Super Sparks

K urgess
24th October 2006, 00:40
How many xRO members of SN were "electronics officers"?

Where did you do your training if you were?

Who paid for it?

How many days during the course did you NOT have a hangover?

Did you enjoy your new duties once you got back to sea?

I, as the handle suggests, was Marconi so in 1973 they sent me to Southampton to do the course. Fortunately I smashed my car up on the way back one weekend and dropped out of the course. I say fortunately because I lived in Hull and Southampton was a very long way away. Also, after a couple of trips they tried again and sent me to South Shields Martec in 1974. Oh, Heaven! It was almost better than cruisin' with Bankline.

I'd already been dumped on VLCCs so all it meant was that now I thought I knew a little more about what I was doing. I'm sure the non sparks on the site don't want chapter and verse on how hard it was for us poor sparkies but I'd like to know what the rest of you thought of it.

It was highly unusual for any of us to meet other than on W/T in passing 'cos Marconi didn't believe in multi-manned radio rooms unless absolutely necessary. The only chance was usually when being relieved and you were so ready to go home that the poor bloke only normally got a lightning tour and a few grunts. So I never really got to exchange notes with others of the breed.
Now seems like a good time.[=P]

Tony Selman
24th October 2006, 10:16
I was one. I was with P&O at the time and I have to take my hat off to them for how much time and money they spent training me. When I joined them from Brock's in 1970 they immediately sent me on a one month radar course with Kelvin Hughes at the end of Southend Pier. After a few trips they then sent me on the first half of the course to Brunel in Bristol in early 1972. It was a 6 month course in those days (not sure what it was subsequently) and you could do it in 2 halves, which is what most of us, and our companies, chose to do. I attended with three other P&O R/O's (Martin Price,Derek Rice and one I can't remember) and we were in heaven as we were on full pay PLUS expenses. We lived at a house in the suburbs and tested many of the fine pubs in Bristol. I found the first half of the course fairly easy as I had done some similar type courses on specific equipment with Brocks. I got married at the end of the course and after one 6 month voyage on a VLCC with my wife as supercargo (during which time we never went ashore!) I went back to Brunel for the second half, with Derek Rice again. I found this quite a lot harder as did most other people but managed to pass and then did a few more trips with P&O before resigning. The skills were immediately put to the test on the first ship which was a gas carrier called Gambada which had a fairly high degree of automation.

My wife and I then moved to South Africa and I joined Unicorn Shipping for a few months while we got settled in and they had never had an R/O with this qualification before so I became their first 3 stripe Electronics Officer.

The piece of paper subsequently became useful because when I swallowed the anchor and went into the computer industry with Burroughs Computers they recognised the qualification but did not recognise my PMG.

cynter
24th October 2006, 10:24
where you from Marconi Sahib?
I was a Macaroni Sahib for quite a while and had some "shitty-ships"... but it seems the shittier they were.... the happier they were.
I thoroughly enjoyed my term at sea, even if I wasn't makin' the big bucks that other blokes made with direct employment..... I feel proud to be part of a "phase in history". My morse is still as good as the day I took my PMG.
Cheers mate.... I've been down-under now for quite a while... I still have my memories..... By the way, I lived on curry for quite a few years cos the Indian/Paki bastards couldn't roast beef a la Pomme.
Cheers....... cynter

mikeg
24th October 2006, 10:26
How many xRO members of SN were "electronics officers"?

Where did you do your training if you were?

Who paid for it?

How many days during the course did you NOT have a hangover?

Did you enjoy your new duties once you got back to sea?

I, as the handle suggests, was Marconi so in 1973 they sent me to Southampton to do the course. Fortunately I smashed my car up on the way back one weekend and dropped out of the course. I say fortunately because I lived in Hull and Southampton was a very long way away. Also, after a couple of trips they tried again and sent me to South Shields Martec in 1974. Oh, Heaven! It was almost better than cruisin' with Bankline.

I'd already been dumped on VLCCs so all it meant was that now I thought I knew a little more about what I was doing. I'm sure the non sparks on the site don't want chapter and verse on how hard it was for us poor sparkies but I'd like to know what the rest of you thought of it.

It was highly unusual for any of us to meet other than on W/T in passing 'cos Marconi didn't believe in multi-manned radio rooms unless absolutely necessary. The only chance was usually when being relieved and you were so ready to go home that the poor bloke only normally got a lightning tour and a few grunts. So I never really got to exchange notes with others of the breed.
Now seems like a good time.[=P]

Yes I was one of those who didn't quite realise all the extra work coming my way (EEK)
I did my training at Bristol with Shell paying. Suprisingly enough not too many days on the razzle. The Electronics Cert. was supposed to be 18 months training crammed into 6 months also there was a lot of work to do 'after hours'
The results of having the qualification were bitter/sweet depending very much on the ships personnel. One some ships the C/E treated me like an equal and that work liasion was truly excellent as I would go to the ends of the earth to make sure everything worked 100%. i.e put in that extra mile. I also remember I was treated like a friend and invited in for a dram or two over a general chat. (Thumb)
On one particular ship the C/E didn't see why 'sparks' should have anything to do with engineers work and I was treated very much like a slave - with instructions coming via the Master (?) I remember advising the 2/E regarding some instrumentation maintenance only to be told all such instruction should come via the C/E...I really couldn't win!
A huge amount of extra work meant interwatch time was virtually non existent and shore time also but VLCC's didn't have much shore time anyway.
The good parts were standing by new builds of which I did 5 (or was it 6) I'll have to look back... and being an SRO/E.
Looking back I think the extra pressure of keeping up with the latest fitments in cargo, nav, ER, radio, radar etc. was hard though 'Uncle Joe' helped a lot by arranging and paying for many courses to help keeping me up to speed but there was always that time when you joined having never seen that particular xxxxx whatever - and you spent any free time with the manuals instead of being in the bar.... hey ho, it was a rum life (or lack of it:sweat: )

Cheers,

Mike

Tony Selman
24th October 2006, 10:37
mikeg, when did you do your training in Bristol?

mikeg
24th October 2006, 11:31
mikeg, when did you do your training in Bristol?

Don't exactly have the dates but my Cert. is dated 5th November 1973. It was the six months in one go. Good to be on full pay plus expenses. Rented a flat in Bishopston, Claremont road. As I lived in Worcester, sometimes went back there at weekends if studying allowed.

Mike

mikeg
24th October 2006, 11:41
me on a one month radar course with Kelvin Hughes at the end of Southend Pier.

Getting the train to work B\) I remember it surreal hearing the Pier amusement noises in class. There were two Japanese students taking lots of pictures of the Imaging Retaining Panel mechanism..I wonder if there was a far east copy...
Mike

K urgess
24th October 2006, 12:00
Mike

I'm supposed to be working so this is a very quick query before the grey cells forget the question.

What is an Imaging Retaining Panel?(?HUH)

I imagine it's probably something us up north called something totally different and the penny will drop after a simple explanation (==D)

Tony Selman
24th October 2006, 12:23
Mike, I need to check the date of my cert when I get home but we might perhaps have been on the same course but off the top of my head I can't remember anyone from Shell, but it was a very long time ago.

I rented a flat near Clifton Common for the first section of the course and that was very nice. We couldn't get somewhere quite as nice for the second half when my wife, Derek and I shared a subterranean place in Redland. Convenient for everything but the flat was cold.

I do remember working hard to get this thing including quite a lot of study in the evenings.

Ron Stringer
24th October 2006, 12:53
It was highly unusual for any of us to meet other than on W/T in passing 'cos Marconi didn't believe in multi-manned radio rooms unless absolutely necessary. [=P]
Since the shipowner was renting the R/O from Marconi Marine [or one of the other marine radio companies], the attractions of only carrying a single R/O on the ship were entirely in favour of the owner. Marconi would have been happy to supply [and be paid for] ten R/Os per ship. Unfortunately the owners were never convinced of the value of even one electronics man - see how keen they were to adopt the GMDSS [which removed the regulatory requirement to carry a Sparks]!

On those cargo and cargo/passenger ships where one or more trainee/probationer Sparks were carried, the owners only paid for the Chief R/O - the only one mandated by the regulations; Marconi Marine paid the salaries of the others. The shipowner considered that paying for the food and accommodation of the extra R/O[s] was more than fair recompense for the additional radio/electronic operating and maintenance services that they provided.

mikeg
24th October 2006, 13:20
Mike

I'm supposed to be working so this is a very quick query before the grey cells forget the question.

What is an Imaging Retaining Panel?(?HUH)

I imagine it's probably something us up north called something totally different and the penny will drop after a simple explanation (==D)

It was used in the Redifon SDR (Situation Display Radar), The image retaining panel had the radar display image projected on to it, the panel stored the image projected until erased. This way the panel would give tracks of ships over time as the image was built up. The panel required to be under under gyro and speed input also, to long to explain here... The panel was a sort of erasable storeage electroluminescent panel that glowed in the dark if excited (I do that as well (K) )

Mike

mikeg
24th October 2006, 13:29
Mike, I need to check the date of my cert when I get home but we might perhaps have been on the same course but off the top of my head I can't remember anyone from Shell, but it was a very long time ago.

