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Possible setback of clocks before collision

Discussion in 'General Titanica' started by Christophe Puttemans, Jun 12, 2016.

  1. Some researchers think the ship's bridge clock was retarded before the collision. David Brown suggested 10 pm.

    If this is true, there may be major consequences to the story of Titanic as we know it: the 11:40 pm time was adjusted, while most other times were not. Titanic sank faster than assumed.
    On the other hand, if the clocks were planned to be set back at midnight, this didn't happen because the ship hit an iceberg before the setback, and in the following emergency the clock setback didn't take place.

    The main reason I'm opening this case is for a chapter of my book: somebody on board knows what's going to happen to the ship, but he passes out in his cabin several hours before the collision. When he wakes up, he reads 11:30 pm on his watch (unadjusted to a possible setback of clocks). He is convinced the iceberg collision is imminent and rushes to the bridge. When he arrives there, what will he see on the bridge clock?
  2. Would love to join a lively discussion on this topic, but I'm off on a week-long assignment producing a TV program. Look for my comments in about a week.

    -- David G. Brown
  3. Alex F

    Alex F Member

    It was one fact of retarded clocks only, in the wireless book of the Russian ship "Birma" who received distress signal of the Titanic among first. Two English gentlemen, wireless operators of SS "Birma" mentioned it in the log. All other logs of ships around keep silence on clock retarded. Why?

  4. Unlike most other vessels, the SS Birma was not logging wireless messages in GMT or NY mean time. They used apparent time. Wireless operators on other vessels were using a standard time reference for logging wireless messages such as GMT or NY mean time which are not dependent on the location of the vessel or the date as apparent time is.

    Regarding lifeboat launch times, there is documented evidence that the order to first uncover the boats came about 20 minutes after the collision, to get passenger up on deck with lifebelts on came about 30 to 35 minutes after collision, and the order to load boats with women and children came about 45 minutes after the collision.

    If there were a clock setback in then there should have been a dichotomy in time between what crew members said was the collision time and what passengers who were awake said was the collision time. There wasn't. The one crew member who specifically addressed the question of a clock setback taking place and the time of collision was bosun's mate Albert Haines (who was a QM on Olympic when she was involved in the Hawke collision the previous year) and who was on-duty when the ship struck. "The right time, without putting the clock back, was 20 minutes to 12." His testimony came on day 7 of the American hearings. QM's Hichens, Olliver and Rowe had testified two days earlier.
  5. B-rad

    B-rad Member

    There is a lot of evidence this way & that, & ill be the 1st 2 say I have not done a lot of in depth research yet myself 2 make an educated offer. But my 'none educated' offers allows me to suggest that possibly a clock set back did happen because we know that rowes, and Hichens reliefs came at or after 12:20. So @ least the qusrtermasters had a clock set back. However then we have fleet who acknowledged working a longer shift but then said (I believe) that he was relieved 20 minutes later. I know on paul Lee s site there is a letter by a fireman to Walter Lord about waking up the next watch b4 the collision which usually takes place 20 to 15 minutes b4 shift. But this letter was written many years later. So IDK. Many contributions. Gotta love Titanic!!!
  6. If the QMs had a clock set back Rowe&Hichens would have relieved at 12 o'clock. Rowe claimed he was relieved late but Hichens did not said so. The collision most likely get the crew confused if there was a clock set back or not. All show's there was none.

    Kemish claimed he send a trimmer up to call the 12 to 4 watch. That was not the job of a trimmer. Kemish had several things wrong as the time&date of collision, the boiler rooms nos. and also claimed there was the moon shining and he fall into the sea and swam to a lifeboat which was not true.

    There is also a letter of a fireman Harry Giles to Walter Lord claiming he was making ready for the 12 to 4 watch. He was an imposter.

    The real fireman from the 12 to 4 watch were clear in their 1912 reports that there was no clock set back and so no call to go on watch. After the collision several went back to bed and only roused again to leave the room as water was rising the deck below. Later they were called for their watch (as firemen Harry Oliver stated) and when starting to dress they were called to go on deck and help with the boats. (The black gang of the 8 to 12 watch is the one with the lowest surviving rate.)
    I know some like to put also the stewards into that discussion, but stewards did not share the same watch and the night watch start their duty despite the clock set back.
  7. I just found this 6-year old post from David Brown:
    This was not discussed further because the subject changed in that thread. But now I think we can take another look at what he says.
  8. "If no adjustments had been made to the clocks, then the on-duty Starboard Watch would have gone off duty at "midnight." The Port Watch would have taken over with all 47 extra minutes in front of them before they started their full 4 hour watch."

