The Californian was a merchant ship of the British shipping company Leyland Line put into service in 1902, which was in service until it was sunk by a German submarine in 1915. She gained notoriety especially for her controversial role in connection with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912.
The 6,223 GRT steamer was built at the Caledon Shipbuilding and Engineering Company Ltd. built in Dundee, Scotland and launched on November 26th, 1901. The 136 meter long and 16 meter wide ship was powered by a triple expansion steam engine that could accelerate it to 12 knots . The Californian was primarily a cargo ship , but was also designed to carry passengers. She could carry 55 crew members and 47 passengers. After the test drives on January 23, 1902, she ran on January 31, 1902 in Dundee on her maiden voyage to New Orleans .
The ship - which had been under the command of Captain Stanley Lord since 1911 - was controversially involved in the sinking of the luxury liner Titanic on April 15, 1912. The Californian had stopped in an ice field south of the Newfoundland Bank and radioed other ships - including the Titanic - to warn of icebergs. What exactly happened the following night remained controversial: Captain Lord and other crew members watched a ship from which flares rose. Whether this was actually the Titanic could never be clarified beyond doubt, especially since an attempt to make contact with the help of a Morse code lamp failed . Later, the Lord and the crew of the Californian were accused of not providing assistance in an emergency.
The Californian was requisitioned by the British Navy at the start of the First World War . On November 9, 1915, she was sunk 61 miles (98 km) southwest of Cape Matapan ( Greece ) in the Mediterranean by the German submarine U 35 . A person lost his life in the process. The wreck of the ship has not yet been found.