It all happened on December 30, 1899, when the SS WARRIMOO was half in the Southern Hemisphere (mid-summer) and half in the Northern Hemisphere (mid-winter). The date in the aft part of the ship was December 30, 1899, and in the forward part January 1, 1900, and as a result of a freak of navigation by her master, one entire day -- New Year's Eve -- disappeared from the lives of the passengers for all time. But for the people aboard, their compensation was that they were undoubtedly the first to greet the new century, something which cannot happen again until the year 2000!
The night was warm and inviting, and the stars shone in all their tropical brilliance. Capt. John D.S. Phillips was in a dark corner of the bridge, quietly pulling on a cigar with all the contentment that comes to a sailor when he knows the voyage is half done.
His ship, the passenger steamer, WARRIMOO, was quietly knifing her way through the waters of the mid-Pacific on her way to Vancouver to Australia. The navigator had just finished working out a star fix and brought Capt. Phillips the result. The WARRIMOO's position was spotted at about lat. 0 degrees 30' N and lon. 179 degrees 30' W.
The date was December 30, 1899.
First Mate Dayldon broke in, "Captain, do you know what this means? We're only a few miles from the intersection of the equator
and the International Date Line!"
Capt. Phillips knew exactly what it meant, and he was prankish enough to take full advantage of the opportunity for achieving the
navigation freak of a lifetime.
An ordinary crossing of the date line is confusing enough to passengers, but the possibilities he had before him were sure to confound them for the rest of their lives.
Double Check ...The captain immediately called four more navigators to the bridge to check and double-check the ship's position every few minutes. He changed course slightly so as to bear directly on his mark. Then he carefully adjusted engine speed so that he would strike it just at the right moment. The calm weather, the clear night and the eager cooperation of his entire crew worked successfully in his favour. At exactly midnight, local time, the WARRIMOO lay exactly on the equator at exactly the point where it crosses
the International Date Line.
Bizarre Position! .... The consequences of this bizarre position were many and varied. The forward part of the ship was in the Southern hemisphere and the middle of summer. The stern was in the Northern hemisphere and the middle of winter. The date in the aft part of the ship was December 30, 1899. Forward it was January 1, 1900. The ship was therefore not only in two different days, two different months, two different seasons, and two different years, but in different centuries -- all at the same time! Moreover, the passengers were cheated out of a New Year's Eve celebration, and
one entire day -- December 31, 1899 -- disappeared
from their lives for all time!
There were compensations, however, for the people aboard the WARRIMOO were undoubtedly the first to greet the new century.
And Capt. Phillips, speaking of the event many years later said, "I never heard of it happening before, and I guess it won't happen again
until the year 2000!"