Why didn't Titanic see Californian's Morse Lamps


Jan 8, 2001
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This is one thing that has always baffled me and yet no one seems to talk about. Any ideas why she would not have seen the morse lamps?

Thanks,

Michael.
 
Dec 2, 2000
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Easley South Carolina
It would have to depend on such things as distance, the brilliance of the lamp used, and whether or not observers on the Titanic would have been dazzeled by the brilliant lights shining out of every window. Transatlantic liners tended to be lit up like the proverbial Christmas tree and that would have been quite a handicap. IF they saw the flashing, the observers may have confused it for flickering starlight.

Or the guys on the Californian lied about using the flashing light. Some of these people, as I'm sure some of our chums will gladly point out, didn't make the most credible witnesses on the planet.

Cordially,
Michael H. Standart
 
Jan 8, 2001
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It's almost a certainty there was no other mystery ship besides the Californian. If you read all the testimony, there is no other logical conclusion. Don't get caught up in Eaton and Lord trying to twist the evidence! Go to this page and I'm sure you'll be convinced! Testimony

Michael
 
Dec 4, 2000
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Lights at great distances tend to "twinkle" to to aberrations in the atmosphere. The possibility exits that both ships may have seen the morse lamps of the other, but simply could not recognize any pattern to the flashes. In effect, the signal-to-noise ratio may have been too high as a result of the "seeing" conditions that night.

--David G. Brown
 
Jan 8, 2001
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David,

Are you implying a super-refractive atmosphere? At any rate, your explanation sounds good as the Californian would not have had the excuse of glare from cabin lights to fall back on when explaining why she couldn't see the Titanic's morse signals. I suppose distance then would be about the only other explanation. After reviewing all the testimony regarding the Californian incident, I firmly believe she was no more than 10 miles away, however.

Michael Koch
 
Mar 3, 1998
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Ah, Michael, if you check my webpage, you'll see that I provide a link to Dave Billnitzer's site for those interested. You might also be surprised that I don't really care what E&H (or Padfield, or Reade, for that matter) have to say about the Californian. I form my own opinions by reading through primary sources.

Personally, I don't know what to think about the Californian...I read through the relevent testimony during a long week of jury duty (imagine the lawyers' response when they saw me with two thick legal books...maybe that's why I wasn't selected for a trial) and I found so many contradictions that I could draw no firm conclusions either way. And in my world, if I can't draw a firm conclusion, I leave possibilities open.

The question was: Why didn't Californian respond to Titanic's Morse lamp signalling? All I'm saying is that one of the possibilities is that the light on the horizon wasn't the Californian. You yourself said "It's ALMOST a certainty" it was Californian. I just made a passing remark about the little bit of uncertainty that keeps it from being a certainty.

Parks
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, all!

No matter what kind of uncertainty attends the appearance of the nighttime lights, though, when daylight came the Californian was visible just half a dozen miles north of the Titanic's lifeboats. Since she hadn't moved her engines since 10:30 p.m. the previous evening, she must have been there all night.

IMO, focusing on the nighttime appearance of distant lights in order to 'prove' that the mystery ship was not the Californian parallels a group of Spiritualists who believe that spirits exist because of manifestations that take place at a seance held in a darkened room. When the room's lights are suddenly turned up everyone can easily see the telescoping manipulating rods that the 'medium' has been using to 'suspend' objects in the air. Why should anyone want to turn the lights off again and believe that 'spirits' are the true explanation? The same goes for the Californian incident; why ignore the daylight sightings of the Californian near the disaster site and focus on twinkling nighttime lights instead?

All my best,

George
 
Mar 3, 1998
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George,

Are you talking again about Daisy's testimony? She's the only one I am aware of who could place the Californian 6 miles away at sunrise. Not even Rostron could do that. I focus on the twinkling nighttime lights because that's the only area in which multiple eyewitnesses corroborate one another.

Since I have spent the holiday weekend ghost-hunting with my son at the Star of India, Hotel del Coronado and Whaley House (three famous San Diego haunting sites), I guess that would classify me (or maybe my 8-yr-old) as a bona fide Spiritualist. But do you condemn anyone else who has doubts about the entire Californian episode as gullible rubes? And who do you believe the "medium" is in this case, Lord or Harrison?

