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    Re: Master & Commander
    From: Trevor Kenchington
    Date: 2003 Dec 9, 17:16 +0000

    Bruce Stark forwarded from a friend of his:
    > For instance, the U. S. Navy
    > handles this situation in this manner:
    > At about 10 minutes before calculated noon, the Officer of the Deck (the
    > conning officer) would send his messenger to find the Commanding Officer and
    > instructs the messenger to say, "The OOD conveys his respects and reports 12
    > o'clock noon.  Herewith are the noon position report and the fuel and water
    > reports.  The chronometers have been wound and compared and he requests
    > permission to strike 8 bells on time."  The CO takes the reports and says,
    > "Thank you.  Tell him to make it so."  At this point the messenger races up
    > to the bridge and reports to the OOD what the CO has said.  By this time the
    > Navigator is observing the track of the sun.  At his signal, the OOD
    > instructs the Bo's'n's Mate of the Watch to strike 8 bells.  Thus an exact
    > noon is noted by the ringing of the ship's bell and it is dead accurate with
    > a well trained bridge watch.  Sometimes this takes a bit of doing, but
    > rather quickly they all get on to it and we can all set our wrist watches
    > accurately.
    Interesting. My understanding (which may be faulty) is that the Royal
    Navy's practice, through the two World Wars, was to maintain ship's time
    on GMT, at least throughout the Atlantic and Mediterranean. (They may
    have done something different in the Pacific theatre.) I can understand
    that other navies would prefer to use zone time. However, in an era of
    long-distance radio communication, wasn't it difficult if each ship used
    its own time based on its LAN?
    Navigation must use GMT, of course. Presumably logs of radio
    communications use that or some other zone time (perhaps that of the
    Admiral's headquarters). Orders from ship to ship could be similarly
    timed. Still, it sounds a bit awkward to have everyone's wrist watches
    set to a ship's time which differs from the time being used between
    ships. (Naturally, such considerations did not apply to merchant ships
    individually plying their trades in the era before general radio
    Trevor Kenchington
    Trevor J. Kenchington PhD                         Gadus{at}iStar.ca
    Gadus Associates,                                 Office(902) 889-9250
    R.R.#1, Musquodoboit Harbour,                     Fax   (902) 889-9251
    Nova Scotia  B0J 2L0, CANADA                      Home  (902) 889-3555
                         Science Serving the Fisheries

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