Tag Archives: Marconi Wireless

Titanic Chronology: Titanic Adds Crew (6 April 1912)

The only picture of the Marconi radio room onboard the Titanic. Harold Bride is seated at his station. Photo was taken by Father Francis Browne, SJ, while aboard Titanic.
Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons

Titanic fills the remaining vacancies in ship’s crew. Coal and cargo also begin loading today

688 crew members would be aboard Titanic when it sailed. The wireless operators, Harold Bride and Jack Phillips, were actually employees of Marconi. For ship purposes, they were made part of the Victualling Department as they provided a service rather an essential operation. The ship’s orchestra were not employees of White Star but contracted from the Liverpool firm of C.W. & F.N. Black. This firm provided musicians for most British liners. They were treated as second class passengers.

Due to a miners’ strike that ended on 6 April, there was a shortage of coal. To make up for the shortage, coal from other White Star ships were transferred to Titanic so she could sail on 10 April. Passengers on those ships would be transferred as well to Titanic.  The ship would carry 5, 892 tons, which was more than sufficient for the voyage.

 

Sources:

Books

Behe, George TITANIC: SAFETY, SPEED AND SACRIFICE, Transportation Trails, Polo, IL 1997

Eaton John P. & Haas Charles, TITANIC TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY, SECOND EDITION, W.W. Norton & Company, New York, New York, 1995 First American Edition

Lord, Walter, A NIGHT TO REMEMBER, Holt Rinehart and Winston, New York, New York, 1955. Multiple revisions and reprints, notably Illustrated editions (1976,1977,1978 etc)

Lord, Walter, THE NIGHT LIVES ON, Willian Morrow and Company, New York, New York, 1986 (First Edition)

Lynch, Don & Marshall Ken, TITANIC AN ILLUSTRATED HISTORY, Madison Press Books, Toronto, Ontario Canada, 1992

Internet

Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Titanica
History.com

,,,

Update:RMS Titanic Inc Decides To Postpone Retrieval of Marconi Wireless

March 6, 1912: Titanic (right) had to be moved out of the drydock so her sister Olympic (left), which had lost a propeller, could have it replaced.
Robert John Welch (1859-1936), official photographer for Harland & Wolff
Public domain

RMS Titanic Inc has formally notified the federal court overseeing the salvage award that it is postponing retrieval of the Marconi wireless from Titanic. However it does plan to eventually do this at some point once logistics and income from exhibitions makes it feasible. There is no date given when they might try again.

Source:

Mission To Retrieve Titanic’s Radio From Ocean Is Postponed (MSN, 31 January 2021)

It cited the “increasing difficulty associated with international travel and logistics, and the associated health risks to the expedition team”, as well as a lack of revenue due to visitor numbers to its vast collection of Titanic artifacts plummeting amid the pandemic. RMS Titanic Inc has also had to lay off high-profile experts in the field: Dave Gallo, PH Nargeolet, Bill Sauder and William Lange. The company, however, maintained that it’s financially secure. It said the radio expedition remains a top priority and will “take place as soon as reasonably practicable”. The postponement is likely to increase fears that the priceless artifacts hidden in the wreckage may not survive if left for too long.

 

Update:Plans to Retrieve Marconi Radio in Jeopardy

Photo: Public Domain (Library and Archives Canada / PA-122236)

It appears plans to retrieve the Marconi wireless radio from Titanic are in jeopardy. Due to Covid-19 closing many of their exhibitions (and only a few open with limited availability), income for Premier Exhibitions has dropped significantly. Premier has already missed a required court deadline about submitting costs for the proposed salvage.

Pandemic Has Imperiled Plans To Retrieve Titanic’s Radio (ABC News, 12 Jan 2021)

The company, RMS Titanic Inc., said Monday that its revenues plummeted after coronavirus restrictions closed its exhibits of Titanic artifacts, causing the firm to seek funding through its parent company. Some of the exhibitions, which are scattered across the country, are still closed, while others that have reopened are seeing limited attendance. RMS Titanic Inc. recently missed a deadline with a federal admiralty court in Virginia to submit a funding plan for the radio expedition. The company left open the possibility that it may no longer seek the court’s approval for the undertaking if a plan isn’t submitted in the coming weeks.


