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Stanley Lord guilty as charged

Discussion in 'Accusations against Captain Lord and Subsequent Di' started by schuylervanjohnson, Sep 23, 2013.

  1. Jim -- Amen!

    -- David G. Brown
  2. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Something curious about the story told by Ernest Gill. Here's an extract from his statement read-out in the US:

    " I was awakened at 6.40 by the chief engineer, who said, "Turn out to render assistance. The Titanic has gone down.
    I went down on watch and heard the second and fourth engineers in conversation. Mr. J. C. Evans is the second and Mr. Wooten is the fourth. The second was telling the fourth that the third officer had reported rockets had gone up in his watch. I knew then that it must have been the Titanic I had seen.

    The second engineer added that the captain had been notified by the apprentice officer whose name, I think, is Gibson, of the rockets. The skipper had told him to Morse to the vessel in distress. Mr. Stone, the second navigating officer, was on the bridge at the time, said Mr. Evans.

    I overheard Mr. Evans say that more lights had been shown and more rockets went up. Then, according to Mr. Evans, Mr. Gibson went to the captain again and reported more rockets. The skipper told him to continue to Morse until he got a reply. No reply was received.

    For a start-off, Groves, the Third Officer did not see any rockets. He wentoff duty at midnight, same time as the Fourth Engineer. Both were in their bunks right up until the same time as Gill.
    The Second Engineer came on duty at 4am; the same time as Stewart, the Chief Officer. None of these men knew about Titanic until 6am. The former would know nothing until he got a second 'Standby' ring from the bridge. That was at about 6am.
    The Chief Engineer would have been called some time after 6am - probably 6-20am just as Californian was clearing the west side of the pack ice and would have learned about Titanic at that time. At the same time, he would have been told by Lord to call all hands. The Chief would not have had time to tell his Second Engineer (who was down in the engine room) all the gory details about what transpired on the bridge. Lord himself didn't have all the details until he questioned Stone and Gibson closely and that was much later.

    Additionally; Gill must have had remarkable hearing since he 'overheard' all this conversation while Californian's tripple expansion steam engine was belting away at maximum revs.
    Now that's bullshit of the highest order. If any of you have been near such a 'beast' you'll know what I mean. I have been in exactly the same situation on many an occasion when I was an Apprentice. Believe me, a gun could be fired near you and you would not hear it. They did not have nice sound-proof control rooms in the old days. No my friends; our friend Gill was an accomplished liar of the first order and made money at it. Just think how long he would need to have stood close enough to these officers to 'overhear' there conversation.

    Jim C.
  3. Adam Went

    Adam Went Member

    Hi all,


    I'm not entirely sure what relevance that testimony has to the subject at hand because most of it comes from before the time the Titanic had even hit the iceberg, or at least before the time around which the Titanic began firing rockets and sending out distress calls. That was after midnight.

    It seems that there most likely was another vessel in the vicinity but none of this answers who it was, why they were there and why they apparently ignored both the Titanic and the Californian. That there was a mysterious third party involved sounds a bit too much like a conspiracyh theory to me. Lord himself states very clearly that the conditions that night made things very difficult, which explains a lot.

    The wireless is far from a "fools errand" - as i've said, Evans would very likely have not even been required to send out a message; he would have heard the frantic calls coming from the Titanic first!


    Indeed, it is all very interesting stuff, but as I keep repeating, I don't believe any crime has been committed, and I certainly don't agree with the title and creator of this thread. My position is simply this: I ask myself, "Could more have been done that night by the Californian to aid the Titanic" and the answer to that is "yes". It is not a theory, it is a fact. There were more things at the disposal of the Californian that night than were used, and therefore the point remains that they did not do everything in their power.

    To theorise about how many more lives might have been saved and how different the story might be - THAT is a fools errand, and pointless, because it is what it is and it is not fair to level false accusations against those who are not here to defend themselves. But, did the crew of the Californian do absolutely everything in their power to resolve the mysterious situation that night? No, they did not.

    Rostron took risks, it's true, but it wasn't a time for pussy-footing and being cautious. If they were going to hit an iceberg, then they were going to hit an iceberg, they couldn't just stay on their current course and say "no no, you'll be right, we'll just stay out of the way". It's a risk-reward factor, and if you take the risk then you must be willing to accept the possible consequences. Rostron was and it paid off - the point is that he shouldn't have had to come from 60 odd miles away in such a dangerous rush when there was evidently other ships much, much closer to the scene.


    That is an excuse, to be made in hindsight. If he had woken his wireless operator and he had tried to contact the mystery ship and got nothing - fine, go back to sleep, everything returns to normal. Instead he chose to continue trying to contact a ship via other methods which it was clearly not responsive to, a far more slow and drawn out process which achieved nothing.

    But, we must not live by what might have been.

  4. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Hello Adam. Keep at it my son!

    I agree with you; a crime was not committed by Lord. I cannot say that for certain about others in this tale. Never-the-less, the man's good name was, and continues to be, smeared universally without reason.

