Communication at Sea

BlythSpirit
31st December 2007, 12:29
Can anyone enlighten me on the modern methods of communicating whilst at sea. I presume mobile phones work when within range of a roaming network, but what about the internet?

I can sit here in sunny Blyth and watch Newcastle United playing every weekend live, re-broadcast from the Far East on my laptop. ( You can see I am a masochist!!)

What can modern seamen avail themselves of?

Bill Davies
31st December 2007, 12:34
BlythSpirit,
This sight is 'down by the head' with sparkies who will no doubt elaborate. I still have a valid General Operators Certificate but will leave it to the experts.
Bill

Pat McCardle
31st December 2007, 13:11
Emails, Sat B phone & Fax, Sat C, VHF, MF, HF. Full internet connection coming soon?

Kristjan Elíasson
31st December 2007, 13:22
Telephone over the internet aswell as Irridium, you name it.

BlythSpirit
31st December 2007, 16:41
Thanks gents - it must be a great boon to seafarers nowadays.

JoK
31st December 2007, 17:01
Broadband satellite with TV, telephone, internet and the ship with it's own fibreoptic network.

A lot better then the 1 month old newspaper we used to fight over!!

K urgess
31st December 2007, 17:10
Cor! As recent a newspaper as that![=P]

MikeK
31st December 2007, 18:28
All singing bells and whistles nowadays are ok, but there was something special when it was your turn to get hold of the one weeks airmail edition of the Daily Mirror (With the yellow covers - remember ?) No matter how out of date it was !!
Mike

Pompeyfan
31st December 2007, 21:37
Internet at sea is very slow and very expensive as I can vouch. My 12 night cruise last month aboard Aurora which I sent reports to SN direct from the ship cost me £100. This is because the signals are received by satellite. Orange, my server is even slower over the satellite than other providers or Hotmail which is much quicker. It took about 7 minutes for my e-mails to come up.

On the Oriana world cruise earlier this year, where I sent longer live reports to SN on my way out to Australia, and to check e-mails, it cost over £300. No broadband at sea. There are also black spots where satellites change from one to another or where countries block the signal.

Mobiles phones at sea are now connected by MCP(Marine Communications Partner)This is very expensive. When at sea, MCP or 901 12 are displayed on the screen if connected. Closer to land and in port the phone switches to the provider of that country. I had Vodaphone passport so only turned the phone on in port. If memory serves me correct, it was something like £10 per minute at sea using MCP.

Far cheaper to use the phone in your cabin. Still expensive, and not sure what system the ship itself uses, but you can ring home whether at sea or in port.

Hope this answers your question BlythSpirit.

David

BlythSpirit
1st January 2008, 12:11
Thanks again gents - as MikeK says - the weeks worth of Daily Mirror in the yellow cover was a pleasure indeed back in the 60s!

Orbitaman
1st January 2008, 12:22
Pompeyfan,
You should remember that you are also paying a premium to the Cruise line for the privilege of using the system.

For the average Joe at sea, the cost is significantly cheaper. A pre-paid calling card costing $10 will buy a seafarer a minimum of 20 minutes call duration for whatever use. Some companies will allow crew free e-mail whilst others will charge relative to the cost of the connection to the satellite system. I have visited ships that have a live satellite TV and internet system and the crew get the use of this for free - or did when I was visiting.

trotterdotpom
1st January 2008, 13:00
I still remember the excited anticipation waiting for mail and the pleasure of receiving it at infrequent intervals. Also the disappointment of not receiving it, but you win some, you lose some - especially if your name is "John".

Of course, it's nice to have the ease of communication today, but the pleasure must have been diluted somewhat compared with the old days.

Pompeyfan, you were robbed - I could have knocked you out an SLT (Ship Letter Telegram) for ten bob!

John T.

K urgess
1st January 2008, 13:17
Here you go, John

Peter4447
1st January 2008, 13:29
All these new fangled gadgets!
I spent hours when a school practising semaphore and lamp morse under the watchful eye of an old British India Master who taught seamenship and mathmatics.
I'm not sure but I don't think there is any requirement for Grey Funnel signalmen to learn semaphore anymore.
Baa Humbug!
Peter4447

Pompeyfan
1st January 2008, 13:36
Orbitaman

Yes, I know the cruise company is making money, and it is cheaper for crew. But they too moan. It is the slowness of the system which is much slower we found in the southern hemisphere. But mobiles at sea using MCP is the same rate for everybody.

In future I will wait until I get back home before looking at e-mails or writing about the trip. When aboard Oriana I thought it nice to report direct from the ship, and carried on the same with Aurora, but will not do so again.