    That claim is a wrong one, the crew was clear the extra minutes would have been shared and that is how it works on WSL ships at that time. The starboard watch would have relieved at the 2nd midnight after the clocks had been put partly back. This was also the knowledge 6 years back as far as I know but Mr. Brown always came up with the same statements and theories.
  9. What time was “midnight,” April 14th for Titanic? Be careful, it’s a trick question. Although there were four “12 o’clocks” in Titanic’s day, there was only one “midnight.”

    TRUE MIDNIGHT: As Ioannis indicated above, there were several different o’clock times called “midnight” by various survivors. However, there would have been only one true “midnight” in Titanic and thereby hangs a tale of confusion. Most land-bound historians have assumed that the simplicity of “midnight” ashore translates directly to a ship at sea. It does not. And, this is especially true of a westbound ship like Titanic. (Eastbound, too, but we’re looking at one ship on one voyage.)

    For various reasons the path of the Sun through the sky is not absolutely precise and one day is not exactly the same length as another. The solution has been to create a fictitious “mean Sun” and a “mean solar day.” Mean time avoids the nuisance of pesky minor adjustments to our everyday clocks by in effect averaging out solar variations. By definition, “midnight” is the moment when the Sun is opposite to the next day’s noon meridian. On land, this normally means the sun is directly on the opposite side of the planet to the observer taking into account standard time zones. We are all familiar with this in our daily lives ashore. It is always noon the next day in our homes after the passage of a fixed 12 hour duration.

    Ship’s are different from buildings and cities ashore because they are in motion. To know midnight at sea it is necessary to predict the next day’s noon meridian of the vessel. It should be noted that there is no way to determine “midnight” through solar or celestial means because the sun is hidden by our planet. And, without a horizon it is not possible to “shoot the stars” for a midnight fix. This is why the next day’s noon longitude must be predicted in order that “true midnight” occurs 12 hours before the next local apparent noon (LAN). Although Titanic’s navigators did their best, they weren’t perfect and there was often a small correction to make noon correspond exactly to the ship’s meridian.

    MIDNIGHT DEFINED: Midnight is defined as exactly 12 hours before noon, it is effectively the instant when the previous day becomes the current day. In Titanic’s case, true midnight would have been the instant April 14th would have become April 15th.

    Difficulty computing midnight is why ships traditionally reckoned time from noon to noon. A navigator equipped with the proper tools (tables, sextant, chronometer, etc.) could “shoot the sun” at noon and fix his ship’s latitude and longitude. Hence the importance of the noon sight in navigation. This was done using d “astronomical time” which counts hours in a continuous series of 0 to 24.

    On land, “civil time” has been more popular. The civil day is measured midnight-to-midnight and the hours are counted from 0 to 12 in two series. The first runs from midnight to noon (A.M.), while the second runs from noon to midnight (P.M.). The civil day, therefore, begins 12 hours earlier than the astronomical day.

    EXTRA TIME CREATED: Titanic’s westward passage was “with the sun.” This westward motion caused each day to grow longer than 24 hours. The number of extra minutes in any given day was determined by a function of the ship’s velocity made good (VMG) toward the west. (VMG is not the same as the ship’s speed through the water, but let’s let that rest for now to avoid unnecessary complexity.) What’s important is that Titanic made sufficient westing that the day of April 14th was not just 24 hours long as on land, but 24 hours plus an extra 47 minutes. Keep in mind these extra 47 minutes did not occur outside April 14th, but were an integral part of that day. With regard to the crew, fairness demanded the extra minutes be shared equally by both watches. Dividing 47 exactly in half becomes cumbersome, so I normally give the on-duty Starboard Watch 24 minutes of extra duty and the oncoming Port Watch 23 minutes. You could flop that around and it would make no significant difference in this discussion.

    The critical factor in understanding the time of day when Titanic’s accident took place is “true midnight.” It would not have occurred 12 hours after noon nor when the hands of any shipboard clock pointed at the “12" on the dial. By definition true midnight would have occurred 47 minutes after 12 o’clock that night when the ship was exactly 12 hours of steaming from the next day’s (April 15th) predicted noon longitude. The term “midnight” was used in different ways aboard ship, but the one that counted, “true midnight,” was not at 12 o’clock.