I rented a flat near Clifton Common for the first section of the course and that was very nice. We couldn't get somewhere quite as nice for the second half when my wife, Derek and I shared a subterranean place in Redland. Convenient for everything but the flat was cold.

I do remember working hard to get this thing including quite a lot of study in the evenings.

I also remember the flat being icy cold returning some Sunday nights and as I live in the Highlands of Scotland now it still remains a very cold memory brrrr.
I was directly employed by Shell having moved from Redifon when Shell offered me what amounted to 100% increase in salary...I received quite a strong letter from Redifon as they had placed me on quite a few courses, I can't blame them though..but hey 100% could not be ignored for long (==D)

Mike

K urgess
24th October 2006, 13:32
Thanks, Ron, for the explanation.

It was always easier from our perspective to blame our employer or someone like Stan Padfield at East Ham for our misfortunes.

I did find it strange that one company insisted on an Electronics Officer when there was absolutely no need for one that I could see. The fact that I got lumbered with the same company and same ship twice is probably the result of me telling them so. There did seem to be a limited market for REOs.

I never sailed with another RO except for my first 6 months. When I was doing the REO bit it seemed to me that qualified REOs were a little thin on the ground. I had to stand by my last ship in drydock for about 2 weeks because they couldn't find an REO to relieve me. When my relief did arrive he wasn't qualified, had never seen a supertanker before and I had to stay and hold his hand for a week before they would let me off. Wasn't his fault he seemed a good lad and was a quick study but a bit out of his depth. I resigned when I got home mostly because I was overdue to swallow the anchor.

mikeg
24th October 2006, 13:47
Thanks, Ron, for the explanation.
I never sailed with another RO except for my first 6 months. When I was doing the REO bit it seemed to me that qualified REOs were a little thin on the ground. I had to stand by my last ship in drydock for about 2 weeks because they couldn't find an REO to relieve me. When my relief did arrive he wasn't qualified, had never seen a supertanker before and I had to stay and hold his hand for a week before they would let me off. Wasn't his fault he seemed a good lad and was a quick study but a bit out of his depth. I resigned when I got home mostly because I was overdue to swallow the anchor.

Trainee R/O's were also a mixed blessing, five in all. One I didn't see for a week because of severe seasickness for which I sympathise. Three were truly excellent and after a while could do watches and repairs mostly unsupervised. One was an unmitigated disaster..even with supervision everything he touched caused more problems that the original fault. I remember five hours before sailing he dropped a 'pea' lamp into the innards of a Marconi Predictor Radar...I located it just in time, as it would it shorted out circuitry.
Anyone else with Trainee R/O tales?

Mike

K urgess
24th October 2006, 13:59
Cynter

I live in East Yorkshire at the mo and when I was at sea my home port was Hull although Eastham and Liverpool depots would probably argue that point. Your name seems familiar, we may have met or my grey cells may be getting tangled up again. You're right about the ships. The worse the conditions the better the trip. I suppose it's the old make the best of it attitude.

Thanks Mike.

Makes me glad I never sailed with Redifon radars. Marconi was bad enough.

One of my mates from radio college sailed for Shell and I'm sure he did it as a Marconi sparks. I seem to remember him being on the Drupa. I lost touch with him so I don't know if he took them up on the offer or had moved on by the time it was made.

I do remember that the course at South Shields was completely different to the one at Southampton. The So'ton one had the course centred around a satellite weather receiving station and part of your pass was having built and incorporated a unit of your own design into the overall receiver system. I was given the design of an IF strip as my project. Not really too thrilled with that idea plus the fact that the digs were bloody awful.

South Shields was a completely different kettle of fish. The first term's digs were excellent and for the second term we rented a luxury flat in Gateshead. Our landlady was a model and Supermac had the top floor apartment. We had a baby grand in the lounge and Marconi was paying for all of it! Oh Yes, the course was different as well. Mostly how much of their clapped out equipment you could fix in an afternoon after a lunch in the local pub. It was much easier going than So'ton and there didn't seem to be any need to study out of hours because they made it stick in class. My favourite method of revising for exams was a case of beer to the right and a pile of books and notes to the left. The general idea being that the case of beer was finished before the books.

I came away with my MNTB electronics, that silly City & Guilds Marine Electronics Certificate and a City & Guilds T3 in electrical power. I was always annoyed that C&G wouldn't grade the MEC as a T5 or whatever.

Of the lads that did the course with me I can picture their faces but the only name I come up with is Dave for a Marconi lad who came from Manchester and was most disappointed when he wrote off his car against a lamp post in Sunderland and the council charged him for the damage to the post. One other one was from Wick or Thurso and very tall and the third one was from Canada I think and may have been a Mike. Those are the ones I shared digs and the flat with. There was another Marconi man who was irish from Dublin and had his wife staying with him in digs in Jarrow or somewhere like that. The rest are just a blur. I'm sure there were more than just the 5 of us doing the course but too many nights in the Chelsea Cat or Rupert's followed by an Indian down Ocean Road has done for me.
(Hippy)

K urgess
24th October 2006, 14:06
Mike, having never sailed with a junior I can't participate but if you want some tales from the junior's perspective then I can do that.[=P]

mikeg
24th October 2006, 14:25
Mike, having never sailed with a junior I can't participate but if you want some tales from the junior's perspective then I can do that.[=P]

Back when I was a Jnr the Chief R/O didn't want a trainee so life wasn't too good..but he left after a month and the next R/O was superb taught me lots and left me in charge while he topped up his bronzie (==D)

Please tell about your experiences...then I'll tell you about some Southampton landlords experiences (Smoke)

K urgess
24th October 2006, 20:37
Back when I was a Jnr the Chief R/O didn't want a trainee so life wasn't too good..but he left after a month and the next R/O was superb taught me lots and left me in charge while he topped up his bronzie (==D)

Please tell about your experiences...then I'll tell you about some Southampton landlords experiences (Smoke)


My trip as junior started really well (MAD). I was supposed to join the Bendoran and them being a bit posh I travelled to London in uniform. When I arrived at Eastham everyone looked at me as if I was from Mars or something. I never could understand why everybody in those days seemed to be ashamed of being in the Merch. Most civilians didn't know about the 4 and 5 button difference so they all thought we were RN anyway.

Digressing again. 1966 and I'd already been to sea briefly so I wasn't totally wet behind the ears but the lack of information was amazing. Here was I about to get on a ship and sail away to who knows where, with who knows who, for who knows how long and there were no induction courses or even a few notes. At the time the voting age was 21 so I was considered a mere youth at 20.
The Bendoran turned out to be a myth and I ended up signing on the Baron Wemyss at Dagenham's Sammy Williams wharf. Hungry Hogarth's for a first trip! I didn't know any better but apparently my erstwhile chief did and upon finding that he knew and disliked the captain decided this wasn't for him and refused to sign on. He impressed me so much in the 24 hours that I knew him that I can't remember him at all. I have a vague impression of someone the same age as me who drank a lot, seemed to want to fight everybody all the time and wasn't interested in junior sparkies at all except when they were buying a pint.
So he left and I was in charge. Some crazy crane jockey managed to knock the VHF aerial off but I just ordered a replacement from Marconi and got them to fix it. Luckily it didn't take Stan Padfield at Eastham depot long to find a replacement and two days later a chap called Ian Low from Montrose joined.
I suppose if the first bloke had stayed I would've been put off for life but this new guy taught me an awful lot and we got on like a house on fire.
I think Ian had a 2nd class like me but I'd got a radar ticket and as soon as the old man found out I was chief radar fixer even though it was a Decca and not on contract to Mimco. At least he paid me some overtime for it and was reasonably easy going most of the time.
Ian and I kept 8 hour watches together for about two and a half months before we went on to 16 hours watches. In that time he taught me everything he knew about the day to day stuff like ALRS corrections, log filling, accounts and all the rest. I did it the same way until I came ashore apart for the change to decimal currency.
One thing we used to do was compete as to who could hear the furthest away station on 500 and who could hear the most different ones. Certainly helped with the concentration so that later it was almost subconscious and I could read a book and still pick up calls from far away. I kept lists of stations QSL'd every trip after that.
We used to go ashore together unless he or I found a woman. He'd been to the States before so knew his way around when we got to Florida. His reply to a woman in Woolworths in Tampa who said "Gee you're English" was "No madam I'm British" which I'll always remember especially the way he said it.
I kept a diary for the first 2 years at sea and I've been trying to read the one that covers this trip. It seems that when we went to 16 hour watches we just got on with it. I did most of the repairs, probably because I was the one that broke it most. We used to have a chat as we changed over and he's tell me what I had to do but it was mostly more as equals than chief and junior.
What they say about Board of Trade acquaintances is right. I sailed with him for 7 months and then we parted when we got to Liverpool. I visited him in Montrose once the following year and I haven't seen or heard of him since. Not unusual.

mikeg
24th October 2006, 21:49
A good start does make a big difference. I was employed by Redifon and my first ship was the Shell chemical tanker Asprella. I had instructions to join her at Swansea docks, of course being wet behind the years I travelled in uniform until being tipped off by some kind person at the MN hotel (can't remember now the right name of the place). Apparently this was quite common with newbies as no one told them otherwise!
Due to the cargo she carried most people were ashore having blood tests (no smirking..it was for the right reasons in most cases). The cargoes were Toulene, Xylene and Benzine and smelt like it too. That cocktail is supposed to affect the blood through exposure hence the tests. I got on well with all on the ship except for the Chief R/O who was a really miserable sod who didn't want a trainee, luckily he left not long after.
As I said before the next R/O was keen to teach me everything he knew. I remember now he had a very deep tan and his uniform actually had lines of campaign colours sewn in just like an army uniform, I can't recall what he did to get those but they did look smart. It's a pity I can't recall his name now at all. (I've racked my brain to no avail) That first trip was very exciting for me, it was to a port near Ponce in Puerto Rico and my first time abroad. Went ashore and had a great time except I foolishly whilst rather pis*ed sat on a pin table machine and the glass collapsed. The bar owner held a knife to my throat asking for money..luckily the ships crew helped me out..to my eternal relief and thanks.
All in all a good ship with an excellent R/O who gave me all the confidence to join the next ship as R/O without too much fear and trepidation. Looking back there was nothing like the radio traffic then that I was to experience later on Shells gas and oil fleet.

