Exact times for centennial celebration

James Penca

Aug 25, 2011
Hello Titanic Community

Obviously this Saturday is the big day. I have done a bit of research to be prepared to honor the event at the right time, 15 years of research. Nothing new to all of you of course, we all have lived with the ship.

Here are the conclusions I have come to, tell me where I am wrong.

I am trying to pinpoint the minute or around the minute when an event happened. I need them in Eastern Standard Time so I (an Ohioan) can have a moment of silence of some sort for myself. The only events I NEED are the collision time and the sinking time. But other will apply to this formula.

Keeping in mind that a day on the Titanic was an hour and 47 minutes long, we know that at midnight the clocks were set back either 47 minutes (11:13) or 24 minutes and then 23 more at the watch change. Regardless, we know the incident occurred shortly after the first time set back. We also know for sure that the collision was 20 minutes prior to the watch change. Basically because of a lot of factors, we have narrowed the time down to 11:40pm (with the clocks set back 24 minutes) or, for the purposes of this thread, 12:04 "April 14th time"

The sinking stands at 2:20 due to pocket watches being set for that day remaining that way.

So for the purposes of this thread, in "April 14th time" (disregarding any time changing)
The titanic it an iceberg at 12:04
The Titanic sank at 2:20
Am I correct in this first?

Next point. According to Officer Lightoller, the Titanic was 1hr and 33minutes ahead of New York Time. I like to go by Lightoller because I like to think he was on top of his stuff.
Am I correct in this?

And we also must take into account the fact that Daylight Savings time did not exist in 1912. In order to observe the correct time we must "take away" daylights savings time from our current time.

In Conclusion this is when I think I need to take a moment this saturday

Since the ship hit the iceberg at 12:04, and that is 1:33 minutes ahead of my time zone, then in Eastern Standard Time the moment of impact is 10:31. Now take an hour away that we add for Daylight Savings and we have the moment of the collision at AROUND 11:31pm EST.

Same reasoning for the moment it disappeared puts the time from 2:20 to 12:47 and then without DST, we have 1:47am.

So If I use these times this Saturday night, I feel as though I will be pretty darn close to the exact time EST.

Please let me know if I have a flaw somewhere.

Thanks in advance


Jay Roches

Apr 14, 2012
You'd do well to refer to the Brown Chronology, if you haven't already, at Chronology — Sinking of S.S. TITANIC by David G. Brown (Part 1) :: Titanic Research

Few things are known with absolute certainty, but that chronology is well researched, gives its sources, and gives a *lot* of information. You need only look through to find the times you want. Conveniently enough, it gives the equivalent times in GMT and Eastern Standard Time, along with April 14th, April 15th time, and "bridge time", the time used for crew spaces. You mentioned April 14th time so I imagine you know at least a bit about the mess of different kinds of times. That's explained in the PDF too.

You'll have to adjust for DST, but the times you need are right in there.

Suggestion: The chronology includes the time in "ship's bells." Every half hour a bell signal would tell the crew how much time they had left on watch. No bells were rung after the collision, but perhaps you could find a bell (or program or phone app) to ring in the hours leading up to the equivalent of 11:30 bridge time (the last time a bell was struck).
Oct 28, 2000
Computing your local time for commemorating Titanic's accident is not difficult. The 11:40 o'clock time recorded aboard the ship was the equivalent of 0302 hours Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). From GMT we can calculate the time in various locations in so-called “Standard Time.”

London – same as GMT 0302 hrs = 3:02 a.m.

New York – 5 hours “behind” GMT or 10:02 p.m.

If your locality is observing either “Daylight Savings” or “Summer Time,” add an hour.


The above was easy. It's a lot more difficult to understand how the 0302 hrs GMT relates to 11:40 o'clock aboard Titanic.

From many testimonies of surviving crew we know the accident took place at 20 minutes prior to their “midnight” change of watch. (See U.S. testimony of Buley & Osman). Assuming that logically the crew clock would have read 12:00 o'clock at that change of watch, we subtract those 20 minutes to get to the famous 11:40 o'clock time of impact.

But, there is a confusion factor that is ignored by nearly all historians. That is the definition of the word, “midnight.” By the timekeeping conventions of navigators, it always refers to the start of the new day and never to the end of the old. On this particular night, April 14 was to be 47 minutes longer than 24 hours. Put another way, midnight marking the start of April 15 was to come at 2447 hours in April 14 ship's time.

Those extra 47 minutes came from the ship's westward motion. We know from lookout Frederick Fleet and others that this extra time was to be divided evenly between the on-duty Starboard Watch and the men of the Port Watch. Because 47 is an odd number, I will give 24 extra minutes to the on-duty Starboard Watch and the remaining 23 of the 47 total extra minutes to the Port Watch.

Convention requires all of the minutes and seconds of one day to be confined to that day. None of April 14th's extra time could be served in April 15.

