Warnings


Mark Baber

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if ever Smith was prosecuted in a high court case for his decisions as a sea captain, I don't see he would of had a leg to stand on and would been found guilty!
Prosecuted for and found guilty of what charge(s), Mike?
has in high court cases there no friends. As Smith found in the HMS Hawke collusion court case only 6 month previously!
What do you mean by this?
 

Jim Currie

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From the Baltic.
The Baltic report was a relay from the S Athenai. She put the ice at 41-51 N , 49-58 W . Before Noon that day. Using Travesrse Table and an estimated set of ENE at 1.5 knots, Smith would have calculated that the ice would be at least 18 miles ENE of where the Athenai reported it to be ... at 41-58 North at Midnight that night. He would mark this approximate position on his personal chart.
He would then find out when the ship was at 49 West. To do this, he would use an average sped of 21.5 knots... not the average speed attained to Noon that day. First he would calculate the time of turn at The Corner (5-50 pm). then run for a total of 90 miles at 21.5 knots. This would give him an ETA at 49 West of about 9 pm that evening and an ETA at 49-58'W at about 11 pm. At 9 pm, If Titanic had been right on her course, and making 21.5 knots, then at midnight, she would have been at about 41-47'North and 11 miles south of where Smith estimated the ice to be. I think you'll find that Boxhall estimated the separation diostance to be about 10 miles.
 

Seumas

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I personal don't like the idea prosecuting such a fine captain, but has in most high court cases there no friends. As Smith found in the HMS Hawke collusion court case only 6 month previously!
Smith wasn't in command of the Olympic during the Hawke collision. Bowyer, the pilot was.

In fact, Mark Chirnside took the trouble to explain all this to you in great detail not that long ago.

 

Jim Currie

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Smith wasn't in command of the Olympic during the Hawke collision. Bowyer, the pilot was.

In fact, Mark Chirnside took the trouble to explain all this to you in great detail not that long ago.

In fact, Seamus, when a Pilot stepped on the bridge of a British ship, the following notation was entered into the Movement Book

"POB (Pilot on board) Helm and engines to master;s orders - Pilot's advice."

In legal terms. the Master never relinquished his command to anyone. If he did so, it would affect th terms of the Insurance and perhaps even the Charter Party (if one existed).
 
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... and an estimated set of ENE at 1.5 knots
Would he? Pilot charts only show about 0.5 knot drift for April in that location.
Smith would have ...
He would ...
He would then find ...
I guess you seem to know how all these people would think and react based on your personal experience. What I find more believable is what others who were in direct communication with Smith had to say regarding what Smith was most concerned about that night, or what they thought about the movement of ice.
According to Lightoller, they were much more concerned about reported longitude because the latitude was unreliable as ice tends to set north and south. Apparently Capt. Moore was also of the same opinion as he wanted to be well south of the ice when passing the reported longitude.
 
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"POB (Pilot on board) Helm and engines to master;s orders - Pilot's advice."
I can tell you with absolute certainty that Pilot Bowyer was giving all the helm and engine orders at the time before and even after Hawke struck. He was not advising anyone. Smith was acting in the role of an observer, and was even asked by Bowyer to let him know if it seemed that Hawke was about to strike.
 

Jim Currie

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I can tell you with absolute certainty that Pilot Bowyer was giving all the helm and engine orders at the time before and even after Hawke struck. He was not advising anyone. Smith was acting in the role of an observer, and was even asked by Bowyer to let him know if it seemed that Hawke was about to strike.
Yes, I know that. You obviously do not know Marine practice an common law. I quote:
" The duty in of the pilot is to direct the navigation of the ship and to conduct it so far as the course of the ship is concerned. He has no other power on board. The common law relationship between master and pilot is such that, when the latter is legally responsible for his own actions and he is restricted to circumstances where there is clear evidence of the pilot’s incurring his own liability, is restricted to circumstances where incurring his own liability, is restricted to circumstances where there is clear evidence of the pilot’s inability or incompetence.
The relationship between master and a compulsory pilot is in many ways unique in that it is usually defined by custom, practice, and statute rather than contract. While the pilot is generally neither an employee of the ship nor a member of her crew, he is ultimately subordinate to the member of her crew, he is ultimately subordinate to the master, although the degree of subordination is less than popularly perceived."


