The mystery ship as seen from the Carpathia

Dave Gittins

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Paul has nicely explained the risks Captain Lord faced. Here's how things panned out.

LORD AND THE COURTS

As events unfolded, Captain Lord found himself in a peculiar legal situation. Some rather wild statements have been made his supposed lack of legal representation and Lord Mersey’s alleged condemnation of him. The court transcript reveals the facts.

On Tuesday 14 May, before Lord and other Californian crew appeared. The barrister Robertson Dunlop asked Mersey for permission to appear on their behalf.

“Will your Lordship allow me to appear on behalf of the Leyland Line - the owners, master and officers from the “Californian,”￾ who are to be examined today?”￾

Mersey denied his request, permitting him only to observe proceedings.

“In the meantime, what you can do is to watch, and, if you find any attack is made upon your clients, then you can ask me to allow them to go into the box.”￾

However, after others had questioned Captain Lord, Dunlop rose to question him and Mersey made no objection. From that point on, Dunlop acted for Lord and others and questioned all the witnesses from Californian, though the transcripts from 17 May onwards only show him as watching proceedings.

“MR. C. ROBERTSON DUNLOP watched the proceedings on behalf of the owners and officers of the s.s. “Californian”￾ (Leyland Line). (Admitted on application.) (17 May, day 10, onwards)”￾

Mersey allowed Dunlop a free rein, though he occasionally cautioned him against going over old ground and putting words into the witnesses’ mouths.

“You are falling into the error that the Attorney-General warned you not to fall into. You are putting the words into the man’s mouth. You might as well hand your proof to him and tell him to read it out.”￾

The transcript shows Dunlop had statements from the witnesses over and above those taken by the Board of Trade. Though somewhat rushed, he had time to consider his work.

On 28 June, Dunlop was allowed to sum up his defence of Lord. This he did at considerable length. In the process, he introduced most of the stock defence used by Lord’s apologists ever since. I named them “Dunlop‘s decoy ducks”￾. To quote myself-----

“Dunlop’s decoy ducks fall into four broad species: navigational evidence designed to show that Californian was at a great distance from Titanic throughout the sinking; the possibility of company signals having been seen; discrepancies in the accounts of lights seen from both ships and the claimed presence of other ships in the area of the disaster. For good measure, he attacked the credibility of Ernest Gill and Charles Groves, calling Groves’s story an example of ‘...imagination stimulated by vanity.' Rather carelessly, he attributed Gill’s story to the excitement of arriving in New York and meeting its newspaper reporters. Boston and New York are not readily confused.”￾

It is instructive to carefully read Mersey’s report with a lawyer’s eye. Whatever he said during the hearings, in the report he was careful not to condemn Lord by name. It is always “the Californian”￾ that shoulda, coulda, woulda. We may speculate that Mersey was trying to leave the door open to a prosecution of Lord and/or Herbert Stone in a magistrate’s court. The Board of Trade soon considered this course. Again quoting myself----

“Mersey’s report was hot from the press when the Board of Trade began to consider the question of prosecuting him for failing to render assistance to Titanic. Sydney Buxton’s request for advice on the matter reached the desk of Sir Robert Ellis Cunliffe, solicitor to the Board of Trade, on 1 August. On the same day, Sir Robert wrote a brief note that summed up his objections to putting Lord on trial. It combined legalism with sympathy (and bad punctuation).
‘Captain Lord gave his version of what happened in the witness box here and in America, he might have taken the objection that he declined to reply lest he should incriminate himself; he did not do so & though the Wreck Commissioner did not accept his views explanations or excuses I would not advise a prosecution of Captain Lord under section 6 of the above Act [Maritime Conventions Act 1911] under the circumstances. I need hardly add that his punishment is already very great. Moreover he was in ice and stopped by the ice to a certain extent for I believe the 1st time.’”￾

On 10 August 1912, Lord took a curious step. He wrote to Sir Walter Howell, the head of the Marine Department of the Board of Trade. He told his version of events on the night of 14 April, deflected blame onto Herbert Stone and rather stretched the truth about his actions on the morning of 15 April. Another quotation-----

“Lord concluded with a curiously vague request. The Board of Trade was asked to ‘... do something to put [his] conduct on the night in question, in a more favourable light, to [his] employers and the general public.' What on earth did he want? A retraction from Lord Mersey? Should Sir Walter Howell issue a statement declaring Mersey wrong? Lord can hardly have expected Mersey’s court to reconvene and reconsider his case. Least of all could he have wanted to stand trial for his extra master’s certificate.”￾

More----

“Debate on action against Captain Lord continued until October. Captain Alfred Young [marine advisor to the Marine Department] expressed the opinion that he should have been tried for the 'gross misdemeanor' of neglecting to answer distress signals. He considered that that Sydney Buxton had treated Lord 'with very great consideration'. The Board of Trade's assistant solicitor, E Potter, advised his superiors that it was likely that a jury would not convict Lord of a 'gross act of misconduct' or find him unfit to hold his certificate through 'incompetence or misconduct' in terms of the Merchant Shipping Act. The matter was allowed to peter out, possibly because of the feeling that more public controversy would be unhelpful to the Board of Trade and the British merchant marine.”￾

Legally, Lord was in a bind. He had not been convicted of any offence, yet his reputation had been dragged through the mud on both sides of the Atlantic. Without a conviction, there could be no appeal to the courts. He and his supporters could only argue his case in the press.

One legitimate move seems not to have been considered. Lord may well have succeeded in libel actions. In his magazine, John Bull, Horatio Bottomley MP had written, among other slurs----

“Perhaps by this time you are heartily ashamed of yourself. Although you were called by the officer of the watch, by your apprentice Gibson, and through the speaking tube, and informed that a vessel was firing rockets of distress, you took no heed of the signal. No doubt it was a cold night, and it was not pleasant to turn out of a warm bed, to go on to the bridge, and drive through the ice, but surely you might have taken the trouble to instruct somebody to call up your Marconi operator, and get him to try and find out what was the matter, yet on your own evidence, you slept on, and largely through your action 1,500 fellow creatures have perished.”￾

The late William Stead’s paper, The Review of Reviews, had called Lord a “thousand-fold murderer”￾. However. Like Sir Cosmo Duff-Gordon and J “Brute”￾ Ismay, Lord took no libel action. It may have been a matter of money, or just the way things were in 1912.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Dave Gittens is right. There is a liaison between Civil Servants and their political masters in the UK (and elsewhere I have no doubt) which means you are unlikely to get at a truth, without huge and probably futile, effort. And when Governments change stripe, so do the Civil Servants - for reasons of career and security, and would any of us be much braver for the sake of the truth? I don't think so.

