The Almerian and the Mount Temple


Mar 22, 2003
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A new article of mine, The Almerian and the Mount Temple - A Tale of Two Ships, was first published in the December 2012 issue of the Atlantic Daily Bulletin, journal of the British Titanic Society. It deals with the movements of two vessels, Mount Temple and Almerian, on the morning of April 15, 1912, following the Titanic disaster. Mount Temple has in the past been implicated by supporters of Capt. Stanley Lord of the SS Californian as the possible mystery ship seen from Titanic that failed to respond to Titanic's distress signals. Almerian was identified by Capt. Lord as the small tramp steamer that he saw going northward near where Mount Temple was stopped while he was heading southward on the western side of the ice field before cutting across the field to reach the rescue ship Carpathia on the other side. This article deals with various claims and allegations that have been made concerning Mount Temple based on new, hard evidence that has been uncovered dealing with the movements of Almerian. It shows that neither Mount Temple nor Almerian had anything to do with the so called 'mystery ship' seen from Titanic, and calls into suspect the Almerian account handwritten by Capt. Lord detailing her movements on the morning of April 15. This article is now available in PDF format for viewing on-line at http://www.titanicology.com/Californian/The_Almerian_and_the_Mount_Temple.pdf.
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Sam -- Your Almerian/Mount Temple paper is first class scholarly research. It saddens me that speculation over Jack and Rose in the car draws more discussion than papers like this one. The Titanic community owes you an apology for ignoring your work, but I fear you'll never get it.

Well done.

-- David G. Brown
 

Scott Mills

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Sam,

Just glanced at the article, and pretty interesting stuff! One of my biggest weaknesses as far as doing this sort of research is processing navigational data, so I am probably going to have to read your article 2 or 3 times with much greater rigor before I can offer any useful or interesting thoughts.

It does seem that you've done a number on Almeranian "theory," but to be fair to Senan this was hardly central to Senan's case against Mount Temple. So, I am as of yet, not entirely wiling to dismiss her as one of the potential "mystery ship" candidates, but we will see what happens after I finally cognize your article fully. :)

In any case, thanks for posting it!
 

Jim Currie

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I agree David. A well crafted article Sam, up to your usual excellent standard but... and you just had to guess there would be a 'but'... I think you should have another look at the route planning for the Almerian.and a few other things.


Almerian

There was no law that said ships had to follow the recommended Great Circle Tracks or even follow one at all. There was another way to cross the Atlantic quickly from West to East which did not entail the use of a Great Circle track.
It was common practice for low powered cargo vessels coming from Gulf of Mexico ports and heading east to follow the Gulf Stream for as long as they could. Normally they would follow it up to Cape Hatteras then ride it back eastward. In this way, they would get a boost in speed and at the same time stay south of the ice. It meant they might not need to uses a GC at all since what they lost in not going the shortest route, they gained from the Gulf Stream Current. Some did a composite thing. i.e. Gulf Stream as far east as practical then a Great Circle towards the western approaches to the English Channel. Another boost up the tail was the prevailing southwesterlies in that part of the world.

It looks like Almerian's captain was asked by the American Weather Bureau to complete a voyage form. The one you re-produce is much like the Auxhiliary Weather Observer forms completed for the UK Met Office.
That form tells me a great deal about Almerian's voyage. It, combined with the daily GMT Noon coordinates you provided for Almerian, clearly shows that she was attempting to following the Gulf Stream.
It is highly likely that she was saving coal as was Californian. For the first full 2 days before she got into the north bound currents she was making about 7.5 knots. Perhaps a Company directive due the the recent coal strike? Or perhaps she was just an old steamship (15 years old) which was due for an annual drydocking to clean-off her bottom?

Route of the Almerian.jpg

In the above illustration, I have plotted the GMT Noon positions provided by you. They appear to show that in the period 11th,12th ,13th April, Almerian was following the Gulf Stream very closely and that it was giving her a boost of about 2 knots. At GMT Noon on the 14th, she was slightly north of it.
Rather than show a Great Circle trend which would be curving to the northward, she was altering to the south, as though trying to keep in the northern margin of the current.
If she had kept going in the direction indicated by her course between April 13 and April 14, she would have arrived at the ice barrier at 3am on the morning of April 15 at the time indicated by Captain Lord's notes.
Even more to the point with regard to Titanic: If Almerian had not encountered ice, and continued on her course, she would have passed very close to The Corner.
As it was, after she diverted for the ice and got clear of it's eastern side, she passed about 10 miles to the north of it and then seems to have turned northeastward.
At GMT Noon on April 16, she was exactly on the Great Circle course line followed by Titanic two days earlier when that vessel was heading toward The Corner from Noon April 14. Significantly; the water temperature at that location was 57 F. Captain Lord reported that the water temperature to the west of that location was 56F. Almerian was back in the northern extension of the Gulf Stream. It seems therefore that 5th Officer Lowe of the Titanic was correct with his afternoon speed and Titanic was slowed down. She must have been in the Gulf Stream.

