Why didn't the Titanic's lookouts see the Californian?


Mar 22, 2003
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As a lawyer, you of all people will understand that a convoluted "round-the-houses" answer is
usually indicative of an inability, or unwillingness to provide an answer. If it is unwillingness, then the witness being questioned has a reason for answering in such a way and that reason is for self-protection or the protection of others.
OK,

6934-5. If it was not a company’s signal, must it not have been a distress signal?
The simple answer could have been a Yes or a No, but the round-the-house answer was: "If it had been a distress signal the officer on watch would have told me."

6936. I say, if it was not a company’s signal, must it not have been a distress signal?
Again, the simple could have been a Yes or a No, but the round-the-house answer was: "Well, I do not know of any other signals but distress signals that are used at sea."

6937. You do not expect at sea, where you were, to see a rocket unless it is a distress signal, do you?
Again a round-the-house answer: "We sometimes get these company’s signals which resemble rockets; they do not shoot as high and they do not explode."

Finally, a little later on:

6944. Then if it was not that [a company signal], it might have been a distress signal?
- "It might have been."
 
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Julian Atkins

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You are spot-on, Julian.

This thread is asking a specific question. In developing an answer, I requested a strait-forward answer to a simple question, which if answered in simple terms, would have, in turn, provided an answer to the said specific question regarding relative visibility. I did not get it.

As a lawyer, you of all people will understand that a convoluted "round-the-houses" answer is
usually indicative of an inability, or unwillingness to provide an answer. If it is unwillingness,then the witness being questioned has a reason for answering in such a way and that reason is for self-protection or the protection of others.

The obvious reason why the "the British Inquiry in any event attached little weight to the Carpathia firing off distress rockets in any event." was because if they had done as I have done, and analised in depth, they would have had to accept Captain Lord's navigation and have had to have looked for another scape-goat.
By the same token all others since then who have bent, twisted, inovated and invented to maintain the status quo would require to swallow their pride and admit error, and we can't have that now, can we?

Do you, as a lawyer, accept the concept of witness fatigue as an excuse for attempting to pervert the course of justice? If so, what a gift to an on-the-ball crooked defendent. :rolleyes: Or do you accept the practice of creating confusion in the mind of a simple, scared , honest young man?
Keep safe.

Hi Jim,

Apologies for quoting your whole reply for me, but my answer is very brief and I consider answers what I interpret as a part of the substance of your reply...

If Gibson "trips up" on a timing in the later stage of his British Inquiry testimony, that is not evidence of perjury.

We can now assess this as an error and inconsequential as we have the earliest contemporaneous 18th April 1912 statements of Stone and Gibson that were not disclosed to either Inquiries.

I think that deals with the point I was making.

It is also obvious from the Marconi PVs the time that Carpathia started firing distress rockets. These corroborate Stone and Gibson's 18th April statements.

(The Marconi PV evidence also rather throws a coach and horses through much of the timings in documents prepared by Captain Rostron!)
 

Jim Currie

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OK,

6934-5. If it was not a company’s signal, must it not have been a distress signal?
The simple answer could have been a Yes or a No, but the round-the-house answer was: "If it had been a distress signal the officer on watch would have told me."

6936. I say, if it was not a company’s signal, must it not have been a distress signal?
Again, the simple could have been a Yes or a No, but the round-the-house answer was: "Well, I do not know of any other signals but distress signals that are used at sea."

6937. You do not expect at sea, where you were, to see a rocket unless it is a distress signal, do you?
Again a round-the-house answer: "We sometimes get these company’s signals which resemble rockets; they do not shoot as high and they do not explode."

