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Lee Gilliland

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OK, it looks like we have two different interpretations of the same text, a situation not rare inTitanic circles. My point was that there is a difference between prudence and fear, but it's a free country, and as long as your interpretation works for you, all is copacetic.
 

Dave Gittins

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I think Walter Lord gets close to accusing Captain Lord of cowardice. On pages 190 and 191 of TNLO he implies that Lord killed time until well after daylight came. Personally, I don't find his actions very rational, but he was no orphan. A lot of things happened on the night to remember for no obvious reason. Life's like that!
 
Oct 17, 2002
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This sort of brings up a question that I am not sure of. And as Ive never served on a ship, and especially not during that era Im not sure of the procedure. But, when it comes to steamers were there no signals to be made through the blowing of the ships horn. 4 blasts for emergency or something like that. I apologize for my ignorance in this area as this is something I should know....Im not even saying that the Californian could have heard a horn, but was just wondering.

Andrew
 
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In 1912 and now, the continuous sounding of a fog signal (steam whistle in those days) is an internationally-recognized distress signal. The distance over which the sound of a whistle can be heard varies at sea. For instance, sound can be "bounced around" by differences in the atmosphere such as changes in the amount of water vapor.

-- David G. Brown
 

Lee Gilliland

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One of the problems a lot of people have with historic research is we tend to forget we have the advantage of 20/20 hindsight. I sincerely believe that had a similar episode of a ship with too-few lifeboats going down been extant, Lord would certainly have made different decisions, and been more on the up-and-up when Titanic happened.
 

Inger Sheil

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I think Walter Lord gets close to accusing Captain Lord of cowardice.
And then there's Reade, who suggests outright that the key to what he believes was a conscious decision on Lord's part not to go the aid of a ship in distress was his belief that the other ship was 'something like ourselves'. It is Reade's contention that Lord - oblivious to the fact that it was a large passenger liner going down - was unwilling to risk his own ship in assisting what he took to be a smallish tramp.

Some authors on the subject have proposed a rather different take on the subject, of course...!
 

Dave Gittins

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When I am feeling particularly fed up with the human race, I'm inclined to think that Captain Lord had a fair idea that somebody was in dire straits but didn't want to know. Such things happen every day. Somebody hears yelling and screaming coming from a house. They tell themselves that it's just the usual shouting match they've heard before. Next day, the cops carry out a body.

The trouble with my jaundiced thoughts is that they are not justified by the evidence. In this business we must be wary of mind-reading.
 

Noel F. Jones

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"Lord's speculation, correct me if Im wrong please, is that Capt. Lord was, more or less, afraid of his own shadow."

Rest assured, the presumptious opinion of a book-selling humbug (remember "A Libel to Remember"?) carries no weight whatsoever.

Once more I will ask; to which shipmaster would you entrust your family for a spring sail across the Atlantic? Would it be Rostron of the Carpathia, Smith of the Titanic or Lord of the Californian?

Or put another way:

To paraphrase Robert Louis Stephenson: to arrive is better than to travel hopefully - especially by sea! All the post facto shoreside politicking and subsequent speculative perorations, here and elsewhere, cannot circumvent that.

"Californian didn't even come close to having the same sort of watertight protection that the Titanic or any other liner had, and one hole anywhere would have been enough to put the ship on the bottom. Captain Lord knew this and was very wise not to take the chance."

While Capt.Lord was undoubtedly protective of his vessel and thereby solicitous of his charges, my understanding is that Californian was a cargo vessel built to the two-compartment standard and would therefore have had a relative floodable length at least as comparable with that of Titanic. One-compartment vessels went out with the clipper ships.

Noel (ducking below the dodger!)
 
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Noel, if there are technical drawings to support that, I'd love to see them. The blueprints I have are of the general plan type that were reproduced in Leslie Reade's book.