Almerian's intended track.jpg

The ice barrier in the next illustration is plotted from reports before and after April 15 (Courtesy Dr Paull Lee). They show Almerian would have encountered ice as claimed by her captain. I have also included a plot for Mount Temple, but this will change.
As a matter if interest; out of over 200 reports recorded after April 15, only 2 show ice west of 50 West and south-west of the wreck site.

Early 15th.jpg

Conclusions:

From the information provided by you I am of the opinion that Almerian was not following a Great Circle track. That she arrived at the ice as indicated at the foot of Captain Lord's notes. This being the case, she was most deffinitely in the disaster area between 3am and 8-30am ship time on April 15, 1912. Furthermore, the notes cleary indicate that her captain followed the edge of he ice attempting to find a way through. If he did so during the period in question, he could not have failed to see Mount Temple, Californian and the small ship with the black funnel. Nor could he have missed seeing the signals of Carpathia and Boxhall.

Mount Temple

Since you show Mount Temple arriving at 50 W at 7-12 pm that night, you obviously did not take into consideration the Gulf Stream effect on her progress from Noon on April 14 until she arrived at 50 West. Although you mention it's effect on Carpathia when she crossed the same area.
Nor did you make any allowance for the possibility of an extension of the Labrador Current setting just west of south.
We can get a very good idea of the rate and direction of The Gulf Stream from the Met. sheet of Almerian and from the movements of Carpathia. and other ships.
The Met. sheet of the Almerian helps us to plot it's northern margine since it gives sea tempertures. These combined with her mean course steered and daily distance covered indicate its direction.

Almerian turned just North East off Cape Hatteras. She seems to have been a little North of where she wanted to be and adjusted her course to the southward. Indications are, she steered a mean course of 075 True. I have asumed that as the medial direction of The Gulf Stream.
The speed prior to entering the Florida Current and the Gulf Stream and the average speed when in these currents indicate a mean current speed of about 2 knots.

As for Carpathia: the difference between her planned course of North 52 West and the actual course she made toward the north west together with the distance she covered in the time from 12-35am until 4am proves there was no south setting factor. Instead, everything points to her crossing an ENE-setting current running at a rate of about 2 knots. I have plotted the possibilities in the next illustration:

Current effects.jpg

Crucially, because of the direction of the Gulf Stream current, it means that it must have been acting against Mount Temple all the way from The Corner as she headed down toward her planned turning point at 50W. With the result, with a 2 knot current acting against her, she would not have arrived at 50 West at 7-12pm ATS as you suggest. She probably arrived there at 8-50pm. It would therefore have been dark, meaning Captain Moore would not have seen nearby ice after nightfall.

The time at which Mount Temple really arrived at 50W is the key to the whole affair. The later she got there, the less distance she would have covered on her course for St John NB before she turned onto her Titanic rescue course of 065 True.
I am very suspicious of the good Captain. He was a veteran of 27 years on that run and knew very well about the Gulf Stream effect. In fact he stated that he expected to get a little push from it as he went to the rescue of Titanic. His Chief Officer would also have obtained stars at dusk that night so Captain Moore would know exactly when he arrived at 50W. He never did volunteer that information.
Why, if he expected to get a push from the Gulf Stream on his way to help Titanic, would he not have that self-same current acting against him during the afternoon and evening of April 14?
In this next illustration, I have the charted path of Mount Temple from Noon on April 14. In it I have made a 2 knot allowance for The Gulf Stream and discounted a southern set.

Track of MT.jpg

Have a look again at the relative positions of all the players, the ice and this new evidence concerning Almerian..

Early 15th.jpg

It shows the position of Almerian at 3 am that morning, relevant to the ice and all the other players. It also shows an estimate of the course she took heading northward while skirting the pack ice.
Of more importance is the implications concerning the evidence of Captain Moore of the Mount Temple. Senan Maloney was absolutely right to challenge it.
Even if Mount Temple had not been diverted to the rescue of Titanic, she must have passed through the area where Almerian and several other ship's. including Californian met with ice. Despite this, Captain Moore said he had never seen any ice until 3am that morning.

You wrote:

"There has been much speculation concerning this report. It has been said that the weakness of the report can be found in the navigational data. As we have seen, the report claimed that when Almerian had stopped, about 3am, a ship later identified as Mount Temple was seen off her port
quarter. The location in the report was put down as 41° 20' N, 50° 24' W, a position that is 20 miles
from any point on Mount Temple’s reported track to the SOS location. The report then had Almerian
steaming northward about 4am, only to reach a position at 10:30am that was 28 miles due north of her
3am stopped position.
This account would have seemed reasonable back in 1912 given the general acceptance"


