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Republic II was originally laid down at Harland and Wolff's Belfast yard as the Columbus, for the Dominion Line in 1903, with her launch taking place on 26th February, 1903. Columbus' maiden voyage between Liverpool and Boston followed on 1st October, 1903, but before the year was out, she was transferred to the White Star Line, and renamed Republic II.

Republic II made her first White Star Line sailing on December 17th, between Liverpool and Boston.

In the October of 1904, Republic II was transferred to the Liverpool - Boston route, and then the New York - Mediterranean service.

On January 22nd, 1909, Republic II left New York carrying 525 passengers, and 297 members of crew, bound for Madeira and Naples. On the 23rd, just one day into the voyage, Republic II was rammed in thick fog by the Lloyd Italiano Line's ship Florida, off Nantucket, about 175 miles off the Ambrose Light.

Republic II was hit on her port-side, aft of midships, flooding the engine room, and for the very first time, the radio signal C.Q.D., Come Quick Danger, was despatched. The Marconi radio station at Siasconsett, Massachusetts, relayed the message, which was then picked-up by Baltic II, which was of course one of Republic II's fellow stablemates. Baltic II turned and headed to Republic II's position in order to assist with a rescue at 06.02a.m. All of Republic II's passengers were transferred to the nearby Florida, leaving a token skeleton crew of 47 aboard.

Four other ships, Furnessia, La Lorraine, Lucania and the New York also received the messages, and made their way to assist with the rescue, and U.S. Coastguard vessels also set-off from New York. When Baltic II arrived on the scene, still in thick fog, she took off all of the Florida's 800+ passengers, together with those from the Republic II. A line from the U.S. Coastguard revenue cutter Gresham was then put on Republic II, which was dead in the water, with a slight list to port. Furnessia also put a line astern in order to provide steerage.

The following day, 24th January, Republic II was taken under tow by the U.S Coastguard vessel Seneca at dawn. Florida was escorted into port by the New York. At 20.05hrs., Republic II started to settle, and before the skeleton crew could be removed, she sank quickly by the stern, and Captain Sealby, together with the crew, had to be rescued.

Republic II sank off Martha's Vineyard in 34 fathoms of water, making her the largest liner to be lost at sea, at that time.

White Star Line sued the Lloyd Italio Line, Florida's owners, which was sold to pay the compensation after repairs.

 

N.B. Image source http://www.simplonpc.co.uk

 

 

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