Sparks and pics and braid

Doug H
21st August 2006, 12:55
Because I've never worked out how to attach thumbnails to comments on pics in the Gallery, it seems I'll need to start a new thread.
Marconi Sahib (Fubar) asked why so many Sparkies had a pic of themselves taken at the Radio Office desk. I suggest the answer is that many of us got hooked by the "Well paid to see the world" publicity with the attached pic which was a big deal in the early fifties when ships were being held up in port because they couldn't find a qualified R/O.

Doug H
21st August 2006, 13:10
To answer another question from Norm regarding R/O braid and whether it was wavy or one stripe or two, it depended on whether there was any R/O senior to you on the ship at the time. Certainly, starting off as a 4th or 3rd R/O, it was one stripe (see attached bunch of Pre Sea Trainees at Hamble in 1953). Later, if you were the most senior (even if you were the only one!), you were entitled to wear two and a diamond (see yours truly on ROMANIC in fifty years ago with obligatory cigarette in hand)! Happy memories!!

K urgess
21st August 2006, 13:51
By the time I went to college most Radio colleges were just part of the local Tech so we all wore civvies.
It would maybe have been more interesting to have to wear a uniform in view of the number of nurses in the area. "All the nice girls love a sailor......." (*)) But then I would NEVER have got even a PMG2 and we wouldn't be having this conversation now!
The only difference I can remember is that as junior on a tramp ship I couldn't wear a diamond. Hence the shiny braid in my pic in the gallery. Newly sown on by Mumsie.
Changing braid to show seniority seemed to be the MimCo way of doing 'cos we were normally out there all by ourselves. I never got a junior in 11 years. I somehow feel that Stan Padfield didn't trust me that far.
I seem to remember that if we had to wear uniform it was easy to spot the newbie by the brightness and quality of the braid. A bit like Bombay cap badges. (*))
I do remember joining my first ship at Dagenham in uniform. I must've looked a right p**t walking into Eastham depot. Good thing was I shared a compartment with a very senior CPO on the train and he took pity on me. Took me to the Union Jack Club and a good time was had by all.
To make matters worse the ship was a Hungry Hogarth's tramp lying in the mud at Dagenham wharf. Fortunately the old man was particular about uniform despite being in command of a rust bucket.
As I said in my last comment to my pic in the gallery. It's all my Gran's fault 'cos she wanted a piccie, honest guv. (LOL)

benjidog
21st August 2006, 14:47
Doug,

To answer your point - there are no facilities to attach thumbnails to Gallery postings in the SN system.

Regards,

Brian

Frank P
21st August 2006, 16:42
To answer another question from Norm regarding R/O braid and whether it was wavy or one stripe or two, it depended on whether there was any R/O senior to you on the ship at the time. Certainly, starting off as a 4th or 3rd R/O, it was one stripe (see attached bunch of Pre Sea Trainees at Hamble in 1953). Later, if you were the most senior (even if you were the only one!), you were entitled to wear two and a diamond (see yours truly on ROMANIC in fifty years ago with obligatory cigarette in hand)! Happy memories!!



All these radio officers being mention 4th, 3rd, 2nd and chief R/O.
I was 10 years on European Merchant ships, all the cargo ships and tankers that I was on only carried one radio officer, with the exception of the Royal Viking Star (cruise ship), and onboard her we had 3 radio officers and they did the normal 4 on and 8 off watches (24 hour cover), and gangway duty when we were in port.

My question is.

On British tankers and cargo ships, what work did the extra radio officers find to do all day????

Frank

Tony Selman
21st August 2006, 17:07
Frank, in the 2 companies I was with the 2R/O was there for training purposes ( on non passenger ships) as opposed to keeping extra watches. In other words it was standard practice to sail with one R/O.

I myself did 2 trips as a 2R/O and was then promoted in 1965. In Brock's terms this was relatively quick as I am aware of several 2R/O's who did 4 trips before promotion in the late 50's and early 60's - I hasten to add my promotion was for expediency rather than any brilliance on my part. Brocklebank's expected their R/O's to fix anything and everything and as a 2R/O the training was very thorough on maintenance as well as watchkeeping. The 1R/O on my first trip spent a lot more time in the bar than he did teaching me anything but my second burra marconi sahib was outstanding and he taught me virtually all I knew. He used to do one watch and I did the other three but I spent virtually all my daytime off watch time learning all I could about maintenance from him. On the homeward voyage when things were pretty much under control we went to H16.

I only ever had one 2R/O myself on my last voyage with Brock's and he is now a member of this board as docgk. I tried to be much more like the second than the first 1R/O, as above, but this was on a very modern ship so there was much less to learn about motors/alternators and the like as everything was ac mains, much more reliable kit as well. docgk (Graham) was very bright as well which helped and we did a fair bit of H16 including several passages of the Pacific when it was hellish difficult getting hold of Portishead even with 1400 watts.

I am aware that some companies, Blue Funnel in particular, carried a lot of 2R/O's who did the watchkeeping and the 1R/O's did a lot more of the Purser type work but I will let one them be more specific. I believe Blueys required their R/O's to do much more cargo work in port as well. We were supposed to in Brock's but I rarely did, although it was not unkown.

makko
21st August 2006, 17:15
I may be wrong, but I believe that the Blue Funnel R/Os, at least in my experience during my time with Ocean, were more like the ETO's of today. I remember that they would do their Radar Ticket and maybe Electronics maintenance too. There certainly was overlap with the Leccy due to the increasing amount of electronics (SatNav, Autopilot GPS etc.)