Finally, a little later on:

6944. Then if it was not that [a company signal], it might have been a distress signal?
- "It might have been."
The Officer of the Watch did not tell him it was a distress signal because it did not look like a distress signal should have looked like.
If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck then it is more than likely to be a duck. But in this case, our friend "Donald" was conspicuous by his absence.
The interrogator used the word "must" as if there could not be any other explanation. As usual, the Brits thought only British Companys used recognition rockets at sea.
You point out two of the major faults of the UK Inquiry and these were leading the witness and badgering. Every question in your quotes emphasized the word "distress" i.e.The power of suggestion. These are the same questioners who use the dismissal expressions of "never mind that", and "never mind official" also conveniently ignore Stone's remark concerning moving vessels v. distress signals and vessels which alter their bearings.

Then finally that last silly question which used the word
"Might". This was asked of a person who had not seen the signal or any signals and presumably designed to suggest that the witness should have gone and looked for himself. However, that is 100% daft. Why go and look for something that may never happen again?
 

Jim Currie

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Hi Jim,

Apologies for quoting your whole reply for me, but my answer is very brief and I consider answers what I interpret as a part of the substance of your reply...

If Gibson "trips up" on a timing in the later stage of his British Inquiry testimony, that is not evidence of perjury.

We can now assess this as an error and inconsequential as we have the earliest contemporaneous 18th April 1912 statements of Stone and Gibson that were not disclosed to either Inquiries.

I think that deals with the point I was making.

It is also obvious from the Marconi PVs the time that Carpathia started firing distress rockets. These corroborate Stone and Gibson's 18th April statements.

(The Marconi PV evidence also rather throws a coach and horses through much of the timings in documents prepared by Captain Rostron!)
I am firmly of the belief that the Marconi records were doctored or "lost". I cannot for a single moment believe that the Operator on Carpathia did not keep a record. The excuse was that he was too busy... too busy doing what? The PV of Cape Race was destroyed in a mysterious fire and but for Captain Moore of the Mount Temple stuffing wireless messages in his pocket, we would never have heard of Captain Smith's distress position.
As for Gibson's times? I suspect he got a little mixed up with the two sts of three sightings. in addition, I think he had a different altered time on his watch.
 

Jim Currie

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So I guess we should throw out everything he said or wrote about what took place that night, or just those recollections that don't fit within your narrative? If you don't throw it all out, then you are being selective like everyone else, are you not?
I never throw any evidence out. A witness has a reason for replying in the way he did...if I don't understand it, I try to. That includes looking for corroboration. Both of the Midnight to 4 am witnesses stated categorically that they saw signals right on th horizon
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Jim,

It's quite simple really and common sense.

There are 2 independent PVs recording Cottam's wireless message warning that Carpathia was starting to fire off distress signals.

Some 10 minutes or so later Gibson sees the first of these he noticed at 3.20am (his 18th April statement) then points it out to Stone, and they both see something of 2 more.

Far in the distance and perhaps not very distinct - but nevertheless visible.

Ergo Carpathia still had another 40 or so minutes to get to the first lifeboat, (which lifeboat was not far from where Titanic sank), and so by extrapolation The Californian was by implication easily able to see Titanic's own distress signals.

That is all common sense to me.
 

Jim Currie

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Hi Jim,

It's quite simple really and common sense.

There are 2 independent PVs recording Cottam's wireless message warning that Carpathia was starting to fire off distress signals.

Some 10 minutes or so later Gibson sees the first of these he noticed at 3.20am (his 18th April statement) then points it out to Stone, and they both see something of 2 more.

Far in the distance and perhaps not very distinct - but nevertheless visible.

Ergo Carpathia still had another 40 or so minutes to get to the first lifeboat, (which lifeboat was not far from where Titanic sank), and so by extrapolation The Californian was by implication easily able to see Titanic's own distress signals.

That is all common sense to me.
It most certainly is common sense, Julian. Common sense for a W/O to record minute by minute what was going on, but Cottam did not do that. Why? if his ship was the principal rescue vessel?

I totally accept that both Stone and Gibson saw Carpathia's signals at 3-20 am that morning.
Set aside, for the moment, the smoke screen of irreconcilable times and concentrate on the evidence which tells us that there was a physical sighting witnessed by more than one individual. However, It is not the sighting that matters most in this instance but the description of it.
The exact location of the sighting of Carpathia's signals by both Stone and Gibson was "right on the Horizon" therefore we have corroboration of witness statements.