If you do not believe me, check it out for yourself.
 

Jim Currie

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Would he? Pilot charts only show about 0.5 knot drift for April in that location.



I guess you seem to know how all these people would think and react based on your personal experience. What I find more believable is what others who were in direct communication with Smith had to say regarding what Smith was most concerned about that night, or what they thought about the movement of ice.
According to Lightoller, they were much more concerned about reported longitude because the latitude was unreliable as ice tends to set north and south. Apparently Capt. Moore was also of the same opinion as he wanted to be well south of the ice when passing the reported longitude.
If you care to read the research, you will find that numerous studies have found that just north of the wreck site, the North Atlantic Current and the Slope Jet current combine to flow in the direction of East at a rate of up to 1.94 knots. You can read it here The North Atlantic Current There was no possibility of a south setting current over-flowing that lot.

In fact, Lightoller wished he had paid more attention to the latitude in the ice report. ...
"13481. Do you recollect, or can you help us at all, did that indication 42 N. indicate to you that it was near where you were likely to go? A: - It would, had I taken particular notice of the latitude, though as a matter of fact, latitude with regard to ice conveys so very little. "
The reason for that was as he explained and I pointed out to you... he and Smith ( and every North Atlantic man knew and knows) how ice moved depending on the location relative to the Grand Banks. If Ice was reported at a certain longitude, that only indicated its extent east or west of a north south line. If a latitude was also given then, depending on where the ice was relative to the grand Bank, an experienced mariner could predict its possible path. In simple terms, both longitude and latitude would enable a prediction to be made as to future locations of the ice. I would have thought that that was rather obvious.
 

Mike Spooner

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Prosecuted for and found guilty of what charge(s), Mike?What do you mean by this?
Why would they want to prosecute the captain? If I was one of relatives or a close friend of the 1500 whom died. I want answers why on the so call unsinkable ship has sunk. I would turn to the captain as his fully responsible of the ship movements and orders given. If at the time I would be hoping mad such a thing has happen. Now not be an legal person myself and how I go about it, I would ask for legal advice like a solicitor. As my first thought is to blame the captain and was neglect of his duty for the safety of the ship.
One of the problems here it could have takes months or even an a year or if not longer to get all the required evidence. As in the two inquires where rushed through at such short notice where not all the evidence was never gather in. However I am surprise what evidence they had at time was probably enough to prosecute the captain for the mistakes he was making. But the way they setup of the court room in the UK was nothing more than a Lord Mersey jump up special. As a normal court room will have a public jury who decide the verdict!
I like to make clear I am not an auntie Smith, I just think it was very sad way on how he was ended his career in this way.
Correct me wrong or not. In the inquires I don't see any mention of the back ground of key personal. Like their health, financial worries, family problems, bereavement and stress of the job. Was he too old for the job? Which all plays it part in today transport disasters inquires.
In fact have ET had a thread on the background check as above?
 

Georges G.

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I can tell you with absolute certainty that Pilot Bowyer was giving all the helm and engine orders at the time before and even after Hawke struck. He was not advising anyone. Smith was acting in the role of an observer, and was even asked by Bowyer to let him know if it seemed that Hawke was about to strike.
Hi Samuel,

The Defense of Compulsory Pilotage that tolerated a master to act in the role of an observer was about to end. In 1916, an Admiralty Court ruled out;

«The steamers Gothland and Alexander Shukoff collided in the Thames on Dec. 4, 1916. Both vessels were in charge of compulsory pilots. It appeared that the Gothland was at fault, but her owners put in the defense of compulsory pilotage. Evidence was offered to show that the captain and crew of the Gothland had not rendered the pilot the proper assistance by keeping a sharp lookout and giving the pilot warning of the proximity of the Shukoff. Held, that the defense of compulsory pilotage was not available, since the master and crew of the vessel had not rendered proper assistance to the pilot, and this neglect contributed to the collision.»
The Alexander Shukoff v. The Gothland [1916 H. L.] A. C. 216.

