Senan mentioned that there was evidence from Boxhall, Lightoller and Pitman that their ship sank at 2.20am which was 12.47am in New York (5.47am GMT). He also mentioned that such a time was transmitted by the Carpathia
to the Olympic - at 4pm on April 15 long before any inquiry ever convened [US p. 1128]. The understandable conclusion is that Titanic was 1 hour 33 minutes ahead of New York time.
The Californian was 1 hour 50 minutes ahead of New York time based on her noontime longitude of 47Â° 25' W provided by Capt. Lord.
If both these times were correct, it would mean that time on Californian was 17 minutes ahead
of time on Titanic.
The Mersey's Wreck Commission, without explanation, equated Titanic time directly to Californian time, something that can easily be seen in the times of various wireless messages where they reported both NY time and Titanic time for each message listed. Thus they believed Titanic time was 1 hour 50 minutes ahead of New York time.
But the problem with all of this is that both values, 1 hour 33 minutes, and 1 hour 50 minutes, are wrong!
Senan brings up Harold Bride's American Inquiry evidence as "categorical that it was five minutes to twelve a moment before Captain Smith came into the wireless shack and demanded a call for assistance be sent at once." Looking over Bride's American testimony, Bride thought he he awoke at 5 minutes to 12, ship's time (AI p.144-146). Bride also said he came out of the sleeping cabin in his pajamas to speak to Phillips for several minutes, and they went back to to get dressed. After he dressed he came out and took over the watch from Phillips, and Phillips went to the other room to retire. At that point he said the Captain came in and told them they needed to get assistance, and Phillips took over from Bride and sent out the CQD.
Now at the British Inquiry we have this from Bride:
16510. After the Captain had come in, the first message was sent out, C.Q.D. was by Mr. Phillips; is that right? - Yes.
16511. I do not know whether you can help us at all with regard to the time a little more than you have. You have told us you came up at 12 o'clock, and that then you heard this conversation between the Captain and Mr. Phillips. Could you give us any idea of the time - how long had elapsed after your coming up at 12 o'clock, or coming into the room with Mr. Phillips? - Not with any accuracy.
16512. Give us the best estimate you can? - I do not think I could.
In his exclusive NY Times interview before any of these hearings, it was reported that he said: I was standing by Phillips telling him to go to bed when the Captain put his head in the cabin.
"We've struck an ice berg," the Captain said, " and I'm having an inspection made to tell what it has done for us. You better get ready to send out a call for assistance. But don't send it until I tell you."
The Captain went away and in 10 minutes, I should estimate the time, he came back. We could hear a terrible confusion outside, but there was not the least thing to indicate that there was any trouble. The wireless was working perfectly.
"Send the call for assistance." ordered the Captain, barely putting his head in the door.
"What call should I send?" Phillips asked.
"The regulation international call for help. Just that."
It should be obvious that any elapsed time duration implied from Bride cannot be depended upon. A prime example is when he thought he spent 3/4 hours in the water before climbing on board overturned collapsible B. (see BI 16604-16608.) If he really spent that amount of time in the freezing water he would have easily fell victim to hypothermia. He was quite clear that he could not remember times very well, even when he had been looking at a clock to work up his PV (See BI 16766-16770.) He even got his days mixed up when he was asked about when the transmitter was out of service (BI 16791).
But there is one piece of evidence from Bride that is a bit more telling and didn't rely on any estimate of time durations.
Senator SMITH. Did you have a watch or clock in your room?
Mr. BRIDE. We had two clocks, sir.
Senator SMITH. Were they both running?
Mr. BRIDE. Yes, sir; one was keeping New York time and the other was keeping ship's time.
Senator FLETCHER. The difference was about 1 hour and 55 minutes?
Mr. BRIDE. There was about 2 hours difference between the two.
An interesting correction to Senator Fletcher's assertion. Bride could have said "about an hour and a half" if Titanic was 1 hour 33 minutes ahead of NY. Or, he could simply have answered "yes" to Fletcher's 1 hour 55 minutes, which is only 5 minutes different from the Wreck Commission's 1 hour 50 minutes. But Bride said it "was about 2 hours difference." Why? He might not have remembered or looked at the clock when certain events took place, or have been good at estimating time durations, however, he seemed to recall that the two clocks were showing a 2 hour difference, which could only mean the minute hands on the clocks were close to pointing the same way throughout while the hour hands differed by 2 hours.
If we go back to Lightoller's and Pitman's testimony about time on board ship, they are very clear that time was set about midnight so the clocks on board would read 12 when it was noon the following day. The same instruction was given to WSL passengers in Olympic brochures that we have. Clocks on Titanic read 12:00 on April 14 at local apparent noon. Titanic was close to longitude 44Â° 31.5'W at that time based on the distance she had traveled since leaving Queenstown. (See HERE
.) For that date and longitude, local apparent noon came at 14:58:23 GMT, or 2 hour 58 minutes ahead of Titanic's 12:00. Since GMT is 5 hours ahead of NY, this makes Titanic time 2 hour 2 minutes ahead of time in NY, about 2 hours different just as Bride said. It also makes time on Californian 12 minutes behind
time on Titanic that day.
So what about this 1 hour 33 minutes that came from Titanic's officers and transmitted by Rostron? It came about by a simple error that was almost alluded to when Senan wrote: "This would mean the Titanic was 1h33 ahead of New York (00.47 plus 1h33 = 2.20am)."
Captain Rostron on the Carpathia
obtained the foundering time from the Titanic's officers when they were picked up. The foundering time was reported as twenty minutes past two. But that was for clocks still keeping April 14 time. As Senan pointed out, the clocks on Titanic were to go back by 47 minutes [Hichens, AI p. 451]. If Titanic's clocks had been set back by that expected 47 minutes near midnight, that would make the foundering time of 2:20 a.m. for a clock still set for April 14 the same as 1 hour and 33 minutes past 12 on a clock set for April 15, or 1:33 a.m.. Now all this was probably discussed between Captain Rostron and Titanic’s surviving officers. But confusion was waiting to happen. Someone must have somehow mistaken the 1 hour and 33 minutes past 12 as the difference between Titanic time and time in NY. By subtracting this 1 hour and 33 minutes from 5 hours, Rostron got a difference of 3 hours 27 minutes from GMT. Then to get the foundering time in GMT, he just added those 3 hours 27 minutes to the reported 2:20 a.m. The result is 5:47 a.m. GMT, the time that Rostron put in the message to the Olympic. Unfortunately, this transmitted time was accepted without question.
A simple check would easily show that a difference of 1 hour and 33 minutes could not be correct based on the longitude that the ship was at that noon. Nor does it make sense if they had put the clock back by 47 minutes or even half that time, which they didn't. It was a simple mistake that went unchecked.