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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. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    Jim, I am investigating the matter of the lights independently. My manner of research will take some time to complete, so it will likely not be any time soon.

    My goal will be to demonstrate that you are wrong about the times things happened, that the moving ship did not move after Titanic hit the iceberg, and it was in fact the Titanic. Or something similar. If you have specific primary-source information to hand that will refute that premise, then I would be appreciative.

    One of my chief points of reticence is the Morse Lamps. Clearly they would have been visible to ships between the Titanic and Californian. Should not those ships have had watches? And should not those watches have read those signals?
  2. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Hello Tim.

    I would hate to see you waste your time over this. The ship seen from Titanic was not seen by the lookouts before she hit the iceberg and not immediately after it. They were relived by two other lookouts 20 minutes after she hit the iceberg and these lookouits stayed aloft for another 20 minutes. They came down after seeing all the activity n the boar deck. Both sets of lookouts denied seeing any other vessels.
    Boxhall saw the vessel approaching Titanic when he came back to the bridge and just before the distress position was amended.
    As for the signal lights: there were three men on Titanic's bridge taking turns at signalling the approaching vessel. These were Boxhall and QMs Rowe and Bright.

    Proof of the foregoing can be found in the transcripts of both Inquiries at www. titanicinquiry.org

    My new book (out soon I hope) among other things, deals with this very subject.

    Jim C.
  3. Jim, as Walter Lord once wrote:

    “Actually, it does not really matter whether the Titanic and the Californian were 8, 10, 14 or even 20 miles apart. Whatever the distance, its significance fades before the one, single overwhelming reality of the night: the rockets seen from the Californian's bridge.”

    The article written by John G. Gillespie in the THS about distress signals that was referred to was biggest pile of crap I've ever read. Yet another attempt to shift blame away from those on Californian by claiming that "no one on the Titanic that fateful night was aware of how to fire distress signals."

    As I pointed out previously, the rules about firing rockets or shells did not explicitly specify what should be considered as "short intervals". It certainly didn't say they should be fired at "one minute intervals", which is the requirement when firing guns as signals of distress. And the rule in this regard has not been amended even to this very day. What has changed is the color of the exploding shell. The current rule, as you know, reads: "Rockets or shells, throwing red stars fired one at a time at short intervals." Again, what is considered "short" is not specified.

    In a letter to Ed Kamuda of the THS on 16 Aug 1968, George Rowe wrote: "Captain Smith was standing there and asked if I had the rockets. I replied yes and he said fire one now and one every five or six minutes." As was pointed out before, Boxhall said he thought they were sending them up about every 5 minutes, and that between half a dozen and a dozen were sent up all together. The fact is that nobody was really counting how many were sent up or keeping time. Even, as you pointed out, Californian's 2/O Stone perceived that the first five rockets he witnessed were sent up one at a time about every 3 or 4 minutes when asked if they came in quick succession.

    Apparently firing one signal every 5 minutes was considered by Smith and Boxhall to be short enough to be viewed as distress signals within the meaning of the rules without exhausting their limited supply too quickly. The key to all this is not the specific interval between successive firings, but the one-at-a-time periodic firing of rockets or shells that exploded into stars. And that is exactly what was seen that night from the bridge of Californian. There is absolutely no question about that.

    Now as to what was really going on in Stone's mind when he saw this display can only be speculated upon. But some insight is given by Stone himself when asked: "What did you think these rockets were going up at intervals of three or four minutes for?" His reply was: "I just took them as white rockets, and informed the master and left him to judge." It was a simple way for him to shift responsibility for any action taken, or not taken, onto Capt. Lord. But did Stone think there was anything wrong with the vessel? For this we look to Gibson who was a bit more candid:

