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


Jim Currie

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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
That's what W/Os did back then, Julian. nowadays it is called Flexi-hours.
If they were expecting a Master or vessel-specific message or waiting for a vessel to enter or before it left the Marconi "grid" to receive a message they would wait up late to do so. If appropriately urgent they would deliver thereafter. Otherwise, routine traffic was delivered the next day. They loosely followed what was termed "Day-worker" hours. All crew were designated Day workers or Watchkeepers.

Captain Lord was simply remembering the occasions when Evans chose to work overtime and delivered messages to him when he, the captain, was in bed. The messages delivered to him at 10 am or any other time during Day Work hours would be delivered as they were received. For instance. If Lord had specifically told Evans to transmit a master to master message as soon as possible, and Evans knew the vessel in question would not be in range before 1 am then he would wait until that vessel was in range and transmit before turning in. There is no big conspiracy or mystery here, Julian.

Incidentally, Evans was in his bunk when Groves visited him. Groves was interested in wireless, not Evans
 

Cam Houseman

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*cough* Quiet as crickets now.

Anyway.
I learned that Captain Lord wanted Walter Lord, at the end of chapter 4 in the first addition, to have him fully dressed in his uniform during the sinking.
 

Julian Atkins

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Hi Cam,

We know exactly what Captain Lord in later life and quite suddenly objected to of the film
ANTR, though he hadn't seen it himself, and the book ANTR was somewhat incidental and had been 'out' for a few years previously.

The usual claptrap is hawked over, but neither the dates or the substance of what caused Captain Lord to 'cross The Mersey' to insist upon a sudden interview with his professional association and it's General Secretary unannounced and without an appointment, and without disclosing to his son what he intended to do, is capable of easy extrapolation as to the date of the preview of the film ANTR in Liverpool in the cinemas.

We won't probably ever know the full story, but I don't myself believe either Leslie Harrison's account as to the reason for that first meeting between the 2 of them, or Captain Lord's son's account of the lead up to it.

I've described on another now locked thread my own view as to what happened, but I don't think it had anything to do with Walter Lord's book per se. It was the film. It must have been. Due to the timing and dates.
 
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Martin Cooper

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:D

"The Maiden Voyage" was a real "eye opener" when I first read it. I had previously looked upon Smith as being a wronged and tragic heroic figure. That book changed all that.

The crying shame it is not all that well known a Titanic book and yet it has a ton of common sense in it and Marcus makes his arguments well.

Just out of interest Sam, did you ever have any correspondence with Geoffrey Marcus whilst he was alive ?

He also wrote a book a book about social, political and cultural life in Britain between Victoria's death and the start of WW1 called "Before the Lamp Went Out" which I've been trying to track down a copy of for years.
Hello Seumas.

'Before the lights went out' is available on ebay, I got one the other day for about £7.00.

Also there are copies of 'The maiden voyage' for about the same price, some maybe a little cheaper if you search.

Regards.
 
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Seumas

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Just a point of reference, but Paul Lee in 'The Ship that Stood Still' is highly critical of Marcus' 'Maiden Voyage' so far as it relates to 'the Californian incident'.
Only a small part of "The Maiden Voyage" is about "the other ship".

The bulk of the book is more concerned about how the Titanic's fate came about and in particular analyses Edward Smith's decision making.
 

Jim Currie

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While I admire Paul's information- gathering ability, his ideas on Californian are completely inaccurate. I have not read the book mentioned herein but I have read his paper " The Titanic and the Californian - A possible solution."
If his paper is anything to go by and the book repeats what is written in the paper, then he exhibits a complete lack of understanding as to the thinking process behind the design of a power driven vessel's masthead lights when two are carried. It also shows a complete lack of understanding regarding a boats stations - all hands on deck, use of lights on board a passenger ship.

 

Martin Cooper

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Capt. Smith gets a lot of undeserved criticism, IMO.

Otherwise, is it a good book Seumas?
It was WSL policy that Sunday was boat drill day, however, there was none done on this day. Instead, Smith and other senior officers decided to dress in their best uniforms and go walk about on a 'Captains inspection tour' to show off their best bib and tucker so that the 'toffs' could admire them. So NO boat drill was done on that Sunday.