The navigational data in the Almerian report comes alive with your information concerning her daily GMT positions and the recording of the water temperatures. Add-in the direction and strength of the Gulf Stream and we start to get a very different picture from the one painted by Captain Moore.
Clearly Mount Temple would have been heading directly for the wreck site at 3 am. Equally clearly, the green light Moore saw at the time he saw it must have been one of Boxhall's green flares and not a sailing ship.
This re-working of the evidence suggests that when Mount Temple stopped at 3-25am on April 15, that green light would have been 5.5 miles away on her port bow and Carpathia would have been 10 or 12 miles away to the south.
You will recall that an unidentified light was seen by Captain Rostron to the northward at about that time. As he was dodging ice, we don't know how that light was bearing from Carpathia. Was that Mount Temple?
Apart from anything else, the foregoing suggests that Moore and his men must have seen Carpathia'a pyrotchnics as well as those of Boxhall. It also makes Dr. Quitzrau's affadavit a little closer to the truth.

O-U-N-T is three dashes,two dots and a dash, a dash and a dot ending with a dash. Why if such signals were seen, was the rest of the mesage not seen? That could have been any vessel.

It is plainly correct that Almerian was south of Californian that morning and started headed northward two and a half hours before Californian started heading southeastward down the west side of the heaviest pack ice toward her. In your article, you suggest that Almerian would head due north from her 3am stopped position. But that's not what the extract indicates. I quote:

"I proceeded at various speeds in a northerly direction on the western edge of the ice with the object of finding clear water in the east"

Put yourself in the position of the captain of Almerian. He would know that within a very short time after 4am, dawn would be breaking, his visibility would be increasing all the time. Not only that, but we know there was at least three ships to the northward of his position and we also know the edge of the ice was trending Notheast from his position. It is quite possible that the captain of Almerian saw some activity to the north east. However he initially headed in that direction in an attempt to discover if there was a way through the ice. He would not head north, well to the westward which would prevent him from seeing beyond the ice to the eastward.. the direction in qhich he hoped to go.

Bottom line Sam: If Almerian was where she was at 3am and started moving at 4 am in the direction of northeast, she could not have failed to see the rockets of Carpathia in that direction. Nor could she have missed seeing and being seen by someone on Californian
As an added bonus, in a roundabout way, Almerian's weather log strengthens' the argument that Titanic ran 12 hours and a few minutes from Noon April 14 before she hit the iceberg.

Jim C.

Route of the Almerian.jpg


Almerian's intended track.jpg


Early 15th.jpg


Current effects.jpg


Track of MT.jpg
 

Jim Currie

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Errerata:
It has been pointed out to me that on the 4th illustration I show Carpathia arriving at 4pm imnstead of 4am on the morning of April 15... mia culpa! Disulpa!

Jim C.
 
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I don't have the time to address each and every item you put into in your posts above Jim, nor do I care to, but I will state the following:

The data that I showed in my article clearly proves, intended or otherwise, that Almerian was on a CG track from noon GMT Apr 12th to when she was forced to a stop about 3am LMT on Apr 15th. This is indisputably shown in the data presented in the table on p. 16 of the article.

You claimed, “in the period 11th,12th ,13th April, Almerian was following the Gulf Stream very closely and that it was giving her a boost of about 2 knots.”￾ That is not supported by the data. In fact, the data seems to indicate that Almerian was NOT in the Gulf Steam from the 10th to the 12th based on her average speed made good over those 48 hours, and assuming she was carrying the same number of revolutions on her engines that she had on the previous couple of days. If there was a boost of close to 2 knots from the Gulf Stream, it likely came between noon GMT Apr 9th and noon GMT Apr 10th when Almerian averaged 10.6 knots, the highest run of her eastbound voyage. That part of her path was also in the area where the Gulf Steam typically reaches a surface speed close to 2 knots.

You also said, “If she had kept going in the direction indicated by her course between April 13 and April 14, she would have arrived at the ice barrier at 3am on the morning of April 15 at the time indicated by Captain Lord's notes.”￾ And that is exactly what I show in the table on p. 16. However, at that reported stopping point, 41° 20’N, 50° 24’W, Almerian would have been more than 30 miles to the southwest of the wreck site, and Mount Temple would have been nowhere near that place as claimed in the handwritten report of Capt. Lord. According to the wireless log of John Durrant, Mount Temple had been stopped on the western side of the pack ice from about quarter of 5 to about 5 minutes after 5 before she backed out to go southward. At about 5am, Rostron reported seeing two steamers, one with 4 masts and a single funnel and the other with two masts and single funnel, 7 to 8 miles to the northward of where Carpathia was stopped. Moore’s account said that a two-masted vessel with a single funnel (later seen to be black with some unidentified white marking on it) was also stopped nearby a little to his south. There is little doubt that Moore’s account and Rostron’s account are mutually supporting. Lord’s handwritten report had Almerian first moving again at about 4am, and claimed that Mount Temple was allegedly in sight moving just ahead of them. As I pointed out in my article, Almerian would have been about 25 miles to the SW of Carpathia by 5am, not 7 to 8 miles to the northward of Carpathia as seen by Rostron.