Others concluded that:

«When in charge of a vessel the pilot exercises most of the functions of the master of the vessel.»
Abbott, Merchant Ships and Seamen (14th ed. 1901) 301; Hughes, Admiralty (2d ed. 1920) 36.

When a pilot takes charge of a vessel the master is not relieved from all liability. He must see that the pilot's orders are obeyed and that a good lookout is kept. And if the master and the crew are to blame for any act or omission that contributes to the accident the owners are liable.
The Velasquez (1867, P. C.) L. R. 1 A. C. 494; The Tactician [1907, Adm.] p. 244.

The theory of the American cases is that the vessel herself is liable to a lien according to the maritime law and that the doctrines of common-law agency do not apply. The English rule has been recently changed by statute. The Pilotage Act, 1913, sec. 15. The statute did not apply in the instant case as it did not take effect until January 1, 1918. The rule adopted by the statute, which corresponds to the American rule, would seem to work out the most uniform and satisfactory results.

Nowadays ... not much difference since the reform of the British Pilotage Act effective in 1918:

Compulsory Pilotage Law concedes that the master is in command of a vessel whereas the pilot has the conduct of that vessel. In the Panama Canal, the pilot is in command and has the conduct of the vessel.

Compulsory pilotage means the obligation of a vessel to be under the conduct of a licensed pilot. No person shall have the conduct of a vessel within a compulsory pilotage district unless he is a licensed pilot. A licensed pilot who has the conduct of a vessel is responsible to the master for the safe navigation of the ship.

Command : Holding the ultimate responsibility of a vessel; be responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the ship‍, its seaworthiness, the safety of navigation, the security for the persons and cargo operations, the crew management, and legal compliance‍.

Conduct : A regulation having statutory force which provides that a ship is to be conducted by a pilot. It does not mean that vessel is to be navigated under his advice; it means that she must be conducted, her movement controlled or be navigated by a pilot in charge of the safety of the navigation.

Despite the duties and obligations of a pilot, his presence on board does not relieve the master from his duties and obligations against the safety of the vessel. The master shall co-operate entirely with the pilot and maintain an accurate check of the ship’s position and movement. If the master is in any doubt as to the pilot's actions or intentions, he should seek clarification from the pilot. After seeking clarification, if the master still believes on objective grounds that the pilot’s actions are endangering the safety of the vessel, he should immediately take whatever action necessary to reestablish the safety (good luck).

Objective grounds: Objectivity is a concept of being true, independently from individual subjectivity caused by perceptions, emotions, imagination or hallucinations.

The pilot does not act as an advisor to the master but actually navigates the ship. In point of fact the master is then, to a certain extent, an advisor to the pilot when he points out the particularities of the vessel. This factual situation which corresponds to the legal definition of pilot is, in fact, the only realistic solution because if pilots were used merely as advisors, navigation would be very hazardous and at times or be impossible to achieve safely. The fact that the master is actuating the ships controls himself does not mean that he took over the conduct of the vessel; the pilot remains nevertheless in charge for the safety of navigation.

No legal decisions have ever been held that compulsory pilotage was advisory in nature. The pilot as advisor myth persists reinforced by the entry in some log books; «Proceeding to master’s orders and pilot advice». If anyone is merely used as an advisor and not entrusted with the total navigation of the ship, he is certainly not the pilot of that vessel!

Stating that a pilot is «ultimately subordinate to the member of her crew or to the master, although the degree of subordination is less than popularly perceived» demonstrates ounce again, an evident lack of maritime knowledge.

My own adage from experience; «A master reacts whereas a pilot anticipates»!
 

