Ship Call Signs

Shipbuilder
18th May 2008, 20:25
During my training in 1959/60, I was led to believe that ship stations had four letter call signs begining with either G or M. When I went to sea, I only suffered from one M call sign initially. That was the collier WANDSORTH, (MNDJ). In those days, I don't think any of us liked M call signs because it meant sitting for ages waiting for Portishead to wade through all the messages before us on blind transmission. (Not that it mattered on WANDSWORTH because we were never in a traffic list anyway!) When blind transmission ended, it didn't really matter anymore, but then I noticed weird callsigns coming in that were a combination of letter & numbers. I wonder why this was? With the reduction of the British Merchan Navy, surely there were more than enough Gs & Ms to go around? My last ship was the passenger liner RMS ST. HELENA & I was quite disgusted to find that when the ship came out of the builder's yard in 1990. she was allocated a Mickey Mouse call sign - MMHE5! It did have a certain rhythym to it, especially when using my bug key, but I would have prferred a good old-fashioned G.
The old ST. HELENA was GXUY!.
Bob

K urgess
18th May 2008, 22:07
Never had to suffer one of the "modern" callsigns, Bob.
The worst one I had was ZCVO which meant a long wait for GKL to get that far.
I'm glad I didn't sail on any of the FOC numbered callsigns like 6XXX. Can't remember what 6 was.
I suppose these days they're more like telephone numbers since they'll never have to be sent using morse.

Cheers
Kris

hughesy
18th May 2008, 22:57
yeah kris the number 6 was for Liberia
I had 6zzw for a year, right at the end of the list lol

all the best
hughesy

Moulder
19th May 2008, 09:52
Thats interesting about the callsign of the old RMS - I sailed on Clydenes and Clarkenes with Jebsens in the North Sea - GXUV & GXUU.

Longest wait during traffic lists was on Al Ahmadiah - 9KCY.

Steve.
(Thumb)

Keckers
19th May 2008, 10:12
Thats interesting about the callsign of the old RMS - I sailed on Clydenes and Clarkenes with Jebsens in the North Sea - GXUV & GXUU.

Longest wait during traffic lists was on Al Ahmadiah - 9KCY.

Steve.
(Thumb)

Another United Arab man here - Ibn Shuhaid (9KHN - possibly?) My favourite was the Ibn Bajjah when she was Qatari(?) flagged - A7EE. Nearly always one of the first on the traffic lists - if I remembered when they were coming up.....

The platform I'm on now (rather unbelievably) is MPTK4 - but is never used.

benjidog
19th May 2008, 23:45
Does anyone know if there is a reference list of ship callsigns anywhere as I would like to add them to ships in the SN Directory and so far have drawn a blank.

Regards,

Brian

K urgess
19th May 2008, 23:49
There was, Brian.
Now like rocking horse manure.
I'm sure someone has got one among the crew or can get hold of the info.
If you post a list I'm sure we can help.
Pre 1922 and the change from 3 to four letters I can probably help.
I also have quite a list of ships I contacted while at sea so some could be among those.
Cheers
Kris

benjidog
20th May 2008, 00:07
Kris,

My starting point would be all Court Line ships - some of which would certainly be before 1922. There is a list of them here: http://www.shipsnostalgia.com/guides/Court_Line_Ships_List

I will in the meanwhile keep an eye out for rocking horses. :)

Regards,

Brian

K urgess
20th May 2008, 00:40
Found one Brian.
ARLINGTON COURT (III)
Callsign GHXS
9,650 gross tons
Speed 15 knots
Builders Bartram & Sons Limited
Sea trials 11th April 1962
Marconi installation
Oceanspan VI main transmitter
Reliance emergency transmitter
Atalanta main receiver
Alert emergency receiver
Seaguard auto alarm
Marconi automatic keying unit
Lodestone IV direction finder
Salvita III lifeboat transmitter
Seagraph III echo-sounder
Pantenna communal aerial system

I've got a gap between 1913 and 1946 and most are Marconi, of course. [=P]

Cheers
Kris

ROBERT HENDERSON
20th May 2008, 00:58
When I was with Everards in the 1950s Everards had a collective call sign GZXD. I am sure Capt Kenn will remember this.

K urgess
20th May 2008, 01:03
Another one, Brian.

HALCYON WAVE
Callsign GGQH

Only got that because a mate of mine was sparkie on her in 1970

Cheers
Kris

Keckers
20th May 2008, 07:13
How do you guys remember that stuff? I've forgotten nearly all of my c/s.

K urgess
20th May 2008, 11:01
Kept notes, Keckers. [=P]
A bit retentive I know but coming in handy now. (Jester)

Kris

Tai Pan
20th May 2008, 12:24
Try Roger Bentlet, Radio Officers Association. He has acopy of the dicky dapple.

Tai Pan
20th May 2008, 12:25
that should be Roger Bentley

benjidog
20th May 2008, 20:53
Thanks for those Kris - have updated the entries to include the callsigns and radio equipment.

Regards,

Brian

stocksie
20th May 2008, 23:36
My first ship 1950 RMS Orcades/MABA. Fair amount of traffic on the list. We
estimated 2 minutes per message and usually got it about right. We had about
50 minutes of press aimed specifically at us from VIS 0100z. We had other ships
on the run asking for repeats of scores and news items assuming we always
copied VIS solid!! Not always true even with our chiefs split headphone idea.
Some of the Korean war area names were difficult. As an unsophsiticated 17 year old I knew nothing of football pools and the like and must have given
the wealthy passengers hell by inventing the stock exchange figures!!
I even forged the footer results once but there was hell to pop on arrival
Fremantle when the papers came aboard. The crew were up in arms but the chief smoothed it over. Happy days.!!

