history of the Republic
Laurel J. Sweet
Thursday, July 7, 2005
She was the
Titanic before there was a Titanic.
in just three years, both prides of the White Star Line's fleet of
palatial passenger liners would go down in history before barely a
barnicle hitched a ride on their bellies.
RMS Republic, flagship of the British cruise company's Boston-Europe
run, had been in service roughly five years on Jan. 23, 1909, when
she was fatally wounded in a collision with another liner, the SS
Florida, in a heavily traveled shipping channel 50 miles south of
Nantucket known as the ``42nd Street of the North Atlantic.''
passengers aboard the Republic and three crewmen from the Florida
were killed. A distress signal from a newfangled invention called
the Marconi wireless telegraph enabled another 1,500 to survive.
Tragically, said Republic historian Capt. Martin Bayerle, who
located the wreck in 1981, some Florida crewmen were promoted to
serve on Titanic.
years later, another infamous liner, the Andrea Doria, would go to
her watery grave only five miles away from the Republic.
570 feet in length, the Republic was 312 feet shorter than Titanic.
Today, she would be dwarfed by the 1,132-foot-long Queen Mary II,
the current reigning queen of the seas.
the past 20 years, Bayerle has recovered hundreds of artifacts from
the ship, including her two mammoth anchors, which today welcome
visitors to the Maritime Museum in Fall River.
In the spring of 1988, Al
Leiter was a starry-eyed kid from New Jersey who earned
a spot in the Yank... [more]