David

Ian C
1st January 2008, 13:47
I was on Fishery Patrol around Faulklands and used Email via Telstar,Quite expensive as it cost 1cent US per key stroke.

trotterdotpom
1st January 2008, 14:03
I recall making free VHF phone calls to the UK via Port Stanley in 1992 - moral of the story: don't tell the Sparks he's redundant!

John T.

PS Fubar, what don't you have in your garage?

K urgess
1st January 2008, 14:25
Used to be able to call the mobile operator on the south coast of France on VHF and get put through to anyone you liked anywhere.
I have no idea who paid for the calls. [=P]
Is there a statute of limitations on that sort of thing? (EEK)

Not a lot John T. Although the tally is reducing as I clear a path to my car.(LOL)

sparkie2182
1st January 2008, 22:03
there was always a bit of a "perk" with uk coast stations patching r/t phone calls through for the ships radio officer himself.......:)

i had many 30 minute calls ending with.............

"that will be minimum charge, old man"..........:) hee he

Hugh MacLean
2nd January 2008, 00:04
I'm not sure but I don't think there is any requirement for Grey Funnel signalmen to learn semaphore anymore.
Baa Humbug!
Peter4447

Peter,
As a comms rating (sparks) not (bunts) in the seventies and eighties, semaphore was not taught to the new entrants. However, many of them took it upon themselves to learn it. Often witnessed the RFA and the RN bunts using it on RAS.

Regards

JoK
2nd January 2008, 00:16
17 years ago, we had a sat pay phone and considered ourselves fortunate. I never called without a watch to time it.

Steve Woodward
2nd January 2008, 01:54
Recently berthed a small tanker - 20k or so - all personnel had a broadband connection to their cabins, the by product was a permanently live connection to the shore with HO watching the ships performance.
Even the grottier ships now have a small sat telephone operated by pre-paid cards in a kiosk available to all for direct dialling home.

billyboy
2nd January 2008, 03:18
Semephore???...not since the boy scouts. Is'nt that where those cute little sparkie chappies go up on monkey island and play at windmils??... LOL

tunatownshipwreck
2nd January 2008, 04:27
I remember some news agencies used to transmit four-page fax newspapers to ships. Do any still do that?

hughesy
2nd January 2008, 10:06
Always remember listening too a "Coon Ass" skipper trying to get through
Stonehave Radio GND, you needed a degree in linquistics to decipher what they was on about.
Cos its sounded like this guy in GND, was well oiled (every time he come on the air, was working GND a lot) His accent was as broad of a Scotsman (well bevvied) as you could get?.The frustrstation of this "Coon Ass" skipper
was extremley apparent, but he's sound like he had "gob full of french sounding marbles?" QTH BP Forties Field, 90 ml east of Peterhead, 1974
all the best
Hughesy

Peter4447
2nd January 2008, 10:21
Peter,
As a comms rating (sparks) not (bunts) in the seventies and eighties, semaphore was not taught to the new entrants. However, many of them took it upon themselves to learn it. Often witnessed the RFA and the RN bunts using it on RAS.

Regards

Thanks Hugh
Yes I often watched it being used during a RAS - fascinating stuff!
I have a friend who is still serving and as a PO Communicator he was on one of the Castle boats as RS. His next draft took him to a Frigate where he was Chief Yeoman - I could'nt believe it but it seems the (T) and (R) Branches are now combined. It's all to do with the 'Lean Manning' policy I understand but I can't help wondering if its not a case of "Jack of all trades, Master of none"
Peter(Thumb)

TARBATNESS
2nd January 2008, 10:50
24/7 e-mail, web browsing, SAT(TV), 30 mins free sat phone per person per week; all the mod cons. Web speeds are not quite broad band but certainly better than dial up and it all depends on the band width allocated but so much better than even 10 years ago so goodness knows what it will be like in another 10 years. GSM works within 20 miles of the coast and so no escaping home anymore and blaming the non-arrival of mail for not keeping in touch. The world is now a very small place.............too small sometimes and some people in HQ still cannot figure out time zones!

Shaun(EEK)

JoK
2nd January 2008, 11:31
I have the exact same issue. It is beyond me why they can't look at a clock and figure out what time it is for the person they are calling!

King Ratt
2nd January 2008, 11:38
Happy New Year, Shaun.
30 mins free weekly eh? I was in Olmeda in '79 with the first RFA Satcom. Our terminal was affectionately called "Orac" as in Blakes 7 computer. Phone calls were £6 per minute and we sparkies had no discount.
I imagine that the availability of instant comms with one's home, browsing and regular TV are the replacement for the bar activity that was commonplace in my seafaring days! I also wonder how this comms facility affects the security aspect of the job especially in this day and age.
Look forward to many more of your excellent photos on this site.
Good fortune in your current deployment and happy sailing.