    True midnight April 14th – when Saturday, April 13th became Sunday, April 14th.

    12:00 o’clock April 14th – 47 minutes before true midnight.

    Crew Midnight – Halfway through the extra 47 minutes added to April 14th

    True midnight April 15th – 2447 hours April 14th or 0000 hours April 15th. Day & date changed.

    As is obvious, the day of April 14th had already experience its true midnight 24 hours earlier when Saturday the 13th became Sunday the 14th. No day can have two midnights, so the next true midnight would have marked the start of April 15th. Of course, the second 12 o’clock in ship’s time came at LAN that day, so was called “noon.” Then there was the 12 o’clock which came 12 hours after noon in April 14th time which would have been “midnight” ashore to an observer at a fixed location. And, we know that both the ship’s crew and passengers expected another 12 o’clock to occur just 20 minutes after the iceberg accident. This would have been the fourth time during April 14th that the clock hands pointed to the “12" marker, but it would not have been “true midnight,” either. It would simply have marked the crew’s “midnight change of watch.”

    True midnight could only have taken place 47 minutes after 12 o’clock that night measured in April 14th ship’s time. Let’s all these 12 o’clocks into chronological order:

    12:00 True Midnight – Saturday 13th becomes Sunday 14th.

    12:00 Noon (ship on time longitude for April 14th).

    12:00 April 14th. By definition, not “midnight.”

    12:00 Crew Time – retarded 24 minutes from April 14th time.

    EXTRA TIME NOT “A.M.” OR “P.M.”: For a moment imagine that each moment in the 12-hour system of timekeeping has two names. The first is its numerical value. The second (A.M. or P.M.) defines whether the time was observed before or after noon. Using this two name system, what would the last name be – A.M or P.M. – for one minute later that 12 o’clock at night when the clock hands point to 12:01 o’clock? By definition it would not have been “A.M.” because that designator had already been applied to the duration from previous true midnight to noon April 14th. Nor was it “P.M.” because that designator had also been used from noon until 12 o’clock that evening. For the time after that we have no “A.M.” or “P.M.” equivalent name other than to say those were the extra time caused by the ship’s westward passage.

    Rather than try to explain all this whenever a time of day is quoted, it’s much simpler to use the 24-hour time notation which does not require “A.M.” or “P.M.” In this notation you can quite easily have times greater than 12 o’clock without confusion. For instance, the notation 2430 is obviously 24 hours and 30 minutes after the previous true midnight. In Titanic on the evening of April 14th, true midnight would have taken place at 2447 hours
    which would have been the same instant as 0000 hours April 15th.

    2400 + 47 Extra Minutes = 2447 hrs April 14th.

    2447 hrs April 14th = 0000 hrs April 15th “True Midnight.”

    Orson Wells notwithstanding, we experience our world in the present. The arrow of time always flies into the future. There is no physical way we can borrow time from tomorrow. Nor can we save up minutes to be spent tomorrow. Time must be accounted for as it happens. For Titanic’s crew reality required that the extra 47 minutes of April 14th had to be worked prior to 2447 hours. And, fairness demanded that the two crew watches work nearly equal portions of those extra 47 minutes. The need to spend time during the day it was earned required the creation of a fictional midnight which I have dubbed “crew midnight.” It came 23 minutes prior to true midnight at 2424 hours in April 14th ship’s time. The men of the on-duty Starboard Watch were to serve their extra time from 2400 to 2424 hours, while the Port Watch would have served its extra duty from 2424 to 2447 hours. After all 47 extra minutes had been served, April 14th would have ended and April 15th begun at true midnight. Here’s how the extra time would have been served by the ship’s crew:

    2400 + 24 extra minutes = 2424 hrs April 14th (Starboard Watch)

    2424 + 23 extra minutes = 2447 hrs April 14th (Port Watch)

    2447 April 14th = 0000 April 15th (True Midnight)

    SETBACK PRIOR TO ACCIDENT: To make all of the above come true, it was necessary to set back the Starboard Watch crew clocks by 24 minutes sometime during the 8-to-12 watch. The exact moment of this setback is irrelevant to this discussion. The only critical factor is that the time must have been retarded before the accident. Otherwise, there would have been only 20 minutes from 11:40 to 12 o’clock while the setback was 24 minutes long. You can’t squeeze 24 minutes into a 20 minute span in the real world. The arrow of time is not made out of rubber. Nor can you tack on extra time after the end of a crew watch.

