The Titanic and the Mystery Ship


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Mar 22, 2003
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Paul Lee wrote:
quote:

And I suspect that the ship seen at 4.00am by the Stone and Stewart was the Carpathia, and that they lied.
I don't see how they could identify what ship it was shortly after 4 AM when Stewart got his eye's adjusted to the dark other than what was described. I see no reason to lie. It was still too dark to define the horizon at that time. At that time the Mount Temple would have been close to where she finally came to a stop between 4:30 and 4:45. We know from Moore she was proceeding slowly from about 3:30 onward. By about 4 AM the Carpathia had maneuvered to pick up Boxhall's boat to leeward on her starboard side first having to port around an iceberg (see Rostron). Neither the Carpathia nor the Californian would have particularly noticed each other because of the way they were pointing. They were essentially facing each other stern to stern hull down, and mast lights and sidelights would have been shut out. Stern lights would have been right near the level of the horizon and not stand out conspicuously from the background stars.​
 

Paul Lee

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Theres a very good reason to lie, Sam. If the ship they saw at 4.00am was the Carpathia, then they must have been within visual range of the Titanic that night!
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hi Paul: I do not necessarily agree although I understand what you are saying. There is every reason to believe that the ship that caught Steward's eye at 4 AM was not the Carpathia. We know from Rostron that the Mount Temple was more northward than the Carpathia at 5 AM in the morning just before she started to go south. Although Rostron could not specifically identify it as the MT, he described seeing two ships to the northward, one with 4 masts and single funnel, the other with 2 masts and a single funnel. His estimate was 7 to 8 miles away. We know from Moore that he was continuously in sight of this small steamer with 2 masts and a black funnel, so it seems that the 4 masted ship seen by Rostron was the MT. The smaller ship would have been more to the southward of the two since Moore said the other ship was south of him and he followed her southward to look for a passage through the ice after it got light enough to safely move again.

Lord said he saw the 4 masted ship in the SW. The Carpathia would be to his SE. The ship seen by both Stewart and Lord after it got light enough to really see what they were looking at was described as having a yellow funnel and judged to be about 8 miles away. The Carpathia had a red funnel which, even in the breaking light of day, would not appear yellowish. (I don't think Cunard changed its colors over the years. I've seen the QM and QE many times in evening twilight in NY many years ago. I never would have mistaken their funnels as anything but red, with a large black band on top, and two very thin black bands, one about 1/3 down and another 2/3 down. If anything, the red color may have showed as a brighter red with a low lying sun. Never orange or yellow. My favorite was always the QM with her 3 funnels, but that's another story.)

By the way, I hope nobody takes Lord's "SW" or Rostron's "northward" to be precise bearings. They were more or less general directions. I also would be a little careful when using anyone's estimate of distance, although during daylight they would tend to be much more accurate compared to estimating the distance to a ship by seeing just her lights on a dark night. As you and I know, it would be a big mistake to add Rostron's 8 miles with Lord's 8 miles to get 16 miles between Carpathia and Californian. The MT was on the western side of the ice field while both Californian and Carpathia were on the eastern side of the field between 4:30 and 5:00 AM. The three formed a triangle.

And the above just gave me an idea.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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An entirely unexpected result happened when I decided to draw out the situation at 5 AM, a half hour before sun rise based on what Lord and Rostron said they saw. Both the Californian and Carpathia are on the eastern side of the ice field. The Mount Temple on the western side. Assuming the Mount Temple was the yellow funneled steamer seen by Stewart and Lord about 8 miles off, and assuming it was the Mount Temple that Rostron saw also about 8 miles off, we place the three ships on the corners of an isosceles triangle with two the equal sides each about 8 miles in length. The base of this triangle represents the straight line distance between Californian and Carpathia. The apex is where the Mount Temple would be. The size the base depends on the distance of the apex to the base. But that distance would be the thickness of the ice field which acording to Moore was 5 to 6 miles wide. The situation is shown below.

113213.gif


The solution to this geometric problem is quite easy. I'll let others post the solution.

