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Virginia Utermohlen on: The Lessons of the Republic
Virginia Utermohlen Q: What did Binns think the lessons of the "Republic" were? What did he want for every ship?

VU: What this accident made clear to Binnsy was that wireless could be used not just to send love notes or ticker tape messages or other financial stuff across the distances, but rather it was absolutely critical as a means for rescuing people. On land and at sea, and particularly at sea, because he was well aware of the dangers of say, for instance, icebergs and ships crashing into each other and so forth. And so, the first thing he did when he got a chance was go to Congress and talk with people there in the hopes of having legislation which would guarantee that there would be 24-hour Marconi service on every ship, or at least if it isn't Marconi, some company, some telegraphing that would be available 24 hours. What normally happened was the Marconi people would send all the messages they had to for the day and then go to sleep. And when they were asleep no messages could get through. And during that time, in fact, was the time when the "Titanic" went down. There was another ship that had passed and the wireless operator was fast asleep. And if he had not been asleep, if there had been actually two people on a ship system, that ship could have gotten there and rescued some of the passengers at least of the "Titanic." And Binnsy foresaw this and he went and really labored hard in Congress and wrote articles that showed that these were real dangers and that telegraphy could help. And indeed, it wasn't until a real disaster had occurred that you could talk about it.

One of the great sadnesses for him, in a funny way, was that he and Captain Sealby and the people on the "Republic" were so successful in making what might have been a terrible disaster a complete or very nearly complete rescue. And it took a disaster with lots of lives lost before people woke up. And to him this was something that, you know, even when I knew him he would talk about this with great sadness, about the fact that it took real deaths before anybody woke and said, hey maybe there is something to telegraphy beyond just sending love letters or financial messages or other things for the better-off people on a ship.

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