K urgess
21st August 2006, 18:05
1400 watts! Four Teen Hundred watts!!!!
Tony, you were spoilt.
Are there are any of you out there who remember the "Area H/F Scheme"?
With a 120 watt Oceanspan V, VI, or VII your were lucky to interfere with the crew's radios let alone talk to even the relatively local stations in the scheme.
I do remember on one memorable occasion getting hold of Portishead on 4mc/s from the Bass Strait (you know - Tasmania Oz!) on an Oceanspan VI.
I've never been the same since.
Globespan thingies weren't much better and picking your time was the best way to do it. R/T what's that - passenger stuff, don't hold with it. SSB oh dear where ARE those college notes?
As in my previous post in this thread I was a loner (not out of choice) which is why we used to call anything that sounded remotely like a friendly ship. Just for a chat. QSO? OM k. Either that or try to live up to our reputations as a breed.
It used to be bad enough being general dogsbody before I took my electronics ticket what with cargo watches, anchor watches, telegraph log keeper, etc., etc. Even some strictly dubious deck watches. Just to keep an eye on the newly promoted totally ticketless senior appy you understand (Cloud)
Afterwards it could be hell. Having to do 2 on 2 off watches for 8 hours before they brought in the flexi time (4 hours in the morning and then another 2 sets of 2 at your convenience) was bad enough but on VLCCs and anything else that carried REOs there was no peace.
A lot of the VLCCs and others didn't even carry a lekky and dumped the job on the 4th engineer. And who did he turn to?.....
Unfortunately I cannot flash my discharge book around and brag about being an REO because you were still just another RO signing on :@

gwzm
21st August 2006, 18:25
Hi Marconi Sahib,

It was even worse on one of the Brocklebank ships I sailed on- SS Malakand/GOFP:

MF TX: Marconi Reliance (almost no o/p with wet insulators!) - doubled as emgcy TX
HF TX: Siemens SB186 (I think) - lots of RF burns when you tuned it
Main RX: Redifon R50M (heap of junk - drifted like crazy)
Emergency RX: Marconi CR100 (ex military B28) - used it most of the time
Auto Alarm: Marconi Type M
D/F: Siemens swinging loop & TRF RX (I've forgotten the number)
and the whole lot ran off batteries.

Thank goodness for the area scheme - I doubt I could have contacted anyone on HF without it.

Oh, and by the way, the happiest ship I sailed on.

= Salaams es BV = John/gwzm

K urgess
21st August 2006, 18:34
John/GWZM

That sound awfully familiar. It wan't a three island tanker was it? Ex or pre Hadley's Sunshine Cruises? (?HUH)

Tony Selman
21st August 2006, 19:08
Thank goodness for the area scheme indeed. If I remember correctly the main tx on Matra for my first two trips outputted a throbbing 80 watts, less power than the light bulb in your lounge for the unitiated. We would not have had a hope in hell of contacting Portishead direct from the Indian Ocean or yet worse the Bay of Bengal. Thank God for Mauritius and Singapore in the area scheme.

In my first 6 years with Brock's I didn't sail with anything more powerful than a 100 watt Oceanspan and then from the ridiculous to the sublime, 1400 watts on Mahsud for my last trip with the comapny.

Tony Selman
21st August 2006, 21:09
I have spent an hour in the study and the loft since I came home and to my surprise I cannot find a photo of me in uniform when I was with P&O which clearly shows the braid on the shoulders. I know they exist I just can't find them. The best I can do is the one attached with me in mess kit on Oronsay in 1971. The lady is my now wife but at that time we weren't even engaged and she was a Woman Assistant Purser.

You can see the epaulette section running fore and aft over my shoulders and the braid itself is running thwartships on top of my shoulder, it is just visible on the original. The exact same principle applied with blues, and white uniforms were the same, ie the blue material was placed at the outer end of your shoulder and the braid ran at right angles to this material parallel to your shoulder blade.

I have included a previously posted photo of me in Cunard's Alaunia's radio room (yes we do all have them!) basically to show the braid a 2 stripe Brock's R/O had. Mine is nice and shiny because this was the second trip on my own after promotion.

Frank P
21st August 2006, 21:19
Tony, and the others thanks for the reply. It sounds like you had plenty to do onboard ship.
On alot of Norwegian ships the radio officers did the monthly pay slips and they also sorted out the subs when you were in port.

A friend of mine, Paul Reynolds worked for Marconi 1966/70, I think he did his training in Preston, did any of you know him?

Frank

Ron Stringer
21st August 2006, 22:53
In my first 6 years with Brock's I didn't sail with anything more powerful than a 100 watt Oceanspan .

Tony,

If you read the small print I think you will find that the Oceanspans only had 60 watts on HF - the 100/120 watt figures were for MF telegraphy.

Even so, it was a matter of pride to contact Portishead directly to send UK-destined traffic from wherever the ship was, only using the Area stations in the direst of difficult propagation conditions. Of course we used the Area stations to pass traffic into their countries (Canada/South Africa/India/Oz/NZ etc), but UK traffic had to go direct to GKL or accept big loss of face.

Ron

K urgess
21st August 2006, 23:04
Whoa! Ron I left my Oceanspan manual in my other jacket (*))

I haven't seen one for 35 years. Wouldn't mind one though. It'd go with the Atalanta in the garage.

