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Old 21st Jan 2022, 12:30 am   #28
Join Date: Nov 2013
Location: Penrith, Cumbria, UK
Posts: 1,948
Default Re: On-board ship communications

Originally Posted by roadster541 View Post
In reply to Merlin's question, There wasn't generally a connection between ships' internal phone system and a shore line. In the pre satelite phone days, as mentioned in a previous post by an ex RO, any personal messages would have to go through the RO and be sent via HF radio if deep sea and generally only for serious health problems, births or deaths.
Nowadays there is generally Wifi on board for crew use as well as official business, using satelite phone at sea and local mobile network when in port.
Mechanical telegraphs were in use on new vessels up to around 1960. Those which I remember used a chain connection similar in size to a bicycle chain; not a problem when the bridge was directly above the ER, but when the bridge was midships and the ER aft, that would mean very long chain runs.
The electric telegraph took over in the 1960s and remained the primary means of engine control communication until bridge control of the main engine(s) became commonplace in the 1970s.
I may of course have been lucky in that I did my cadetship with a company that embraced relatively modern technology in its newbuilds, but none of the ships I sailed in that were built in the 1950s had anything other than a Robinsons or similar electric telegraph.
As to verbal comms, the sound powered telephone was present in all vessels to enable comms between all places that mattered, ie Bridge ER Steering Flat and masters bedroom. (not cabin)
and the old soundpipe to the masters cabin and ER was in evidence, and it was used.
Most ships I was in had a morse key of some sort on the bridge that operated an all round light usually mounted at the top of the signal mast above the wheelhouse, not used much but there in case.
a previous posters comment about "Shuttered searchlight" would be the Signal lamp, usually called the "Aldis" in much the same way as all vacuum cleaners are called "hoovers", there were a few methods of executing the shuttering action, some more reliable than others. They did make a usable portable searchlight though.
For reasons that may be explained by psychologists, Radio Officers capable of phenomenal morse speeds seemed to hate sending messages vis signal lamp, whereas deck officers like myself had a similar phobia about morse sent by "sound", this is a topic I have discussed with fellow radio amateurs and there must be a reason for it.
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