There are a number of other inconsistencies that show up in Lord’s handwritten report. I’ll leave it to the readers to decide the veracity of Capt. Moore’s evidence.

You also said, “Even if Mount Temple had not been diverted to the rescue of Titanic, she must have passed through the area where Almerian and several other ship's. including Californian met with ice. Despite this, Captain Moore said he had never seen any ice until 3am that morning.”￾ When I look at the DR track line of Mount Temple from noon to her turnaround point, and compare it to reported positions of ice in the region, I find that it is entirely possible that ice was not encountered as Mount Temple travelled through the night. Titanic did not spot ice until she was less than about 1/3 of a mile, or thereabouts, from striking the berg. Even Capt. Lord came very close to the field pack ice before recognizing he was headed straight into a field of pack ice.

You also said, “Equally clearly, the green light Moore saw at the time he saw it must have been one of Boxhall's green flares and not a sailing ship….. This re-working of the evidence suggests that when Mount Temple stopped at 3-25am on April 15, that green light would have been 5.5 miles away on her port bow and Carpathia would have been 10 or 12 miles away to the south.”￾ If anyone else would suggest something like that, you would probably be all over them with a statement to the effect that anyone with any sea experience would be able to easily tell the difference between a handheld flare and a ship’s sidelight seen from 5 miles away. And I guess that Boxhall’s lifeboat somehow managed to sail across Mount Temple’s bow going from left to right while he was burning one of the those green flares, and that someone in Boxhall’s boat managed to blow a fog horn signal causing Mount Temple to port around Boxhall’s boat when they came too close?

By the way, Mount Temple did not come to a stop at 3:25, but continued on at slow speed for at least another hour before her engines were finally stopped. By 4:46am, she was stopped dead on the western side of that field of pack ice, long after Titanic was at the bottom of the Atlantic.

I won’t even bother addressing the nonsense in Quitzrau's claims, nor with the hearsay stuff told to Baker, both of which have been easily discredited. From my own analysis, as outlined in chapter 11 of my Centennial Reappraisal book, Mount Temple would have been over 25 miles away from Carpathia by 3:25am with MT heading 065° true at about 6 knots, and Carpathia heading 302° true averaging about 13 knots over the last 45 minutes before reaching Boxhall’s boat. Boxhall’s green flares would not be seen from MT, but Carpathia’s rockets could have been seen low down near the horizon about 3 or 4 points off the starboard bow of MT at that time. If Duarrant reported anything to Moore at that time, he would have told him that Carpathia was firing rockets because he had intercepted that message from Carpathia at 3:11am Mount Temple time. Some of Moore’s officers may not have known about that, and it is possible that some of them may have seen flashes low down on the horizon, just like Californian’s Stone and Gibson did.

As I summarized in my article, I find that “Insinuations that Mount Temple was close enough to Titanic to see her distress rockets are ludicrously false; a misdirection to blame someone other than Capt. Lord for failure to respond to Titanic’s signals of distress. Neither Almerian nor Mount Temple had anything to do with any ‘mystery ship’ seen from Titanic or Californian.”￾ Now if you want to believe otherwise, be my guest.
 

Jim Currie

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Hello Sam.

Now I have time to reply.

Yet another bit of dismissal we have come to know and love. Frankly I don't care if you don't care. However when you support your argument with misleading data and use an expression like "ludicrously false", with regards to other people's evidence, I feel you need a detailed answer to your posts on this subject. But before I do so, keep in mind that I have never intentionally advocated Mount Temple as the mystery ship seen from Titanic that night. Nor have I suggested that Moore saw Titanic's rockets.

Down to work!

"The data that I showed in my article clearly proves, intended or otherwise, that Almerian was on a CG track from noon GMT Apr 12th to when she was forced to a stop about 3am LMT on Apr 15th. This is indisputably shown in the data presented in the table on p. 16 of the article.

I hate to spoil your Eurika! moment but it most certainly can be vigorously disputed because you have not interpreted the data properly.

First; a ship is either on or not on a GC. However, if she was following the Gulf Stream proper then she would be roughly on a GC track since it follows one -roughly - until it splits east of The Corner.
Almerian was most certainly not on a GC track from GMT Noon 12th.

It would be abnormal for a master to change from a rhumb line course to a Great Circle course when he had about 800 miles left to run to a way-point because he would not be 'cutting( much of) a corner'. A good strong head breeze would cancel any benefit from doing so.
For your information: by calculations: The rhumb line distance from GMT Noon 12 April position to the way point of 41-45'North, 47-00'West is 787.7 miles. The distance to that point by Great Circle track is 781.5 miles... a saving of 6.2 miles. If he had set a GC course at Noon on April 12, the initial one would have been N 73 West. In reality, Almerian made good a course of N 76 West between April 12 and April 13.
Note; Great Circle tracks are most advantageous in higher latitudes!

