Night-time vision on the bridge

RayL
30th July 2011, 23:28
It took your eyes approx 15 mins or even longer to adjust to the darkness of the bridge. As 2nd R/O on the Naess Sovereign in 1966 I would occasionally go there to chat with my 3/O Scottish pal Neil McKinnon, although we both knew that the rules forbade it - no doubt due to the dangers of distraction. One evening Captain Mayne suddenly took it into his head to leave his cabin immediately below and see how things were looking on the bridge.

I can scarcely believe my cheek now, but it just shows how we change with age, and how young and silly we were when we started out on our sea careers. Aware from observing his movements that he could scarcely see a thing when he first passed through the curtain (whereas my own eyes had adjusted to the darkness superbly by then), I walked right up to him and peered into his face! He sensed that something was there because he looked a bit uneasy, which of course alarmed me because I didn't want to be caught. I dropped low, scuttled round him, let a few seconds go by and then passed rapidly through the curtain and hot-footed it down the stairs to my cabin.

The same point was made by a lady who worked at Bletchley Park in the war and took part in a TV documentary that I saw a few years ago. She said that after the Battle of Matapan, Admiral Cunningham came to thank them all for making his victory possible, and they tricked him into backing up against a chalky wall so that the great man went away with marks on his uniform that he would only find later.

jimthehat
30th July 2011, 23:36
It took your eyes approx 15 mins or even longer to adjust to the darkness of the bridge. As 2nd R/O on the Naess Sovereign in 1966 I would occasionally go there to chat with my 3/O Scottish pal Neil McKinnon, although we both knew that the rules forbade it - no doubt due to the dangers of distraction. One evening Captain Mayne suddenly took it into his head to leave his cabin immediately below and see how things were looking on the bridge.

I can scarcely believe my cheek now, but it just shows how we change with age, and how young and silly we were when we started out on our sea careers. Aware from observing his movements that he could scarcely see a thing when he first passed through the curtain (whereas my own eyes had adjusted to the darkness superbly by then), I walked right up to him and peered into his face! He sensed that something was there because he looked a bit uneasy, which of course alarmed me because I didn't want to be caught. I dropped low, scuttled round him, let a few seconds go by and then passed rapidly through the curtain and hot-footed it down the stairs to my cabin.

The same point was made by a lady who worked at Bletchley Park in the war and took part in a TV documentary that I saw a few years ago. She said that after the Battle of Matapan, Admiral Cunningham came to thank them all for making his victory possible, and they tricked him into backing up against a chalky wall so that he went away with marks on his uniform that he would only find later.
I dont know if there is any scientific basis for that statement,15mins,no way! In all the years I spent on the bridge in the dark it was never anywhere near 15 mins before I had got my night sight,I dont know what rules forbade the R/o or anyone else having a chat with the OOW.

jim

peter3807
31st July 2011, 00:13
I was a bit of a fanatic about night vision on the 12 to 4, used to dim everything so I could just read it. On an all aft bulker used to nag all those with forrard facing cabins to keep lights off or drop deadlights. If they didn't I would send the watchman down to sneak in and do it.
Recall coming on watch 5 to the hour crossing Lake Superior. Stood on bridge while my eyes adjusted. Flat calm not a breath of wind and within a minute it blew 8 +. Saw the 3rd mate Old Man and Lake Pilot on Stbd Bridge wing then instantaneous deafening blast of thunder and blinding flash of lightening.Night vision buggered but could still see all three jammed in stbd bridge door with hands over their heads, as if that would help.
To digress, why did we pay these lake pilots. Came on board at Soo Locks and reappeared just in time to hand over to the Duluth harbour pilot.

Peter

lakercapt
31st July 2011, 03:55
A trick in maintaining your night vision if you have to have a bright light to read a chart or whatever.
Close one eye .
Believe me it works.
The lake pilot would take the vessel from the locks to Whitefish point which can be quite tricky and after that it was a breeze.

slick
31st July 2011, 04:47
All.
I believe that US on warships lookouts were made to wear red goggles for twenty minutes prior to going on watch at night to get their eyes accustomed to and for night vision.
Yours aye,
slick

John Cassels
31st July 2011, 10:07
RayL ; sailed with Neil on the Naess Pioneer 1968 , he was 2nd.mate and I was
3rd.M.