TITANIC NEWS: DEBATE ON RETRIEVING MARCONI RADIO CONTINUES

Collapsible lifeboat D photographed by passenger on Carpathia on the morning of 15 April 1912.
Public Domain(Wikipedia)

Titanic: The Battle Over Doomed Ship’s ‘Voice’ Between Descendants And Salvagers (Daily Express, 16 Jul 2020)

“With all due deference to the families, and I don’t want to sound cruel in saying this, Titanic does not belong to us, it does not belong to our generation, it has an enduring attraction among the world,” says Parks, who disagrees with the grave site designation. He maintains he has never seen bodies down there and says he knows of no other shipwreck “given as much consideration as Titanic” internationally. “We actually have a responsibility to salvage what we can for future generations when this wreck ­ultimately degrades back to its natural state and nature, which it’s doing now and it’s an unstoppable process,” he says. Don Lynch, historian for the Titanic Historical Society and ­official ­historian on the 1997 Titanic movie, disagrees. He describes RMST’s earliest ­salvage operations as “a mess” when items were allegedly not documented properly and divers were “grabbing things”.

Recovering the Titanic’s Radio Could Signal a Disaster for Underwater Cultural Heritage (Gizmodo, 1 4 Jul 2020)

This recovery for profit is directly at odds with the ethics of modern archaeological practice. It also raises questions about legal protection for shipwrecks such as the Titanic and how we choose to value our shared cultural heritage.

Titanic Hotel Liverpool Reopens Its Doors (Urbanista, 7 July 2020)

Titanic Hotel Liverpool is delighted to announce it has reopened its doors for hotel stays & dining, having laid out a number of plans for an enhanced cleaning regime, named A New Clean. 

Titanic’s Most Interesting Survivor (Goodmenproject.com, 5 Jul 2020)

The survivor in question was a man by the name of Charles Joughin— a tiny man of just 5? 3½”. A career sailor, Joughin first went to sea at the tender age of eleven, eventually ending up on the Titanic as the Chief Baker, overseeing a staff of thirteen others.Taking the initiative, he mustered his staff of thirteen and — reasoning that if lifeboats were needed then those lifeboats would need provisions — he raided the Titanic’s pantry of all the spare bread he could find. He and his staff ferried the bread up to the deck where each lifeboat was equipped with its own supply.

UPDATE: NOAA CHALLENGES TITANIC COURT RULING

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Public Domain

US challenges planned expedition to retrieve Titanic’s radio (ABC News, 9 June 2020)

The U.S. government will try to stop a company’s planned salvage mission to retrieve the Titanic’s wireless telegraph machine, arguing the expedition would break federal law and a pact with Britain to leave the iconic shipwreck undisturbed. U.S. attorneys filed a legal challenge before a federal judge in Norfolk, Virginia, late Monday. The expedition is expected to begin by the end of August. The Atlanta-based salvage firm RMS Titanic Inc., said it would exhibit the telegraph while telling the stories of the operators who broadcast the sinking ship’s distress calls.

TITANIC NEWS 7 JUNE 2020

Irish Diver Rory Golden To Advise Expedition To Locate Titanic’s Radio The Sunday Times, 7 June 2020 (subscription required)

Irish deep sea diver Rory Golden is providing expertise to a new expedition to the Titanic which aims to recover the Marconi radio from the wreck. The ship’s wireless Marconi telegraph was instrumental in saving more than 705 passengers from the freezing Atlantic waters when the Titanic sank after striking an iceberg in April 1912 with the loss of almost 1,500 lives

The Heroic Stories Of The Forgotten Victims Of The Titanic
New York Post, 6 June 2020

In the summer of 1912, weeks after the Titanic sank with her furnace-stoker husband, William, on board, his impoverished widow, Emily Bessant, heard a knock at the door of her tiny row house in Southampton, England. As family lore goes, it was a rich gentleman offering to send Emily’s eldest daughter, Gladys, to private school. He explained that William had helped him to a lifeboat amid the chaos on the fated ship. “It was a story handed down to us younger generations,” William’s great-granddaughter Julie Cook told The Post. “We can’t prove that it was true because Gladys supposedly declined, but it helped ¬everyone believe, in their grief, that William died a hero.”

Titanic Exhibit Delayed Until 2021

WHBY, 3 June 2020

People will have to wait a year to learn about the state’s connections to the Titantic at the Oshkosh Public Museum. Spokeswoman Tammy Malewski says they’re going to delay a special exhibit until July of 2021.
She says about 700 people went through the museum every day, when they had Titanic artifacts on display in 2006. Museum officials are concerned about how to handle that potential demand, during the coronavirus pandemic.

Titanic Court Ruling ‘Disrespects The Dead’
The Southern Star, 1 June 2020

GOLEEN lawyer has said he’s extremely disappointed at the decision by a US judge to allow a salvage operation on the Titanic this summer. Michael Kingston, a London-based maritime expert said the 1,500 people who lost their lives when the ship sank in 1912 deserve more respect. The salvage operation will cut into the wreckage to try to recover a Marconi telegraph.