  10. SHIP’S BELLS FOR TIMEKEEPING: Let’s look at the bell system for timekeeping. At 8 bells one crew watch relieves the other. Bells are struck every half hour after that to mark the passage of time. Naturally, in four hours eight bells sound again and the watch changes. Titanic had only two Watches, so the men worked “4 on” and “4 off.” During their precious 4 hours off duty the sailors had to eat, bathe, and sleep. Most quickly learned to get as much “bunk time” as possible, seldom more than 3 hours of uninterrupted rest. Anyone who has worked this demanding schedule knows that when you are on watch the timekeeping bells don’t so much mark the passage of time from when you came on duty. Rather, they count down the half hours until you can go below and sleep. No crew of professional sailors would have accepted any timekeeping system that did not use 8 bells to signal change of watch, or a system that roused them out of their slumber earlier than necessary.

    IMPOSSIBILITY OF 8.8 BELLS: Therefore, 8 bells would have sounded at 2424 hours April 14th when the crew changed watch. Many people erroneously suggest that 8 bells would have sounded at 2400 and then the on-duty Starboard Watch would have begun working its extra 24 minutes. This creates an obvious problem – what would be the bell strike to signal the change of watch? Twenty-four minutes are 8-tenths of a half hour. How do you ring 8.8 bells? Impossible. A bell strike is a bell strike. There is no such thing as 8-tenths of a strike. The logical solution to this conundrum would be to set back the crew clocks sometime prior to 8 bells.

    My theory based on IMM/White Star regulations and the privileges of rank is that the setback was made at 2200 hours (10 p.m.). However, the “when” of the setback is not at issue here. All that’s important is that crew clocks were set back 24 minutes sometime prior to 7 bells prior to the accident so that 8 bells would strike at 12 o’clock. (The crew universally used the o’clock system in Titanic and not the 24-hour system.) We now have a timekeeping equivalency:

    2424 hours April 14th = Crew Midnight = 8 bells.

    It should be noted that the total amount of time served by the Starboard Watch from coming on duty at 8:00 P.M. Sunday evening would have been 4 hours plus the 24 extra minutes. Those minutes were effectively spliced into the middle of their watch by creating a “long bell” of 30 plus 24 minutes, or 54 minutes. This would have caused no particular inconvenience beyond that of being on deck for 24 minutes more than usual. For the Port Watch, the extra time would have been served between Crew Midnight (change of watch) and True Midnight. Upon the Port Watch relieving, crew clocks would again have been adjusted. This time to show 11:37 o’clock, or 23 minutes before true midnight. For practical purposes, they would have been set to be accurate at noon, April 15th just as Lightoller said in his testimony. When the hands once again pointed to the “12" mark, it would have been true midnight and the day of April 14th ceased to exist. It would now have been 0000 hours April 15th.

    ROUSE OUT BELL: One more detail has to be added. Fifteen minutes before crew midnight, at 2409 April 14th time, one bell would have been struck to tell the sailors of the Port Watch to prepare for coming on deck.

    2409 hours April 14th = 11:45 P.M. crew time. Rouse Out Bell.

    Working backwards another 15 minutes we come to 7 bells, or 11:30 o’clock for the crew. From seaman Scarrott we learn that seven bells had been struck just prior to the warning bell in the crow’s nest. His testimony shows that at that moment the crew clocks had already been set back to account for the extra 24 minutes of the Starboard Watch.

    2354 hours April 14th = 11:30 crew time = 7 bells.

    Remember that these equivalencies are derived from the arrow of time and the ordinary practice of seamen. Are they correct? To find out, let’s see how they stack up against the testimonies of some sailors in Titanic’s crew.

    EDWARD BULEY – “I was in the watch on deck, the Starboard Watch. At 12 o’clock we [were to be] relieved by the other watch.” (US)

    FRANK OSSMAN – “I was waiting for one bell, which they strike, one bell, just before the quarter of the hour, before the four hours when you get a call to relieve.” (US)

    If the crew clocks had not been reset, Buley would not have been relieved at 12 o’clock, but at 12:24 o’clock. He was specific about the time of change of watch. However, it could only have been 12 o’clock as measured on a clock retarded by 24 minute from April 14th ship’s time. Ossman added a detail about the one bell warning to rouse out the off-duty watch so they could be on deck in time to relieve their counterparts. Ossman mentions the four hours of the standard watch, which is not correct because in any case the Starboard Watch would have worked its extra 24 minutes prior to Ossman relieving his opposite number.

