Stanley Lord

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Stanley 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.


Early life

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 in 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 full command of the SS Californian in 1911.

Before the disaster

On the night of 14 April 1912, as the Californian approached a large ice field, Captain Lord decided to stop around 10:21 PM 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 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 PM.

During the night

Over the course of the night, various officers and seamen on the deck of Californian witnessed white rockets being fired into the air over a strange ship off in the distance, totaling eight in all. Captain Lord was awakened several[dubious ] times and asked about the rockets to which he replied that they may be "company rockets", to help ships identify themselves to liners of the same company. What is unclear is why Lord simply assumed this as there were no other ships in sight that night.[dubious ] Meanwhile on the Titanic, after the collision, they had also spotted the lights of a ship in the distance and Fourth Officer Boxhall and Quartermaster Rowe tried in vain to contact the strange ship by Morse lamp. Observers on the deck of the Californian saw these signals and tried to signal back. However, the only person aboard the Californian with a good understanding of Morse was asleep[dubious ]. Not able to understand the garbled messages coming from the strange ship, Captain Edward John Smith eventually concluded that signals were merely the masthead flickering and not signals at all.

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