The Wireless Operators

The wireless operators (Radio Officers or, as they were known in those days, Marconi wireless operators or telegraphists), Jack Philips (25) and his assistant Harold Bride (21), weren't employed by the White Star Line, but rather by the Marconi Wireless Company.

Jack Philips

Jack Philips

Harold Bride

Harold Bride

Jack Phillips died of hypothermia on or near Collapsible lifeboat B - his body was never recovered. Harold Bride left the sea after WW1, he died in Scotland in 1956.

The Titanic's last distress message, sent in Intercontinental Morse Cose, was:

CQD CQD SOS SOS CQD DE MGY MGY

"CQD" was the common international distress signal in use at the time; "SOS" was a newer distress signal. "DE" is the international code meaning "from", adopted from the French preposition of the same meaning. "MGY" was the Titanic's call signal. The signal was keyed by Jack Phillips.

Ship to shore wireless transmissions was in its infancy and was viewed as more of a convenience rather than a means of an integral part of the ships command. The operators were under the Captain's command, but only as far as receiving and transmitting messages of importance of the ship. Their main job was tending to the passengers telegrams while at sea. The ships weather reports and ship to ship telegrams came second as they weren't paying customers.

The Titanic's "wireless" equipment was the most powerful in use at the time. The main transmitter was a rotary spark design, powered by a 5 kW motor alternator, fed from the ship's lighting circuit. The equipment operated into a 4 wire antenna suspended between the ship's 2 masts, some 250 feet above the sea. There was also a battery powered emergency transmitter. The main transmitter was housed in a special room, known as the "Silent Room". This room was located next door to the operating room, and specially insulated to reduce interference to the main receiver. The equipment's guaranteed working range was 250 miles, but communications could be maintained for up to 400 miles during daylight and up to 2,000 miles at night.