Newly Discovered SOS Telegram in Texas Proves Titanic Owners May Have Lied


Alex F

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The most important entry in the Virginian's Process verbal is the fact that her Operator did not hear Titanic calling , CQ -note - not CQD- until 11-10pm EST. That would have been 12 minutes past 1 am, April 15 on Titanic's bridge. By that time, some of the lifeboats were already in the water. If you want mystery - think about that!
Jim, at 11-10pm EST the signals of the Titanic were very faint.

[Asian] (sigs [signals] faint) Titanic CQ and sent pos want immediate assistance OK answered him promptly rec the post lat 51 [sic] 46 long 50 14 informed captain instructs me to get it repeated. Sigs fainter than ????
Baltic further notes “Jamming bad, but hear Titanic very faint, calling Olympic - latter strong; freaky. Hear Caronia calling. He tells me Titanic requires immediate assistance, gives position. 41.46 N, 50.14 W. - I advise bridge and call Titanic but unable to gain his attention. He appears to be tuned to Olympic and cuts me out. “
So the Virginian came to game when the Titanic was almost dead. After famous "Shut up!" (Don't spread it!) to the Cincinnati/DDC.

BR
Alex
 

turricaned

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Jim, at 11-10pm EST the signals of the Titanic were very faint.
But on that same page, a later log states that at 11:35 EST (01:27 Titanic ship's time) Cape Race picked up a conversation between Olympic and Titanic - namely :
Cape Race records this at 11.36am: “Olympic asks Titanic which way latter steering. Titanic replies "We are putting women off in boats"...
Which would clearly indicate that Cape Race could not only pick up signals from both Olympic and Titanic at 11:36 EST, but that the signals from both were intelligible. Harold Bride testified that throughout the sinking, he was working with Jack Phillips to get the best possible transmission signal out of the gear with the power they had (i.e. emergency power). It's therefore reasonable to assume that their signals from Titanic would have fluctuated in strength as a result of this continual adjustment over time.

After famous "Shut up!" (Don't spread it!) to the Cincinnati/DDC
There you're deliberately conflating two unrelated transmissions. Phillips' infamous "Shut Up" transmission was in reply to the operator on the Californian well before the collision, and whilst 20/20 hindsight makes that transmission appear to be both brusque and arrogant, the truth is that the Californian's transmission was arguably an informal repetition of information already received - and that for better or worse, those passenger telegrams that appear so ephemeral in hindsight were nevertheless the bread-and-butter of every Marconi operator on every ship.

As far as the NYT piece goes, one has to bear in mind that the US press was aggressively pursuing any bit of hearsay that might suggest wrongdoing on the part of Titanic's crew, and that as such, claims such as those of Herr Schoenherr on the Cincinatti have to be taken with at last a grain of salt. Phillips and Bride worked for Marconi - not White Star - and as such there is no logical reason as to why any distress calls should have been kept even partially schtum.
 

Alex F

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Phillips and Bride worked for Marconi - not White Star - and as such there is no logical reason as to why any distress calls should have been kept even partially schtum.
They worked for Marconi ???

Why did they call Olympic, White Star liner (605 nm far from them) till the last moment, if number of ships were nearby (within 50-150 nm)? DDC/Cincinnati, DFT/Frankfurt...???

PS

When one wants to call specific stations (e.g. Deutsch stations), they add D to general call (e.g. CQ D), French stations (CQ F),... etc

The distress call (SOS) by the Titanic was sent in 25 minutes (at 10:55) since first call (CQD) at 10:25.


BR
Alex
 

turricaned

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They worked for Marconi ???
Yes. Google is your friend there if you want to go more in-depth, but even a cursory look at the Wikipedia pages for both men shows clearly that Marconi, not White Star, was their employer at the time. Radio operators worked for Marconi and Marconi assigned those operators to ships of the firms with whom they had a contract.

Why did they call Olympic, White Star liner (605 nm far from them) till the last moment, if number of ships were nearby (within 50-150 nm)? DDC/Cincinnati, DFT/Frankfurt...???
I'm not quite sure what you're asking there - according to the paullee.com page you linked to, Oly reports hearing Titanic at 12:52am Titanic ship's time. An unconfirmed source hears Titanic calling Oly with the SOS at 12:57, and Oly's operator reports being in direct contact by 01:02am. If that's accurate, Oly picked up the signal within 25 minutes of the first distress call being sent, which is hardly the "last moment".

