Outtakes, Part 2: The Virginian Transmissions

It is commonly believed that the last transmissions from the Titanic were received at 12:27 am New York Time (2:29 am, Titanic time), overheard by the Marconi operator on the Virginian. However, if true, this would preclude the 2 hour and 2 minute time difference ahead of New York which is supported by the vast majority of evidence. This question is particularly thorny because ever since Harold Bride testified in 1912, it has often been said that Titanic's Marconi set was completely unique, featuring a "rotary spark gap"-style discharger that Bride claimed was the only one of its sort then at sea. The sound of this set, it has been pointed out, should have been unmistakable to operators like the one aboard the Virginian.

We were already aware, however, of the fact that another vessel thought they heard Titanic transmitting long after she had sunk by any purported time difference; so her voice was not wholly unmistakable. As we dug deeper on this subject for "Time & Again: Titanic's Final Hours", however, we made some startling discoveries. 1) that all three of the late transmissions overheard by Virginian's operator were likely not from the Titanic; 2) that a number of sets using rotary spark dischargers had been installed on land and marine sets by the time Titanic sank; 3) that a critical gap in Virginian's log showed that her operator had claimed not to have heard Titanic transmitting even when other ships claimed they could hear her.

Find out much, much more on this subject in our article, available for download here in PDF format:

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