The californian inquiry


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Taner Tanriover

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- Multiple accounts by Titanic survivors confirm the existence of another ship in the vicinity which historical evidence strongly suggests was the Californian.
- If people aboard the Titanic could have seen the Californian how could it have been vice versa?
- The captain and telegram operator both conveniently fast asleep by midnight after having attempted to warn Titanic about the ice at 11.
Rockets sighted and reported by lookouts dismissed as "fireworx" by Cpt Lord according to some versions of events.
I am of the opinion that Californian liberally lied about its location and what really took place.
My theory is:
The story of the Californian's final attempt at communicating to Titanic the whereabouts of the ice was reported to Cpt. Lord as it was.
Namely, that Titanic's operator cut Evans off saying he'd rather be relaying messages from snobs to other snobs, basically.
and Lord VOWED at that point NOT to help.
Should they indeed strike the ice.

11:00 p.m. Californian warns of ice, but cut off before she gives location.
11:40 p.m. Titanic collides with iceberg.

- Maybe his reasoning was: "I am also in command of a vessel on the same ice-infested waters but manage to keep it intact despite not having been warned in advance about the hazards nature placed in my way. Why can't Smith? and Why should I have to risk my life and ship because he can't?"

- Maybe they voted for or against helping and a great majority voted against.

- Why didn't Lord want to help? You tell me. Why didn't the people in the lifeboats? Probly the exact same reason why.

"Like it or not, the debate never ends. If it does, we can kiss any hope of understanding the night of April 14th to 15th 1912 good-bye!"

-Michael H. Standart

But isn't that like saying:

"War must always continue! Otherwise we can never make peace!"
 

Lee Gilliland

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Feb 14, 2003
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Taner, to be frank with you, I have dropped out of this controversy because 1) we will never know, and 2) it has become more of a religious discussion (you believe what you believe, and anyone else is a heretic) than anything else. And religious discussions can never be won, just fought to a standstill.

I have great respect for persons on each side of the controversy, but, frankly, none of them are going to change their minds. I did a fair amount of research on the subject, read the Harrison and Reade books, and believe what I believe (which it is, is pretty irrelevant). Giving up ever knowing isn't about war or peace, it's an acceptance of what is, how the world wags its tail. This is now a debate for the ages. I'm on Mike's side - leave it and move on.
 
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Taner Tanriover

Guest
I think

"we will never know"
or
"it is a religious discussion therefore impossible to tell"

are defeatist approaches. So what if it's a religious discussion? Just because it is very difficult to arrive at conclusions doesn't mean we shouldn't even bother trying, or does it?

Lee,

What you're saying is, basically, that you are a hardcore extremist agnostic and can't even be bothered to disclose your version [perception] of the events for you firmly believe it won't "matter." That "the truth" MUST be so far out of our reach [or definitely not exist] that we shouldn't even try.

I'd still like to think it might!
 
T

Taner Tanriover

Guest
i think
what's more important isn't exactly what happened,
but why it happened exactly the way it did.
 

John Knight

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Jun 4, 2004
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I believe that as the witnesses to what happened are now dead, that the 'truth' will never be provable. This issue also seems to have been looked at from all angles by many, many people and again it seems as though there are too many possibilities to make the chance of 'proof' zero.
However it is still an interesting debate to have as long as we expect no answers.
My basic opinions are that the watch officers of the Californian saw the rockets fired by the Titanic and one way or another it was decided to take little or no action. I also have a personal hunch, nothing more, that captain Lord may not have even been told about the rockets, but knowing he would have to carry the can backed his crew up and tried to make the best of things.
 

Lee Gilliland

Member
Feb 14, 2003
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"Lee,

What you're saying is, basically, that you are a hardcore extremist agnostic and can't even be bothered to disclose your version [perception] of the events for you firmly believe it won't "matter." That "the truth" MUST be so far out of our reach [or definitely not exist] that we shouldn't even try."

First of all, sir, I see no need to be rude about this - and name-calling is rude. May I suggest you temper your tone?

What I said was that the Californian tends to attract extreme emotions on both sides, that people tend to go for broke on both viewpoints, a situation that is untenable if you wish reasonable discussion. The fact you are saying I am a so-and-so is precisely the type of thing I was referring to. I also do not care to be told what I do or do not believe - that post was very carefully written to keep my tone as neutral as possible.

