Time Iceberg Struck - Converted to U.S. EDT


eckerman

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Mar 29, 2012
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I need a little help, please. It is understood that the Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 PM (April 14, 1912). But that was, as I understand, "Titanic Time" - the time at which the clocks on the Titanic were set (and having been reset on a daily basis as the ship changed time zones).

Would someone kindly convert the 11:40 PM "Titanic Time" to U.S. Eastern Daylight Savings Time. I live in Boston, and I would like to know the exact moment on April 14, 2012 - 100 years prior - that the iceberg was stuck.

Obviously, this information may be of interest to others in different time zones - such that they can easily convert EDT to any other time zone.

Thank you. Dale
 

Jim Currie

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Apr 16, 2008
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NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
Hello Dale!

Oh dear! You have hit a tender spot!

Titanic clocks were 2 hours and 2 minutes fast of EST at Noon on April 15. The GMT at that moment was 2 hours 58 minutes fast of Titanic time.
Her clocks were to be set back a total of 47 minutes at midnight that night so that at Noon on the 15th, they would be 1 hour 15 minutes fast of EST and GMT would then be 3 hours and 45 minutes fast of Titanic time.

However, for the crew, who worked Watches, the planned 47 minute clock change would be shared.
Thus, at midnight on April 15, they would be set back 24 minutes. Then in the following Watch, they would be set back the balance of 23 minutes.
If the crew clocks were changed just before the ship hit the iceberg, then the crew clocks (including those on the bridge) would be 1 hour 38 minutes fast of EST and GMT would be 03 hours 22 minutes fast of Titanic crew Watch time.

Since the time of sinking is recorded as 02-20am on the morning of April 15, this would mean that if Titanic's crew clocks had not been changed then the EST of sinking would be 18 minutes past midnight (0018 hours) on April 15. or 0518 GMT
However, if the clocks had been partially set back by 24 minutes then the EST of sinking would be 18 minutes to 1am (0042 hours) on April 15.

There are two camps. One believes that the clocks were not set back at all at midnight and the other that they were.

In 1912, mariners did not use EST but had different times for different places on the easter Seaboard of America.
For New York: 4 hours,55 minutes, 00 sec. slow of GMT.
For Boston: 4 hours 44 minutes 14 sec. slow of GMT.
For Baltimore: 5 hours 6 minutes 57 sec. slow of GMT
For Philadelphia: 5 hours 0 minutes 34 sec. slow of GMT.

When Titanic's 2nd officer Lightoller was asked the difference in time between the ship and New York time, he answered 1 hour 33 minutes sir!. He was obviously not using a New York - GMT time difference of 5 hours!

If as some say, Titanic's crew clocks were unchanged from Noon on April 14, and Lightoller had been referring to EST then he would have answered; 2 hours 2 minutes sir. If they had been set back 24 minutes he would have answered 1 hour 38 minutes sir. This alternative answer is 5 minutes different to the answer given by Lightoller to Senator Smith. So why the 5 minute difference?

Very simple! Lightoller was using the mariner's New York - GMT time difference of 4 hours 55 minutes!
Using this time difference instead of 5 hours, we get the following:

Titanic at Noon April 14: 2-58pm GMT...10-03am New York. New York diff Titanic = 12 minus 10-03 = 1 hr 57min.
Titanic at Midnight April 14: 3-22am April 15 GMT...10-27am New York. New York diff Titanic =12 - 10-27 =1 hr 33 min.

This means that if Lightoller was telling the truth, and the crew clocks were set back before impact then the EST time of hitting the iceberg was 11-40pm minus 1 hour 38 minutes = 10-02pm and the corrected distress signal was sent out 23 minutes later at 10-25pm EST.

Incidentally, Capt. Knapp USN used the same 4 hour 55 minute NY- GMT time difference in his time calculations.

Hope this helps!

Jim C.
 

eckerman

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Mar 29, 2012
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Thank you for your very thorough reply. I had previously read some of the other threads on this time issue. I find this subject (as well as nearly all aspects of the Titanic) to be fascinating and, at the same time, rather complex.

So, may I conclude that, using the "Lightoller testamony" (meaning that the crew clocks had been set back) that the impact would have been at 11:02 PM Eastern DAYLIGHT Time (we are currently observing daylight savings time, and I am trying to determine the time of impact based on my current Boston time on April 14, 2012)?

If the crew clocks had not been set back, would I be correct in subtracting 24 minutes (1/2 of the crew adjustment) - meaning that the impact would have been at 10:38 PM Eastern DAYLIGHT Time? If I am incorrect here, please help me with this.

Regarding the "two camps," which one is regarded as being the most accepted, or is neither one favored?

Thank you,
Dale

P.S. There is a marble plaque on the wall inside Boston's Symphony Hall dedicated to the Titanic musicians. Every time I go to a concert there (Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, or other performance), I always make a special journey to this plaque during intermission to pay my respects.

Titanic Plaque.jpg
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
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NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
Hello Dale!

Yes! If the clocks had been partially set back you are correct that clocks at any place using EST would register 10-02pm or in terms of Daylight Saving Time: 11-02pm.
By the same token, clocks which had not been set-back would read 9-38pm EST or 10-38pm Dalight Saving Time.

Curiously enough, if Lightoller had been asked the time difference between the ship and Boston, he would have replied:
1 hour 22 minutes-if the clocks had been set back. Or 1 hour 46 minutes- if they had not been set back.

As for who believes what? I suggest you take Mark's advice and harvest the opinions from the sites he has recommended.

Jim C.
 

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