Well I did promise a tale about a Southampton landlord and the digs several students were boarded in. It wasn't particularly good digs and the evening meals were pretty bad with food like heart or tripe, no one was happy. Ashamedly we did play a trick on the landlord who used to go to the pub most nights and he returned quite unsteadily, when he got to the front door he opened the letter box flap and reached in for a string that had the key on it, he'd then go in, rush up the stairs to the bathroom to relieve himself. Well we extended the string on the front door to about 20 feet and put vaseline on the bathroom door knob. When he came back we heard 'Oh f..k, oh sh.t' as he pulled the string through the letter box, finally he rushed up stairs at what sounded like three steps at a time, tried to open the bathroom door and thats the time he wet himself. Needless to say I had to look for new digs quite urgently.

Mike

K urgess
24th October 2006, 22:30
I still can't figure out the uniform bit. It seems like most blokes in the MN didn't want to get noticed or to admit they belonged. Sort of poor man's RN I suppose.

I got on so well with my chief that we contemplated jumping ship together in Kiwi. We were both offered jobs as TV repair men and reckoned we could run our own business in the end. Can't remember why we decided against it. He may have had a female at home and I was just starting out on the great adventure, I suppose.

I remember him trying to get out of my cabin through the wardrobe one night after a few ales. He was wearing one of those Japanese safety helmets and trying to karate chop his way out of the back of the wardrobe. It would have been a few ales after a run ashore probably 'cos we were rationed to 6 beers a week each.

He also taught me all about shark fishing which I enjoyed on the numerous occasions our Doxford quit in the Pacific.

The only thing I remember about the digs in Southampton was that the list of rules were as long as your arm, it was like the worst imaginable seaside bed and breakfast and that was all you got. I have a mental image of a dank dark room, a huge wardrobe and a lumpy bed. The whole thing was made bearable by the fact that the 3rd mate off a previous ship lived up near Bridgewater in a pub run by his dad. Not a bad run for a few ales. His brother was a petty officer on submarines so I got invited to the POs mess at Dolphin. Very memorable. Gosport was amazing in the company of underwater matelots. I didn't know that sort of thing went on, honest your honour. I had quite long hair at the time, it being the fashion in the 70s, and they couldn't understand how I was an officer and got away with it.

K urgess
25th October 2006, 18:43
Is that it?

Three of us. I knew we were a rare breed but that is suprising.(EEK)

Found my notes from all those years ago. Can't understand a bloody word. The only Maxwell I can remember is the one that goes with House not the one with the theorem.

Subjects
Component construction, reliabilty and theorems to go with them.
Communication systems, modulation, selective calling, RT duplexing, Navaids (Decca, Omega, Loran, ADF, CRT DF), Facsimile, Telex, transmission lines, polar diagrams, echo sounding, tape recording, true motion, gyros, ship's logs (Sal Log, etc.), doppler, electrical supply (generation, IEE regs, consumer circuits), motors, transformers, generators, motor speed control, AC, DC, single phase, three phase, transducers, logic (binary and boolean), data loggers, printers (IBM golfball), computers, computer programming, semiconductors from theory to 1001 uses, direct drive diesel machinery, prime movers, fuel systems, cooling systems, compressors, air reservoirs, centrifugal seperators, scavenge air supplies, exhaust gas boilers, cochran composite boilers, spanner exhaust boilers, crankcase explosions, complete diesel propulsion systems, steam turbines (impulse and reaction), scotch boilers, proportional control, integral control, derivative control, split range control, cascade control, main engine controls and alarms, pneumatics, electronic alarm systems, flame failure equipment, graviner oil mist detection, smoke density monitors, combustion gas detectors, Minerva fire alarms, salinometers, ph monitors, co2 recorders, control systems, process control, transmitting magnetic compasses, automatic steering systems, and enough maths to give you a very bad headache.

Plus I seem to have a folder missing 'cos I distinctly remember doing water curtain boilers and internal/external desuperheaters and all that sort of gear.

All done in 6 months:sweat:

At least it stood me in good stead for a shore job. I've also found all the reports from when I was a shoreside Marine electronic tech doing Lloyds surveys and fixing ship's gear. Some weird stuff.

My last trip was a work up and I had to negotiate overtime with Marconi or the job wasn't going to get done. I've still got the overtime report and it's no wonder I was nakkered when I got home.(==D)

WillieG
25th October 2006, 19:44
Hi Marconi Sahib,
I was another one, I was working for P&O Cargo division at the time, and they sent me to South Shields for it. I enjoyed it - learnt a lot, played a lot - all on full pay.
Your comment on fixing clapped out equipment after a lunchtime session brings it all back! We did the first half before Christmas 1980, and the second half after the New Year. We decided to quieten down for the second half and settled for a couple of shandies and a bacon buttie in the County at lunch times. Weekends were still entertaining, though!
Like you, I found they made it stick in college and not too much studying needed to be done until the exams were looming.
I also came away with the MEC and assorted C&G certificates.
I didn't actually sail as Electronics Officer with P&O - I transferred shortly afterwards to OCL who didn't have them, but I was still expected to fix all sorts of electronic problems, and found what I had learnt very useful.
Great thread - thanks for starting it!
Willie

mikeg
26th October 2006, 00:10
Subjects
Component construction, reliabilty and theorems to go with them.
Communication systems, modulation, selective calling, RT duplexing, Navaids (Decca, Omega, Loran, ADF, CRT DF), Facsimile, Telex, transmission lines, polar diagrams, echo sounding, tape recording, true motion, gyros, ship's logs (Sal Log, etc.), doppler, electrical supply (generation, IEE regs, consumer circuits), motors, transformers, generators, motor speed control, AC, DC, single phase, three phase, transducers, logic (binary and boolean), data loggers, printers (IBM golfball), computers, computer programming, semiconductors from theory to 1001 uses, direct drive diesel machinery, prime movers, fuel systems, cooling systems, compressors, air reservoirs, centrifugal seperators, scavenge air supplies, exhaust gas boilers, cochran composite boilers, spanner exhaust boilers, crankcase explosions, complete diesel propulsion systems, steam turbines (impulse and reaction), scotch boilers, proportional control, integral control, derivative control, split range control, cascade control, main engine controls and alarms, pneumatics, electronic alarm systems, flame failure equipment, graviner oil mist detection, smoke density monitors, combustion gas detectors, Minerva fire alarms, salinometers, ph monitors, co2 recorders, control systems, process control, transmitting magnetic compasses, automatic steering systems, and enough maths to give you a very bad headache.

Plus I seem to have a folder missing 'cos I distinctly remember doing water curtain boilers and internal/external desuperheaters and all that sort of gear.

All done in 6 months:sweat:

D)

Wow! That brought it all back in an instant! (not Maxwell House though)
Yes, you're right, there was some more but sadly my notes have long gone along with many manufacturers equipment manuals from training courses..they just took up too much space.
Thanks for the memories (POP)

harryredvers
6th March 2012, 21:14
Nr:21 Three of us. I knew we were a rare breed but that is suprising
Just 5 and a stray it seems. There was at least 10 of us on the course I attended. I was a REO with C-B R&ES when I took the course at Riversdale from Sept 1974 to April 1975 and after getting the MNTB Electronics Cert and the CGLI MEC went back to sea as a REO. The work load in C-B was no different if you were R/O, REO or SuperSparks (perhaps they wore a more exotic style of uniform!) and the qualification didn't make you technically more efficacious, to the chagrin of the management and, probably, shipmates. Initially my wife suggested I do the course (to get it out of the way), my motivation I imagine at this distance was linked to emoluments - but I don't remember that it brought in any more money. C-B were not interested, I'd been with them 13-months, so I applied for and got a discretionary award from my LEA. Then, when I started on the course, C-B notified me they would pay, to keep my continuity of service and pension. That's the precis. I'll post another when I've digested the import of this Thread.