I expect, for the sake of closure (as we like to call it now) Lord Mersey knew exactly what his job was in 1912. I don't suppose he thought it was to suppress the truth exactly - whatever that was - but merely to preserve the status quo of powerful organisations which were indicative of the British Empire, and their American funders. Capt. Lord did not work for one of those.

We can quarrel all we like about the outcomes of the Inquiries, but we can never now understand exactly what they were thinking.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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From that Aug 10 letter that Dave Gittins referred to:

"It is a matter of great regret to me that I did not go on deck myself at this time, but I didn’t think it possible for any seaman to mistake a Company’s signal for a distress signal, so I relied on the officer on watch [2/O Stone]. Although further signals were seen between 1:15 am and 2:00 am, I was not notified until 2:00 am, and then I had fallen into a sound sleep, and whatever message was sent to me then, I was not sufficiently awake to understand, and it was sufficient indication to anyone that I had not realized the message, by the fact that I still remained below, curiosity to see a vessel pushing through the ice would have taken me on deck....Further signals were seen after 2:00 am, but the officer [Stone] was so little concerned about them, that he did not think it necessary to notify me. I was called by the Chief Officer [Stewart] at 4:20 am, and in conversation he referred to the rockets seen by the Second Officer. I immediately had the wireless operator called, heard of the disaster, and proceeded at once, pushing through field ice to the scene, and I would have done the same earlier had I understood, as I had everything to gain and nothing to lose."

When Lord wrote: "I respectfully request you will be able to do something to put my conduct on the night in question, in a more favorable light, to my employers and the general public," I believe he was looking for a way to be reinstated by the Leyland Line. We can see this in his statement in that letter where he said: "My employers, the Leyland Line, although their nautical advisers are convinced we did not see the Titanic, or the Titanic see the Californian, say they have the utmost confidence in me, and do not blame me in any way, but owing to Lord Mersey’s decision and public opinion caused by this report, they are reluctantly compelled to ask for my resignation, after 14 ½ years’ service without a hitch of any description, and if I could clear myself of this charge, would willingly reconsider their decision."
 

Paul Slish

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Again I enjoyed the fine posts since my last.

I just want to touch briefly on a few questions that had been put forward in response to some of my posts.

To Dave Moran. You asked, "Isn't a Captain responsible for everything that occurs on his ship?" Yes he is. However, in this case my question is what did Captain Lord know and when did he know it? I will attempt to answer this in future posts. To take an extreme example, if Stone had never reported anything at all to Lord, how much responsibility or blame would be laid on Lord? After all he was below decks and a Captain can't be on the bridge for the entire voyage. Now we might find different folks on the board may disagree as to what Lord knew and when. But I will give my explanation later.

To Sam Halpern who stated, "Did Captain Lord actually have to see the rockets ( distress or otherwise) himself to be responsible?"

I say no. He did not have to see them himself to be responsible. The question is what was reported to him and when. Again, I will post analysis later.

To Michael Standart. If I act as the defense lawyer for Lord, I don't believe I have to shade the truth or stretch things etc. Not that defense lawyers don't do that. My defense of Lord against a charge of any "gross act of misconduct" or "incompetence or misconduct unfit to discharge his duties" will be straightforward and relatively (at least in my opinion) brief.

To Dave Gittins. Nothing, as he didn't ask any questions. This is my attempt to be humorous.
 

Paul Slish

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An additional point I hope to make tomorrow (unless some emergency arises) is this.

Evidence given at the Mersey Inquiry, I believe, strongly indicates that Stone first reported to Lord by voice pipe before the 5th rocket was observed by Stone. You don't have to go to Gibson's written report to draw that conclusion.

Gibsons's report of course says Stone reported to Lord after the second rocket and Stone wasn't even sure of the first.

Stay tuned for tomorrow where I will give the citations and my analysis.

Stone never said at the Inquiry I reported after the 5th rocket. He just spoke of white lights like rockets etc. in the plural. He did say there were five when Gibson was below and three he and Gibson saw together. Isaacs, Mersey, etc just put it together that he reported after five. I believe they disregarded or ignored the testimony I will present tomorrow.

I find it hard to believe Butler Aspinall never even asked Stone the time he saw the first rocket or first flash. We actually get that from Stone's written report to Captain Lord.

More tomorrow.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Evidence given at the Mersey Inquiry, I believe, strongly indicates that Stone first reported to Lord by voice pipe before the 5th rocket was observed by Stone. You don't have to go to Gibson's written report to draw that conclusion.
It will be interesting to see this Paul, but you also need to consider what Stone wrote to Lord on Apr 18:

Shortly after I observed another distinctly over the steamer which I made out to be a white rocket though I observed no flash on the deck or any indication that it had come from that steamer, in fact, it appeared to come from a good distance beyond her. Between then and about 1:15 I observed three more the same as before, and all white in colour. I, at once, whistled down the speaking tube and you came from the chartroom into your own room and answered. I reported seeing these lights in the sky in the direction of the other steamer which appeared to me to be white rockets.
Note: In Stone's letter he is telling Lord that he whistled down after seeing 5 rockets. In Gibson’s letter, Gibson said Stone told him that he whistled down after seeing the 2nd rocket. Lord had both these letters available to him when he was called to testify at both inquiries but never produced them in evidence, probably because Ston'e account is much more damaging to him.
 

Paul Slish

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Here are some extracts from apprentice Gibson's testimony in London at the Mersey Inquiry.

"7463. A little later than that, did the Second Officer, Mr. Stone, say anything to you about this ship? - At five minutes to one.

7464. What was it he told you? - That she had fired five rockets.

7465. That was at five minutes to one? - Yes.

7466. Had you not been on the bridge all the time? - No, Sir. I went down at twenty-five minutes to and came up at five minutes to one."

GIBSON SAYS WHILE HE WAS BELOW STONE TOLD HIM THAT HE (STONE) HAD SEEN FIVE ROCKETS.

"7476. Now, I just want to get what happened after that. You have told me that the Second Officer said to you that the ship had fired five rockets? - Yes.