And what about all the ice warnings?
Did Smith slow the ship down?
Did Smith go even further south?
After many complaints by the look outs of there being no glasses for them, did Smith make sure they were provided for them?
Did Smith provide extra lookouts, especially in the prow of the ship?

He also knew they were nearing the ice, so why was he not on the bridge?

Undeserved criticism????
 

Martin Cooper

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While I admire Paul's information- gathering ability, his ideas on Californian are completely inaccurate. I have not read the book mentioned herein but I have read his paper " The Titanic and the Californian - A possible solution."
If his paper is anything to go by and the book repeats what is written in the paper, then he exhibits a complete lack of understanding as to the thinking process behind the design of a power driven vessel's masthead lights when two are carried. It also shows a complete lack of understanding regarding a boats stations - all hands on deck, use of lights on board a passenger ship.

Hello Captain Jim. It is nice to be able to comment again on ET, and I see that you are still keeping these, what you call 'whippersnappers' in order my friend, LOL.

I have been in the Doldrums for a few years because of my old desk top finally packing up on me, I lost everything, including all my contacts. I did get a lap top, but through not making a copy of my password, and not being unable to remember it, I was just a spectator following the discussions on ET, longing to join in and give you a little support as I used to do before the desk top conked out.

I eventually got in touch with Phil, and through his kindness and help, I am now able to make comments again. So it is with much gratitude that I say my thanks to Phil for his help.

I do hope that you are keeping well Jim, and that all is ok in your neck of the woods.

Best regards my friend.

Martin.
 

Jim Currie

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It was WSL policy that Sunday was boat drill day, however, there was none done on this day. Instead, Smith and other senior officers decided to dress in their best uniforms and go walk about on a 'Captains inspection tour' to show off their best bib and tucker so that the 'toffs' could admire them. So NO boat drill was done on that Sunday.

And what about all the ice warnings?
Did Smith slow the ship down?
Did Smith go even further south?
After many complaints by the look outs of there being no glasses for them, did Smith make sure they were provided for them?
Did Smith provide extra lookouts, especially in the prow of the ship?

He also knew they were nearing the ice, so why was he not on the bridge?

Undeserved criticism????
Get your facts right, laddie.

1. There was no Boat and Fire drill that Sunday morning because one had been carried out less than a week earlier, and because there was a strong northerly wind blowing on the boat deck, starboard side.
2. Officers did not "dress in their best uniforms... rubbish! Have you any idea of uniform protocol? I think not.
3. All ice warnings indicated ice to the north of the course. Since normally, ice moves north and east, the warnings did not apply to the Titanic or ships to the southward of the last known position of the ice,
4. because of (3) above -there was no need to go further south or slow down at all.
5. There were no "complaints" about the lack of glasses.- just a request for them. :D I could just imagine how such a complaint would have been handled.:eek::eek::eek:
6. Bow lookouts are only effective in restricted visibility... the visibility that night was perfect.

Unless you are a fully qualified professional, you do not have enough knowledge to accurately judge a man as was Captain Smith. However, you are not alone...too many with similar knowledge limitations have publicly set themselves up as Judge and Jury.
 
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Jim Currie

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Hello Captain Jim. It is nice to be able to comment again on ET, and I see that you are still keeping these, what you call 'whippersnappers' in order my friend, LOL.

I have been in the Doldrums for a few years because of my old desk top finally packing up on me, I lost everything, including all my contacts. I did get a lap top, but through not making a copy of my password, and not being unable to remember it, I was just a spectator following the discussions on ET, longing to join in and give you a little support as I used to do before the desk top conked out.

I eventually got in touch with Phil, and through his kindness and help, I am now able to make comments again. So it is with much gratitude that I say my thanks to Phil for his help.

I do hope that you are keeping well Jim, and that all is ok in your neck of the woods.

Best regards my friend.

Martin.
Hello there. Martin me old "Whippersnapper". lol Just saw this after I posted an answer to you.. "Get in line there - lad" :D
As usual, you can see I still use my "rope's end" on friens and friend alike (no foes - just mis-informed);)
 

Martin Cooper

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Hello there. Martin me old "Whippersnapper". lol Just saw this after I posted an answer to you.. "Get in line there - lad" :D
As usual, you can see I still use my "rope's end" on friens and friend alike (no foes - just mis-informed);)
Hi Jim.

