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Superior mirage and the Californian

Discussion in 'Distance and Bearing' started by DarrenC, Dec 27, 2018.

  1. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    Sadly, given Mila's status has changed to guest it would suggest he / she has scrubbed their account.

    Forgive my ignorance but what is the Ryan case to which I have seen reference made recently ? Is this the same as the limitation of liability hearings or was it a subsequent legal challenge against White Star??
  2. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    To my mind, the problem does not lie with Boxhall but with QM Hichens.
    If, as he claimed, he was given the hard left helm order and had just completed turning the steering wheel to the left when impact came, then there is no way that the ship turned 2 point in any direction in that space of time due to rudder action. It would take no more than 6 seconds to spin the steering wheel hard over.
    We know the first helm order and first engine order were given at more or less the same moment.
    We also know from engine and boiler room evidence that the boiler fire dampers were still being shut-in when impact occurred and that there was a very short space of time between engine order and impact
    It follows that the ship did not have time to turn 2 points before impact. took place
    We have had this discussion many times before.
    The foregoing points to some other event or events, causing a sudden alteration in the ships head at the moment of impact.
    There were two such events...t
    1 The transfer of turning moment from the pivot point to the point of initial contact with the berg
    2 The subsequent reaction of the ship to her forward passage being momentarily curtailed by a relatively immovable object.

    As for the relative position of the berg to the stopped Titanic?

    When a ship's engines are turning astern, the propeller wash acts on the wrong side of the rudder plate and pushes the stern. That is why, when running astern under normal circumstances, the helm is ordered amidship. Consider the following rough sketch.
    Not only the above, but if the engines were run ahead for a period of 2 minutes about 3 minutes after impact. I suggest to you that there were but 2 reasons for Captain Smith to run his engines in that way so long after the initial impact. These were:
    1.. To stop the ship from going astern
    2.. In conjunction with a helm order to bring his ship back onto her original heading, stop her and be ready to continue on the voyage after the all-clear result of an inspection.

    I cannot see anything strange in Boxhall's recollection of events. No more so than the recollections of others.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  3. Julian Atkins

    Julian Atkins Member

    Hi Rob,

    The Ryan case was in respect of a claim for compensation against White Star Line from the family of one of those who lost their life in the disaster - an Irish passenger. It was part of what would now be termed a 'class action' ie a specimen case on behalf of many more. It dealt with the ticket conditions and terms of which UK law was notorious - until the Donoghue v Stephens case in the House of Lords in 1932 (the allegedly snail in the ginger beer bottle).

    It was of some special importance in deciding whether the Marconi Company employees Bride and Phillips were liable and therefore Marconi Co. It was significant in that all the surviving Titanic officers, plus the lookouts, gave fresh testimony on oath as to what happened that fateful night of the disaster, and also previously in respect of ice warning messages received.

    The complete transcript of all the evidence in the Ryan case I found online in respect of UK Law Reports, but have not been able to find it again! Others on here have something similar, and I believe it is on this site, though I can't get my link to work!


    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  4. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    In 1912 he gave various versions of what he heard and saw. e.g. He told the Inquiry that he overheard Murdoch inform the captain that he had reversed the engines full speed astern 'past tense' and that would mean the order to reverse the engines was given just moments before the captain and Boxhall arrived on the bridge. Yet the survivors in the boiler rooms only saw a red light flash which indicated 'stop engines' and Frederick Scott saw the engine telegraphs ring stop e.g.

    "Four telegraphs rang."
    Q - Were there four telegraphs?
    A - She got four telegraphs, two emergency ones.
    Q - What did you notice?
    A - I noticed “Stop” first.
    Q - Did you hear the two?
    A - All four went.
    Q - Did you hear the two ordinary ones ring first?
    A - No, they all four rang together.
    Q - What did they ring?
    A - “Stop.”

    The firemen and trimmers testified that they only saw the red light turn on which indicated 'stop engines' just as the collision occurred.

    Boxhall gave a detailed account in 1962 and said he was sitting in his cabin drinking tea when the bell rang. He could remember the smallest details in that account, such as the specific song the band were playing at a certain time, yet when he recalled what happened when the collision occurred he said Murdoch had told the Captain - "I'm going full speed astern, sir, on the port engine." That came out of the blue. He gave so many contradictory accounts that I doubt he was ever there, especially as Hichens and Olliver made no mention at all of seeing Boxhall there.

