Titanic's distress signals: The night was alive with a thousand voices
Voices of sparking electricity. Did you know we actually have a pretty good record of all the communication from that night since so many ships were talking to the Titanic and each other. Here are some of them for your viewing pleasure. All times are approximate local time on the Titanic. The three letter call signals were assigned to all ships and land stations, the Titanic’s own being MGY. These aren’t all the messages and it should be remembered throughout this entire time Phillips on the Titanic would have kept sending out the generalized CQD/SOS in the hopes a nearer ship would pick up the signal.
12:15am: Titanic(MGY) starts sending out CQD to all ships giving its position as 41.44 N, 50.24 W
12:15 am - La Provence receives Titanic distress signal
12:15 - Mount Temple heard Titanic sending CQD. Says requires assistance. Gives position. Can not hear me. Advise my captain his position is 41.46 N, 50.24 W
12:18 - Ypiranga hears CQD from Titanic. Titanic gives CQD here. Position 41.44 N, 50.24 W. Requires assistance.(calls about ten times)
12:25 - CQD received by Carpathia. Carpathia says “Do you know Cape Cod is sending a batch of messages for you?’ Titanic says “Come at one. We have struck a berg. It’s a CQD. Position 41.46 N, 50.14 W. Carpathia says “Shall I tell my Captain ?. Do you require assistance ? Titanic says "yes, come quick”
12:25 - Cape Race hears MGY(Titanic) give correct position 41.46 N, 50.14 W. Calling him; no answer.
12:26 - MGY(Titanic) says CQD. Here correct position 41.46N, 50.14W. Require immediate assistance. We have collision with iceberg. Sinking. Can hear nothing for noise of steam.(at this point the Titanic was venting off huge amounts of excess steam that had built up with the engines now stopped as well as crew in the forward boiler rooms starting to put out the boilers which was causing a deafening noise on the boat deck) Sent about fifteen to twenty times to Ypringana.
12:27 DKF (Prinz Friedrich Wilhelm) calls MGY (Titanic) and gives position at 12 a.m. 39.47 N. 50.10 W. MGY (Titanic) says, “Are you coming to our ?” “We have collision with iceberg. Sinking. Please tell Captain to come.” DKF says, “O.K. will tell”
12:28 - Titanic sends following: “I require assistance immediately. Struck by iceberg. 41.46N, 50.14W.”
12:30 - Titanic gives his position to Frankfurt, and says “Tell your captain to come to our help. We are on the ice.”
12:30 - Caronia sends CQ message to MBC(Baltic) and CQD: MGY(Titanic) struck iceberg, require immediate assistance.
12:32 - Carpathia to Titanic: “Putting about and heading for you”
12:30 - Mount Temple hears MGY(Titanic) still calling CQD. Our captain reverses ship. We are about fifty miles off.
12:34 - Mount Temple hears Frankfurt give MGY (Titanic) his position 39.47 N. 52.10 W. Titanic says (to Frankfurt) “ are you coming to our assistance ?” Frankfurt says : “what is the matter with you ?” Tianic says “We have struck an iceberg and sinking. Please tell Captain to come” Frankfurt replies “O.K. Will tell the bridge right away” Titanic says “O.K., yes, quick.”
12:38 - Mount Temple hears Fankfurt give MGY(Titanic) his position, 39.47N, 52.10W
12:45 - Titanic calls Olympic SOS.(at this point, Harold Bride later said he darkly joked to Jack Phillips, “Why not send SOS, it’s the new call, may be the only chance you ever get”)
12:50 - Titanic calls CQD and says ‘I require immediate assistance’. Position 41.46N, 50.14W. Received by Celtic.
12:53 - Caronia calls to MBC(Baltic) ‘SOS MGY CQD in 41.46N, 50.14W Wants immediate assistance.
1 am - MGY gives distress signal. DDC(Cincinnati) replies. MGY’s position 41.46N, 50.14W. Assistance from DDC not necessary, as MKC(Olympic) shortly afterwards answer distress call.
1 am - Titanic replies to Olympic and gives his position as 41.46N, 50.14W and says ‘We have struck a berg’.
1:02 - Titanic calls Asian and says “want immediate assistance’. Asian answered at once and received Titanic’s position as 41.46N, 50.14W which he immediately takes to the bridge. Captain instructs operator to have Titanic’s position repeated.
1:02 - Virginian calls Titanic but gets no response. Cape Race tells Virginian to report his captain that Titanic has struck iceberg and requires immediate assistance.
1:10 - Titanic to MKC(Olympic) ‘We are in collision with berg. Sinking head down; 41.46N, 50.14W. Come as soon as possible’
1:10 - Titanic to MKC(Olympic), captain says, ‘Get your boats ready, What is your position?’
1:15 - Baltic to Caronia, ‘Please tell Titanic we are making toward her.’