Given the above, the crew change of watch had to come 23 minutes before the start of April 15 to allow the Port Watch to serve its extra time while it was still April 14. Subtracting the Port Watch's 23 minutes from 2447 gives 2424 hrs in April 14 as the April 14 ship's time when the Starboard watch went off duty and the Port came on deck. (Notes: This exchange took place, but the Starboard Watch did not go below as prepping lifeboats turned into an "all hands" evolution. The 2424 hours of crew change of watch is 24 minutes past 12 o'clock in April 14 time, accounting for the Starboard Watch's extra time. Also, wwitching to the 24-hour clock allows us to express those extra minutes. They were neither “a.m.” nor “p.m.” as used in the civilian 12-hour time notation.)

Since there were only 20 minutes left before the crew's change of watch, it is obvious that the crew's clocks had been retarded by 24 minutes to account for the extra time of the Starboard Watch. However, this first setback was not the official resetting of the clocks to April 15 hours. That would not have come until 23 minutes after the crew's change of watch at 2447 hours April 14 (2447 hrs April 14 = 0000 hrs April 15).

Titanic ship's time for April 14 was 2 hours 58 minutes “behind” Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). That means at noon for the ship it was 1458 GMT, with everything expressed in standard (not daylight savings) time.

We can calculate the crew change of watch at 0322 hrs GMT by adding the regular 24 hours of April 14 and the 24 minutes already served by the Starboard watch to the 2:58 time difference for Titanic's April 14 ship's time. (2:58 + 24:00 + 0:24 = 27:22 = 0322 hrs GMT)

To get the GMT of the accident we must subtract the 20 minutes between 11:40 o'clock and the crew's midnight change of watch. This produces 2702 hours GMT April 14 as the moment of the accident. (2722 - 20 = 2702 = 0302 hours GMT ). This is the equivalent of 10:02 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (2202 hrs) in New York as mentioned above.

Warning – things are about to become even more confusing for the uninitiated.

Some people erroneously believe that no clock setbacks had been made that night. They point to quartermaster Hichens who said he was relieved at 12:23 o'clock, or 2423 hours as proof that no clocks were retarded that night. Unfortunately for this line of reason, Hichens' statement proves exactly the opposite.
His time of relief is correct for the crew's “midnight” change of watch in April 14 ship's time with no setbacks. As such, it includes the 24 extra minutes of the Starboard Watch, meaning they had been served prior to Hichens being relieved at one minute prior to the crew's “midnight” change of watch. It is customary for the relief to show up a minute early.

Another crewman erroneously quoted is boatswain's mate Albert Haines. He said, “The right time, without putting the clocks back, was 20 minutes to 12.” Twenty minutes to twelve obviously referred to the crew's midnight change of watch. If he had been referring to real midnight marking the start of April 15; and if the famous 11:40 o'clock was in April 14 hours; then he would have known that the time was not 20 minutes to midnight. Rather, it would have been those 20 minutes plus the extra 47 minutes for a total 0f 67 minutes to midnight.

20 + 47 = 67 minutes = 1 hour 7 minutes.

Haines' statement could only be true if the crew's clocks were already retarded and if his “midnight” referred to the change of watch and not the start of April 15.

Quartermaster Arthur Bright said he went aft to relieve Thomas Rowe on the poop deck at “midnight.” The two men talked for about a half hour before noticing lifeboat #7 on the water. The time was about 12:25 o'clock on Rowe's personal timepiece. That's way too early for lifeboat #7 to be on the water because it was not launched until at least 12:50 o'clock in April 14 time.

If we account for Rowe's timepiece being set back 24 minutes to match the crew clocks by adding those minutes to his reading of 12:25 o'clock for the launching of #7. And, the result is the 12:49 o'clock April 14 which is near-as-makes-no-difference the 12:50 mentioned above.

If Bright relieved Rowe at crew midnight, then 12:25 o'clock on Rowe's timepiece gives the approximate half an hour the men chatted. And, twenty minutes before that was 11:40 o'clock crew time which was the famous time of impact.

All of the following “times” for the accident are the same instant in the history of the universe:

GMT of Accident – 0302 hours

Titanic April 14 ship's time – 12:04 o'clock

Crew Time – 11:40 o'clock

New York Standard Time – 10:02 p.m.

London Standard Time 3:02 a.m.

-- David G. Brown
Feb 9, 2006
I had a feeling that the twitter @Titanicrealtime's times were off. Maybe whoever is in charge of it doesn't want to stay up all night, but it's clearly not "real time" since it's now tweeting the order to head for the life boats.

Adam Went

Apr 28, 2003
It is currently the evening of April 15th here in Australia. A few different events have been happening in the area as far as memorials go, but i've preferred to have a bit of a documentary marathon and just spare a lot of thoughts for the ship and those who were involved with her and most importantly, those who she took with her when she went down. R.I.P. to all of those victims and though the tragedy has now reached triple figures, may it never be forgotten and may we continue to learn from it.


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