You're probably right and you only got that if you'd managed not to strip the cathodes off the 807s. Or somehow knakker the stabilovolt. Saw one of those for sale on eBay the other week! Have no idea why anyone would want one in this day and age. Somebody else managed to sell a Survivor lifeboat Tx for 43 earlier this week!

Being a loner as mentioned previously I had no-one to impress but myself so all legitimate traffic went through the local area station. Getting GKL from off Lyttelton just wasn't an option. (LOL)

Trevorw
22nd August 2006, 00:41
This is many years old! I was then on "Pacific Northwest" - Furness Withy. Globespan TX with additional crystals for the Pacific West Coast. Only one problem - when you went on R/T the anodes of the two 807 amplifier valves used to glow red hot!

From the sublime to the ridiculous. On s.s. "Corfleet" an east coast collier, my main TX was a Reliant, and the emergency was a Type B Spark transmitter inside a wooden framework! On my first trip from Seaham

Harbour to the Thames, the Reliant wouldn't work - so I used the Spark TX! Got a right bollocking from GCC. Fault proved to be coal dust on the insulators!

Sometime later I was on a rusty old tramp, s.s. "Greathope" - Newbiggin s.s. co. of Newcastle, enroute from Grimsby to Archangel with pig iron, timber on the return. Main TX was a Reliant. Used to have to get Russian ships to QSP any traffic we had from the Arctic!

P.S. Bit of a cock up with trying to send the image! After 30 minutes it was still uploading the image - can anyone tell me how to do this more quickly and I will send lots of nostalgic photo's!

K urgess
22nd August 2006, 01:04
Trevorw

I had the same problem with uploads.

If you're attaching them to a post like this they can't be bigger than 800 pixels wide and 600 pixels high. They do NOT accept pics that are 600 wide and 800 high. So you must have software that will reduce the size. Beware the red warning that you only see if your looking.

Most piccie handling stuff will let you resize but they all tend to call it something different and use tons on technospeak. Just remember to save as something different so that you don't screw up the original file.

To post pics to the gallery the site software actually reduces the picture to the default size as it uploads but if the pic is monstrous it can take forever. I found that out the hard way. I think the default size is something like 900 pixels in either direction so it's best to reduce our image to something like this before trying to upload. I usually reduce them to about 1200x1200 and let the site decide what size to post. It's a lot quicker.

Best of Luck (Thumb)
Cheers

K urgess
23rd August 2006, 00:10
For those of a nostalgic bent please see attached.

Old admiralty lists came in handy for all sorts of things and this has been used as a route map for the trip.

It should be quite obvious to a lot of you out there what the shipping company was (*))

Tony Selman
23rd August 2006, 12:24
You are a treasure trove of nostalgia sahib. I had completely forgotten about the supplementary stations at Vizag and Bombay etc - can't ever remember using them but I might have done. Used Mauritius/GXO a lot when it was impossible to either reach, or hear, Portishead with some of the museum gear the older Brock's ships had on board. As John/GWZM says the Redifon R50M drifted like hell and I can well remember permanently having my left hand on the inner fine tuning wheel as you followed whatever station it was up and down the band.

K urgess
23rd August 2006, 12:55
Tony

The one and only infringement report ever fired at me was from Vizag. I'm sure I've still got it somewhere.

After the demise of the H/F area scheme all traffic had to go to Portishead but the transmitter hadn't increased in size to compensate. He only seemed to listen on one band at a time so calling could be a bit of a lottery. Either that or he had a weak bladder. Sorry, truth is there probably weren't enough operators on each band to keep a constant wathc (damned dyslexic keyboard!) watch during busy periods

I usually called GKL (or whatever) about 10 times then de my c/s once and waited. This seemed to be the only way to get him sometimes. Especially when you had very urgent traffic.

Vizag reported me for it and I got a very polite letter from Mimco asking me (tongue in cheek, I thought) to desist from such practices in future.

I never had a drifting receiver that bad but I used to regularly forget (go blind more like) the dire warnings about touching an Atalanta chassis while out of the case. Lovely jolt. Invigorates the blood don't ye know. (Ouch)

Cheers

hawkey01
23rd August 2006, 16:41
Marconi Sahib,
Now now, you are insulting what was the premier radio station in the world. Having worked there for 28 years I am somewhat prejudice. We sometimes did not have sufficient men, but that was even when we had every point manned. The sheer volume of ships was something to hear. I am sure that you will have had the pleasure of having Qry30 or more. I myself remember in the heyday giving out Qry of 64 on 8mc/s. We had a staff at the peak of over 300. Night crew would have been around 20-25 which was the lowest manning period. The quickest way to get a turn was always calling 3X3. Long calls often were passed over as there were so many around.
I to had the pleasure of low power Tx on my last ship. A Bluey called Sarpedon/GQGW (if my memory serves me correctly that was her C/S) ex Denbighshire of 1939. This was in 1969 and I reckon most of the gear was from 39. The main Tx was lucky to get 80W on a good day with a following wind. But a great T aerial helped and I often Qso'd direct with GKL from the far east. Always, I say to my amazement.
If anybody is interested there is a site dedicated to Portisheadradio. The web address is www.portisheadradio.co.uk.
Regards
Hawkey01 (Cloud)

Peter Eccleson
23rd August 2006, 17:00
Marconi Sahib - looks like to touched a raw nerve with Hawkeye01!
I can remember sailing into Auckland on the Port Alfred (GHHD) at Xmas and getting QRY50-something from Portishead. Was pleased to get thru' on the Oceanspan on that ship (refitted next trip with a Redifon RMT1500) but you can imagine the frustration when Portishead couldn't hear me by the time my turn came round.....and I was left with a pile of interflora SLT's for Xmas flowers/hampers! The area scheme definately had its merits!
Good ol' days..... kick the parrot & swing that lamp!