The issue of course is the identity of the yellow funneld steamer. Paul Slish and Senan Molony will argue that it was not the Mount Temple because neither Lord nor Stewart made that association later on as the Californian passed the Mount Temple about a mile off. The yellow-funneled steamer is discussed on pages 187-190 in Senan's book for those interested. Senan concluded that the steamer was seen on the eastern side of the ice field but doesn't explain why. Stewart refered to the steamer as being to the southward. Lord at one point said it was in the SW as I quoted. (I'll discount Lord's 1959 affidavit where he changed it to the the SSE.) If this steamer was to the SSE of the Californian about 8 miles, and the Carpathia was about 18 miles SE of the Californian as Paul has suggested, then this mysterious 4-masted, yellow-funneled steam would have been about 10 miles from the Carpathia. Yet what happened to it? Disappeared in broad daylight? I know Rostron, Bisset and others had lots of other things to do besides look at who was around them that morning. And Lord and Stewart were not watching out at other ships all the time once Steward went below to seek out Evans. So this steamer may have slipped away as mysteriously as it seemed to show up. Obviously not heading north or it would have probably been seen come close by someone on the Californian. Obviously not heading south or it would have probably been seen come close by someone on the Carpathia. Obviously not west or it would have been seen by the Mount Temple on the other side of the ice. Maybe it went back to Europe after slipping behind an iceberg?

Or maybe it was the Mount Temple which headed south on the western side of the ice pack as Moore claimed he did.
 

Paul Lee

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Hi Sam, Based on that geometry (neat picture by the way!), the Caprathia should have been visible to the Californian, but hull down. With lights on her masts and superstructure, she should have been visible. But then, I agree with you that Stone was not very observant.

Incidentally, what about the heading of the yellow funnelled ship as seen by Stewart? He thought she was heading west - or the same direction as the Californian. At 4.00am, that could only really apply to the Carpathia. The MT was heading in a northerly, or north-westerly direction after she reached her southernmost nadir of the icefield and started heading north again, after 5.00am.
 

Paul Slish

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Well, I'm back, but will be going away again shortly. Sam, thank you for all your analysis which is interesting and I have read very carefully.

First, I didn't do a very good job of communicating one point. I was not intending to convey that the yellow funnel steamer was firing rockets. If that's the impression I made, I'm sorry for that. I agree that the rockets seen by Gibson and by Stone (even though he was unsure) were from the Carpathia so we are in agreement on that. I don't know what the course of the yellow funnel steamer was. I should have used the word hypothetical when I said it came from the east on a basically west course.

Secondly, how far away the Carpathia was from the wreck site or Boxhall's lifeboat at 3:20 am is not easy to know. Captain Rostron said he saw a green light at 2:40 am a half point off the port bow. I think we are all agreed what he saw was one of Boxhall's White Star company signals. Rostron stated that time in both the USA and England, so I don't think it is a mistake. Bisset confirms it in his second volume of "Tramps and Ladies" of 1960. Rostron states the first iceberg was seen five minutes later at 2:45 am. So I really don't think the 2:40 am sighting of the green light is in error.

The question is as follows. How far could the Carpathia officers see the low lying green light that Boxhall displayed? That is the distance Carpathia covered in the next 80 minutes up to 4:00 am when she was close to the lifeboat. If she made 17 knots, they were seeing that green light at over 22 miles. That is extremely unlikely. Rostron seems to indicate they maintained full speed almost until they stopped. Bisset indicates a slackening to half at 3:30 am and later to slow as they came up to 4:00 am. This is according to Padfield's "Titanic and the Californian" as I don't have Bisset's book and all the context of the quote. After sighting the first iceberg, Bisset says Rostron put the telegraph to half for some time, and then put it to full again. Rostron certainly didn't want to severely damage his own ship. After they sighted the second iceberg, I find it hard to believe they kept booming along at full speed. Bisset also indicated a top speed of 16 knots which seems more reasonable, since the Carpathia was rated at 15 knots by Lloyds.

