Jack Binns, the first hero of maritime wireless, was born in Brigg, Lincolnshire, England, on 16 September 1884.
Binns, a Marconi wireless operator, made history and undoubtedly saved many lives on 23 January 1909 by sending the “CQD” distress call from the stricken White Star liner Republic and then steadfastly handling emergency communications for some 36 hours.
Republic had sailed from New York the previous day, bound for a Mediterranean cruise. She was moving cautiously through a thick fog near the Nantucket lightship when Capt. Inman Sealby and his crew heard a foghorn booming through the darkness. An unknown ship was speeding toward Republic.
The two vessels began exchanging whistle blasts, each believing that the other would turn to starboard, thereby avoiding a collision. Yet as the blasts of the mystery ship drew nearer, Republic abruptly reversed her engines and slowed to a stop. Meanwhile, instead of turning away, the other ship—the Lloyd Italiano liner Florida—plowed on, directly into Republic’s hull.
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