    Here's my guess.

    Boxhall was feeling unwell and was relieved by the captain or Murdoch. Boxhall was in no condition to be of any use on the bridge and was grateful to put his feet up after 'doing the rounds' on the decks and by his own admittance he poured himself some tea in his cabin while the bells struck. He was officially or unofficial relieved from duty for a short time and took the opportunity to slip off his tight shoes and rest his feet while he drank tea, and Murdoch joked that he would join him if he could and asked him to pour an extra cup. Moody came to his room and was taking Murdoch's cup from the table when the telephone rang.

    Murdoch focused his binoculars on the Californian and ignored the telephone because when he took the binoculars away from his eyes his eyes would become temporarily unfocused and he could not see the black mass of ice that was approaching. Murdoch hears the telephone ring again and yells out to Moody "Answer that damn telephone." Meanwhile Boxhall is in no state to join them immediately on the bridge. Moody runs over to the telephone just as Murdoch focuses on the iceberg ahead and runs over to the engine telegraph and orders 'Stop engines'.

    The iceberg strikes and the engine room rings back on the telegraph to say they have received the order. Murdoch see's the iceberg bumping against the starboard side and orders 'Hard a-port'. Boxhall has no idea what is happening, but he is now dressing himself in a hurry and trying to slip on his tight shoes without having undone the laces. He feels a long vibration and mistakenly believes the engines are reversing. A number of survivors who were in their bunks had the same assumption, while others like Lightoller and Ismay thought they had lost a propeller blade.

    Boxhall now approaches the bridge and has no idea what happened.

    Q - Could you see what had occurred?
    A - No, sir; I could not see what had occurred.
    Q - Did you know what had occurred?
    A - No, not at all. I heard the sixth officer say what it was.
    Q - What did he say that it was?
    A - He said we had struck an iceberg.
    Q - Was there any evidence of ice on any of the decks, to your knowledge, after that collision?
    A - Just a little on the lower deck. On the open deck I saw just a little, not much.

    He only saw a little amount of ice on the deck, but the other survivors saw tons of ice there. Very likely the crew were instructed to get it off the deck, or were using their initiative and throwing the ice off the ship. When Boxhall finally made it there he had no idea what they had struck and only saw a small powdering of ice against the rail. He had no idea that ice had fallen on the deck originally because when he went below to look for damage he saw a man holding a block of ice and wanted to know where he got it from.

    Overall this would mean Boxhall was not present when Murdoch informed the captain what happened.

    He should have answered like this:

    Q - Did you know what had occurred?
    A - Of course I did. I heard the first officer say what it was when he informed the captain.

    But at the Inquiry he said this:

    Q - Did you know what had occurred?
    A - No, not at all. I heard the sixth officer say what it was.

    When he arrived in New York he was about to be shipped back to England in a hurry with the other officers, but was taken off the ship by force. He then met a doctor and complained that he was in pain and we can only assume that he was making a great effort not to testify. The doctor's letter arrived too late and he answered about 900 questions on his first day at the Inquiry and then he was suddenly taken ill with pleurisy, and the doctor's note arrived and he was kept out of the Inquiry for a week.


    The whole saga of Boxhall's tale is very fishy indeed. Wonder what he really saw and heard.


    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  5. Julian Atkins

    Julian Atkins Member

    Hi Aaron,

    I think you are probably spot on with the above except Murdoch focusing on The Californian and a 'tea party' with others - Boxhall's BBC 1962 interview is quite clear he was having a cup of tea in his cabin on his own.

    My own view is that Boxhall's account of what happened on the bridge when the ice berg struck was totally concocted and a fabrication. Virtually everything else he said was a concoction. He was a nasty piece of work, and totally obsessed with money, and ensuring his future employment with White Star and his pension was not endangered.

    His only virtue was in having that box of White Star company signals green flares in his lifeboat that prevented Carpathia running down some of the lifeboats and alerting Carpathia to the lifeboats as they approached on the wrong course and at lesser speed than claimed and at a shorter distance, as per my link above to Dave Gittins.

