The Story
The Story


About $61,000 Worth Carried on Ill-
Fated Republic

WASHINGTON, Jan. 24. - The Navy Department's stores aboard the Republic destined for Admiral Sperry's battleship fleet, were valued at $61,000. The stores were to have been taken to Gibraltar by the Carmania, but for some reason this plan was changed1 and they were sent on the Republic. They comprised large quantities of fresh and smoked meats, turkeys, potatoes, sugar, butter and eggs. It will be impracticable for the navy to start a fresh cargo in time to meet the battleship fleet at Gibraltar before it departs for the United States [emphasis added by MGB for relationship to possible on-board Navy monies] and the admiral may purchase his meats and other supplies from those aboard the Celtic, which has been sent to Italy for the sufferers, the money to be paid for them being used for other purposes.

Journal of Commerce, January 25, 09, 1:5&6

The incident was one of the great maritime disasters in history. The number of passengers and crew between the FLORIDA and the REPUBLIC numbered over 1,650. The REPUBLIC's passengers were transferred first to the less damaged FLORIDA. The first rescue vessels arrived twelve hours after the collision by which time the REPUBLIC had settled some forty feet by her stern.

Fearing that the FLORIDA may not be able to make port, the survivors were transferred, next, to the recently arrived BALTIC.

It took 83 boatloads and 10 hours to complete the second transfer of passengers. This open water rescue maneuver still stands today as the largest ever recorded. Jack Binns, Republic's Marconiman, became famous; he demonstrated, through its first practical application, how wireless telegraphy could assist those in distress at sea. "Wireless" was credited as the device that enabled the rescue of all of the REPUBLIC's and FLORIDA's crews and passengers, except for those six unfortunate individuals who were killed as a direct result of the collision.

"One thing that has been established beyond doubt is that the Republic's passengers owe their lives to wireless telegraphy. Had it not been for this great invention it would have been impossible for the Republic to have communicated with her sister ships; and, if the fog keeps up as it has for the past two days, we might never have known the fate of the two boats. ..."

Vice President P.A.S. Franklin, White Star Line
New York World, January 24, 1909, 2:5.


1The Cunard Liner Carmania, also on Mediterranean service, departed New York on January 21, 1909, the same day the Russian Loan was originally scheduled to close. However, the Russian Loan was delayed a day, and closed on January 22, 1909, the day the Republic sailed. If the Russian gold was intended to be shipped to Russia via Gibraltar, but Russia had not received title until the loan closed, this could be the explanation for the rescheduling of the US Navy's shipment. If the Republic carried a cargo for the Russian government and was to transfer this shipment to the Russian battleships then at Gibraltar, the off-loading of US Navy supplies at the same time would enhance (make less conspicuous) the security of the transfer. The Russian Loan will be discussed in greater detail in the remainder of this Report, as a possible basis for the existence of the Republic's rumored gold cargo.