    7748. Did you say anything to the Second Officer, Mr. Stone, or did he say anything to you, with reference to these rockets that were repeatedly sent up? - Yes.
    7749. Did not you think it very curious that so many rockets should be sent up so close to one another? - Yes.
    7750. Did you say anything to him about going to see the Captain and saying this seemed to be a serious matter? - No, he told me he had reported it to the Captain and the Captain had told him to keep calling her up.
    7751. Did Mr. Stone say this vessel seemed to be in distress? - No; he said there must be something the matter with her.
    7752. Did he make any remarks to you as to the Captain taking no action? Did he say anything to you at the time? - No.
    7753. Are you sure? - Yes.
    7754. (The Commissioner.) Did you say anything to yourself about it? - I only thought the same that he thought.
    7755. What was that? - That a ship is not going to fire rockets at sea for nothing, and there must be something the matter with her.
    7756. Then you thought it was a case of some kind of distress? - Yes.

    So you call that badgering? I commend the the questions that were asked. Stone and Gibson were not about to openly admit they witnessed signals of distress from wherever they came from while Californian stood still all night.

    To reiterate, the firing interval of these socket signals is not the issue. It never was. That is just more smoke and mirrors raised to shift blame away from Californian and the role she played in the overall drama. What is an issue is exactly what was communicated to Capt. Lord by Stone and how many rockets did he see before calling down to him.

    Jen RN likes this.
  4. Adam Went

    Adam Went Member

    Hi all,


    Well you've basically highlighted a point against the Californian there, in saying that since they couldn't get in contact with the mystery vessel via morse lamp, essentially "oh well, Titanic is nearby, we'll just make it her - or somebody else's - problem while we stay here."

    Sometimes sinking ships will be moved around in order to try and beach them - take Lusitania and Britannic as prime examples of this - but only a fool would think that a ship which was sinking in the North Atlantic, hundreds of miles from shore, would be trying anything along those lines. Especially if they were supposedly sailing 'away' from the Californian.

  5. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member


    You misunderstand my last question. I don't mean "did the Titanic have a watch to see the Morse lamp signals". I mean did the two ships you have postulated have watches.

    It seems to me that your position requires two ships between Titanic and Californian. Both of those ships would have been more or less in Morse Lamp range, and neither of them would have responded. I can't imagine those ships wouldn't have watches that would have seen the signals of either or both the Titanic and Californian. This is twice as problematic as just the Californian and Titanic not being able to see each other.

    One way or another, some ship should have seen the Titanic's Morse lamp signals, and some ship should have seen the Californian's. This problem needs to be answered, regardless of how many ships were in the sea that night.

    Samuel (or do you prefer the short version?),

    I'm rather of the impression that the rules for launching distress rockets were unclear. We have been arguing about their meaning here, why not those who were standing watch April 14th? The officers on the Californian may have interpreted "short intervals" as being consistent with the 1-minute duration specified elsewhere, the officers on the Titanic clearly interpreted "short intervals" as being roughly 5 minutes, more or less.
  6. Tim, you said: "I'm rather of the impression that the rules for launching distress rockets were unclear."

    That is what some people want others to believe. If the rules were unclear then, then they are unclear even now since the meaning of "short" is still not specified. The point is that rockets, more specifically socket distress signals, throwing stars were sent up periodically one at a time over a relatively short period of time that admittedly caused concern among the two eyewitnesses who were on the bridge during the middle watch that night. Stone saw 5 of them over a period of about 1/2 hour before Gibson arrived back on the bridge. Stone admited "He [Gibson] remarked to me once that he did not think they were being sent up for fun, and I quite agreed with him." Stone knew that they were not company signals, admitting "I had never seen company’s signals like them before." The problem was that Stone decided to leave it all up to Lord to decide. The question for me is what exactly what did he say to Lord.

