CQD, transmitted in Morse code as  — · — ·    — — · —    — · ·  is one of the first distress signals adopted for radio use. It was announced on January 7, 1904, by “Circular 57” of the Marconi International Marine Communication Company, and became effective, for Marconi installations, beginning February 1, 1904.
Land telegraphs had traditionally used “CQ”
to identify messages of interest to all stations along a telegraph
line, and CQ had also been adopted as a “general call” for maritime
radio use. However, in landline usage there was no general emergency
signal, so the Marconi company added a “D” to CQ in order to create its
distress call. Thus, “CQD” is understood by wireless operators to mean,
“All stations: distress.” Contrary to popular belief, CQD does not
stand for “Come Quick, Danger”, “Come Quickly Distress”, “Come Quick –
Drowning!” or “Come Quick, Dammit!”; these are backronyms.
Although used worldwide by Marconi operators, CQD was never adopted
as an international standard since it could be mistaken for a general
call “CQ” if the reception was poor. At the second International
Radiotelegraphic Convention, held in Berlin in 1906, Germany‘s Notzeichen distress signal of three-dots/three-dashes/three-dots (· · ·   — — —   · · · ) was adopted as the international Morse code distress signal. (This distress signal soon became known as “SOS“. Germany had first adopted this distress signal in regulations effective April 1, 1905.)
In the early morning of January 23, 1909, whilst sailing into New York from Liverpool, RMS Republic collided with the Italian liner SS Florida in fog off the island of Nantucket, Massachusetts, United States. This was the first occasion on which the CQD distress call had been sent by wireless transmission. The Radio Operator was Jack Binns [[1]].
This is incorrect. Between 1899 and 1908 there were 9 documented
rescues made by the use of wireless. The first distress call was simply
‘HELP’. By February 1904, the Marconi Wireless Company required all of
it’s operators to use ‘CQD’ for a ship in distress, or requiring URGENT
assistance. We certainly have use of the ‘CQD’ call prior to Mr. Binns
using it. His was the most famous use and rescue using wireless prior
to the Titanic, except there was no major loss of life. Sadly, nothing
was learned from this incident untill we had the massive losses of the
sinking of the RMS Titanic, in 1912.
During the sinking of RMS Titanic in 1912, its radio operator Jack Phillips initially sent “CQD”, still commonly used by British ships. Harold Bride, the junior radio operator, jokingly suggested the new code “SOS” be used, thinking it might be the only time he would get to use it; Phillips began to alternate.
RMS Titanic CQD

SOS …—… By Marina Orlova ( HotForWords )


An amateur radio operator, Royal Signals veteran, jack of all trades and master of none.

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