SS Haimun

SS Haimun was a Chinese steamer ship commanded by war correspondent Lionel James in 1904 during the Russo-Japanese War for The Times of London. It is the first-known instance of a "press boat" dedicated to war correspondence during naval battles.[1]

The recent advent of wireless telegraphy meant that reporters were no longer limited to submitting their stories from land-based offices, and The Times spent 74 days outfitting and equipping the ship,[2] installing a De Forest transmitter aboard the ship.

The ship sent its first news story on 15 March 1904.[1]

While they covered naval manoeuvres in Port Arthur and the Gulf of Pechili, De Forest employee H. J. Brown[3] was careful to only transmit their stories to the British-ruled Weihaiwei receiving office from the waters belonging to neutral countries, or within international waters. The receiving tower was manned by 21-year-old De Forest employee H. E. Ahearn.[3]

Nevertheless, the ship's presence during wartime meant that it quickly aroused suspicion, and it was boarded and searched several times by Japanese ships, as well as being shot across the bow[4] by the Russian warship Bayan.

On 15 April 1904, the Russian government announced its intentions to seize any ships owned by neutral countries that had the radio equipment that could potentially give away their military positions to enemies, a thinly veiled threat against Haimun. Lord Lansdowne quickly dismissed the Russian announcement as "unjustifiable and altogether absurd".[5]

In the end, faced with the prospect of Russian charges of espionage as well as Japanese indignation at not having been foretold about the receiving station constructed without their permission,[6] James dismantled and abandoned the boat, from which he had sent 10,000 words of copy,[7] and continued his war correspondence the traditional way through Weihaiwei.[1][8]

SS Haimun
1905 SS Haimun
SS Haimun at Anchor off Chinampo
General characteristics
Type: Steamboat


  1. ^ a b c Slattery, Peter (2004). Reporting the Russo-Japanese War, 1904-5: Lionel James's first wireless transmissions to the times. ISBN 1-901903-57-5.
  2. ^ "First messages from the Yellow Sea". The Times. 11 March 2004. Archived from the original on 2008-12-02.
  3. ^ a b "Wireless Workers Back from the Scene of War" (pdf). The New York Times. 21 August 1904.
  4. ^ Maver, William (August 1904). "Wireless Telegraphy Today". The American Monthly Review of Reviews. pp. 191–197. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28.
  5. ^ Higgins, A. Pearce (1912). War and the Private Citizen. pp. 91–93.
  6. ^ Curtin, Sean, ed. (January 2006). "Japan Book Review" (PDF). Japan Society of the UK. p. 7. Archived from the original (pdf) on 2009-03-20.
  7. ^ "The De Forest Wireless Telegraphy Tower: Bulletin No. 1". Early Radio History. Summer 1904.
  8. ^ Robertson, Patrick. Robertson's Book of Firsts: Who Did What for the First Time. Bloomsbury Publishing (2011). p.891
1900s (decade)

The 1900s (pronounced "nineteen-hundreds") was a decade of the Gregorian calendar that began on January 1, 1900, and ended on December 31, 1909. The term "nineteen-hundreds" can also mean the entire century 1900–1999 years beginning with a 19 (see 1900s). The Edwardian era (1901–1910) covers a similar span of time.

Lee de Forest

Lee de Forest (August 26, 1873 – June 30, 1961) was an American inventor, self-described "Father of Radio", and a pioneer in the development of sound-on-film recording used for motion pictures. He had over 180 patents, but also a tumultuous career—he boasted that he made, then lost, four fortunes. He was also involved in several major patent lawsuits, spent a substantial part of his income on legal bills, and was even tried (and acquitted) for mail fraud. His most famous invention, in 1906, was the three-element "Audion" (triode) vacuum tube, the first practical amplification device. Although De Forest had only a limited understanding of how it worked, it was the foundation of the field of electronics, making possible radio broadcasting, long distance telephone lines, and talking motion pictures, among countless other applications.

Military attachés and observers in the Russo-Japanese War

Military attachés and observers in the Russo-Japanese War were historians creating first-hand accounts of what was arguably the world's first modern war. They helped to create primary-source records of this war between Imperial Russian forces and Imperial Japan forces, which has been characterized by some as a rehearsal for the First World War.

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