Sometimes what appears to be a conspiracy is just the way things happen. If Scott, Jim, Michael, and I all get on a bus to Keokuk, is that a conspiracy? Or, could it be that we are all Titanic enthusiasts who happen for our own reasons to be going to Keokuk? I suspect what appears to be a dark and dirty conspiracy in the Titanic case is pretty much the same as that bus to Keokuk. Everybody needed pretty much the same outcomes from the inquiries. So, they all worked together.
No, its is not. But if we were driving that bus, and decided to drive 100mph through a snow storm, then crashed that bus it might be. Particularly if while waiting for the highway patrol we all talked and agreed to not mention that we were speeding, and don't say anything about Scott being drunk, Jim being asleep at the wheel and David ignoring the tire pressure monitor light being on.
Agreeing to not remember, or omit any single one of those facts of our accident on the side of that road would constitute a conspiracy. And in the case of Titanic's officers, I find it exceedingly difficult to imagine that all four men would spontaneously forget to remember the same facts. It seems that one of those four men, without input from the others, would have slipped in this regard. Particularly if the speed increase as you've discussed it had actually happened.
Second Officer Lightoller certainly did know there were icebergs across Titanic's path, but in the context of the questioning he was correct instating he had no knowledge of any particular icebergs at 11:40 p.m. Fine point? Sure, but just enough of a distinction that the First Officer avoided perjuring himself.
The full passage from the inquiry is as follows Senator SMITH.
You knew you were in the vicinity of icebergs; did you not?
Water is absolutely no guide to icebergs, sir.
I did not ask that. you know you were in the vicinity of icebergs?
There is no fine point of law here to save Lightoller. He is clearly being asked if he knew that he was in the vicinity of ice that night. Importantly not if he was aware of specific icebergs Titanic was likely to encounter at 11:40 at night. Lightoller's answer is no. He has here, by definition, perjured himself. What saves him from being charged with perjury as a crime is a number of variables, but the important one being that when being confronted to the direct evidence of the contrary, he amends his statement and admits that he was, in fact, generally aware that they were entering an area of reported ice.
Furthermore, you are not allowed to answer questions while under oath as you want them to be answered, otherwise you could always "lie" by not lying. For example:
"Did you give money or another incentive to the judge to get a favorable judgement?"
"No." (technically my friends at another business gave him a lucrative consulting job. Therefore *I* did not give her anything. or Technically speaking I simply wrote him a check, the bank paid him. or Technically speaking I merely placed the money in his hand, what he decided to afterward has nothing to do with me.)
"Did you kill the victim?"
"No." (I merely pulled the trigger, the projectile and trauma it caused killed him. Or I put the pillow over his face, but what killed him was lack of air.)
We could do this on infinidum.
It borders on the absurd to suggest that Lightoller could have answered as he did, and rightfully retreated to the position that he was not aware of the specific pieces of ice that might be floating in the Atlantic.
Human nature demands such meetings so the survivors can help each other shake off the effects of disaster. Sharing personal experiences helps excise the devils out of our memories. That's hardly a conspiracy. But, I suspect the officer of Titanic went deeper into the legal aspects of the sinking. They knew an inquiry was coming when they got home and it would only have been prudent to compare stories.
You are absolutely right about this. My own academic research focuses on this phenomena explicitly. Conversations like these actually cause people's memories of certain events to become fixed, even though they might not reflect reality. This is why police officers often separate witnesses to accidents to take statements. However, just because this is the case, it does not mean, by any means, that a group of people (in this case Titanic's officers) could not be colluding to lie, omit and obfuscate.
Also, going back a few steps, did anyone report feeling the hard over turn of the ship that night? And would Smith have had any reason to believe that a hard over navigational maneuver was scheduled for around the time Titanic struck the berg?