Jim Currie

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Hi Samuel,

The Defense of Compulsory Pilotage that tolerated a master to act in the role of an observer was about to end. In 1916, an Admiralty Court ruled out;

«The steamers Gothland and Alexander Shukoff collided in the Thames on Dec. 4, 1916. Both vessels were in charge of compulsory pilots. It appeared that the Gothland was at fault, but her owners put in the defense of compulsory pilotage. Evidence was offered to show that the captain and crew of the Gothland had not rendered the pilot the proper assistance by keeping a sharp lookout and giving the pilot warning of the proximity of the Shukoff. Held, that the defense of compulsory pilotage was not available, since the master and crew of the vessel had not rendered proper assistance to the pilot, and this neglect contributed to the collision.»
The Alexander Shukoff v. The Gothland [1916 H. L.] A. C. 216.

Others concluded that:

«When in charge of a vessel the pilot exercises most of the functions of the master of the vessel.»
Abbott, Merchant Ships and Seamen (14th ed. 1901) 301; Hughes, Admiralty (2d ed. 1920) 36.

When a pilot takes charge of a vessel the master is not relieved from all liability. He must see that the pilot's orders are obeyed and that a good lookout is kept. And if the master and the crew are to blame for any act or omission that contributes to the accident the owners are liable.
The Velasquez (1867, P. C.) L. R. 1 A. C. 494; The Tactician [1907, Adm.] p. 244.

The theory of the American cases is that the vessel herself is liable to a lien according to the maritime law and that the doctrines of common-law agency do not apply. The English rule has been recently changed by statute. The Pilotage Act, 1913, sec. 15. The statute did not apply in the instant case as it did not take effect until January 1, 1918. The rule adopted by the statute, which corresponds to the American rule, would seem to work out the most uniform and satisfactory results.

Nowadays ... not much difference since the reform of the British Pilotage Act effective in 1918:

Compulsory Pilotage Law concedes that the master is in command of a vessel whereas the pilot has the conduct of that vessel. In the Panama Canal, the pilot is in command and has the conduct of the vessel.

Compulsory pilotage means the obligation of a vessel to be under the conduct of a licensed pilot. No person shall have the conduct of a vessel within a compulsory pilotage district unless he is a licensed pilot. A licensed pilot who has the conduct of a vessel is responsible to the master for the safe navigation of the ship.

Command : Holding the ultimate responsibility of a vessel; be responsible for the safe and efficient operation of the ship‍, its seaworthiness, the safety of navigation, the security for the persons and cargo operations, the crew management, and legal compliance‍.

Conduct : A regulation having statutory force which provides that a ship is to be conducted by a pilot. It does not mean that vessel is to be navigated under his advice; it means that she must be conducted, her movement controlled or be navigated by a pilot in charge of the safety of the navigation.

Despite the duties and obligations of a pilot, his presence on board does not relieve the master from his duties and obligations against the safety of the vessel. The master shall co-operate entirely with the pilot and maintain an accurate check of the ship’s position and movement. If the master is in any doubt as to the pilot's actions or intentions, he should seek clarification from the pilot. After seeking clarification, if the master still believes on objective grounds that the pilot’s actions are endangering the safety of the vessel, he should immediately take whatever action necessary to reestablish the safety (good luck).

Objective grounds: Objectivity is a concept of being true, independently from individual subjectivity caused by perceptions, emotions, imagination or hallucinations.

The pilot does not act as an advisor to the master but actually navigates the ship. In point of fact the master is then, to a certain extent, an advisor to the pilot when he points out the particularities of the vessel. This factual situation which corresponds to the legal definition of pilot is, in fact, the only realistic solution because if pilots were used merely as advisors, navigation would be very hazardous and at times or be impossible to achieve safely. The fact that the master is actuating the ships controls himself does not mean that he took over the conduct of the vessel; the pilot remains nevertheless in charge for the safety of navigation.

No legal decisions have ever been held that compulsory pilotage was advisory in nature. The pilot as advisor myth persists reinforced by the entry in some log books; «Proceeding to master’s orders and pilot advice». If anyone is merely used as an advisor and not entrusted with the total navigation of the ship, he is certainly not the pilot of that vessel!