Graham P Powell
7th March 2012, 09:44
We had a guy at GKA who had been an electronics officer on one of those Denholm's container ships powered by an Olympus jet engine. ( Four hours for a complete engine change). He left us and went to Bae systems in Bristol.
One or two of the guys were really switched on with electronics and ended up in
some very good jobs. Not being very interested in electronics myself and always
having problems with old gear, I stuck to operating!.
I did have a junior on one ship . He was okay but had only ever been on MF so I had
to let him do some HF and work GKA etc. Its a funny old world because years later I had a trainee at GKA and his chief had been my old junior.
rgds
Graham Powell

Troppo
8th March 2012, 02:13
Did you super sparks get paid any more for your extra quals?

In Oz, we did a 6 month radar course. It was quite intense, with lots of theory. I did it straight after my General Cert, so I was still in study mode.

Shipbuilder
8th March 2012, 08:15
I walked out of the MED course halfway through at Southampton in 1973. It was way way beyond my mental capabilities, as 1st Class and Radar required extreme effort and were as much as I could manage! The principal told me it would ruin my career, but in practice, it made no difference at all. I actually got "promoted" to an office job ashore in Southampton (Union-Castle) after walking out, but after a couple of months of it, requested that I be sent back to sea. As the years rolled, I still got lumbered with all the new stuff, teleprinters, satcoms, videos, TVs, fire detection systems etc etc. In the end in the early 1990s, I was putting more hours in than ever before - 8 hours in the radio office and most of my supposed time off battling to repair vast amounts of onboard electronics. The more work that was piled on, the more I was told that R/Os would soon no longer be required! In the end, after 31 years at sea, everyone onboard got made redundant and payed out. Then we were all offered our jobs back with a 30% wage cut! With great relief, I took it and ran, at the age of 48! I was very happy to take voluntary redundancy.
I was never very good at theory, but still have all my test equipment from oscilloscope down and quite enjoy keeping my hand in at practical electronics.

Really, most of the time, I enjoyed being a radio officer, but in the end, I seemed to end up as an unqualified Electronics Officer for which a better title would have been "electronic handyman & dogsbody!"

My last ship was the brand new passenger liner St. Helena, that was absolutely stuffed with all the very latest in electronic gear and after two years of it, I was very happy to pack it all in!

Leaving the sea for me was like making a sudden recovery from a long-standing illness that I had become accustomed to. And it was all due to "modern electronics" that was fine when it worked, but a nigthmare when it didn't!

Bob

Tony Selman
8th March 2012, 08:59
Troppo, yes in P&O we got more money but at this distance I cannot recall how much. There are a few P&O men on SN so maybe they can remember how much it was and perhaps the wine has not destroyed their brain cells quite as much as mine!

sparkie2182
8th March 2012, 12:14
" I was putting more hours in than ever before - 8 hours in the radio office and most of my supposed time off battling to repair vast amounts of onboard electronics. The more work that was piled on, the more I was told that R/Os would soon no longer be required!"

Hard to explain just how deep a chord this strikes.

mikeg
8th March 2012, 13:48
I wonder how much we were missed when R/O's eventually went?
Apart from onboard electronics I fixed crews tape machines, radios, TV's and a few vacuum cleaners as well. I remember one C/E's cabin stereo stopped working, it had a faulty output IC. I ordered a replacement from Radio Spares. It was not easy to replace being a large IC with very closely spaced legs however with the use of a solder sucker and miniature (home-made) copper bit on the soldering iron and a steady hand I managed it okay. Good move as the C/E invited me in many times for a few beers, a chat and some good music. Made the trip even more enjoyable.

Vital Sparks
8th March 2012, 14:51
I was one. I did the MEC at Southampton in the early 80s. We had to spend one morning a week at Warsash simply because they needed to get the usage of their buildings up a bit but it was such a pain in the you know where to get there. BP paid for it and also for the accommodation at a small B&B (doss house), no food at weekends etc.

The course was pretty intensive and I particularly remember the Friday afternoon 3 hour fault finding practical. The Magic Roundabout was being re-run at the time and so it was imperative that whoever was working on the colour TV had found and cleared the fault by 4pm. If they were still struggling by quarter to, somebody else would tasked with fixing the black and white portable.

However there was room for a small libation from time to time and I remember al lot of drunken singing in the "Frog and Frigate".

Back at sea it made no difference whatsoever and we did it only because we would have been fired if we didn't go and fired if we failed.

Shipbuilder
8th March 2012, 15:17
Was it even possible to fail? When we completed the first module, I went into the exam room with the rest, but as soon as I got the question paper, I folded it up, stuck it in my pocket (without even looking at it) and walked out, never to return. Imagine my surprise when a few weeks later, a fancy certificate arrived declaring that in the final examination, my assessment was "satisfactory!" Pretty good, considering that I never even wrote my name on the top of the paper!
Another certificate arrived declaring that my practical work was "C" standard, "average!"
Bob

5TT
8th March 2012, 18:14
I'm sure there would have been some financial incentive. At Safmarine you got an extra half stripe which put you in the senior officer league with whatever perks that offered.
As others have mentioned it made no difference to the work on board, you were still required to maintain the same range of gear whether senior or not. I still have my cross-hatch, grey scale generator that I purchased specifically to tune up those old delta gun tv sets around here somewhere, that could earn you a few beers too, but I never did the course myself.

= Adrian +

Shipbuilder
8th March 2012, 19:28
I can't remember there being any financial advantage in the B & C Group! In fact I really don't know why various companies were so keen on sending R/Os for Advanced Electronic Diplomas when they were planning to boot us all out in a few years anyway! When Union-Castle folded up, I went along to Silver Line for a couple of years and they didn't seem to have any inclination to send any of us on long courses, but I did get sent to Southend Pier for a couple of weeks to learn about the new-fangled Situation Display radars, but that was both informative & enjoyable because it was purely practical with no exam at the end for me to fail! And it did get me on the brand spanking new general cargo ship Silveravon that was a very unusual and enjoyable experience as it hardly ever went to sea!
After that, Curnow Shipping also had no desire to send us on courses longer than a couple of days and it was there that I ended my seafaring after having been with them from '79 to '92! best company I ever sailed in!
Bob

harryredvers
8th March 2012, 21:20
Interesting responses and pretty much doubled since nr.24. When I joined C-B R&ES in 1973 I was proudly told I would be responsible for operating, maintaining, commissioning and repairing all the equipment: radiocommunication, telecommunication, navigational aids et al, even things in the engineroom (refer to items in italics below, with acknowledgement to K urgess nr.21). No more simple Sparks, now I would be a really useful assett to maritime trade and commerce. I was now a C-B REO. As I said in nr.24 I got the formal qualification in 1975. So how did : -
....Component construction, reliabilty and theorems to go with them. Communication systems, modulation, selective calling, RT duplexing, Navaids (Decca, Omega, Loran, ADF, CRT DF), Facsimile, Telex, transmission lines, polar diagrams, echo sounding, tape recording, true motion, gyros, ship's logs (Sal Log, etc.), doppler, electrical supply (generation, IEE regs, consumer circuits), motors, transformers, generators, motor speed control, AC, DC, single phase, three phase, transducers, logic (binary and boolean), data loggers, printers (IBM golfball), computers, computer programming, semiconductors from theory to 1001 uses, direct drive diesel machinery, prime movers, fuel systems, cooling systems, compressors, air reservoirs, centrifugal seperators, scavenge air supplies, exhaust gas boilers, cochran composite boilers, spanner exhaust boilers, crankcase explosions, complete diesel propulsion systems, steam turbines (impulse and reaction), scotch boilers, proportional control, integral control, derivative control, split range control, cascade control, main engine controls and alarms, pneumatics, electronic alarm systems, flame failure equipment, graviner oil mist detection, smoke density monitors, combustion gas detectors, Minerva fire alarms, salinometers, ph monitors, co2 recorders, control systems, process control, transmitting magnetic compasses, automatic steering systems, and enough maths to give you a very bad headache...water curtain boilers and internal/external desuperheaters ... all done in 6 months ... WOW! According to this different colleges seem to have had different approaches. All this and dogsbody too!. I'll bet monochrome and colour tv were in there, they were in mine. Gyrocompass – not where I did it. Got sent to Fleetwood to do Gyrocompass Techniques Certificate, but two or three years later. And Speke Airport (as was) to do Fire-fighting training. Happy times.
In 1992 and another life I came across teams of printers doing preventive maintenance on time division multiplexing systems: transferring data from newsrooms to printing presses. The manager who tried to explain it to me found me all goggle-eyed as he tied himself up in knots. The preventive maintenance impressed me more, two 'hot-metal' men each week making sure the stand-by equipment was ready to take over if the equipment in use broke down, while the rest of the 'hot-metal' crew got the newspaper out. Each week another two on rota. Of course if that had been on a ship it would have been one Sparks. Preventive maintenance, what a dream.
I left C-B as a REO in 1979 to become a dustbinman, train to be a computer field service engineer, became a relief licensed-house manager, all in relatively short order, then went back to sea free-lance foreign flag in 1980. I was back where I had started in 1962, a R/O (marconista actually) but now capable of great surprising feats, and often did I surprise. Where a radio operator was expected a fixer of equipment was discovered. Sometimes they were grateful.

trotterdotpom
9th March 2012, 10:37
"..... but I did get sent to Southend Pier for a couple of weeks to learn about the new-fangled Situation Display radars, but that was both informative & enjoyable because it was purely practical with no exam at the end for me to fail!