    You write:

    "I ask myself, "Could more have been done that night by the Californian to aid the Titanic" and the answer to that is "yes". It is not a theory, it is a fact."

    That is exactly what I mean by my last observation. It is not justifyable to maligned Lord for not doing more to aid the Titanic on the basis of what he could have done. Nor is it correct to do so on the basis of what he might have done. Sure he could have called his wireless operator but he simply had no reason to do so. That too is a fact.

    However Adam, I'll go along with you for a bit.

    You say that 'Yes' he could have done more to aid the Titanic if he had done so, On what do you base that certainty? To be more explicit; what more could he have done? I remind you that learning about something is one thing; being able to do anything about it at all is a completely different kettle of fish. Not only that; once information is to hand, simply having that information is not enough. It needs to be forensically examined by experts in their field to ascertain what, if anything might be achieved.
    Only those qualified to do so can take all available evidence and come to a carefully considered conclusion based on it. With that in mind, I would suggest that it is less than fair to perpetuate such accusations as have been laid at Lord's door based on conjecture alone.

    As David quite rightly pointed out; in modern times, Captain Rostron would have been hauled over the coals for his actions that morning. Despite what you might think; the fact that he was supreme on board Carpathia did not give him the right to behave in the manner he did. He most certainly did not have the 'act and be damned' right to behave in the way he did.
    I wonder if you and others have ever wondered why Carpathia kept so silent during her 58 mile rush northward? Why, despite the actions of all other wireless operators, Carpathia did not keep a wireless log of her operations during those crucial hours between 12-35am and 4pm that morning? Does the word 'salvage' come to mind?
    Why was it that despite knowing that there were several other vessels in the area trying to contact him, Rostron did not inform others until he had all the survivors on board?
    Why it was that he waited until Californian arrived near to him at 8-30pm before inviting another ship to join in the search for survivors?

    That man was a devious to say the least. Compare him to the man we are discussing.

    Rostron was 1 month short of 43 years of age at the time of the Titanic affair;he had been Master of Carpathia for one voyage and she was the biggest ship he had ever commanded. He was given his first command in 1907 after his 38th birthday and kept on small cargo vessel and on the Mediterreranean emigrant trade. He was a slow climber and a bit pompus. definitely not destined for great things before Titanic.. Personally. I think he was an opportunist who recognised a fantastic source of salvage money. I also think that he realised how close he had come to loosing his ship and killing an awful lot of innocent people. Hence his reason for writing that mitigation letter to his owners. I also think he was a liar who massaged his ship speed and navigating capabilities to show them in the most favourable light.
    Lord was 9 years younger than Rostron but had been in command for a year longer. Lord was 29 when he got his first command.. Rostron was over 38 years old. That alone tells us a great deal.

    There's a saying at sea which I think applies perfectly to Arthur Rostron....

    "He was the kind of man who could fall into a bucket of shit and come out of it diamond-studded and smelling of roses"...:rolleyes:


    Jim C.
  5. >>That is an excuse, to be made in hindsight.<<

    Adam, I'm afraid that most of what you're offering is being made with the benefit of hindsight and it all assumes that Captain Lord had the information and insights to put all the pieces of the puzzle together then which we have now.

    He didn't have that information. When you get past the whole soap opera, it's really just that simple.
  6. Adam Went

    Adam Went Member

    Hi guys,


    Well, I think a lot of the more harsh name smearing in regards to Lord comes from some modern books and films which do portray him as the arch-villain of the night, the man who stood back and did nothing while hundreds died. It's been exaggerated much beyond what the actual truth of it is but it cannot be underestimated what influence these films, books, etc have on the untrained mind.

    What more could Lord have done? Well, if he had utilised his wireless operator first and foremost (after all, wireless was a new technology and any chance to use it for something not quite as boring as the usual stuff should and would have been utilised, I would have thought) then he would certainly have been aware of Titanic's plight. Being the closest ship to the Titanic (apart from this mystery vessel), he then would have been in a position to get to her in better time than the Carpathia and potentially help to save more lives. If he had not been able to get to the ship himself - say, for instance, if the ice field had him completely blocked in - then he could have used his wireless to help direct other ships who were coming to the rescue, like the Carpathia, after the Titanic had gone and could clearly no longer send messages from her own wireless.

    It is a lot easier to accept a difficult situation if you can look yourself in the mirror and be able to honestly say "There is nothing more I possibly could have done, I did absolutely everything in my power" - I don't think even Stanley Lord would ever have been able to do that.

    As for what you say about Rostron, I find those thoughts a little shocking, to be honest. To start off with, when the Carpathia first received word they had absolutely no idea of how dire the situation on board the Titanic was. They only knew that she was sinking and needed help to come quickly. Rostron went right away and put everything into getting to the site as quickly as possible, while other vessels which were closer just didn't get involved.

    I also think it's unfair to suggest that age has anything to do with it - there are many, many reasons why Lord may have climbed the ranks a little faster than Rostron, it doesn't have to be anything to do with personality. In the end it didn't matter because history has been the judge of which of the two of them is seen in the more favourable light.