Now permit me to remind you of certain facts.

If the height of eye of an observer above sea level and the height above sea level of an observed object is known, then the distance between object and observer can be fairly accurately calculated. I'll give you an illustration.

If a distress signal rises to say 400 feet above the sea level, then theoretically, an eye-ball at sea level 23 miles away, will see it on the horizon.
If, however, you elevate that same eyeball to 55 feet then that eyeball would have to move back another 8.5 miles before the signal would once again be seen by it right on its horizon. Then, the total separation distance between signal source and eyeball would be 23 + 8.5 = 31.5 miles.
Now apply that to the Carpathia signal evidence of Stone and Gibson.

At 3-20 am when Gibson saw Carpathia's signal right on the horizon, she would have been about 10 miles from Boxhall in boat 2. Right?
If Carpathia's signal rose to 400 feet, then as we have seen, the separation distance between Boxhall and the Californian would have been 31.5 miles minus 10 miles = 21.5 miles. Right?
Incidentally, that separation distance would increase by 3.6 miles for every extra 10 feet of height the signal or eyeball rose above the sea.

From the foregoing, the common-sense answer as to why the lookouts on Titanic did not see the lights of the Californian was because the vessels were too far apart.

This conclusion can only be debunked if the evidence of Stone and Gibson regarding the expression "right on the horizon" can be debunked. However, to do so, involves contradicting men who, night and day, in their professional working lives...8 hours a day 7 days a week... use the visual horizon as a range-finder - men who, at the time of seeing Carpathia's signals, were using vision enhancement by way of binoculars to verify what they were seeing. Such a contradiction would also involve showing that there was a haze which obscured the horizon.
Incidentally, the horizon seen by Stone and Gibson was a mere 8.5 miles away which for a telescope or good binoculars was right on their visual "doorstep".
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Jim,

Unlike John Durrant the Marconi wireless Officer on the Mount Temple - who stayed up all night and the following morning keeping a detailed PV, Harold Cottam on the Carpathia stopped adding to his PV just before the CQD from Titanic.

But interestingly, we have most of Cottam's Marconigram service forms, whereas I haven't seen any of Durrant's. So one kept his chits but a huge gap in the PV, and left the CQD chit on his desk rather than take it to the USA Inquiry, and the other kept awake and recorded pretty much everything in his PV but the chits have been lost.

Compare this with the Virginian which had 2 Marconi wireless officers! Huge gap in the PV! We do have a few Marconigram service forms during this gap that continues to be a matter of debate and requires further research I would suggest.

Of the horizon, mentioned by Gibson of the Carpathia firing off distress rockets, I would consider you are homing in again on a point that wasn't explored in cross examination, and in any event perhaps the horizon was more discernible by 3.15am that morning of the 15th April 1912?

(I doubt it myself, and Gibson was simply trying to get over his perception of distance and the Carpathia rockets being seen a long way off and only just visible. I think myself that this is a fair interpretation, and balanced and objective).

Cheers,

Julian
 
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Jim Currie

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Hi Jim,

Unlike John Durrant the Marconi wireless Officer on the Mount Temple - who stayed up all night and the following morning keeping a detailed PV, Harold Cottam on the Carpathia stopped adding to his PV just before the CQD from Titanic.

But interestingly, we have most of Cottam's Marconigram service forms, whereas I haven't seen any of Durrant's. So one kept his chits but a huge gap in the PV, and left the CQD chit on his desk rather than take it to the USA Inquiry, and the other kept awake and recorded pretty much everything in his PV but the chits have been lost.

Compare this with the Virginian which had 2 Marconi wireless officers! Huge gap in the PV! We do have a few Marconigram service forms during this gap that continues to be a matter of debate and requires further research I would suggest.

