Sunday, April 15, 2012

100 Years Ago: What we have here is a failure to communicate...

The rockets that were fired from the wing bridge of the sinking Titanic were reported to Captain Stanley Lord aboard the much smaller liner Californian.  He did nothing and doomed over 1,500 people aboard Titanic to either freeze to death in the ice cold North Atlantic or to drown.  He went back to bed.

Ironically the radio operator aboard Californian sent yet another warning of icebergs in the area not long after 11:00 PM.  Titanic’s radio operator yelled at him (in Morse code) to shut up.  Radio was another new fangled thing back in 1912.  The radio operators were not part of the ships crew.  They were employed by the Marconi Company.  Their primary duties were to send telegrams from the wealthy passengers aboard the ships they were on.  After being treated so rudely by Titanic’s radio operator, the radio man aboard Californian shut off his equipment and went to bed.  Nobody on Californian’s bridge thought to wake him up to see if he could reach the ship they could see that was launching those rockets.

Another problem with the rockets:  Titanic was launching white rockets.  There were no international standards at the time for what color rocket to launch when in distress.  That was left to company standards set by each line.  At that time some company standards actually had white rockets meaning that other ships should stay away!

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