    If he had been a good officer he would have fired off the boxes of White Star Cotton Powder Co distress signals at far more frequent intervals and used most of them up if not all, and thereby not caused Stone and Gibson to be confused as to what they were seeing some 12 miles off.

    Boxhall was an idiot, same as Evans was, and quite a few others.


    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
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  6. Rob Lawes

    Rob Lawes Member

    Hi Julian.

    Very many thanks for your response to my query.

    I really need to get my Titanic knowledge out of first gear.

    Hopefully this link will work.

    The Third Titanic Inquiry - Ryan v. OSNC


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  7. Julian Atkins

    Julian Atkins Member

    Hi SG,

    Not one sentence, but see my above post earlier this evening!

    OK, in one sentence, Boxhall was a nasty piece of work and lied about things he had no direct knowledge of, then messed up the firing of the distress rockets at far too long intervals and far too few being fired, and he also was responsible for sending out a CQD distress position that was some 13 miles (need to check this) inaccurate.

    Will that do?


    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
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  8. SmileyGirl

    SmileyGirl Guest

    Yes sorry Julian, I just read all you had said earlier! I deleted my post to you so that you would not be troubled to answer but too late! I knew about the wrong location but did not know about the rest. Thank you for that :D
  9. SmileyGirl

    SmileyGirl Guest

    Did I read that the firing of rockets just stopped when Boxhall went into a lifeboat? Should be have organised for them to carry on being fired?
  10. Julian Atkins

    Julian Atkins Member

    Hi SG,

    It is generally accepted the last distress rocket was fired from Titanic around 1.45am on the 15th April. Boxhall gave no orders to others to continue firing rockets after he left in his lifeboat. There is well know pictorial evidence of a container of Cotton Powder Co distress rockets found on the wreck site sea bed with lots of rockets remaining in it unused.

    Captain Lord maintained he was only told of one rocket, though there is some debate over the timing of this and whether he was told by Stone of more rockets seen depending on when Gibson returned to the bridge. Gibson reported 8 white rockets to Captain Lord at 2.05am on the 15th April.

    The chilling part of Captain Lord's cross examination at the British Inquiry is at each point (in a classic 3 point interrogation by Sir Rufus Isaacs, the Attorney General) is he replied 3 times of being told of rockets seen by Stone he 3 times he remained in the chart room.

    Of the much later (an hour and 30 minutes or so onwards) 3 further flashes or distress signals/rockets seen very far off fired from the Carpathia on the horizon, Stone and Gibson made no further report to Captain Lord that night.

    I hope I have been quite objective in stating the above.


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  11. Mikael K

    Mikael K Member

    Indeed this is an issue with much of the testimony given, we do not know what witnesses left out as "unimportant" or just gaps in time which is why I find Boxhall's story extremely unhelpful. What I would like Aaron to answer is how he's able to just disregard what Hichens, Fleet and Lee said? Only in opposite world would someone read their testimonies and come to the conclusion that what they said happened did in fact not happen.
    Ioannis Georgiou likes this.
  12. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Hichens, Fleet, and Lee all contradicted each other at the Inquiry. Lee said they rang 8 bells in the crows nest at 11.30pm (normal practice), but Fleet said they didn't. Lee said there was a dense haze right ahead which made it impossible to see the iceberg, and that his mate Fleet told him "We will be lucky if we can see through that." but Fleet told the Inquiry - "I never said that" and he said the haze was only very slight and did not affect their sight at all. Fleet got to testify in America, but Lee was mysteriously detained in New York and did not appear at the American Inquiry. This meant Fleet could testify alone with no fear of being contradicted by Lee because he was kept out of the American Inquiry.

    Fleet said the ship was already turning before he got an answer on the phone, but Hichen's said he received the order to turn the ship after the phone was answered. Fleet said he got an immediate reply, but Fleet also said the first words he spoke on the phone were "Is there anyone there?" and he told Major Peuchen and others that he never received any reply. Lee said Fleet was still at the telephone when the iceberg was passing down the starboard side.

    Hichens said Olliver was standing next to him when the order 'hard a-starboard' was given, but Olliver said he never heard that order given and the only order he heard was "hard a-port" yet Hichens made no mention of the order 'hard a-port'. Olliver was mysteriously kept out of the British Inquiry. Lightoller said the Inquiry was a whitewash to protect the company, and Lightoller's relatives were told that Hichens had turned the ship the other way i.e. right and not left.

