SS Californian

SS Californian

Overview
{{original research|date=November 2011}} {{ref improve|date=November 2011}} {{Other ships|Californian (ship)}} {| |} '''SS ''Californian''''' was a Leyland Line [[steamship]] that is best known for the controversy surrounding her location during the sinking of the [[RMS Titanic|RMS ''Titanic'']] on 15 April 1912. The ''Californian'' was later sunk herself, in 1915, by U-34. ==History== ''Californian'' was a [[United Kingdom|British]] steamship owned by the [[Leyland Line]], part of [[J.P.
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{{original research|date=November 2011}} {{ref improve|date=November 2011}} {{Other ships|Californian (ship)}} {| |} '''SS ''Californian''''' was a Leyland Line [[steamship]] that is best known for the controversy surrounding her location during the sinking of the [[RMS Titanic|RMS ''Titanic'']] on 15 April 1912. The ''Californian'' was later sunk herself, in 1915, by U-34. ==History== ''Californian'' was a [[United Kingdom|British]] steamship owned by the [[Leyland Line]], part of [[J.P. Morgan]]'s [[International Mercantile Marine Co.]], and was constructed by the [[Caledon Shipbuilding & Engineering Company]] in [[Dundee]], Scotland. Californian measured 6,223 tons, was 447 feet (136 m) long, 53 feet (16 m) at her beam, and had an average full speed of 12 knots (22km/h). The ship had a [[steam engine|triple expansion steam engine]] which was powered by two doubled-ended boilers, and was primarily designed to transport [[cotton]], but also had the capacity of carrying 47 passengers and 55 crew members. ''Californian'' has the distinction of being the largest ship ever built in Dundee. ''Californian'' was launched on 26 November 1901 and completed her sea trials on 23 January 1902. From 31 January 1902 to 3 March 1902, ''Californian'' made her maiden voyage from [[Dundee, Scotland]] to [[New Orleans]], [[Louisiana]] in the [[United States]]. ===Sinking of ''Titanic''=== {{main|Sinking of the RMS Titanic}} [[Stanley Lord]], who had commanded ''Californian'' since 1911, was the captain of the ship when she left [[London]], [[England]] on 5 April 1912 on her way to [[Boston]], [[Massachusetts]]. She was not carrying any passengers on this voyage. ====Wireless operator Cyril Evans==== On Sunday 14 April at 19:00, ''Californian'''s only [[wireless]] operator, [[Cyril Evans (Wireless Operator)|Cyril Evans]], reported three large icebergs fifteen miles (24 km) north of the course the [[White Star Line]] passenger ship ''Titanic'' was heading. ''Titanic'''s wireless operator [[Harold Sydney Bride|Harold Bride]] intercepted the warning and delivered it to the ship's [[Bridge (ship)|bridge]] at 10:20 that evening while in Latitude 50 degrees 05 minutes North. At Longitude 50 degrees 07 minutes West and steering a course of due west, a position to the south of the [[Grand Banks|Grand Banks of Newfoundland]], ''Californian'' encountered a large [[iceberg|ice field]]. Captain Lord spotted it just in time and ordered the helm hard right and the engines full astern. The ship's head swung rapidly to the right but it was too late; she actually entered the loose margins of the ice field. She eventually stopped, surrounded by loose ice and heading northeast. Lord decided to stop the ship and wait until morning to proceed further. Before going down from the bridge, he thought he saw a ship's light away to the eastward but could not be sure it was not just a rising star. He carried on down to the engineers' cabins and met with the chief whom he told about his plans for stopping. As they were talking, they saw a ship's lights coming along. Lord went to the wireless room to find out if Evans knew of any ships in the area. Evans met him on the way and informed him he did: “Only the ''Titanic''.” Lord instructed Evans to wire ''Titanic'' and inform her that the ''Californian'' was stopped and surrounded by ice. On deck, Third Officer C.V. Groves also saw the lights of another ship come into view on the horizon off ''Californian's'' starboard side, and less than ten miles away. To Groves, she was clearly a large liner as she had multiple decks brightly lighted. Fifteen minutes after spotting the vessel, Groves went below to inform Lord. Lord suggested that the ship be contacted by [[Signal lamp|Morse lamp]], which was tried, but no reply was forthcoming. ''Titanic'''s on-duty wireless operator, [[John George Phillips (wireless officer)|Jack Phillips]], was busy working off a substantial backlog of personal messages with the wireless station at [[Cape Race]], [[Newfoundland (island)|Newfoundland]], {{convert|800|mi|km}} away, at the time. When Evans sent the message that they were stopped and surrounded by ice, the relative proximity made ''Californian''s signal loud in Phillips' headphones (both radio operators were using [[spark-gap transmitter|spark gap]] wireless sets whose signals bled across the spectrum and were impossible to tune out). As Evans attempted to transmit his ice message, Phillips was unable to hear a separate, prior message he had been in the process of receiving from [[Cape Race]], and an exasperated Phillips rebuked Evans with: "Shut up, Shut up, I’m working Cape Race." Evans listened for a little while