The Weather Log Extract.

I have had another look at the Weather Log data and your derived table. Your interpretation is arithmetically correct but irrelevant since the GMT Noon coordinates were not for navigation purposes but for the collection of meteorological conditions and for oceanography purposes. Their approximate positions would be sufficient for that purpose.
Since you developed your table using that data, I remind you that unlike aeroplanes, ships do not fly over the Florida Keys, they sail round these features. In your table you give a distance of 177 miles between GMT Noon April 5 and GMT Noon April 6. . That's a straight line overland distance Sam. You have no data for the 10th -11th run. However since we are dealing entirely in DRs, that can easily be projected. For your information, your straight line GMT to GMT method would produce a distance of 192 miles while it would have been closer to 182 miles Noon to Noon. Additionally, the course would have been vastly different.

From Noon April 5, Almerian would have steamed, down to a position SW of the Dry Tortugas. She would have arrived there during the hours of darkness so would be able to get a fix from the lighthouse there. Then she would round into the Florida Passage route. Because of this, the distance between Local Time Noon 5 and April 6 would be near to 202 miles, not 177 miles.
In developing your table, you seem to have made the mistake of assuming that each GMT Noon position was a fix and the ship altered course at that time for the next GMT Noon position. As you point out, these GMT Noon position would have been derived from fixes. They would most probably have been arrived-at by running back from the Noon position for that day. That was the normal practice for auxhiliary weather observers. Obviously Almerian was on a regular run and doing just that on behalf of the US Weather Bureau. Otherwise why would a British Ship be filling in the forms of a foreign country?

While coasting, ships are able to use land marks for deriving fixed positions. However, where possible during ocean passage, all course alterations would be made from positions obtained by celestial observation. In the case of Almerian which was a small cargo ship, that would be at local time Noon. Consequently to get a proper idea of the speeds obtained and courses steered, you have to project each GMT Noon position forward to obtain a DR Local Noon position for each day. I have done that. Here is my interpretation of the movements of Almerian from the time she left Mobile until local time Noon on April 14.

Almerian data.jpg

From the above table, I have plotted the voyage of Almerian to an estimated Noon position for April 14

See thumbnail below.


[U Ship Average Speed.[/U]

From the plot and the above table, you can plainly see that while out of the currents, during the first part of the voyage, Almerian averaged 7.8 knots. I have therefore assumed this to be her service speed before allowing for weather or currents. Whether her master was saving coal or not, this speed recurs on no less than 4 occassions.

As Almerian neared the Dry Tortugas at the SW end of Florida keys, she picked-up some current. Then when she entered the Florida Straights and headed northward. At that time, she was getting the maximum effect of the Florida Current. The current was running at close to 3 knots.
As she headed northward, the effect reduced, but it was still running at an average of almost 2 knots.
Between the 9th and 10th, she received a boost which increased her speed to 11.2 knots. If you look at the weather log for April 10, you will see that there was a sudden change of wind during the 9th and the wind went WSW and was at to force 6 at 6 am that morning. This means that Almerian had a very strong tail wind during the previous day's run. Her captain would not be aware that he was too far north until Noon sights of April 10. His sea temperature information told him he was still in the Gulf Stream at 7:13am that morning. At LMT Noon that day, he found his ship was too far north and out of the Gulf Stream. He therefore altered course more to the southward to enter it again. This is very clearly illustrated by the drop in her average speed during the next day's run. It dropped dramatically back to 7.6 knots between Noon 10 and Noon 11. Thereafter, she averaged 9.6 knots, meaning that she was back in the Gulf Stream and it's rate was about 1.8 knots. This agrees with the rate of set experienced by the Carpathia.

Sea and air temperatures.

Almerian's officers were recording Met Data for the American Weather Bureau. Why should they do that? If you care to search the records you will find that the Met. Offices on both sides of the Atlantic employed the services of ships which were on regular runs as Auxhilliary Weather Observers. The UK people were very interested in the North Atlantic routes.. principally the routes serving Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and Boston as well as the Canadian maritime ports.
The main interests of the Gulf Ports were the Hurricanes and the route of the Gulf Stream.

The following is a copy of a paper from a Wood's Hole contributor Bruce Warren. It shows the sea surface temperatures of the Gulf Stream and is complied from observations by ships like the Almerian spanning 20 years. On it I have superimposed the actual path of the Almerian and the sea temperature sampling points.

Almerian and the Gulf Stream.jpg

It is not too clear. The ledgends are:

---- 21C Isotherm at surface... 24th to 29th May, 1946.
...... 18C Isotherm upper 200m layer......29 Nov-4 December, 1948
_.._ 18C Isotherm of upper 200m layer...21-22 June, 1950..
_._ 18C Isotherm upper 200m layer.....0-10 June, 1950.
__ __ __ 15C Isotherm layer at 200m depth, April, 1960.

21C = 70F.....18C = 65F.....15C = 59.5F.

