The Californian


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It was not just the ice per se, was it? The fact that making your way through pack ice is enormously more difficult without a good light to see the channels was another reason, if you follow Walter Lord's speculation in TNLO.
 
I would rather say extremely conscientious towards his employer's needs. He too no avoidable risks, which included steaming into unknown ice fields.
 
>>Lord's speculation, correct me if Im wrong please, is that Capt. Lord was, more or less, afraid of his own shadow. <<

Don't confuse prudence for fear. While one may properly hold the man to account for the mistakes that occured that night...and debate endlessly ad nauseum exactly what those mistakes were...stopping for the night rather then chance a risky and dangerous transit through an icefield of unknown extent and density wasn't one of them.

Titanic gambled on the icefield.

Look what it got them.

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.
 
Michael,

I am not disagreeing with that statement. I am simply stating the impression I got from reading Walter Lord's TNLO. He attempts to influence the reader by pointing to the facts as though Captain Lord was afraid almost of navigating this part of the ocean. This was in response to Lee's statement concerning the same text.

Respectfully,

Andrew
 
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.
 
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!
 
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
 
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
 
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...!
 
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.
 
"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!)
 
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

Member
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!
 
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