As I have said on numerous occasions, I can't say with any assurance that the lights to the north of Titanic belong to Californian or some other ship. So please don't take my insistance on this uncertainty as an argument against the lights being from Lord's ship. If you could quell each of the doubts I have from reading through the testimony and plotting the relative movements of each ship, I'll believe anything you have to say. In the meantime, could I ask you please not to trivialise my concerns? I have taken the matter seriously and have never ridiculed anyone for their stance in this eternal (and infernal) debate.

Parks
 
B

Bill DeSena

Guest
Hi folks,

Twinkling lights at night are not as easy to see as people think. If you look up into the night sky at a passing airplane its only a mile or two over head and its lights are clearly visible in a clear night sky, but go stand on the heights overlooking the SF Bay and watch for planes entering the bay and from a distance of 6-12 miles the lights are barely visible if at all. Likewise with the headlights of a train at night. An approaching train's headlight is as bright as any ships masthead light would have been and from a distance of 2-3 miles is merely a speck of white on an otherwise black sky. I don't think the California or whatever ship was out there could have been more than a few miles away and certainly not the official 12-18 miles I have read as the distance elsewheres.

If a morselamp was used it probably was nothing like the type of lights used in later times its brightness was probably nothing more than a pinpoint on the black horizon and may easily have been missed by anyone directed towards. Using the radio therefore was the only sure way for the California to ascertain who the ship was and what those rockets were really for. Failure to do so will never exonorate Lord or his crew from failing to act like seaman that night.

Regards

Bill
 

Senan Molony

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Jan 30, 2004
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George Behe,

Perhaps you can tell me something I have always been tortured by:
Is there a God?
You have such certainty, you will certainly know.
Or perhaps you are He?
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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Morse lights of the period consisted of clusters of small light bulbs, each of a few candlepower. There might be a dozen of these with a combined output of about 100 cp. They were not at all directional and signalling was slow, because it was done by turning the lights on and off. Lord said such a light had a range of about 10 miles, which agrees with figures I've seen.

I'm not going to join in a long argument but I've long been convinced that Californian was over 10 miles off, purely for technical reasons. The evidence from April 15th is most inconsistent and unsatisfactory and some comes from landlubbers utterly unqualified to make estimates that are difficult for experienced seamen. Further, nobody has come up with a convincing mechanism whereby Californian could get so far south of her last honestly estimated position (the one she sent to Antillian). I'm convinced that Rostron's first impression was right. Californian was at least hull down and unnoticed in the morning. Lord and company could see Mount Temple but not Carpathia. During the night they had seen Titanic at a distance which was so great that they could not work out what they were seeing. I'm unconvinced about abnormal refraction, though I've seen its effects often enough, but I sometimes wonder if the remarks about "her lights look queer" and so on, suggest an image distorted by refraction.

And for the umpteenth time, Lord's response should have been to steam for the rockets, not mess round with the radio. Rockets mean somebody in in trouble and they may not have radio.
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Parks Stephenson wrote:

>Are you talking again about Daisy's testimony? She's the only one I am
>aware of who could place the Californian 6 miles away at sunrise.

Hi, Parks!

No, I'm talking about Captain Moore of the Mt. Temple; Moore saw the Californian six miles north of the disaster site while that vessel was still making her 6 a.m. crossing of the icefield.

> But do you condemn anyone else
>who has doubts about the entire Californian episode as gullible rubes?

I've never condemned anyone as being a gullible rube, old chap. In the present case (as in Senan Molony's recently) you were merely unaware of Captain Moore's evidence re: the Californian's true location. Now that you know about it, though, your analyisis of the Californian incident (whatever it might be) will certainly benefit from that extra -- but vital -- bit of information.

>As I have said on numerous occasions, I can't say with any assurance
>that the lights to the north of Titanic belong to Californian or some
>other ship. So please don't take my insistance on this uncertainty as an
>argument against the lights being from Lord's ship.

Agreed. However, in light of Captain Moore's testimony, do you still feel that uncertain nighttime observations of distant lights should take precedence over observations of a nearby ship that were made in the clear light of day? If so, why?

> I have taken the matter seriously and have never ridiculed
>anyone for their stance in this eternal (and infernal) debate.