7477. Did he tell you anything else about what he had been doing while you had not been there? - He told me that he had reported it to the Captain.

7478. Did he tell you what the Captain had instructed him to do? - Yes.

7479. What was it? - To call her up on the Morse light.

7480. Did he tell you whether he had tried to call her up on the Morse light? - Yes.

7481. Had he? - Yes.

7482. What had been the result? - She had not answered him, but fired more rockets."

STONE TOLD GIBSON HE (STONE) REPORTED TO THE CAPTAIN.

THE CAPTAIN TOLD STONE TO MORSE HER. STONE SAID HE DID.

THE OTHER SHIP DID NOT ANSWER BY MORSE LAMP, BUT FIRED MORE ROCKETS.

"7485. (The Solicitor-General.) I was just going to find out the same thing. (To the Witness.) Let. us get it quite clear. The Second Officer had told you, you say, that she had sent up five rockets? - Yes.

7486. And you say that you saw three rockets? - Yes.

7487. Did the Second Officer tell you of any more than the five? - No.

7488. Then as far as the report to you went he told you of five before you came back at five minutes to one? - Yes.

7489. And after that you saw three more yourself? - Yes."

GIBSON MAKES IT CLEAR HERE THAT STONE TOLD HIM THAT HE (STONE) HAD ONLY SEEN FIVE ROCKETS BEFORE GIBSON RETURNED TO THE BRIDGE.

NOW LETS REASON IT OUT.

1. STONE SEES SOME ROCKETS AND REPORTS TO THE CAPTAIN.

2. THE CAPTAIN TELLS STONE TO MORSE HER AND SHE RESPONDS WITH MORE ROCKETS. THAT IS ROCKETS IN THE PLURAL.

3. STONE SAW A TOTAL OF FIVE ONLY BEFORE GIBSON RETURNED.

THEREFORE AT THE VERY LATEST STONE REPORTED TO LORD AFTER THE THIRD ROCKET AND IT COULD VERY WELL HAVE BEEN AFTER THE SECOND. THAT IS BECAUSE HE SAW ROCKETS (AT LEAST TWO) AFTER REPORTING TO THE CAPTAIN.

STONE DID NOT REPORT TO LORD AFTER FIVE ACCORDING TO GIBSON'S TESTIMONY IN LONDON.

Now Lord said Stone only told him of a rocket in his testimony at London. This would make sense if Stone reported to Lord after the second rocket as Gibson wrote in his report to Lord. Stone wasn't sure of the first and likely reported one definite rocket to Lord.

Lord testified first. So Mersey et al. knew he stated he was only told of one rocket in the first voice pipe message from Stone..

Gibson testified next and stated Stone observed more rockets AFTER he reported to Lord, and these were from the first group of five.

Stone testified next and said he reported white lights like rockets to Lord. He said he saw five before Gibson came back up, but he never explicitly stated he reported five, or even four to Lord.

Mersey et al. just inferred it.

Mersey et all should have clarified it with Stone. They should have explicitly asked Stone after how many rockets he first reported to Lord. Had they done so, I think the answer would have been after the second.

Mersey et al. asked other questions of Stone related to things Gibson had testified about(red light, queer lights, list etc.)

Why didn't they follow up on this?? Even if they missed it that day, Isaacs, Simon, Aspinall, and Mersey should have been studying the transcripts each evening or in the morning before testimony resumed (if that's when they became available). They could have recalled Gibson and Stone if necessary.

Lord's testimony and Gibson's testimony match up. They are consistent. It is Stone who is contradictory or at least ambiguous in comparison.

Stone should have been grilled on this.

Therefore it seems quite likely and reasonable to me that Captain Lord was telling the truth when he testified that Stone told him of only one rocket in the first voice pipe message.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Nice find Paul. Gibson in his testimony was consistent with what he wrote to Lord about what Stone told him. I agree were your overall assessment. I always felt Gibson was the more objective witness of all of them. The problem with Gibson was that he was just an apprentice. It was up to Stone, the OOW, to take the appropriate actions. If only ...
 

Jim Currie

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Hi there!

Forgive me in advance if I plough an already well-ploughed field.

I had another 'go' at trying to establish the position and activities of Capt. Lord's mystery vessel.

This time, I used the evidence of the Apprentice and the 2nd and 3rd. Officers together with a plotted DR for the position of 'Carpathia' when she fired her last rockets.
Additionally; I proposed that 'Californian' drifted southward from her original DR position as offered by Capt. Lord. By this I plotted her position at 0330 hrs to be 42. 01.N - 50. 07.W

Chronologically:

3rd. Officer sees light approaching about 3.5 degrees abaft the starboard beam when ship's head is about NE. He estimates it to be from 10 to 12 miles away. From this information I plotted a position line running NxE - SxW and inscribed an arc with radius of 12 miles to cut it. This produces an initial DR for the mystery ship when first seen.

2nd.Officer sees rockets, directly on the port beam and almost on the horizon. This is about 0320 hrs when the ships head is WSW so the rockets are on a position line running NNW - SSE.

Using an observer's height of eye of 45 ft. and maximum rocket height of 700 ft this would suggest the extreme range of sighting would be 38 nautical miles. I plotted the NNW - SSE position line from the 0320 DR for 'Californian' and extended it to bisect 'Carpathia's' course line. It did this at her DR position for 0330 hrs on the morning of April 15 - 8 miles x 145 T from the wreck site. It is curious that this position line also passes close to my estimated collision point for Titanic.
Using an estimated distance between the 'Californian' and mystery vessel of 7 miles at 2330hrs on the 14th and inscribing a 7 mile arc arc to cut the second position line gives a rough DR for where this mystery vessel stopped at that time - 7 miles x 164 T.
A line drawn between the initial DR when the mystery vessel was first sighted and this second DR gives a suggested initial course of 012 T and a speed of 6 knots.

The above plotted DR suggests that the vessel was indeed in a direct line between 'Californian' and 'Titanic'. That the rockets seen by the Apprentice and 2nd/O were indeed from 'Titanic' but more than likely viewed through the rigging of the mystery vessel. My calculations show that Californian and 'Carpathia' were about 27 miles apart at 0330 hrs on 15th. April. If so,and the rockets at that time seen on the horizon were from 'Carpathia' then the range at sighting of 'Titanic's' rockets from 'Californian could well have been 21 - seemingly 'low' on the horizon.