Try to find the truth? I would be interested. If you believe it is possible, be my guest. Regrettably, all we have to work from is a very few documents and a whole bunch of he said/he said, which means that it is going to be very difficult to reach a consensus unless some new evidence is found. I would like that very much - it is a fascinating controversy, and as I mentioned, I believe there are some excellent points made by each of the two factions. However,until that happens, we will have to rest this argument where it is at the moment.

As you are so interested in my opinion, I agree partially with John. I think that the officers on Californian did see the rockets, that they did tell their captain, but that what Lord heard was not couched in such urgent terms that he understood it was a real emergency. He then did part of his job - he attempted to shield his crew from what he considered their mistake, and was vilified for it. Had he not tried to cover it up, he would not have the reputation he has today - which is a dirty rotten shame, as I think what he attempted to do was quite noble.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Hallo Taner -

As you're probably aware, this discussion has gone back and forward for years, with some brilliant minds advocating both sides of the issue (and some taking less polemical positions). As John suggests, barring startling new information, it is exceedingly unlikely that there will ever be consensus over the 'truth'. That doesn't mean, of course, that some folks don't think they've satisfied themselves that they've arrived at what they believe is the real sequence of events - just that the Titanic community is as sharply polarised as ever on this issue.

You may want to take note of the following points when developing your own theories.

Rockets sighted and reported by lookouts dismissed as "fireworx" by Cpt Lord according to some versions of events.
There is no contemporary evidence that Captain Lord ever suggested that the rockets - which were reported by the officers on watch, not by the lookout - were dismissed as 'fireworks'.

The story of the Californian's final attempt at communicating to Titanic the whereabouts of the ice was reported to Cpt. Lord as it was.
Namely, that Titanic's operator cut Evans off saying he'd rather be relaying messages from snobs to other snobs, basically.
and Lord VOWED at that point NOT to help.
Should they indeed strike the ice.
I find this highly contentious indeed - you may want to read up on the evidence regarding this exchange. The Titanic's wireless operator did not cut Evans off because he'd rather be relaying messages from 'snobs to snobs'. Evans did not follow protocol in how he attempted to relay the message, and in doing so disrupted communications already in progress. The 'shut up' line seems rude to us, but was actually part of fairly normal discourse for these men. Evans later testified that he did not feel put out by the response.

Why would Evans report to the Bridge, let alone to Lord himself, that the communication had been disrupted? In hindsight we realise that the message was of momentous importance, but at the time it was simply part of an ongoing discourse between ships.

The idea that Lord and Evans had predetermined that they would allow the Titanic to sink should she strike ice suggests a level of moral depravity that I don't think even Lord's strongest detractors have suggested before. This is purely conjectural, as there isn't the slightest evidence that Lord was even aware of the unsuccessful attempt to warn the ship about ice.
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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And before this debate goes downhill, I remind the participants to keep their exchanges within the bounds of the board's rules and not notch up the rhetoric to adversarial exchanges...it's been a long time since it's been necessary for me to intervene as the mod for the 'Mystery Ship' debate on this board, and I'd like that state of affairs to continue!
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Thank you Inger for bringing out those points about following protocol, and that Lord was probably not even told that Evans failed to get his message across at the time. Phillips was trying to communicate with Cape Race, and Evans was not able to hear Cape Race. Evans assumed that the channel was clear. This is a situation which we in the wireless industry today refer to as a hidden node problem; where a 3rd station can pick up signals from only one of two stations in established communications with each other. I sometimes wonder if Phillips bothered to read the message that Evans was trying to send, as his ongoing communication was interfered with. I don't think Evans prefix it with an MSG warning that this is a message of navigational importance. He also did not try to re-send it at any time, but continued to listen to the Titanic work Cape Race till 11:30 or so when he shut down for the night. In any event it really did not matter. The officers on the Titanic already knew they were entering a region of reported ice. In fact one of the junior officers had estimated that they would be up to the ice about 11 PM. However, it was the practice of these fast mail steamers not to reduce speed until either they had visual contact with the expected ice or reduced visibility had occurred. And neither of these happened until 40 minutes later.
 

Lee Gilliland

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Feb 14, 2003
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Please don't forget that the controversy is not about the telegraphs, but the sighting of the rockets. I've never heard anyone doubt the fact Phillips cut off Evans.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
>>Why didn't Lord want to help? You tell me.<<

I think you're going to have a hard time supporting the notion that Captain Lord didn't want to help. While it can scarcely be disputed that they just plain dropped the ball that night, there remains the fact that once he knew of the disaster in the morning, Captain lord got his ship underway towards the radioed position of the accident. This involved a dangerous transit through the icefield to get there, then yet another to get to where the Carpathia was picking up survivors.