1:20 - Virginian hears MCE(Cape Race) inform MGY ‘that we are going to his assistance. Our position 170 miles north of Titanic.(I’m not sure who exactly Cape Race was relaying the message for. Cape Race being a land station obviously wasn’t steaming toward the Titanic. It may be the Frankfurt)
1:25 - Caronia tells Titanic, ‘Baltic coming to your assistance.’
1:25 - Olympic sends position to Titanic 4:24 am GMT. 40.52N, 61.18W. ‘Are you steering southerly to meet us?’ Titanic replies, ‘We are putting the women off in boats.’
1:25 - Titanic and Olympic work together
1:27 - MGY says ‘We are putting the women off in the boats’
1:30 - Titanic tells Olympic ‘We are putting passengers off in small boats.’
1:35 - Olympic asks Titanic what weather she had. Titanic replies, ‘Clear and calm’
1:35 - Baltic hears Titanic say ‘Engine room getting flooded’
1:35 - Mount Temple hears DFT(Frankfurt) ask ‘Are there any boats around you already?’ No reply.
1:37 - Baltic tells Titanic, ‘We are rushing to you’
1:40 - Olympic to Titanic, ‘Am lighting up all possible boilers as fast as can’
1:40 - Cape Race says to Virginian, ‘Please tell your captain this: The Olympic is making all speed for Titanic, but his position is 40.32N, 61.18W. You are much nearer to Titanic. The Titanic is already putting women off in the boats, and he says the weather there is ‘calm and clear.” The Olympic is the only ship we have heard say, “Going to the assistance of the Titanic.” The others must be a long way from the Titanic.
1:45 - Last signals heard from Titanic by Carpathia, ‘Engine room full up to boilers.’
1:45 - Mount Temple hears Frankfurt calling MGY. No Reply
1:47 - Caronia hears MGY though signals unreadable still
1:48 Asian heard Titanic call SOS. Asian answers Titanic but receives no response. Frankfurt calls Titanic and says ‘Whats the matter with you?’ Titanic replies ‘You fool, stdbi and keep out’
1:50 - Caronia hears Frankfurt working with Titanic. Frankfurt according to position is 172 miles from MGY at time first SOS sent.(Frankfurt may be who Cape Race had been referring to earlier)
1:55 - Cape Race says to Virginian ‘We have not heard Titanic for about half an hour. His power may be gone’
2 am - Virginian hears Titanic calling very faintly, his power being greatly reduced.
2:10 - Virginian hears 2 V’s signaled faintly in spark similar to Titanic’s, probably adjusting spark.
2:17 - Virginian hears Titanic call CQ but unable to read him. Titainc’s signals end very abruptly, as power suddenly switched off. His spark rather blurred and ragged. Called MGY and suggested he should try emergency set, but heard no response.
2:20 - Olympic, his signal strong, asked him if he had heard anything about MGY. He says, ‘No, Keeping strict watch, but hear nothing more from MGY.’ No reply from Olympic.
At around this point with the power going and the water lapping at the boat deck, Harold Bride and Jack Phillips left the wireless room. Bridge went to boat B to try to help with its launch and lost track of Phillips. Phillips as well as Bridge eventually wound up on the capsized boat B, Phillips however did not survive. Bride eventually volunteered to take over the wireless set on the Carpathia to give its beleaguered operator some rest after being up for so long sending out survivor names.
Or course though, the messages go on post sinking
2:40 - Carpathia tries calling MGY. Says ‘If you are there we are firing rockets’
2:55 - SBA (Birma) thinks he hears Titanic so sends, “Steaming full speed for you. Shall arrive you 6-0 in morning. Hope you are safe. We are only 50 miles now.”
3 am - Carpathia continues to try to call Titanic.
3:30 - La Provence to Celtic, ‘No one has heard from Titanic for near 2 hours’
4:25 - SBA (Birma) says “we are 30 miles S.W. off Titanic”.
6:30 am - Parisian hears weak signals from MPA (Carpathia) or some station saying Titanic struck iceberg. Carpathia has passengers from lifeboats
6:40 - Asian, with German oil tank in tow for Halifax asked what news of MGY (Titanic). Sends service (message) later saying heard MGY (Titanic) v. faint working. C. Race up to 10.0 p.m., local time. Finished calling SOS midnight.
7:30 - Mount Temple hears MPA (Carpathia) report rescued 20 boat loads.
8am - Baltic sends following to Carpathia: “Can I be of any assistance to you as regards taking some of the passengers from you? Will be in position about 4-30. Let me know if you alter your position.” Baltic and Carpathia exchange messages. Eventually decided for Baltic to resume its previous course.
The Carpathia would then go on to give details to the Olympic as well as to ships that had gathered in the area. Carpathia then sends a CQ to all ships and informs them they no longer have to stand by, and is going to proceed to either Halifax or New York with all survivors.