If that was the Kelvin Hughes Situation Display, the picture must have looked like a radioactive sperm bank at Southend!

John T

Shipbuilder
9th March 2012, 11:25
Yes, it was the KH one and it was certainly full or wrigglers! It was all a bit Heath Robinson with a small video camera continually peering at a small "image-retaining! panel that had a conventional radar picture projected on it. The panel was moved physically by a small mechanical system and when it got to the end of its travel, it jerked back into position and started again! Never really liked it, but it did get me on two brand new ships until I could find something better in the form of the 16-year-old St. Helena!

Jim Phares was the lecturer and he was very knowledgable about KH radars and put it across in a very amiable and easy-to-understand manner.

Bob

5TT
9th March 2012, 19:15
I recall being very impressed with the KH Situation Display the one time I ever saw one in action.

We were discharging citrus in Gothenburg from a 17 year old reefer equipped with a single 3cm RadioLocator which on that ship never gave any trouble.

Anyway, we were there for a week, the weather was slowing things up, and the ship's agent was handing out free ferry tickets to Denmark. I can't remember what the ferry company was but the idea was that provided we didn't disembark in Denmark, the only cost to us was our bar and restaurant bills. So, myself and 5 or 6 others went, and during the early part of the trip we managed to talk our way up onto the bridge. Wherever you were you could see at least one of the Situation Display monitors, very impressive for the time.
After that much merriment was had with the lovely Swedish gals in the disco, and the somewhat drafty boat deck, and we were back on board our ship well before sunrise.

The old man never knew we'd left the ship, let alone left the country !!

= Adrian +

Shipbuilder
9th March 2012, 19:27
It was OK when it was working, but it did give a lot of trouble. If the Image Retaining Panel was switched on (whilst the radar was in use), it would be destroyed if anyone shone a light on it. It could be very expensive if I was re-focussing it in the dark and some well-meaning individual came along and shone a torch into it - "boomsville" - 80 card gone!
Bob

Robert Wheeler
11th March 2012, 18:25
I can't remember there being any financial advantage in the B & C Group!
Bob

Hi Bob, Yes B & C did pay a bit extra for the MED. I got it at Riversdale in April '77. I can't remember how much extra at that time but when with their offshore company Neptune from 1983, I think it attracted an extra 150 per month. Though, as you know, B & C weren't expecting, or employing, us to be full REO's. Thank goodness as, although I seemed to manage to get broken things working again usually, I preferred the radio operating side of the job to fault fixing.

Shipbuilder
11th March 2012, 20:08
Hello again Robert,
I had been away for a year by 1977 and was cooling my heels in Silver Line. The pay in B & C when I left in 1976 had just risen sharply. I went from about 2,000 per annum as senior on Good Hope Castle to 3,600 literally overnight. I remember Captain Rose coming into thd radio office in high glee in Cape Town, waving the new rates around. I told him how much I got and asked him how much he got. I well remember him saying "Well, I won't say exactly how much, but it is over 6,000 a year!"

All sounds like chicken feed now! He never got to enjoy it though, dying suddenly at sea less than a week later.

Initially, I was booked in at Riversdale (where I had done the radar cert), but it was cancelled two days before because I was the only one booked on it. I was sent at short notice to Southampton and that was a disaster - they seemed obsessed with theory and mathematics and such as I didn't stand a chance.

All worked out for me in the end though, and I have no regrets.

Good to hear from you again.

Bob

Clive Kaine
14th March 2012, 11:19
I did my MED at Brunel, Bristol in the first half of 1978. As I recall, the course was demanding but not overwhelming. Apart from when exams were looming, I didn't really do much out of hours work.

I don't remember doing all the engineering stuff that harryredvers listed above; maybe the syllabus had changed. I do remember properly understanding and actually enjoying maths for the first time in my life, thanks to our excellent theory instructor John Whitehead (who I understand is sadly no longer with us).

There were a good bunch of lads on the course from various companies. P&O Bulk Shipping Division paid me a generous living allowance (40 a week - it was generous at the time!) on top of my salary, which enabled me to share a very nice modern 2 bedroom flat in Clifton with two of the other guys on the course (one from Marconi, the other from Redifon) , with another three in the flat upstairs.

We certainly enjoyed to the full all the facilities Bristol had to offer. I remember that period as one of the happiest in my life, as I also got married at the end of the course so it was a good time to have an extended period ashore. I was actually ashore for almost a year, as I'd left my previous ship in November '77, had some leave before going on the course in January, then had some more leave due after the course before finally joining my next ship in the September!

I did get paid extra once I got the qualification, but I don't remember how much. I don't think it was a lot. It didn't affect the job I did on board ship all that much either. It certainly made me a great deal more confident when approaching maintenance on navaids and other stuff outside the radio room, but if I ever got involved in any electronics in the engine room it was as a request ("Sparks, would you mind having a look at...") rather than being expected of me.

The extra qualification certainly helped three years later though, when I was looking for a shoreside job.

R651400
14th March 2012, 17:40
I'm supposed to be working so this is a very quick query before the grey cells forget the question.
I'm 73 years old with all grey cells working!
Since you're responsible for the naissence of this thread...
Do tell what exactly is a "super-sparks?"

harryredvers
14th March 2012, 22:27
R651400 post nr. 36 "What did you fix it with?" suggests that an element of elitism has crept into this thread. This is taken up by les.edgecumbe in post nr.38 on that thread "Yes indeed, a supercilious term ~ I would like to hear the definition of this term", and here R651400 in post nr.43 invites the one "responsible for the naissence of this thread..." to "tell what exactly is a "super-sparks?". Then Clive Kain in post nr.42 above makes reference to all the engineering stuff that harryredvers listed above. So , Clive, here I will direct you to K urgess post nr.21 page 1 in this Thread. There you will find the list I quoted. I imagine this syllabus concerns the period he studied the MED at South Shields. When I posted nr.35 above I included the list because I was gobsmacked by it. I didn't encounter a syllabus of that sort when I did the ME-whatever-it-was-called at Riversdale during 1974-5. I did suggest however that different colleges may have had different ideas, after all standardisation was not a strongpoint in all areas of maritime commerce. In my opinion anybody who could assimilate all that and then fulfil the ramifications it suggests would deserve the title under discussion. Only one would have been needed but, in any case, there would still have been only one carried on board. I have a sneaking suspicion though that there is an element of benign sarcasm behind this Thread.

Shipbuilder
15th March 2012, 08:08
I suppose the invented term "supersparks" was along the same lines as supertanker, superliner supertramp(ship), superman etc. Not official, but invented and with little real meaning.

I really don't know why companies latched on to these higher qualifications for R/Os when their scarcely hidden ambition seemed to be be to dispense with the R/O as soon as possible! They were hinting about it when I went to sea in early 1961 and I was assured, "there wont be any R/Os at sea in ten years time!"

If I had wanted to work in engine rooms, I would have become an engineer, but I didn't, I was never cursed with ambition and was happy enough being an R/O. The only fly in the ointment was the continual push for more qualifications that were, for the most part, beyond me, although I did manage 1st class & radar by supreme effort - but that was my limit.

But I will say that I could usually repair anything that had worked previously, given sufficient time and the necessary parts. This may seem a peculiar statement, but in many cases, equipment was to be found on new ships that had never worked since day one and I could not always do anything about it. Good example was a speed log probe mounted too far forward that was never accurate. If we were doing 3 knots, I could adjust it to read 3 knots, but it was miles out if we were doing 16. Likewise, if I adjusted it to read correctly at 16, it was miles out at lower speeds. The captain did suggest that it "needed a resistor putting in somewhere," but I could never quite figure out where!(Jester)

The most welcome technology/progress for me was the first morning of decimal currency aboard the WINDSOR CASTLE. All ready with my calculator, I completed my accounts in a fraction of the time of s & d days, whilst the chief fumed in the R/T room over
the new-fangled money!

The best thing about all that progress for me, was that when it finally became too much for me to cope with in late 1992, I was able to take redundancy (voluntary) with relief rather than anguish and have fudged along OK ever since.

If I had been a "supersparks" I would probaby have had to endure the stress of modern sea life for a further 14 years!

Bob

andysk
15th March 2012, 14:24
....... I was never cursed with ambition and was happy enough being an R/O. The only fly in the ointment was the continual push for more qualifications that were, for the most part, beyond me, although I did manage 1st class & radar by supreme effort - but that was my limit. ....