    GEORGE HOGG – “I waked up at 20 minutes to 12. I rushed up on deck...and I went below again. I asked the time, then, of my mate Evans, and he said, ‘It is quarter to 12. We will get dressed and get ready to go on lookout.’ I dressed myself, and we relieved the lookout at 12 o’clock, me and my mate Evans.” (US)

    Hogg was apparently awakened either by the accident or shortly thereafter. After going up for a look, he went below to discover it was quarter to 12 o’clock crew time. He then relieved the lookout at 12 o’clock. As noted above, “crew midnight” was not 2400 hours, but rather 2424 hours in April 14th time. Thus, when Hogg took over in the crow’s nest the men he replaced, Fleet and Lee had worked their full four hours and 24 minutes. Crew survivors told the same story over an again. Men who were off duty recalled being awakened by the 1-bell signal and either exchanging duty with their Starboard Watch compatriots at 12 o’clock crew time or being called out earlier by the boatswain.

    GEORGE MOORE – “About a quarter to 12 I was on watch below and turned in.... About 10 minutes to 12 the boatswain came and piped all hands...” (US)

    ARTHUR BRIGHT – “I went out to the after end of the ship to relieve the man I should have relieved at 121 o’clock, a man by the name of Rowe.” (US)

    FREDERICK CLENCH – “U put my Guernsey on, my round hat on, and ... heard the boatswain’s pipe call all hands out on deck.” (US)

    If the testimonies of sailors who survived Titanic are to be believed, then the accident took place about five minutes before the one bell signal that rang at 15 minutes before crew midnight. Some off-duty men went to relieve their counterparts at 12 o’clock crew time which was their regular “midnight” change of watch. Others were ordered on deck a few minutes earlier by the boatswain.

    NAVIGATIONAL EVIDENCE OF SETBACK: There is navigational proof that the crew clocks had already been set back at the time of the accident. Many prestigious researchers used the wrong duration when reconstructing the ship’s dead reckoning of the run from turning “The Corner” (42 N; 47 W longitude) until the accident. As a result, they have miscalculated the distance from “The Corner” to impact as 8.8 nautical miles too short. Their current diagrams are correspondingly wrong. They show the North Atlantic Drift that night was flowing slightly to the west. But, that’s impossible. The North Atlantic Drift takes the warm water from the Gulf Stream and sends it to the British Isles where it creates the favorable climate of Ireland, Great Britain and even northern France. A current of that magnitude does not change direction on one night out of millennia.

    But, the truth appears if you properly account for the extra 8.8 miles steamed during the 24 minute clock setback for the Starboard Watch. A correct current vector diagram shows that the North Atlantic drift was working well that night. A correct diagram shows its easterly component just as it should.

  11. PASSENGERS USING CREW TIME: One of the oddities of the Titanic story is that so many passengers quoted the 11:40 o’clock crew time as the moment of the accident. Under normal circumstances passengers should not have seen any clock showing crew time. Clocks in passenger areas would most likely have shown either April 14th or April 15th time. If passenger clocks were showing the former, most passengers would have fixed the accident at 12 o’clock or a few minutes after. If passenger clocks were showing April 15th time, then passengers should have pegged the time of impact at 11:15 or so. That’s not what most said in testimony. A sizeable number of passengers and hotel staff claimed the familiar 11:40 o’clock as the instant when steel met ice. In the list below the times given by the survivors are first and the equivalent April 14th or 15th time is listed second in parentheses. All are in o’clock notation to match the various testimonies.