This also suggests that the mystery vessel encountered the pack ice much the same as did 'Californian' and travelled slowly northward along its eastern edge to fine a way through.
It did not do so and stopped south of 'californian'. Later it turned south again and eventually found a way through in much the same area as did 'Californian' later when making her approach towards the erroneous CQD.

I also plotted the DR position of 'Titanic' for 2300 hrs using an average speed of 22.3 knots. It places 'Californian' 26 miles away at that time.
From this and from the 2300 DR position of 'Californian', I inscribed an arc of radius = 17 miles ( maximum visibility of masthead lights).
If 'Californian' was heading ENE at 2300, she would have had to have been 15 miles due east of where Lord claims she was and 15 miles north of 'Titanic' for the 3.rd/O to see 'Titanic' 3.5 points abaft the starboard beam. For the light to have been seen 'approaching from the east' say 2 points on the starboard bow - 'Californian' would have to have been about four to six miles to the west of the collision point. Nothing works except as I have shown.

To summarise: The watch keepers on 'Californian' did see 'Titanic's' rockets but at almost extreme range and with a vessel intervening. They did not know what they were looking at and what they saw was new to them so did not create a sense of urgency. They could not even agree on what they were seeing. Their reports to 'the boss' conveyed this and in turn did not create the proper sense of urgency to him.

As for the mystery vessel: it too saw what the others saw. However, it is more than likely that it had a non-english speaking crew and did not have the modern radio. Even if it had - it's operator was probably like that of 'Californian' and almost - almost, like the one on 'Carpathia' -turned-in for the night.
As often observed: 'there but for the grace of God go I'.

Regarding the 'looks queer' bit as described by the 2/O and Apprentice: This is very strange indeed.

I have read and re-read the work of Paul and Sam. It all fits fine but I really don't think anyone could actually see a vessel listed at any great range at night unless she was beam on and had an extraordinary beam (distance between her sidelights).
If I'm right, what these guys were seeing was an optical illusion caused by seeing the nearer vessel's lights mixed with those of the 'Titanic' much further away. Additionally; In my humble opinion; there is no way under the sun that a vessel 10, 12 or even 15 miles away could be mistaken for one 4 to 6 miles away. In the case of the latter - given the flat calm conditions and clarity of atmosphere - it is more than likely that an observer would see a ship's lights reflected in the sea. This is probably why these guys were all pretty adamant about how far ships were away. I'm sure all you people who live on the lakes have often seen this when ships anchor offshore on a cold, clear evening. The slightest ripple accentuates it.
As for a list of 15 degrees - this would have decreased freeboard on the low side by about 5 feet. At 10 miles away this would not be apparent to an observer viewing the vessel beam-on unless a previously hidden light became visible on the opposite side.



Cheers,

Jim
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Jim.

I don't believe Californian and Titanic were as far apart as you have them. In my opinion and experience, subjective estimates of distance at night are highly unreliable unless you already know what it is you are actually looking at, whether it be lights of airplanes in the sky or lights of ships at sea.

I believe the Californian came under the influence of the Labrador current some time between noon and 4 PM. We have that evidence from the water temperature data submitted by Capt. Lord to the US Senate investigation. That means Californian was being set southward from her DR course line for about 6 hours if not more before she came to stop at 10.21 PM. I don't believe a Pole star sighting was ever taken at 7.30 as later claimed that showed the ship was keeping the same latitude as she was at noon. An ice report sent from Californian to Olympic on Monday afternoon had the same uncorrected DR position as that sent to the Antilian for 6.30 PM Sunday, a position that was on a line that, according what Lord wrote in 1959, went from her noon position at 42.05N, 47.25W, to 42.00 N, 51.00 W. Yet the claimed stopped latitude for the ship was adjusted back up to 42.05 N in her log book, the same log book that had no entries for events during the middle watch hours on the 15th.

To me the best evidence of how close the two ships really were came from the letter written by Gibson to Lord on the 18th while the Californian was still at sea. I quoted Gibson's clear observation in my post 2064 above. Gibson said he observed not just a white rocket with stars that exploded above the steamer, but also the flash that appeared to come from the deck of the steamer and the faint streak that went skyward just before it exploded into white stars. He was looking through glasses at the time. This means that the boat deck of Titanic was above the level of the horizon for that flash from the detonator to be seen. It also translates to a maximum distance between the two ships of less than 17 miles, and this does not count the fact that Titanic was already down by the head somewhat. Also, the red sidelight seen by Gibson and Stone was that of Titanic since it was at the level of the boat deck and therefore above the visible horizon. To me the evidence points to one thing, the steamer that was seen was the Titanic relatively far off and not some tramp steamer half the distance in between.

Also you said: "2nd.Officer sees rockets, directly on the port beam and almost on the horizon. This is about 0320 hrs when the ships head is WSW so the rockets are on a position line running NNW - SSE."

The ship's head as reported by the 2/O was not WSW at 0320 hours. What Stone actually wrote was: "We saw nothing further until about 3:20 when we thought we observed two faint lights in the sky about S.S.W. and a little distance apart." This is clearly in the wrong direction, and an example of how unreliable Mr. Stone was as an observer. Stone also failed to see the lights of a stopped steamer at 4 AM to the southward, but it had to be pointed out to him by C/O Stewart when he came up to relieve him at that time.

But if you want to believe in mystery ships, have fun with it.
 

Jim Currie

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I see what you mean Sam but surely we can't rubbish all of the testimony offered by the Californian's officers?

My main thrust is the position line 'thing'.

For the uninitiated; a position line is a true bearing or arc of a circle of known radius laid off or inscribed on a map or chart from a known position - much like a line of sight or arc of visibility. The required position is on that line somewhere.
To find the position of an object or vessel located on the initial line or arc, another position line or arc of known radius must be drawn from another known position to cross the initial line or arc. Where they cross is the desired position.

If we takes Groves first:

He states that he saw the vessel first time around 2300 hrs when it was 3.5 points abaft the starboard beam. He never wavered from this. Given the ship's head and a relative bearing to it- we have a position line: 365 -175T. The target is somewhere on that line - approaching from almost south.
His vessel showed two white mast head lights.

The DR position of Titanic at 2300 can be plotted with reasonable certainty. If Californian's people saw her at that time when Californian's head was ENE then Titanic was bearing about
175 T. from Californian.
Clearly what Groves saw was not Titanic otherwise Californian would have to have been in more or less the latitude claimed by Lord but 17 miles to the eastward (if we use maximum visibility of first sighting as 17 miles) and almost the same longitude as Titanic at 2300 hrs.