Bob, I must admit I never felt pressured by the likes of WA and JBC. I came in with a PMG 2nd and a just failed (1% and an argument with the BoT) radar, and could have gone on until the end like that. But I did manage the radar retake (at Norwood) and a General Conversion (at Wray Castle) on study leave, but it was all at my push not theirs ! Glad I left when I did though at the end of 1978, I think I got out before there were too many chasing too few jobs ashore !

mikeg
15th March 2012, 14:28
Never heard the term supersparks until reading it here on SN. I can say though that having the MED I was much more involved with engine room and cargo systems than ever before. I felt much more integrated within the ships daily routine than just being a 'sparks' and as such was consulted often by C/E's. The majority of C/E's were very accepting of the R/OE's position - however that said I did get one C/E who got uppity when I was being assisted by a junior engineer that I asked to help with an electronic adjustment as two hands were required to which the C/E barked that R/O's don't tell engineers what to do, he does! That was the only time over many years - so all in all it was an enjoyable time and beneficial to the general running of the ship.

Shipbuilder
15th March 2012, 15:50
Andy,
I was never pressurised by WA or JBC at all. In fact WA was a very amiable sort of guy who wasn't even qualified in any sort of electronics, but just seemed to arrive in the job, and we got on fine. I believe he was called the Electronics Inspector, whilst JBC, an ex R/O was the Electronics Superintendent. The pressure came from higher up from someone who seemed to decide that we should all have the MED regardless. It was "company policy!" After I walked out, RH, the Electronics Inspector in Southampton went off to Bilbao for a while to supervise the fitting of a bulker. I replaced him at Southampton as "Electronics Inspector" and was JBC's right hand man in Southampton (he was in London). I had no problems at all with actualy doing the job, apart from the fact that I didn't like being ashore. After about three months, and continual carping about going back to sea, I went off on EDINBURGH CASTLE as 2nd, but immediately on return, was sent to Bilbao to stand by the refitting of GOOD HOPE CASTLE after the fire. That took 3 months. I remained in that ship for my remaining two years in B &C, and the "powers that be" seemed to accept the fact that I was too thick to pass the MED, but could manage the ship OK, so I was left alone, and quite happy with it. I only left when they announced they were getting out of shipping!

My years with Curnow Shipping were the best of all, because they were only bothered about results and left everything connected with radio, radar etc to myself & my opposite number - never the slightest hint of sending either of us to college apart from the occasional three days works course, and that was fine.

It was an ideal set-up, we did voyage on, voyage off and whoever was on leave, acted as "radio consultant," that involved any ordering of new equipment or servicing on their other little ships (mainly coastal) that were too small to carry R/Os. Anything we ordered, we got, there was never any of the old "what do you want this or that for?"

In the end, it was all the fancy equipment on the new ship that wore me down and it was a great relief to quit!

Bob

cajef
15th March 2012, 16:53
My last ship was the brand new passenger liner St. Helena, that was absolutely stuffed with all the very latest in electronic gear and after two years of it, I was very happy to pack it all in!



Were you on the previous St. Helena, I actually installed the first Sat. Com. equipment she had on her in Falmouth.

Shipbuilder
15th March 2012, 17:29
Yes, I was,
But it was the 2nd Satcom that was fitted in Falmouth in 1983. The first was fitted in Avonmouth by A.N.D. Electronics so that we could go to the Falklands. When we were released 13 months later, we went for restoration to Falmouth where the Racal Decca was fitted. My old shipmate Roger Perks sold it to us when he worked for Racal Decca. We had sailed together for some time in both Windsor Castle & reina del Mar.

Here it is. That was the only place it would fit, and damned inconvenient too when it came to trying to repair it.

I didn't even want it fitted at all. I was perfectly happy with the HF telex! I spent 11 years in the first St. Helena!

Bob

cajef
15th March 2012, 20:53
That brings back a few memories, I was based in Falmouth with Racal-Decca at that time, can't now remember the make of the Sat. Com. it was American manufactured.

I had just done a training course on the equipment in London and that was the first one I installed, there were two of us as another engineer came down from up country to assist with the fitting, I can also remember coming aboard again when there was a problem sometime when she was back in Falmouth.

Ron Stringer
15th March 2012, 22:13
That brings back a few memories, I was based in Falmouth with Racal-Decca at that time, can't now remember the make of the Sat. Com. it was American manufactured.

It was the The MCS-9000, designed and manufactured by TeleSystems, of Fairfax, Va.

Shipbuilder
15th March 2012, 22:16
It continued to give problems for the next 7 years. It broke down practically every voyage. When we docked in Cardiff for the last time in late 1990, I switched it off because we were suffering very bad power surges and it never worked again after that. The ship was sold at that time, becoming AVALON, sailing out of Durban still with Curnow officers. The captain kept me advised from time to time by phone and asking for new parts to be airfreighted out for it, but nothing cured it and the ship went to scrap shortly after, at the age of 27 years!
Bob

Varley
16th March 2012, 01:57
Ron,

Is this related to the Navidyne ESZ 8000? I thought they had been taken over by Sperry (or whatever they are calling themselves today)?

A remark that one had experience of them ensured that they were not a product offered to regular clients. What a strange mistake for such a company to make.

Baulkham Hills
16th March 2012, 03:48
Hi

Navidyne were taken over by Sperry, the satcoms were totally unreliable. Sperry came out with their own satcom. It was equally unreliable and it may have been the MCS 9000. I was on a ship which Sperry had replaced the Navidyne with their own satcom free of charge to encourage the owners to replace the whole fleet satcoms with the new Sperry. The trial was not a success and all the Sperry equipment was removed and replaced with the JRC.

Cheers

Shipbuilder
16th March 2012, 07:46
It was labelled Racal Decca SES-A1

You really had to keep an eye on it as it would sometimes move over into distress mode, so it was best to check that the window displayed "R" (Routine) before pressing the button!

Bob

Ron Stringer
16th March 2012, 09:42
Ron,

Is this related to the Navidyne ESZ 8000? I thought they had been taken over by Sperry (or whatever they are calling themselves today)?

A remark that one had experience of them ensured that they were not a product offered to regular clients. What a strange mistake for such a company to make.

No, TeleSystems were a subsidiary of Comsat-General (who operated the Marisat system) and were in Fairfax Va, just outside Washington DC. The ESZ 8000 was made by Navidyne Corp in Newport News, Va.

I visited TeleSystems with our MD when they were trying to sell the MCS9000 to us. There were a lot of other radio companies there all being given the hard sell by Tom Finneran of Mackay Radio, who were doing the marketing for the product. I wasn't impressed and we did not get on board. Tom was not happy and told us we (Marconi) were missing a golden opportunity to get in on the ground floor of satellite communications with a product that would make our fortunes.

Later we learned of the reliability problems with the product and were happy we had missed the opportunity. Some years later Tom was still trying to sell those models that were still on the shelf. By that time TeleSystems were no longer making marine satcoms.

They did produce a "suitcase" transportable derivative with a lightweight folding dish antenna, the TCS-9000.

Varley
16th March 2012, 11:08
Ron, et al - Thanks for that.

I didn't think the Oceanray was a bad bit of kit at all - but then that comes from someone who knows a colleague who bought an RDI!

David V

cajef
16th March 2012, 11:17
It continued to give problems for the next 7 years. It broke down practically every voyage.

It was a pretty disastrous venture into Satcom by Racal-Decca, as you say the reliability problems were a real issue, after that experience they kept well out of that market and stayed with the products that were their main strengths.

5TT
16th March 2012, 18:10
as you say the reliability problems were a real issue

What were the problems that this equipment suffered from?

= Adrian +

Shipbuilder
16th March 2012, 19:03
Too numerous to remember with the one shown above. Ofen, it would just stop working and they would come along in port, replace a board or two and it would be OK again (at vast cost!).

It even caught fire once when we were stuck in Dakar with no airconditioning for a full month after serious E/R fire. I knew it was overheating and even getting filled with sand dust, but if I left the top on, it got too hot to work and just conked out until it cooled off. It really got a hammering during the month in Dakar and finally failed during our last two or three days in port. Alarm indicator went off in the night and there was smoke coming out of tp and a small flame licking up the board, which I just blew out, but that was the end of it until we got to Cape Town. They sent a new board out, I slotted it in and it was OK again.
Bob

Ron Stringer
16th March 2012, 21:30
It was a pretty disastrous venture into Satcom by Racal-Decca, as you say the reliability problems were a real issue, after that experience they kept well out of that market and stayed with the products that were their main strengths.

And Roger moved to Marconi's. (Jester)

Varley
17th March 2012, 01:12
And Roger moved to Marconi's. (Jester)

A fine fellow, but more of commerce rather than technology I would have thought, now with Telemar. I don't remember him with Mimco. David V

david.hopcroft
17th March 2012, 11:09
Looking on MarineTraffic.com last evening, I noted a Polish river barge anchored on the A1031 at Saltfleet in Eastern most Lincolnshire. There is a very small silted up inlet there but it is a river barge. This morning he appears to be underway southbound on the A1031 towards Mablethorpe.

The vessels track shows a due east line probably pointing towards Stettin or somewhere.

Think this is a job for SuperSparks !!