    There were so many contradictions that Lightoller had to step in and he was asked who was right and who was wrong. He could not pick sides, so he answered (very cunningly) - "If Hichens is right then Fleet must be wrong." When Lightoller went to see Boxhall during his illness the Senator wanted to know if Boxhall was feeling better and asked for Lightoller's opinion, but Lightoller (very cunningly) just said 'according to the doctor' he was not well enough to testify. The key survivors were pretty good at dodging questions.

    Then we have Boxhall and his continuous contradictions about what happened. As the saying goes, we only know the tip of the iceberg about what really happened and we have to cross-examine every witness to sort out what really happened. The crew were promised a job for life with the company after the disaster, but this promise fell flat pretty quick. However Fleet was given a job on the Olympic (Titanic's sister) and he served on that ship for a many years (hundreds of voyages) until the White Star Line merged with Cunard and the Olympic was taken out of service. One could say Fleet was treated separately from the other survivors and was awarded a job for life on the Olympic for keeping his mouth shut about what really happened.

    We can only speculate.

    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  13. SmileyGirl

    SmileyGirl Guest

    Thanks Julian. I have seen a pic of the unused rockets before. But I just always assumed that when Boxhall went into a boat, someone carried on firing rockets! That’s quite shocking that they didn’t.
  14. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    Quartermaster Rowe was also helping Boxhall to fire the rockets, but Rowe stopped and got into Collapsible C. I believe they were firing rockets to attract the mystery steamer off their port bow, but when they realized she was not approaching they would stop firing the rockets. The last remaining lifeboats were short on crew, and they needed every available crew man to take command and row the last remaining boats away from the ship. Boxhall stopped firing the rockets and got into lifeboat 2 on the port side and QM Rowe stopped firing the rockets and got into collapsible C on the starboard side.

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  15. SmileyGirl

    SmileyGirl Guest

    Thanks very much for that Aaron. I wondered if a layperson may have been shown how to the fire the rockets though just in case another ship might have passed in the last half hour but I guess it would not have been enough time to bring everyone aboard alive anyway :(
  16. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    The time of 1-45 am for the last socket signal is not "generally accepted" it is only so if you believe that Hogg and Evans relieved lookouts Fleet and Lee 24 minutes too early. In fact, according to QM Rowe, the last signal was fired about 1-20 pm.

    It was not part of the duties of the 4th Officer to order the firing if such signals. Only the Master would do so.

    Lord said he was told of one signal being seen. This was corroborated by the evidence of Apprentice Gibson who wrote that Stone told him that he reported to Lord as soon as positive identification was made. That would have been close to 00-50 am.
    In fact, Stone wrote that he saw 5 signals between 00-45 am and 1-15 am but made no report to Lord before 1-15 am.

    The most significant part of Gibson's evidence is
    "Just after two o'clock she was then about two points on the Port bow, she disappeared from sight and nothing was seen of her again. The Second Officer then said, "Call the Captain and tell him that the ship has disappeared in the S.W., that we are heading W.S.W. and that altogether she has fired eight rockets. "

    Why? Because Lord knew the original bearing of the nearby vessel was SE'ly. If he was told that the vessel had disappeared in the SW, then there was absolutely no point in him taking the matter any further...to him, (and any other shipmaster) it would have just been another unexplained event.

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  17. Mikael K

    Mikael K Member

    This is not relevant to the question at hand. That last sentence is pure speculation. The thickness of the haze is a non-issue really as it can't be resolved.

    Again, nitpicking. Consider what they had been through - with that in mind their stories are remarkably similar. This big picture: Alarm and phone call somewhat at the same time (does it really matter in what order?), hard-a-starboard, engines stopped crash follows very quickly after that. The second for second timeline is obviously messed up and we'll never know in what order everything happened. Conspiracies, however, do not help.

    So your suggestion is that no orders were given at all? That is even more absurd. What was Lightoller referring to exactly? That the officers were to blame for the accident? Or that WSL refused to take responsibility?

    So Lightoller is cunning? He was sleeping at the time of the collision so obviously he didn't know.

    Again, conspiracies on your part.