Is 10 miles a reasonable figure to see the green light? How high up did it go? 15 feet? If the Carpathia bridge was 50 feet above the waterline (I'm guessing) and the green lights went up 15 feet we have a theoretical distance of just under 13 miles. Even if we accept a sighting at 13 miles, that comes out to an average speed of 9.77 knots for the Carpathia from 2:40 am to 4:00 am. The first 30 minutes of that run was probably faster than that and the last 30 minutes was probably slower. If the Carpathia was at half speed from 3:30 to 4:00 am, then she would cover 4 miles. Add on 2 miles back to 3:20 am (12 knots) and she is 6 miles from Boxhall's lifeboat. If the Carpathia stopped about 19 miles on a direct line from the Californian, that means she was about 25 miles away at 3:20 am. Stone described what he saw as a faint flash. Gibson said it was right down on the horizon. If that distress rocket went up about 500 feet this makes perfect sense to me.

Now in an earlier post Sam mentioned about a rocket seen from a lifeboat, but didn't give the source. Recently he posted again and identified Lawrence Beesley as the author. I don't know if it is still in print, but many years ago I bought the Dover edition of "The Story of the Titanic as told by its Survivors." It is a great book. Beesley's "The Loss of the Titanic" is in it.

First, from the lifeboat Beesley only mentions seeing one rocket at about 3:30 am. "We all turned quickly to look and there it was certainly: streaming up from behind the horizon like a distant flash of a warship's searchlight; then a faint boom like guns afar off, and the light died away again."

How far off could they hear a distress rocket? Maybe 7 miles? It was after this rocket (exactly how long is not stated) that first a light was seen coming over the horizon, and then later it was distinguished as two lights. The Carpathia stopped about 4:00 am or 4:05 her time. Beesley was in a heavily loaded lifeboat and states they reached the Carpathia about 4:30 am. They had to row around an iceberg, so how far did they row? Maybe a mile in 30 minutes? So Beesley's lifeboat being about 7 miles from the Carpathia when they saw the rocket makes sense to me.
 

Paul Slish

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I wouldn't put too much stock in the exactness of bearings unless the person specifically testified he took a compass bearing.

Lord said the yellow funnel steamer was to the southwest.

But what did Stewart say?

"8901. And in what direction was it that you saw this light which you were able to pick up? - About south."

But what did Stone say?

In his April 18 statement.

"I said 'Then that isn't the steamer I saw first,' took up the glasses and just made out a four-masted steamer with two masthead lights a little abaft our port beam, and bearing about S., we were heading about W.N.W."

Lord says SW. Stewart and Stone both say "about south." Perhaps Lord was off on this one. It is two against one. My point is I wouldn't try to make an exact calculation of the distance from the Carpathia to the Californian based on this one bearing by Lord.

Also Stone gives two different bearings as to where he saw two faint lights at 3:20 am. In his April 18 statement he says "about S.S.W."

In London he testified.

"8008. What did you do? - At about 3.20, just before half-past three, as near as I can approximate, Gibson reported to me he had seen a white light in the sky to the southward of us, just about on 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 on the beam."

Here it is "southward", "about on the port beam." "We were heading about west at the time."

If Stone's "southward" is an estimated bearing by compass that would be about SSE true which is approximately the bearing we would expect to see the Carpathia's rockets. If Stone used his binoculars to see the two faint lights, then he can't take a compass bearing at the same time.

Again, unless the officer testifies he took a compass bearing, I wouldn't take the bearings mentioned as exact. They could be off a couple of points.

Captain Rostron testified the Californian bore WSW true from him when he sighted her. That sounds rather exact. But the two ships he saw at 5:00 am he describes as to the "northwards" which is a much more general bearing.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Hi Paul Lee:

The heading direction of the ship seen at 4 AM came from Stone, not Stewart. He [Stone] said, "I saw a steamer then just abaft the port beam showing two masthead lights apparently heading much in the same direction as ourselves (8017)."

Stewart on the other hand had said, "I thought she might have drifted back - that she had found that she could not get through the ice (8639)…Q. What did you mean? - A. That she had come back (8648)…Q. She had steamed back? - Yes (8649). If Stewart at the time really thought that, then that would make the steamer seen at 4 AM heading northeastward having come back from the SW. I’m a bit concerned when headings or bearings come from Stone without supportive evidence.