    As for the crucial hours on board the Carpathia, perhaps it's because they had more important issues to deal with just at that present moment? The wireless operator did keep in contact with the Titanic for as long as possible.


    He didn't have to be Einstein to work out that something was amiss, the signs were clearly there and for whatever reason he misinterpreted and/or ignored them. Certainly he didn't act on them in the manner which others would have done. I agree that it has become a bit of a soap opera but he's contributed to it.

  7. Ahoy all.

    I am admittedly one of the least informed "Titanica's" of all and I admire Michael for all the information I have gleaned so far.

    But just a comment on Lord and Rostron.:
    Lord may have climbed the ranks faster than Rostron but perhaps the ladder was more difficult to climb in Rostron's case and IMHO (correct me if I'm wrong) but Rostron's climb was to a bit more prestigious level than Lord's. I am just basing this on in the case of Carpathia-vs-Californian. ???

    Do you think the case against Ismay has also been overdone in the same manner as the case against Lord ? Do you think both might have just been the cause of "We must be about searching for a scapegoat" ?

    Just another case of nitpicking :
    But so far I have seen (and heard) of the code being presented in the more modern "CW beat frequency tone" rather than the spark gap tone on several other "Titanic" related movies and TV series.. IMHO "A Night To Remember" seems to me to be the most authenic. Pardon the off topic comment.

    Also I confess to having strayed off to "The Flat Earth Society Forum" Website of late. It's nice to return to a semblance of sanity again on the Encyclopedia Titanica Website. :)

    Cheers !,
  8. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member


    I'm not proposing a conspiracy or a third ship. This entire conversation I have been referring to a "strange ship". The "strange ship" was the Titanic. We know this. Californian did not. What Captain Lord's testimony verifies (assuming he is not intentionally lying) is that he knew that the strange ship did not have a wireless. He knew that the only ship nearby that had a wireless was the Titanic, and he had already determined (wrongly) that the strange ship was not the Titanic. There was no point in using the wireless because it the ship in question was believed to not have one.

    It is a fools errand to use your wireless to contact a ship without a wireless.
  9. Athlen

    Athlen Member

    Hi all,

    Adam, I think Jim's take on Rostron might actually be right. I'm a scientist, and some scientists will do anything, lying and back-stabbing included, to get grants, papers and public attention. Quite a few are known in the community to be downright jerks. My point is that the general public gets one view of the field -- scientists in constant pursuit of the truth, brave and unselfish ship's officers. Some of them are really like that, but some are not, and it takes some experience to separate the good from the bad. So he just might be right about Rostron. And I might be right about -- I won't mention his name here.

    Some other things:

    Why the two ships didn't see each other's Morse lamps? If they could see each other's lights, they could see each other's Morse lamps. It's been discussed here, but I'm curious as to specifically why they weren't able to see each other for the purposes of this thread.

    Also, even if the ship did have wireless, the operator would have been off duty at night unless the ship was Titanic, Olympic, Lusitania or Mauretania. Even if it was a large German liner it wouldn't have had an operator on station at night. There hadn't yet been a major disaster where wireless was used to send a distress signal. Yes, we know now that it's better to use radio, and that radio would have worked in this situation, but Californian's officers absolutely did not know that. To them, radio wouldn't have come into the picture -- it's night, there's a ship in visual range, so you use a Morse lamp. Wireless was for beyond-the-horizon communication and a ship in distress would have been too far away for Californian, a 12-knot ship trapped in an ice field, to help.

    Last one: What about Evans' character? We know that he failed to use the MSG code that would have signaled to Philips that his ice warning had to be taken to the captain. Californian's ice warning was like a tweet saying "hey man, we had to stop cause there's all this ice, gonna be late" (location tagged, of course). We know he occupied the airwaves on the morning of the 15th with what the Baltic called "long, irrelevant conversations."

    Thanks - J
  10. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

  11. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member


    Add to the mystery of Rostron's actions the fact that although he knew by 4-15am that Titanic had gone and that there was a possibilty of a thousand or more people in the water or on make-shift flotation aids, he did not break radio silence until 6-45am EST or 8-30pm Carpthia time that morning. He did not have his wireless man send out a CQD - all ships call adivising of the fact and asking for as many as possible to gather in the area and complete the search. This despite the fact that he would not have known how long the good weather was going to last.

    Now, to me, that's a crime much greater than anything that might be laid at the door of poor old Captain Lord. How many poor souls might juststill have have been alive at daylight that morning.. clinging to some bit of wreckage?

    Jim C.
  12. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    No, I am not prepared to do that, nor do I believe that I have. I have stated that it is not necessary for more than two vessels to be in the area in order for Captain Lord to believe that there were. Certainly, if there actually were three or four vessels, that changes things in important ways. However the only important factor in determining Captain Lord's responsibility in this matter was whether he thought that there were two ships other than his own. I believe that I have demonstrated that this is vaguely possible with only two ships, the Titanic and the Californian. However the fact of relative movement, which you have pointed out, speaks loudly to three or four ships.