Yes, I heard that shot across my bows, LOL.


With Seumas talking about the book 'The Maiden Voyage'. I knew I had a copy of it amongst my book collection. So I dug it out and had a look through it. My copy is a paperback, and on page 92 it says that, 'on the captains inspection tour', that the captain, the chief officer, the chief engineer, the purser, the chief steward, the senior surgeon, and all heads of departments, in their best uniforms, proceeded with measured tread from stem to stern on their inspection. So, I was quoting what it says in 'The maiden voyage' as to the reason why no boat drill was done on that Sunday.

As you lnow Jim, I was not a Navy man, I was a railwayman for many, many years, and was also in the TA and served in The Queens Lancashire Regiment. I have been retired now for a number of years, and spend my time going for walks in the countryside, making models, reading a good book, and visiting various sites including ET on my computer.

I recantly made a model of HMS Warspite, my dear old dad remembered this fantastic Battleship when he was in the Normandy Landings, she bombarded the beaches while he and his mates were in the landing craft, he always said that she was a fine ship, she was known as 'The Grand Old Lady'.

Stay safe and keep well Jim.

Martin.
 
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Martin Cooper

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Hi Jim.

Regarding your earlier post.

Way back in 2010, I posted a very similar post regarding Capt Smith, ie, ice warnings, speed, glasses, extra lookout at the prow of the ship, etc, and apparently got the seal of approval from you back then. Also a couple of years ago, you posted a comment saying that Smith didn't know the extent of the ice barrier from north to south, however, now you appear to have changed your mind about it. Anyway, that is all by the by now.

Capt Smith was on the bridge speaking with the OOW (Lightoller), and commenting on how clear it was, but he did say to Lightoller that if it became in the slightest degree hazy that they would have to slow the ship down.

Meanwhile up in the nest, Jewell and Symonds were on lookout, and they saw a slight surface haze which lay along the western horizon. Symonds sniffed the air, and said 'by the smell of it there is ice about', they were later relieved in the nest by Fleet and Lee.

What I am wondering is, did Jewell and Symonds report this haze and the smell of ice, and if so, then why didn't Smith slow the ship down as he said earlier to Lightoller, and as an extra precaution post an extra lookout at the prow of the ship, which I believe had a telephone to the bridge, and was a good few yards ahead of the foremast. You never know, this lookout at the prow could well have spotted the berg well before Fleet did and informed the bridge that bit earlier giving them a little more time to avoid it altogether. It might have been a very close run thing and missed the berg by just a few feet, but it could have been the difference between saving the ship or losing it and over 1500 lives.

What do you think Jim?

Should I prepare myself for a full broadside and a taste of the cat, or can I come out of hiding from behind the settee and stop waving my white flag? LOL.
 

Jim Currie

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Hi Jim.

Regarding your earlier post.

Way back in 2010, I posted a very similar post regarding Capt Smith, ie, ice warnings, speed, glasses, extra lookout at the prow of the ship, etc, and apparently got the seal of approval from you back then. Also a couple of years ago, you posted a comment saying that Smith didn't know the extent of the ice barrier from north to south, however, now you appear to have changed your mind about it. Anyway, that is all by the by now.

Capt Smith was on the bridge speaking with the OOW (Lightoller), and commenting on how clear it was, but he did say to Lightoller that if it became in the slightest degree hazy that they would have to slow the ship down.

Meanwhile up in the nest, Jewell and Symonds were on lookout, and they saw a slight surface haze which lay along the western horizon. Symonds sniffed the air, and said 'by the smell of it there is ice about', they were later relieved in the nest by Fleet and Lee.

What I am wondering is, did Jewell and Symonds report this haze and the smell of ice, and if so, then why didn't Smith slow the ship down as he said earlier to Lightoller, and as an extra precaution post an extra lookout at the prow of the ship, which I believe had a telephone to the bridge, and was a good few yards ahead of the foremast. You never know, this lookout at the prow could well have spotted the berg well before Fleet did and informed the bridge that bit earlier giving them a little more time to avoid it altogether. It might have been a very close run thing and missed the berg by just a few feet, but it could have been the difference between saving the ship or losing it and over 1500 lives.