Apparently Stewart did not entirely believe Stone when Stone told him that he did not think it was the same ship. The ship seen at 4 AM had 2 mast lights, the ship seen earlier by Stone and Gibson firing rockets during the middle watch had only 1 mast light. But Stewart apparently was having some doubts, and went down and called on Lord who came up to the bridge about 4:30. Stewart never told Lord that Stone thought they were not the same ship. According to Stewart, when Lord saw the ship at 4:30 he said, “No, she looks all right; she is not making any signals now.” If this is true, then Lord should have realized that the ship seen at 4:30 was not the same ship he saw at 11:30 the previous night if he had bothered to notice the number of mast lights.

The first hand report of what Lord said came from Lord himself: “Then he [Stewart] said, ‘Will you go down to look at this steamer to the southward?’ I asked him, ‘Why, what is the matter with it? ’He said, ‘He might have lost his rudder.’ But I said, ‘Why? He has not got any signals up.’ ‘No, but,’ he said, ‘the second officer in his watch said he fired several rockets.’ I said, ‘Go and call the wireless operator.’” This had to be close to 5:10 AM when this conversation happened since we know Evans contacted the MT at 5:15 Californian time according to Durrant’s PV.

Of course at 4 AM nobody could accurately tell distance very well. It was still too dark. The estimate of 8 miles came from Lord after it was light enough to see the steamer itself though glasses as opposed to only her lights. Although Stewart said he saw it was a yellow-funneled steamer after the sun came, it must have been about a half hour before actual sunrise when there was a good amount of sunlight from the eastern sky during civil twilight. Stewart was not on bridge at the time of sunrise which was at 5:31 their time. That is when Evans was in contact with the Frankfurt and received confirmation of the SOS position which he wrote down for Stewart to take back to Lord.

Meanwhile, the Mount Temple was reported to back out of the ice at 3:20 NYT (5:10 AM Californian time) according to the Durrant's PV log. Stewart by his own admission was not on bridge very much after 5:15.

(8778) Q. What time did you start moving? — A. 5.15. (8781) Q. How slow? — A. I could not tell you what we were going; I was not very much on the bridge after that time.

Apparently Lord stayed on the bridge when Stewart went to see Evans minutes before 5:15. At the American Inquiry Lord said, "We moved the engines first at 5.15 on the 15th of April, full ahead." This is before they heard about the disaster. At the British Inquiry Lord said, "5.15 we moved the engines for a few minutes and then we stopped on account of the news we received, and waited till 6 o’clock." So where were they headed at 5:15 when they went “full ahead?” Obviously not through the pack ice at that time.

The answer is hinted at by Lord. “I was undecided whether to go through it or to turn round and go back, and we decided to go on, so I told him to put the engines on and stand by. He did so.” This was just before the conversation they had a little after 5 AM when Stewart asked him will they be going down to look at the steamer to the southward. At 5:15 Lord went full ahead but stopped soon after “on account of the news” they received. So when did they receive the news? It seems about 20 minutes later after Stewart came back from Evans following the 5:30 contact with the Frankfurt (3:40 NY time). This is confirmed by Lord,

"The chief officer came back some time after...I suppose 15 to 20 minutes…He said, ‘There is a ship sunk.’…he went back to the wireless room straight away…[He came back] some time after that. He said, ‘The Titanic has hit a berg and sunk.’…I left the bridge and went to the wireless room myself.”

All this fits together since Evans gave Stewart the position after speaking with the Frankfurt which confirmed the SOS coordinates received first from the Mount Temple contact at 5:15. (See Durrant’s PV for all these times.) We know Evans got the Virginian at 5:50 AM and got an MSG which he gave to Lord. That was an official message from Capt. Gamble to Capt. Lord. It was right after that that Lord acted very decisively to take his ship through the pack ice to the reported coordinates. So it seems that for at least 15 to 20 minutes they went full speed, that's about 3 miles, before Stewart came back to the bridge to report a ship sunk during the night. But 3 miles to where? As Lord said of his conversation with Stewart before sending him down to call upon Evans, “we decided to go on.” So they didn’t turn around to go back, and they did not cut across the ice field at full speed at that time either. It seems only two choices, go southward along the edge of the field for a place to get across, or go northward along the edge of the field for a place to get across.