    In his report to Lord on the Apr 18 he wrote,

    "At about 12.45, I observed a flash of light in the sky just above that steamer. I thought nothing of it as there were several shooting stars about, the night being fine and clear with light airs and calms. Shortly after I observed another distinctly over the steamer which I made out to be a white rocket though I observed no flash on the deck or any indication that it had come from that steamer, in fact, it appeared to come from a good distance beyond her. Between then and about 1.15 I observed three more the same as before, and all white in colour. I, at once, whistled down the speaking tube and you came from the chartroom into your own room and answered. I reported seeing these lights in the sky in the direction of the other steamer which appeared to me to be white rockets. You then gave me orders to call her up with the Morse lamp and try and get some information from her. You also asked me if they were private signals and I replied, ‘I do not know but they were all white.’ You then said: ‘When you get an answer let me know by Gibson.’ "

    On the other hand, Gibson wrote in his report to Lord:

    "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. "

    This is quite different from Stone's account in that according to Gibson, Stone called down to Lord after seeing the 2nd rocket; while according to Stone, he called down after seeing the first 5. Lors testified that he told at that time about one white rocket, not multiple ones.
  7. Athlen

    Athlen Member

    The actual legal language is:

    Art 27. When a ship is in distress and requires assistance from other ships or from the shore the following shall be the signals to be used or displayed by her either together or separately that is to say
    In the daytime,
    1 A gun fired at intervals of about a minute
    2 The International Code signal of distress indicated by NC
    3 The distant signal consisting of a square flag having either above or below it a ball or anything resembling a ball

    At night
    1 A gun fired at intervals of about a minute
    2 Flames on the ship as from a burning tar barrel oil barrel &c
    3 Rockets or shells throwing stars of any colour or description fired one at a time at short intervals

    These are regulations made as an Order-in-Council in 1880 pursuant to the Merchant Shipping Amendment Act 1864*. Identical text is used in the one that would have been in force in 1912 (a regulation to the Merchant Shipping Act 1894 as amended in 1906).

    * From the Google e-book "British Merchant Service Journal April 1884 Vol.VI" - on Page 400 there is an ad for the Cotton Company's socket distress signals.

    We should be aware that every phrase in the last sentence is important. "One at a time" is important and I've never heard it discussed. White Star's company signal was two green lights. (The green lights Boxhall had in the lifeboat were the White Star company signals.) I am guessing that all company signals consisted of multiple rockets, meaning that single rockets launched in succession was reserved as an emergency signal.

    Here is a list of some company signals. Note that a so-called blue light is a pyrotechnic flare that was almost always white.
  8. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    The fact that we are debating them proves that they are unclear. I see no logical basis for assuming that because the rules are current that they cannot be unclear.

    Here's something to consider: if you were an officer, standing watch, and saw a clear and unmistakable distress signal, would you tell your captain? Yes, of course. And let's say you told your captain, who was in his cabin, and he did nothing. What would you do? Any good officer would have roused the captain again, and made sure to be clear.

    I am not sure that your interpretation of Stone's report is accurate, either. I give about a 10% chance that it has another meaning, which would make it consistent with Gibson's testimony. "Between then and about 1.15 I observed three more the same as before, and all white in colour. I, at once" this is unusual language. It is very odd to list a vague series of events of unspecified times, and then follow them up with "at once". It is possible that what he meant was that after seeing the first two rockets, he at once reported them, and then saw three more over the next half hour. While this is not the only possible interpretation of his words, it is a plausible one and one which makes his testimony consistent with other witnesses.

    Do you have a link for the testimony letters of Gibson and Stone?
  9. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Hello Sam.

    I have read your latest reply.

    As you point-out; "What is an issue is exactly what was communicated to Capt. Lord by Stone and how many rockets did he see before calling down to him."

    You will remember that I brought this to notice some time ago.

    Regarding the proper use of rockets; There was an obvious cavalier approach to their use in 1912. For instance;
    what, in your opinon, should have been the reactions of anyone within sight of Carpathia's white rockets or the ones fired by the vessel to the south of Californian's location at 3-30am that morning?
    Keep in mind that Rostron was firing his off to give 'comfort' not as a cry for help. Seemingly the other vessel was simply trying to attract the attention of another nearby vessel.

    If you had been captain of a potential rescuer and seen these signals 45 degrees apart and had been listening-in to Titanic's transmissions; which direction would you have steered? Southeast, South-south-west or toward the CQD pposition transmitted by Titanic?

