|STRANGERS ON THE HORIZON
Titanic and Californian – A Forensic Approach
by Samuel Halpern
|On April 22, 1912, during the third day of the US Senate investigation into the
loss of Titanic, it was learned that there had been a steamer in sight of Titanic.
This steamer had failed to respond to distress rockets that were being sent aloft
from the stricken Titanic as she slowly sank beneath the surface of the Atlantic
following a collision with an iceberg. The following day, on April 23, 1912, a
story was printed in a small New England newspaper that claimed that a small
tramp steamer, the SS Californian, had seen the lights and rockets of Titanic,
and had refused to come to her aid.
This book takes a new look into what has since been called the Californian
affair. It is significantly different from previous treatments of this highly
contentious subject in that it does not try to simply interpret or reinterpret
every single word that eyewitnesses said in 1912. Instead, it takes a novel
approach of applying specific analytical techniques to test the many conflicting
and sometimes contradictory statements that were made in 1912 in order to find
the reality of what took place. It includes detailed analysis of distances,
bearings, headings, speeds, drift rates, ranges of visibility and other quantifiable
information that has never before been examined in any great detail. It
provides answers to the question of where was Californian relative to Titanic
that night, and were they in sight of each other.
This book also looks into the role played by several other vessels that were in
the area that memorable night, delving into some of the claims made afterward
concerning rescue attempts and movements. In addition, the book also explores
the moments leading up to, and immediately following, Titanic's collision with an
iceberg, piecing together a detailed moment-by-moment picture of the events
and actions that took place from the time the fatal iceberg was first spotted, to
the time that the iceberg was last seen fading astern into the dark of night.