    My understanding is that the Titanic was out of range of the Morse lamp. Lord stated that he thought his Morse lamp had a range of about 10 miles. If the Titanic was near the limits of this range, would it not be possible for the lights of the Titanic's windows to drown out the Morse lamp? Also, my understanding is that it was not necessarily "clear" weather. There were a variety of visual phenomenon that night which point to cold-air refraction, which gave the appearance of clear whether, but seriously hampered vision in important ways. I have heard the argument that the Morse lamp could have been interrupted by a twinkling effect, similar to the atmospheric effect that makes stars twinkle.

    My understanding of this theory is that the Titanic was 20 or so miles away, however the refraction of light made it appear distorted about 7 miles away. The distortion made it look unrecognizable as the Titanic, and scrambled the Morse lamps.

    Also for consideration, Jim, if there were two other ships between Californian and Titanic, why did neither of them respond to either of the Morse lamp signals from either the Titanic or the Californian?

    I'm liable to assign the "ship moved away" to the "ship diminished in size on the horizon because it sank". I have no idea how a ship could appear to move if it were not, so I strongly consider that evidence.
  13. L. Colombo

    L. Colombo Member

    This is an interesting question. Has this possibility ever been considered? When the steamer Lexington burned and sank in the Long Island Sound in January 1840 (only four of the ca. 145 passenger and crew survived), four people survived on cotton bales and wooden wreckage, in waters I think even colder than those where the Titanic sank, respectively 11 (Charles Smith, fireman), 12 (Stephen Manchester, pilot), 15-16 (Chester Hillard, passenger) and 43 (!) hours (David Crowley, second officer). (Most of these hours were in the night). Given this, it is really possible that also some Titanic survivors could have been still alive on makeshift rafts still in the morning. (Or maybe even in the first hours of the afternoon?)
  14. Athlen

    Athlen Member

    A twinkling Morse lamp is still a Morse lamp

    Hello everyone,

    Atmospheric scintillation occurs when light passes through a temperature gradient. Light travels faster in less dense warm air than it does in cold air. (The speed of light is highest in a vacuum. It varies in different mediums, causing refraction. It's still fast, in any medium -- on the order of hundreds of thousands of miles or kilometers per second.) Scintillation isn't caused so much by the change in temperature as by the turbulence in the atmosphere. As the light passes through turbulent air, the refraction angle will rapidly and randomly* change, which makes the light appear to twinkle.

    If the beam of light is large enough in area, we don't perceive any twinkling because the random changes are averaged out, although the refraction due to turbulence still occurs.

    Now for the big one. Although we may perceive a twinkling light as changing in intensity, scintillation cannot change the appearance of an intermittent light source like a Morse lamp. Some of the photons do travel faster -- by a nanosecond or so. In a Morse lamp signal the light will be off for much longer than that. The perceived signal will still twinkle, when it's on, but it will go on and off in the same way 30 miles or even 300 miles away.

    This is much easier seen than explained. There is a Youtube video titled "Battle of the Atlantic Celebrations Liverpool" that shows a laser sending Morse. Or, in the Titanic documentary about diffraction and mirages, there's a scene where the host shows the city lights of Las Vegas. Near the horizon you can clearly see a red light flashing -- a Morse lamp sending T's all night, every night. (If this isn't clear or there are other questions feel free to send a private message.)

    Thanks, J.

    * Randomly because of Brownian motion.
  15. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Hello Tim T.

    "However the fact of relative movement, which you have pointed out, speaks loudly to three or four ships."

    It certainly does Tim.

    Your observation "However the fact of relative movement, which you have pointed out, speaks loudly to three or four ships" reinforces the existance of facts that have been there from the very beginning. These facts were also available and used by 'experts' of the day to condemn Lord for inaction otherwise, why would The British Weck Commisioner in his final Report have concluded the following?

    "Account of the Saving and Rescue of those who Survived-Means taken to Procure Assistance"
    "Mr. Boxhall was also using a Morse light from the bridge in the direction of a ship whose lights he saw about half a point on the port bow of the "Titanic" at a distance, as he thought, of about five or six miles. (Lightoller, 14160) He got no answer. In all, Mr. Boxhall fired about eight rockets. There appears to be no doubt that the vessel whose lights he saw was the "Californian."

    Titanic had two all-round signal lamps; they were mounted in top of the bridge-wing cabs 10 feet above the outer edges of her bridge; clear of all superstructure and forward of any accommodation lights.
    Californian had a single all-round signal lamp. It was mounted on a stub-mast on top of her flying bridge and again, clear of all ship's lights.
    Signal lights were always mounted thus. They were operated using a portable plug-in morse key similar to that used by the wireless operator. Ay five mioes they would be unmistakable. Even at 10 miles using binoculars they could not have been mistaken for anything else.

    I understand where you are coming from with your remarks about mirage effect. I have read Tim Maltin et al Perhaps a little information on twinkling stars and mirage effect might help.