    11:15 (11:15 April 15th) Asst. Cook John Collings
    11:20 (11:20 April 15th) Steward C.E. Andrews
    11:40 (12:04 April 14th) Steward James Widgery
    11:40 (12:04 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Kornelia Andrews
    11:40 (12:04 April 14th) 1st Class Pax E.Z. Taylor
    11:40 (12:04 April 14th) Steward George Crowe
    11:40 (12:04 April 14th) Steward Henry Etches
    11:40 (12:04 April 14th) Boatswain’s Mate Albert Haies
    11:40 (12:04 April 14th) 1st Class Pax George Harder
    11:40 (12:04 April 14th) 1st Class Pax James McGough
    11:40 (12:04 April 14th) Steward Walter Nichols
    11:40 (12:04 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Alfred Omont
    11:40 (12:04 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Spencer Thilverthorne
    11:40 (12:04 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Daisy Spedden
    11:40 (12:04 April 14th) Ship’s Barber August Weikman
    11:43 (12:07 April 14th) 1st Class Pax William E. Carter
    11:44 (12:08 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Eleanor Cassebeer
    11:45 (12:09 April 14th) 3rd Class Pax Olaus Abelseth
    11:45 (12:09 April 14th) 2nd Class Pax Lawrence Beesley
    11:45 (12:09 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Helen Bishop
    11:45 (12:09 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Vera Dick
    11:45 (12:09 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Anna Hogeboom
    11:45 (12:09 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Jack Thayer
    11:45 (12:09 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Sophia Warren
    11:45 (12:09 April 14th) Steward Edward Wheelton
    11:45 (12:09 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Hugh Woolner
    11:45 (12:09 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Marian Thayer
    11:45 (12:09 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Berk Pickard
    12:00 (12:04 April 14th) 1st Class Pax Col. Gracie

    Why are so many of the above time citations by survivors grouped at 11:40 o’clock? Honestly, I don’t know. But there are anecdotes and hints in the record which suggest an explanation. None of these rise to the level of “fact,” however.

    Titanic’s maiden voyage was somewhat of a rush affair. Stories have been told of crates of uninstalled plumbing china in the second class cabin area. The ship was to have been built with two Magneta brand master clocks, but were they both installed and working? The available record does not say. Nor do we know why two master clocks were needed when a single Magneta master could have operated all of the slave clock dials throughout the ship and then some. The obvious reason for two masters would have been to allow the ship to have had two “time zones.” Presumably, the crew would have had its master clock while passenger clocks would have been operated by the other. The only period during the day when two “time zones” would have been needed was during the clock setbacks dividing the extra time created by a westward passage evenly between the two crew watches.

    A master clock system was necessary to make sure that the clocks on the bridge agreed with those in the engine room. IMM/WSL regulations made this perfectly clear. So, if one of the two Magneta master clocks was not fully operational, it would have been necessary to show crew time on all slave clock dials throughout the ship. Passengers would have been forced to endure two “midnight” setbacks along with the crew. This would not have been too onerous as the duration of the crew setback was never expected to be more than an hour and it occurred after most passengers would have been asleep.

    One of the hoary anecdotes of the Titanic story is the claim that the clock dial was never installed in the main grand stairway. Instead, it is said that a round mirror was substituted. Despite some debate no one has come up with proof of either the mirror or the alternative clock dial. Still, it is interesting that none of the surviving passengers ever refer to the stairway clock when they quote the time of events. This strengthens the possibility the dial was missing. And, if so, that makes it all the more possible that only one of Titanic’s two Magnetic master clocks was working that night. Hence the passengers were forced to use crew time during Titanic’s maiden voyage. Perhaps that’s why so many recorded the moment steel met ice at 11:40 P.M.

    – David G. Brown
  12. Perhaps the real reason why passenger and crew place the time of accident close to 11:40 is that there no setback took place that night because the accident happened about twenty minutes before the clocks were to go back. Mention was made above of Eleanor Cassebeer. What she wrote to her brother was that the ship struck at 11:44, which was seen on her watch while she was in her cabin brushing her hair. She also said it was set to ship's time while at dinner by purser McElroy.
  13. By the way, Mr Brown stated in a post above:

    >>What’s important is that Titanic made sufficient westing that the day of April 14th was not just 24 hours long as on land, but 24 hours plus an extra 47 minutes. Keep in mind these extra 47 minutes did not occur outside April 14th, but were an integral part of that day. ... By definition true midnight would have occurred 47 minutes after 12 o’clock that night when the ship was exactly 12 hours of steaming from the next day’s (April 15th) predicted noon longitude.<<

    These statements are not correct. The length of a "day" on board ship was the total amount of time (in hours and minutes) starting from the beginning of the 1st hour in the AM through, and including, the 12th hour of the PM as recorded in the ship's logbook. Logbook pages were divided into two 12-hour segments, one for the AM and the other for the PM for a given date. For each hour the ship's distance would be put down in nautical miles and 10ths of a mile, as well as the standard compass course (in degrees), the average revolutions per minute carried on the engines, as well as other items such as weather conditions. Clock changes would be recorded in the remarks column in the hour they were done.

