Nantucket, MA Ocean Liners REPUBLIC and FLORIDA Crash, Jan 1909

RMS Republic Sinking after the Crash with the Florida, photo from wikipedia.org

Six Killed In Crash at Sea.

The White Star liner Republic, rammed by the Italian liner Florida, in the fog off Nantucket, Mass., when six persons were killed, sank after being kept afloat for thirty-six hours. Her passengers, 1650, taken off many hours before by the steamship Baltic, were landed in New York.

The Republic was in tow of the revenue cutter Gresham and the derelict destroyer Seneca, proceeding to New York, when she sank. On board her was Captain Sealby with a volunteer detail of fifty of her crew. They were taken off by the Gresham, which cast loose from the crippled liner and stood by until she sank beneath the waves.

The Florida, which crashed into the Republic in the dense fog Saturday morning and gave her her death blow, was conveyed to this port by the American liner New York.

From the moment that the Republic was struck amidships by the Florida the danger that she would perish was apparent. The Republic was equipped with wireless telegraphy, and hardly had the shock of the collision passed when her call for help went out to all vessels and shore stations that it might reach. The engines were stopped and the dynamoes dead, but storage batteries had been provided, and as long as they lasted the wireless operator of the Republic continued to send out the call---"C. Q. D."---the ambulance summons of the sea.

Many vessels caught it and turned about to hasten with all speed to the rescue. The huge Baltic, of the same line as the wrecked vessel: La Lorraine, of the French line; the Cunarder Lucania and several revenue cutters along shore were at the fleet that went groping in the almost impenetrable fog, their sirens screaming and submarine bells booming their signals, in search of the helpless ship.

Adams County News, Gettysburg, PA, 30 Jan 1909


RMS Republic was a steam-powered ocean liner built in 1903, and lost at sea in a collision six years later while sailing for the White Star Line. A CQD distress call was issued on the new Marconi radio device, the first recorded, resulting in the saving of around 1500 lives. Known as the "Millionaires' Ship" on account of the number of well-known and immensely rich Americans who traveled by her, she was one of the largest and most luxurious liners afloat; she was frequently referred to as a "palatial" liner.

In early morning of 23 January 1909, while sailing from New York City to Gibraltar and Mediterranean ports with 742 passengers and crew and Captain Inman Sealby (1862–1942) in command, Republic entered a thick fog off the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Amongst the passengers were plenty of illustrious people such as Mrs. Sophie Curtis, wife of George M. Curtis, Mrs. Mary Severance, wife of Cordenio A. Severance, Professor John M. Coulter with wife and children, General Brayton C. Ives, St. Louis millionaire Samuel Cupples, and Mildred Montague, Countess Pasolini. Travelling in first class were also Mr. Leonard L. McMurray, who, in 1915, would survive the sinking of the Cunard liner Lusitania, and Mrs. Bessie Armstead Davis, daughter-in-law of senator Henry G. Davis of West Virginia with two children.