    Stars seem to twinkle when the density of the upper atmosphere is irregular. The higher the star above the horizon, the more obvious becomes the 'twinkle'. In my experience; at sea level the twinkle almost stops.

    The cold sea-surface cools the air in contact with it. This normally has no appreciable effect on visibility. However, in flat calm conditions, a mist may form above the sea surface. This will obscure the lights of distant vessels.

    If there had been any kind of mirage that night, it would have been what is called a superior mirage. This happens when the air immediately above the sea is appreciably warmer. By the way, forget about the evidence of the survivors concerning air and sea tempertaure. Their sampling method were totally inaccurate to say the least. I could give you a thinking man's version of superior mirage but I'll allow the following extract from Seamens' Meteorlogy to do it for me.
    "Superior mirage is when an inverted image is seen over the real object; sometimes an erect image is seen immediately above and touching an inverted one. The object and its images in this instance are well defined in contrast to the shimmering object and image of the inferior (Tim Maltin?) mirage, Superior image is most often experienced in high latitudes and whenever the sea surface temperature is abnormally low [as when at or in an ice field?]
    However, before you base a reply on this, bear in mind that your namesake -Tim M - did what every other researcher has done; he ignored part of the evidence.

    3rd Officer Groves first positively identified his mystery vessel when it was 10 to 12 miles away. That was at 11-10pm. He said it approached Californian at an angle of about 45 degrees and finally stopped at 11-40pm when it was about 6 miles away. That means that the vessel he was watching covered a distance of between 4 and 6 miles in 30 minutes. If he was seeing a mirage, then he was seeing a false start and false finish but he saw them over a fixed period of 30 minutes. More to the point, thre vessel he saw was making either 8 knots or 12 knots. Titanic was making at least 22 knots.

    You wrote: " I have no idea how a ship could appear to move if it were not, so I strongly consider that evidence."

    Here's one of my terrible sketches which might help to illustrate what Stone was telling his questioners:


    Just saw your input Athlen. Scintillating stuff.

    On the basis of your observation; surely rockets bursting 600 feet above a vessel's would apear to burst 600 feet above its mirage image? i.e proportion stays with the image.

    Jim C.

  16. Powerful is a relative term. The Morse signaling lamps being talked about here were not the powerful Aldis signaling lamps that were used on Naval ships for Morse signaling that many people think of. The Morse lamp on Titanic consisted of cylindrical glass lens that was clamped between two brass plates and mounted on a short pole that raised it above the wing cab roof. There was one over each cab. The signaling key for tapping out messages was located in the cab. It worked by simply turning the single electric bulb on and off. The electric bulb inside the lens produced only 25 to 50 candlepower, about the same amount of light as a standard 40-watt incandescent light bulb. The lens within which the bulb was mounted was a small circular dioptric lens that focussed the light into a narrower vertical beam and radiated the light over a full 360° in the horizontal plain. These lamps were intended for signaling between ships at night at distances of about 5 miles or less. Stanley Lord thought his Morse lamp could be seen about 10 miles away. When Boxhall was using the Morse lamp there were people around the bridge who said that they thought the vessel that was seen was replying to their rockets and signals, but Boxhall said that he could not say they were replying. He said he only saw the vessel's steaming lights.

    I also find it quite ammusing that some Stanley Lord appologists now feel the need to trash the reputation of Arthur Rostron. Lord may not have been given enough information when Stone called down to him on the speaking tube when those rockets were first going up, but he certainly tried to cover up Californian's role in the affair when his ship arrived in Boston until the story of the rockets came out. Even at the inquiries, he never made public the reports written by Stone and Gibson at his request while Californian was still at sea that gave details as to what was witnessed that night and what was communicated to Lord.

    As far as the display of rockets are concerned, both Stone and Gibson said it came from the vessel they were observing despite Stone's claim that to him he thought at first that they came from beyond because they didn't go high enough. It was only at the inquiry where he claimed they went only as high as the masthead light. In Gibson's report to Lord, before any inquiry was formed, he describes picking up a pair of binoculars and seeing a flash as coming from the deck of the vessel that was followed by a very faint streak as the signal ascended skyward until it exploded into stars. Stone said that as the vessel was changing her bearings and steaming off to the SW the bearing to the rockets also was changing which convinced him that they came from the vessel under observation.

    As to what some people here have said regarding the frequency of distress signals, the rules then, as they do today, do NOT specify how short these "short intervals" are supposed to be. If they really meant for it to be intervals of about 1 minute, it would say "fired at intervals of about a minute" as it does regarding a gun or other explosive signal used for distress. The original rule for rockets or shells read: "Rockets or shells throwing stars of any colour or description, fired one at a time at short intervals.”￾ The reason for "one at a time at short intervals" was to avoid the possibility of confusion with company signals which were usually displayed in a particular short sequence and rarely used for signaling on the high seas. When confronted by the question: "Is it not the fact that the very thing was happening which you had been taught indicated distress?" Stone's answer was "Yes." But to get out of the predicament he created by his answer, he said: "A steamer that is in distress does not steam away from you, my Lord...I saw them [the rockets] at the same time the ship started to alter her bearings."

