Record Of The Century

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

“Do you 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 who loved pranks decided to take full advantage of the opportunity for achieving the navigational oddity of a lifetime.  He called his navigator to the bridge who double checked the ship’s position, then changed course slightly in order to bear directly on his mark.  Next he adjusted the engine speed. The calm weather and clear night worked in his favor.   
At midnight the SS Warrimoo lay on the Equator at exactly the point of crossing the International Date Line.  The consequences of this bizarre position were many: 
  • The bow of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere and in the middle of summer. 
  • The stern was in the Northern Hemisphere and in the middle of winter. 
  • The date in the aft part of the ship was 31 December 1899.   
  • In the bow it was 1 January 1900.

Therefore, the ship was not only in two different days, two different months, two different years, two different seasons; but it was in two different centuries – all at the same time.   

Leave a Reply