longer, and at 23:30 he turned off the wireless and went to bed. Ten minutes later ''Titanic'' hit an iceberg. Ten minutes after that ''Titanic's'' lookout spotted a nearby ship. ''Titanic'' sent out her first distress call 25 minutes later. ====Captain Stanley Lord==== Slightly after midnight Second Officer Herbert Stone took watch from Groves. He, too, tried signalling the ship with the Morse lamp, also without success. Around 00:45 on 15 April, Stone saw a white flash appear from the direction of the nearby steamer. First he thought it was a shooting star, until he saw another one. He saw five rockets before being joined by the apprentice. He called down the speaking tube to Captain Lord at 01:15, but it is unclear how many rockets he told the Captain about. Lord asked if the rockets had been a company signal. Stone said he didn’t know. Lord told Stone to tell him if anything about the ship changed, to keep signaling the ship with the Morse lamp, but did not request that the ship firing rockets be contacted by wireless. At the British inquiry following the ''Titanic'' disaster, Stone and apprentice Gibson admitted to snippets of the conversation that they had had during their watch that night. "A ship is not going to fire rockets at sea for nothing," Stone said, and also, "Look at her now; she looks very queer out of the water; her lights look queer." Gibson observed, "She looks rather to have a big side out of the water" and he agreed that "everything was not all right with her;" that it was "a case of some kind of distress." By 02:00 the ship appeared to be leaving the area. A few minutes later Crewman James Gibson informed Captain Lord as such and that eight white rockets had been seen. Lord, who said that he had been asleep (and later claimed no recollection of the visit), asked whether they were sure of the colour, Gibson said yes and left. At 02:20, ''Titanic'' sank. Around 03:30 Stone and Gibson, still sharing the middle watch, spotted rockets to the south. They did not see the ship that was firing them, but at about this same time the rescue ship ''Carpathia'' was racing up from the southeast, firing rockets to let the ''Titanic'' know that help was on the way. At 04:16, Chief Officer George F. Stewart relieved Stone, and almost immediately noticed, coming into view from the south, a brilliantly lighted, four-masted steamship with one funnel. This would later prove to be the ''Carpathia''. Lord woke up at 04:30 and went out on deck to decide how to proceed past the ice to the west. At 05:30, acting on his own initiative, Stewart woke Evans (the wireless operator), and asked him to find out why a ship had fired rockets during the night. Evans turned on the wireless and found out that ''Titanic'' had sunk overnight. Stewart took the news to Captain Lord who ordered the ship underway. However, instead of proceeding south through clear{{dubious|date=June 2011}} water to ''Titanic's'' last reported position{{Dubious|date=June 2011}}, Lord ordered his ship to head west and into the ice flow. After passing slowly through the flow, the ''California'' reached clear water, increased speed, and finally turned south. The ship actually passed the ''Carpathia'' to the east, then turned, and headed northeast back towards the rescue ship, arriving at 08:30. Lord later explained that this convoluted route was due to ice conditions, even though there was clear water between his original position and ''Titanic’s'' reported position. ''Carpathia'' was just finishing picking up the last of ''Titanic'''s survivors. After communication between the two ships, ''Carpathia'' left the area leaving ''Californian'' to search for any other survivors, but it only found scattered wreckage and empty [[Lifeboat (shipboard)|lifeboat]]s. ===Aftermath=== As public knowledge grew of the ''Titanic'' disaster, questions soon arose on how the disaster occurred, as well as if and how it could have been prevented. An American inquiry started on 19 April, the day ''Californian'' arrived unnoticed in Boston. Initially, the world was unaware of the ''Californian'' and her part in the ''Titanic'' disaster. On 22 April, the inquiry discovered that a ship near ''Titanic'' had failed to respond to the distress signals. The identity of the ship was unknown. The next day, a small newspaper in New England, the ''Daily Item'', printed a shocking story claiming that the ''Californian'' had refused aid to ''Titanic''. The source for the story was the ship’s carpenter, James McGregor, who stated that his ship had been close enough to see ''Titanic’s'' lights and distress rockets. By sheer coincidence, on the same day, the ''Boston American'' printed a story sourced by the ''Californian’s'' assistant engineer, Ernest Gill, which essentially told the same story as the ''Daily Item''. Lord also spoke with Boston area newspapers. In one article on 19 April (''Boston Traveler''), Lord claimed that his ship was thirty miles from ''Titanic'', but in the ''Boston Post'' (22 April) he claimed twenty miles. He told the ''Boston Globe'' that his ship had spent three hours steaming around the wreck site trying to render assistance, but Third Officer Grove later stated that the search ended after two hours, at 10:30. When reporters