Stating that a pilot is «ultimately subordinate to the member of her crew or to the master, although the degree of subordination is less than popularly perceived» demonstrates ounce again, an evident lack of maritime knowledge.

My own adage from experience; «A master reacts whereas a pilot anticipates»!
Sometimes a master has to react quickly when the Pilot fails to anticipate. I suggest you consult the Seaway records for the spring of 1960..."MV Broompark".
Under the 1913 Pilotage Act, it was not compulsory for a Master to accept the services of a Pilot... not even in Compulsory Pilotage Waters. However in the event that the services of a Pilot were refused, the ship was fined an amount equal to double pilotage dues.
 
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Hi Julian,
With great regret for captain Smith I am now thinking on the legal side of this matter. If ever Smith was prosecuted in a high court case for his decisions as a sea captain, I don't see he would of had a leg to stand on and would been found guilty! I can see a barrister having a bit a field day some of those decisions he took or more of the case the lack in decisions he should of acted on. I think he would of be hammered by not been on the bridge before entering the ice zone, as it wouldn't take too long to prove other sea captains did like wise and took better safety precaution to.
I personal don't like the idea prosecuting such a fine captain, but has in most high court cases there no friends. As Smith found in the HMS Hawke collusion court case only 6 month previously!
Do you think the cancellation of the life boat drill would have been something that would have been part of the prosecution ?
 

Georges G.

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Sometimes a master has to react quickly when the Pilot fails to anticipate. I suggest you consult the Seaway records for the spring of 1960..."MV Broompark".

Under the 1913 Pilotage Act, it was not compulsory for a Master to accept the services of a Pilot... not even in Compulsory Pilotage Waters. However in the event that the services of a Pilot were refused, the ship was fined an amount equal to double pilotage dues.
I could have put hundreds of vessels high & dry aground and nobody would ever have reacted. How can you even react if you haven’t any single idea where you are or you’re in your office sending love emails to shore agency ... when it takes 15 seconds to ground a vessel in a narrow channel?

When I was 1st year apprentice-pilot, we landed gently aground following a very tricky departing maneuver. The wheelsman was steering the vessel, the OOW was filling the Log Book and the master was sitting in his chair swinging around his Greek Charm Bracelet. Nobody ever noticed that we were aground. The pilot had to «advice» the master that it was the case!!! He couldn’t believe it …

«If the only penalty for failure to take a pilot is the payment of the fee, the pilotage is not considered compulsory.»
Homer Ramsdell Trans. Co. v Cie. Gen. Transatlantique (1901) 182 U. S. 406, 21 Sup. Ct. 831; The Dallington [1903, Adm.] P. 77.
 
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Jim Currie

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I could have put hundreds of vessels high & dry aground and nobody would ever have reacted. How can you even react if you haven’t any single idea where you are or you’re in your office sending love emails to shore agency ... when it takes 15 seconds to ground a vessel in a narrow channel?

When I was 1st year apprentice-pilot, we landed gently aground following a very tricky departing maneuver. The wheelsman was steering the vessel, the OOW was filling the Log Book and the master was sitting in his chair swinging around his Greek Charm Bracelet. Nobody ever noticed that we were aground. The pilot had to «advice» the master that it was the case!!! He couldn’t believe it …

«If the only penalty for failure to take a pilot is the payment of the fee, the pilotage is not considered compulsory.»
Homer Ramsdell Trans. Co. v Cie. Gen. Transatlantique (1901) 182 U. S. 406, 21 Sup. Ct. 831; The Dallington [1903, Adm.] P. 77.
I don't think they had emails in 1912, Georges;)

I can well understand the Greek Charm Bracelet -swinging captain's amazement. He probably was under the impression that since he was paying Pilotage Fees, he did not need to concern himself with running aground. Thre reason being that there was someone on his bridge who was being paid to see that it did not happen.