Too little too late to be sure, but if Captain Lord didn't want to help, it would have been a lot easier to just keep on steaming towards Boston once the ship was clear of the ice.

>>Why didn't the people in the lifeboats? Probly the exact same reason why<<

Unlikely in my opinion. The Californian seems not to have understood the gravity of the situation otherwise I think Captain Lord would have acted on it. The people in the lifeboats understood all too well what the situation was. Sinking ship plus over a thousand swimmers struggling in the ocean = an overturned/swamped boat if they rowed back into the mob.

A very different situation.

>>"Like it or not, the debate never ends. If it does, we can kiss any hope of understanding the night of April 14th to 15th 1912 good-bye!"

-Michael H. Standart

But isn't that like saying:

"War must always continue! Otherwise we can never make peace!"<<

No, and I would appriciate it if you would avoid making strawman arguements and stick to what I actually said rather then read something into the lines that isn't there. The debate, in my opinion, is a healthy thing, the often antagonistic tones set in the discussions notwithstanding. Without the debate and the exchange of information, we don't stand much of a chance of understanding the "why" that you indicated was important to you.
 
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Cornelius Thiessen

Guest
I have followed the Titanic saga since I was a youngster, and never till a year ago when I found this site did I realize that people were arguing about Lord and the Californian.From what I had read it was always anti Lord, he failed to respond when he should have.Now a year later after Titanic information overload I can also see the other side of the coin. We will never fully know what happened on the Californian that night and to me it seems almost pointless to keep arguing over this, we surely can't undo whats been done.
 
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Taner Tanriover

Guest
Lee,

I apologise for what you interpreted as name calling. But I just wanted to point out how your agnosticism appeared to be a scientific claim, which, might I point out, is a bit of an oxymoron: if it's not possible to know anything, how is it possible to know that?
I didn't mean to insult or upset you and paid the utmost attention to make my post sound neutral as well.
I understand how the Californian's story is historically a grey area and the possibility of ascertaining exactly how the events unfolded seems extremely low.
But what I'm interested in is
making sense of the bigger picture
that is evolution
in general
which the Titanic disaster
is an important part of.
 
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Taner Tanriover

Guest
Thank you all for your comments and I realise my argument and my stance may appear highly contentious at this stage. But I believe I have good reason [nowadays] to hope that after centuries of speaking the truth and lying about the world we left behind we can better deduct what part of this information was sincere, and what part was pretentious.
 
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Taner Tanriover

Guest
There is hard evidence to conclude that Californian was interested in the fate of the Titanic as late as 11pm that night.
Now, these people [i.e. the crew of Californian and Lord] how often did they get a chance to see a spectacular work of human labor, the ultimate word in engineering, knock-your-socks-off, state-of-the-art hi-tech piece of machinery like Titanic?
Not everyday (or night) surely.
And probly that's why it was
A Night to Remember
and also why
Lord worked in mysterious ways

or should I say Lords?
 
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Taner Tanriover

Guest
It must have been a matter of professional interest, if not anything else, for Lord to see how Titanic handled the situation that had stopped his ship for the night.
 
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Taner Tanriover

Guest
the kind of rescue operation Californian was required to perform differed largely from what Carpathia did. And involved a great deal more risk than did simply picking up some people from lifeboats on the ocean.
If they got there on time, it is said the best they could have done was dispatch a lifeboat or two of their own with some crewmen to "fish out" a few survivors.
And now we'll have 1500 or so desperate people who just lost solid ground competing for the available places in these "bonus" lifeboats that appeared "out of the blue." Just there to "complicate matters" so to speak.
So Lord may well have thought that by attempting to render assistance he could have ended up making the situation even worse for all concerned.
 
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Taner Tanriover

Guest
"Unlikely in my opinion. The Californian seems not to have understood the gravity of the situation otherwise I think Captain Lord would have acted on it. The people in the lifeboats understood all too well what the situation was. Sinking ship plus over a thousand swimmers struggling in the ocean = an overturned/swamped boat if they rowed back into the mob.

A very different situation."

I beg to differ. Californian was but an oversized lifeboat in comparison to Titanic. What about fears that the [in retrospective what turned out to be somewhat imaginary] suction caused by the sinking of Titanic swallowing Californian?

Since a reaction of this sort was anticipated by many a sailor and such on the Titanic, could Lord et al not have been excused for having had similar concerns about such potential hazards a rescue-operation involved? In fact they may have felt unsafe enough already despite being miles away!
 

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