asked Lord about his exact position the night of the disaster, he refused, calling such information state secrets. Lord also claimed that he did not use the wireless because his ship had been stopped, and thus the wireless was not working. In fact, only the ''Californian’s'' engines were stopped. The ship was under steam the whole night (for electricity and heating) and the wireless only needed to be turned on. After the newspaper revelations on 23 April, the American inquiry subpoenaed Gill, as well as Captain Lord and others from the ''Californian''. During his testimony, Gill repeated his claims. Lord’s testimony was conflicting and changing. For example, he detailed three totally different ice conditions. He admitted knowing about the rockets (after telling Boston newspapers that his ship had not seen any rockets) but insisted that they were not distress rockets, and were not fired from ''Titanic'' but a small steamship, the so-called “third ship” of the night. Yet, the testimony of Captain J. Knapp, US Navy, and a part of the U.S. Navy Hydrographer’s Office, made clear that ''Titanic'' and the ''Californian'' were in sight of each other, and that no third vessel had been in the area. The so-called scrap log of the ''Californian'' also came under question. This is a log where all daily pertinent information is entered{{Dubious|date=April 2011}} before being approved by the captain and entered into the official log. Yet the scrap log was missing {{Dubious|date=April 2011}}. In an extraordinary omission, the official log (written after the disaster) never mentioned a nearby ship, or rockets. However, at the British Inquiry, in an equally extraordinary omission, the second officer of the Californian was never asked to recall the notations he had actually written in the scrap log, during his bridge-watch between midnight and 0400 on April 15th. On 2 May, the British inquiry began. Again, Lord gave conflicting, changing, and evasive testimony. By way of contrast, the captain of the ''Carpathia'', at each inquiry, gave consistent and forthright testimony. It's significant that, during the British Inquiry, Captain Rostron of the Carpathia was asked to confirm an affidavit he had made to the United States Inquiry (see British Inquiry - question 25551 ). Among the other things in his affidavit, Rostron confirmed that " at five o'clock ( i.e daylight on April 15th.) - ''it was light enough to see all around the horizon. We then saw two steamships to the northward, perhaps 7 or 8 miles distant. Neither of them was the ''Californian.'' "''. During the inquiry, the crew of the ''Californian'' also gave conflicting testimonies. Most notably, Captain Lord said he was not told that the nearby ship had disappeared, contradicting testimony from James Gibson who said he reported it and that Lord had acknowledged him. Also during the inquiries, survivors of ''Titanic'' recalled seeing the lights of another ship that was spotted after ''Titanic'' had hit the iceberg. To ''Titanic's'' Fourth Officer Boxhall the ship appeared to be off the bow of ''Titanic'', five miles (8 km) away and heading in ''Titanic's'' direction. Just like ''Californian's'' officers, Boxhall attempted signaling the ship with a Morse lamp, but received no response. ''Titanic's'' Captain Edward Smith felt the ship was close enough that he ordered the first lifeboats launched on the port side to row over to the ship, drop off the passengers and come back to Titanic for more. The lights of the ship were seen from ''Titanic's'' lifeboats throughout the night; one lifeboat rowed towards them, but never seemed to get any closer. Both the American and British inquires found that ''Californian'' must have been closer than the 19 ½ miles (31 km) claimed by Lord, and that both ships were visible from the other. Indeed, when the ''Carpathia'' arrived at the wreck site, a vessel was clearly seen to the north; this was later identified as the ''Californian''{{Dubious|date=April 2011}}. Both inquires concluded that Captain Lord failed {{Dubious|date=April 2011}} to provide proper assistance to ''Titanic'' and the British Inquiry further concluded that had ''Californian'' responded to ''Titanic's'' rockets and gone to assist, that it "...might have saved many if not all of the lives that were lost." (Later, careful study indicated that had the ''Californian'' properly responded there would have still been a great loss of life but that perhaps three hundred additional lives might have been saved.) In the months and years following the disaster, numerous preventative safety measures were enacted. Twenty–nine nations ratified the [[Radio Act of 1912]], which required 24–hour radio watch on all ships in case of an emergency. The first International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea formed a treaty that also required 24–hour radio monitoring and standardized the use of distress rockets. Petitions presented to the UK Government in 1965 and 1968 by the MMSA (Mercantile Marine Service Association), a union to which Captain Lord belonged, failed to reverse the findings of the original inquiries. In 1992, the British Government's Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) concluded its "Reappraisal of Evidence