"Titanic's" First Victim

"Titanic's" First Victim

Postby Thomas Golembiewski on Fri Jul 24, 2009 4:34 pm

I came across the following news item, which makes mention that the Titanic's submarine phone operator would likely have been the ship's first victim of the collision with the berg:

Chicago Daily News, Wednesday, April 17, 1912, p. 2, c. 4:

“Ears” of Titanic Fail

Local Hydrographic Experts Tell of Device on Bows to Catch Vibrations.

Iceberg’s Drift Noiseless

Operator of Submarine Phone Probably Crushed
At His Post When Prow Was Smashed


A ship’s “ears” formed a novel subject of discussion in the federal building and elsewhere to-day as one result of the Titanic disaster.

That liner, like all other ocean going steamships, is equipped with a pair of “ears”—a contrivance attached to the ship’s bows just in front of the forepeak. The “ears” are designed to record all sound vibrations which impinge upon them and transmit them to a disk where a receiving operator sits, alert for unseen perils. “But an iceberg—huge, derelict engine of destruction that it is—moves in silence.

The monstrous hulk of jagged ice which bore awkwardly down the Labrador current sent forth no intimation of its menace. No rumblings reached the operator at the submarine telephone of the Titanic until the shock of impact hurled him from his post.

If, as is believed, the crash crushed the bow of the vessel, it is probable that the operator was the first victim of the disaster, said nautical experts to-day. The submarine telephone failed to sound its warning of doom.

Explain Workings of Instrument

John A. McAleer, nautical expert stationed at the government hydrographic office, and Lieut. J. A. Comfort, U.S.N., in charge of the station, explained the workings of the submarine telephone to a reporter for The Daily News.

“Although practically all ocean vessels are equipped with the “ears,” they would avail nothing. In an accident such as happened to the Titanic,” said Mr. McAleer. “There must be some outside stimulus such as a bell ringing on a buoy, or the blowing of a whistle. Icebergs, of course, jog along with the current without making any appreciable sound. It is likely that the operator aboard the Titanic had no intimation of the proximity of the berg up to the time of the crash.

Best Service Near Coast

“Submarine phones do their best service on lightships and vessels doing duty near the coast. It is necessary in case of fog to be warned of the nearness of other ships, and when the phenomenon called the opacity of the air occurs horn signals and even discharges of guncotton cannot be heard. The submarine phones record vibrations, no matter what the weather is. They are useful up to a distance of about seven nautical miles.”

An interesting side light on the rescue of 868 passengers from the Titanic was given by Mr. McAleer when he explained the modern method of lowering boats into the sea in case of shipwreck.

Patent Davits Help in Saving Life

“I believe the fact that the boats were lowered safely and that those taken off the wreck were safely placed aboard the Carpathia is due to the Welin davits with which the ship was equipped. Where formerly six men or more were required to lower a boat one or two can do the work and in one-third the time.

This news item has also been posted under the category of "Everything Else," under the topic: "Submarine phone, "Ship's Ears," which I had no idea the Titanic had . . . at least, I've never read anything about the ship's "submarine phone."

The article goes on to mention that the first victim of the tragedy would've been the Titanic's submarine phone operator---a position I had no knowledge . . .

Now, here goes:

Was the submarine phone operator, if one was aboard---whoever he was---the Titanic's first victim?

If not . . .

Who? Who was the first victim of the Titanic disaster?
Thomas Golembiewski
Posts: 231
Joined: Mon Nov 03, 2008 10:13 pm

Re: "Titanic's" First Victim

Postby Arlene Blundell on Fri Aug 14, 2015 1:42 pm

Just exactly where can we say that the disaster of "Titanic actually began?

The iceberg collision was a full stop at the end of a very long paragraph of mistakes. Which one was decisive? Which decision, can we surmise, doomed the liner from that point onward and made all other decisions a chain of events that culminated in 1,500 odd people getting tossed into frigid waters?

My guess for the first victim? The workers that were killed in the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast.

I'm not being pedantic. :ugeek:
Arlene Blundell
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Joined: Wed Nov 05, 2014 7:59 am

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