Now granted, this is a bit of speculation, but it seems Lord decided initially to head northward. Why? As he said the ship seen to their south did not appear to be in any sort of trouble. They were headed to Boston, and we know from Rostron the ice field went from NW to SE on the eastern edge. Going southward would be taking them away as opposed to northward which would take them toward their destination.

Where I am going with this? When Lord started to cut across the field ice at 6 AM, going slowly and carefully by his own account, his ship’s distance from the wreckage had likely increased by about 3 miles from what it was at 4 AM. And this needs to be factored in when considering the total distance traveled along the route he took to reach the Carpathia later on.

I’ll have more to say about that some time later.
 

Paul Lee

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Its a bit suprising that the red/green light wasn't seen on the other ship by Stone and Stewart. I'd always assumed that the heading of the ship was deduced by the relative height of the lights on the masts.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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Welcome back Paul Slish. Hope everything is going well with you.

quote:

I was not intending to convey that the yellow funnel steamer was firing rockets... I agree that the rockets seen by Gibson and by Stone (even though he was unsure) were from the Carpathia so we are in agreement on that.

OK, thanks for the clarification about that.

quote:

Captain Rostron said he saw a green light at 2:40 am a half point off the port bow. I think we are all agreed what he saw was one of Boxhall's White Star company signals.

Yes, we agree on what he saw. However, Rostron's time is very suspect. There is no way (except you believe in some mirage effect) for one of Boxhall's flares to be seen that far away (about 20 miles at 15 knots) from the bridge of the Carpathia. Bisset wrote the same time in his book, but ther are quite a few detail in his book that were filled after taken from other sources, not necessarily his personal notes he may have made at the time. I believe the best explanation of the 2:40 time is what Dave Gittins has suggested. The 2:40 is most likely the travel time (see Dave's e-book and website) since the Carpathia received the SOS. 12:35 AM + 2:40 = 3:15 AM. That is about 50 minutes before Rostron stopped his engines placing him about 10-11 miles from Boxhall's boat. Bisset's account is in Ch 23 of Tramps & Ladies. He mentions a brief reduction to 1/2 speed when the 1st iceberg was sighted and then mentions a reduction to 1/2 and slow ahead as they approached Boxhall's boat. Those last reductions were sometime during the last half hour of approach according to Bisset. Rostron claimed his speed had dropped only 2-4 knots 3 minutes after stopping his engines at 4:05 when he ported around an iceberg seen about 1/4 mile ahead of him (25467). He also claimed he had reached a maximum speed of 17 1/2 knots that night, but that is because he thought he reached the SOS position which we know he never did. There is no way they could have produced enough power to go that fast. (Power required goes as the cube of the speed). Ordinarily they made 14 knots at full ahead. Probably no more than 15 to 16 knots tops if they could shovel the coal fast enough.

quote:

Is 10 miles a reasonable figure to see the green light?

Height of eye from the bridge of the Carpathia was about 50 feet above waterline (Bisset). Boxhall was seen standing in the sternsheets of the boat No. 2 steering with the tiller. Holding a flare above his head, I'd put the height of Boxhall's green light at 6 feet above the water. Extreme range tables yeild 11 miles. So yes, about 10 miles is reasonable. We also know that nethier Stone nor Gibson nor Stewart ever said anything about seeing a green light. This means Boxhall's boat was certainly greater than 10.7 miles away.​
 
Mar 22, 2003
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quote:

