Sneaky sailors… LOL

The passenger steamer SS Warrimoo was quietly knifing its way through the waters of the mid-Pacific on its way from Vancouver to Australia. The navigator had just finished working out a star fix and brought the master, Captain John Phillips, the result. The Warrimoo’s position was LAT 0º 31′ N and LON 179 30′ W. The date was 31 December 1899.

“Know what this means?” First Mate Payton broke in, “We’re only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International Date Line”.

Captain Phillips was prankish enough to take full advantage of the opportunity for achieving the navigational freak of a lifetime. He called his navigators to the bridge to check & double check the ships position. He changed course slightly so as to bear directly on his mark. Then he adjusted the engine speed. The calm weather & clear night worked in his favour.

At mid-night the SS Warrimoo lay on the Equator at exactly the point where it crossed the International Date Line! The consequences of this bizarre position were many:

The forward part (bow) of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere & in the middle of summer.

The rear (stern) was in the Northern Hemisphere & in the middle of winter.

The date in the aft part of the ship was 31 December 1899.

In the bow (forward) part it was 1 January 1900.

This ship was therefore not only in:

Two different days, two different months, two different years, two different seasons but in two different centuries – all at the same time.

Is it true??? Beats the hell out of me, and nothing out there to prove it OR disprove it… But knowing sailors, if the opportunity existed, I can damned well see the skipper doing that if for no other reason than that they could!!!


TBT… — 14 Comments

  1. An ultimate Sea Story: “There I was, in summer and winter, spanning two centuries …” Someone will always buy you a beer for it.

    • Nobody has bought me a beer for a sea story lately. I must be hanging out with the wrong crowd.

  2. I mean, I guess I’ll be the pedant. The century changes in ‘01, not in ‘00.

    None of that changes the cool factor of the stunt, though!

    • Cool, yes, but you pointed out what I was about to mention: 1900 was the last year of the 19th century, not 1899.

  3. 28 April 1983, The USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) crossed the equator and the prime meridian, Lat 00, Lon 00.0. Our first time crossing the equator during our around the world cruise. We crossed the equator two more times during that cruise, but we ran out of pollywogs. Kind of takes the fun out of it.

    Prior to that, no other Navy ship had crossed at that point since WW2.

  4. PK- LOL, true!!!

    Mike- Yeah, I know, but still…

    Ray- I remember that making Stars and Stripes! Neat!!!

  5. I seem to recall reading that a US submarine sneakily accomplished the same feat including 2 centuries, at the last turn. Someone here probably knows.

    • If they do, they won’t say anything for at least 8 more years. 😉

  6. Where is the SS Warrimoo’s log?

    RE CVN-70: presumably, all the Airedales were aboard, creating a whole buncha Golden Shellbacks.

  7. Hmmm, might have to work something like this into book 3. After all, it’s very unlikely that anyone in the Texas Navy has ever crossed the Equator. Perhaps a proper introduction to the tradition by the Royal Navy? 😎

    • That could be very interesting.

      Texas sailor to the Royal Baby: “You want me to kiss what! Y’all can kiss my ***”.

  8. We had an GMM3 whose favorite answer to everything was “What are they gonna do? Take away my Birthday?” The night we crossed the International Dateline headed West the old man came down to berthing and woke Smitty up. Guess what?! We took away your birthday! Headed back up the ladder cackling. I was getting ready to go on watch and saw the whole thing.