Of the horizon, mentioned by Gibson of the Carpathia firing off distress rockets, I would consider you are homing in again on a point that wasn't explored in cross examination, and in any event perhaps the horizon was more discernible by 3.15am that morning of the 15th April 1912?

(I doubt it myself, and Gibson was simply trying to get over his perception of distance and the Carpathia rockets being seen a long way off and only just visible. I think myself that this is a fair interpretation, and balanced and objective).

Cheers,

Julian
Hello Julian, thank you form your reply.

On the subject of evidence as per Processes Verbal - I suggest to you there seems to be an element of Mafia-like interference (for want of a better description), and the Commissioner spotted it right away,
The Pv of Mount Temple states:
9.55Sigs. With M.P.A. Nil.

Yet the "reconstituted" Pv of Cottam states that, he, Cottam was still in contact with Mount Temple 5 minutes after that, at 10 am EST. There might be an excuse for difference in clock accuracies were it not for the fact that these two stations exchanged Trs.. time checks a few hours earlier.
Then there was the reconstituted PV itself. It only covers the period up to 10 am EST that evening, Thereafter... nothing! According to Cottam:
"17061. I suppose, owing to the emergency you could not keep a regular record?
- No."
My opinion is that Cottam had finished for the night and tuned into Cape Cod to listen to the news and to hear if there were any messages for him. Because he was receiving and tuned into a specific wavelength, he did not hear Titanic's first cry for help which, if he was in an open listening frequency, would have blasted his ears off.
He said he received 4 messages for onward transmission to Titanic the following day, then changes his mind and calls Titanic and gets the distress call. Then he changes the time of receipt from 11 pm to 10-25 pm. There were also fairies at the bottom of that young man's garden

I see little to disagree with in your post, Julian except for the last bit.

As I pointed out to you, there is no evidence to suggest that the visibility at 3-20 am that morning of April 15 was anything but perfect.
The horizon was 8.5 miles away from those on the upper bridge of the Californian. Binoculars were used. BOTH witnesses stated under oath that they saw Carpathia's signals right on the horizon. There was no sign of masthead lights or any other ship's lights. In the absence of body cams - what other evidence is required?

PS: Durrant normally turned in at 1 am. Evans normally turned in at 11-30 pm.
 

Julian Atkins

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Jim,

Actually Captain Lord disclosed to the USA Inquiry that Evans would usually stay up very late and report messages received into the early hours.

This evidence on oath contradicts your assertion, and is a detail often overlooked.

It was Evans' habit to stay up usually far later than 11.30pm, or in the 14th April 1912 11.35pm.

But on that particular night he decided to turn in early - this is corroborated by Groves who was not expecting him to have already gone to bed.

Cheers,

Julian
 

Jim Currie

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Jim,

Actually Captain Lord disclosed to the USA Inquiry that Evans would usually stay up very late and report messages received into the early hours.

This evidence on oath contradicts your assertion, and is a detail often overlooked.

It was Evans' habit to stay up usually far later than 11.30pm, or in the 14th April 1912 11.35pm.

But on that particular night he decided to turn in early - this is corroborated by Groves who was not expecting him to have already gone to bed.

Cheers,

Julian
Julian, the fact that Evans stayed up late had nothing to do with regular hours.
As with all one-man vessels, his normal hours, depending on location and expected wireless traffic were from 7 am in the morning until 11-30 am in the evening with breaks for meals. Even these breaks might be curtailed if he was waiting for a message.
By the same token, if he was expecting a message from Cape Race or a US shore base which were operating long after 11-30 pm he would wait up for such a message. Much in the same way as did Cottam on Carpathia. Here is what he told his questioners:
"9026. When was it that you turned in? A: - Eleven-thirty p.m., ship's time.
9027. You had been at work since 7 o'clock in the morning, except intervals for meals? A: - Yes.
9028. Was it your regular course to turn in about that time?
- As a Rule. It all depends where we are.

Appoligies wrapped upin a fiver will do nicely, than you:D
 

Jim Currie

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Hi!