Regarding Lord:

He claims he saw one masthead light approaching from an easterly direction at a slightly earlier time when Californian's head was a little north of ENE. What constitutes 'from the east'?
Giving the benefit of the doubt; lets say he was out about a point either side.
Using the same navigation light maximum visibility criteria as before: this would place Californian 6 miles westward of Titanic's collision point.(at 2300 hrs, Titanic had a mere
13 or so miles left to run.).

Now consider what both Stone and Gibson agreed on:

At around 0330 hrs Gibson, then Stone, saw three rockets almost on the horizon. They were on the port beam when the ship's head was to the west( say WSW T). This makes them bearing about 156T (using 5.5 deviation)- this too is a position line. If the rockets were from Carpathia ( is there any doubt?) and if they were seen at maximum range (again: is there any doubt?)having risen say, to even the minimum altitude of 600 feet; then using Californian's height of eye of 45 feet; the absolute maximum range of visibility would have been 35.9 miles.

Now consider the evidence of Captain Rostron of the Carpathia:

He states he arrived in the vicinity of the survivors at about 0400. He fired his last rockets about half an hour earlier. despite his 17 knot claims, his given times suggest he was making a top average of 15 or 16 knots. We also know he was off course to the NE. My calculations make it about 2.8 miles in that direction.
Using Captain Rostron's estimated distance to run to the Boxhall CQD and his actual times, places Carpathia about 4 miles south of the wreck site at 0400hrs. Running this back at 15 knots on his reciprocal course for 30 minutes gives a DR for Carpathia at 0330 hrs.
If we then lay-off the the 135-315 position line from Carpathia's DR at 0330 hrs., it cuts the 50. 07' W longitude vertical at 42.01'N. These points are 27 miles apart and suggest a very small 'ball park' position for Californian at that time. In fact, at 27 miles, rockets would only have to rise to around 280-300 feet to me seen at maximum range. (Company rockets?).
If in fact, Rostron's last rockets were fired earlier than 0330hrs, Californian would still have seen them low on the horizon at 0300 hrs.
But then, about a point forward of the port beam.

As far as I can determine- and I'm sure you'll point me in the right direction if I'm wrong - the only way the above can be 'rubbished' is to produce proof to the contrary that:

1. Californian's heading was not as Stone claimed it was around 0330 on the 15th
2. That the bearing of the rockets was not directly abeam to port.
3. That the rockets seen around 0300 were not from Carpathia.
4. That Carpathia did not fire rockets at the same time rockets were seen from Californian.
5. That Carpathia's rockets did not achieve a minimum altitude of 300 feet.

Notwithstanding the foregoing and if my proposals are acceptable then the problem of Groves's evidence comes into play. Was he 'on something'? Did he imagine his starboard quarter vessel?. If not then there is every reason to believe he was faithfully relating what he saw. If what he saw is accepted then his 'vessel' was most certainly to the south of Californian at the time Titanic was well to the east.
If Lord's ship is also considered - remember his had one steaming light while Grove's had two. Was there in fact two - not one- mystery vessels near to Californian that dark night. Did one shut down completely and the other dim his lights?
Did one steam away before dawn and did the other only become visible as dawn broke when he switched-on his lights to resume passage through the ice?

Still enjoying this - hope you don't 'burst my bubble'

Cheers,

Jim
 

Jim Currie

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Hi Sam,

Got so caught-up in this that I forgot to draw your attention to Gibson's answers to Q 7596 and Q7609 that the 'the lights were 'right on the horizon' (at around 0320) and 'we were heading W.S.W.
and Stone's answer to Q 8008; 'were heading about west at the time'. That's why I used the deviation of 5.5 degrees. Besides, there's no reason to think that she stopped swinging to starboard. As far as I can determine, the slow swing was fairly consistent with a vessel in a very sluggish current.

Cheers,

Jim
 

Jim Currie

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Sam:

To quote stone's answer to the BOT Enquiry Q8008:

"At about 0320 - just about half-past three. as far as I can approximate, Gibson reported to me he had seen a white light in the sky to the southward of us, just about the port beam. We were heading about west at the time. I crossed over to the port wing of the bridge and watched its direction with my binoculars. Shortly after, I saw a white light in the sky right dead abeam."

The following answers to 8010 relate how low on the horizon these three lights were.

Surely the foregoing tells us something? He had little or no reason to lie about it and Gibson confirmed most of it.

Cheers,

Jim.
 

Jim Currie

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Sam:

I have done a bit more work on this:

I decided to try and calculate the angle of the first five rockets above the horizon as seen by Calfornian. I used Radar Horizon and Vertical Sextant Angle tables entered with the arguments of maximum rocket height of 800 feet. Mystery vessel at 6 miles and Californian visible horizon of 7.6 miles. A bit of interpolation was needed but it seems that unless that these rockets were seen through the rigging of the mystery vessel; the only way to determine where they came from would be by their brilliance or lack thereof or their angular height above the mystery vessel.
My figures seem to show that rockets from a target at 20 miles from Californian would show 0.49 degrees above the horizon. The same rockets fired from a ship six miles away would show at 1.15 degrees above the horizon. The 170 ft. mast of the same ship would be about 0.16 degrees above the horizon. Obviously the closer the ship was to Californian - the greater would be the angle. Equally; the further away the source of the rockets and lesser maximum rocket heights would produce smaller angles above the horizon.
Notwithstanding the foregoing; the angles are so small as to make it very difficult to physically measure or even appreciate them. However these figures show that rockets fired from the mystery ship would have been seen well above the vessel - more than one degree and certainly not lower than the masthead.
Remember, the evidence of the 2/O and Apprentice was given when it was still thought that Californian as to the NE of the sinking. Therefore there would seem no need to lie about where they saw the rockets in relation to the mystery vessel.

Having another thought about it:

No matter the direction of Californian from Titanic when she sank: the ultimate proof must directly relate to the position of Carpathia when she fired her last white rockets. These rockets are a marker. We are pretty sure where Carpathia was at 0400 on the 15th. If we can determine within a few miles her DR when she fired the last rocket then if it was that which was seen at around 0320 - Then that rocket's maximum altitude and maximum vizibility would
fix Californian's position fairly accurately.

