Piping Aboard

nick olass
25th July 2009, 00:36
As a thick, scouse non seafarer, would some of you clever lads enlighten me as to why officers are piped aboard. Is it a mark of respect for rank, or is it as I suspect, a way of tipping of the crew off to put the cards away, the guvnor is coming aboard.
The truth now lads.

Nick

johnb42
25th July 2009, 01:52
Nick,
I haven't a clue about the background to this tradition. Your suspicion may or may not hold some water. My only experience of piping aboard was when an old boss of mine Bobby Khanbabi, held a party on the Belfast in London. The party was to celebrate his own 25th wedding anniversary and the 7th or 8th anniversary of his Company "Norbulk", with associated agency NorUK.
We had a great night on the Belfast and were all piped aboard with an MC calling our names at the top of the gangway. Bobby was a good man, but could be so tight with his money where wages were concerned. On the grounds that he may still be alive, I'll say no more, but my time with him was very interesting.

surfaceblow
25th July 2009, 02:22
http://www.dinfos.osd.mil/DINFOSCommon/newsItems/sideboys.pdf

From the site above:

"Sideboys are a part of the quarterdeck ceremonies when an important person or officer arrives on board or departs a ship. Large ships have side boys (sailors) detailed to the quarterdeck from 0800 to sunset. When the side is piped by the Boatswain's Mate of the Watch (BMOW), from two to eight side boys, depending on the rank of the Officer, will form a passageway at the gangway. They salute on the first note of the pipe and drop their salute together on the last note.
In the days of sail, it was not uncommon for the commanding officers of ships sailing in convoy to convene aboard the flagship for conferences. It was also not uncommon for COs to invite each other to dine aboard their vessels. Unfortunately, there was no easy way to bring visitors on and off a ship while underway. Also, there was no dignified way for a high ranking officer to scurry up or down a rope ladder hanging down the side of a ship.
Often the boatswain's chair, a rope and wood sling, would be used to hoist the guest onto and off of the ship. The Boatswain's Mate would control the heaving by blowing the appropriate commands with a whistle known as a Boatswain's Pipe. The number of "strong backs" needed to bring the visitor aboard depended upon the size of the "load" being hoisted. Somewhere along the line, it was noted that the more senior the visitor's rank, the more sailors were needed to "man the side." Over time, the need to hoist visitors onto and off of Navy ships went away, but the custom of mustering the side boys and piping distinguished visitors aboard ship remains".
- Information compiled and submitted by Senior Chief Petty Officer Donald Smith, NCOIC, directorate of training department at DINGOS.

Never had any piping abroad any of the merchant ships I have been on. Now a days all visitors are escorted to where they want to go.

nick olass
25th July 2009, 02:44
http://www.dinfos.osd.mil/DINFOSCommon/newsItems/sideboys.pdf

From the site above:

"Sideboys are a part of the quarterdeck ceremonies when an important person or officer arrives on board or departs a ship. Large ships have side boys (sailors) detailed to the quarterdeck from 0800 to sunset. When the side is piped by the Boatswain's Mate of the Watch (BMOW), from two to eight side boys, depending on the rank of the Officer, will form a passageway at the gangway. They salute on the first note of the pipe and drop their salute together on the last note.
In the days of sail, it was not uncommon for the commanding officers of ships sailing in convoy to convene aboard the flagship for conferences. It was also not uncommon for COs to invite each other to dine aboard their vessels. Unfortunately, there was no easy way to bring visitors on and off a ship while underway. Also, there was no dignified way for a high ranking officer to scurry up or down a rope ladder hanging down the side of a ship.
Often the boatswain's chair, a rope and wood sling, would be used to hoist the guest onto and off of the ship. The Boatswain's Mate would control the heaving by blowing the appropriate commands with a whistle known as a Boatswain's Pipe. The number of "strong backs" needed to bring the visitor aboard depended upon the size of the "load" being hoisted. Somewhere along the line, it was noted that the more senior the visitor's rank, the more sailors were needed to "man the side." Over time, the need to hoist visitors onto and off of Navy ships went away, but the custom of mustering the side boys and piping distinguished visitors aboard ship remains".
- Information compiled and submitted by Senior Chief Petty Officer Donald Smith, NCOIC, directorate of training department at DINGOS.

Never had any piping abroad any of the merchant ships I have been on. Now a days all visitors are escorted to where they want to go.

Sir I thank and salute you for your very thorough information.

Nick(Thumb)

AncientBrit
25th July 2009, 03:35
Side boys, as such, were exactly that, taken from the ships boys they would walk themselves down a knotted hand rope either side of the entry port in ships side and stand like living guard rail stanchions providing the visiting officers with support while they walked up the permanent steps built into ships side. The bigger the ship, the more "side" boys required.
Those getting "piped" are in fact, the very same people that to this day, if you watch warships passing in close quarters, will get piped with "Attention to Port or Starboard" the junior CO always piping and saluting from his bridge to the senior CO being passed.
This can have humorous results as in the case of the 4th Minesweeper Sqdn, a happy and scruffy group of working ocean sweepers who spent more time sweeping than scrubbing. The ironic fact was that Captain "Banjo" Best, MS4, aboard HMS Bramble was one of the most senior 4 ring Captains in the RN at the time.
One can only begin to imagine the indignity heaped upon the captains of HMS Vanguard and several carriers those floating palaces of spic and span, who per protocol had to salute us as we returned to Portland for the weekend.