Titanic books

Welcome to June

Why Titanic’s First Call For Help Wasn’t An SOS Signal (National Geographic, 28 May 20)

But by 1912 when Titanic sailed, there was another, competing distress signal on the scene: “SOS.” There’s a common misnomer that the distress call is short for “Save Our Ship” or “Save Our Souls,” but the letters didn’t stand for anything—it was an adaptation of an existing German radio call. The signal consisted of three dots, three dashes, and another three dots—simple to tap out in Morse code during an emergency and easy to understand, even in poor conditions. An international group including the United Kingdom had ratified SOS as the official international distress signal four years earlier in 1908, but British and Marconi telegraph operators took their time adopting the new signal. (The United States, which resisted early international radio regulation, did not initially sign on to the SOS agreement.)

Cork Historian Teams Up With US Company To Bring Titanic Trail Online (EchoLive.ie, 27 May 20)

Acclaimed historian and lifelong Titanic researcher, Dr Michael Martin is collaborating with American travel experiences company Walks to provide an online tour of Cobh, the Titanic’s last port of call. The Titanic Trail, established in 1998 by Dr Martin is a daily guided walking tour that explores the heritage of Cobh, providing an insight into the maritime, military and social heritage of the town and harbour.  The renowned tour is now going online for a limited time as part of Walks ‘Spotlight Series’ With many walking tours affected as a result of Covid-19, the Spotlight Series brings fascinating tours online, which people can enjoy from the comfort of their own home. 

Bouquet of beautiful red roses
Davidjose365, May 2015
Wikimedia Commons

June is the sixth month on both the Gregorian and Julian calendars. June has the summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere and the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere. Traditionally this is on June 21 but that can vary each year.  Ancient Romans thought the period from Mid-March to Mid-June was a bad time to get married. June’s birthstones are the pearl, alexandrite and moonstone. The rose and honeysuckle are June flowers.

Titanic Chronology: April 15,1912;Titanic Sinks

Leaving the sinking liner, 27 April 1912
Charles Dixon
Public Domain

When it was determined Titanic would sink, it began transmitting signals by wireless telegraph, Morse lamp, and rockets. The ship nearest by most accounts was SS Californian. Her telegraph operator turned off his equipment at 11:30 pm and never heard the distress calls. Questions linger to this day whether or not they saw Titanic or her rockets being fired. The RMS Carpathia received the SOS and its captain, Arthur Rostron, immediately ordered to proceed directly to the last known coordinates to locate survivors despite having to navigate a dangerous ice field on a moonless night.

Titanic would sink on 15 April 1912 at 2:20 am. Although Titanic met the British Board of Trade regulations and exceeded it for the number of lifeboats required, it did not have enough for the full complement of passengers and crew. As a result over 1,500 men, women, and children would had no means of escape from the sinking ship.

RMS Carpathia (date unknown)
Image: public domain

Carpathia arrives at 4:10 am to rescue survivors who were in lifeboats or able to reach them. 710 survived the initial sinking but the final tally would be 705 due to  death from freezing cold. SS California would arrive later but would find no survivors. At 12 noon Carpathia sounded her horns and began heading back to New York.* It was the moment that many wives knew for certain their husbands had perished.

*It was the moment that many wives knew for certain their husbands had perished.

CONTROVERSY-SHOULD THE MARCONI WIRELESS BE RETRIEVED BEFORE DECAY MAKES IT IMPOSSIBLE?

Titanic Wreck Bow
Image: Public Domain (NOAA-http://www.gc.noaa.gov/images/gcil/ATT00561.jpg)

I have been withholding posting on some new developments about Titanic until I was fully read up on it. Not too long ago a long dormant treaty to protect the wreck of RMS Titanic was agreed to by the United Kingdom and the United States. Both sides mutually agree that the wreck is to remain untouched. Canada and France have not signed the treaty but are in possible consultations to sign on as well.

Actual salvage ended some years ago when RMS Titanic Inc. (owned by Premier Exhibitions) said no further salvage expeditions were planned.  A salvage award was done and the entire collection is up for sale (it has to be sold as one unit). So far no one has put up a successful bid due to the high price and the strict conservation requirements the court imposed.

The state of the wreck is, well, it is a wreck that is going the way of most wrecks. It is steadily decaying and probably will be totally gone in a few decades (perhaps sooner or later but it is inevitable). That raises a concern that perhaps a valuable historical artifact will be totally lost forever if it cannot be recovered soon.