I wouldn't put too much stock in the exactness of bearings unless the person specifically testified he took a compass bearing.
I agree. And I also give more weight if a bearing is confirmed by a second source such as the compass bearing to stopped steamer at 12:15 AM seen by Groves, Stone, and Gibson. Anytime someone uses the term northward or southward, etc. they are giving a very broad general direction. Southward could mean anywhere from SW to SE. However, when someone gives a more specific direction like "southwest" they are being a little more specific than just southward. In the case of Stone when he wrote about seeing those "two faint lights in the sky about SSW," to me I interpret that as to the SSW plus or minus a point. Although he didn't always specify it directly, all of the bearings he seems to give are compass bearings as opposed to true bearings. SSW by compass would be South true in that location. The Carpathia would have come up from the SSE by compass which is SE true. (See attached chart below.) That's a difference of 4 points. Of course if he was converting compass to true and went the wrong way in the conversion that would explain it. But I don't see even a hint that he was doing that.
113262.gif

As far as Lord's SW direction for yellow-funneled steamer, if that were SW true that places it 8 points away from where the Carpathia stopped. If that were a compass direction it gives a 6 point difference. Something gave the Lord the impression that that steamer was more to west of south at the time he testified. In his 1959 affidavit, 47 years after the event, he changed the direction to SSE but didn't specify if that were compass or true.

In that same 1959 memo he also said that he was undecided which way go in the morning, and even considered turning the ship around to go down to the SE to look for a clear passage. When he saw clear water to west of the ice field he decided to put the engine on standby at 5:15. He never mentions anything in that memo about actually getting underway at 5:15 as he and Stewart did in their respective 1912 testimonies.​
 

Dave Gittins

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I've been watching this remarkably civilised discussion from the cheap seats.

I won't join in the arguments over who went where. I'll just refer to my e-book, in which I show from Captain Lord’s own testimony that his claimed overnight position is quite untenable. The only additional comment I'd make is that Lord didn't cross the icefield by steering west, or a bit south of west. On his own evidence, he steered various courses that he hoped would average 196° True. If the northern part of the field lay about north-south, as in the Foweraker chart derived from Lord's own sketch, this would place him in the field for much more than the half hour claimed. This would explain why he took so long to reach Mount Temple, only about eight miles away.

Let's attack from another angle. Consider the “mystery ship”, or was it “ships”?

This ship possessed remarkable qualities. Consider how it appeared from Titanic. To quote myself ----

“It is thus not surprising that when we examine the nocturnal observations of the witnesses from Titanic and Californian, we find that it is possible to prove almost anything. Lights seen from Titanic were white. There were coloured sidelights as well as white lights. There was only one light. There were two. They were lights on a steamer. There was only the single stern light of a sailing ship. They moved. They did not move. They advanced. They retreated. The light may have been a star. The other ship was two miles off. It was ten miles off. It was every distance between.

The witnesses on Californian are just as unhelpful. They saw a big liner. They saw a small ship like their own. It showed two masthead lights. It showed one. The ship moved off. It simply disappeared. It sent up rockets. The rockets came from beyond the ship.”

All these observations are supported by testimony. I cite the witnesses in the e-book.

Lord's apologists like to concentrate on the evidence from Joseph Boxhall, who said he saw lights which indicated a ship that approached Titanic, showing port and starboard lights, before turning away. I would point out that Boxhall's observations were intermittent. He was helping with boats and firing socket signals. He was not staring steadily at the lights. Moreover, he would not have had his full night vision. As a seaman, he should have been one of the better witnesses, but the value of his testimony seems somewhat questionable.

The evidence from the numerous other witnesses is a mass of confusion and contradictions. A basic problem is that the “mystery ship” must satisfy many contradictory conditions. Most importantly, she must somehow contrive to show Boxhall her port and starboard lights while showing Herbert Stone her steaming light and port sidelight. Get out your toy boats and test that one!

The story is so complex that in 1913 Maurice Foweraker, an early Lord supporter, decided that two “mystery ships” were on the scene. One, called Z, approached Titanic. The other, X, was stopped five miles SE of Californian. Foweraker thus managed to satisfy the appearances to his own satisfaction. If we must drag in “mystery ships”, Foweraker's scheme seems reasonable enough.

However, the “mystery ships” must possess remarkable qualities. X, managed to steam off to the SW, happily steaming into an icefield that stopped Captains Lord, Moore and Stulpin. Z appears to have simply vanished.

