Titanic-Californian Morse lamp communication

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Timothy Trower

Guest
"If the Titanic and the Californian were within visual range of each other and were each other's mystery ship, their respective Morse lamps would have been seen and communication established."

Oh? How large of a range did the respective Morse lamps have? Please justify this assertion.
 

RJ Emery

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Dec 13, 2007
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Brigitta wrote:
I found it interesting that James Bisset [2nd officer on Carpathia] mentioned from his observation that night on the bridge wing that the night was cloudless, with all the stars shining brightly - "the peculiar atmospheric conditions of visibility intensified as we approached the icefield with the greenish beams of the Aurora Borealis shimmering and confusing the horizon ahead ahead of us ………." [interestingly -green flares had been fired from one of the lifeboats & Bisset recalled that the water had a sinister greenish crystal tinge that morning]

It [is] strange that no one has mentioned the Aurora Borealis.
Despite what Bisset may have written, was there an aurora visible the night the Titanic sank? I recall no other descriptions of same in what I have read thus far. For it to have lit the waters as quoted, the aurora should have been quite noticeable and to have been recorded by others.

1912 was also a year of sunspot minima. Aurora activity is generally associated with maxima, although one can occur virtually at any time or place. However, an aurora to reach that latitude during a minima is unusual.
 

Dave Moran

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Apr 23, 2002
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Well, actually I would suggest politely that the burden of proof falls on you, RJ.

Consider it this way — we know Californian was in the vicinity of the wreck. How far or near is, of course, open to debate, but we know she was close enough to reach the Carpathia within two hours of first moving, and that for some considerable percentage of that voyage she was moving first west through the ice, then south through clear water, then east through ice again. So, we know she was in proximity, yes ?

Now, for your theory to hold water you posit, I presume, another four masted steamer seen from Titanic by Boxhall which wasn’t Californian.

That would be fair enough except that no-one else saw this steamer - shall we call it X for nostalgia’s sake ? — nor did anyone from this steamer ever come forward and say “ Oh yeah, we saw rockets that night and we wondered what was going on…but we just went on our way once daybreak came and didn’t want to bother anyone…”.

It’s ..mmm…possible, but it remains for you in advancing your theory to prove that such a ship was there — history isn’t built out of “ might’ve beens “. I could argue that there might have been the German High Seas Fleet practicing maneuvers between the two ships, obscuring their view with coal-smoke, but were I to advance that theory it would be for me to provide the evidence.

Michael isn’t wrong, y’see — the Californian is the only ship we can say with any surety was there, that is established fact. They did, after all, see the rockets. You might have the opinion that there was another — but what evidence do you have ?
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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RJ, I suggest you get my book and study it. Without going into details, I show quite conclusively where Californian wasn't, namely at Lord's claimed position. Best of all, I do it from his own testimony.

As to the aurora, Lawrence Beesley testified to it. I should think it would have provided little light, though I've only seen the aurora australis in quite a low latitude.

Finally, don't trust Bisset too far. His book were extensively ghost-written, years after the events.
 
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Timothy Trower

Guest
I would follow Dave's excellent suggestion with the further thought that Paul Lee's eBook also -- and compellingly -- shows from Captain Lord's own testimony where he wasn't. And backs that up with testimony from others who saw the Californian as early as 6:00 a.m.

By the way -- still waiting for a response on the range of the Morse lamps of both ships.
 

John Flood

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Mar 1, 2004
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"Moreover, both the Californian and the Titanic were actively signaling via Morse lamp their respective mystery ships."

My gut feeling here is that the Californian and the Titanic were trying to signal each other, but at a very extreme range, where communication would be very difficult. I don't think they were trying to communicate with closer ships, as then contact through the morse lamps could have been easily made, if the distance was only 5 miles (well, I assume, contact could be made over a distance of 5 miles, I'm no expert ;-) ).

