Some things to ponder.

If conventional wisdom is true, then Titanic sank almost a full day before it struck the iceberg. Note that the time of the sinking is given as 2:20 a.m. That time actually took place twenty-four hours earlier. As is accepted world wide, “a.m.” means “ante meridian” with reference to the noon meridian. The term derives Latin “meridies” meaning “midday.” “Ante” implies before midday (am), while “post” implies after midday.

Thus, 2:20 a.m. in unaltered April 14th time took place 24 hours before the ship foundered. After noon the suffix “p.m.” was applied. This was valid until 12:00 “midnight” when by definition p.m. ended. Any unaltered time after 12:00 o’clock midnight is “a.m.,” but of the next day which in Titanic’s case never happened.

The only solution is to use the 24-hour system which has no “a.m.” or “p.m.” This allows for a 2424 or 2447 hours time reference to be applied to an event. No, 2447 hours is not a proper expression of time, but it does allow keeping track of the extra minutes added to the day by a fast westerly passage. In Titanic it would have sorted itself out at what I call “true midnight” when 2447 April 14th would have become 0000 hours April 15th.

Timekeeping is an arbitrary system put in place by human beings and not something writ in the heavens. As such, we all agree to certain conventions. Originally, time was based on high noon but it’s impractical to change the day/date in the middle of a workday. So, a convention of changing day/date at midnight was established. Midnight is now defined as 12 hours prior to high noon (or local apparent noon for a ship). is this horological convention which prevents moving any time from one day forward past midnight into the next day.

The IMM/White Star rule 259 was quite specific in two areas regarding changing the clocks during a westbound passage. First, that the earliest any setback could be done was 10:00 p.m. and that all changes had to be complete by 6 a.m. Note the use of “a.m.” and “p.m. Second, that clocks were to be set for noon prior to 6 a.m. This is in keeping with the definition of “midnight” being exactly 12 hours prior to noon.

On slower ships the amount of time change from day to day was often negligible. It could be accommodated in any way the crew saw fit. Buy the time of Titanic speeds in excess of 20 knots were becoming the norm for liners on the Western Ocean. Now, the day was getting nearly an hour longer (47 minutes for Titanic) which represents almost one-fourth of a standard 8 hour deck watch. That much time had to be split between the two crew Watches. In turn, this required setting back the time in two stages. The first that night was to give 24 minutes more time to the Starboard Watch while the second 23 more to the Port Watch (or vice-versa if you wish).

Crew change of watch had to take place in the middle of the 47 extra minutes. Using the 24-hour system this is easy to see:

2400 hrs + 24 min 1st setback = 2424 hrs Change of Watch

2424 hrs + 23 min 2nd setback = 2446 hrs April 14th or 0000 hrs April 15th

0000 hrs + 12 clock hours = 1200 hrs or “noon” April 15th.

Here’s where the arguments and disagreements come into play. What time would 8 bells be struck using the 24-hour system of timekeeping for April 14th? Quite obviously, they could not be sounded at 2400 as the on-duty watch still had 24 minutes to serve on deck at that moment. Changing watch at 2400 would have given all 47 minutes to the Port Watch and none to the Starboard.

The next 2400 is really 0000 hours of April 15th. If 8 bells were sounded at that moment, then the Starboard watch would have served all of the extra 47 extra minutes.

Looking at the above chronology, it’s easy to see that the only moment for sounding 8 bells and changing the watch would hve been 2424 hrs in unaltered April 14th time. This means that “midnight” on crew clocks used for changing watches would have been 2424 in April 14th hours.

2400 Crew Midnight + 24 min restored setback = 2424 unaltered April 14th hours.

Surviving crew members were virtually unanimous about the accident taking place 20 minutes before change of watch. Some phrased it differently, saying 5 minutes prior to the warning bell struck at 11:45. Both work out to be the familiar 11:40 o’clock. It’s very handy to assume that 11:40 was in unaltered April 14th time, but this is factually impossible. In the 24 hour system, 11:40 o’clock is 2340 hrs. Thats 44 minutes prior to an equitable change of watch giving equal extra time to both Watches.

Something is wrong. Simple examination at the improper 44 minutes shows that it is compresed of the very real 20 minutes between impact and change of watch. The other part is the 24 minutes of the crew clock setback prior to change of watch.

44 min - 20 min between impact and change of watch = 24 min of crew clock setback.

Please allow me to leave out any discussion of when the setback of the clocks began simply to avoid unnecessary confusion and debate. Instead, let’s begin at 7 bells as observed by surviving crew members and compare that with unaltered April 14th time. We’ll then fill in some of the events that took place until launching of he first boats. To prevent confusion, I’ll use the 24 hour system for unaltered April 14th time and the o’clock system for retarded crew time

2354 = 11:30 Seven bells sounded in forecastle

2358 = 11:34 Lookouts sound three strokes – object dead ahead

2400 = 11:36 Boxhall begins half-hourly compass evolution

2403 = 11:39 Olliver & Boxhall finish; begin walking forward

2404 = 11:40 Ship Strikes on Iceberg

2305 = 11:40 Engines stop first time (imputed from testimony)

2409 = 11:45 Wake up bell should have sounded in forecastle

2424 = 12:00 Scheduled “midnight” change of watch.

0000 = 00:00 True midnight – start of Monday, April 15th All Clocks set to be right at noon

Note that Poingdestre has not been included in this list. This is in keeping with good research which abhors presupposing something is true and then setting about to prove it. You are free to make up our own minds.