As to why Titanic and Oly conversed, that's a question neither I nor anyone else (bar the late Harold Bride) can answer, but logic would suggest the following circumstances :
  1. Oly and Titanic were fitted with two of the most powerful radio sets available on the North Atlantic that night. It stands to reason that while Oly was too far away to render immediate assistance, her radio gear was one of the best bets in terms of guiding closer ships should Titanic's equipment fail
  2. Whilst Titanic's transmissions make reference to sinking as early as 12:38, it's reasonable to assume that the operators were not as yet aware just how dire the situation was. The Caronia has Titanic signalling Oly at 01:17 with the message "Capt. says get your boats ready what is your position?", implying that neither Captain Smith nor the Marconi operators realised that there was no way Oly could reach them in time

According to that same page, Cincinatti appears to have assumed from Oly's response to Titanic that their assistance is not needed - no further details are given. Frankfurt, on the other hand, is noted as responding to Titanic's distress call and heading to her position at 12:50. That being the case, Phillips would have understandably have left it at that and continued to request assistance from elsewhere.

When one wants to call specific stations (e.g. Deutsch stations), they add D to general call (e.g. CQ D), French stations (CQ F),... etc
Everything I've ever read on the subject states that "CQD" was nothing to to with specific stations - the mnemonic was "Come Quickly, Distress". SOS was the new code - possibly to prevent any confusion, but certainly because the Morse code for "SOS" was so simple that even those with little experience could remember and use it in a dire emergency. In fact, "SOS" was very new - such that it was possible not all operators yet knew what it meant, hence Phillips' use of both CQD and SOS.
 
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They worked for Marconi ???
Yes.


Senator SMITH. In whose employ were you on the 10th day of April?
Mr. BRIDE. The 10th day of April of this year?
Senator SMITH. Yes.
Mr. BRIDE. The Marconi Co.'s, sir.
Senator SMITH. The Marconi Co.'s?
Mr. BRIDE. Yes, sir.
Senator SMITH. In what capacity?
Mr. BRIDE. Second operator on the Titanic.

16324. And later on you were appointed by the marconi Company to serve as assistant wireless operator on the "Titanic"? - Yes.


Maybe of interest is also what Mr. Marconi said.


Senator FLETCHER. By whom were these operators on the Titanic and Olympic and Carpathia employed?
Mr. MARCONI. They were employed by the English company.
Senator FLETCHER. The wireless company?
Mr. MARCONI. Yes; the Marconi International Marine Co.
Senator FLETCHER. Not by the ships themselves?
Mr. MARCONI. In the case of the Titanic and the Carpathia, I think they were employed by the Marconi Co. On some ships they are employed directly by the shipowners.
Senator FLETCHER. But in the instances here, Bride, Phillips, and Cottam were employed by the Marconi Co., were they?
Mr. MARCONI. Yes, sir.
Senator FLETCHER. They were under direction and control of the Marconi Co.?
Mr. MARCONI. Yes; except so far as it does not affect the supreme authority of the captain.
Senator FLETCHER. The captain can give orders about sending messages - when to send and what to send?
Mr. MARCONI. Yes. There is a special clause in our agreements with them that that shall be fixed so that in case of emergency or danger the captain is absolute chief and head and ruler of everything concerning the wireless, and all the commercial rules which hold in ordinary times are suspended at the discretion of the captain.


When one wants to call specific stations (e.g. Deutsch stations), they add D to general call (e.g. CQ D), French stations (CQ F),... etc
I think that is the first time I read this. What is the source for that?
Also I very doubt that D stands for Deutsch stations. How do they want to seperate it from the CQD (= All stations Distress) call?

4857. And then the signal C.Q.D. is, or was, at any rate, the distress signal that is to be used? - Yes, the distress signal.
24858. On and after the 1st February, 1904, was the call to be given by ships in distress or requiring assistance, C.Q.D.? - Yes, C.Q.D..
24859. And, according to the Regulations, that signal must not be given except by order of the Captain of the ship in distress - is that right? - Yes, that is right.
 