Rab T

TARBATNESS
2nd January 2008, 11:52
Happy New Year, Shaun.
30 mins free weekly eh? I was in Olmeda in '79 with the first RFA Satcom. Our terminal was affectionately called "Orac" as in Blakes 7 computer. Phone calls were £6 per minute and we sparkies had no discount.
I imagine that the availability of instant comms with one's home, browsing and regular TV are the replacement for the bar activity that was commonplace in my seafaring days! I also wonder how this comms facility affects the security aspect of the job especially in this day and age.
Look forward to many more of your excellent photos on this site.
Good fortune in your current deployment and happy sailing.

Rab T


Rab

Deliberate "air gaps" etc to de-latch military/civvy systems and traffic is subject to standard QC checks. I remember INMARSAT being fitted to FORT AUSTIN in 1981 and the cost was incredible for making a call. How times have changed and for the better. Will keep the photos rolling in. Off on leave in 3 weeks time and due back to sea in July..............back to CARDIGAN BAY no less.

Shaun

King Ratt
2nd January 2008, 11:55
Cheers Shaun

Enjoy your leave

R

Hugh MacLean
2nd January 2008, 15:17
Thanks Hugh
Yes I often watched it being used during a RAS - fascinating stuff!
I have a friend who is still serving and as a PO Communicator he was on one of the Castle boats as RS. His next draft took him to a Frigate where he was Chief Yeoman - I could'nt believe it but it seems the (T) and (R) Branches are now combined. It's all to do with the 'Lean Manning' policy I understand but I can't help wondering if its not a case of "Jack of all trades, Master of none"
Peter(Thumb)


Hello Peter,
I must say I am a little behind with regard to how we do things now. But to amalgamate the (T) (G) branch things must have moved on a fair bit. I suppose any kind of integration usually means somethings will be lost. I tend to agree with you: "Jack of all trades". I, and probably lots of others, have experience of "Lean Manning" in our day jobs and more often, when there is pressure for change, what they usually forget to build in is good training.

Regards

scottyb
2nd January 2008, 15:27
Vroon who I work for is fitting all our vessels with V-sat broadband, this helps with cheaper phone calls. It was pretty crap at the start but is getting better all the time as they iron out the problems. We also have the SKY tv fitted to the new builds which helps keep us up to date with whats happening in the world and Corrie. Big changes compared to twelve years ago when you had to shout Stonehaven radio for a link call and the rest of the fleet listened in

Peter4447
2nd January 2008, 17:58
Hello Peter,
I must say I am a little behind with regard to how we do things now. But to amalgamate the (T) (G) branch things must have moved on a fair bit. I suppose any kind of integration usually means somethings will be lost. I tend to agree with you: "Jack of all trades". I, and probably lots of others, have experience of "Lean Manning" in our day jobs and more often, when there is pressure for change, what they usually forget to build in is good training.

Regards

I don't know whether it is still happening but Lean manning got so ridiculous (in the 1990's when I was running 'Agge Westons') that civilian contractors were being employed to clean the ships when they were alongside to give the lads a break because they were quite literally "cream crackered!"
Unbelieveable!
Peter(Smoke)

sparkie2182
2nd January 2008, 21:53
sometimes a "low tech" system is the best.............

navy signallers operating the aldis lamps on ww2 convoys were highly prized for their rapid transmission of ship/ship messages in clear plain language....thereby bypassing the need for coding, with all the attendant possibilities of error, and with instant acknowledgement possible, without having to decode.

this was often done to change ship stations for whatever reason, and was considered beyond the interception abilities of any u boat captain observing through a periscope, or at distance on the surface, because even if he could understand english adequately, he would never have been able to read the plain language morse at such high speed.

Razor
3rd January 2008, 17:19
At present, working on a standby vessel in the North Sea, we have Sky Tv, full email access and Satphone at £1-20 per minute. Later this year we will be getting broadband installed in each cabin with unrestricted access. A great improvement on the 'good old days'.

derekhore
3rd January 2008, 17:47
All these new fangled gadgets!
I spent hours when a school practising semaphore and lamp morse .......

Peter4447

Ditto!

Down at Plymouth Nautical College we had an ex-RN signaller called Chiefy Tozer.
He would have us on the teaching block roof sending semaphore headlines from the local newspaper to each other ... then raise a few signal flags up the mast before going into the mock-up bridge to try out the aldis lamp!