David
+
ps. It is now 1043, and he has turned right up passed the Kings Head, heading towards Louth. There are road works in Mablethorpe, so I guess he is following the diversion signs.

pps It is now 1200, and he is anchored again, so guess he is going to the Kings Head for a pie and a pint.



+

andysk
19th March 2012, 15:12
.... The pressure came from higher up from someone who seemed to decide that we should all have the MED regardless. It was "company policy!" After I walked out, RH, ....

WA and JBC were I think of the 'old school', and great to work with, but I can't place RH ? And who was the pressure-meister ?

Yes, I was,
But it was the 2nd Satcom that was fitted in Falmouth in 1983. The first was fitted in Avonmouth by A.N.D. Electronics so that we could go to the Falklands. When we were released 13 months later, we went for restoration to Falmouth where the Racal Decca was fitted. My old shipmate Roger Perks sold it to us when he worked for Racal Decca. We had sailed together for some time in both Windsor Castle & reina del Mar. ....

Wasn't the first a Scientific Atlanta model of satcom ? We at IMRC fiitted many of the at that time, and Pat Clune did the training courses at Mitcham ...

Roger was R/O on Rothesay Castle, with his wife (Laurie ?) for my first trip, then later for a couple of cruises on RdM. Where is he now ?

.... Tom Finneran of Mackay Radio, who were doing the marketing for the product. I wasn't impressed and we did not get on board. Tom was not happy and told us we (Marconi) were missing a golden opportunity to get in on the ground floor of satellite communications with a product that would make our fortunes ...

I knew Tom from ITT/MM, perhaqps he was focussing on MIMCo after ITT sold their lump of STC ?

As far as I recal, the Scientific Atlanta Satcoms were pretty reliable, then IMRC started to make their own under led by Gerry McAinsh and Ross Mungeam.

Shipbuilder
19th March 2012, 17:30
Andy,
The first satcom on the St. Helena was an Elektrisk Bureau fitted for the MOD charter 1982/83. It didn't give any trouble, but it was fitted in my cabin because it was large. I was moved into the 3rd mates cabin & the 3rd mate went into a passenger cabin. When we got back, the company wanted to fit satcoms, but the EB one was too big, so we got the Racal Decca that was small enough to fit in the radio room.

Roger moved shortly after to STC and was General Manager in Croydon when I did the week's course for the STC satcom for the new St. Helena. That gave very little trouble although th e-mail system was very erratic and still not much good when I left in October '92.

RH = Richard Harris, an ex seagoing R/O who became Electronics Inspector, Southampton. I think he followed Paul Heald. The job was to look after the radio/electonics aboard the mailships and the cargo ships using Bristol Channel ports. I last saw RH in Southampton when St Helena drydocked there. By that time, he had left and set up an electronics company in Southampton - I think it was called "Technicon" or something like that.

The pressure about MED usually came from the various marine superintendents that came aboard the mailships in Southampton. It appears that it was "company policy" and if any of us didn't get it, it may affect our future in the company.

After I had quit the course, one of them sent me a "Memo" to remain aboard on a certain day in Southampton, where he would come and "discuss my future in the company!" Anyway, I waited all day and never saw hide nor hair of him!

At that time, they must have known that none of us had a future in the company anyway, so why did they bother with the extra expenditure of sending us on courses? Fair enough if you were good at that sort of thing, (studying modern electronics) and actually wanted to go, but I wasn't - so why even send me!

I never minded practical electronics work, if I was left alone and had the time, (But then again, most of it had to be done in my off duty hours) but could never cope with all that theory and maths!

Bob

david.hopcroft
20th March 2012, 20:23
Ref my #64 above, I was hoping one of you 'Super Sparks' might have ventured a diagnosis.

Late this afternoon the signal has stopped. I had a couple of reasonable ideas, and a few frivolous ones ! The most likely is it must have been a recent purchase by someone local. The straight line vessels track is to the last known QTH. The passage down the road to the pub was probably in the new owners van using it as a satnav. It returned to Saltfleet after the Saturday lunch session and remained 'at anchor' at Saltfleet until today, when either the battery went flat, or some MCGA official sussed the anomaly and turned it off for him !!!

What do you think

David
+

Shipbuilder
20th March 2012, 20:38
David,

I did read your posts, but afraid that whatever you were talking about was beyond my simple understanding processes!(Sad)

If you had given us a link it may have helped!

Bob

andysk
21st March 2012, 12:46
... What do you think ...

We've had amphibious cars, so why not road going ships ....

Shipbuilder
21st March 2012, 13:10
Either Rotherwick or Rothesay Castle was in collision with a car in the Straits of Gibraltar in the early 60s!
Bob

andysk
21st March 2012, 18:08
Either Rotherwick or Rothesay Castle was in collision with a car in the Straits of Gibraltar in the early 60s!
Bob

I never knew that Bob, what was the full story ?
(The Rothesay was my first ship ...)
Andy (the other one)

Shipbuilder
21st March 2012, 18:52
Andy,
I can't remember the full details. The mate of the Richmond Castle told us about it in 1965, shortly after it had hapenned. I think he was on another ship in the vicinity. Apparently it was a glancing blow, but wrecked the car and the driver was none-too pleased. Maybe a Google search could reveal more.
Bob

david.hopcroft
21st March 2012, 20:47
AIS

Yes, sorry, looking back at my posts, #64 is a bit enigmatic

The link was www.marinetraffic.com zoomed in to the Lincolnshire coast. I live within sight of the red diamond that is 'VTS Sutton on Sea'. The aerial array is on top of a 135m microwave mast that is on the old GKZ receiving site. It is the control out to the Pickerel gas field and beyond. It used to be part of my day-to-day responsibilities at GKZ.

On Friday evening, there was an anchored vessel showing it to be on the A1031 at Saltfleet. The ID showed it as a Polish registered vessel that from the photo was obviously a river barge. On Saturday morning it appeared to be underway proceeding south on the road, then later returned to 'anchor' at Saltfleet. I decided to ring Humber CG at Brid, but the signal disappeared. So maybe someone there also wondered what it was doing !

David
+

Shipbuilder
21st March 2012, 22:23
Still can't figure it out - completely baffled - maybe you do need a "supersparks!"
Bob

david.hopcroft
22nd March 2012, 13:33
It was certainly a job for Super Sparks.

The AIS plot at marinetraffic.com for the Lincs coast is the link, the aerials for this area and the processor unit at located at VTS Sutton on Sea as shown by the red diamond just south of Mablethorpe.

David
+

Shipbuilder
22nd March 2012, 20:09
Totally beyond my comprehension! - Means absolutely nothing - just like being back on Advanced Marine Electronics Course!

Haven't the faintest idea what you are talking about! (Night)

Bob

Cisco
22nd March 2012, 20:31
Andy,
I can't remember the full details. The mate of the Richmond Castle told us about it in 1965, shortly after it had hapenned. I think he was on another ship in the vicinity. Apparently it was a glancing blow, but wrecked the car and the driver was none-too pleased. Maybe a Google search could reveal more.
Bob
As I recall it was an amphibious VW going from Gib to N Africa. I don't remember which of the two ships it was but it was on the same 'double header' that she lost her deck crowd in Capetown. Seems one of them came back from some cafe up the road complaining of bad treatment.... entire deck crowd except the bosun and one AB who was too piss*d to join in went up and trashed the cafe. All including the deck boy ended up in the slammer. She sailed with a DBS Bank Line third mate and four university students making up the numbers....
Thats as I remember the story... I think the VW sank..

Cisco
22nd March 2012, 20:36
Totally beyond my comprehension!

Bob

Here you go Bob,
http://www.marinetraffic.com/ais/default.aspx?centerx=30&centery=25&zoom=2&level1=140

Shipbuilder
22nd March 2012, 20:54
Cisco,

Thanks for info. Was beginning to wonder if I imagined it about the amphibious vehicle

As for the map. I got that far, but it is still totally beyond my comrehension as to what on earth he is talking about!

Bob

Cisco
22nd March 2012, 21:03
bit puzzled meself...

david.hopcroft
23rd March 2012, 20:46
The AIS plot shows positions and movements of vessels.

So when you see a Polish registered river barge shown as being anchored on a main road in Easternmost Lincolnshire, you might be interested in how that is possible. When it later appears to get underway and proceed south down the same road, it becomes even more interesting.

Add to that an attempt at humorous speculation combined with local knowledge of the pubs in the area, put it into a thread about Super Sparks and electronic qualifications, and sit back and wait for comments.

David
++

andysk
26th March 2012, 23:31
The AIS plot shows positions and movements of vessels.

So when you see a Polish registered river barge shown as being anchored on a main road in Easternmost Lincolnshire, you might be interested in how that is possible. When it later appears to get underway and proceed south down the same road, it becomes even more interesting.

Add to that an attempt at humorous speculation combined with local knowledge of the pubs in the area, put it into a thread about Super Sparks and electronic qualifications, and sit back and wait for comments.

David
++

Don't you believe it Bob, it was on the back of a trailer sitting in a pub car park !