Actually, Carpathia's rocket would only have to have risen 200 ft. to place Californian south of the 42nd parallel.

Cheers,

Jim
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hi Jim.

You seem to have been busy doing a few calculations and such while I was away.

You wrote:
the only way the above can be 'rubbished' is to produce proof to the contrary that:

1. Californian's heading was not as Stone claimed it was around 0330 on the 15th
2. That the bearing of the rockets was not directly abeam to port.
3. That the rockets seen around 0300 were not from Carpathia.
4. That Carpathia did not fire rockets at the same time rockets were seen from Californian.
5. That Carpathia's rockets did not achieve a minimum altitude of 300 feet.
Stone wrote to Lord on the 18th:
"We saw nothing further until about 3:20 when we thought we observed two faint lights in the sky about S.S.W. and a little distance apart. At 3:40 I sent Gibson down to see all was ready for me to prepare the new log at eight bells."

Gibson wrote on the 18th: "At about 3:20 looking over the weather cloth, I observed a rocket about two points before the beam (Port), which I reported to the Second Officer. About three minutes later I saw another rocket right abeam which was followed later by another one about two points before the beam. I saw nothing else and when one bell went, I went below to get the log gear ready for the Second Officer at eight bells."

These were written in private letters given to Capt. Lord (which Lord had in his possession but did not produce before the inquiries) weeks before they both testified.

Concerning your 5 points above,

1. I believe Stone did not provide reliable bearings,
2. the relative bearings of the rockets seen were as Gibson described in his letter to Lord. I also believe that description suggests that Californian's swinging was a little more erratic than what was noticed which also led to some of Stone's confusion about his mystery ship sailing off to the SW,
3. The rockets seen by Californian were indeed those from Carpathia. They were also seen and later heard by survivors in the boats.
4. Carpathia did indeed fire rockets at the time they were seen from Californian which can be verified by a wireless message picked up by Mount Temple.
5. The rockets fired from Carpathia rose more than 300 feet.


I was going to write a detailed post about the location of the Californian and Carpathia at 3.20 AM, but instead decided to put it all down on a webpage along with a chart of the area showing key locations and course lines. You can see and read this at my page called Californian and Carpathia at 3:20 AM.
 

Jim Currie

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Hi Sam!
I have had a look at the submissions you referred me to and will comment as I see it.

Basically, your charted understanding of events relative to the DR collision point and various DRs agree with those I have developed independently.
You will note in my last paragraph I pointedly use 'DR'. I think that most of the derived positions by all 'experts', except for the location of objects on the sea bed, can only be educated guesses at best. All of us are guilty of omissions.
Where we very closely agree is in our estimates as to the activities of Carpathia. We obviously disagree is in the estimates of where Titanic was when she finally stopped dead in the water, the direction and rate of the current, various bearings and other odds and ends.

In biblical-like fashion, I'll take the last first.

In your writings you state the bearing from Californian was 135 T. You mention variation but not deviation. Lord said it was about 5.5 W. on a westerly heading but what was it on an ENE heading? The bearing cannot be true unless both components of compass error are applied. Additionally SE -NW you'll agree, is a position line. If At 0015 hrs on the 15th, Californian was stopped somewhere on that position line then she had to be very close to where Titanic hit the ice. The reason being that Californian first saw the mystery ship's masthead light at extreme range about 2300 hrs. At that time, Titanic was 11 miles from disaster. Now if we assume a maximum range of 17 miles for the light to be seen then 'Californian' had to have been about a mile and a half north of where the arc of visibility cuts your NW -SE position line i.e about 7. 5 miles from the collision point. This places Californian some 14 miles SSE of Lord's DR at 2230hrs on the 14th. It also would rubbish Crawford's assertion that the light was first seen on the starboard quarter but helps Lord's claim that it approached from the eastward.
Additionally; if Californian was around 7 miles from Titanic and continuing to drift; Carpathia's and Boxhall's fireworks would have been very evident. In fact, she would have been clearly seen from Carpathia long before 0400. Boxhall would have been between the two ships but from Carpathia, it is probable that if Californian had been where I suggest, her lights might have been mistaken for those of the stricken Titanic. I'm sure you'll agree the last scenario could not be possible. Lord might not have been Vasco da Gama but I'm sure he was a pretty good navigator.

If BOT and Senate Enquiry evidence is being quoted then this should be the norm throughout.
From experience I have found that written evidence produced months, years, even decades after the event becomes tainted, distorted and obscure. Consequently, I prefer to stick with what was 'alleged' at the time of the earliest enquiry - 'while the iron was hot' if you will.

I agree that Stone did not 'provide reliable bearings'in so much as he claimed he reported to Lord that the ship's head to be 'about westerly' at the time Carpathia's rockets were sighted. If her head was as he reported - the application of variation and deviation of 5.5W would make the ships head 'about' 246T. This would put Carpathia's rockets abeam on a bearing of 'about' 156T at 0320hrs.

Considering Gibson's 'flash' on the deck. I think this is in itself very significant - not to be dismissed but to be questioned closely.
At Californian's maximum height of eye of say 45 feet, the flash of a rocket fired from the bridge deck of Titanic at a height of say 75 feet would be just visible at the extreme range of 17.7 miles. Low on the horizon and certainly not 6 miles away. If the vessel had a listed to port of say 15 degrees then the starboard side would rise about 5 feet extending the extreme range of a flash would be 18.0 miles. If Gibson actually saw this then he saw it around 0100hrs - 2.5 hours after the vessel stopped at 2230hrs on the 14th.
If Lord's DR at 2230 was close then at around 0100hrs, Titanic's hull would be about 70 to 80 feet above Californian's horizon and just 18 -19 miles away. Titanic's rockets would seem to burst just above masthead height at that range.
Incidentally; there is no way a ship 4 to 6 miles away could be mistaken for one 12 miles away - never mind 20 odd miles away. Similarly, a cargo ship similar to California beam on at six miles would show one or two mast lights, a side light then a dark gap, few lights, another dark gap and a few more dim lights. The areas of dark would be clearly discernible as was suggested by the officers of the Californian.

