SS Warrimoo: The Ship That Missed New Year’s Eve But Gained Two Centuries

 The story that follows supposedly took place on New Year's Eve more than a hundred years ago. It spanned two centuries, yet ended in a matter of seconds.

The story involves a passenger steamer named SS Warrimoo which was launched in 1892, originally to serve the trans-Tasman route between Australia and New Zealand but later began carrying passengers between Canada and Australia. During one such trip an extraordinary incident happened.

In December 1899, the SS Warrimoo (pictured above) was traveling through the calm waters of the central Pacific on her way from Vancouver to Australia. The sailor had just finished observing the stars, from which he calculated their position as 0 degrees, 31 minutes north, 179 degrees, 30 minutes west. In other words, they were very close to the equator and also very close to the point where it meets the International Date Line. Upon hearing the report from the sailor, First Mate Peyton noted the interesting nature of their situation. Captain John Phillips realized that it was the night of December 30, and that if he changed his course slightly and timed his passage through the crossing, he could execute a fine trick that might not be repeated for a hundred years. .

Captain Phillips had the navigator double-check his position, and then adjusted Warimu's course and speed so that at exactly 12 o'clock, the ship stood at the exact point on the equator where it crossed the International Date Line.

The next part of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere and in the middle of summer. The ship was astern of the Northern Hemisphere and in the middle of winter. Half of the ship left on 30 December 1899, while the forward half left a day earlier and on 1 January 1900.

So this ship was not only in two different days, two different months, two different years, two different seasons and in two different hemispheres, but also in two different centuries at the same time .

But what happened on 31 December 1899? you can ask. Remember that the ship was sailing from Canada to Australia, thus traveling westward, and whenever you cross the International Date Line going westward, you automatically move forward 24 hours because There is a 24 day difference in time zones on either side of the International Date Line. hours.

So if it is 9 am on Monday when you cross the International Date Line, the time and date of the next moment will be 9 am on Tuesday, and you will lose 24 hours.

However, in the case of Warrimu, the ship crossed the International Date Line exactly at 0 o'clock or midnight, when the day itself was changing to a new day. So when the clock should have struck 0 hours 0 minutes and 1 second on 31 December 1899, the ship moved to a new time zone and was immediately transported 24 hours into the future, i.e. 0 hours 0 minutes and 1 second on 1 January 1900. For the ship's passengers, December 31 existed only for a fraction of a second.

Whether the alleged incident actually occurred or not remains to be proven. The only account of this extraordinary episode comes from a Canadian newspaper called The Ottawa Journal. However, the fact that the story was not published until forty-two years later leaves considerable room for doubt. Contemporary news reports indicate that Warrimoo crossed the Equator on 30 December 1899 en route from Vancouver to Brisbane, so the ship was in the right area at the right time for this account to possibly be true.

Even though Warimu attempted to precisely position himself, some question whether this could be accomplished accurately given the limits of navigation technology at the time.

Before satellite navigation, sailors used sextants to read the angles between the stars or the sun and the horizon, and then calculate the ship's position. Measurements taken with an accuracy of 1 minute or 60th of a degree produce an error of 1 nautical mile. An excellent sextant can narrow the window to 0.1 minute, which is the best possible accuracy a sextant can achieve, but this is still off by 200 meters. Realistically, a highly skilled and experienced sailor can determine position to an accuracy of about 0.25-nautical-mile, or approximately 460 metres.

Under these circumstances, it is unlikely that Warimu was able to ascertain his position with such accuracy at exactly the right moment. Nevertheless, assuming that Warrimu had attempted the maneuver, it is possible that the Captain actually believed the maneuver was successful, or that he made it up. In any case, it's fun to think that there's a place on Earth where all those conditions come together every hundred years, even if just for a split of a second in time.

The later life of SS Warimu was not eventful. After serving as a passenger ship for more than two decades, it was commissioned to transport troops fighting the Great War. On 17 May 1918, while carrying troops across the Mediterranean, it collided with a French battleship, causing an explosion in the depth of the battleship. The explosion sank both ships and resulted in the loss of many lives.

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