August 11, 1909 - On this night a wireless operator named T.D. Haubner sent the first SOS call from an American steamship. The incident happened off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina.
Haubner was on the SS Arapahoe when the ship lost its screw near Diamond Shoals. Thankfully the signal was received at a wireless station in Hatteras and the steamer Huron was dispatched to take the stricken ship in tow.
The SOS distress code had been adopted as the international standard in 1906. Chosen for its simplicity, it's a continuous string of three-dits/three-dahs/three-dits in morse code (... _ _ _ ...).
Contrary to popular belief, SOS is not an acronym for "save our ship" or "save our souls." Rather, the sequence of those letters in morse code was chosen for the ease with which they could be transmitted and translated.
A few months later, the SS Iroquois sent out an SOS call that was received by none other than T.D. Haubner aboard the Arapahoe. Thus, Haubner was involved in the first two SOS incidents in America - first as the sender, and secondly as the receiver.