    Stone's story about when he saw the vessel steaming off and changing her bearings while firing rockets is inconsistent with what Gibson observed. To Gibson, the vessel they had under observation never was seen to turn around, and unlike Stone, he never saw what looked to him to be a stern light. He did see the vessel's port sidelight disappear, but that was only after the 7th rocket was seen, which means that this vessel was not steaming away while these rockets were being sent up. According to Gibson, when Stone sent him down to report to Lord at 2:05am, the vessel had disappeared completely from sight.
    Jen RN likes this.
  17. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    I believe Althen is referring to the same source of information I have. I believe it was a Discovery Channel documentary. Perhaps you have a link for the curious? I might have to go dig that up myself.

    It depends Jim. My understanding is that the mirage effect would only happen near the horizon. If the rockets were above the mirage effect, they would appear unaltered in their proper position. If the ship's appearance was raised by the mirage effect, then the rockets would appear just over the mirage ship, or on an equal level with the mirage ship, instead of high in the air above it.

    Jim, I believe you mentioned something earlier about the rockets appearing to come from behind the unknown vessel seen from the Californian.
  18. Adam Went

    Adam Went Member

    Hi all,


    I think it's unfair to judge Rostron VS Lord based on how quickly they climbed their individual ladders. If such a comparison were to be made it should be on what they achieved throughout their careers rather than personal characteristics, age at promotion, etc etc. Some people are just late bloomers.

    Personally I don't think either Ismay or Lord did very much wrong. Just enough to attract the ire of the scapegoat-searching public in the wake of the disaster, and unfortunately history will always judge them in a very harsh light - apart from the handful of people you see on sites like these.


    Well Jim seems to think that there WAS another ship involved, so perhaps you should sort that out with him instead of me as the idea of a mystery vessel is completely foreign (and unlikely) to me as well.

    The Californian KNEW the Titanic was in the vicinity. They may not have known that the "strange ship" was the Titanic, but what was stopping them from contacting the Titanic - who they DID know had wireless, only too well after the events earlier that day - and find out what was going on with this "strange ship" that was near to them both? As i've repeatedly said, it would only have taken a moment and the Californian most likely would not have been required to even send out a message.


    I suspect that the officers on the Titanic weren't necessarily looking out for a morse lamp, and i'm still not convinced that the conditions that night wouldn't have prevented a more lamp signal from becoming distorted in some fashion or another anyway.

    Evidently, the Carpathia had her wireless operator on duty, and she wasn't in the class of any of the vessels you mentioned. Similarly, I can't understand the logic in the argument that at 12 miles away (for the record, we don't do miles here in Australia, so i've got to convert all this stuff to metric, but it's still not far) the Californian was too far to help when the Carpathia was five times that distance away.

    As for Evans, it wasn't up to him to decide what messages he didn't or did send out. If he got ordered to get up and contact the Titanic, then he'd better have done it or he might have been seeking new employment when he came ashore.


    I understand that you're experienced in this field but that doesn't change what happened on board the Titanic and Californian that night. I'm a journalist, but I don't pretend to know what W.T. Stead was thinking and feeling on board the Titanic - it's essentially the same thing. We can speak with a better insight into it all, of course, but the situation with the Titanic was unique, and therefore cannot be subject to comparison.

    And yes, I have heard about the alleged criminal activities of some of Britain's most famous entertainers. But again, it's a different kettle of fish entirely, because they are being (or have been) tried based on evidence which exists against them. In the case of Rostron, there is no evidence against him other than what MIGHT have happened, not what DID happen. You'll often find legal situations where police refuse to act before a crime has actually been committed, well so it is the case with Rostron. One cannot convict him of a crime which he never committed.

    If we want to talk about hypotheticals, perhaps a system should have been put in place with the wireless where even if the system had been shut down for the night, a special alert could be given got an SOS/CQD call coming through, so as a situation like that on board the Californian could have been averted.

  19. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    If the ship isn't paying attention to standard Morse lamp signals, and doesn't have a wireless, how is the Titanic supposed to contact them? And if the Titanic was listening on the wireless, and if the strange ship really was in distress 10 miles to the South while the Titanic was 20 miles to the South (i.e. the same distance away from the strange ship as the Californian) then it's jolly well good for the Titanic and she can take the bother to listen for distress signals and save the mystery vessel which has no wireless and is neither sending nor receiving standard Morse lamp signals, is steaming around while sinking (something a captain would be an idiot to do as it increases the water pressure against the hull), and more-so steaming away from the Californian, while sending up rockets which only vaguely resemble distress rockets due to their infrequency and lack of sound.

    Could they have woken the wireless operator? Yes. Would it have been easy? Yes. Would they have learned that the Titanic was sinking? Yes. Would they have been able to render assistance? Yes. But they would have had to know that it was specifically the RMS Titanic which they were watching sink, something which became blindingly obvious only after the fact.