Regards

Pete E (Thumb)

K urgess
23rd August 2006, 17:17
Hawkey01

I know it was the best and was a lot easier to QSO than most others. Very friendly and if they found it was your personal R/T call the minutes just used to melt away. Again only joking in my previous (Ouch)
We all get into bad habits and that was one of mine. I normally found that 3x1 was better 'cos you got more calls in per minute. Trouble was as the minutes and then hours ticked away I used to get more and more frustrated so the GKL count rose alarmingly and even the de G*** got left out just waiting for de? (dahdidi di dididahdahdiddi - Not dahdahdidi dididahdididah There she was just a walkin' down the street!) from your good selves.
I seem to remember listening on my own frequency and hearing worse calls than mine. It was always a good idea in case some other joker with a megawatt Tx was using the same frequency. Wait for silence give a quick call and then spin that dial to GKLs frequency and hope for the old G**** de GKL k. Digital receiver ? ? what's one of them? Presets? Doh!
Always easy to say to yourself at 3 or 4 in the morning that "the bu**er must be asleep again".
Nobody on board gave a damn especially the Old Men who liked nothing better than to put a stores order or a long coded report on the desk just as you were firing up the A/A and looking forward to a BBB (Beer Before Bunk).
Seems we all have a lot to thank Marconi for, not!
Did you know that the T1154 transmitter used on RAF bombers during the war had the same knobs as the Oceanspan? Quick disguise job for Air Ministry Surplus?
Not a lot of people know that (*))

K urgess
23rd August 2006, 18:17
Peter
Isn't that what sparkies are for? Wind up everybody else onboard? see how far you can push 'em before they bite. Or be forever neutral and diplomatic. Not so much fun! (*))
When did the area scheme fold? I don't think I got out that far after it had gone.
It always was a bonus with the Old Man if you could say it would be in the office that very day because you'd slaved and worn your morse knuckles to the bone for his sake!
I was lucky in that respect. I'm left handed but because the morse keys at Hull tech were all on the right hand end of the bench it was much more comfortable to key right handed. Especially when you saw some of the contortions performed by the other golly handers. So I could do all manner of things while keying (*)) Besides did anybody ever join a left handed ship?

Right who knows what DFESP means? Hint - molluscs!

So now we've almost disposed of the area scheme how about the attached for the next trip down memory lane?
Would you believe it's the same shipping company.
Non sparky forum members must ask for translations if required and indulge us in our little nostalgia trip, please (Thumb)

gwzm
23rd August 2006, 22:15
Hi Marconi-Sahib,

The Area schem started in 1947 and discontinued in 1972.

=Salaams es BV = gwzm +

K urgess
23rd August 2006, 22:32
GWZM

Many thanks. I did get round the other side after it folded then.
At least by then I seem to have graduated to Globespans and Commanders.
Went out to Guam from the Gulf about that time and don't remember any problems. Although I do seem to remember that Esso instructions were to use local stations if there were going to be any big delays in transmission.

Thanks again

Ron Stringer
23rd August 2006, 23:18
Oh the joys of copying the GTZZ broadcast press transmissions from Portishead whilst in the Caribbean! The text was punched onto paper tape and then run through a morse code encoding machine to make the broadcast. The news items were sent on several HF transmitters simultaneously with the intention that wherever you were you should be able to hear on at least one frequency band. However out in the West Indies you usually could only pick up one transmitter, sometimes only the 4MHz one! The transmission speed was usually set to 20 words-per-minute but often it was nearer 25 wpm. On the old Marconi CR300 receiver it was a challenge and a half to copy the text whilst keeping the weak and wandering signal on tune.

The atmospherics from the usual Caribbean electrical storms in the hurricane season and the much stronger interfering signals from US and Continental station (especially those behind the Iron Curtain) made it a terrible chore. Two 45-minute transmissions, starting at 2145 and 0130 GMT every night, during the Congolese post-independence struggles, they were full of interesting words like Patrice Lumumba, Kasavubu, Kinshasa, Dag Hammarskjoeld. All these had to be copied accurately and typed up without error ready for the Purser's department to produce the newspaper for the passengers at breakfast.

The passengers were very knowledgable about world affairs and always ready to point out any cock-ups in the reports. Most troublesome by far to me were the horse-racing results since, to cut transmission costs, the names of the horses were run together to make one word (the transmissions were counted and charged at 15 letters to the word). The sort of message stream that you were receiving was YORK 1.45 FUTUN 9/2 MUTAWAFFER 12/1 ABBONDANZA 100/1 LETSROLL 28/1 HEARTHSTEADWINGS 40/1 HOLDINFOLDIN 30/1 SINACOVE 40/1 BRAVETINSOLDIER 30/1 and so on. All this unintelligible "code" rattled through at 25 wpm, barely above the back ground noise. Some of those "single words" were 2- or 3-word names and had to appear as such in the daily paper, but which were the single-word names, which the 2-word names or 3-word names? Talk about word puzzles. By the time I turned in after that lot my head would be thumping.

On some trips my bacon was saved by the Head Barman, who was a keen gambler and placed bets with his Bristol bookie daily by telegram. He knew most of the horses and stayed up late every night to see the next day's runners before they went down for printing. He corrected many misread or mis-typed errors for me. It was only a pity that he wasn't on every trip.

