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Copyright © 1983 The Boston Herald

The Boston Herald

November 6, 1983, Sunday


LENGTH: 215 words

HEADLINE: Doomed Ship rammed in killer fog

BYLINE: By Beverly Ford

SOURCE: Boston Herald


Three years before the Titanic found a watery grave at the bottom of the North Atlantic, the SS Republic made maritime history as the first ship to use a radio to wire for help.

The 570-foot Republic had set out from New York for a two-month Mediterranean cruise in January 1909 when it became lost in a dense fog about 50 miles southwest of Nantucket.

As the ship steamed along with its 461 passengers, including members of many prestigious American families, the 15,378-ton vessel was rammed broadside by the 381-foot Italian liner Florida.

Six people died in the accident - four people were killed instantly by the impact and two others died later.

The Republic, however, bolstered by its 16 watertight compartments, managed to remain afloat long enough to evacuate most of its passengers into lifeboats, where they were ferried to the Florida.

As the evacuation progressed, the ship's radio operator began pounding out a distress signal.

That message brought ships steaming to the rescue from a far away as New London, Conn.

The Florida, her bulkheads damaged, managed to limp to shore with some 2,000 passengers on board as the Republic settled on the ocean bottom.

History repeated itself almost 50 years later when, in 1956, the Italian liner Andrea Doria sank in similar circumstances.

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