Saturday, 17 September 2016


Range of Visibility of Lights: The coloured sidelights are only required to be visible for 2 miles, but are usually visible for a greater distance depending materially on atmospheric conditions; the mast lights are 5 miles, but again will usually be seen further— especially in the exceptional conditions described in this book.

Padfield, Peter. The Titanic and the Californian (p. 334). Thistle Publishing. Kindle Edition.

Controversy will always surround the details of that which was seen by Captain Bruce and his officers of the SS Harlow, 8 pm, 27 July, 1909. Captain Bruce, his chief officer and chief engineer, all had the impression of a large steamer astern, showing two masthead lights and a red sidelight. Conditions were relatively clear, the storm of 'exceptional violence' evolving far to the southwest. Captain Bruce remained steadfast about the details of that which they had all witnessed despite the fact that his two officers submitted to the suggestion that bush fires onshore could have mimicked a large steamer astern. The truly interesting thing about the above passage is that sidelights (i.e. the red sidelight) could not be seen beyond 5 miles, in general conditions. This confirms Alfred Harris' statement that he estimated that the large steamer was less than 4 miles astern. This makes sense and further to this a steamer the size of Waratah could not have been mistaken for anything other than what she was, less than 4 miles astern of the Harlow.

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