Then there was the night, on one of the first occasions that I was left on my own to take the press, when some kind person wrongly fed the paper tape onto the machine so that the Morse version was transmitted backwards. Whatever GTZZ frequency I listened on there was the same stream of gibberish. I was at total panic stations. Should I put the Chief R/O on the shake? He would go mad and think that I couldn't cope. If I didn't, would he ever believe that there had been no press transmission, only rubbish? After about 35 or 40 minutes, the tape was stopped, a brief apology was sent in Morsse code by hand and the transmission was restarted again, this time the right way. Change of underwear time. "The mail must go through!"

Ron

Peter Eccleson
24th August 2006, 11:42
Marconi Sahib
Agree with GWZM - my first trip was with Shell Tankers MITRA (joined IMRC as a 'junior') and although we had a mega-radio room with a 1500w transmitter and other latest gear (for 1971) we only used Mauritius once and managed to clear most trafficthru Portishead. The 'boss-man' R/O (a guy called John Ellis - my word where did that memory come from??) tld me at the time that the Area Scheme was folding up and not to be too concerned about it.....so I guess 1972 would be about right. I went off to Geest Line for my second trip and Blue Star after that.
Cheers

Peter Eccleson
24th August 2006, 11:53
Ron
On the subject of knowledgable passengers, we had a passenger on Cunard Adventurer who brought a message into the radio room for transmission to United Press - it was all about how he was 'walking through a devastated village where domestic dogs were mingling amongst mutilated corpses' etc etc. All very graphic stuff....... the only problem was that he was on a Caribbean cruise at the time!!! That was stretching journalistic license a bit far (Read)

Cheers

Tai Pan
24th August 2006, 11:56
In the olden days! sparks had wavey stripes with a diamond for the chief. Maritius was not even on the area list. columbo and vizagapatan (VTF) served the Indian ocean.Malta was not an area station nor was bombay. Working them with pre oceanspans was quit a feat. On BlueFunnel, the 2nd R/O kept H8 watches and the 1st R/O was the purser (nothing to do with passengers, that was the Chief Stewards dept). In port the 2nd did damaged cargo checking and valuable cargo checking, Currenct, gold etc. The sparks were part of the deck deprtment and were recognised as such, not odd bods. We were paid a bonus for this work. In the event that a sparks was not available ( once had a number two who had to spend a night ashore with the constabulary) the ship could still sail, as we did, he cought up on the next bluie to Tandjong Priok. Bluies alwways had one extra of everthing so there was no hold ups.

mikeg
24th August 2006, 22:52
You were lucky Tony...with 1400 watts I just know I would have got a heap more sleep! Mind you the Area Scheme helped with a QRP TX and saved a host of times getting stuck on a QRY25 from GK? and praying the band stayed good till you were called..oh happy days! Ok anyone get a letter for overcalling... me? Just the once in 20 years, and I blame it on sheer exasperation at the end of a rare day when now't went right .. Grand Island Nebraska listed out all my calls on several sheets of paper. I sent a grovelling humble apology and said it would never ever happen again

Mike

K urgess
24th August 2006, 23:31
I'm disappointed that there are no old tanker wallahs out there who remember what DFESP was. Or maybe everybody knows anyway and I'm fubar again.

It was the Shell code word for stop whatever you are doing, we have changed our minds, as is our perogative, and here are your new orders.

It was always the first group in a message from Shell and the first reaction was always to yell "Oh Captainnnnn" at the top of your voice. This was essential behaviour in most instances because I don't think Shell understood the concept of ETA or telegraphic delay. Or maybe it was that we were merely a chartered vessel so needed no particular special treatment.

On one memorable occasion I remember almost screaming through to the wheelhouse and having everybody turn up thinking I was having a heart attack. We had just entered the channel to Lake Maracaibo and our orders, it turned out, had been changed to somewhere on the other side of the Caribbean.

I was very impressed with the u-turn performed by that Old Man. It was a very narrow channel and the pilot had said he wouldn't consider it. There were other words mixed in the majority of which were "loco" interpsersed with something about a "madre". He was next seen facing aft on the port bridge wing with his eyes closed. He got off pretty sharpish, muttering something very impolite about gringos, when we got back to a very surprised pilot boat.

So that is the meaning of DFESP as I remember it.

Robinj
25th August 2006, 00:17
Don't know where all you guys remember this stuff from. All I remember is wearing wavy braid and doing nothing in port but to get p---ed. Although on the old Q.E there was eight sparkes two a watch. (*)

Peter Eccleson
25th August 2006, 11:35
John
Thanks for the meory jogger! Perhaps Mauritius was used for clearing Met messages (I seem to recall it was a navy station?).
The other area scheme stuff - was all history for me.
As the 2R/O on Geest did 'cargo watch' - unloading general cargo in the Windwards outward bound prior to loading bananas.
As R/O with Cunard-Brock was responsible for all onboard electronics - including the occasional visit to the cofferdams looking a defective sensors!
We also had a brief spell on gangway security duty on Cunard Adventurer working with the 'MA's' (security PO's)

Tony Selman
25th August 2006, 11:58
I only had 1400 watts or thereabouts a couple of times in my career, I spent a lot more time with 100 watts than I did with the high power stuff. The other good thing about modern equipment was digital receivers wasn't it. You punched in the frequency and if you couldn't hear Portishead, or whoever, they weren't there. Every company had their version of the drifting receiver and as has been said it was a bit of a challenge at times, long QRY, reception gets worse, receiver drifts, have I lost him? Still great days though and I would go back to them tomorrow if I could.