In the above , the area covered by th bathythermographs extends 120 miles north-south and covers the first six months of the year. If Almerian was not following the Gulf Stream then, it was switched off and we know that is most certainly ludecrous.

Still want to argue? If so, consider this: The data from the Weather Logs shows that from April 16, when Almerian was exactly on the final leg of Titanic's track to The Corner, the sea temperature there was 57F.. still very close to the 15C Isotherm line. Additionally it is only a drop of 5 degrees over a distance of almost 500 miles eastward and 120 miles to the northward. It also fits perfectly with the information supplied by Captain Lord when Californian was to the south and westward of Almerian's April 16 position. I quote: "April 14 - Noon...Air 50 Water 56 ". Note the sea temperature is 5 degrees higher than the air temperature at Noon on a sunny day. How do you explain that away?

I have shown you that Almerian was actually in the Gulf Stream and not following some ficticious Great Circle track.

The Track of the Mount Temple

I note that although you have mentioned the Gulf Stream and the Labrador Current in your article, you have been selective in your applications of these. For instance, according to you, the Gulf Stream set Carpathia way to the eastward. I agree. However, according to you, that exact same current had absolutely no effect in reducing Mount Temple's speed as she headed for the 50th meridian. In your chart on page 4, your plot incorporates her normal speed as 11 knots. Thus since the distance from Noon to the 50th was 79.2 miles, you put her right on the money at the latitude of 41-15' North with an arrival time of 7-12 pm. Please explain how it can be that two ships passed through the two same currents yet only one current effects one ship?

However, you seem to switch these two currents back on again after Mount Temple had passed 50 West. I quote from your article:

"So how was it possible for Mount Temple to actually end up east of the SOS longitude when it was estimated that she was about 14 miles away from the SOS position at 3:25am, and then stopped a little over an hour later after traveling at slow speed? The answer has to do with the same reason.
Carpathia accidentally reached Titanic’s lifeboats while heading for what we now know to be an
erroneous SOS position. Both Mount Temple and Carpathia had been steaming down in latitudes
south of 41° 20’ N in the late afternoon and evening hours of April 14. Down there, the Gulf Stream
dominated, apparently setting these ships a number of miles eastward and a little northward from their dead reckoning course lines"


Your observation does not agree with the first part of your charted route for Mount Temple. Am I missing something here?
Please do not suggest that somehow, Mount Temple was to the north of the northern edge of the Gulf Stream and therefore was out of it. The evidence contradicts that Sam. The ice was being shaved-off it's southernmost limit and transported East North East. The direction of set works out at about 075 True. That's the reciprocal of 255True... almost right on the nose of Mount Temple


Obviously it occurred to you that the reason why Mount Temple had to slow down at 3:25am and finally stop at 4-30am was that she was very much closer to the edge of the heavy stuff than her master expected her to be.
There could have been but two reasons for that. One would be that she was moving at a much greater speed than the 11.5 knots assumed by Moore.... or .....Mount Temple was late in arriving at the 50th meridian.

Since the above quote from your article suggests you believe that Moore's ship was influenced by the same current that effected Carpathia. I have taken the liberty of re-producing your page 4 chart here and showing the effect of a 1.8 knot Gulf Stream efect to 'Mount Temple's forward progress from Noon April 14.I hope you don't mind.

Mount T.jpg

In the above I have superimposed an alternative track based on an average speed of 9.2 knots from Noon and a turning time at 50W of 8-30pm. The red course line is about 40 miles long. This would mean that if Mount Temple turned at about12:35am and headed as explained by Captain Moore, she would be about 9.5 miles south of the corrected CQD position and within about 6 miles of the western edge of the pack ice by 03:25am that morning


Movement of Almerian after 4am on April 15.

I have re-considered your assessement of the movements of Almerian after 4am on April 15.

It is totally illogical or the captain of the Almerian was a congenital idiot.

I quote from your article:

"The handwritten report by Capt. Lord also said that the field ice that was seen extended to the
“NE & Southward” as far as they could see. Yet, it also said that they “proceeded at various speeds in a
northerly direction on the western extremity of the icefield with the object of finding a way to clear
water in the east. This seems to be somewhat contradictory."


It most certainly does Sam, but not in the way you think. You go on to interpret the phrase 'in a northerly direction' as due north while at the same time ignoring the term 'westerly edge'.

Please explain why, in your mind, the captain of that ship acted differently from all the other captains who were confronted by pack ice that night?

Captains Moore, Lord, Rostron and the captains of the Trautenfels, Frankfurt Birma and the black funnel job near Mount Temple to mention at least 7 ships, all skirted the edge of the pack ice attempting to find a way through it. Yet you ask us to believe that the captain of the Almerian, although clearly seeing the ice extending to the north east of his position; chose to steam due north to find a way. I think you have a problem with interpreting mariner-speak!