Sadly Neil passed away in the early '70's at far to young an age.

stein
31st July 2011, 11:05
Regardin Lakercaptain's one eye trick we had a patch for one eye in the reconnaissance detail of Norwegian army, to be worn a couple of hours before dark.

I was doing my trick at the wheel off the Horn of Africa one night when both I and the mate were blinded by a sharp light. Turned out it was a yacht sailor who used a light directly at our bridge. It would have been a lot smarter to light up his own sails, but I read in a yacht magazine many years later that this blinding procedure was something recommended among yachtsmen.

Hugh Ferguson
31st July 2011, 12:08
Reminds me of an occasion aboard a Chinese ship years ago! We were up-anchoring off Southend, in the middle of the night, to proceed up-river when I was handed a bowl of noodles. Whilst downing the noodles I had an audience and, not being very keen on being gazed at eating, I asked them to douse the light so that I could get my night vision.
What is it about some people who get fascinated watching people eat!!

mikeg
31st July 2011, 12:20
Why the audience whilst downing the noodles? - maybe it was the Chinese sense of humour...thinks...was it actually noodles??(EEK)

Gareth Jones
31st July 2011, 13:06
I dont know if there is any scientific basis for that statement,15mins,no way! In all the years I spent on the bridge in the dark it was never anywhere near 15 mins before I had got my night sight,I dont know what rules forbade the R/o or anyone else having a chat with the OOW.

jim

I confess -When out in the deep oceans, I probably spent more time on the bridge than in the radio room ! I used to turn the gains up on 500 so I could hear anything nearby.

RayL
31st July 2011, 13:27
John - I'm really sorry to hear that Neil has gone, and so long ago too. I will always remember how he taught me the words and meanings of old Harry Lauder songs, e.g. "just a wee dock'n dorrit, just a wee drap, that's a' ". Further into the 8-month voyage he turned a bit less friendly, but there was a reason - he was missing his fiancee. Anyway, RIP Neil, and thanks!

Jim - the time period I mentioned was to cover the 'band' from being used to full brightness, all the way down to superb seeing in the darkness. That does take a little time. The rule about not bothering the OOW, well in view of what you say I suppose it must have been a locally invented rule on that particular ship; possibly even imposed by Capt Mayne. The Naess Sovereign was an important ship in the Denholm fleet so they wouldn't have wanted incidents caused by distractions.

Ron Dean
31st July 2011, 13:34
I dont know if there is any scientific basis for that statement,15mins,no way! In all the years I spent on the bridge in the dark it was never anywhere near 15 mins before I had got my night sight,I dont know what rules forbade the R/o or anyone else having a chat with the OOW.

jim
jim, I'm sure there is scientific backing and I think 15 minutes is a bare minimum. The eyes of a younger the person can adapt more quickly than someone much older.
A good test is to go outside on a clear but dark might and look at the stars, stay outside in the dark and look again 15 minutes later - you should be able to see many more fainter stars, than you could before your eyes were dark adapted.
Anyone seriously into astronomy, will usually allow at least 20 minutes for the eyes to become dark adapted before using the telescope eyepiece to get the best results.

Ron.

jimthehat
31st July 2011, 13:39
jim, I'm sure there is scientific backing and I think 15 minutes is a bare minimum. The eyes of a younger the person can adapt more quickly than someone much older.
A good test is to go outside on a clear but dark might and look at the stars, stay outside in the dark and look again 15 minutes later - you should be able to see many more fainter stars, than you could before your eyes were dark adapted.
Anyone seriously into astronomy, will usually allow at least 20 minutes for the eyes to become dark adapted before using the telescope eyepiece to get the best results.

Ron.

A good thing then that one did not see many ships crossing the pacific as it would seem that nearly every ship at the beginning of the 12-4 would be sailing blind for the first 15 mins.

jim

Pat Kennedy
31st July 2011, 14:28
jim, I'm sure there is scientific backing and I think 15 minutes is a bare minimum. The eyes of a younger the person can adapt more quickly than someone much older.
A good test is to go outside on a clear but dark might and look at the stars, stay outside in the dark and look again 15 minutes later - you should be able to see many more fainter stars, than you could before your eyes were dark adapted.
Anyone seriously into astronomy, will usually allow at least 20 minutes for the eyes to become dark adapted before using the telescope eyepiece to get the best results.