At least that is the concern of RMS Titanic Inc that now is petitioning the federal court for permission to retrieve the Marconi wireless transmitter from inside Titanic. Up until now, artifacts have been retrieved from the debris field and not from the ship itself. The argument is a simple one: it has to be retrieved before the ship decays further making it impossible. As can be expected, a storm of controversy has erupted. If it goes the course as before, the name calling and accusations of grave robbery will be thrown out.

During the first salvage, the Titanic community was divided.  Flame wars erupted on the Internet that were so nasty, so personal, and took no prisoners that it drove many from Titanic online communities to never return.  Anyone that was pro-salvage was vilified personally and without remorse. One notorious anti-salvager is rumored to have faked his own death to avoid facing his victims.

The essential argument is that with the ship in a rapid state of decay, retrieving this one artifact for history ought to be allowed. It is a compelling argument but so is letting Titanic being left alone as a memorial to those who have perished. A reproduction could serve the same purpose without having to disturb the wreck further.

Still had Howard Carter took pictures and sealed up the tomb of a virtually unknown pharoah, we would never have seen how ornate the tombs of pharoahs really were (most were looted and ransacked) in the Cairo museum today. Both sides have merit and a court in Virginia will make that decision. The treaty may or not play a role in this but it will be interesting to watch.

UK and US agree ‘momentous’ deal to protect the sunken wreck of the Titanic (Daily Mail, 21 Jan 2020)

Relic hunters plan to retrieve Titanic radio that relayed the ship’s final pleas for help (Washington Post, 22 Jan 2020

Titanic Chronology April 14-16 1912

Photograph of iceberg taken by chief steward of Prinz Adalbert on morning of 15 April 1912 near where Titanic sank. At the time he had not learned of the Titanic disaster. Smears of red paint along the base caught his attention. The photo and accompanying statement were sent to Titanic’s lawyers, which hung in their boardroom until the firm dissolved in 2002. Public Domain

1. Titanic struck the iceberg at 11:40 pm ship time on 14 April 1912. The night was moonless and the sea calm with temperatures at or below freezing. Titanic was moving quickly but did not see the iceberg until it was nearly upon them. An attempt to steer around it resulted in a collision on Titanic’s starboard side. The iceberg would puncture Titanic enough so that the first five compartments would flood. Since the compartments were not totally sealed all the way up, water would go from one compartment to the other making her sink at the bow.

2. Titanic would transmit signals by wireless telegraph, Morse lamp, and rockets. The ship nearest by most accounts was SS Californian. Her telegraph operator turned off his equipment at 11:30 pm and never heard the distress calls. Questions linger to this day whether or not they saw Titanic or her rockets being fired. The RMS Carpathia received the SOS and its captain, Arthur Rostron, immediately ordered to proceed directly to the last known coordinates to locate survivors despite having to navigate a dangerous ice field on a moonless night.

3. Titanic would sink on 15 April 1912 at 2:20 am. Although Titanic met the British Board of Trade regulations and exceeded it for the number of lifeboats required, it did not have enough for the full complement of passengers and crew. As a result over 1,500 men, women, and children would had no means of escape from the sinking ship.

RMS Carpathia (date unknown)
Image: public domain

4. Carpathia arrives at 4:10 am to rescue survivors who were in lifeboats or able to reach them. 710 survived the initial sinking but the final tally would be 705 due death from freezing cold. SS California would arrive later but would find no survivors. At 12 noon Carpathia sounded her horns and began heading back to New York.* It was the moment that many wives knew for certain their husbands had perished.

Collapsible lifeboat D photographed by passenger on Carpathia on the morning of 15 April 1912. Public Domain(Wikipedia)
Collapsible lifeboat D photographed by passenger on Carpathia on the morning of 15 April 1912.
Public Domain(Wikipedia)

*SS Carpathia was on her way to Fiume then part of Austria-Hungary in the Adriatic Sea. Today the city is Rijeka and major city in Croatia owning to its deep port and cultural significance.

Sources:
Books
Eaton, John P.; Haas, Charles A. (1994). Titanic: Triumph and Tragedy. Wellingborough, UK: Patrick Stephens
Lord, Walter (2005) [1955]. A Night to Remember. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin
Lord, Walter (1987). The Night Lives On. London: Penguin Books
Lynch, Donald (1998). Titanic: An Illustrated History. New York: Hyperion

Websites:
Encyclopedia Titanica: Titanic Facts, History and Biography