What if we just calculate the time it took the Californian to reach the Carpathia at the sinking site?
That is far too sensible, Cam. You would be told that Captain Rostron was mistaken.. that Lord and his 3rd officer were lying about when they cleared the western side of the ice barrier and the former lied about when he passed the Mount Temple. That the Operator on the Birma could not read morse properly etc., etc.
However if we accept the evidence of Captain Rostron, then we can conduct a little experiment.
Rostron said the Californian was WSW of Carpathia about 6 miles way at 8 pm when Carpathia was at or near to the wreckage.
Let's assume Rostron told the truth and that Californian was clear of the western side of the ice at 6-20 am and had been stopped there since 10-21 pm the previous evening.
Then 10 minutes after she got underway she was up to full speed of 12.5 knots. at 6-30 am OK?
Then she ran at that speed on a southerly course until 8 am until she arrived at the position where Captain Rostron saw her.
The following is to scale. Just for you. ;)
for Cam.jpg
 
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Cam Houseman

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That is far too sensible, Cam. You would be told that Captain Rostron was mistaken.. that Lord and his 3rd officer were lying about when they cleared the western side of the ice barrier and the former lied about when he passed the Mount Temple. That the Operator on the Birma could not read morse properly etc., etc.
However if we accept the evidence of Captain Rostron, then we can conduct a little experiment.
Rostron said the Californian was WSW of Carpathia about 6 miles way at 8 pm when Carpathia was at or near to the wreckage.
Let's assume Rostron told the truth and that Californian was clear of the western side of the ice at 6-20 am and had been stopped there since 10-21 pm the previous evening.
Then 10 minutes after she got underway she was up to full speed of 12.5 knots. at 6-30 am OK?
Then she ran at that speed on a southerly course until 8 am until she arrived at the position where Captain Rostron saw her.
The following is to scale. Just for you. ;)
View attachment 76361
Thanks Jim, I think I understand :)

So you propose Titanic and the Californian were 6 miles apart instead of 10? very interesting. There's evidence Rostron lied?

and thanks for the handmade image for me.
 

Jim Currie

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Thanks Jim, I think I understand :)

So you propose Titanic and the Californian were 6 miles apart instead of 10? very interesting. There's evidence Rostron lied?

and thanks for the handmade image for me.
No, Cam. They were 6 mile apart at 8 am but if Californian had been at the 6-3-0 position at 3-20 am they would have been 31.5 miles apart and Californian would have been 21.5 miles from Boxhalli in boat 2. OK?
 
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Julian Atkins

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Julian, the fact that Evans stayed up late had nothing to do with regular hours.
As with all one-man vessels, his normal hours, depending on location and expected wireless traffic were from 7 am in the morning until 11-30 am in the evening with breaks for meals. Even these breaks might be curtailed if he was waiting for a message.
By the same token, if he was expecting a message from Cape Race or a US shore base which were operating long after 11-30 pm he would wait up for such a message. Much in the same way as did Cottam on Carpathia. Here is what he told his questioners:
"9026. When was it that you turned in? A: - Eleven-thirty p.m., ship's time.
9027. You had been at work since 7 o'clock in the morning, except intervals for meals? A: - Yes.
9028. Was it your regular course to turn in about that time?
- As a Rule. It all depends where we are.

Appoligies wrapped upin a fiver will do nicely, than you:D

Jim,

Captain Lord's evidence at the USA Inquiry is not supported by your reply.

Captain Lord testified as follows:-

[Of Evans the wireless operator on The Californian]

"From what I have seen of him, he [Evans] is generally around about 10 o'clock in the morning,
and next day gives me reports of things that happen after midnight, very frequently ".

Obviously, you can't tell the Captain what happens after midnight if you go to bed at the time you suggest!

Neither would there be any point in Groves popping in to see Evans after the 8pm - 12 midnight watch if Evans wasn't still usually up after midnight!

Cheers,

Julian
 

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