Ron.
I agree with that Ron,
It was very noticeable when going on lookout on the focsle head, that after the walk from the accommodation, by the time that you got to the focsle, you could barely make out the man you were relieving, and could easily bump into bitts and drum ends if you werent careful. By the time you had been on lookout for twenty minutes, you could see everything around you as clear as day.
Going into the wheelhouse after an hour on lookout it was much easier to see than if you had gone straight to the wheel from the messroom.
Pat(Smoke)

jimthehat
31st July 2011, 15:59
I agree with that Ron,
It was very noticeable when going on lookout on the focsle head, that after the walk from the accommodation, by the time that you got to the focsle, you could barely make out the man you were relieving, and could easily bump into bitts and drum ends if you werent careful. By the time you had been on lookout for twenty minutes, you could see everything around you as clear as day.
Going into the wheelhouse after an hour on lookout it was much easier to see than if you had gone straight to the wheel from the messroom.
Pat(Smoke)
As I remember it,getting relieved up fwd after an hours lookout it was into the messroom for a cuppa before going up to the wheelhouse to do the first of my split second wheel.

jim

Pat Kennedy
31st July 2011, 16:10
As I remember it,getting relieved up fwd after an hours lookout it was into the messroom for a cuppa before going up to the wheelhouse to do the first of my split second wheel.

jim
Most ships I was in, first lookout was relieved by the farmer and went straight to the wheelhouse to let the first wheel go for a smoke. Then took over on the wheel at the end of the second hour.
First wheel had an hour on stand by then took over on the lookout from the farmer who went straight to the wheelhouse and let the second wheel go for a smoke.
Pat(Smoke)

Binnacle
31st July 2011, 16:54
Understandably no 15 minute rule operated when the OOW was taking bearings at night on the standard compass. You had to turn up the light below the compass to read the bearings and then get your night vision back quick. I believe the admiralty did vision tests to ascertain best colour for illuminated bridge displays and came up with green as most suitable. The closing of an eye idea was known as Horatia's Eye and was popular after Trafalger. I did the same as our night fighter pilots did during the BoB and always ate a raw carrot before taking a night watch. (Jester).

China hand
31st July 2011, 19:27
Many, many years ago I had the great pleasure to be a friend of a Mr Roy Bagot, now long deceased. He had, in his later years, quite a hand in Potters ( Minories, London; chart people). A somewhat troubled gentleman who always wanted to be a seaman, but who's eyesight failed him.
I believe that it was he who decided and convinced the powers that were in those days, that a red screen over the compass, or a red dial, was the best thing on a darkened bridge.
When we went on his boat "etcetera" and it got dark, Roy could waffle on with great knowledge about night vision. One time ( 3 masters tickets on board, he put us all on deck lookout before chickening out and going back to the moorings ( and the pub).
Red, I always thought was best for quick re-adjustment at night.

Trader
31st July 2011, 19:50
Most ships I was in, first lookout was relieved by the farmer and went straight to the wheelhouse to let the first wheel go for a smoke. Then took over on the wheel at the end of the second hour.
First wheel had an hour on stand by then took over on the lookout from the farmer who went straight to the wheelhouse and let the second wheel go for a smoke.
Pat(Smoke)

I remember it well Pat.(Thumb)

Alec.

John Cassels
31st July 2011, 19:54
Ray , think I still have the announcement from The Denholm News at the'
time.
Will try to find , then scan and post.

Hugh Ferguson
31st July 2011, 20:30
Why the audience whilst downing the noodles? - maybe it was the Chinese sense of humour...thinks...was it actually noodles??(EEK)

Whatever you were doing on the bridge of a Chinese ship in the Chairman Mao years, you had an audience. All were turned out in the same gear so it was impossible to know even who the captain was let alone the officer of the watch! And there were always three times as many of them as you would be accustomed to seeing in any other ship.
Noodles was standard chow in a Chinese ship at night!

Dickyboy
31st July 2011, 21:28
It never took me long for my eyes to adjust to the dark. Being a crewman I was expected to stay out on the bridge wing and not stand inside chatting to the OOW.
I would close my eyes as much as possible on the way to the bridge, when climbing ladders for example, or in brightly lit alleyways. A couple of minutes taking over from the other bloke, who had night vision, helped as well. But the trick for me was to keep the eyes moving around, and not stare ahead. After a couple of minutes it was quite easy to pick up a distant light using ones peripheral vision. The side of the eyes pick up light much quicker than looking directly at something I found. It might take a minute or two between the time a light was spotted from the side of the eye and when it could be see plainly by looking directly at it.