Those were the days ... had to wear uniform between the hours of getting up and 1800 each weekday....marching drill in the car-park on Saturday mornings .. all to keep up with HMS Raleigh & Drake in Devonport!!

trotterdotpom
4th January 2008, 00:37
Recent innovations I've heard of are "My Space", "My Face", but not to sure of what they are. Is that available at sea? Here's an amusing interpretation of them:
http://americancomedynetwork.com:80/animation.html?bit_id=25239

John T.

sparkie2182
4th January 2008, 23:46
nice one.........:)

M29
7th January 2008, 13:25
there was always a bit of a "perk" with uk coast stations patching r/t phone calls through for the ships radio officer himself.......:)

i had many 30 minute calls ending with.............

"that will be minimum charge, old man"..........:) hee he

Or better still when on IF r/t "that call was none commercial old man"

Alan

athinai
9th January 2008, 22:16
IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE ANTENNA., I had a Transceiver at home with Antenna's over the House on a Directional Beam., plus various Antennas cut for different Bands etc., Could speak to the Wife Daily. Crossing the Pacific There was ARCTIC FLUTTER on the Wifes voice due to the Northern Lights. HF Comms is All about Antennas not so much the gear or power, and like a Harp if you have the Strings (Antennas) Cut & Tuned Bang on the Frequency, (Getting Smaller as they go up in Frequency) It makes it so easy. Ship borne Long wires were very inefficient Power wise. Waisting most of it in Standing waves., Remember when you were a Kid and you made a wave on the rope and your friend at the end got a Jolt as the Wave rebounded & came back at you and nearly took your hand with it. Waisted Disipated Power etc.,

K urgess
9th January 2008, 22:24
The only thing it would be possible to do, Athinai, was to use the emergency aerial for HF if you could but that was too much messing about.
The main aerial had to be used for all frequencies from 410 Kc/s to 22 Mc/s but the transmitters did a good job of tuning.
Portisheadradio (Bristol UK) using a Marconi Oceanspan (less than 100 watts) from the Bass Strait was not unknown.
Something to celebrate with a few chilled ones at watch end.

sparkie2182
9th January 2008, 23:16
thats where the skill came in...............

trotterdotpom
10th January 2008, 00:45
....Portisheadradio (Bristol UK) using a Marconi Oceanspan (less than 100 watts) from the Bass Strait was not unknown.
Something to celebrate with a few chilled ones at watch end.

Bass Strait to UK, 8 or 12 Mc/s about 0900 local time - piece of cake.

John T.

athinai
10th January 2008, 12:10
Hi Guys, Rgr know about the limitations etc., but it was great fun messing about with antennas, It kept me Sane., (She who must be obeyed is looking over my shoulder and says I'm not Sane., You would want to see the state of the place., Hi Hi SVA was pretty good on 4/6 mhz nightly crossing the Pacific.
Have a nice day/ Cheers

trotterdotpom
10th January 2008, 15:22
For the benefit of the unitiated, SVA is (was?) Athensradio. I relayed tons of messages to them for Greek ships with conked out main transmitters - I always regarded it as helping the brotherhood, but sometimes wondered if I was been taken for a ride.

Athenai, when "she who must be obeyed" looks over your shoulder, click on the "X" to shut the page down just before she sees what you're looking at. She will then think you're looking at porn and you will gain new respect from her. Good luck.

John T.

Chief Engineer's Daughter
10th January 2008, 16:23
Try looking up Inmarsat on the web. (Other sat communication companys are available!(LOL))

Inmarsat A,B and C are old hat.

Orbitaman
10th January 2008, 16:40
Inmarsat A was switched off for good at midnight on 31st December 2007.

PollY Anna
10th January 2008, 18:41
I can remember waiting for the Mail to come aboard (Including the Dear Johns) and what about the Aussie and Kiwi coast getting the phone connected and the first call was to the Nurses Home, but that's another story.

Ron.

Drunkensailor
10th January 2008, 18:41
Just imagine if a giant solar flare knocked out all the geostationary satellites, then us sparkies could all get our jobs back. Well we can dream .............

tunatownshipwreck
10th January 2008, 20:31
Just imagine if a giant solar flare knocked out all the geostationary satellites, then us sparkies could all get our jobs back. Well we can dream .............

The first sunspot of the new solar cycle has just been spotted. A few years from now, who knows?

athinai
13th January 2008, 14:16
Hi John T

The referred material would have no effect on me nowadays, I'm like the old Neutered Dog, But got lots of memories Hi Hi

Adio

JoK
13th January 2008, 16:29
Just imagine if a giant solar flare knocked out all the geostationary satellites, then us sparkies could all get our jobs back. Well we can dream .............

supposedly the satellites are all shielded for that, but anything is possible.