I've no problem with a mystery ship, only a few miles from Titanic, as observed by Titanic witnesses, such as Boxhall and Smith. They were experienced mariners, and I don't think you would get to be captain of the largest ship afloat, by estimating the distance of a nearby ship, as being close enough to row to, instead of 10-20 miles. If these guys say a ship is close enough to row to in a lifeboat, or only a few miles away, I'll not argue with that.

Where I have a bit of a problem is with the possibility of a second mystery ship, near the Californian.I am a bit more wary of evidence coming from the Californian. They were firmly in CYA mode by April 15th.

It also means that two ships disappeared into the night, without ever uttering a word about what they saw. Twice as unlikely, as with just the one ship.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>What proof can you offer for the rather bold and unsupported statement above?<<

The Inquiries themselves, particularly the BOT transcripts which effectively eliminated any other possibility. It wasn't as if they didn't look at for the asserted "mystery ship" at the time. They did. They found nothing.

>>Yes, it would, if it was within visual range, which the Californian was not.<<

Oh yes it was. See the link I provided below and actually read the material there. The evidence is provided to back it up.

>>Also, the Californian did not make a 360 degree turn or even a 180 degree turn in the time allotted for the illusion you cite.<<

Actually, she did come around 180° that night. Again, even Captain Lord's staunchist champions don't deny that.

There are a few crucial facts which you appear to be missing: Ship movements are recorded, both within ships logs and also within port records which document points of origin as well as the final port of call for a particular voyage. Because of this, if somebody tries to pull a fast one in the logs, there's a way of catching it simply by crunching the numbers.

The Californian's presence is an absolutely well known, non-debatable, and thoroughly documented fact. even Captain Lord doesn't deny it, asserting instead that he was too far away. This may be a waste of time since you seem hellbent on cherry picking evidence and research which supports your views and ignoring any which disconfirms your stand, but you would do well to read the material at http://users.senet.com.au/~gittins/calpos.html as this comes from an experinced navigator who has tried harder the anybody on either side to be objective.

The presence of a "mystery steamer" however tempting it may be is not a well attested and thoroughly documented fact. It's specualtion. There might have been one there but the supporting evidence for it was extremely poor then and hasn't improved since.

>>Moreover, both the Californian and the Titanic were actively signaling via Morse lamp their respective mystery ships. If the Titanic and the Californian were within visual range of each other and were each other's mystery ship, their respective Morse lamps would have been seen and communication established. That did not happen for the abundantly obvious reason they were both too far apart and out of each other's visual range.<<

It didn't happen because the Morse Lamps of the day weren't all that powerful to begin with. 100 watts at most. Even with lenses to enhance the light, 100 watts is a mighty faint light to see at 10 to 12 miles.

>>Well, actually I would suggest politely that the burden of proof falls on you, RJ.<<

Quite right. It does fall on him. RJ, if you wish to prove the existance of the "mystery ship" please provide hard evidence to back it up. So far, for all the noise and fury, you haven't done anything of the kind beyond offering opinions which even you admitted were speculation.

>>It also means that two ships disappeared into the night, without ever uttering a word about what they saw. Twice as unlikely, as with just the one ship.<<

Way more then unlikely. People talk, especially sailors. Californian had it's Ernest Gill. Where's the "mystery ship's" Ernest Gill?
 
Mar 22, 2003
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I believe it has now been fairly well established that the Titanic and Californian were actually at least 17 nautical miles and possibly as much as 23 nautical miles apart that night.
Really? Established by whom? What is your basis for these distances that you give?
 

James Smith

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Dec 5, 2001
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Remember also, he was a junior officer, and whatever his abilities then or later, he never made captain in his career.
Unless I'm much mistaken, all of Titanic's officers--Boxhall included--held their Extra Masters' certifications.

--Jim
 

Jason D. Tiller

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According to Boxhall's biography, you're correct, James. Boxhall received his Master and Extra-Master's certification in September 1907. While he never made captain, he was the first and later chief officer of several Cunard-White Star ships.
 
Mar 22, 2003
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>>Boxhall did not know what he was seeing. He assumed it was a four masted steamer. It could have very well been something else.<<

Boxhall said that he "judged her to be" a 4-masted steamer. That is very different from making an assumption. Based on his observations, it had the appearance of a 4-masted steamer.