    The exact same problem would have confronted Lord. I've asked this next question before.

    Had Lord taken the advice of all the armchair sailors and got Evans to listen-in; given that there was solid ice to the south and loose ice all round and a ship nearby to the southeast which seemed to be firing low altitude signals; what should have been Lord's decision on receiving distress coordinates which required him to steer 196True?

    The Gillespie paper is a bit of waffle. Crap is useful as a fertilizer! The only comment I would make is that when the new socket signals were first marketed.. I think it was after the New Zealand tests?.. they were heralded as an incorporation of the gun and the rocket. This being so then it might be argued that since the report of the gun was to be made every minute, then common sense follow-on would dictate that the rocket/gun replacement should be utilized in much the same way i.e. as a an indication that the vessel sending them up was in dire need of help.
    I understand your 'short interval' argument very well, it's by no means new or confined to these pages. The Merchant Navy examiner's definition of "a short interval" is "not a long one". He expects candidates to use their common sense...to understand that if they use these things, they want to make sure that they are being seen as an urgent call for help and cannot be mistaken for any other signal. In my book and any other sailor's book.. an interval of 5 or 6 minutes does not translate as an urgent call for help. Not unless it is accomplanied by other signals such as were being employed by Titanic.
    As to interval; have you ever considered that Smith ordered them to be fired to attract the attention of the vessel showing the light on Titanic's port bow and not as a general call for help? When Boxhall started firing these socket signals, the call for help was already being made by signal lamp directly at the approaching vessel and by wireless to all vessels with wireless and within range.

    The only real, significant difference between ordinary company signals and distress signals was the loud 'bang' given off by the latter. By the way, Boxhall also confirmed the use of company signals at sea. He ws no better informed that poor old Stone.

    "13711. Can you say whether any rockets fired at night by a ship under those conditions form a distress signal, or whether rockets may be sent up that are not distress signals?
    - Some companies have private night signals.
    13712. What are they?
    - They are colored as a rule; stars, which you can see. These rockets were not throwing stars, they were throwing balls, I remember, and then they burst.
    13713. It seems that an officer on the Californian reported to the commander of the Californian that he had seen signals; but he said they were not distress signals. Do you know whether or not under the regulations in vogue, and according to the custom at sea, rockets fired, such as the Titanic sent up, would be regarded as anything but distress signals?
    - I am hardly in a position to state that, because it is the first time I have seen distress rockets sent off, and I could not very well judge what they would be like, standing as I was, underneath them, firing them myself. I do not know what they would look like in the distance.

    Given the foregoing exchange; how do you think Boxhall would have faired if he had been on the bridge of Californian instead of Stone?
    There is however one very significant fact missing from the evidence of any of the players in this part of the drama.. none of them seem to mention hearing a very loud, ear-shattering BANG! That was the main difference between a distress rocket and any other marine pyrotechnic used for whatever pupose. Boxhall and everyone with 10 miles of Titanic must have heard it.

    As I see it, it's all very simple Sam.

    A vessel stops nearby, relatively close in terms of open ocean sailing. As a matter of normal ettiquette, several attempts are made to communicate by flashing signal. They are ignored for over an hour.
    Suddenly what seems to be a rocket is seen in the direction of the other vessel. This would evoke instant and normal reaction by any normal OOW which would take the form of "Better tell the 'old man he said to let him know of any changes
    I know perfectly well what Stone wrote but he was being asked to remember something which, at the time he saw it, did not cause him any great concern. You and everyone else should ask the question: Is it conceivable that Stone waited for 5 pyrotechnics to be fired - a total of at least 30 minutes - before telling his boss about them? Personally I find it hard to swallow.

    I have re-read Walter Lord's letter to Captain Barnette in 1992. Surely you do not put any faith in what this guy wrote? In particular, take a look at his summary number 7 below. I quote: (with my comments in blue):

    . Every Officer on the Californian, including Captain Lord, agreed that the rockets — as seen or described — resembled distress signals.[9]

    Where does this agreement come from? Surely not the badgering during th UK Inquiry?

