Amerika Wireless Message


Jemma Hyder

Urgh I am work without my notes and am desperately trying to remember what happened to the wireless from the Amerika can anyone help before I drive myself crazy with this (Am actually very ashamed I cannot remember lol)
Apr 11, 2001
The U.S. Hydrographic Bureau has it. A friend of mine who worked there found it years ago and I sent the copy to the Kamudas at THS who reprinted it in a Commutator (1984 I think).

Dave Gittins

Apr 11, 2001
The point if this is that the Amerika message was dutifully passed on by Phillips but as it was not addressed to Captain Smith it was never shown to him or to an officer.

Arun Vajpey

Apr 21, 2009
The point if this is that the Amerika message was dutifully passed on by Phillips but as it was not addressed to Captain Smith it was never shown to him or to an officer.
I am not sure that this was the case. It was prefixed by an MSG and so should have been delivered to the Captain or Senior Duty Officer on the bridge. Also, Fourth Officer Boxhall seems to have seen the message at some stage, although his testimony about it was not exactly very clear.

I have posted an excerpt from Paul Lee's research article about the ice warnings received by the Titanic.

Note: Everything in bold and the image are from Paul Lee's article as source.


At 11.45am, the following message was sent to the Titanic by the "Amerika", to be relayed to the Hydrographic Office in Washington via Cape Race when the ship came within range of the shore based station at Cape Race: "Amerika Office. 14th April, 1912. Time sent at 11.45 a.m. 'Amerika' passed two large icebergs in 41 27 N., 50 8 W., on the 14th of April. [Captain] Knuth." The message was prefixed with M.S.G with the added information "Service instructions: Via Cape Race." The time on the Titanic would be about 1.47pm; it is likely that Phillips was on duty. He was certainly on duty at 2pm as Bride testified later.

"Titanic - Signals of Disaster" puts the time of the above as being 11.20am, but said it was sent to the Titanic at 11.45am, which corresponds to evidence given at the British Inquiry.


The course (yellow) and approximate position (red) of the Titanic at the time of the "Amerika's" message.
The position denoting the ice warning is in green.

Boxhall's evidence is confusing on this issue: he testified in the US that when he was shown the ice positions he recognised them and that of "the German boat, the Amerika" which they received after "La Touraine's". He put them on the track and to the best of his knowledge, they were northward of the ship's track. However, one is reminded of the mysterious message that Boxhall could not recall and which he testified to weeks later in London (see above). If the unknown ice message was the "Amerika's", it seems that he had changed his mind and could no longer be certain; he did say at one point that he did not remember the "Amerika" message at all! It would therefore seem that the wireless operators did not use their initiative and think that an M.S.G, albeit with instructions to be relayed to another station, should be given to the Captain. George Turnbull, the deputy manager of the Marconi International Marine Communication Company said that the general practise would be treat the message as a private one but the operator, seeing how important the contents were in relation to navigation, would (or should!) have communicated its contents to the Commander or to a responsible officer.

The "Amerika's" ice warning was not, incidentally, to the north, but a few miles to the south. Boxhall remarked that if he had put down any ice positions that were south of the ship's anticipated route, he would called the Captain's attention to them. To his knowledge, none of the ice he knew about was on the track and if it had, word would have been passed around immediately and one of the junior officers would plot the position on the chart. Pitman also did not know of this message; he said in London that the ice messages were to the north of the ship's track.
And to further confound the issue, Boxhall also said that he did not hear of any reports the day of the accident, which rules out the "Amerika". But later on, he admitted that it was quite likely that he must have done one after he was reminded of it (this turned out to be the "Caronia's" message) but he could not remember doing so. He remembered pinning the note to the board.

The "Amerika's" wireless message was ultimately transmitted to Cape Race at 7.30pm (presumably New York time), and was relayed to Washington at 8.34pm

Interestingly, Boxhall had referred to the fact that French steamers, like "La Tourane", did not follow the accepted steamer tracks and had steamed north, across the Grand Banks. The "Amerika" was the opposite case; for an eastbound ship, she should have been below 41 degrees North at this point in her crossing.

I have always felt that the significance of Amerika's ice warning gets a slight step-motherly treatment in comparison with those from the Baltic, Californian and Mesaba. While Amerika's message is not enveloped in controversies involving the Titanic's crew like those others, IMO its content is just as significant, perhaps more so because of the earlier timing.

Boxhall recognized it as from the "German Boat, Amerika" but calculated that the reported position was well northward of Titanic's intended track. Boxhall seemed to use that conjecture as the reason why this was not reported to Captain Smith. But the position shown in Lee's article (see image above) is clearly to the south of The Titanic's intended track and considering what happened later, it seems very significant.

Boxhall is supposed to have remarked that (see above) if he had known about ice positions to the south of the Titanic's intended track, he would have reported it to the Captain. But the ice field seen and reported by the Amerika was definitely just south of the Titanic's route but did not get reported; furthermore, Boxhall should and would have known that as an Eastbound ship, the Amerika should have been 'below' 41 degrees North and so its ice warning was particularly significant.

If it was erraneously assumed that the ice field seen and reported by the Amerika was north of the Titanic's route while in fact it was just south of it, it is more than likely that by sailing a bit further south and 'turning the corner' some 30 minutes later than planned, the Titanic's crew might inadvertently have set her on a course straight towards the ice field.

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