K urgess
25th August 2006, 16:04
I've got an Atalanta in the garage (seriously) (Ouch)

The calibration oscillator isn't working.

Any ideas? (egg)

R651400
25th August 2006, 17:16
I've got an Atalanta in the garage.
The calibration oscillator isn't working.
Any ideas?

Only Mimco could come up with a calibration oscillator like this one!
Try this for starters.

ftp://bama.sbc.edu/downloads/marconi/2207c/atalanta_manual_v6.pdf

gwzm
25th August 2006, 17:33
Robin J,

Did you ever sail with Colin Hutchison on the old QE? Would have been early/mid 1960s?

John / gwzm

K urgess
25th August 2006, 17:41
R651400

Thanks but that's only the training manual. I've got it and it's big brother (see below) (Thumb)

I was thinking more on the lines of chewing gum and string jobs. Middle of nowhere, no valves, no crystal, no spares sort of thing.

Never seen this fault before but this is an ex college jobbie I think and we all know what that means (LOL)

I can't even power it up at the moment because the mains filters pop our RCD immediately. Some mods are necessary (*))

mikeg
25th August 2006, 18:01
I'm disappointed that there are no old tanker wallahs out there who remember what DFESP was.

When I first saw DFESP in you post I automatically thought Change of Orders. It stayed hidden in a dark corner of my mind till I saw it..strange eh?

On to another topic entirely. I still have got a couple of bug keys that I used at sea, one is a Heathkit I built onboard and the other was a Japanese unit with five separate built in call memories. Programme them and each time you wanted to call just hit the right button. I progressed (?) from the key to a springy knife, then to a passive sideswiper and then finally to a bug. It made things so easy for large stores or cargo messages. I used to use the conventional key from time to time just to keep my hand in though.

Mike

Ron Stringer
25th August 2006, 20:27
R651400

I can't even power it up at the moment because the mains filters pop our RCD immediately. Some mods are necessary (*))
You only need to find yourself a 230/230V or 115/230V isolating transformer/

Ron

K urgess
25th August 2006, 21:29
Ron

Thanks. Being a shoreside job it's 240v AC already. The problem is the filters they put on the things to remove all the cr*p the shipboard gennies put out. They suck like fury when they're charging the filter capacitors and the RCD thinks it's got a problem and shuts everything down. I have the same problem trying to run Inverters for 3 phase motors. I just haven't got round to doing anything about it yet. (Ouch)
I suppose my post was more to get some "I remember when I had to cross connect the dooflewangle with the whotsit" sort of responses.
I thank you for your practical help and I daresay come the day I do start to work on it I shall be screaming for help in earnest. (Thumb)
I have a 240/110v transformer spare but the Atalanta itself sucks like fury and I think I read somewhere that I'd need a 500VA job to do it.
Cheers

Ron Stringer
25th August 2006, 22:38
Ron

Thanks. Being a shoreside job it's 240v AC already. The problem is the filters they put on the things to remove all the cr*p the shipboard gennies put out.
Yes, the idea is that the isolating transformer keeps all the filters on the secondary side, isolated away from the mains. We always had to do that with exhibitions, college installations etc. ashore. The normal type of 230/115V isolating transformer that you use with power tools in the workplace (where no voltage over 120V ac is permitted) is ideal for this.

Ron

K urgess
26th August 2006, 01:35
Been to visit this site

http://www.mnnostalgia.com/

He's got a different map to the one I posted on here in his R/O Gallery. I can't make up my mind whether it's earlier or later. Has Canada as a seperate area and the Pacific split in two. Suspect much earlier.

I vaguely remember the reduction in areas but grey matter being what it is can't decide when it was. I suppose the map I posted is the death notice of the Area Scheme 'cos its a trip I started in 1969.

Anybody with a better memory than me? (Ouch)

R651400
26th August 2006, 06:51
mnostalgia's area scheme map is later and probably last version when it was in full swing during '50's and '60's.
eg supplementary receiving station Coonewarra/VHM nr Darwin etc etc...

Tai Pan
26th August 2006, 12:04
This is the later scheme. 1950 to 1960, my time, marituas was not on, Indian Ocean area 3 was controlled by Columbo. Malta was not on area 1, only GKA. Vizagapatam was a godsend for getting rid of met reports especially that one handed in at 1800z, just when you wanted to go off.

hawkey01
26th August 2006, 17:51
The area scheme finished in 1972.
We then had the amazing sector watch.!!

At that time the stations were,
Portishead
Halifax
Malta (supplementary)
Mauritius
Vizag (supp)
Bombay ( I think)
Darwin (supp)
HK
Vancouver
Wellington
Sydney
Capetown

Hawkey01 (Ouch)

K urgess
28th August 2006, 19:38
Was this attached the first or tenth of the ten commandments? (if there were actually ten).

Can anybody think of any more?

Thought we should try some more nostalgia (*)

PS - did ANYbody understand a word of this?

trotterdotpom
29th August 2006, 12:43
Was this attached the first or tenth of the ten commandments? (if there were actually ten).

Can anybody think of any more?

Thought we should try some more nostalgia (*)

PS - did ANYbody understand a word of this?


There should have been copies of this notice placed on the bridge for the benefit of nosey navigators - those who were easily detected by the planting of phoney messages!