Here is an example of what I mean. It comes from our up-right honest sailor-man Captain Moore. He was describing the relative track of the small ship with the black funnel as it crossed the bows of Mount Temple:

"when I turned there was a steamer on my port bow.... [steaming] Almost in the same direction. As he went ahead, he gradually crossed our bow until he got on the starboard bow, sir -
That cut across my bow. I could see him then. He was a little to the southward of me, but ahead of me, sir."[
At 4-30am]

Moore uses the expression 'to the southward' with regard to a moving vessel but he doesn't mean due south. In fact that vessel would be almost due east of Mount Temple at that time.
In Lord's transcript of the Almerian Report, the captain states that he started slowly through the pack ice at 9-30am and was clear of it by 10-30 am. I presume we are talking about the same pack ice that Californian crossed? If so then there is a clerical error in the notes at the bottom of that transcript. If the ice was 3 miles wide and the west side was trending NNW-SSE from the position of Californian then the distance between the GMT Noon position for the 15 at 8:38am ship and the point where the ship started to transit the heavy ice at 9-30am was 13 miles! That gives her a speed of 15 knots. Really?

ice transit.jpg

No Sam. Almerian did not head due North as you show in your sketch. It would be totally counter-productive. How could her captain detect a way through the pack ice if he was increasing the distance between the edge of the ice and his ship?
Totally illogical. I am sure that I speak for every mariner when I say that if he did so then he must have got his Master's Ticket in a Corn Flakes carton.

For what it's worth, here's how I think it went:

Path of Almerian after 4 am.jpg

I could go on but I'm sure that you and any other reader who has had the patience to stick with this so far are running out of that precious commodity. I will therefore take the 'conclusions' from your article and comment on each one:

Conclusions re-visited

1. "Almerian’s average voyage speed from 12:00 GMT on April 4th to 12:00 GMT on April
14th was 9.0 knots. The.


A. No it was not, because the speed is derived from straight-line courses between GMT Noons. Almerian did not sail directly between these DR positions. In fact, Almerian's general average speed from when she left Mobile until Local Noon on April 14 was approximately 9.5 knots.
Here daily average speed sans current was 7.8 knots. It follows that she received an average of 1.7 knots from the Gulf Stream. During the period Noon April 12 to Noon April 14, the current was running at 1.7 knots each day.

2. "From 12:00 GMT April 12th until she was forced to stop at 06:27 GMT April 15th (3:05am local time), Almerian was apparently following a great circle path to a point 45 miles north
of the corner point for eastbound steamers heading to Europe for that time of the year."



A. No she was not. Her course was designed to do two things.. provide Gulf Stream data for the US Weather Bureau and to gain as much speed advantage as possible while doing so
Conclusions 3 and 4 were actually statements of fact.

5. Almerian probably started to steam north closer to 4:30am, during the period known as Nautical twilight, when it became light enough to make out the general outlines of nearby
objects.


A. Logical, no matter what direction she steamed in.

6. A traditional longitude-by-chronometer sight taken in the forenoon would have fixed
Almerian’s longitude, and later run up to local apparent noon to fix the ship’s traditional
noontime position using a noontime latitude sight of the sun. The forenoon sight would also
be used to make any needed adjustment to Apparent Time carried on board, and would also
be used to establish the ship’s position for 8:38am local time (12:00 GMT ) that was put
down on the Observations form.


A. We are agreed that the GMT Noon positions were by dead reckoning, but how was it possible to determine a latitude for the 8:38am position? Since they began their ice transit at the time they would be taking the morning sights, I doubt these were done as normal. In fact the DR position for 8-38am on the 15th does not sit easily with the ship's movements after that time.

7."The details in Capt. Lord’s handwritten report concerning what Almerian had allegedly
seen regarding Californian, Carpathia and Mount Temple are inconsistent with the
navigational evidence now available to us, and inconsistent with a number of details given
at the 1912 inquiries."


A. That's partly because the new navigation information has been improperly analysed. This being the case, then the original 1912 information remains highly suspect. In reality, if currents are properly applied to the evidence of Captain Moore of the Mount Temple, it can be clearly seen that she would have been much further south even before she went even further south that morning. She would also have been in easy range of Carpathia's rockets and Boxhall's green flares.
That man had something to hide. Compare the number of times he ended an answer with the word 'sir' during the US interrogation with the number of times he used that servile address during the UK Inquiry. Could his indifference to a Peer and knights of the Realm be due to the fact that by then, Captain Lord had already been designated fall guy?
"Wasn't me sir! Honestly sir! Absolutely Sir! Three bags full sir!" I say again; that man most decidedly had something to hide!

It would seem to me Sam; your anxiety to disprove the evidence of Captain Lord and others in favour of Captain Moore has blinded you to the obvious. It is not always a good idea to give evidence preferential treatment.

With apologies to Friedrich Nietzsche:

"The most effective way of harming a cause consists of defending it with faulty arguments."


Jim C.