    The end of the 12th hour of the PM (the 24th hour of a given date) was marked by the striking of 8 bells for the midnight change of watch. This also marked the beginning of the 1st hour of the AM of the next date, and a new log page would begin. For a westbound ship, the length of the 12th hour of the PM was more than 1 hour because half the clock setback time was added to that hour thus delaying the striking of 8 bells by half the total adjustment amount. In addition the length of the first hour of the AM of the next day was also more than 1 hour because the other half of the clock setback time was added to the total time for that hour. For the specific case of April 14th 1912 on Titanic (and assuming no accident happened) the total time starting from the beginning of the 1st hour of April 14th in the AM through, and including, the 12th hour of April 14th in the PM would have been 24 hours and 45 minutes. Of those 45 minutes, 22 minutes would have come from half the clock setback from the previous night's adjustment which was added to 1st hour of April 14th, and 23 minutes would have come from half the planned setback of the night of the accident which would have been added to the 24th hour (12th hour of the PM) for April 14th.

    It just so happens that the striking of 8 bells for the midnight change of watch would occur close to the time when the actual time reference that was used for keeping apparent time aboard ship, in this case the true sun, would have crossed the lower branch of the ship's celestial meridian, coming approximately half way between observed local apparent noon one day and local apparent noon the following day. (This also happens to be part of the definition of midnight which can be found in the Glossary of The American Practical Navigator: "midnight, n. Twelve hours from noon, OR the instant the time reference crosses the lower branch of the reference celestial meridian.")
  14. Doug Criner

    Doug Criner Member

    Over the years, I've read the seemingly endless discussions about whether the ship's clocks were set back before the collision. But, exactly what is the importance of this, one way or the other?
  15. >>But, exactly what is the importance of this, one way or the other?<<

    Establishing the dates and times of collision and foundering using a standard time reference such as GMT. It also provides a means of establishing the average speed of the vessel from noon up to the time of collision knowing the distance traveled over the course that was taken.
  16. B-rad

    B-rad Member

    On top of that, it has importance as to when the first call for help was sent out (wireless & rockets), and when the lifeboats were launched (20 minutes or an hour). Determining what was known and when, tells us how proactive they were in assessing the situation and their proactively dealing with it.
  17. Time affects everything.

    For instance, Sam Halpern did an excellent reconstruction of naval architect Wilding's estimate of the aggregate size of the holes through which water gained entrance to the hull. According to Sam's work, Wilding did the math correctly back in 1912. But when the 24 minute clock setback of the Starboard Watch is properly accounted for, the duration of the sinking becomes that much shorter. This means that water must have poured into Titanic at a faster rate than Wilding calculated. I think its time for a reassessment, Sam, using the correct duration. How does a shorter duration change the aggregate size of the openings? More to the point, how does a more rapid flooding of the bow change the loads on the hull girder vis-a-vis the eventual breakup? To quote ol' Sherlock, "the game is afoot!"

    Time also changes our view of the loading and launching of lifeboats. There was 24 minutes less duration for getting people into the boats and launching them successfully. The order of those launchings may not be affected, but the accomplishment of the crew is enhanced.

    One mystery of the American inquiry has been Daisy Minahan's second note to Senator Smith in which she states Captain Smith left the restaurant as late as 9:45 p.m. This claim seems at odds with Second Officer Lightoller's statement that the Captain appeared on the bridge a bit after 9:30 p.m. No man, not even a lofty ship's captain, can be in two places at the same time. But, if Minihan was using unaltered April 14th time while Lightoller used crew time, then the impossible is made possible.

    Navigation, and most especially dead reckoning, is all about speed, distance, and time. No matter how carefully the numbers are crunched, the answer is always wrong If the duration of the run is incorrect,

    And so it goes. Time is everything.

    -- David G. Brown
  18. >> I think its time for a reassessment, Sam, using the correct duration.<<

    The correct duration David was about 2 hours and 35-40 minutes.

    Regarding the Minahan story.