John T.

Robinj
30th August 2006, 23:26
GWZM. Wasn't on her long enough to get to know many people. The name dosn't ring a bell.

steve Coombs
31st August 2006, 11:32
Yes the scheme finished in 72, i was at Radio college at the time and remember it was talked about

charles henry
28th May 2008, 15:20
I've got an Atalanta in the garage (seriously) (Ouch)

The calibration oscillator isn't working.

Any ideas? (egg)



Boat anchor!! de chas henry (Pint)

K urgess
28th May 2008, 15:55
Ha, Ha, Chas. (Jester)
Expensive boat anchor.
200 bucks in your money and then I got it cheap.
Cheers
Kris

Tai Pan
28th May 2008, 16:17
Tony. On Bluies the 2nd R/O kept the watch H8. He also did the damaged cargo work in port. The 1st R/O did purser work, see my article in QSO. He did wages, cargo plans, cash advances, kept the official logs, all paperwork ref entering/leaving port. He had nothing to do with passengers or stores etc that was the Chief Stweards job. I found it very interesting and very useful when I came ashore.

stocksie
29th May 2008, 17:45
Marconi Sahib
We had quite a few Atalanta's to look after at Marconi Grimsby in the late 50s.
I remember some with the calibrate oscillator failure. The oscillator and its
harmonics were there but not audible (Like listening to CW with no BFO). I think
this was an interim state before you heard nothing! I looked into it and was
mystified by the circuit action. The sets BFO is switched OFF during the "cal"
function and audible output is generated by leaking some of the crystals
fundamental output 600khz in to the 600khz IF stages. I even found the bit of
open ended wire hidden in the cableform that headed to near the IF cans!
We humped it in to Cookie (Maurice Cook) in the workshop and he or Les (Les
Burnett) would fix it in a jiffy with a look of distain to us "oiks"!! Apparantly all
was fixed by improving the IF sensitivity. I encountered an Atalanta
with Ham bands once. It appeared to be factory made. Quite an oddity.
Good luck with yours though I bet the valves will be hard to come by.
Geoff Stocks Plymouth.

K urgess
29th May 2008, 17:55
Thanks for that, Geoff. (Thumb)
I've made a note of it for when I get round to it.
A bit of a heavy beast for a Ham to use I would've thought.
Maybe a ham on the production line with nothing better to do or Marconi trying to break into new markets.[=P]
Would be nice if they hadn't used so many different valves. 14 valves and 8 different types. (EEK)
ECH81s, EF85s and Z77s are not too much of a problem.
Cheers
Kris

Clive Kaine
3rd June 2008, 16:51
Hi Kris, your mention of DFESP triggered a dim and distant memory for me, as I sailed on a few Shell-chartered ships. I also remember if you had to send an urgent MSG to Shell the first word had to be SHELLGETIM - apparently this triggered all sorts of alarms on the telex machines and alerted people at any time of the day or night. In P&O we had a similar thing, the word in that case being URURGENT.
I remember being on a Shell-chartered product carrier on my first trip as a JRO. We had just left Seattle on our way back (so we thought) to Curacao, when we received three new sets of orders in one watch - bunker at Honolulu, load Singapore for Hong Kong, then bunker Honolulu, load Singapore for Dubai, and finally bunker Honolulu AND Singapore, load at Mina al Ahmadi - the Old Man didn't know if he was coming or going!

JimC
3rd June 2008, 17:24
Just a quick one lads: do any of you know why there were so many R/Os from the Irish Republic in the 40s, 50s and 60s?

andysk
3rd June 2008, 18:38
....... The 'boss-man' R/O (a guy called John Ellis - my word where did that memory come from??) ......

Peter, you have just dredged up a memory from the past. Was that John Ellis from Leith ? If so, i worked for him when I came ashore in 1978, installation planning in IMRC, doing all the drawings etc for the newbuilds in Korea and Japan. We did a few private yachts as well. He was one of the nicest people I have had the pleasure of working for ashore, even if he did have to make me redundant in 1984.

When he retired some years back, he did me the honour of ringing me up and asking me if I wanted to return to IMRC in his place, then I think Service Manager, but I was well settled elsewhere and didn't really fancy moving back to South London in an industry that was rapidly folding.

Thanks for jogging the memory ......

Patagualino
22nd April 2012, 22:10
Frank, in the 2 companies I was with the 2R/O was there for training purposes ( on non passenger ships) as opposed to keeping extra watches. In other words it was standard practice to sail with one R/O.

I myself did 2 trips as a 2R/O and was then promoted in 1965. In Brock's terms this was relatively quick as I am aware of several 2R/O's who did 4 trips before promotion in the late 50's and early 60's - I hasten to add my promotion was for expediency rather than any brilliance on my part. Brocklebank's expected their R/O's to fix anything and everything and as a 2R/O the training was very thorough on maintenance as well as watchkeeping. The 1R/O on my first trip spent a lot more time in the bar than he did teaching me anything but my second burra marconi sahib was outstanding and he taught me virtually all I knew. He used to do one watch and I did the other three but I spent virtually all my daytime off watch time learning all I could about maintenance from him. On the homeward voyage when things were pretty much under control we went to H16.

I only ever had one 2R/O myself on my last voyage with Brock's and he is now a member of this board as docgk. I tried to be much more like the second than the first 1R/O, as above, but this was on a very modern ship so there was much less to learn about motors/alternators and the like as everything was ac mains, much more reliable kit as well. docgk (Graham) was very bright as well which helped and we did a fair bit of H16 including several passages of the Pacific when it was hellish difficult getting hold of Portishead even with 1400 watts.

