I keep running into a (quite frankly daft) conspiracy theory regarding the sinking of the Titanic. It posits that the RMS Olympic was secretly swapped in to replace the RMS Titanic and was deliberately sunk.

The motivations given tend to be either J.P. Morgan wanted to assassinate his rivals, or White Star Line were perpetrating an insurance fraud to try to recoup losses from the damage caused to the Olympic in a previous collision with HMS Hawke.

Most of these claims are easy to debunk, but one that seems to keep cropping up regards the SS Californian - a ship that was nearby the Titanic when it hit the iceberg, but, controversially, didn't respond to the distress signals in a timely manner.

The claim is that the Californian was intended to act as a rescue ship for the passengers, and was (deliberately) carrying a cargo of items that would have been useful for a rescue attempt - variously reported as lifebelts, sweaters and warm clothing.

The SS Californian's cargo manifest is said to provide evidence for this, and hence evidence that the Californian was intended as a rescue ship and that the Titanic sinking was deliberate, but I have been unable to locate it.

Was the SS Californian intended to be a rescue vehicle?

  • According to the FAQ, Skeptics.SE is for researching the evidence behind the claims you hear or read. This question didn't quite fit our scope, and I have made some major edits so it does - please check you are comfortable with them.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 8, 2014 at 1:10
  • In particular, just asking us for the manifest isn't a claim. I've broadened the question to not "find the manifest", but "show (through any acceptable means) whether this claim is true or false"
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 8, 2014 at 1:32
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    It would be improved further by explicit links and quotes from people making the claim about lifebelts/sweaters/warm clothes.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 8, 2014 at 1:33
  • Besides which I also already know the answer to the rescue vessel question, "no she wasn't" 6000GRT and a passenger capacity of 100 - crew versus 45000GRT and a compliment of 2200+. Pretty rotten choice! Besides the navigational precision needed for a mid ocean rendezvous was simply not possible with 1912 tech which basically consisted of a compass, a watch, a sextant and guessing your speed since the last fix you took (Titanic's distress position was out by miles)
    – GordonM
    Nov 8, 2014 at 8:47
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    I disagree with you both about linking - but probably should be a Meta or chat issue, not comments. Our M.O. here isn't to starve bad ideas of oxygen, but shine a light on them and reveal their flaws. In the meantime, we need links to avoid arguing against strawmen, which, I would argue, is one of the most serious causes of low-quality discussions.
    – Oddthinking
    Nov 8, 2014 at 11:42

1 Answer 1


2018 Article from Unredacted

They were carrying 3000 woolen blankets and jumpers, and they stopped at the wrong destination overshooting the area by 13 miles. Their radio was off and instead of turning it back on the captain decided to stick with a morse lamp. Hopefully you'll find this link as interesting as I did but it's very similar to what your talking about

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    Welcome to Skeptics!.At the moment, this isn't much more than a restatement of the conspiracy theory. Please explain why we should trust this source.
    – Oddthinking
    Jan 30, 2020 at 7:44
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    In 1912 13 miles was par for the course when it came to navigational errors. This is why the whole idea of a mid ocean rendezvous is so far fetched. With GPS and radar it'd be a tricky manoeuvrer, with nothing but the stars and dead reckoning it'd be all but impossible.
    – GordonM
    Jan 30, 2020 at 15:11
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    Besides the question I asked was for a copy of the alleged manifest. This does not answer that question
    – GordonM
    Jan 30, 2020 at 15:17
  • Please note that this website expects reliable sources to back up claims. The link you provided does not appear very trustworthy. It does not cite a single source for their statements (except a book which seems of equally dubious quality) and the photos they posted might be taken out of context.
    – Philipp
    Jan 31, 2020 at 16:35

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