Radio Room Restrictions

tunatownshipwreck
23rd January 2006, 18:21
I've met a lot of R/Os throughout the 1960s and 1970s, and sometimes they would tell me about the restrictions placed on them in various ports. In the US, they told not to operate the transmitter except if they had to run a test, but it seems that was all that was said about it. In some countries, like Taiwan, some kind of bracket would be affixed over the board. Then there was the tale of a visit to Romania, where a guard was posted at the radio room (this was on an Indian ship). Any tales?

Jeff Egan
23rd January 2006, 18:41
Arrived in Mersin southern Turkey the day before the Turks invaded Cyrpus in 1974. It looked as if the whole of the Turkish Navy and Army were there. The Turkish navy boarded us and sealed the radio room, and left a guard at the door. After our cargo was finished were were not allowed to sail. The next morning the whole place was deserted. Our next port was supposed to be Piraeus but on advice we altered it to London and were allowed to sail. Once out of Turkish waters we altered course for Piraeus were the greeks were preparing for war, I remember a large passenger ship near our berth being painted with large red crosses. In the early hours of the next morning the Generals who ran Greece at that time made a statement via the radio to the effect they would not be going to war. If they had declared war we were going to let go an sail.

nigelcollett
23rd January 2006, 19:01
As an ex R/o I found supposed restrictions on radio use in port a good wease to mossy on down to the nearest watering hole.

There you are.

Now you know - Official

NigelC

Pat McCardle
23rd January 2006, 19:27
As an ex R/o I found supposed restrictions on radio use in port a good wease to mossy on down to the nearest watering hole.

There you are.

Now you know - Official

NigelC

We definately believe that Nigel. (Thumb)

tunatownshipwreck
23rd January 2006, 19:57
I remember often when a ship was in port any radio officer who wasn't drafted into typing the captain and CO's paperwork would end up running errands as he was going into town anyway.

Ron Stringer
23rd January 2006, 23:57
The restrictions placed on the use of the ship's radio room could be for any of a number of reasons, the particular restrictions applied in any port depended on the national policy of the port state.

The most obvious but rarely stated one was that of national security. In most totalitarian states, for the citizens of that state the landline and radio communications facilities were strictly controlled and calls and messages were monitored and screened by the security services. It was not acceptable to allow an uncontrolled radio station to operate aboard a ship in their national waters. For that reason the radio rooms were usually sealed for the duration of your stay in such a port.

Another reason was one of commercial nature. Each state used to have a state monopoly on communications; in the case of commercial business communications this would be assigned to one or more operating organisations. In the UK the service was a monopoly, operated by the General Post Office. The service operators did not want ships to be able to avoid paying them for any telephone calls and telegrams sent whilst in port. They wanted you to use the shore facilities to communicate back to your owners or agents outside the country in which you were docked. For that reason you were required not to use the radio station in port. This could be enforced by monitoring the use of the ship's transmitters. However British and Commonwealth ships were usually able to evade those restrictions in the case of telegrams to ships from the UK/Commonwealth.

At published times and on published frequencies, all Coast radio stations would broadcast the callsigns of ships for which they held messages (in the jargon, 'Traffic'). These broadcasts were referred to as 'traffic lists'. One of the duties of the R/O was to monitor the traffic lists of the coast stations from which it might normally be expected to receive messages. When he heard his ship's callsign in a traffic list, the R/O had to fire up his transmitter and call the coast station to ask him to pass on the messages. If use of the radio station was prohibited by local or nationl regulations, the R/O had to wait until he left port to make this contact and get his traffic.

The Area Scheme coast stations not only broadcast the 'traffic lists' but also transmitted the actual messages to the ships 'blind'. This entailed sending out all the messages in sequence, in the same order as listed in the traffic list. That is, they broadcast them without first being contacted by the ship. The R/O copied down all messages for his ship and delivered them. After leaving port he contacted the coast station and acknowledged their receipt. Messages from the ship whilst in port still had to be sent via whatever organisation ran the local telecoms service.

Another reason given was that the use of ships' tranmitters in port and close inshore could cause harmful interference to the communications of the port state. If you were at sea you be familiar with the effects on the Merchant Navy programme, or the snowy picture of the TV, when 'Sparks' started tapping away on the key. The claim was that the people ashore could suffer the same problem if every ship was allowed to use the radio station.

Finally there was the safety claim. Sparks from transmitting radio equipment and antennas aboard the ship might ignite flammable gases from the cargo or other sources in port.

All of the above were considered excellent reasons why the radio room should not be used in port. Whether they were genuine or not, they certainly served me well as a damned good excuse to get off the ship and enjoy myself.

Ron

Robinj
26th January 2006, 00:11
The restrictions placed on the use of the ship's radio room could be for any of a number of reasons, the particular restrictions applied in any port depended on the national policy of the port state.