It has been suggested that Titanic was nearly end-on to Californian and that her deck lights would be obscured. Obviously those who suggest this have never actually seen or been on board a big passenger ship at night. OK, when underway, the lighting is reduced for several reasons but in an emergency, every bit of available lighting would be switched-on. All boat deck and embarkation lighting would be blazing out from the side. At a distance, this would appear as a giant halo radiating in all directions. At 6 miles it would be very obvious no matter what direction the ship was heading in.
Incidentally; if Titanic was heading in the general direction of Californian when she sank, her sidelights would disappear first then much later, her masthead light. Gibson said the red light was shut out but he could still see the loom of the masthead light some time after red light disappeared. Surely he would have continued to see a bright masthead light until all the lights suddenly went out at the same time?

You quoted a couple of letters that Lord had in his pocket. Dealing with them; I would suggest that the reason Lord did not produce them was that they were so obviously contrived as a pathetic attempt to help 'the Boss' that they would have been totally damning if read-out and he (Lord) new it!
As you quoted from Stone's letter: 'we thought we observed two faint lights in the sky about SSW'. This was a clear contradiction of what he had stated in a sworn statement to the Commissioners - if these were Carpathia's rockets - how could they be a 'little distance apart'? Carpathia fired her last rocket at that time but, on Rostron's instruction, was firing them at 15 minute intervals.
Similarly; the written evidence by Gibson was also 'Hans Christian Andersen'ish'. A swing of 22.5 degrees in 3 minutes is amazing! Were they in a whirlpool? Also - again; who's rockets did he see? Carpathia's firing sequence was certainly not every three minutes and we know she ceased firing about that time so who fired the other rocket seen so close to the one Carpathia fired at 0320?
To be fair, I suspect these letters are not discussing the 0320 sighting but are mixed in with it.

I am curious as to why you think the bearings taken by the navigating officer would be unreliable? He certainly was taking them at very regular intervals. I would have thought they would only be unreliable if the person taking them was inexperienced or as true bearings, if the errors were incorrectly applied. At his level in the game such carelessness would be suicide for his future progress at sea.

As for the assessment of current direction and rate; I have reservations about the findings. In every case, the basis for calculation has been the DR position of the flotsam. This based on information supplied by California and to a lesser extent verified by a fix from another vessel as Californian exited the west side of the ice field on the morning of 15th.April.
My first question regarding this would be; why, at this stage, rely on any information from Californian when earlier information is so suspect? I am also curious as to why the wind that freshened after dawn on that day and had been blowing steadily up until noon, has not been factored in? After all floating debris of this nature would be greater influenced by wind than tide. The said wind was used by Lowe to good effect!
Another curiosity is the alignment of the pack ice. Why, if the current was SSW'ish did the ice pack trend about NNW -SSE? Perhaps I'm mistaken but I always thought floating ice aligned itself in the direction of the current then slowly rotated within it and was displaced by it it in the direction of flow.

As for the height of the rockets. These give a maximum range of visibility. Although we don't agree on the bearing of Carpathia's last rocket from Californian, it's height above the horizon as seen from Californian is crucial. Obviously it was not seen at maximum range but the closer it seemed to the horizon; the further away the source was.
It boils-down to the interpretation of 'low on the horizon'.
In 8010 Stone states "Such a distance that had it been much further I should have seen no light at all, merely a faint flash". The maximum range of visibility
This suggests almost a 'loom' of light. A 'St Elmo'-like flash suggests 'just seen and no more'.
That's why I was curious as to the altitude of Carpathia's rockets.
If we take Lord at his word and he was at around 42. 05N when he first stopped. then he might have been just on the 42nd parallel at 0330 hrs.
This would put him some 26-30 miles away from Carpathia at that time. At these distances, Carpathia's rocket at an altitude of say 700 feet would be seen just above Californian's horizon at a vertical angle of about 0.3 degrees - low, very low indeed. Since Californian continued to drift after 0130 hrs for another couple of miles, it is possible she was at 42. 03N when Titanic floundered -21 miles away.

I'll keep 'digging' as long as the sides of the trench don't tumble back in too much!

Cheers,

Jim
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Dec 31, 2005
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Jim,
Hello, how are you? Good I hope. I don't want to intrude on Sam and your conversation, but there were two points which I respectfully, but firmly disagree with in the above post.

You wrote:
"Incidentally; there is no way a ship 4 to 6 miles away could be mistaken for one 12 miles away - never mind 20 odd miles away. Similarly, a cargo ship similar to California beam on at six miles would show one or two mast lights, a side light then a dark gap, few lights, another dark gap and a few more dim lights. The areas of dark would be clearly discernible as was suggested by the officers of the Californian."

The thing that you have to keep in mind is that at night, the actual hulls, superstructure, etc. of the respective ships that saw each other were not visible due to the darkness. The main thing that was visible to the respective observers were the ships' navigation and side lights. Any area not fully or brightly lit, or with it's lights shut in would seem dark, as would the entire sky, horizon, and ocean behind it save for stars. At distance, depending on the angle of viewing and how far away it was, there wouldn't be any visible gaps. The horizon was only discernible due to the clarity and stars that night.

Judging distance in terms of miles becomes extremely problematic, particularly at night, when there is no physical features or landmarks to determine how far away the lights are. A large ship twice as far away may look the same as a smaller ship somewhat closer, depending on which lights are visible and which are shut in, no way of telling if the hull of the ship is above the horizon or closer, or partially hull down, etc.

Add to this that human perception and the way the brain processes visual stimuli complicates things further. Several lights grouped closely together at a distance often appear as one light to an observer, or vice versa.

Just something to keep in mind when discussing the respective observers' accounts. To say that there is no way that there could be a mistake is to run counter to how human perception works. Many mariners and airline pilots can attest that it is very easy to mistake what they are seeing at nighttime, when only lights, and not the ship itself or airplane is visible, and with no other visual reference to determine how the close the object is.

You also wrote:
"It has been suggested that Titanic was nearly end-on to Californian and that her deck lights would be obscured. Obviously those who suggest this have never actually seen or been on board a big passenger ship at night. OK, when underway, the lighting is reduced for several reasons but in an emergency, every bit of available lighting would be switched-on. All boat deck and embarkation lighting would be blazing out from the side. At a distance, this would appear as a giant halo radiating in all directions. At 6 miles it would be very obvious no matter what direction the ship was heading in."

This may be how things worked on ships that you have been on and on modern passenger ships that I have been on, but I have never seen any evidence that this was the case on the Titanic in 1912. In fact, several of the crewmembers and survivors later commented on how difficult it was to see on the boat deck due to the lighting. For example, at least one crewmember was uncertain of the identity of one of the officers, and cited the dim lighting on the boat deck as the reason for it. In short, I think that to say that the Titanic would have been lit up like a torch or somehow brighter than usual is not the case. If you have evidence to the contrary, I am of course open-minded and willing to hear it.

