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Short history of the Republic
By Laurel J. Sweet
Thursday, July 7, 2005

She was the Titanic before there was a Titanic.
     But 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.
     The 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.''
     Three 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.
     Forty-seven years later, another infamous liner, the Andrea Doria, would go to her watery grave only five miles away from the Republic.
     At 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.
     In 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.
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