    2. Second Officer Stone and Apprentice Gibson, the two men on the bridge, both thought that the rockets were coming from the strange ship they were watching.

    Rubbish! They said they appeared to come from it. Stone said they appeared to come from beyond it.

    3. Both men suspected that something was wrong. Stone conceded he said, “A ship is not going to fire rockets at sea for nothing.”[10] Gibson said both he and Stone felt the ship was in “trouble of some sort,”[11] and again, “there must be something the matter with her.”[12]Gibson himself decided it was a case of “some kind of distress.”
    Blatant nonsense! Suggestive- digestive stuff. Of course a pyrotechnic was not being fired for 'nothing'. Except for the firer, neither Gibson,Stone nor anyone else knew why they were being fired.
    4. Chief Officer Stewart thought the rockets “might be distress signals” when he relieved Stone at 4:00 A.M. and Stone told him what he had seen.[14] At the British Inquiry Stewart admitted he thought “something had happened.”
    What a load of crap! This is Walter Lord at his 'best'? Distress signals, if seen, heard and fired properly could not be mistaken for anything else. No 'might' about it! Even Stewart was unsure about what constituted a distress signal.
    5. The Californian saw and ignored still more rockets fired from another ship that night. These rockets were seen at the very time the Carpathia was firing rockets as she neared the scene, and also came from the very direction the Carpathia was coming from.
    Rubbish! again. These rockets were seen to the south. Carpathia was coming from the south east.
    6. Both Stone and Gibson immediately connected the rockets with the Titanic while the Californian was en route to the scene the following morning — before there was any time for second-guessing or wishful thinking.[17]
    7. Captain Lord was informed. Later he said he was told of only one rocket, but he is contradicted by all three of the other men on the bridge that night.
    Not true. Gibson confirmed Lord was told of just one rocket.
    8. Feeling as he did, the Captain claimed there was no need to worry. But he was worried enough to wake up his wireless operator at 5:30 A.M. and ask him then to check.[19] The tragedy is that he didn’t do it sooner.
    Dramatic nonsense!Lord called Evans at 5-30pm for a very good reasons. It was the first time he had heard of multiple rockets and Stewart suggested that the vessel seen to the south of them might have a problem. There was no 'tradgedy'. Consideration of the possibilities of Californian being of any assistance to Titanic was beyond the capabilities of Walter Lord or anyone else other than a professional with all the facts at his or her fingertips.

    In the face of all this, the Mercantile Marine Service Association would have us believe that there were really two separate pairs of ships out there: the Titanic and an unknown stranger, and the Californian and an unknown stranger. In each pair, one of the ships came up from the east, stopped some time between 11:30 and midnight, and later began firing rockets. In each pair, about eight rockets were fired. In each pair, the rocket-firing ship gradually disappeared, finally vanishing about 2 1/2 hours after she first stopped. In the case of each pair, another hour passed, and then a third ship appeared firing rockets on the southern horizon. Even on this incredible night, this string of coincidences seems too incredible to accept.
    This kind of summing-up clearly illustrates the observation that 'a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. It also illustrates the sheer arrogance of a man completely blinded by his own brilliance. If Walter had had the skills; he would have quickly deduced that one ship came form the 'eastward' and another (the one seen by Groves) from the far side of the ice.. in fact from the direction of SSW.