    In an affidavit addressed to Senator Smith at the American Inquiry, Miss Daisy Minahan wrote that she and her brother along with his wife came to the à la Carte Restaurant for dinner at about 7:15 p.m. and noticed a dinner party going on that included Captain Smith, Mr. And Mrs. Widener, Mr. And Mrs. Thayer, and Major Butt. She said that Captain Smith departed between 9:25 and 9:45 pm. She remembered this because her brother suggested at 9:25 that they should leave and go to bed. According to Daisy, they left the restaurant about 20 minutes later (about 9:45) after staying for one more piece from the ship’s orchestra.

    But we also know from the testimony of Titanic’s Second Officer Lightoller and Fourth Officer Boxhall that Captain Smith arrived on the bridge that night around 9 pm. Lightoller was fairly precise on this point.

    "(Lightoller) Just let me correct that. It must have been a few minutes before nine, because I remember the Commander came on the bridge at five minutes to nine, and I told him then that I had already sent word round, so it was perhaps ten minutes or a quarter to nine, as a matter of minutes."

    Now back to the Minahans leaving the restaurant at 9:45 and why researchers needs to dig deeper into matters reported by eyewitnesses weeks later.

    Mrs. Lillian Minahan, Daisy’s sister-in-law, gave a detailed account about the dinner at the restaurant and people in the reception room playing cards and listening to music that night. She also mentioned that she, her husband and her sister-in-law (Daisy) retired early:

    "It was about 9.30 when I got into bed and I know I had been sleeping soundly for two hours or more when both the doctor and myself were awakened by frantic cries outside our door."

    Obviously you cannot leave the restaurant at 9:45 and be in bed by 9:30 the same night. Time does not run backward. But if you left the restaurant at about 8:45, then you certainly can be in bed by 9:30.

    Sometime before retiring Lillian Minahan obviously took notice of the ship’s time that Sunday night. Did her husband Dr. William Minahan convince his sister Daisy that they should leave the restaurant early by suggesting that it was later than it really was, or was it simply a case of Daisy being off by an hour in her recollection?
  19. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    What passengers said regarding time is interesting but of minor importance in this argument. Only the evidence of those crew members affected by clock change can decide one way or the other. If there is evidence that crew members arrived on or went off duty when 8 bells were sounded or were ready to go on Watch 15 to 20 minutes after the time of impact, then there is no doubt whatsoever that the clocks were partially adjusted before impact. I haven't time to go into the matter at the moment, but to be going on with....Lightoller swore under oath that Boxhall had served more than his required 4 hour Watch. Boxhall, indicated under oath that the difference between Ship time and New York Time was 1 hour 33 minutes. He was the navigator of the Watch. Had there not been a clock change, the difference between the two times would have been 1 hour 57 minutes. New York Time was GMT minus 4 hours 5 minutes. EST was 5 hours. There are numerous crew reports which show that a partial change had been made.
  20. Jim Currie

    Jim Currie Member

    Typo above. Navigator New York Time was 4 hours 55...not 4 hours 05 minutes SLOW of GMT. The time used by New Yorkers and those in Washington DC was exactly 5 hours SLOW of GMT. Boxhall was specicfically questioned about time differences. here is his reply:

    "13831. (Senator Smith.) Mr. Boxhall, you seem to be the one upon whom we must rely to give the difference between ship's time and New York time; or, rather, to give ship's time and give the New York time when this accident occurred.
    - At 11.46 p.m., ship's time, it was 10.13 Washington time, or New York time."

    Obviously Boxhall was using a numerical difference between 10-13pm and 11-46pm of 1 hour 33 minutes.

    We know by calculation that at Noon on April 14, 1912, the ship's clocks on Titanic were 2 hours and 2 minutes FAST of EST as kept at New York and Washington and 1 hour 57 minutes FAST of navigator's New York Time. If, as claimed by Sam and others, the clocks had not been changed before impact, then Boxhall's reply to the above question should have been...

    " At 11.46 p.m., ship's time, it was 9-49 pm Washington time, or New York time."

    Or, if claimed by Sam and others, Boxhall used a 5 hour difference between GMT and NY Time; then Boxhall's reply should have been

    " At 11.46 p.m., ship's time, it was 9-44 pm Washington time, or New York time."

    Note in each case, the 5 minute difference!

    Regardless of the finer points of the argument, It is very plain that Boxhall was using a Ship to New York time difference of 1 hour 33 minutes and a GMT to New York Time of 4 hours 55 minutes.
    Since the difference between ship time at Noon, April 14 and New York was 2 hours 02 minutes, then by simple arithmetic, Titanic's clocks had been altered by exactly 24 minutes before impact.