The most obvious but rarely stated one was that of national security. In most totalitarian states, for the citizens of that state the landline and radio communications facilities were strictly controlled and calls and messages were monitored and screened by the security services. It was not acceptable to allow an uncontrolled radio station to operate aboard a ship in their national waters. For that reason the radio rooms were usually sealed for the duration of your stay in such a port.

Another reason was one of commercial nature. Each state used to have a state monopoly on communications; in the case of commercial business communications this would be assigned to one or more operating organisations. In the UK the service was a monopoly, operated by the General Post Office. The service operators did not want ships to be able to avoid paying them for any telephone calls and telegrams sent whilst in port. They wanted you to use the shore facilities to communicate back to your owners or agents outside the country in which you were docked. For that reason you were required not to use the radio station in port. This could be enforced by monitoring the use of the ship's transmitters. However British and Commonwealth ships were usually able to evade those restrictions in the case of telegrams to ships from the UK/Commonwealth.

At published times and on published frequencies, all Coast radio stations would broadcast the callsigns of ships for which they held messages (in the jargon, 'Traffic'). These broadcasts were referred to as 'traffic lists'. One of the duties of the R/O was to monitor the traffic lists of the coast stations from which it might normally be expected to receive messages. When he heard his ship's callsign in a traffic list, the R/O had to fire up his transmitter and call the coast station to ask him to pass on the messages. If use of the radio station was prohibited by local or nationl regulations, the R/O had to wait until he left port to make this contact and get his traffic.

The Area Scheme coast stations not only broadcast the 'traffic lists' but also transmitted the actual messages to the ships 'blind'. This entailed sending out all the messages in sequence, in the same order as listed in the traffic list. That is, they broadcast them without first being contacted by the ship. The R/O copied down all messages for his ship and delivered them. After leaving port he contacted the coast station and acknowledged their receipt. Messages from the ship whilst in port still had to be sent via whatever organisation ran the local telecoms service.

Another reason given was that the use of ships' tranmitters in port and close inshore could cause harmful interference to the communications of the port state. If you were at sea you be familiar with the effects on the Merchant Navy programme, or the snowy picture of the TV, when 'Sparks' started tapping away on the key. The claim was that the people ashore could suffer the same problem if every ship was allowed to use the radio station.

Finally there was the safety claim. Sparks from transmitting radio equipment and antennas aboard the ship might ignite flammable gases from the cargo or other sources in port.

All of the above were considered excellent reasons why the radio room should not be used in port. Whether they were genuine or not, they certainly served me well as a damned good excuse to get off the ship and enjoy myself.

Ron
Knew there was some reason I did nothing when in port except (Pint), although never had the Radio Room closed up

R651400
26th January 2006, 11:37
Not forgetting Panama Canal restriction.... Dynamite

sean
27th January 2006, 00:23
or the great lakes that as a bit of an enigma could we or couldnt we use w/t
when transittingI know I took easy option and didnt! .couldnt help but see some previous contributor alluded to doing captains paperwork and better still mates! didnt he have any maintenance work to do either on bridge or engine room. I certainly would never have become a typist for anyone ' I am an ex R/O -ETO_Lecky regards to all

trotterdotpom
27th January 2006, 01:03
I recall a burly Icelandic policemen coming aboard "Ross Polaris" and telling me in no uncertain terms to stop transmitting in port. A few days later I saw him throw a deckhand onto the deck from the wharf and was glad I did what I was told! I heard later that main shore communications at the time were done via radio telephone and I had been causing huge interference - just following orders, Your Honour.

I can remember the Russians sealing up the aerial switching unit to prevent transmission. The way they did it was useless as it could easily be circumvented if needs be. I'm sure they would have been on to it if I'd started calling MI5, but I was more interested in selling shirts anyway. Business was business in the Workers' Paradise.

In China they sealed the whole radio room up and entry was not allowed. Additionally, the use of radar and echo sounders was forbidden. I remember the Old Man having kittens going upriver to Shanghai. I got special permission to do repair work on a radar in Shanghai and had an armed guard with me throughout. He wasn't much on conversation but was very handy for holding all those little screws I was always loosing.

John T.

R651400
27th January 2006, 09:01
Apologies for RO jargon but this story came via Cullercoats coastal radio station.
When testing the ship's transmitter in port, it is fed into a dummy load instead of the main aerial, preventing radiation.
In theory but not always in practice!
Some bright spark alongside on the river Tyne decided to test his transmitter but instead of tapping the usual test letter "V" on the key, tapped SOS!
The dummy load was not perfect and with the tiny bit of radiation it was picked up at Cullercoats, starting a full scale alert.
Fortunately they were able to get a bearing on the ship very quickly, Wallsend-on-Tyne.
This was one very unhappy RO when visited upon by a member of the local constabulary and PMG inspector.

Moulder
6th March 2008, 20:09
I remember we used to get 'closed down' in Dammam (Gulf Coast Saudi Arabia). A member of the local militia would come aboard and stick a paper seal over the sunken main HT switch on the front panel of the transmitter.

