Stanley Lord

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Stanley Lord
Captain Stanley Lord
Captain Stanley Lord
Born Stanley Phillip Lord
(1877-09-13)September 13, 1877
Bolton, England
Died January 24, 1962(1962-01-24) (aged 84)
Burial place Wallasey Cemetery, Merseyside
Nationality British
Occupation Ship Captain
Known for Captain of SS Californian

Stanley Phillip Lord (13 September 1877 – 24 January 1962) was captain of the SS Californian, a ship that was in the vicinity of the RMS Titanic the night it sank on 15 April 1912 but which did not come to its assistance.

Early life[edit]

Lord was born on 13 September 1877 in Bolton, Lancashire, England. He began his training at sea when he was thirteen, aboard the barque Naiad, in March 1891. He later obtained his Second Mate’s Certificate of competency and served as Second Officer on the barque Lurlei.

In February 1901, at the age of 23, Lord obtained his Master's Certificate, and three months later, obtained his Extra Master’s Certificate. He entered the service of the West India and Pacific Steam Navigation Company in 1897. The company was taken over by the Leyland Line in 1900, but Lord continued service with the new company, and was awarded his first command in 1906.[1]

Lord was given command of the SS Californian in 1911.

Personal life[edit]

Lord was married and had a son. His wife, Mabel, died in 1957, and Lord died in 1962, when it was suggested that the stress of attempts to exonerate himself had contributed to the deterioration of his own health after his wife's death. Their son, Stanley Tutton Lord (1908-1994) married, had children, and died of natural causes. He rarely spoke of his father, except to say he believed in his innocence. In 1965 he wrote a preface to a book by Peter Padfield, The Titanic and the Californian, which supported the case for Lord having been judged unfairly.

Before the sinking of Titanic[edit]

On the night of 14 April 1912, as the Californian approached a large ice field, Captain Lord decided to stop around 10:21 p.m. (ship's time) and wait out the night. Before turning in for the night, he ordered his sole wireless operator, Cyril Evans, to warn other ships in the area about the ice. When reaching the Titanic, Evans tapped out "I say old man, we are stopped and surrounded by ice." The Californian was so close to the Titanic that the message was very loud in the ears of Titanic First Wireless Operator Jack Phillips, who angrily replied "Shut up! Shut up! I am busy. I am working to communicate with Cape Race." Earlier in the day the wireless equipment aboard the Titanic had broken down and Phillips, along with Second Wireless Operator Harold Bride, had spent the better part of the day trying to repair it. Now they were swamped with outgoing messages that had piled up during the day. Phillips was exhausted after such a long day. Evans listened in for a while longer as Phillips sent routine traffic through the Cape Race relaying station before finally turning in for bed after a very long day at around 11:30 p.m.

During the night of Titanic's sinking[edit]

Over the course of the night, officers and seamen on the deck of Californian witnessed eight white rockets fired into the air over a strange ship off in the distance.

Exhausted after 17 hours on duty, Captain Lord was awakened twice during the night, and told about the rockets to which he replied that they may be "company rockets", to help ships identify themselves to liners of the same company.

Meanwhile, on the Titanic, for an hour after the collision, no other ships were noticed until the lights of a ship were seen in the distance. Fourth Officer Boxhall and Quartermaster Rowe tried in vain to contact the strange ship by Morse lamp. Nobody on the deck of the Californian saw these signals, however they had also tried to signal the mystery ship, but were unable to get a response.

In "101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic...But Didn't", published in 2011, authors Tim Maltin and Eloise Aston attribute Captain Lord's belief that the nearby ship was not the Titanic to visual distortions caused by cold-water mirages.[2]

Not able to understand any messages coming from the strange ship, Californian's officers eventually concluded that signals were merely the masthead flickering and not signals at all.

Throughout the night, no one on board the Californian attempted to wake their wireless operator, and ask him to contact the ship to ask why they were firing rockets and trying to signal them, until 5:30 a.m. By then however it was too late — the Titanic had gone down at 2:20 a.m. When she had slipped below the water, the sudden disappearance of lights was interpreted by the Californian crew that she had simply steamed on her way.

Search and recovery[edit]

On the morning of 15 April 1912, Captain Lord was notified by the Frankfurt that the Titanic had gone down early that morning. At 8:45 a.m, the Californian pulled up alongside the Carpathia and stayed behind to search for additional bodies after the Carpathia steamed towards New York.

