A historian has researched claims that when the Titanic hit the iceberg and sank in 1912 the wireless operator aboard the only nearby ship was sleeping through its distress calls. This ship, called the SS Californian, was the closed vessel that could have come to the cruise liner’s aid. However, historian Parks Stephenson now believes the wireless operator manning the telegraph equipment on the ship could not have saved the victims of the sinking vessel.
Cyril Evans went to bed at 11.30pm on April 14, 1912, just minutes before the Titanic hit the iceberg.
A US inquiry conducted after the incident said that if he “remained a few minutes longer at his post” then his ship “might have had the proud distinction of rescuing the lives of the passengers and crew”.
Unfortunately, the SS Californian stayed put when it was just miles away from the Titanic.
It was the SS Carpathia that ended up travelling 60 miles to come to the Titanic’s rescue.
However, a historian believes Mr Evans could not have lessened the death toll.
This is discussed in Exploring Titanic: The Expeditions of James Cameron.
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He added that 11pm was the normal sign-off time for Marconi operators who ran a station on their own.
Stephenson Added: “If Evans had remained at his station and received Titanic’s distress call, could the Californian arguably the closest ship, have come to the rescue before Carpathia?
“Could Californian have averted the heavy loss of life?
“I would say no.
“In daylight, it took her over two hours to work her way slowly out of the ice into clear water and reach the scene of the disaster.
“At night, it would have taken much longer.
“In short, had Evans received Titanic’s distress call, it would have already foundered and most of the people in the water would have died from cold shock and exposure before Californian arrived.
“At best, Californian would have recovered Titanic’s lifeboats sooner than the Carpathia, and probably would have had to transfer some survivors to Carpathia in order to have room for all.”