 degrees - on the starboard bow. If the last signal seen came from Titanic, then that last signal should have been seen about 1.5 points..17 degrees on Californian's starboard bow, not 1 point..11.25 degrees on her port bow as reported by Gibson.
We can only conclude that either the vessel under observation changed her bearing by a total of 28.25 degrees in a period of about 5 minutes or the swing rate of the Californian suddenly accelerating by a factor of more than 5. Take your pick. However, I think we can say without fear of contradiction that the bearing of the nearby vessel from Californian remained constant until just before the penultimate rocket was seen.
Moderator's hat on:
Please keep it civil, folks, and leave words like "nonsense" out of the discussion. Thanks.
Moderator's hat off.
A lot to take in your last post above! I won't be able to do this tonight.
I find the whole thing perplexing.
I have ordered a copy of Paul Lee's book (latest edition).
As I posted a few days ago I don't know how Gibson and Stone could remember all this stuff without keeping a record (the scrap log?). And yesterday I posed the question that any ship 'spotter' would have been on the lookout for Titanic on her maiden voyage.
I entirely agree that witness accounts of the Titanic survivors must be treated with a considerable degree of caution. They were also not making a contemporaneous written record, same as on the Californian apparently, and who were not subject to the same trauma.
I don't understand your interjection, Mark. Allow me to remind you the meaning of the word "nonsense" as used by me in my last post:
"words or language having no meaning or conveying no intelligible ideas"
"language or an idea that is absurd or contrary to good sense."
You will also note that I softened the observation by completing it with the familiar: "Sam".
We are, as you know, friendly adversaries of long standing. I know that Sam has. as I do, a very tough skin. For that reason, I take no offense from him capitalizing the first 4 words of his last post which I take it, you also noticed?
Have I misread the second half of your response to Sam in your post #769 or are you implying that the rockets witnessed by Stone / Gibson were not being fired from the deck of Titanic ??
I know the definition of "nonsense," and regardless of your disagreement with Sam over this issue, it's not a term that should be employed here. Please be guided accordingly.
No, Rob. You did not mis-read anything. I firmly believe that what these lads were seeing was indeed Titanic's distress signals.
You will note that my offering began:
"As for your observation regarding the changing bearing of the nearby ship: have you ever - considered the following extract from the signed affidavit of Apprentice James Gibson?"
In fact, that second part was a response to Sam's observation:
"Not any more so than believing that the ship seen from Californian was changing her bearings while the bearings to the rockets stayed above the steamer as it moved to the SW."
However it cannot be denied that the evidence revealed a break in continuity between the relative bearings of the 7th and last seen signal... an irregularity which needs explaining.
To my mind, there can be but 2 explanations:
1. That the signals seen by those on Californian were not from Titanic
2. That the vessel between Californian and Titanic began to move at or about the time the penultimate signal was seen and that it changed its bearing to the left and in doing so, turned away toward and eventually through South, finally heading off in a westward direction.
In their written statements to Captain Lord, Both Stone and Gibson referred to a change in bearing of the nearby vessel taking place sometime during the siting of the last three signals.
Mark, as Jim said, he and I are friendly adversaries of long standing. I too have used the word "nonsense" to describe what he has written on more than one occasion. I take no offense by those words and simply look at it as a response of someone with feelings of frustration. However, I will try and respect your suggestion and avoid using words such in any future postings that come from me.
Now to answer just a few points that my good adversary of long standing has brought up:
Jim said, "I believe that a story only requires interpretation if there is a possibility of ambiguity."
Let me quickly point out that that a story only requires interpretation if one can show other rational explanations for what was reported by a particular witness. Regarding ambiguities:
Boxhall said the vessel had moved, yet there are a number of witnesses who said the vessel was stationary all night.
Boxhall said that he saw a single white light which took to be a stern light when he was sent away in lifeboat No. 2. I have no doubt that he saw what appeared at that time to be a single white light, but that is no different than the many witnesses who said they only saw what appeared to be a single white light all night long. Included in that list, to name just a few, are Lightoller, Pitman, Rowe, and Hichens. In fact, Lightoller actually said that he was unsure as to whether it was a single while light or two white lights that he saw. Pitman thought it may have been a lamp from one of Titanic's lifeboats.
Boxhall said that he first saw the vessels green sidelight and later saw the red. Lowe wrote in his deposition to the British consulate (The Deposition of Harold Godfrey Lowe) that he first saw the red and later saw the green.
This is only to name a few.
I really don't have the time deal with each point, but visual acuity to changing conditions is part of the equation here.
Although I was in the USN , my sea duty was only for a little under three years, but I have also learned more about maritime navigation from this website than from those three years in the navy.
If I had known then what I know now I could have determined the direction it was traveling, what type of ship it was , and other details. As it was, I just saw " a light in the distance in the middle of the Pacific Ocean on a very dark night " off the port beam on our ship and went up in C.I.C. to check the range and bearing on radar. I really don't remember any other details or findings concerning the incident.
Thanks again to all concerned.....Professors Mark, Jim and Sam in particular !
Thank you, Sam, for clarifying the use of "that word" between us.
You of all people will be very much aware of the need for careful, step-by-step analysis. With this in mind, when you do have time, consider my answers as follows:
First, Boxhall did not originally say that the vessel had moved, he described it as moving towardTitanic.
"Between the time of sending the rockets off and watching the steamer approach us I was making myself generally useful round the port side of the deck."
The light seen by Boxhall was reported to him and he saw it before the second distress signal was sent out. It was seen by someone on the bridge. Boxhall saw it at first through his binoculars... it was very far away. I quote:
"by the aid of a pair of glasses I found it was the two masthead lights of a vessel, probably about half a point on the port bow, and in the position she would be showing her red if it were visible, but she was too far off then.
"I was paying most of my attention to this steamer then, and she was approaching us; and then I saw her sidelights. I saw her green light and the red. She was end-on to us. Later I saw her red light. This is all with the aid of a pair of glasses up to now. Afterwards I saw the ship's red light with my naked eye, and the two masthead lights."
Apply the following to Boxhall's evidence. There can be no mistake in what he was describing and it most certainly wasn't Californian
Sam, except for Boxhall, all the witnesses to seeing a light, saw it after the second distress signal had been sent. Some even described seeing it on the starboard, not the port side of the sinking Titanic. Most saw a single white light.
If those on Titanic had in fact been close enough to see the Californian's side lights, they would have seen the following. The numbers represent firing sequence. I have not attempted to show the true headings of the vessel showing the lights. I include the side lights which would not have easily been seen at distances greater than 8 miles.
My pleasure, Robert. By the early 1950s we did exactly the same as you did. When the lookout sounded the warning bell, we raised our binoculars in the appropriate direction to check that he wasn't telling us about something too near (like an iceberg under the bow, lol).
After checking visually, we would go into the wheelhouse and track the thing by radar to make sure we were not on a collision course with it.
Actually, we normally spotted whatever it was, long before the lookout was aware of it. I those days, at a mere 40 miles maximum range.
Despite our shiny new toy, we still did the same as Stone on the Californian did...we kept a constant check on the target's bearing.
Separate names with a comma.