    I don't know what you mean. If you read this thread, you'll notice that I have been talking with Jim about this.
  20. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Hello Sam. Great to see you jumping in and joining us in the pool. Hope this finds you well and prospering (until default anyway :() Perhaps we can give these younger whippersnappers a bit of amusement as well as education?

    Let battle commence.

    I completely understand your technical dissertation re the signal lamps but have you ever seen one of these things through a set of night glasses? Perhaps not, since they stopped using them in the late 70's. I can assure you however that they could be seen with binoculars at a much greater distance than 5 miles. By the way, I have also used an Aldis lamp more times than I care to remember. They were not just supplied to naval vessels. In fact, as supplied to merchant vessels, an Aldis lamp was a uni-directional day-light signalling device. It was about 9" diameter; had a pistol grip and activating trigger which operated a magnifying mirror, rocking it up and down. The target was sighted through a little telescope mounted on top. It was portable and kept in a box in the wheelhouse. It was often supplied with a 24v battery

    You observe that 'powerful' is a relevant term. It certainly is. Stanley Lord would not 'think' his signalling apparatus was powerful he would know it was. He said so and would have had a good reason for saying so. Just to keep his hand in, he probably used it himself from time to time. Apart from that, there is no doubt that he would often stand beside his officers as they used it; reading replies through binoculars. Or if the target was on the horizon;the ship's telescope (all ships carried one). I've done that myself.

    Boxhall was also watching the nearby vessel with the aid of binoculars. He would know, as all of us did, exactly where to look for a signalling lamp. If he said the other vessel was not signalling then she wasn't. By the way, how do you explain away the fact that he first saw it with the aid of binoculars and finally with the naked eye? (Apart from it being moving, that is)

    There's nothing to appologise for as far as Lord is concerned. Lord himself never did, so why should anyone else?

    Why should you find the trashing of Rostron amusing?

    Forget about all the razz-a-ma-tazz of rescue and look at the mans' actions in the cold light of day. Do you seriously believe that he acted in an unselfish, seaman-like manner? Consider the basics that ever good ship master would adhere to:

    The Master of a vessel's must have first and foremost in his mind and actions, the safety of all on board.

    The master of a vessel must take every prudent action necessary to save life without placing the lives of those in his charge at risk.

    The master of a vessel must not exhibit signals which can be mistaken for any signals in the prescribed rules for the prevention of collisions at sea.

    In the event of a noteable incident; the master should ensure as far as possible that all records are kept up to date and that statements are taken from idividual crew members involved.

    Match our Captain Rostron to the foregoing and tell me if you think the man is squeeky-clean. While you're at it- why did he maintain radio silence for so long?

    I know it's unfashionable to criticise a hero but I'm not in the fashion business.

    You wrote:

    "Lord may not have been given enough information when Stone called down to him on the speaking tube when those rockets were first going up, but he certainly tried to cover up Californian's role in the affair when his ship arrived in Boston until the story of the rockets came out. Even at the inquiries, he never made public the reports written by Stone and Gibson at his request while Californian was still at sea that gave details as to what was witnessed that night and what was communicated to Lord."

    There is very strong evidence to show that Lord was not given enough information to act as you or others think he should have done. Lord believed that until the day he died.
    He did not try to 'cover-up' the part played by Californian; he simply declined to give the journalists the answers they were looking for. I'm sure you've been interviewed yourself and been selective of what you are willing to part with. I'm equally sure that Adam knows exactly what I mean.
    Cover-up is your choice of description for what Lord told various reporters. Incidently; what he told them was not necessarily what they wrote in their papers.

    As for the affidavits of his 2nd Oficer and Apprentice; Lord acted by the book.

    When he odered his men to provide individual written reports, he did not know that there would be an Inquiry in the US but he did know there would be a Wreck Commissioner's Inquiry back in the UK.
    Since he was in command, and a late-comer to the rescue operation, he would regard Californian as a minor player in the affair. As such, it would be unlikely that any of his men would be called to give evidence.
    He would think very much like Captain Moore of the Mount Temple. i,e, that only he and his wireless man would be called to give evidence. However, he followed established practice and obtained statements from those who claimed to have seen pyrotechnic signals. The rocket sightings of his 2nd Officer and Apprentice might be useful. That would be his reason for obtaining these records. If these two were not called, he would offer their evidence as an assistance in the Inquiry. You and others must keep an open mind about these things and stop looking for conspiracy.
    The UK Inquiry was not called principally to lay blame but to gather all possible information and thereafter fomulate a plan based on such information to reduce or illiminate the chance of such a disaster ever happening again. Perhaps you and others are blinded by too many boogie-men, over-enthusiastic gentlemen of the press or by the reaction of those conducting the Inquiries to the stories written by the gentelmen of the press?

