Great Sea Story – SS Warrimoo

 

It was originally built for James Huddart for Trans-Tasman traffic between  Australia and  New Zealand, along with a sister ship SS Miowera, and later joined by SS Aorangi. However, it was quickly withdrawn from this route and instead used to provide a service between Canada and Australia using subsidies from both countries. Huddart ran into difficulties after arranging to also call at New Zealand as part of the deal; after he defaulted on payments, the ship was purchased on 16 August 1899 by the New Zealand Shipping Company. In 1901 it was sold on to the Union Steamship company.
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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 Captain John DS. Phillips, the result.

The Warrimoo’s position was LAT 0º 31′ N and LONG 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 theopportunity for achieving the navigational freak of a lifetime. He called his navigators to the bridge to check & double check the ship’s 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 favor. 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!
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