Did Titanic follow the Greenwich Meridian (and if not, which one instead) ?


Harland Duzen

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Starting to begin the epic task of writing a Titanic book, I just wanted to confirm that Titanic followed Greenwich Meridian. However a quick google search on their official website sowed some confusion...
Screen Shot 2017-05-27 at 17.18.19.png

Link: Greenwich Meridian and GMT, The Royal Observatory, London

Also checking this website's own forum didn't give a definitive answer, so I just wanted to check if Titanic did follow Greenwich Median, and if she didn't, then which Median?

*Also, I just noticed this but HMS?!? she's not a warship!?!?
 

B-rad

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This may help. Taken from The 'Navigator's pocket-book' 1917

prime.png

Therefore Titanic most certainly used Greenwich. Though in 1911 the French passed a law in which standard time was 9min 21sec slower than Paris meridian time (the 'Rose Line'). In other words France adopted being on Greenwich time.

prime 2.png
 
May 3, 2005
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Maybe just a typo. Of course it's "RMS" (Royal Mail Ship)(Civilian) instead of "HMS" (His/Her Majesty's Ship )(Navy).
Interesting. I had never heard of any thing other than Greenwich being used as the meridian, such as in GMT.
Was Washington ever actually used as the American meridian ?
 
May 3, 2005
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Just an aside.
In that picture "The Royal Observatory, Geenwich", what are those things sticking up in the ground in the foreground of the picture ?
Lòoks like a sheet of paper would around a wooden stick stuck in the ground leading upward to the observatory ?
 
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The US had several different official meridians all based on the Washington, DC. One was through the White house and another the Capitol building. A third was added through the US Naval observatory. In 1850 Congress passed legislation requiring the Greenwich meridian be used for navigation. The meridian through the US Naval Observatory was abolished on August 22, 1912 making the British prime meridian the standard for the United States.

The French, being slow to accept the outcome of Trafalgar, maintained their own Paris Meridian. An 1884 International Meridian Conference adopted the Greenwich meridian as the prime meridian of the world. France and Brazil abstained. The French clung to the Paris meridian as a rival to Greenwich until 1911 for timekeeping purposes and 1914 for navigation.

-- David G. Brown
 

Harland Duzen

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But since Titanic was legally / technically an American ship, would she have to follow the American Meridian?

I assume modern day latitudes and longitudes for the wreck site must have be done from the Greenwich Meridian.

did the Cunard / Leyland Line being British shipping company's use the Greenwich Meridian? this might make sense if both ships headed to the Titanic's incorrect distress position?
 

Mark Baber

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But since Titanic was legally / technically an American ship
Titanic, like all of White Star's ships, was of British registry and owned by a British corporation, the Oceanic Steam Navigation Company, Ltd. She was not, and was not considered, an "American ship." OSNC's being indirectly owned by IMM, a New Jersey corporation, didn't change that.
 

Harland Duzen

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The American Inquiry considered it an ''American Ship'' which angered the British tabloids, but good point Mark Baber.
 

Mark Baber

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Martin, there's nothing in the Senate subcommittee report that indicates, at least to me, that it considered Titanic an "American ship." Its report describes it as a "White Star steamer" and recited the corporate ownership structure I mentioned earlier.
 
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Whoever wrote or edited that piece for the Greenwich website was simply sloppy. Besides HMS rather than RMS, the La Toraine message play no part in what happened to Titanic. There was no confusion about which meridian they were using when that message was sent, and the position of the ice was nowhere close to where Titanic would go.

Wireless message from La Touraine (MLT) to Titanic (MGY): “To Capt. ‘Titanic.’ My position 7 p.m. GMT lat. 49.28 long. 26.28 W. dense fog since this night crossed thick ice-field lat. 44.58 long. 50.40 ‘Paris’ saw another ice-field and two icebergs lat. 45.20 long. 45.09 ‘Paris’ saw a derelict lat. 40.56 long. 68.38 ‘Paris’ please give me your position best regards and bon voyage. Caussin.

Time used reference GMT, position longitude reference Paris. The French were simply being French, making everyone else do a little extra work to convert their positional longitude to the standard used by everyone else.
 
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Mar 18, 2008
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I do not know why this is used as a source. In the first line alone 3 big mistakes (April 15 for the collision, HMS Titanic and 1517 dead). The other part about the La Tourain is nonsense.
 

B-rad

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Martin, I see what you are getting at, as I myself once believe the same thing. This passage from Wyn Craig Wade's 'The Titanic: Disaster of the Century' helped clear it up for me...

harter.png


Navigation wise though, Titanic was completely British, using British charts. All evidence during the inquiry was presented using Greenwich, and according to Mr. Brown US used charts for Greenwich since 1850, which is also - though not directly- mentioned in the clip I posted stating that, "For convenience, American navigators (and others) also used the meridian of Greenwich, as it permits them to navigate by English charts....a chronometer must be regulate to the prime meridian of the country whose chart is used..." So even if Titanic was American owned, and used American navigation (which it did not- just saying as a 100% none true probability) it would still base on Greenwich regardless.

Do you have a title for your book yet?
 

Harland Duzen

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Martin, I see what you are getting at, as I myself once believe the same thing. This passage from Wyn Craig Wade's 'The Titanic: Disaster of the Century' helped clear it up for me...

View attachment 3362

Navigation wise though, Titanic was completely British, using British charts. All evidence during the inquiry was presented using Greenwich, and according to Mr. Brown US used charts for Greenwich since 1850, which is also - though not directly- mentioned in the clip I posted stating that, "For convenience, American navigators (and others) also used the meridian of Greenwich, as it permits them to navigate by English charts....a chronometer must be regulate to the prime meridian of the country whose chart is used..." So even if Titanic was American owned, and used American navigation (which it did not- just saying as a 100% none true probability) it would still base on Greenwich regardless.

Do you have a title for your book yet?
Thanks for the solving the confusion, B-rad. this will help me a lot.

As for the title of the book, I haven't thought of a name yet but I got a few ideas...
 

Jim Currie

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A foreigner cannot own a British Ship. The law in force in 1912 was very clear about that. I quote

Merchant Shipping Act, 1898.

"An Act to, consolidate Enactments relating to Merchant A.D. 1894. Shipping. [25th August 1894.] `-' B E it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows : PART I. REGISTRY. Qualification for owning British Ships. 1. A ship shall not be deemed to be a British ship unless owned Qualification wholly by persons of the following description (in this Act referred Brig h st, p. to as persons qualified to be owners of British ships) ; namely,- (a.) Natural-born British subjects : (b.) Persons naturalized by or in pursuance of an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom, or by or in pursuance of an Act or ordinance of the proper legislative authority in a British possession : (c.) Persons made denizens by letters of denization ; and (d.) Bodies corporate established under and subject to the laws of some part of Her Majesty's dominions, and having their principal place of business in those dominions : Provided that any person who either- (i) being a natural-born British subject has taken the oath of allegiance to a foreign sovereign or state or has otherwise become a citizen or subject of a foreign state ; or (ii) has been naturalized or made a denizen as aforesaid ; shall not be qualified to be owner of a British ship unless, after taking the said oath, or becoming a citizen or subject of a foreign state, or on or after being naturalized or made denizen as aforesaid, he has taken the oath of allegiance to Her Majesty the Queen, and is during the time he is owner of the ship either resident in Her Majesty's dominions, or partner in a firm actually carrying on business in Her Majesty's dominions.

Shipmaster's Business:

"Ownership of a British ship is divided into 64 parts and these shares must be wholly owned by British Subjects or companies which are British and principally operated from within the Commonwealth or Colonies."
 

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