I am aware that some companies, Blue Funnel in particular, carried a lot of 2R/O's who did the watchkeeping and the 1R/O's did a lot more of the Purser type work but I will let one them be more specific. I believe Blueys required their R/O's to do much more cargo work in port as well. We were supposed to in Brock's but I rarely did, although it was not unkown.

Hi Tony, Yes you are quite right regarding Blue Funnel, my first trip was on the Cyclops.....We left Liverpool in the evening & the next time I saw "George", the 1R/O was in Durban.......when he had to take over whilst I went down for chow......In at the deep end to be sure. I guess I gave the operators at GLV a good laugh when I sent the first "on air" message of my career!
George of course was the Purser too, although it struck me as a strange occupation, seemingly consisting of sitting in an armchair with a paperback, a glass of pink gin & a can of Guinness to hand for 8 hours a day.......
My second trip as 2R/O was to Paddy Nolan on an Elder Dempster ship(under the Ocean Fleets brolly) down to West Africa. With a trip of 5 months under my belt, Paddy didn't need to show me too much and had a fairly easy trip....until we hit the coast: Then his Purser Hat went on & he worked for his money then, I can tell you. I decided then & there I would never take on those Purser Duties..... just sheer non-stop hell when on the coast, a 12 hour day was an "easy day"!!!
Third trip, I was on my own......with a chap as a dedicated Purser, so none of that nonsense for me.

Later on in my sea-life, when with Island Navigation of Hong Kong, I reluctantly accepted the role of organising the catering....."You just do a weeks menus & sort the stores.....it's a doddle" Oh Yea?
(The Old Man, of course, had the plum job of sorting out the Bond) The constant moaning about the food.......the galley staff sent from the Philippines who had never been on a ship in their lives, or even done any thing remotely connected with catering before......the most qualified I had was a bloke who had worked in a restaurant.......washing up. So it was 8 hours a day on watch in the Radio Room & x-number of hours sorting the damn catering out.....all for a US$100 a month bonus.

I joined a ship later and was informed, as I climbed the gangway, the chap I was relieving had been sacked....for refusing to do this catering malarkey.......He committed suicide the next morning........

Baulkham Hills
23rd April 2012, 07:01
Later on in my sea-life, when with Island Navigation of Hong Kong, I reluctantly accepted the role of organising the catering....."You just do a weeks menus & sort the stores.....it's a doddle" Oh Yea?
(The Old Man, of course, had the plum job of sorting out the Bond) The constant moaning about the food.......the galley staff sent from the Philippines who had never been on a ship in their lives, or even done any thing remotely connected with catering before......the most qualified I had was a bloke who had worked in a restaurant.......washing up. So it was 8 hours a day on watch in the Radio Room & x-number of hours sorting the damn catering out.....all for a US$100 a month bonus.



Hi

I joined an Island Navigation ship which was being delivered to the company I worked with. The Sparky was a quite elderly gent who was English but lived in Hong Kong and spoke cantonese. He was sparky, lecky and looked after the catering as well. How did he find the time?
Anyway the arrangement on that ship was that the crew were paid a feeding allowance and bought the food themselves. The Chinese crew lived on the most basic cheapest food and pocketed the difference. Any food leftovers from the officers went to the crew. It certainly reduced waste.
Previous to joining the vessel was anchored off Nagoya for a few weeks with the new owners Master and C/Eng onboard. The Master was a very heavy smoker and drinker. but because they were not regarded as part of the crew, there was no bond for them. So most of the trip across the pacific and two weeks at anchor, the master was totally strung out.
As an R/O I did wages and crew lists on a few ships, always disliked it,
when I was with Chevron they had a very complicated wages system with allotments currency adjustment and overtime for the officers and the crew, who always paid off with cash and some of the officers as well.
Chevron were gasping to get rid of R/O's and eventually I was replaced with a clerk (given the paperwork it was logical) , while I migrated to the Engine room on the same ship. After a few weeks the clerk was complaining his wages were less than an R/O.
Later as ETO I could write maintenance reports all day but show me a crew list or catering requisition all I want to do is yawn. Everybody is different and in a way I admired R/O's who were good at clerical jobs at sea. But I always thought it got in the way of the reason for being onboard in the first place.

Cheers

R651400
23rd April 2012, 17:46
Lot of extra-curricular duties coming out of the wood-work that I've never heard of.
Freelance with Greeks I was paid for my radio work and apart from offering to correct the Captains's letters never did anything else..

Troppo
24th April 2012, 00:32
Running the catering!!!

Amazing!

Patagualino
24th April 2012, 01:03
Yes, well....I was never one to be idle in port and after sorting my gear out with routine maintenance....I was invariably down below giving the engineers a hand.
At least I usually managed to avoid "tallying" the bonded cargo.....that was not easy as a 19 year old lad......12 or more African dockers all trying to stuff a bottle or two up their shirts....and taking no notice of "The small boy".....trying to salvage some of the cargo at least!!

But doing the catering later was a thankless task.....the constant moaning in the bar when I came in for a drink I certainly did not need. Apart from my Radio duties I had to show the Filipino "cook" how to make English food.......and as can be imagined, it was an uphill struggle and we sure ate some weird looking dishes until they got the hang of it.
(By & large, I liked sailing with Filipinos, they always want to smile, which is half the battle won.)