‘The night was clear and the sea was smooth. When she first saw the rockets the Californian could have pushed through the ice to the open water... and so have come to the assistance of the Titanic. Had she done so she might have saved many if not all of the [more than 1,500] lives lost.’
This damning censure was handed down to Captain Lord of the Californian by the British Court of Inquiry into the loss of the Titanic. Lord was refused an appeal and was never charged under the Merchant Shipping Act for such a clear dereliction of duty, so never had an opportunity to defend himself.
This book, first published in 1965, two years after Lord’s death, was the first to question his censure. The evidence given in Court had convinced the author, Peter Padfield, that the Californian was never close enough to the Titanic to recognise her distress signals or attempt rescue. Twenty years later he was vindicated by the discovery of the wreck of the Titanic some 20 miles from the Californian’s logged position that night.
He remains convinced that the Inquiry was ‘rigged’ and Lord scapegoated to preserve the reputation of British liner companies and the responsible government department, the Board of Trade.
Author: Peter Padfield
Title: The Titanic and the Californian
First Published by: Hodder and Stoughton