R651400
21st May 2008, 18:06
My first ship 1950 RMS Orcades/MABA.

Reading above stocksie!!
I believe MABA before Orcades may have been the collective call sign for UK press broadcasts.
Don't ask me where I got this piece of information but it has been tucked in my RAM since my Blue Flue days on the Ozzie coast in the 50's and may have come from a Chief who was ex P&O. Anyone any ideas?

MCM Matze
21st May 2008, 18:30
My stations so far:

Meersburg DRKH
Sulzbach-Rosenberg DREU
Frankenthal DREY
Bad Rappenau DREZ
Passau DRFJ
Alster DRHF
Herten DRFP
Ueberherrn DRFS

If anyone is interested I could provide a whole GE fleet C/S list.

cheers
Matze

Roger Bentley
21st May 2008, 18:41
Reading above stocksie!!
I believe MABA before Orcades may have been the collective call sign for UK press broadcasts.
Don't ask me where I got this piece of information but it has been tucked in my RAM since my Blue Flue days on the Ozzie coast in the 50's and may have come from a Chief who was ex P&O. Anyone any ideas?

The only collective I recall for the press we copied was GTZZ.

stocksie
22nd May 2008, 09:06
Sorry Roger but I dont think MABA will have been allocated before Orcades.
GTZZ was broadcast to subscribing ships from UK stations (Rugby/Criggion?)
at 2148 and lasted about an hour. We had to transcribe it on to special Roneo
pages that the typewriter perforated and the Pursers office ran off the copies.
Plenty off chatter on the inter ship schedules afterwards for missing bits due to
fading or QRM. This was all very well on an H24 ship but 1954 I sailed as the
only R/O (H8) on Royal Mail EBRO/GKDN and The owners subscribed to GTZZ
The run was UK- Caribbean so I ended up taking press at 2 and 3 am. The R/O
on sister ship Essequibo and I used to gripe about it but we both wanted to
hang on to the regular run, modern, ships as opposed to some of the rough old
tramps around then!!
Going back to callsigns and the Portishead list. I believe P&O HIMALAYA was
MCDY but changed to GBDK to get round the problem of delays.
One aspect of "first trip" on ships as R/O was the possibility of not recognising your new callsign. TREGENNA/GBPM 1953 2nd Engineer irate waving a letter
from home at me in Fremantle. I hadnt answered a sister ships call first day
out from Hull. I had even used the call as a "log filler" It just didnt click!!
Should have got a "DR"!!!

Roger Bentley
22nd May 2008, 13:11
Thanks Sticksie but I knew already MABA wasn't the press call sign I was merely answering it to say the c/s I remembered was GTZZ. I used the quote from a previous message! Before my reply. I can definitely confirm that the Himalaya original call was MCDY as she was using it when I was on my first trip, she then got GBDK.

stocksie
22nd May 2008, 17:37
Yes....sorry Roger...comment was aimed at 654100.....bad aim!!
Stocksie R541928!!

R651400
22nd May 2008, 17:50
Thanks stocksie and Roger. As I say I have no idea how this erroneous/duff info has been with me all these years. Just one small comment from a Chief who always talked about his days on the Mooltan, and that is going back a long P&O stretch!

Ron Stringer
22nd May 2008, 18:23
GTZZ was broadcast to subscribing ships from UK stations (Rugby/Criggion?)
at 2148 and lasted about an hour.

Geoff,

In 1960/61 there were two GTZZ broadcasts each night. The first at 2145Z, lasting about 45 minutes, and the second at 0100Z which was usually slightly shorter. Oh what joy in the Caribbean on 4MHz, with atmospherics almost bursting your eardrums and GTZZ squeaking away faintly in the background.

But for the First Class Barman being a dedicated betting man, the passengers would never have made sense at my attempts at the horse-racing results. He used to come up as soon as the broadcast was over and go through my gibberish and sort the long list of 'code' words into horses' names. I had no trouble with the prices but could never make sense of the names which, to save money, were sent as a single word without breaks (instead of the 3- or 4-word combinations that were their true names). Many of them were plays on words, or Arab or Gaelic phrases so I was well out of my depth. The barman's interventions meant that the passengers' morning 'paper' had a very respectable racing results section and a comprehensible list of runners for the following day.

stocksie
23rd May 2008, 00:36
Got the GTZZ at 0100 mixed with the VIS which was at 1800z? The GTZZ
0100 moved forward as the ship went east and started to intrude on the 8-12
and 12-4 watch changeover What a game nipping up to put the 3rd "on the shake" when the silence period break came up!! More fun and games.
We had a small booklet that gave lists of "horses in training. It helped out some
times.
Gordons 4/6 a bottle, Nylons for aunts and girlfriends 10/6 a pair. Fags in the
sealed baked beans type cans (no idea how much!).
R/Os were Chief A. (Dusty) Miller, 2nd H.R.Birch,3rd Mathew J. Rice 4th Geoffrey Stocks. Cannot believe I have no photos of that time. Too busy
trying to keep my nose clean!!

hughesy
23rd May 2008, 01:51
I had one IBIA. I Belong In Asylum, thats how I remember that c/s, had loads of on air chats and diferences with the beloved IAR(A)
Nearly as bad as SVA(K)

all the best
Hughesy