There is much mystery and misinformation surrounding the origin and use of maritime distress calls. Most of the general populace believes that "SOS" signifies "Save Our Ship." Casual students of radio history are aware that the use of "SOS" was preceded by "CQD." Why were these signals adopted? When were they used?
The practical use of wireless telegraphy was made possible by Guglielmo Marconi in the closing years of the 19th century. Until then, ships at sea out of visual range were very much isolated from shore and other ships. The wireless telegraphers used Morse Code to send messages. Morse Code is a way of "tapping" out letters using a series of dots (short signals) and dashes (long signals). Spoken, short signals are referred to as "dih" and long signals are referred to as "dah". The letter "A" is represented by a dot followed by a dash:
By 1904 there were many trans-Atlantic British ships equipped with wireless communications. The wireless operators came from the ranks of railroad and postal telegraphers. In England a general call on the landline wire was a "CQ." "CQ" preceded time signals and special notices. "CQ" was generally adopted by telegraph and cable stations all over the world. By using "CQ," each station receives a message from a single transmission and an economy of time and labor was realized. Naturally, "CQ," went with the operators to sea and was likewise used for a general call. This sign for "all stations" was adopted soon after wireless came into being by both ships and shore stations.
In 1904, the Marconi company suggested the use of "CQD" for a distress signal. Although generally accepted to mean, "Come Quick Danger," that is not the case. It is a general call, "CQ," followed by "D," meaning distress. A strict interpretation would be "All stations, Distress."
At the second Berlin Radiotelegraphic Conference 1906, the subject of a danger signal was again addressed. Considerable discussion ensued and finally SOS was adopted. The thinking was that three dots, three dashes and three dots could not be misinterpreted. It was to be sent together as one string.
The Marconi Yearbook of Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony , 1918 states, "This signal [SOS] was adopted simply on account of its easy radiation and its unmistakable character. There is no special signification in the letter themselves, and it is entirely incorrect to put full stops between them [the letters]." All the popular interpretations of "SOS," "Save or Ship," "Save Our Souls," or "Send Out Succour" are simply not valid. Stations hearing this distress call were to immediately cease handling traffic until the emergency was over and were likewise bound to answer the distress signal.
Although the use of "SOS" was officially ratified in 1908, the use of "CQD" lingered for several more years, especially in British service where it originated. It is well documented in personal accounts of Harold Bride, second Radio Officer, and in the logs of the SS Carpathia, that the Titanic first used "CQD" to call for help. When Captain Smith gave the order to radio for help, first radio officer Jack Phillips sent "CQD" six times followed by the Titanic call letters, "MGY." Later, at Brides suggestion, Phillips interspersed his calls with "SOS." In SOS to the Rescue, 1935, author Baarslag notes, "Although adopted intentionally in 1908, it [SOS] had not completely displaced the older 'CQD' in the British operators' affections." (It is interesting to observe that Marconi was waiting in New York to return home to England on the Titanic.)
The first recorded American use of "SOS" was in August of 1909. Wireless operator T. D. Haubner of the SS Arapahoe radioed for help when his ship lost its screw near Diamond Shoals, sometimes called the "Graveyard of the Atlantic." The call was heard by the United Wireless station "HA" at Hatteras. A few months later, the SS Arapahoe received an "SOS" distress call from the SS Iroquois. Radio Officer Haubner therefore has the distinction of being involved in the first two incidents of the use of "SOS" in America, the first as the sender and the second as the receiver. The U.S. did not officially adopt "SOS" until 1912, being slow to adopt international wireless standards. Source(s):
http://www.boatsafe.com/nauticalknowhow/060199tip6.htm S.O.S. came from Morse Code. It is a distress call which is made up of three dots, three dashes, and three dots.
It doesn't really stand for anything - just a simple, easy code used as a distress call. And it does NOT stand for "Save Our Ship" as I used to believe when I was six years old. save our ship idk sending out signal maybe? Save our souls used to be a short call of distress for ships that meant save our ship. but some made it into save our souls. Contrary to popular notion, the letters SOS do not stand for "Save Our Ship" or "Save Our Souls". They were selected to indicate a distress because, in Morse code, these letters and their combination create an unmistakeable sound pattern.
this was from a quick net search Save Our Souls = S.O.S. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SOS save our souls Save our Souls Contrary to folklore, "SOS" does not stand for "Save Our Souls." The otherwise meaningless string of letters was selected because it is easily recognizable and can be sent rapidly. SOS means "Save Our Souls".
BUT: Actually it was "CQD" - "Come Quick, Desaster!"
It was turned to "SOS" because it's easier to morse:
... --- ...
THEN they invented "Save Our Souls" save our ship Save
Our = SOS
Souls It originally was created by British Sailors...and means Save Our Souls. It was abbreviated to SOS for the purposes of Morse Code. save our ship
save our souls save our ship it stands for Save Our Souls, not Ship, because it is and was used by aircraft as well same old soldier ? It literally means Save Our Souls and was tapped out in morse code with three dots (3 short tapping sounds) for S followed by three dashes (lever held down for 3 long sounds) for the O and then three more dots. Generally used by sailors in distress when the ship is going down. SAVE OUR SOULS From what I learn from Holywood Movie I think it stand for "S h it Oh S h it" SOS means save our souls. This distress signal was sent out in Morse code by ships by flashing three dots three flashes and three dots again. SoS is a distress call meaning "Save Our Souls"
This distress signal was used on the Titanic as well as many other disasters.
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