Nor have I. Please don't take offense where none was intended, old chap. My analogy about turning on the lights during a seance to see what was *really* going on in the darkness was a good one and applies to the Californian incident, since the coming of daylight revealed the true identity of the ship which was near the Titanic that night.

Senan Molony wrote:

>George Behe,
>Perhaps you can tell me something I have always been tortured by:
>Is there a God?
>You have such certainty, you will certainly know.
>Or perhaps you are He?

Hi, Senan!

I think I'll keep you guessing, old chap. (In the meantime, though, don't go outside during thunderstorms -- you never know where that next lightning bolt is going to strike.) :)

Dave Gittins wrote:

>I'm not going to join in a long argument but I've long been convinced
>that Californian was over 10 miles off, purely for technical reasons.
>The evidence from April 15th is most inconsistent and unsatisfactory and
>some comes from landlubbers utterly unqualified to make estimates that
>are difficult for experienced seamen.

Hi, Dave!

Well, Captain Moore was certainly no landlubber, and his testimony was pretty definite re: Californian's presence five or six miles north of the Carpathia during her 6 a. m. traverse of the icefield. IMO, that's about as straightforward as it gets.

All my best,

George
 

Senan Molony

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Jan 30, 2004
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Moore did not say he could SEE the Californian.
He was referring to where he estimated she would be - based on his knowledge of wireless reports and when he saw her later - at 7.30.

At no point does Moore say he has visuals on the Californian. If there was a ship there in daylight (4am) the T lifeboats would have gone to her. They headed instead for the ship they could see -Carpathia.

You are a fraud, George Behe, and I use that word advisedly.
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Senan!

I guess you'll have to judge the voltage for yourself. :)

Hope all is well with you and your family, old chap.

Take care, my friend.

All my best,

George
 

George Behe

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Dec 11, 1999
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Hi, Senan!

Well, Captain Moore estimated that Californian was the same distance north of the Carpathia as Mt. Temple was to the west of her (i.e. five or six miles.) Moore's meaning is clear, since he would have been unable to make an estimate like that if Californian had truly been 19 miles north of the disaster site (i.e. out of sight) at 6 a.m. like Captain Lord claimed.

All my best,

George
 
Jan 8, 2001
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Testimony by Groves, Moore, Spedden, Carpathia crew and Boxhall (I think it was him or possibly another Titanic officer) all place the Californian about 5-6 miles north of the lifeboats at approximately 6 am Californian time. Groves claimed the Carpathia went around the northern edge of the ice field and then south looking for Titanic's reported position. At 650 am...they saw Carpathia on the other side of the ice field due east about 5 miles away. Moore also agreed with this and Boxhall (I think it was him or maybe Rowe or Hutchison, one of Titanic's officers anyway), 2 crewmembers of the Carpathia and Spedden claim the ship that never moved in the night was indeed the Californian. Although, a few claimed the ship moved, it was obvious from Californian's testimony, she was just swinging around to starboard with the current as she had the helm hard-a-port with the engines were shut off. This would explain the appearance of the ship turning around and steaming west. In all, 16 of 20 witnessed said she didn't move. So in other words, Californian took about 40 minutes give or take a few to reach the same latitude as Titanic after she started up in the morning. Not to mention, some of the time would have been spent going around the ice field on the northern side and not heading south. This is pretty DANG good evidence IMHO that Californian was less than 10 miles away and even if she wasn't the bottom line is she didn't do anything. However, if she were 5-6 miles away and left when the first rocket went off, she could have gotten there no later than 2 am being conservative allowing time for her to navigate the bergs. Here are some links to this testimony: Groves' Testimony and Testimony of Others

Michael.
 
Mar 3, 1998
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George,

I was unaware that the Mount Temple had a visual on the Californian at first light...I have read through Moore's testimony, but all I saw were estimates. Perhaps you could quote the exact reference for me, so that my research could continue to benefit?

It's not that I prefer nighttime in favour of daylight sightings; believe me, I have had plenty of experience at sea to know the latter is much more reliable. However, I find no instance (aside from Daisy's testimony) where someone had eyes on the lights until a physical shape manifested itself at dawn. It is that evidence in which I will need your help to find.

Parks