What I see is a what appears to be a collision bulkhead up forward, and two large cargo holds seperated only by the engine room that was between them. That doesn't look like the sort of setup that would have the same reletive floodable length to me. She might have survived having the engine room flooded, but the holds?

Fergedaboudit!

As to Walter Lord's "presumption", I would say it's no more presumptuous then any other slants offered by various authors on both sides over the past half century. They all had opinions. Hell, for all I know, one of them might even be right, but none of them were mind readers.
 

Inger Sheil

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As to Walter Lord's "presumption", I would say it's no more presumptuous then any other slants offered by various authors on both sides over the past half century. They all had opinions. Hell, for all I know, one of them might even be right, but none of them were mind readers.
The trouble with my jaundiced thoughts is that they are not justified by the evidence. In this business we must be wary of mind-reading.
Absolutely. There have been some extraordinarily gifted researchers/authors who have worked on the California story and, using the same primary evidence (or what they choose to use of it) have come up with an array of explanations to cover the facts as we understand them. Interpretations of Lord's actions ranges from fairly pitch black to verging on the hagiographical, with most of us falling somewhere in between the polarities. But when we can't agree precisely on what the sequence of events actually was, there's very little chance of reaching consensus on the question of his motivations and internal thought processes!
 
Jun 11, 2000
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I've read about the Edwardian mindset; deference towards authority, skipper being absolute master of the ship etc. etc. But even Captains have to sleep ("You must remember that we do not get any too much sleep, and when we sleep we die" - Lowe). I know Lord responded, in a way, to contact from the bridge during the night, but I'm not sure how alert he may have been. It is odd, to me, if the watch was so worried about the ship they were observing, which they evidently were when taxed about it at the Inquiries, that the senior officer didn't simply go down himself, instead of sending a timid apprentice, wake Lord up properly, and say "You must come and see this for yourself." But nobody did, so there we are. Maybe they were apprehensive. But in any event, all of them subsequently left aghast early the next morning and wondering how on earth to explain the night's events. Reminds me slightly of a night when I exhausted, was sleeping, and my husband apparently told me the baby was coughing (don't know why he didn't do something himself, but...) It seems I just muttered that he had a cold. I only awoke properly when the toddler came in to tell me the baby was in trouble (officer of the watch, children's bedroom, you see) and I shot out of bed to find the baby had pneumonia. It's easily done, and I had no real explanation. (Baby now giant 17-year old).
 
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Claire McConville

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quote:

It is odd, to me, if the watch was so worried about the ship they were observing, which they evidently were when taxed about it at the Inquiries, that the senior officer didn't simply go down himself, instead of sending a timid apprentice, wake Lord up properly, and say "You must come and see this for yourself."

Absolutely!! I only recently (since first entering this forum actually) heard about the Californian thing and thought he was just plain lazy for not getting up himself to take a look. I guess though, that it would have depended on the way the message was delivered to him.. i.e. the urgency of it. I do find it hard to grasp that most seemed a bit unsure of what these rockets actually meant as I've read that company signals were, more often than not, used more towards the inland. I think curiosity would have got the better of me and I'd have had to go look.

If Lord had indeed gone to look for himself and then decided it was too dangerous to head forwards then, that excuse would have been more plausible (to me anyway)
happy.gif
 

Noel F. Jones

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"Fergedaboudit!"


I wasn't intending to go here but I do now – with reservations....

There is indeed a dearth of relevant information about Californian. The most I can gather is that she had not less than six hatches and was fitted with shell doors at tweendeck level. The former suggests she had not less than five lower holds and the latter suggests she was a shelterdeck vessel, surmounted by a bridge (or 'centrecastle') deck.

As far as I can divulge from some fuzzy photograph, her cargo working gear tends to confirm this configuration.

Allowing for the peaks and the engine and boiler rooms, six lower holds would subtend ten compartments and nine transverse w/t bulkheads. Safety considerations notwithstanding, fewer subdivisions than one per hatch tend towards stevedoring problems.