    As for Stone's description of the rockets; I go right back to the affidavits which were written long before any press reporters or smart-alec lawyers were allowed to twist and turn the tale to advantage.
    In his explanation of events, Stone told his boss the following:

    He looked at the nearby vessel and saw "one or two small indistinct lights around the deck which looked like portholes or open doors. I judged her to be a small tramp steamer and about five miles distant"at

    To describe such detail at 5 miles he would have needed to use binoculars or the ship's telescope. No experienced bridge officer could have been mistaken about the approximate distance. That does not bear contradiction. Through glasses, he would also see the horizon. His eye would be drawn to the horizon. Even although the hull is invisible. it would give an experienced eye a reference point. Incidentally, the telescope was often referred to as a 12 mile telescope. I had one at home and could read the door number on the door of a house which was two miles away.
    As with Groves, Stone called the other vessel up several times before being told to do so.
    By the way, Stone did not write that the rockets came from the vessel but that he "observed a flash of light in the sky just above that steamer".
    Above the steamer is not the same as coming from the steamer. It was only later when pressed and verbally tortured that he quantified his answer.
    He also wrote: "I reported seeing these lights in the sky in the direction of the other steamer"
    Again he does not state that the lights came from the steamer but in its direction.

    As for his assertion that the vessel was moving; He wrote"The other steamer meanwhile had shut in her red side light and showed us her stern light and her masthead's glow was just visible. I observed the steamer to be steaming away to the S.W. and altering her bearing fast."...That's a classic description of a vessel moving off location at night.

    Now how does Stone's Affidavit compare with that of Apprentice Gibson:

    Gibson also called up the nearby vessel without being told to do so and did not get a reply. He also wrote "I then got the binoculars and had just got them focused on the vessel when I observed a white flash apparently on her deck, followed by a faint streak towards the sky which then burst into white stars."
    Note he says that the flash was apparently on the deck of the nearby vessel.
    Contrary to your assertion :To Gibson, the vessel they had under observation never was seen to turn around,; Gibson also wrote: "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"
    That is also a classic description of a vessel turning away to the right. If the nearby vessel was still bearing SE then at that moment, she was heading ENE.
    Previously you have suggested that Gibson was seeing Titanic sinking her red light below the horizon as she sank deeper in the water, That's possible but if it was the case, her white light would still have been as bright as it was previously.
    To the point Sam. You know as well as I do that a changing bearing under these circumstances confirns a moving vessel. Why on earth would Gibson have written that his boss was taking bearings and thereafter stated that the vessel was moving if in fact that was not the case? Gibson, like everyone esle knew about the use of the bearing ring to determine if a ship was changing her position. Are you suggesting that Stone lied to Gibson? That he only told Gibson the result of his bearings to give a false impression? That's absurd Sam. I'm sure you would suggest no such thing.

    You jump between affidavit evidence and UK Inquiry evidence.

    Stone and Gibson's answers given during that Inquiry were given under extreme duress and a considerable time after the event with all kinds of outrageous stories surfacing during the intervening weeks. Hardly a sound basis on which to make a conclusion.
    Good heavens! The Commisioner himself was playing the Torquemada game. He asked Stone what he thought the intention of the rockets were. Stone told him and immediately the Commisioner told him that he could not have thought such a thing. Then there's this classic good cop-bad cop exchange:

    "7853. If you try, you will succeed. What did you think these rockets were going up at intervals of three or four minutes for?
    - I just took them as white rockets, and informed the Master and left him to judge.
    7854. Do you mean to say you did not think for yourself? I thought you told us just now that you did think.
    - [No Answer.]
    7855. (Mr. Butler Aspinall.) You know they were not being sent up for fun, were they?
    - No.
    7856. (The Commissioner.) You know, you do not make a good impression upon me at present.

    This young man was being badgered and treated like a criminal by two of the top legal men in the land. They had just previously interrogate - not questioned -young Apprentice Gibson and were obviously comparing evidence rather than gathering it. This was to all intents and purposes a trial. How reliable was Stone as a witness at that time. How do you think you or anyone else at the age of 24 might have dealt whith such a situation? That's why I prefer to rely on the affidavit evidence.

    We can talk round the 'short' interval deffinition until the cows come home but it would serve no useful purpose. Only one point: Gibson and Stone the interval was 3 or 4 minutes. Boxhal et al: 5 to 6 minutes. That's a big difference in short intervals. Which one do you prefer? Meantime, I''ll point out to you and others a few facts with which I hope you will agree:

    The vessel seen from Californian bore about South East. If it was Titanic, it's bearing would never have changed. Right?
    The vessel seen by all those people on Titanic eventually showed a single white light. Right?
    The vessel seen from Californian was first seen on her starboard quarter and disappeared when it was about a point on her port bow. Right?
    Californian had two white masthead lights which would always be visible together with a coloured side-light and she had a single white stern light. Right?
    [I]Californian[/I] never showed a single white light to the nearby vessel. Anyone on board that vessel would always have seen her two white lights; first with her green side light and finally with her red side light. Right.

    Ergo; the vessel seen from Titanic could never have been Californian and vice-versa. It was a physical impossibility.

    Jim C.