Lord's testimony[edit]

The following is from Captain Lord's testimony in the US Inquiry on 26 April:

Reputation[edit]

Lord was dismissed by the Leyland Line in August of the same year. So far as any negligence of the S.S. Californian's officers and crew was concerned, the conclusions of both the American and British inquiries seemed to disapprove of Lord's actions but stopped short of recommending charges. While both inquiries censured Lord, they did not make any recommendations for an official investigation to ascertain if he was guilty of offences under the Merchant Shipping Acts. Lord was not allowed to be represented at either the U.S. or British inquiry — he was called to give evidence before he knew that he was to become a target for criticism, but having answered questions which were later interpreted to cast blame on him, he was denied the opportunity of speaking in his own defence.

While Lord was never tried or convicted of any offence, he was still viewed publicly as a pariah. In any case, the events of the night of 14–15 April 1912 would haunt him for the rest of his life and he would spend his remaining days attempting to fight for his exoneration.

In February 1913, with help from a Leyland director who believed he had been unfairly treated, Lord was hired by the Nitrate Producers Steamship Co., where he remained until March 1927, resigning for health reasons. In 1958, Lord contacted the Mercantile Marine Service Association in Liverpool in an effort to clear his name. The association's general secretary, Mr. Leslie Harrison, took up the case for him and petitioned the Board of Trade on his behalf for a re-examination of the facts, but there had been no finding by the time of Lord's death in 1962. In 1965, largely because Lord had offered no new evidence, his petition was rejected, but in the same year Peter Padfield's book The Titanic and the Californian was published, defending Lord's reputation, with a preface by his son Stanley Tutton Lord.[3] This was followed by a second petition, in 1968, which was also rejected.

The discovery in 1985 of the remains of Titanic on the sea bed made it clear that the S.O.S position given after the iceberg collision by Titanic 's fourth officer, Joseph Boxhall, was wrong by thirteen miles. At both of the 1912 inquiries, there had been some conflict about the true position of the ship when it sank. The conclusions of the inquiries discounted the evidence of uncertainty about the position of Titanic. At the time, some assumed that the position which Lord had given for his ship was incorrect and that he was actually much closer to Titanic than he claimed to be. While the entries in Californian's scrap log (used for recording information before it was written up officially in the ship's logbook) referring to the night in question had been removed, sometimes seen as overwhelming proof that Lord deliberately destroyed evidence in order to cover his crime of ignoring a distress call, destroying the scrap log records was actually normal company practice.[4] While modifying the official ship's log or removing pages is a serious violation of maritime law, this was not the case.

A re-appraisal by the British government, instigated informally in 1988 and published in 1992 by the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), further implicated the consequences of Lord's inaction. Among its conclusions were that although Californian was probably out of visual sight, Titanic 's rockets had been sighted by Californian's crew. Another conclusion stated that it was unrealistic to assume that Lord could have rushed towards the signals, and that with Titanic reporting an incorrect position, Californian would have arrived at about the same time as Carpathia and fulfilled a similar role - rescuing those who had escaped.[5] The report was critical of the behavior of the other officers of Californian in reaction to the signals. What has never been satisfactorily resolved was why Lord did not simply wake his radio operator and listen for any distress signals.

Maritime Historian Daniel Allen Butler, in his 2009 book The Other Side of Night: The Carpathia, the Californian, and the Night Titanic was Lost makes a case that Lord's personality and temperament — his behaviour at both inquiries, his threats towards his crew, his frequent changing of his story, the absence of the scrap log, and odd remarks made by Lord in Boston in a newspaper interview - point to Lord's having some sort of mental illness. His lack of compassion — never once expressing grief at the loss of Titanic or sorrow for those who had lost family when she sank is, according to Butler, compatible with sociopathy.[6]

Captain Lord died on 24 January 1962, aged 84, almost half a century after the sinking of the Titanic. He is buried in Wallasey Cemetery, Merseyside.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Captain Stanley Lord - Titanic Biographies - Encyclopedia Titanica
  2. ^ *Maltin, Tim and Aston, Eloise 101 Things You Thought You Knew About the Titanic...But Didn't Beautiful Books (2 April 2010)
  3. ^ Eugene L. Rasor, The Titanic: Historiography and Annotated Bibliography (2001), p. 53
  4. ^ 1992 MAIB report p8
  5. ^ MAIB 192 report p18
  6. ^ Butler, Daniel Allen; Epilogue: Flotsam and Jetsam; "The Other Side of Night: The Carpathia, the Californian, and the night Titanic was Lost"[page needed]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]