A Community Devoted to the Preservation and Practice of Celestial Navigation and Other Methods of Traditional Wayfinding
From: Frank Reed
Date: 2019 May 1, 15:25 -0700
Brad Morris, you wrote:
"It it highly unlikely they were practicing LOP twilight navigation. To assume they did is an anachronistic view. Time sight navigation would have been practiced, with a noon sun for latitude and an AM or PM sun for longitude. This was common practice for the era and completely workable for an Atlantic crossing. "
Ah, but consider this: a big, fast, modern ship under British flag like Titanic was exactly the sort of place where the "New Navigation" would have been practiced early. Navigation is cultural, and it was much more cultural a century ago. They chose the methods they wished to use based on many factors, some objective and some subjective. I would bet a dollar that navigators aboard the big, modern steamships in the White Star Line practiced the new "intercept method" and may well have plotted recognizable celestial lines of position. That, of course, does not necessarily imply a standard late-20th century three star fix, which reflects later culture and fashion. Regardless of the details, I have not seen any real, primary source evidence one way or the other for the navigation aboard Titanic.
In general, though, especially on smaller, slower, less well-funded vessels, I agree completely, as you know, that most navigation well into the early 20th century, and even in the 1940s, was in the fashion of what was later called the "Old Navigation" -- Noon Sun for latitude, morning or afternoon time sights for longitude, and stars rarely used, except maybe Polaris for latitude.