Exactly the same thing actually happened way back in 1960. We came out of the lock gates under Pilotage... I. as 2nd Officer checking and the Captain and Pilot on the bridge.
Dead ahead beyond a fairway buoy, there was a dredger anchored and lit up like a Xmas Tree. Obviously it was late at night. As we approached, I expected a port helm order...it did not come until it was too late...we passed the buoy and hit the dredger a glancing blow and she sank. Fortunately it was sop shallow that she took the bottom with her deck just awash. We, however, began bouncing along the bottom, grounded and the C of G tried to reach the truck. The result was a heavy port loll and I had my led over the starboard bridge wing bulwark. Fortunately, she came off and continued into the channel.
As we progressed, we saw a train crossing a rail;way bridge dead ahead. The pilot told the Master that unfortunately we might have to ground on the bank. The master.. Captain James Johnston said that was not going to happen and took over the con. By judicious use of rudder and engines he stopped his ship in mod channel and kept her there until the train had crossed and the bridge was lifted. The piliot resumed control and took us to a small off channel lake where we anchored to assess the damage. I left the bridge and surveyed the external hull with a flash light. We were drawing 26 feet but the draught was 24 feet. We were aground again. The Master was not best pleased. We consequently returned to Montreal where we were dry-docked and the extent of the bottom damage was discovered...it was horrendous. An inquiry was convened at Montreal at which I attended as principal witness. The Pilot did not attend but had retired to Vancouver Island. I have pictures of the damage somewhere and will dig them out if I can find them. I guess that's what sowed the seed that grew until I eventually left the sea and became a marine Accident Investigator and Surveyor. Its all in the Records somewhere in your archives.

Perhaps you might find the following of interest?
SMB1 2020-01-16 001.jpg
 
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Mike Spooner

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Do you think the cancellation of the life boat drill would have been something that would have been part of the prosecution ?
Hi Robert,
Sorry for the late reply. I wasn't thinking about the cancellation life boat drill, but one could well add that to the list. I was thinking more on the lines of ignoring ice warnings messages and gives the impression Smith did not have proper control over the wireless operators, by insisting all ice warning must be delivered to the bridge.
Then his poor safety precaution before entering the ice zone at excessive speed with no extra lookout. Why wasn't he not on the bridge at the time to!
If they hadn't rush into the inquires and more time was given into the investigation, I think they would uncovered the navigation error. That must be unacceptable for a captain not to check. The missing binoculars for the lookout men wouldn't help his case. As can see a barrister making hay out of that, by saying did you check if they had binoculars beforehand.
Prosecution case on the grounds he put the ship in danger unnescessary.
Just unfortunately a captain is fully responsibility for his safety of the ship.
I personal think it was the Olympic set back and court case with the Hawke collision was the point he should of retired before taking command of Titanic.
Again in a court case I can see White Star management coming under question failing to recognising the stress Smith was under and his age too.
 

Seumas

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How many times did the likes of Walter Lord, Geoffrey Marcus, Charles Haas, John P. Eaton, Don Lynch, George Behe, Mark Chirnside, Bill Wormstedt, Tad Fitch, J Kent Layton and co ever cite "I think this ..." or "I think that ...." as proof of an argument in their books ?

I think .... I must go back and check.
 
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Mike Spooner

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Since the thread is about WARNINGS clearly they have been ignored for the safety of the ship.
Smith is an employee for White Star Line and the Board of Trade must share some of the blame to. But seems to got away with it at the cost of 1500 lives!
As to day there very little chance of getting away with it. As the case of the Boeing 737 Max with 346 lives loss. They too ignored the warnings beforehand!
 

Georges G.

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Warnings ! They had all warnings they could dream of…

Iceberg season,
Ice messages,
Labrador Current proximity,
Falling air and seawater temperatures,
Sea of glass,
Moonless,
Visibility reduced by nighttime,
Fatigue,
Unusual refraction,

Every officer seemed to adore going at sea with Smith; as he was so relax!
 
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