– David G. Brown

AM & PM & Titanic Timekeeping

AM & PM & Titanic Timekeeping

If conventional wisdom is true, then Titanic sank almost a full day before it struck the iceberg. Note that the time of the sinking is given as 2:20 a.m. That time actually took place twenty-four hours earlier. As is accepted world wide, “a.m.” means “ante meridian” with reference to the noon meridian. The term derives Latin “meridies” meaning “midday.” “Ante” implies before midday (am), while “post” implies after midday.

Thus, 2:20 a.m. in unaltered April 14th time took place 24 hours before the ship foundered. After noon the suffix “p.m.” was applied. This was valid until 12:00 “midnight” when by definition p.m. ended. Any unaltered time after 12:00 o’clock midnight is “a.m.,” but of the next day which in Titanic’s case never happened.

The only solution is to use the 24-hour system which has no “a.m.” or “p.m.” This allows for a 2424 or 2447 hours time reference to be applied to an event. No, 2447 hours is not a proper expression of time, but it does allow keeping track of the extra minutes added to the day by a fast westerly passage. In Titanic it would have sorted itself out at what I call “true midnight” when 2447 April 14th would have become 0000 hours April 15th.

**Definition of Midnight**

Timekeeping is an arbitrary system put in place by human beings and not something writ in the heavens. As such, we all agree to certain conventions. Originally, time was based on high noon but it’s impractical to change the day/date in the middle of a workday. So, a convention of changing day/date at midnight was established. Midnight is now defined as 12 hours prior to high noon (or local apparent noon for a ship). is this horological convention which prevents moving any time from one day forward past midnight into the next day.

**Clock Setback – Why & How**The IMM/White Star rule 259 was quite specific in two areas regarding changing the clocks during a westbound passage. First, that the earliest any setback could be done was 10:00 p.m. and that all changes had to be complete by 6 a.m. Note the use of “a.m.” and “p.m. Second, that clocks were to be set for noon prior to 6 a.m. This is in keeping with the definition of “midnight” being exactly 12 hours prior to noon.

On slower ships the amount of time change from day to day was often negligible. It could be accommodated in any way the crew saw fit. Buy the time of Titanic speeds in excess of 20 knots were becoming the norm for liners on the Western Ocean. Now, the day was getting nearly an hour longer (47 minutes for Titanic) which represents almost one-fourth of a standard 8 hour deck watch. That much time had to be split between the two crew Watches. In turn, this required setting back the time in two stages. The first that night was to give 24 minutes more time to the Starboard Watch while the second 23 more to the Port Watch (or vice-versa if you wish).

Crew change of watch had to take place in the middle of the 47 extra minutes. Using the 24-hour system this is easy to see:

2400 hrs + 24 min 1st setback = 2424 hrs Change of Watch

2424 hrs + 23 min 2nd setback = 2446 hrs April 14th or 0000 hrs April 15th

0000 hrs + 12 clock hours = 1200 hrs or “noon” April 15th.

Here’s where the arguments and disagreements come into play. What time would 8 bells be struck using the 24-hour system of timekeeping for April 14th? Quite obviously, they could not be sounded at 2400 as the on-duty watch still had 24 minutes to serve on deck at that moment. Changing watch at 2400 would have given all 47 minutes to the Port Watch and none to the Starboard.

The next 2400 is really 0000 hours of April 15th. If 8 bells were sounded at that moment, then the Starboard watch would have served all of the extra 47 extra minutes.

Looking at the above chronology, it’s easy to see that the only moment for sounding 8 bells and changing the watch would hve been 2424 hrs in unaltered April 14th time. This means that “midnight” on crew clocks used for changing watches would have been 2424 in April 14th hours.

2400 Crew Midnight + 24 min restored setback = 2424 unaltered April 14th hours.

**Time Of Accident**Surviving crew members were virtually unanimous about the accident taking place 20 minutes before change of watch. Some phrased it differently, saying 5 minutes prior to the warning bell struck at 11:45. Both work out to be the familiar 11:40 o’clock. It’s very handy to assume that 11:40 was in unaltered April 14th time, but this is factually impossible. In the 24 hour system, 11:40 o’clock is 2340 hrs. Thats 44 minutes prior to an equitable change of watch giving equal extra time to both Watches.

Something is wrong. Simple examination at the improper 44 minutes shows that it is compresed of the very real 20 minutes between impact and change of watch. The other part is the 24 minutes of the crew clock setback prior to change of watch.

44 min - 20 min between impact and change of watch = 24 min of crew clock setback.

**Making It All Fit**Please allow me to leave out any discussion of when the setback of the clocks began simply to avoid unnecessary confusion and debate. Instead, let’s begin at 7 bells as observed by surviving crew members and compare that with unaltered April 14th time. We’ll then fill in some of the events that took place until launching of he first boats. To prevent confusion, I’ll use the 24 hour system for unaltered April 14th time and the o’clock system for retarded crew time

2354 = 11:30 Seven bells sounded in forecastle

2358 = 11:34 Lookouts sound three strokes – object dead ahead

2400 = 11:36 Boxhall begins half-hourly compass evolution

2403 = 11:39 Olliver & Boxhall finish; begin walking forward

2404 = 11:40 Ship Strikes on Iceberg

2305 = 11:40 Engines stop first time (imputed from testimony)

2409 = 11:45 Wake up bell should have sounded in forecastle

2424 = 12:00 Scheduled “midnight” change of watch.

0000 = 00:00 True midnight – start of Monday, April 15th All Clocks set to be right at noon

Note that Poingdestre has not been included in this list. This is in keeping with good research which abhors presupposing something is true and then setting about to prove it. You are free to make up our own minds.

– David G. Brown

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