Almerian and the Gulf Stream.jpg


Mount T.jpg


ice transit.jpg


Path of Almerian after 4 am.jpg


Almerian data.jpg


Voyage of thr Alemrian 3 to 14 April,1912.jpg
 
Mar 22, 2003
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>>First; a ship is either on or not on a GC. <<

If you create a GC track from 38° 40’ N, 63° 39’ W, Almerian’s position for noon GMT Apr 12, to the point 41° 45’N, 47° 00’W, you find that her positions for noon GMT Apr 12, noon GMT Apr 13, noon GMT Apr 14, and 3:05am LMT Apr 15, are all within 1 mile of that GC track line. Also, it should be obvious that from noon GMT Apr 14 to when she came to a stop some 18 plus hours later, Almerian was not in Gulf Stream waters, with a 44°F water temp measured at noon GMT on Apr 14, and reaching below the freezing mark on the 15th. Yet she had to average about 9.4 knots to get from that Apr 14th position to the position written in the report by Lord for 3am Monday morning, assuming that is where she actually stopped.

As far as the table showing distances between noon GMT positions go, I made the inexcusable mistake of not checking the location of those positions on a chart before calculating distances between. So thank you for catching that, and I’ve subsequently removed distances that would be affected by land masses that have to be steered around, or for that matter, an ice field that got in the way from the 14th to the 15th.

As far as your assumption goes regarding ships being under the influence of a 2 knot Gulf Stream current, it should be noted that historical data of Gulf Stream velocities for April taken over the last ten years, shows that speeds close to 2 knots rarely occur east of 60W longitude, and when they do, it is over a relatively short distance usually associated with the early formation of an eddy. You do not have to assume a strength as much as 2 knots to explain how far Mount Temple or Carpathia were set eastward by the Gulf Stream unless you are trying to make the claim that Mount Temple reached the western side of the pack ice much earlier than Capt. Moore or John Durrant testified.

And to answer one of your questions about the path of Mount Temple shown in the chart on p. 4, the answer is on the title of the chart itself. It is not the track made good.
 

Jim Currie

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As I pointed out to you Sam, there was no advantage in setting a GC course. The fact that these position were so close to each other merely confirms that.

What would be the purpose of a British ship completing a US Met Office form unless it was for a specific reason?

If Almerian was following or atempting to follow the Gulf Stream then it was perfectly reasonable for her to have strayed in and out of it's northern margine. That happened all the time. The reason for it you know very well..the stream has indents and bulges along it's northern edge.

The past 10 year data of oceanography and meteorology events is not a good guide to what went on during the few days each side of the disaster. Everyone knows that such a series of coincidences have not taken place since then. The only thing we can be reasonably sure of is that the Gulf Stream was running and it's main stream was running in an ENE direction. It has done so for eons and continues to do so. We can ilustrate it's effect on the path of Carpathia.

"unless you are trying to make the claim that Mount Temple reached the western side of the pack ice much earlier than Capt. Moore or John Durrant testified."

I'm not concerned about when they reached the heavy stuff but where they encountered it.

If Mount Temple was effected by any sort of current running in any direction then she did not arrive at the heavy stuff in the area Moore suggested or guessed she did. In that case, all bets are off concerning the whereabouts of that ship during the ensuing hours.
In any case, moore's story about meeting with a sailing ship is hard to swallow. He describes a ship under sail and altering course in flat calm conditions. Significantly; there is no way on this earth that the atmospheric conditions on the immediate west side of the pack ice were any different from the conditions prevailing at the wreck site before 4 am that morning so how was it that the green light exhibiting sailing ship managed to keep clear or even alter course? Have you any idea the effort required to turn a sailing ship in flat-calm conditions?

Have you read the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner? I quote:

Down dropt the breeze, the sails dropt down,
'Twas sad as sad could be;
And we did speak only to break
The silence of the sea! .../

/...
Day after day, day after day,
We stuck, nor breath nor motion;
As idle as a painted ship
Upon a painted ocean.


That man was hiding something. I would have thought that with your nose for intrigue, you would have sussed that one out a long time ago.

Jim C.
 

Jim Currie

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PS (Missed the edit window)

"As far as your assumption goes regarding ships being under the influence of a 2 knot Gulf Stream current"

I didn't 'assume' anything Sam. I calculated it based on the orginal information and the new information you provided. In fact I did not use 2 knots at all. I calculated that the current was between 1.7 and 1.8 knots and running at about 068 True.

Jim C.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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>>He describes a ship under sail and altering course in flat calm conditions. ...... That man was hiding something. <<

Then he must have been rather stupid for bringing up this bit of information in the first place since it played no part at all in the overall story. By the way, he never said the small vessel actually altered course, nor was he sure what type of vessel it really was because he could see only the light. He did estimate that it was rather close. He said he turned his ship to pass green-to-green and the vessel's light went out soon after he got the vessel over on his port side. No big deal. (see att.)
schooner.jpg

schooner.jpg
 

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