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CQD, cqd training
CQD transmitted in Morse code as ▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄▄ is one of the first distress signals adopted for radio use It was announced on 7 January 1904, by "Circular 57" of the Marconi International Marine Communication Company, and became effective, beginning 1 February 1904 for Marconi installations

Land telegraphs had traditionally used "CQ" "sécu", from the French word sécurité to identify alert or precautionary 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" "distress" to CQ in order to create its distress call Sending "D" was already used internationally to indicate an urgent message 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 "C Q Danger" Seek You, Danger; 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 were 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" because it can be thought of as the Morse codes for those letters if run together without an intervening gap - by contrast CQD is transmitted as 3 distinct letters with a short gap between each Germany had first adopted this distress signal in regulations effective 1 April 1905

Between 1899 and 1908, nine documented rescues were made by the use of wireless The earliest of these was a distress call from the East Goodwin lightship However, for the earliest of these, there was no standardized distress signal The first US ship to send a wireless distress call in 1905 simply sent HELP in both International Morse and American Morse By February 1904, the Marconi Wireless Company required all of its operators to use CQD for a ship in distress or for requiring URGENT assistance In the early morning of 23 January 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 Radio Operator Jack Binns sent the CQD distress signal by wireless transmission

In April 1912, RMS Titanic radio operator Jack Phillips initially sent "CQD", which was still commonly used by British ships Harold Bride, the junior radio operator, suggested using "SOS", saying half-jokingly that it might be his last chance to use the new code Phillips thereafter began to alternate between the two Though Bride would survive the sinking, Phillips, in fact, would not

See also

  • 500 kHz Morse distress frequency
  • 2182 kHz voice distress frequency
  • Distress signal
  • Global Maritime Distress Safety System
  • Mayday
  • Prosigns for Morse code
  • SOS


  1. ^ Le Robert & Collins Senior 2002, Dictionnaire français-anglais, anglais-français, Paris: Dictionnaires Le Robert-VUEF re: sécurité : eg des mesures de sécurité, "safety measures, precautions, or alerts"
  2. ^ a b Campbell, p 218
  3. ^ Jack Binns: Hero Archived 2009-06-18 at the Wayback Machine
  4. ^ Campbell 2008: 1911


  • Stephan Dubreuil, Come Quick, Danger: A History of Marine Radio in Canada, Ottawa: Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Coast Guard, 1998 OCLC 39748172
  • Pete Caesar, SOS CQD: Four Ships in Trouble, Muskegon, Mich: Marine Press, 1977 OCLC 3182026
  • Ballard C Campbell,Disasters, Accidents, and Crises in American History, Infobase Publishing, 2008 ISBN 1438130120

External links

  • "C Q D" by Alfred M Caddell "C Q D" by Alfred M Caddell—from Radio Broadcast, April 1924, pages 449–455; described as "The Story of the First Sea Rescue by Radio"

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