    The Californian’s defenders have another theory which seems to me equally unacceptable. This has been advanced by Peter Padfield in his book The Titanic and the Californian and also by marine writer John Carrothers in an article that appeared a number of years ago in the Naval Institute Proceedings. According to this theory, the rockets probably were the Titanic’s rockets, but came from behind another ship standing between the sinking liner and the Californian.This was also the theory offered by Second Officer Stone, who was on the Californian’s bridge that watch. He first suggested it in a letter to Captain Lord, dated April 18, 1912, relating the events of the night. He later elaborated on it at the British Inquiry. But he certainly never mentioned it in his conversation with Gibson that night.
    Moreover, this belated offering collides head-on with Stone’s explanation of the other thing he had to account for: why the lights he was watching “disappeared.” Stone said they disappeared not because the ship he was watching sank, but because she steamed away. If that was the case, the court asked, why didn’t the mysterious ship steam out from in front of the rockets, revealing where they were really coming from. Stone had no answer to that.[20]

    Again, evidence of ignorance. Stone wrote about that long before he was subjected to questioning. If it was a theory as Walter likes to call it then it was a theory based on sound principals based on knowledge. He not only said that he thought the rockets didn't go as high as he thought they should do, if fired by the nearby vessel; he also reinforced his belief by comparing the height to a fixed position on the nearby ship-her masthead light. He never said that the rockets came from the nearby ship. Even Gibson was not sure. He said that his deck flash 'seemed' to come from it. Seeming so is not an actuality

    Sam you and others may wish to worry the rocket sightings like a dog with a bone and ignore Boxhall's moving vessel evidence. I find it incredible that you do but I am still waiting for an explanation for the following:

    The vessel seen on Titanic's port bow first showed a red port light and two white masthead lights for a considerable time. Then she showed her green and red lights together and both masthead lights before showing her red sidelight and both white masthead lights once again. Boxhall never saw that vessel's green sidelight on its own whith the masthead lights. This was during a period of no more than 30 minutes while the 8 rockets were being fired. Finally Boxhall's vessel turned and showed her white stern light only and that was about the time the last rocket was fired. Significantly and of great importance; that last rocket would have been seen astern fom an observer on a vessel showing the white light, not on her port or starboard bow. The last rocket seen from Californian was 1 point on her port bow, not astern of her.
    Californian was showing the rocket-firing vessel a green sidelight and two white masthead lights from the time the first rocket was sighted right up until and including the second last rocket that was fired. She showed her red sidelight in the direction of the last rocket. She would never have shown Titanic a white stern light.

    How can all of this be ignored?


    Jim C.
  10. Tim asked:

    >>It is possible that what he meant was that after seeing the first two rockets, he at once reported them, and then saw three more over the next half hour.<<

    I doubt it because at the inquiry he was asked:

    7829. What did you communicate to him? - I communicated that I had seen white lights in the sky in the direction of this other steamer, which I took to be white rockets.
    7830. What time was it you gave him that information? - Just about 1.10.

    According to Stone, his five rockets were seen from about 12:45 to 1:10 and then he called the captain.
    He also lied about other things like when the ship he had under observation started to steam away.

    8100. For how long had you this vessel’s stern light under observation? - From just about 1 o’clock to the time I lost her, I should say. The last light I saw must have been her stern light. It may have been the light at the end of an alleyway, or some bright light on deck.
    8101. About how long do you think she was showing her stern light? - About an hour.

    Gibson first came back up on deck at about 1:15 according to Stone, and Gibson witnessed through a pair of binoculars the 6th rocket going up, which he described in great detail in his report to Lord. He also saw the vessel's red sidelight and masthead light at that time. It was only sometime after the 7th rocket went up when the vessel's red sidelight disappeared. So Stone's entire story about the vessel steaming off after the 2nd rocket went up is pure rubbish. What was happeneing was that Californian was swinging and the relative bearing to the steamer and the rockets was changing accordingly.

    As far as a link to those reports, I found the following:

    Titanic & Californian
    Titanic & Californian

    Jim, I'm not about to, nor do I care to, dissect the Walter Lord letter. I quoted a specific statement that he wrote which I happen to fully agree with. The issue here is the actions taken, or not taken, by those on Californian that night.
  11. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    Thank you, Samuel.
  12. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Hello Tim/

  13. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    No offense taken.

    Then your theory has a problem. You've answered the question why Titanic and Californian couldn't see each other's Morse lamps- because they were not in visual range. But you've introduced the question why the two intervening ships did not. A ship in visual range should be able to see the Morse lamp, sans pure distance or atmospheric visual effects. What is the likelihood that two different ships within visual range of rockets would ignore Morse lamp signals from both/either the Titanic and the Californian?