RayL
31st July 2011, 22:52
Thank you, John. I'll appreciate that.

If more memories of Neil pop into my mind I will post them here. It's a blow hearing that he has gone, for he's the sort of bloke I've often fondly imagined meeting up with again one day; even though we'd be physically so unlike the way we were when we sailed together in our youth.

randcmackenzie
31st July 2011, 23:01
Most ships I was in, first lookout was relieved by the farmer and went straight to the wheelhouse to let the first wheel go for a smoke. Then took over on the wheel at the end of the second hour.
First wheel had an hour on stand by then took over on the lookout from the farmer who went straight to the wheelhouse and let the second wheel go for a smoke.
Pat(Smoke)

Pat, am I not right in saying that the farmer took no wheels at all?

I recall it was as you say up to the third hour, when the 1st wheel went up to the wheel 15 minutes early to relieve 2nd wheel and then took over the lookout when he came back?

B/R

jimthehat
31st July 2011, 23:27
Pat, am I not right in saying that the farmer took no wheels at all?

I recall it was as you say up to the third hour, when the 1st wheel went up to the wheel 15 minutes early to relieve 2nd wheel and then took over the lookout when he came back?

B/R

yes the farmer got an extra 20 mins in bed and got a call when the offgoing watch were goin to turn in,so on the 12-4 he took over the lookout at 0100 got a 10 min break at 0200 and relieved at 0300,relieved the second wheel at 0300 for ten mins then went below and rested till it was time to call the next watch.
Went on watches as a first trip app for 18 months.

jim

lakercapt
31st July 2011, 23:42
The farmer got to cook the black pan on the 12-4 and call the watch.
We all took turns as farmer and he only did a trick on the wheel as a relief.
Remember one time I got so engrossed at cooking the breakfast I forgot to call the mate.
Was I ever unpopular!

Pat Kennedy
1st August 2011, 09:26
The farmer never got a lie in on any ship I was on. He was the stand by man for the first and last hours of the watch and had to be up and ready for a call from the bridge.(this was signalled by 2 whistles in my time) The farmer did the 2nd and 3rd hours of the watch on the lookout, and relieved the second wheel for a smoke at the beginning of the final hour. Then he woke the next watch with tea and toast about 30 minutes before the end of his watch.
Many OOW would give the farmer a right work up, having him running round securing loose ropes, turning vents, or even making toast for the bridge.
The watch keepers rotated every night so you got to be farmer every third night.
Regards,
Pat

Binnacle
1st August 2011, 11:09
The farmer never got a lie in on any ship I was on. He was the stand by man for the first and last hours of the watch and had to be up and ready for a call from the bridge.(this was signalled by 2 whistles in my time)
Pat

My experience was similar, the farmer got out of his bunk like the others. However, "different ships different long splices". in my time one whistle from the bridge was a call for the standby man, two whistles was for the log reading.

John Cassels
1st August 2011, 11:48
Ray , finally found it. Always a trip down memory lane when looking through
the Denholm News.
This is from the Autumn 1977 issue.

RayL
1st August 2011, 16:59
That's very good of you, John. Thanks for your trouble. One is left wondering what the illness could have been that killed a 32-year-old man with such suddenness. Neil always seemed reasonably fit and healthy to me although (like so many) he smoked.

1977 is a long time ago and I think of what was going on in my own life at the time when Neil died.

Perhaps one day I will have the pleasure of glancing through a few of the 1960s issues of 'Denholm News' myself. That'd be fun.

Union Jack
2nd August 2011, 01:46
On a lighter (pun intended) note, some members may be interested to know that submarines always used to switch to red lighting in the control room between sunset and sunrise in case it became necessary either to come to periscope depth at short notice, or to the surface in emergency.

Jack

Malky Glaister
2nd August 2011, 04:01
The no visit rule sounds to me to be a local one from Captain Mayne! I recall a few others who had similar ideas.
My last half dozen VLCCs had the engine control room in the wheelhouse!!

regards Malky

randcmackenzie
2nd August 2011, 23:35
The no visit rule sounds to me to be a local one from Captain Mayne! I recall a few others who had similar ideas.
My last half dozen VLCCs had the engine control room in the wheelhouse!!

regards Malky

Hello Malky.

It doesn't really sound like George's style, he was pretty easy going all round.

Visits to the bridge in open waters are fine, but making it in to a social centre is not.