Hope your week has started off well.

All my best,
Tad
 

Jim Currie

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Hi Tad!

I am curious. Is it all of the posting you strongly disagree with or the parts you drew attention to?

As for evidence that the lighting was bad. The radio officer couldn't recognise any of the bridge staff never mind another crew member. There had been little or no time for crew members to get acquainted. This was new ship with all new personnel. The only people who knew each other were those who has sailed together before.
Passenger perception of 'good lighting' would vary from person to person and to be fair would have to be compared with some kind of standard.
I suspect those who complained were moving from one set of lighting systems to another. i.e. from brightly lit interiors to outside selectively lit areas - very different!

Blazing with more light than usual!: what is meant by 'usual? The boat deck lights would certainly have been switched-on as those uncovering the boats needed loads of light to see. Perhaps there was so much light that shadows were cast in corners -who knows? Embarkation decks and prom. deck lights would also have been switched on. Obviously I was not there but this was a state-of -the art passenger liner, using all the latest developments. I pretty sure they would be lit-up like the proverbial Xmas tree. If you recall, the officers and Apprentice on Californian remarked that there was no mistaking those kind of vessels at night.

Regarding the use of glasses at night: My experience is that if a vessel is as close as was suggested then you most certainly can determine dark areas from lighted ones. You don't need to actually see the outline of the vessel. If you are a seaman used to viewing ships of all shapes and sizes - you can well imagine the 'missing bits'.
All professional navigators are trained to recognise particular features of vessel light configuration relative to surface directional travel of every type of vessel. Since most vessels are fairly well blacked-out at night this makes for a particular night time recognition technique. It was no different in the time of Titanic. I take it you have been to sea so you'll recognise where I'm coming from.

An airman is a different person entirely. I would imagine there would be time to see much like a mariner if it were an airship but the relative speed of jet aircraft in three dimensional medium would certainly cause problems I'm sure. I of course do not include mistaken recognition of UFOs etc.

Talk to you later,

Cheers,

Jim.
 

Tad G. Fitch

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Dec 31, 2005
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Hi Jim, as a person who has been known to write long posts or multiple posts on the same topic in a short period of time myself (some people might call me long-winded), I assure you that I was disagreeing with the points I mentioned in my post and not the number or length of your posts, haha! :0)

You raise a good point regarding how well the crew were acquainted, etc. This may be a reason that some had difficulty recognizing others. However, I can say that at least in the case of one of the crewmembers I had in mind, he had previously sailed with both of the men he had confused the officer for. He specifically cites the darkness on the boat deck as the reason he was unsure, and had apparently been working on launching the lifeboats for some time. In any event, it is difficult to say the exact lighting level other than as I'm sure you would agree, the movies have always gotten it wrong. Then again, what fun would a film be if we couldn't see half of what was going on in it due to poor lighting, haha!

Take care,
Tad
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hi Jim, Tad.

Jim you wrote:
In your writings you state the bearing from Californian was 135 T. You mention variation but not deviation. Lord said it was about 5.5 W. on a westerly heading but what was it on an ENE heading? The bearing cannot be true unless both components of compass error are applied.
I absolutely agree, you need deviation and variation to get the true bearing. But here we are somewhat fortunate:

6779. Could you tell her [the steamer's] bearing at all? - [Lord] Well, I have heard it since. I heard what it was at midnight - S.S.E. from us by compass.
6780. That was at midnight? - Yes.
6781. (The Commissioner.) Was the compass correct? - No.
6782. (The Attorney-General.) What variation? - The variation that day at noon was 24 3/4. She was about 24 when we were stopped; the deviation would be about 2E, making an error of 22W.
The Commissioner: Are these minute particulars of importance?

First I would like to reply to the honorable Lord Mersey that to us researchers, these minute particulars are indeed important, especially in the discussion going on right now.
happy.gif


So here we have the total correction needed to go from compass bearing to true bearing from the evidence given by Lord. The uncertainty in my opinion is how accurate was the reported compass bearing of SSE. But you have to agree that is the best we have to go on. Applying 22W total compass correction given by Lord to the compass bearing of SSE places the vessel SE true from Californian as seen about midnight.

You also said:
Additionally SE -NW you'll agree, is a position line. If At 0015 hrs on the 15th, Californian was stopped somewhere on that position line then she had to be very close to where Titanic hit the ice.
I certainly agree that line is a line of position, but I don't agree with the last point you wrote about Californian having to be close to where Titanic hit the ice. Your argument was that when Californian first saw the mystery ship's masthead light at extreme range Titanic was 11 miles from disaster. You also assume a maximum range of 17 miles for the mast light. I disagree with that assumption.

Titanic's electric masthead light mounted on the foremast would have been about 145 feet above the waterline.
The geographic range table says that a light 145 feet high, the height above water of Titanic's masthead light, should be seen coming up on the horizon at a distance of about 22 nautical miles away by someone with a height of eye about 45 feet above the water, such as from the upper bridge of the Californian. Based on the construct of Titanic's masthead light and candlepower of its twin filaments, that light would appear as bright as a star of magnitude 1.56, about as bright as the star Castor in the constellation Gemini when first seen at 22 miles. (see Titanic's Masthead Light.)

Now consider the diagram below which appeared in part 2 of my THS Commutator article, "Light on the Horizon."
133159.gif

Based on the geometry of the approach, two parts of the triangle shown are known, the 22 mile distance between the Californian and Titanic when her masthead light first comes over the horizon as seen from the bridge of the Californian, and the 131° angle between Titanic’s course line of 266°T and the 315°T line-of-bearing from Titanic's stopping point to the stopped Californian. Since we know the speed of the Titanic, 22 knots, the distance L shown above can be approximated if we know the difference in time from when Titanic’s light was first seen to the time that she appeared to have stopped. That
difference in time between those two events gives us the distance L. Using the “law of sines”￾ from
trigonometry, we can then obtain the distance D between the two ships, as well as the other angles in the approach triangle.

Using 30 minutes, L is 11.0 miles, and the distance between the two stopped ships calculates to 13.2 miles. If the time interval were more like 35 minutes, then the distance D works out to 11.4 miles.

Cheers my friend,