    Yeah but we can also look at the facts and rule out absurd theories such as the idea that there was no helm order or phone call. It contradicts the testimonies (how many times do I have to say this?).
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  18. Aaron_2016

    Aaron_2016 Member

    I never said there were no helm orders. The only helm order that was heard by Olliver was 'hard a-port' (turn right) and I showed earlier how the survivors felt the ship heel over to port as she turned right and her stern swung away from the iceberg and the damage on the starboard side corresponds to the ship heeling over 4 degrees to port which would happen if she turned right and heeled over. I tested the heel in ship simulator 2008 and the Titanic model heeled over the same 4 degrees as she turned right, and the survivors felt her heel over to port during and immediately after the collision.

    Since nobody felt the ship heel over to the right as she allegedly turned left we can easily conclude she did not turn left. Fellow member Jim Currie also stated that the Titanic could not turn left and then turn right and face north towards the Californian because she would have lost too much momentum from the first turn. So it makes sense that if the Titanic was facing northwards during the evacuation then she could not have turned left.

    Lightoller was awake during the collision. He climbed out of bed when he felt the engines stop. He spoke to the crew when he was on the Carpathia and tried to determine what happened. Yet when he testified he could not choose sides because Hichens and Fleet were contradicting each other.

    The conspiracy began with Lightoller who said:

    "In Washington it was of little consequence, but in London it was very necessary to keep one's hand on the whitewash brush. Sharp questions that needed careful answers if one was to avoid a pitfall, carefully and subtly dug, leading to a pinning down of blame onto someone's luckless shoulders.....A washing of dirty linen would help no one.......The Board of Trade was holding an enquiry into the loss of the ship, hence the whitewash brush. Personally I had no desire that blame should be attributed either to the Board of Trade or the White Star Line, though in all conscience it was a difficult task.......I think in the end the Board of Trade and the White Star Line won.....I know when it was all over I felt more like a legal doormat than a mail boat officer."

  19. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    That does not make sense, Aaron.

    Only Captain Smith would give the order to stop firing the signals. These two would not make an arbitrary decision. Besides that, if there had been no clock change on Titanic before impact with the iceberg...the time difference between Titanic and Californian was 12 minutes and 8 signals had been fired at 6-minute intervals, then the first one would have been fired at 12-55 am and the last one at 1-39 am. Rowe left the ship at 2 am Boxhall left 10 minutes earlier at 01-50 am.
    Signal 1...00-45am C...00-57am T.
    Signal 2...00-51am C...01-03am T.
    Signal 3...00-57am C...01-09am T.
    Signal 4...01-03am C...01-15am T.
    Sugnal5...01-09am C...01-21am T.
    Signal 6...01-15am C...01-27am T.
    Signal 7...01-21am C...01-33am T.
    Signal 8...01-27am C...01-39am T.
    Something is wrong.
    Now look at the question in a different way.
    If Californian had altered her clocks and put them 10 minutes back at midnight, and at the same time, Titanic had set her clocks back 24 minutes before impact, then Californian's clocks would be exactly 2 hours FAST of New York EST and those on Titanic would have been 1 hour 38 minutes FAST of NY-EST. This would mean that at the time of 00-45 am when Stone saw the first rocket, it would have been 11-05 pm at New York and 00-43 am on board Titanic.
    Rowe said he fired the last rocket at about 1-25 am and his watch was altered time of 1 hour 38 minutes fast of New York time. So the New York Time by Rowe's watch when he fired that last signal was 1-25 minus 1-38 = 11-47 pm. Now let's work back in 6-minute intervals to get the NYT of the first rocket.
    11-47 pm.. Signal 8
    11-41 pm..............7
    11-35 pm..............6
    11-29 pm..............5
    11-23 pm..............4
    11-17 pm..............3
    11-11 pm..............2
    11-05 pm..............1.

    Stone arrived on the bridge at 12-10 am unaltered time. If the clocks had been set back to reflect the local mean time then he too would have had to set back his watch to the correct ship local time.

    Give it a thought.
  20. Who was counting that only 8 rockets were fired? What we know is that only 8 were seen from Californian. We also know when the 1st was fired which was just after boat #5 was launched, the 2nd boat to get away. We also know that it was Rowe who fired the last one and it was Smith who ordered him to fire the last one and go to take charge of boat C.