I worked a few ships with bridge control rooms for cargo and engine room, but nobody was all that delighted with them.

They had their advantages when lightering, for example, but it was an awful long way down to investigate the alarm.

Another compromise was to have CCR and ECR together on or above the main deck.

B/R

Malky Glaister
3rd August 2011, 03:54
Hi Roddy, I might have George Mayne mixed up with someone else, but there were a few.
Those control rooms on the bridge were a nuisance especially if suddenly you had a blackout. Long long way down tot he bowels. Happy days but glad to retire!!
How are you doing. The J&J forum is very quiet these days

regards Malky

surfaceblow
3rd August 2011, 18:08
It was normal to test the console lights at the beginning of each watch to make sure that all the indicator lights were working. On a few occasions you would find a burnt out light on a channel in the alarm state. One class of ships that I sailed on if you press the lamp test button on the Engine Room Control Console it would also light up the Bridge Console to the annoyance to Bridge Watch.

Joe

septiclecky
16th September 2011, 13:56
It was normal to test the console lights at the beginning of each watch to make sure that all the indicator lights were working. On a few occasions you would find a burnt out light on a channel in the alarm state. One class of ships that I sailed on if you press the lamp test button on the Engine Room Control Console it would also light up the Bridge Console to the annoyance to Bridge Watch.

Joe

Why did it wake them up(==D)(==D)

surfaceblow
19th September 2011, 15:34
Why did it wake them up(==D)(==D)

The lamp test button bypassed the dimmer circuit on the bridge console and supplied full voltage to the lights on the console. So all of the lights on the bridge console would light up at full brightness while the Engineer would look over the Engine Room Console for burn out bulbs. Then There would the quick on off sequence just after replacing the burn out bulb when the Engineer checked to see if the new bulb actually worked.

It seems that the bridge watches never realized that the lights were operated from the Engine Room and were under the impression that there was a fault in the console or a ghostly visitor was playing with the console.

Joe

YankeeAirPirate
8th November 2011, 17:10
A little story here from my experience with Caribbean Steamship Co. S.A. out of Corpus Christi, TX, in the early 80's. There I am a young Third Mate and standing my first night watches alone (I think the skipper trusted me?) on the SS J. Louis, a Kure Shipyards-built Bulk Carrier. I have the wheelhouse all set up to my liking. The radios are at the right volume. The coffee is perfect. The 10cm and 3cm radars are purring away and even the grease pencils are in the right spot in case I have to plot a contact. I am not a little proud of myself and well satisfied on my level of preparation. My night vision is excellent as I have given myself that magic 15 minutes to get adapted. And I have all those bridge and chartroom lights dimmed as far as they would go. I have the little battle lights by the deck edge just barely illuminated and I am having no trouble navigating the bridge in the dark. I swear I could see into next week my night vision is so good at this point! Then the Captain comes up during mid-watch (I am on the 8-12) and I hear a crash in the chart room and some very bad Finnish language and then clear-as-can-be shouting (in highly accented English): "This is not a god-damned Navy ship! Turn on the F**king lights so I can see!".

He was a great skipper and taught me alot. He eventually forgave me my youthful enthusiasm for night vision. But from then on the bridge was never so dark as I would have liked it. I did not want to risk injuring the Old Man again. So I spent most of my night watches on the bridge wing keeping lookout....

Varley
9th November 2011, 15:52
John, Ray,

It is good to see Neil MacKinnon remembered. I knew him on Stonehaven where he took over one regular C/O slot when it was vacated by George Hay.

Yes, he smoked but he also spent almost every ballast passage from PG back to Eilat in the tanks repairing the valve hydraulics. She was not fitted with IG (never heard of it before 1976) and the vessel regularly reeked of H2S. Perhaps not a carginogen in its own right, being nasty enough without, but our blackened braid might indicate a generally high level of gas around, evolved from the crude oil cargo. This would probably have included benzene which certainly is a carcinogen. What he must have been breathing in the tanks, however well cleaned and gas-freed, cannot have made for optimal health.

His 'fridge was kept as well stocked as George's before him, Maccabee until the chandler sold us a bum lot then Oranjiboom. He also entertained with his guitar (his only shortcoming!)

David v

Jardine
10th November 2011, 00:21
The farmer never got a lie in on any ship I was on. He was the stand by man
Pat

I seem to recall the farmer always got a lie in. Usually got called at commencement of watch and would arrive in mess room about twenty past the hour.