    Your four-ship theory still has to answer the problem that my two-ship theory does: why the ships can't see each other's Morse signals.

    I'm still inclined to accept the flickering Morse-lamp theory. Gibson actually thought he was receiving communications, but then decided it was the other ship's masthead light flickering. Perhaps his first guess was right after all.
  14. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

  15. TimTurner

    TimTurner Member

    For the same reason that Californian couldn't read Titanic's signals - they couldn't see them.

    If I may ask, I believe that you suggested that there were two mystery ships. Why did you say that?

    Yet not so unmistakable that Gibson did indeed try to signal a masthead light.
  16. >>I've just pointed out to you and others the fact that Titanic's lookouts did not report a signaling vessel ahead just before the vessel hit the iceberg.<<

    That question has been addressed in previous threads, but at the risk of getting into another one of these endless debates with you, I'll quote what I wrote about this before:

  17. Athlen

    Athlen Member

    Two questions (and some speculation at the end):
    - What would a typical Morse lamp message be, in terms of length and content?
    - Were Titanic's 'rockets' known for certain to have been the socket signals in lieu of rockets?

    From Lord Mersey's report, Titanic's pyrotechnics are described as
    "36 socket signals in lieu of guns, 12 ordinary rockets, 2 Manwell Holmes deck flares, 12 blue lights, and 6 lifebuoy lights"
    which I think does not include some of the devices listed in Titanic: The Ship Magnificient, specifically the green flares and Roman candles meant for short-range signaling (e.g. in a harbor).

    It'd be speculation, but I wonder why no use was made of the lifebuoy lights (these were meant to ignite on contact with water and could have perhaps helped people in the water) or of the deck flares (since flames on deck would be an undoubted signal of distress.

    PS - Thanks, Sam, for posting the link to that article. I hadn't seen it before. If either sidelight were visible, the Morse lamp should have been too, correct? I know Titanic had two Morse lamps on the bridge wings and Californian's was "on top of the bridge" according to Gibson's UK testimony.
  18. Tim, you asked about why some people believe there were two mystery ships out there.

    For one thing, the vessel seen from Titanic had two masthead lights; the vessel seen from Californian had but one.
    Secondly, the vessel seen from Californian disappeared at the time when all Titanic’s lights went out, just minutes before she sank; the vessel seen from Titanic was still seen by those in the boats almost until dawn broke.
    And thirdly, the vessel seen from Californian appeared to be firing white rockets that burst into stars during the same time that Titanic was firing distress rockets; while the vessel seen from Titanic did not.
    So if there were mystery ships seen by both Californian and Titanic, they had to be different vessels.
  19. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Sam, newcomers are viewing this exchange. They are not clairvoyant.:rolleyes:

    The reason why these debates seem endless to you Sam is because you do not debate them. You simply lay-out your 'wares'.

    In your quoted answer, you refer to the time difference between Titanic and Californian, knowing perfectly well that yu and I don't agree about that. However, the time difference is irrelevant since both ships were trying to contact a vessel in plain sight for over an hour. In the case of Californian, these exchanges began at least 20 minutes before midnight. By your reckoning, they began at 12-15pm on Titanic.
    The lookouts on Titanic left their post 40 minutes after impact. Are you seriously trying to convince me and others that these specially trained men failed to see a nearby vessel or a vessel in plain sight which had been in the same position for over an hour before their vessel hit the iceberg? A vessel the officers of which, which according to you and others, had been watching Titanic approach for over half an hour?
    A vessel which had been regularly trying to contact them by signal light since they stopped?

