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Titanic's Compass Platform

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A second separate compass from the one in the wheelhouse was common on all large ocean going vessels in the early 1900's. The purpose of it was a "check and balance" against the wheelhouse compass to assure accuracy in the ships navigation. On Titanic, it was located between the 2nd and 3rd funnel on the roof of the 1st class lounge, about 50 feet forward of where the ship broke in half prior to her plunge to the bottom. The platform was built out of wood and elevated to prevent the compass from being magnetically influenced by surrounding metal. (deviation) By intent, the platform didn't have a phone or electric lights (an oil lamp was used at night) to prevent electricity from interfering with the compass.  It was checked against the wheelhouse compass every hour around the clock and randomly checked celestially with a sextant to assure its own accuracy.

There has been some puzzlement during dives to the wreck site as to where the compass platform was in the debris field. It was concluded that the wood was long ago consumed by wood boring organisms, but a 2010 sonar mapping team of the debris field believes that found the the stairs leading to the platform.  (which were metal)

In the webmaster's opinion, these were the days of true seamanship and navigation. No computers, radar, LORAN, sonar, or GPS guided auto pilots, and yet they still successfully navigated to their destinations. When Dr. Robert Ballard first found Titanic in 1985 he said the first things that entered his mind was that she was sitting upright on the ocean floor and she was right on course. 


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