What do you think Jim?

Should I prepare myself for a full broadside and a taste of the cat, or can I come out of hiding from behind the settee and stop waving my white flag? LOL.
No, Martin, just put your glasses on.

First: I cannot find ant evidence that Jewell or Symonds saw a mist ahead. Symonds claimed he could smell ice but that is a term ,rather than ice having a scent. It is a sensation felt when air cooled by the proximity of ice is inhaled through the nose.
On the other hand, the Lookouts these two relieved- Fleet and Lee - referred to a phenomenon seen ahead. One declared it to be a lightening of the horizon about 2 points on each bow, while the other claimed it was so dense as for it to be hard to see anything through it.
To my mind, there was no haze... you don't get haze in mid ocean, and the formation of it's cousin "mist", is due to warm, moisture-laded air meeting cold air and or a cold surface. At the time in question, there was no wind to carry warm air. There was simply cold surfaces and cold- dry air above them. I'm sure you have experienced a cold, clear, crisp winter evening.

A bow Lookout is only more useful than a Nest Lookout when there is poor visibility and/or there is a direct warning of danger ahead of the ship. It is useless in heavy weather. Since Titanic had a nest with two men in it - it was clear and they had no direct indication of icebergs ahead, Smith obviously decided there was no need for a bow lookout. On the other hand "belt and braces" were needed in the event of a warning of ice in the direct path, as was the case with Lord on the Californian
 

Martin Cooper

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Well Jim, you are the sailor and should know a lot more about these things than a landlubber. LOL.

However, there is something niggling about this 'haze'. You see, I have various books written by various authors regarding RMS Titanic, and most of them mention in their books about a haze. And it does seem rather odd that Capt Smith should say to Lightoller that if it becomes the slightest degree hazy we will have to slow the ship down, makes me wonder what was on his mind when he mentioned haze.

Geoffrey Marcus in his book 'The Maiden Voyage', mentions that 'Lightoller was mindful of what Smith had said, and was closely watching the weather, and keeping a sharp lookout for ice, knowing that if there was ice about, there might well be a certain amount of surface haze'.

So if Lightoller knew this, then surely an experienced man such as Capt Smith would also have known this as well.

Marcus also goes on to say that there was talk in the officers quarters about the ship getting into the ice around 10pm till about midnight, so again, if they knew this, then so must have Capt Smith. And of course this might well have been confirmed if the wireless message from the Mesaba had been taken to the bridge instead of being left in the W/O, and also if Phillips had not told the Californian to shut up whilst being given an ice warning and the position of the Californian. That is another thing Jim, at least Capt Lord did have the common sense to have a bow lookout at the time.

There was no moon that night, therefor no moonlight to reflect off the ice, also the sea was, according to some, like a mill pond or a flat calm, therefor no white foam at the base of the berg for the lookouts to spot in advance, it is also assumed that the berg had recently rolled over and was presenting a dark side toward the ship.

It all seems a little odd as to why an expreienced Capt like Smith, should mention slowing down if there was the slightest haze, and knowing that the ship could well encounter ice between 10pm and midnight, then why did he decide to leave the bridge at such a rather crucial time? It all does seem very strange to my mind, you would think that any good Captain, would want to guide his command through any sort of dangerous situation and see it through safely. I wonder if Capt Smith had somthing else on his mind that may have clouded his judgement?

Well Jim, with it being the 6th June yesterday, 77 years since D-Day. I was looking at the model I made of HMS Warspite, and thinking of my dear old dad and all the rest of those brave men that helped to free the world from tyrany. The world owes those men their gratitude, it is a debt that cannot be repaid, God Bless them all.

One of the American Battleships had to leave the scene, which left the American forces short of support with their landing. The Captain of HMS Warspite knowing that he had done his job on the British landing beaches, decided to help the Americans out. He left HMS Ramillies at the British landings and sailed his ship HMS Warspite to the aid of the American forces, where she bombarded the beaches where they were to land, this earned Warspite great praise from the Americans. The 'grand old lady' did her job well, what a pity she was not preserved for posterity, one of Britains finest Battleships ever built.

Martin.
 

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