Alex F

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Yes.



I think that is the first time I read this. What is the source for that?
Also I very doubt that D stands for Deutsch stations. How do they want to seperate it from the CQD (= All stations Distress) call?
I don't know how. One can say that the reply to first CQD was from Deutsch station (DFT, SS Frankfurt) and DFT noted in her log book - "Titanic bound west. Nil" (nothing important).

The Morse Code is an language. International one. SOS is the word in this language. And adopted for use since Berlin International Convention of 1906. The Titanic was sinking in 1912.

How can one speak that SOS was very new in 1912?

The code is still used as language by millions of people. Professionals and amateurs. You may check with radio amateurs how will they call ALL (CQ) German stations (D) in Morse language? They use CQ+prefix of the country (D).

D is prefix of the call in the signal DFT.

If they want to call distant station they use CQ DX, D - distant, X - signal.

Meantime, X in Morse code means "interferent signal, interference" as well. Because "sparks" of transmiters (TX) and "cracks" of thunderstorms (WX) have little difference for the receiver (RX).:) All these sparks are noise (NX) for receivers. TX, RX, NX, DX, Xmtr, Xrcvr... - all are words of Morse code.

Not too much changes in Morse Language since 1912 . The stations were using DDD (keep silence!) SOS (ship in distress), bi (stand by? or bi-bi:?:)) etc

BR
Alex
 

Alex F

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Just out of curiosity, does any one happen to know what Binns sent from the Republic in 1909? If SOS was adopted in 1906, he should have been aware of it.
Jack Binns (an operator of White Star Liner SS Republic) graduated from Marconi school in 1904. John George "Jack" Phillips graduated in 1906. They were friends. They should be well aware of SOS as both worked on German ships number of years before joining White Star Line.

"Jack" is nickname for Morse key.

BR
Alex
 

Rob Lawes

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As far as I can be certain, the Morse abbreviation CQD was instructed for use as a distress signal by a Marconi instruction known as circular No. 57 dated 7th Jan 1904. SOS was introduced as a distress call at the Berlin Radio conference in 1906 which didn't come into force until 1908 however, operators continued to use the Marconi derived CQD as well as SOS until the London Radio Conference of 1912 (June - July), post Titanic, when SOS was adopted as the global standard. The term CQ was retained as a general call. The use of alphabetic call signs denoting country of origin was also ratified at the London conference. Prior to this, one of the most prominent call sign pre-fix was M which denoted a ship fitted with Marconi equipment and ships of all nations used the Marconi system therefore you could not tell the country of origin by the call sign.

The Titanic transmitted on 500khz which, while broadcasting a small sky wave element would be firmly in the ground wave transmission region. Given enough power and with suitable atmospheric conditions across a calm ocean, the ranges for this at night would be considerable. Granted modern equipment is far more stable and tunable however, as a radio operator we used to play about transmitting signals from Plymouth to Halifax Nova Scotia on HF if we couldn't clear traffic locally. At the time, the Halifax system replied by an automatically generated Morse Code signal to acknowledge receipt. The maximum output of our transmitters were 1Kw.
 

Alex F

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The Titanic transmitted on 500khz which, while broadcasting a small sky wave element would be firmly in the ground wave transmission region. Given enough power and with suitable atmospheric conditions across a calm ocean, the ranges for this at night would be considerable. Granted modern equipment is far more stable and tunable however, as a radio operator we used to play about transmitting signals from Plymouth to Halifax Nova Scotia on HF if we couldn't clear traffic locally. At the time, the Halifax system replied by an automatically generated Morse Code signal to acknowledge receipt. The maximum output of our transmitters were 1Kw.
We don't know definitely on what frequency was the Titanic transmitted. What we know they did not have HF transmitters and were limited in range of transmission. HF transmitters had SS Carpathia (110m), SS Caronia (110m), SS Baltic (110m). They had an advantage over the Titanic in range using HF antennas and transmitters.

Officially, the Titanic was designed to use 300 meters band transmitter (MF, not HF) and long antenna (quarter wave length ~ 360/4=90 meters (833 kHz).

BR
Alex
 

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