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    Re: Titanic's last stars
    From: Brad Morris
    Date: 2019 May 1, 20:41 -0400

    I am going to politely disagree.

    Along with the Titanic, the Olympic and Britannic formed the trio of flagships for the White Star Lines.  Only the most senior of officers would have been on board.  Capt Smith, for example, served White Star Lines for decades before becoming captain of the Titanic, and indeed, was the Commodore of the entire WSL fleet.  With age, comes long engrained habits.  Habits honed by long service.  Habits formulated by licensing and exams, which for Smith occured in the 1880's.  Those exams would have most certainly been Time Sight, just as they were for Worsley. Joseph Boxhall was the officer who calculated the CQD (SOS) position of the Titanic.  Boxhall was not the chief navigator  but did assist in navigational  duties.  His last license (extra-master) was issued in 1907.  I suspect, but do not know, that Time Sight navigation remained on the exams at that time, 20 years on from Smith's licensing in 1887.  He certainly would have followed the practices of his more senior officers, drinking in the tradition.

    There may be one avenue for resolution. As the Olympic, the Britannic and the Titanic were flagships of WSL, it is just possible that contemporary (19-teens) navigational records may exist for the Britannic or the Olympic.  Would WSL corporate dictate a particular navigational method?  If so, then what was ordered for Britannic or Olympic would have been ordered for Titanic.  This is an avenue for pursuit!

    Additionally, Boxhall testified at the British Inquiry into Titanic about its navigational practices.  Perhaps one should look into the recorded testimony.

    I do get your point, that WSL would want to project the most modern fleet, which may have extended into the navigator's suite.  It certainly is possible.  The ship offered all of the modern accoutrements, like ship to shore communications.  Sure, maybe they did use that new fanged version of CN.

    I think it fair to say, we will never know for certain. 

    I stand by my answer for now.  0 stars were used to determine position.  Time Sight navigation using the Sun at meridian crossing for Lat, AM/PM observation of the Sun for long.  Just as they had done for decades before and after the sinking.  Dead reckoning between fixes, which would explain the rather large delta between the CQD position and the actual location of the wreck on the sea floor.

    I respect that you may have a different opinion.


    On Wed, May 1, 2019, 6:48 PM Frank Reed <NoReply_FrankReed@fer3.com> wrote:

    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.

    Frank Reed

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