AS the Titanic lay stricken in the North Atlantic waters there was a ship nearby that could have saved her

 Californian was a British Leyland Line steamship that is best known for its inaction during the sinking of the RMS Titanic despite being the closest ship in the area. Judging by available evidence, the Californian was likely the only ship to see the Titanic, or at least its rockets, during the sinking.[2][3] The United States Senate inquiry and British Wreck Commissioner’s inquiry into the sinking both concluded that the Californian could have saved many or all of the lives that were lost, had a prompt response been mounted to the Titanic‘s distress rockets.[4] The U.S. Senate inquiry was particularly critical of the vessel’s captain, Stanley Lord, calling his inaction during the disaster “reprehensible”.[5]

SS Californian on the morning after Titanic sank.
The British Red EnsignUK
NameSS Californian
NamesakeState of California
Owner Leyland Line
Port of registryLiverpool, UK
RouteAtlantic Ocean crossings
BuilderCaledon Shipbuilding & Engineering CompanyDundeeScotland
Cost£105,000 (equivalent to about £11,500,000 in 2019)[1]
Yard number159[1]
Launched26 November 1901
Acquired30 January 1902
Maiden voyage31 January 1902
IdentificationOfficial number: 115243Code letters: TFLNRadio call sign: MWL
FateSunk by German U-boats, 9 November 1915, 61 miles (98 km) southwest of Cape MatapanGreece.
General characteristics
Tonnage6,223 gross, 4,038 net
Length447 ft (136 m) LOA
Beam53 ft (16 m)
Draught30.5 ft
Decks6 (3 on superstructure [flying bridge, promenade deck and shelter deck] and 3 below deck)
Propulsion1 × triple expansion steam engine2 × double-ended boilers
Speed13 knots (service speed.)12 knots (speed estimated in sea trials.)
Boats & landing
craft carried
6 (4 lifeboats, 1 gig and 1 pinnace) with total capacity for 218 people.
Capacity102 (passengers and crew)
Crew55 officers and crew

Despite this criticism, no formal 

no formal charges were ever brought against Lord and his crew for their inaction. Lord disputed the findings and would spend the rest of his life trying to clear his name. In 1992, the UK Government’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch re-examined the case and while condemning the inaction of the Californian and Captain Lord, also concluded that due to the limited time available, “the effect of Californian taking proper action would have been no more than to place on her the task actually carried out by Carpathia, that is the rescue of those who escaped … [no] reasonably probable action by Captain Lord could have led to a different outcome of the tragedy”.[6][7]

Californian was later sunk on 9 November 1915, by the German submarines SM U-34 and U-35, in the Eastern Mediterranean during World War I.


The Carpathia made her maiden voyage in 1903 from Liverpool to Boston, and continued on this route before being transferred to Mediterranean service in 1904. In April 1912, she became famous for rescuing survivors of the rival White Star Line‘s RMS Titanic after the latter struck an iceberg and sank with a loss of 1,496 lives in the North Atlantic Ocean. The Carpathia navigated the ice fields to arrive two hours after the Titanic had sunk, and the crew rescued 705 survivors from the ship’s lifeboats.

The Carpathia was sunk on 17 July 1918 after being torpedoed three times by the German submarine U-55 off the southern Irish coast with a loss of five crew members

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