Wished I Could Have Read Morse a Bit Better

1st July 2009, 08:02
In 1987 during the Iran/Iraq war, we had gone up the Gulf to load.
As usual on the way in we met up with our frigate escort of the Armilla Patrol who took us through the Strait of Hormuz and then we went on our merry way to the loading port.

The loading and everything went well and we proceeded down the Gulf to the rendezvous point to meet up with the Armilla patrol convoy to exit the Straits of Hormuz.

However when we got there.. no sign of the frigate, so we slowed down as did other tankers waitng for the escort. Then after a while in the distance we could see a fast moving naval ship on a converging course. It was signalling furiously by Morse lamp, and I mean furiously. I didn't have a clue what they were sending, the C/O and Old Man both looked blank. An urgent call went out for SPAAARKS.

We couldn't read the message and kept sending "Please repeat".
Eventually the penny must have dropped and the sender must have realised he was dealing with people whose only use of Morse code was, "What ship, where bound, VHF Channel 6" and slowed right down. By this time Sparks had arrived on the bridge, the message read something like "Mines ahead keep good lookout."

We later learned that the Texaco Caribbean had hit a mine at the entrance to the Gulf.

As I said I wish I could have read Morse just a bit better. Chiefy Tozer at Plymouth would have been ashamed of my efforts.