SS Californian & Captain Lord


SS Californian was a Leyland Line steamship that is best known for its inaction, despite being the closest ship to the last location of the RMS Titanic, during the sinking of the latter ship on 15 April 1912.

With the approaching anniversary of the sinking of RMS Titanic, a new  book is published titled ‘The Midnight Watch’ by David Dyer, published by Atlantic. “It is a work of fiction based on true events”.

On the 15th of April 1912, a young navy officer of the merchant marine is on watch at midnight aboard SS Californian. He sees the lights of a ship in the darkness of the night with others on the bridge observing it. Quite suddenly the mysterious ship ejects distress rockets into the night sky.

The young officer, Herbert Stone, rouses the captain, Stanley Lord. Captain Lord does nothing at all and does not communicate any orders whilst the Titanic is slowly sinking.

The subsequent British & American inquiries found that the Californian’s blunder in not responding to Titanic’s rockets contributed to the death of 1514 passengers and crew. Of the recorded facts, there still remains a mystery as to why didn’t Captain Lord respond?

The author, David Dyer spent many years as a lawyer at the London legal practise whose parent firm represented the Titanic’s owners in 1912.  He has also worked as a cadet and ship’s officer on a wide range of merchant vessels, having graduated with distinction from the Australian Maritime College.  He now teaches English literature in Sydney.  For those who may like to know more about the Californian incident visit the following website:

The novel radiates a little light on the mysterious  behaviour of Lord and Stone which makes an intriguing account of the event on that fateful night of 104 years ago, on the 15th of April 1912.  R.I.P. Joseph Bell



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