The “mystery ship” (or ships) must have been manned by remarkably incompetent officers and lookouts. In particular, the crew of X managed to steer directly at Titanic and her distress signals, yet they turned away without stopping to assist, turning down the chance of lucrative salvage money in the process. The crew of Z, stopped somewhere closer to Titanic than Californian, also failed to act.

When all was over, what did the crew(s) of the “mystery ship(s)” have to say? Precisely nothing! Nobody came forward to tell of sighting distress signals on the night to remember. Amazing men! Captain Lords crowd couldn't keep quiet for a week.

Let's unsheath Ockhams razor, give it a good stropping, and see what follows.

“Entities should not be multiplied needlessly, which is interpreted to mean that the simplest of two or more competing theories is preferable and that an explanation for unknown phenomena should first be attempted in terms of what is already known.”

Let's remove the “mystery ship(s)” and their mute mariners from the scene.
We are left with a slowly rotating ship that had two steaming lights, plus sidelights. (Californian). We have a ship that had only one steaming light, plus sidelights. (Titanic). We have distress signals fired by Titanic, plus the later signals from Carpathia. Lord, Stone and Gibson thought the ship they saw was about the same size as Califorian. The upper decks of Titanic, which were visible from Californian at a distance of about 12 miles, were about the length of Californian.

The lights of these two ships were witnessed by seamen of widely varying competence and by passengers. At least one star, Capella, confused observers. The observers on Titanic, or in her boats, were anxious, if not actually scared stiff. At least one witness (Ernest Gill) lied outright. As one would expect, their evidence is a mass of contradictions. Are they to be reconciled by introducing “mystery ships” possessing exceptional qualities? Not in my opinion. Human fallibility, incompetence and venality amply explain the strange sights seen on that memorable night.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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quote:

If we must drag in “mystery ships”, Foweraker's scheme seems reasonable enough.
Senan does not stop at just two. On p.252 of his book (the subject of this thread) he lists five other unidentified sightings to show that those waters were full of ships "that eluded investigation:"

1. A small 2-masted steamer seen by Californian, Carpathia, and Mount Temple.
2. The schooner that raced across Mount Temple's path.
3. A pink-funned steamer seen by Lord on the west side of the ice field.
4. The steamer that showing a red sidelight to Carpathia at 3:15 AM.
5. The yellow-funneled steamer seen from Californian to the southward in the morning.

He also talks about ship that stopped about 5 miles to the SE of Californian, and a different ship that approached within 5 miles to the west of Titanic. Most of the arguments are based on subjective observations, specified routes of travel, and the now known location of the wreck site. The book is quite comprehensive, and he does address most of the known issues.​
 

Dave Gittins

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1. A small 2-masted steamer seen by Californian, Carpathia, and Mount Temple.

This ship is irrelevant. It came up from the SW with Mount Temple and was never on the scene during the sinking.

2. The schooner that raced across Mount Temple's path.

I love the "raced". The ship was doing one or two knots in the light breeze. Anyway, it was nowhere near the scene during the sinking.

3. A pink-funneled steamer seen by Lord on the west side of the ice field.

This ship was seen only by Lord, if he saw it at all. The document found by Paul Lee contains dubious navigational details that support my contention that the Almerian story is a seaman's yarn.

4. The steamer that showing a red sidelight to Carpathia at 3:15 AM.

This is a genuine mystery, but it's unlikely the ship was on the scene. See my site at Carpathia: Legends and Reality

5. The yellow-funneled steamer seen from Californian to the southward in the morning.

Obviously Mount Temple.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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quote:

5. The yellow-funneled steamer seen from Californian to the southward in the morning.
Obviously Mount Temple.
I agree with your assessment Dave, however, it might not be so obvious. The lights of that ship were seen a little after 4 AM, the MT was still steaming although slowly till about 4:30 or a little after. The Carpathia happened to arrive also about 4 AM and Paul Lee I believe was under the impression that it was she that was seen.

Anyway, I believe I have addresses these issues in some of my previous posts concerning this ship and conclude the same as you have.​
 

Paul Lee

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There was recent talk of Groves on this forum, and I'd like to chip in something that may not be well known: according to the Lord-Macquitty collection, Groves went to a Boston newspaper after the Californian had docked, in regard to the Titanic matter, but the paper wouldn't/couldn't see him.
 
