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The Titanic and the Californian

‘The night was clear and the sea was smooth. When she first saw the rockets the Californian could have pushed through the ice to the open water… and so have come to the assistance of the Titanic. Had she done so she might have saved many if not all of the [more than 1,500] lives lost.’

This damning censure was handed down to Captain Lord of the Californian by the British Court of Inquiry into the loss of the Titanic. Lord was refused an appeal and was never charged under the Merchant Shipping Act for such a clear dereliction of duty, so never had an opportunity to defend himself.

This book, first published in 1965, two years after Lord’s death, was the first to question his censure. The evidence given in Court had convinced the author, Peter Padfield, that the Californian was never close enough to the Titanic to recognise her distress signals or attempt rescue. Twenty years later he was vindicated by the discovery of the wreck of the Titanic some 20 miles from the Californian’s logged position that night.

He remains convinced that the Inquiry was ‘rigged’ and Lord scapegoated to preserve the reputation of British liner companies and the responsible government department, the Board of Trade.


‘Fresh and valuable…Mr Padfield knows what he is writing about…with a knowledge and devotion displayed by no previous writer.’

Times Literary Supplement

‘This is not just another book on the Titanic but a fascinating revelation.’

Birmingham Post

‘The fascination of a closely reasoned detective story, and every landlubber should be able to follow it.’

Daily Telegraph

‘The story compels.’

The Times

‘An angry, exciting, vivid book. It may shake or shock, but never bore… decidedly one to remember.’

Lloyds’ List

‘Admirable piece of detective work and reasonable speculation.’

Books and Bookmen

‘A dramatic and excellently told story.’

The Book Society

‘Mr. Padfield is justified in questioning the findings of the Mersey Inquiry.’

Capt. Stephen Roskill, The Sunday Telegraph

‘Mr. Padfield’s book succeeds in clearing Lord’s name of culpability.’

Capt. S.W.C. Palk, The Navy

‘It is a pity that Captain Lord did not live to read this splendid vindication…Padfield’s magnificent analysis.’

New Zealand Herald

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