Maiden Voyage Mysteries

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Just want to call attention to the new research paper posted by Mark Chirnside and Sam Halpern entitled "Olympic and Titanic: Maiden Voyage Mysteries." This is a first-class piece of research and documentation that tells as much about the Olympic class of vessels as it does navigation. For the "Jack & Rose" crowd this will be a dull treatise, indeed. However, for any serious researcher this document is a "must have" in the file cabinet.

"Well done," to the both of you.

-- David G. Brown
I'll have to check it out when I have the chance then. When two guys like MArk and Sam get together, the result is bound to be first rate!

[Moderator's note: This post and the three above it were in another topic, but have been moved to the one which addresses these issues. JDT]
I am pleased to see that this excellent article has had two great forums to be showcased.
The first being, Voyage, journal of TIS and now ET. It is top-notch and deserves much praise.
I have just started reading the above mentioned article, and find it very interesting. The quality of the material covered is right up to the standard we expect from these two authors.
Charlie Weeks
At the time Mark and I wrote this article we had detailed information on Olympic's 1st and 2nd westbound crossings and her 1st and 3rd eastbound crossings available to us. The noontime locations for all of these were shown in the charts in Appendix A as well as derived noontime locations for Titanic's maiden voyage. Specific crossing details from the log cards were presented for Olympic's maiden voyage westbound and eastbound crossings, as well as Olympic's second westbound crossing. Since that time we have obtained details on Olympic's 3rd westbound crossing which did not make it into the article but has been referred to in another thread on this site. For those interested in this, the log card details for Olympic's 3rd westbound crossing is shown below. Also included below is a link to an updated chart that now shows the noon locations for Olympic's first three westbound crossings (identified as O1, O2, and O3, respectively) along with the derived noon locations for Titanic's maiden voyage (identified by T).



Former Member
To Mark and Sam,

A fine piece of written material.

Mark - somewhere amongst this heap of files of mine, I have a newspaper clipping from the Southampton Times, where they give a full account of the monies collected for the Relief Fund. The Olympic did a staggering collection amounting to £400.00. When I eventually put my hands on it, I'll arrange for a copy to be delivered directly to your home address.

Cheers and a full hearted congratulations to you both.

Thanks for all the very kind words.

And, Andrew, thanks for your very generous offer. I appreciate it very much.

Best wishes,

Olympic and Titanic: Maiden Voyage Mysteries by Mark Chirnside and Sam Halpern

When following a great circle path, a ship must make several heading changes to stay close to the track. From detailed data that we studied from several Olympic voyages, it appears that course segments (in true degrees) would be laid down at Local Apparent Noon (LAN) each day. However, it also seems that very small course adjustments took place as often as every six hours. Whenever possible, being on a great circle path is desired, since it minimizes the overall length of a passage.
June 18th 1911. Olympic’s Noon position was 17+ nautical miles - North-west’ly - OFF the GC track.
Is there some point you wish to make Capt.? The fact that a ship winds up somewhat north or south of a track is not unexpected as you know. The idea would be to lay off a new track from your current position to your destination point if you find yourself far off from where you thought you should be.
Your observation (highlighted), and explanation given, is foreign to the practice of ocean navigation, especially in 1911 prior to satellite navigation.
Foreign to the practice of ocean navigation prior to satellite navigation? Hmmm! Well let's look at what was recorded for Olympic's 200th voyage from Southampton to NY via Cherbourg in 1931 while traveling the great circle part of her route from Bishop Rock to a corner point at 43N, 50W; then to Nantucket Light Vessel; then to Ambrose Light Vessel. Course headings recorded were in degrees true and time recorded were ATS. This data came from a course book document that Mark Chirnside had shared with me and is presented here with his kind permission.

26 March 8:36 am Bishop Rock 273° true
Noon 49.46N 8.23W 271° true
7:15 pm 269° true
27 March 0:15 am 266° true
4:15 am 264° true
Noon 49.21N 22.35W 260° true
6:18 pm 258° true
11:45 pm 256° true
28 March 6:10 am 253° true
Noon 47.15N 35.55W 250° true
6:08 pm 248° true
11:30 pm 247° true
29 March 5:38 am 244° true
Noon 43.47N 47.51W 243-1/4° true
4:40 pm 43N 50W CORNER 260-3/4° true
10:06 pm 260-3/4° true
30 March 2:00 am 260-3/4° true
7:24 am 260-3/4° true
Noon 41.45N 60.31W 260-1/2° true
6:18 pm 260-1/2° true
31 March 1:00 am 260-1/2° true
7:21 am Nantucket LV 267-1/4° true
Noon 40.30N 71.50W 267-1/4° true
2:51 pm 270° true
4:09 pm Ambrose LV (21:09 GMT)

In addition to true course headings, standard and steering magnetic compass headings and deviation were also recorded as well for each of these times. By the way, the first artificial earth satellite was first launched in 1957. Olympic's navigation was a combination of dead reckoning and celestial navigation just like they did in 1912.
Olympic's 200th voyage from Southampton to NY via Cherbourg in 1931 while traveling the great circle part of her route from Bishop Rock to a corner point at 43N, 50W;
The difference between Olympic's 200th voyage actual track distance, with 14 course alterations, and Rhumb (line) tracks from Bishop’s Rock 49° 42'N, 6° 27'W to Corner 43°N, 50°W, with course alterations at noon each day = 1.75 nm @ 22 knots = 5 minutes.

I must confess, as master, I never had the luxury of more than three (3) bridge officers.

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