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Charlie Haas has just put up a review of the book on Amazon:

In my review for Titanic International Society's journal "Voyage," I called Irish journalist Senan Molony's 2003 book, "A Ship Accused," "an exceptional, clear and complete vindication" of Californian's Captain Stanley Lord, "an essential addition to any Titanic library, and a first-rate forensic examination of one of Titanic's most enduring controversies."
Now, Molony's "Titanic and the Mystery Ship," essentially a reprise of "A Ship Accused," is available and better than the original.
In the 94 years since Titanic's loss, no other issue provokes such protracted debate as the identity of the vessel so tantalizingly close to the dying Titanic, and that of the vessel being carefully observed aboard Californian. The complexity of the discussion, involving timing, sightings, rockets, movements, headings, navigational positions, Morse lamp signals, even the nature of the vessel(s) in view, has intensified the debate, often adding passion at the expense of facts.
Molony's forte is in isolating each strand of the supposed case against the Californian and dispassionately examining the evidence. Logical fallacies, factual contradictions, witnesses' inconsistencies -- one by one, each pillar supporting the case against Californian is examined and effectively dismissed. As I wrote in 2003, "One finds oneself wishing that Molony, and not the ineffectual C. Robertson Dunlop, had represented Californian's officers and captain at the Mersey inquiry."
Once Molony has made his case -- and a powerful one it is -- he adds, as an appendix, a thoughtful appraisal of several candidates for the mystery ship, while not committing to any favorite.
The new volume has significantly improved photographs, deletion of the previous edition's computer-manipulated images, tighter editing and improved organization and transitions. The first volume's 50 chapters have been distilled into 26. The new volume is commercially published, hopefully with wider dissemination. A minor minus: The text is set in a size requiring bifocals.
If you didn't purchase "A Ship Accused," you have another chance to read a thought-provoking vindication of a much-maligned mariner.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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quote:

I called Irish journalist Senan Molony's 2003 book, "A Ship Accused," "an exceptional, clear and complete vindication" of Californian's Captain Stanley Lord, "an essential addition to any Titanic library, and a first-rate forensic examination of one of Titanic's most enduring controversies." Now, Molony's "Titanic and the Mystery Ship," essentially a reprise of "A Ship Accused," is available and better than the original.

Two things struck me when I read this review.

1. The issue of vindication of Stanley Lord, and
2. that these books are a first-rate forensic examination of the controversy.

I don't have the first book, but as far as the current version is concerned, believe it is far from being a vindication of the role of the Californian, and it certainly is not a 1st rate forensic examination.


The premise of vindication seems to be in proving that the mystery ship seen by those on the Titanic was not the Californian, and the mystery ship seen from the Californian was not the Titanic. But the real issue of vindication has to do with the one fact that is not in dispute. The officer of the watch (OOW) on the Californian, 2/O Stone, and the apprentice Gibson, saw a sequence of distress signals which everyone now agrees came from the Titanic. Other than a failed attempt to establish contact by Morse lamp, which began about an hour before any rockets were seen at all, the Californian stood still. The wireless operator was not called upon to find out what was going on. The Captain was not called to the bridge to see for himself what was going on. Despite a remark being said between the two on the bridge that that a ship at sea was not going to fire rockets at night for nothing, or that the lights seemed to take on a strange appearance, no proactive measures were taken.

The issue of vindication as far as I'm concerned can be, and should be, separated from the issue of what ships were seen that night. And the issue of vindication of Lord should be separated from the issue of the actions taken, or not taken, by those in trusted with the responsibility of the watch.

As far as being a first-rate forensic examination, I can only say that it is not even close. The arguments presented are based mostly on observational judgement and opinion. Once certain points are presented as if fact, they are then used to prove other so called facts. There is really very little objective analysis as far as I'm concerned. I certainly would not say it dispassionately examines the evidence. Far from it.

On the plus side, the book is very comprehensive and well referenced. It does lay out most of the known issues for debate. But as you can see from the several posts above, the issues are far from being closed.​
 
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