In a cargo vessel the transverse w/t bulkheads and the bulkhead deck itself have greater integrity than in a passenger vessel by reason of there being no compromising breaching to satisfy internal working arrangements. The only significant breaches respectively would be the shaft tunnel and the lower hold hatches.

A further advantage over passenger vessels is permeability; a notional 60% for cargo compartments as against 90% for below deck accommodation spaces.

A design optimum would be to coincide the compartmentation with the floodable length. This can be attempted by iterative calculation but an exact coincidence may not be practicable.

If the flooding versus permeability of one or more compartments takes her down to no more than her margin line she retains a survival capability. If it takes her down below the margin line it can be assumed that water pressure will lift the lower hold hatches and she will lose survivability.

(The margin line can be defined as a potential waterline tangential to the sheer line at the level of the bulkhead deck. A qualifier might be that the bulkhead deck has been built parallel to the baseline for ease of stowage towards the extremities in the tweendeck, in which case at the intercept with the material waterplane the bulkhead deck line may be assumed to be a curve with the same focus as the actual weatherdeck sheer.)

Which brings me to the conclusion that, taking into account the ameloriating attribute of permeability and the reserve buoyancy inherent in the shelterdeck, it may have been possible for the Californian to have survived the bilging of one if not two compartments and that this may represent a percentage of LBP approaching that of the bilged length of Titanic.

Ever conciliatory(!), in the absence of a definitive profile draft I am content to retreat from the 'two compartment standard' which I embraced earlier.

Noel
 
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>>Allowing for the peaks and the engine and boiler rooms, six lower holds would subtend ten compartments and nine transverse w/t bulkheads. Safety considerations notwithstanding, fewer subdivisions than one per hatch tend towards stevedoring problems.<<

Unfortunately, the cross sectional plan I'm looking at doesn't show any transverse bulkheads seperating the cargo holds. Zip, zilch, zero, none. Which doesn't neseccerily mean that some weren't there, but it sure seems strange that if they existed, that the builder (From whom Leslie Reade obtained this drawing) didn't think it worth including.

If somebody can dig up some working plans of the ship's structure which shows otherwise, I'd love to see them.

Any takers out there?
 

Lee Gilliland

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"It is odd, to me, if the watch was so worried about the ship they were observing, which they evidently were when taxed about it at the Inquiries, that the senior officer didn't simply go down himself, instead of sending a timid apprentice, wake Lord up properly, and say "You must come and see this for yourself." "

Wouldn't this be dereliction of duty, or leaving an assigned post without authorization or some such? I know you can't do that in the armed forces, so I really doubt it would pass in the Merchant Marine.
 

Philip Bowler

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A couple of bits.

1) I was always taught "If in even the slightest doubt, call the Captain". I have spoken to a Captain on a telephone, and he didn't appear. The situation didn't develop anyway so in the end I didn't need his advice. He had no recollection of me calling him only about 1 1/2 hours since he left the bridge after 4-5 hours in fog.

2) I have had a conversation with a crew member when I went to wake him. He sat bolt upright, spoke coherently for a few moments, then went back to sleep. He has no recollection of the incident.

3) I have been woken from deep sleep and had a nonsensical conversation with the officer I was due to relieve.

("You must remember that we do not get any too much sleep, and when we sleep we die" - Lowe).

Trust me, when you have a maximum of 8 hours off between watches, and in it you have to eat, sleep, write home and perform other duties you are tired. No weekend lie ins.

As for going to wake the Captain......
Wake God! who do you think you are?
In the early 80's as a junior officer I was not allowed to answer the direct line from the Captain and had to "disappear" when he walked onto the bridge. Imagine what it was like 68 years before that.
 

Philip Bowler

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Forgot.

Have you seen the inquiry into the Californian fairly recently done by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch?
I forget the exact website but MAIB as a search should do it.
 
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