As far as distance to this steamer is concerned, Boxhall said: "I have already stated, in answer to a question, how far this ship was away from us, that I thought she was about 5 miles, and I arrived at it in this way. The masthead lights of a steamer are required by the board of trade regulations to show for 5 miles, and the signals are required to show for 2 miles." It was a simple subjective estimate based on brightness. In the conditions of a perfectly calm, clear, and moonless night, lights tend to appear much closer than they really are, whether they be ships or planes.

If this steamer with 2 masthead lights were only 5 miles away, it's two mast lights should have been seen by everyone on the Titanic. They weren't.

As far as that comment about Boxhall being only a J/O at the time, so what? At the time he was on Titanic, he already had 13 years of experience at sea, 4 as an apprentice, and 9 as an officer; 5 of which was with White Star Line.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I was under the impression that Moody hadn't achieved the Extra Masters certification. Not that it's really important in this context. I would also point out that Boxhall was also the ship's de facto navigator, and nobody get's to that position on one of the crack express mail boats by being a slouch at anything, junior officer or not.

White Star was as picky as the rest when it came to that sort of thing. Lest anybody read too much in his never making captain of his own ship: Don't.

Lot's of people had the masters and extra masters qualifications but the catch here is that there were way more officers then there were ever ships to command.
 
Feb 24, 2004
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>>Californian had it's Ernest Gill. Where's the "mystery ship's" Ernest Gill?

And let's not forget about Carpenter MacGregor, who did more damage to Lord's fiction than Gill could've ever hoped to.

Roy
 

Mike Spooner

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Jan 31, 2018
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Michael,



What proof can you offer for the rather bold and unsupported statement above?



Known by whom? The Californian was twenty miles away, too far to be seen. Boxhall claimed to have seen a red light without glasses. He would not have been able to see that light unaided from twenty miles distant. Captain Smith estimated the vessel to be about five miles away. How do you account for that disparity?

What proof can you offer that absolutely puts the Californian within visual range of the Titanic? And what is that distance between the two for which you can provide incontrovertible proof?

Boxhall did not know what he was seeing. He assumed it was a four masted steamer. It could have very well been something else. Remember also, he was a junior officer, and whatever his abilities then or later, he never made captain in his career.

I don't believe there is any other testimony or evidence that describes what the mystery vessel might have been or definitely was. If there is such testimony or evidence, kindly cite it.



Yes, it would, if it was within visual range, which the Californian was not. Also, the Californian did not make a 360 degree turn or even a 180 degree turn in the time allotted for the illusion you cite.

Moreover, both the Californian and the Titanic were actively signaling via Morse lamp their respective mystery ships. If the Titanic and the Californian were within visual range of each other and were each other's mystery ship, their respective Morse lamps would have been seen and communication established. That did not happen for the abundantly obvious reason they were both too far apart and out of each other's visual range.
I am a new member I would say you have got it spot on with your last paragraph of the Morse code lamps range. The rocket time first at 12.47am. No captain would reacted on seeing the first rocket. Possibility by the third rocket. If the last of 8 rockets at 1.50am that's 63 minutes. Averaged 7.8 minutes one can see over 23 minutes has moved on now. Time 1.10am. Raise the crew and boiler steam pressure that's another minim of 10 minutes. Time 1.20am. Maxim speed of California 12 knots or 13.8 mph. Distance of 17 miles makes it impossible to reach Titanic within the hour! Not only that Lord is in a dangerous ice field in the pitch dark with no spot light and moon light. He can only processed at 3-4 knots with safety. No good arriving at 2.20am. Must arrive at less 30 minutes beforehand as a life boat shuffle is required. Were he is to put 2,200 passengers and crew on his small ship is another question? Captain Stanley Lord was truly used as scapegoat for the protection of the out of date safety regulation from the Board of Trade. Can't feel he becomes distraction of the mistakes made by Titanic in the first place?
Mike.