    I don't expect you to debate this because it is beyond debate

    As for your reference to Groves: You declared:

    "Earlier, at about 11.30 Californian ATS, Groves had noticed that Californian was pointing NE by compass, and this vessel that came on the scene showing ‘a lot of light’, was then approaching his ship from about 3 points abaft the beam.75 That means that Californian’s masthead lights and sidelights were shut out from Titanic at that time.76 When Stone came up to relieve Groves about 40 minutes later, Californian had already swung 2 points to starboard and was then pointing ENE by compass, something that Stone himself confirmed. This would have opened up Californian’s masthead lights and green sidelight to Titanic. Californian would have become noticeable.

    Sam, what'll it take to convince you and others that the vessel Groves was describing could not possibly have been been Titanic? The vessel seen by Groves was west of Californian.. Titanic never was.

    For a start off, Groves said it was about 3.5 points abaft the starboard beam when Californian was heading NE,and approaching at an oblique angle. He saw it clearly at 11-10pm when it was 10 or 12 miles away and it stopped bearing SE 30 minutes later at 11-40pm when it was about 6 miles away. This means that vessel was approaching Californian on a course of N 30 West or N22 West and it was underway on that course and in continuous sight for 30 minutes. It was also making either 12.4 knots or 16,2 knots. Titanic ws on a course of S86W and making 22'5 knots. Here's a plot to scale of what I mean:


    The vessel seen by Groves never showed him a green sidelight. Titanic would have been showing a green to any vessel to the north and west of her course right up until she hit the iceberg. Additionally: if Groves could have seen Titanic approaching for 30 minutes then those on Titanic could have seen Californian for the same 30 minutes before she hit the iceberg. They did not! His vessel came up from astern of Californian when she was heading in an easterly direction and he said so on Dat 8 of the UK Inquiry:
    "I could not be certain where he [Lord] was at that particular moment. When I spoke to him about the steamer coming up astern he was in the chart room." That was at 11-30pm that night.

    As for a second vessel: Captain Lord saw a steam vessel coming along showing a green sidelight.. Groves never saw such a light. Lord saw a vessel something like Californian.. Groves said he saw a passenger vessel, Lord said 'you can't mistake these vessels at sea' Lord was 100% correct; you can't!

    I am at a complete loss as to why you and others cannot see the obvious.

    Incidentally; Besides the foregoing; when answering Tim, you neglected to tell him that the vessel seen from Titanic was moving while Californian was stopped.


    The correct procedure when calling another vessel was as follows:

    Di-dah,di-dah, (A,A, send three times). This is sent in groups of three until until the other vessel answers with dah(T). (I see you). Then the sending ship sends:Dah,dit,dit -Dah (BT meaning 'break). This is then follwed by the morse for de (from) then the call sign letter of the sending ship. each time the receiving ship understand what is being sent it acknowledges with a Dah (T). Thereafter the messages are exchanged. Quite often the formalities would be missed-out and after receiving a 'Dah' (I see you), the sending ship would simply send "What ship-where bound?". In the case of Californian, the correct procedures were not followed. 3rd Officer Groves used the short version but sent 'What' before he realised the other ship was not answering. The answer signal 'T' is unmistakable.
    Calculate a 'dit' as a 10th of a second and a 'Dah' as 1 second (about) with a 10th of a sexond between lettersTypical message would be: Callup sign in groups of three until answer, Then give own signal letters or name followed by 'What ship- where bound. Time length of signal exchange would depend on prompt answer and speed of operators. What length a piece of string?

    Doing this in a hurry so forgive errors

    Jim C.

  20. Adam Went

    Adam Went Member

    Interesting discussion, everyone.


    I would have thought that in the modern age, radar and perhaps more specifically, GPS and other navigational and mapping devices used via satellite would be far more common and reliable than good old mapping co-ordinates on a chart?

    But I don't know that for sure, so I digress. The issue is that it's still as clear as mud to me WHO this third vessel was supposed to have been, and WHY they behaved in the manner which they did. Were they up to no good, or something?

    Of course it's perfectly possible that there were other ships in the area but then that should be all the more reason, I would have thought, to find out what on earth was happening with all the rockets and weird angles and so forth.

    I don't discount the idea of a mystery vessel, I just think that it's an odd set of circumstances.