Relating to the SS Californian." The conclusions of the MAIB report were those of Deputy Chief Inspector, James de Coverly. Even with ample evidence to the contrary, the MAIB report stated: “What is significant, however, is that no ship was seen by ''Titanic'' until well after the collision...watch was maintained with officers on the bridge and seamen in the crow’s nest, and with their ship in grave danger the lookout for another vessel which could come to their help must have been most anxious and keen. “It is in my view inconceivable that ''Californian'' or any other ship was within the visible horizon of ''Titanic'' during that period; it equally follows that ''Titanic'' cannot have been within ''Californian’s'' horizon." The report went on: “More probably, in my view, the ship seen by ''Californian'' was another, unidentified, vessel.” However, the original investigator of the 1992 re-appraisal was a Captain Barnett. He had concluded "that ''Titanic'' was seen by ''Californian'' and indeed kept under observation from 23:00 or soon after on 14 April until she sank," and that "he bases this view on the evidence from Captain Lord and the two watch officers." It was after Barnett's original report was submitted that Captain de Coverly was given the task of further examination. Both investigators however, Barnett and de Coverly, nonetheless concluded that ''Titanic's'' rockets had been seen and that Officer Stone and Captain Lord had not responded appropriately to signals of distress. Captain Lord's chief defender and union attorney, Leslie Harrison, who had led the fight to have the ''Californian'' incident re-examined by the British government, called the dual conclusions of the report "an admission of failure to achieve the purpose of the re-appraisal." Internally, however, the working files of the MAIB reveal that both authors of the report agreed that the ''Titanic'' and the ''Californian'' were in sight of each other; the contradictory conclusions can be attributed to the writing of the report being delegated to a junior member of the branch, possibly due to the high workload of the MAIB at the time. This could explain some of the inept research, such as references to the ''Samson'' being the mystery ship seen by the ''Titanic'' (despite this being debunked in the 1960s), the US Coast Guard existing in 1912 (it didn't) and bizarre conclusions regarding the nature of ocean currents in the vicinity of the ''Titanic'' wreck site. The findings of the MAIB remain the official position of the British Government, as reflected in replies to Parliamentary Questions in the years since. To this day there are defenders of Captain Lord, yet two conclusions are incontrovertible. First, if Lord had simply requested that the wireless be turned back on, the mysteries of the night would have been clarified instantly {{Dubious|date=April 2011}}. Second, at both inquiries, Lord admitted he knew that rockets had been fired. In 1912, it was understood by all seaman that rockets being fired in sequence, no matter their color, were to be interpreted as a distress signal and that aid should be rendered {{Dubious|date=April 2011}}. As author Daniel Allen Butler wrote: “The crime of Stanley Lord was not that he may have ignored the ''Titanic’s'' [rockets], but that he unquestionably ignored ''someone’s'' cry for help.” ===World War I=== ''Californian'' continued normal service until [[World War I]] when the British government took control of the ship. On 9 November 1915, while en route from [[Salonica]] to [[Marseilles]], the ship was torpedoed by the German submarine U-34 and sunk approximately 61 miles (98 km) south-southwest of [[Cape Matapan]], [[Greece]] by [[Germany|German]] [[U-boat|submarine]] [[SM U-35|''U-35'']], with the loss of one life. Her wreck has yet to be found. == Further reading == *Lee, Paul ''The Indifferent Stranger'' electronic book, 2008 *Eaton, John P. and Haas, Charles A. ''Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy'' (2nd ed.) W. W. Norton & Company, 1995 *Lord, Walter ''The Night Lives On'' Morrow and Company, 1986 *Lynch, Donald and [[Ken Marschall|Marschall, Ken]] ''Titanic: An Illustrated History'' Hyperion, 1995 *Molony, Senan ''Titanic and the Mystery Ship'' Tempus Publishing, 2006 *Padfield, Peter ''The Titanic and the Californian'' The John Day Company, 1965 *Butler, Daniel Allen ''The Other Side of the Night'' Casemate, 2009 ==External links== *[http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/manifest.php?q=7 Californian Crew List with Biographies] *[http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/biography/2459/ Captain Stanley Lord] *[http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/ship.php?id=149 SS Californian] *[http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/item/5280/ A PV Solves a Puzzle] by Senan Molony *[http://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/item/1509/ The Californian Incident, A Reality Check] *[http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources/titanic.pdf MAIB Reappraisal of Evidence] *[http://home.earthlink.net/~dnitzer/Titanic.html The ''Titanic'' and the ''Californian''] {{Use dmy dates|date=April 2011}} {{coord missing|Atlantic Ocean}} {{DEFAULTSORT:Californian}}