If you ever wanted to use the transmitter it was a simple case of removing the front panel - the seal came off with it - pushing in the gate switches and away you went. [=P]

Steve.
(Thumb)

K urgess
6th March 2008, 21:01
I can't remember ever even thinking of doing a watch in port.
As soon as the pilot arrived onboard the radio station was closed until the pilot was dropped on the way out again.
The only thing that would get done would be routine maintenance/repairs.
Didn't even keep watches while at anchor unless we were miles away from anywhere.
As far as I was concerned that's what Marconi General Orders said.
Besides using a transmitter while loading or discharging on a tanker was somewhat frowned upon.
On most cargo ships your main and emergency aerials would be lying on the deck anyway.
Always sent a TR to the local station and to Portishead/Area station which was another requirement for traffic routeing.
Simple enough to tell them you were QTP and then QTO and where bound.

Gareth Jones
6th March 2008, 21:27
Bugger the radio room! - I remember being on a cableship in the Red Sea off Jeddah doing a cable repair in Saudi territorial waters - the saudis boarded us and sealed the bond and bar, armed guards all over the place to ensure no alcohol was consumed on saudi territory!

The cable officers were consumed by sudden passion for their work, and indeed it was pleasing to see the sincere interest and encouragement offered by the rest of the crew toward their endeavours!

Needless to say the repair was quickly made and we left that awful place, but it was a terrifying experience ! Some of the senior officers were left badly shaken ( or shaking ! ).

alex page
6th March 2008, 21:29
In the old P.M.G handbook 1955 edit there was a section on use of transmitters in port . Quite a favourite question in my day.
Alex

trotterdotpom
11th March 2008, 08:01
".....I can't remember ever even thinking of doing a watch in port...."

You were spoiled, Marconi Sahib!

Up the creeks in Nigeria, as there was no local coast station and land communications weren't that good,either the last or first ship up to Warri and Sapele, I forget which, was supposed to open up at certain times and listen for messages from incoming ships. The messages would be past on to the agent. Could be quite annoying for one who liked to immerse himself in local culture, but generally you had an idea if a ship was due or not.

John T.

K urgess
11th March 2008, 17:26
When I ended up at Bonny (twice), John T., we were darkened ship and under strict radio silence.
The only time I ever got near a Nigerian "Creek".
A charmed life? Spoiled?
It would seem so wouldn't it. [=P]

Salaams
Kris

Jim Moon
27th March 2008, 17:08
The only radio I remember being of importance in port was the Bar Tape Player and FM Radio. I had a few WeWIPs (Weekend Work In Ports) over the years when the tape player throwing a wobbly. Only problem sometimes was getting the Old Man to sign the work chit.........I lost count the times I was asked to change "Bar Tape Player/Radio" to "Radar" before it was sent to Head Office.

I really enjoyed my time in ports it was the times in between being in port that was the bummer.....

posh
29th March 2008, 20:51
In Basrah (early 60's) some Iragi official came on board sealed the radio door but omitted to notice the two windows were open those were the days before air conditoning. What a joke.

znord737
30th March 2008, 13:24
I remember making a voyage in the 1960/s on a Swedish Vessel from Japan to Shanghai. As soon as we picked up the pilot to proceed up the river to Shanghai, the Radar was sealed,Echo Sounder,The DF,Radio Room was sealed.

All Cameras were collected, All Binoculars were collected and put under seal.
The only navigation charts to be used were those supplied by the pilot which were all in Chinese! .

The Pilot had a VHF Hand Portable which he used to keep in constant touch with the Port Authorities.

There were two other individuals who also came on board , one a Political Commissar who listened into all the conversations the Pilot had with the Navigating Officers. The other guy was an armed guard who patrolled the vessel . He was looking for people who were endeavouring to take photographs (At that time rumour had it that the USA were paying high dollars for any b and w photographs of this area).

We eventually berthed near the what was called "The Royal Shanghai Yacht Club" suitablly renamed "the Peoples Friendship Hotel" and about the only place one could go for a beer and a meal.

It has I am told the longest bar in the World. The Third Mate who was Australian and had quite a few beers inboard was dared to run from one end on the top of the bar to the other end. He got quarter way along when one of the bar waiters pulled a gun on him and requested in perfect english for him to stop running and get off the top of the bar - needless to remark he did that and pretty quickly too. From memory we exited the place pretty quickly as we had been told the a detachment of the Chinese Militia were on their way.

During that time it was without a doubt one of the most depressing port of calls I can remember. There was a great animosity by the Chinese against any Westerners and I have no doubt that they were fed a non stop daily dose of propaganda against all Westerners.

All the sealed items on board were not allowed to be unsealed until the Pilot and his entourage had disembarked after our return down the river to the open sea.

Bill Greig
8th April 2008, 15:28
Whilst on the Cumberland/GPPY in Aden, officials came on board and ordered us to switch off the radar which I had running on standby for a reason which escapes me now. I think we just stopped for mail and must have been on our way up to Suez having come from Western Australia.