Andy

Shipbuilder
27th March 2012, 07:07
I might have found it interesting if I could have found the map! Despite numerous efforts, I could not get beyond green squares and eventually gave up!(Sad)
Bob

david.hopcroft
27th March 2012, 19:46
I find it slow to respond. You need to click on a square - say the Humber Estuary, and wait till it loads. Then scroll up to zoom in, or scroll down to zoom out. It is not instant by any means. To move the map up and down you must left click and hold, then move the cursor up or down. Scrolling only zooms in or out. You can actually get very close in, and even view ships positions on a satellite image. It is clever stuff.

If you get as far as the Lincolnshire coast, click on the pinkish red diamond that is VTS Sutton on Sea, and you will see the view I have from my front window. It is on the field in which the receive aerials for GKZ were. The mast is now microwave control out to the Gas Fields in this area.

David
+

Ron Stringer
28th March 2012, 08:46
The mast is now microwave control out to the Gas Fields in this area.

David,

In the latter half of the 1960s we had very advanced comms to the rigs located off the Humber. They consisted of two 5-watt UHF transceivers made by Storno (valve sets, of course), one at Tetney, the other at Easington. [=D] They were on line H24 and there were no backups on site (they never seemed to want to spend money on comms in those days).

Since they were the only such links in the UK, MIMCo (who never wanted to spend money at all) didn't think it was worth sending anyone from the Hull, Grimsby or any other depots for training at the Storno factory in Denmark. So the specialist Comms section in Chelmsford, having planned and installed the links, had also to maintain them.

Like all such links, they were unimportant and of low status - until they stopped working. Then they had to be fixed NOW!

So one of us (usually Chris Horan, the lead technician on the project) would be despatched in a Mini van. This was in the days before Motorways and trunk road improvements and we used to have a sort of challenge who held the record. It was around 160 miles to Tetney and (driving like an idiot) it could be done in 3 hours, plus or minus a few minutes depending on the state of the weather or the level of tractor activity on the fen roads between Ely and Wisbech. In the winter, black ice was a constant threat and at night, the tractors (some trailing the most ferocious implements that took up more than half of the width of the already very narrow road ) were not fitted with lights. Had several near disasters.

Chris was always the fastest (he had a lot more practice) especially when he took his own car instead of the Minivan - he had an Austin Healy 3000.

The equipment was mounted on towers and was a pig to maintain. Test equipment was not abundant for UHF (many ships still did not have VHF!) and the only station with which you could check the performance was on a rig at sea. The transmitter output valves gradually deteriorated and nobody would say anything until the link gave out. In their defence, unlike AM circuits, there was no increase in noise with FM, when link power was reduced, it cut off abruptly.

We had periodic planned maintenance visits where we visited both sites and changed out valves and set everything up, even though no fault had been reported, but we never seemed to get it right for too long. The planned maintenance visits were unpopular with the client since "the link was so important than it could never be taken off air" - but not important enough to justify hot standby kit (or even cold standby kit). So we got the sticky end of the rod either way.

Planned maintenance visits were unpopular with us too because, pre-Humber Bridge, running between the two sites was a nightmare, even when the ferry from Barton was running. Otherwise it was a long drag to Goole, which made for a very long day indeed. It is so long ago now that I can't remember what replaced it. Maybe it was the Autospec at GKZ but it has all faded into the past now. Nurse......

david.hopcroft
29th March 2012, 19:42
The private channel RTT service at GKZ began in 1965. It was on 3624 Tx and 3324 Rx with RT on the upper and RTT on the lower, using Marconi HS113 transmitters and HR21 receivers with Autospecs (Automatic Single path error correction) trying their best to battle through the QRM. It always looked a very complicated piece of kit to me. Spent many hours trying to get through to the offshore operators that 'patching out' an autospec did not mean switch it off !!

Next to them in the room was a big Marconi VHF cabinet for Ch16 & 26 I remember it had those funny things called valves. It was replaced in time by Storno transceivers and these then became standard for VHF. Also in the building, I can't remember the date, was a Storno UHF set that provided a private telephone for the Inner Dowsing Light Tower about 10 miles due east of GKZ. It was owned and serviced by Trinity House. It was just an ex-directory local phone number.

David
+

trotterdotpom
29th March 2012, 22:16
That sounds pretty groundbreaking stuff David. In 1966 at Portland Breakwater Lt Ho we had a phone that you had to wind up and with a separate microphone and earpiece.

John T

david.hopcroft
2nd April 2012, 19:52
The Oil Rig service at GKZ used standard gear for the time - mid 60's - I am fairly sure it was all Marconi. I think there were 15 Telex channels on the LSB of 3624khz. I am not sure of the channel spacing, perhaps about 150 c/s, but they used 42.5 c/s deviation either side for mark and space.

It was normally quite good, but being 'at the centre' of the private circuits, everyone came to us when they had a problem. It was of course the only place to start, but because we were usually able to sort things out, we always had the feeling that problems were always 'our fault' even though 50% of the circuit was offshore.

Names like Unifor One/MRYE, North Star/MIJS, Constellation/?, Amoco 8A etc... stick in my mind. Their RO's were all candidates for 'Super Sparks' for the hours they seemed to put in alone, but the RO on the Brown & Roots pipelayer, Hugh W Gordon/WF965, was perhaps the most deserving. Whenever we called he always seemed to be there.

David
+

Ron Stringer
2nd April 2012, 22:29
The Oil Rig service at GKZ used standard gear for the time - mid 60's - I am fairly sure it was all Marconi. I think there were 15 Telex channels on the LSB of 3624khz. I am not sure of the channel spacing, perhaps about 150 c/s, but they used 42.5 c/s deviation either side for mark and space.

It was normally quite good, but being 'at the centre' of the private circuits, everyone came to us when they had a problem. It was of course the only place to start, but because we were usually able to sort things out, we always had the feeling that problems were always 'our fault' even though 50% of the circuit was offshore

In those early days in the mid-60s the gear on the rigs was Marconi too. Standard isb transmitter/receiver installations using HX27 transmItters and HR28 receivers. As you say, there were 15 telex channels in the lower sideband of each frequency (the upper sideband was a common access voice channel, used by all rigs working that station). Initially the facility was available (each on different frequencies in the 3 MHZ band) from GND, GCC and GKZ. Later moves to drill off the Shetland Islands required additional shore facilities there.

Our experiences differed in respect of the treatment of faults. We found that whenever a circuit went down, the Post Office always denied any problem at the coast station and claimed that the fault lay at the offshore rig or platform. Many, many unproductive offshore trips were made by Marconi service guys searching for non-existent problems. Eventually we had to set up a receiving station at Chelmsford, connected to a spectrum analyser, so that we could tune to each coast station and display the signals being transmitted by both coast and offshore stations.

So when Mr Cap complained that they had lost their Autospec telex connection, we could see that on Channel 5 (Mr Cap's allocated channel) there was no transmission from GCC. Regardless of how often the GPO engineers claimed that their transmitter output was faultless, we could insist that they were putting out full power on the other channels in use but nothing on Channel 5. Eventually all the channels would go off air and then all of them, including Channel 5, would return at full power. We would call and say all is OK now and the reply always was, "Well we have changed nothing here."

Most of the problems occurred in the sideband filters that the coast stations used. Each rig had only a single channel to transmit/receive and needed to have a single narrowband filter in the transmitter. The shore transmitters needed to transmit on 15 separate channels in each lower sideband and so required a very complex filter arrangement to keep the channels clearly separated and defined. Any deterioration in this bit of kit attenuated the radiated signal in a particular part of the sideband. The same sort of problem occurred in the coast station receiver sideband filters but as they were not exposed to any significant level of power, they failed very rarely.

Failure of one of the 15 sideband channels was not apparent to the coast station operators who looked at the tranmitter output meter and said we are still putting out full power. So it was not until engineers got involved that things might (repeat, might) get moving. Eventually the transmitter would be taken down and the unit containing the filters would be swapped out and normal service was restored.

To fly engineers and parts out to rigs was a very expensive exercise and many thousands of pounds must have been wasted chasing imaginary faults on rigs when the problem sat firmly ashore somewhere in Stonehaven or Mablethorpe. Each trip resulted in Marconi losing the services of a guy for many hours, even days. (I once went to a rig off Shetland for a 4-hour job and was away 12 days, 10 of them on the rig because fog interrupted the chopper flights).

People moan about today's BT but in those days I don't believe that the GPO even had such a thing as a Complaints Department, let alone took any notice of customers' problems.

R651400
3rd April 2012, 05:04
I left GND in 1965 and there certainly were no oil rigs being worked then.
Putting a receiver with spec analyser to monitor transmissions of this sophistication at any distant site would have been an obvious answer from the outset and not after the horse had bolted.

Ron Stringer
3rd April 2012, 08:33
I left GND in 1965 and there certainly were no oil rigs being worked then.
Putting a receiver with spec analyser to monitor transmissions of this sophistication at any distant site would have been an obvious answer from the outset and not after the horse had bolted.

You may be right there on both counts.

Exploration drilling started in the Southern end of the North Sea during the early-mid 1960s and gradually moved North as the operators gained experience of drilling in cold and deeper water (as opposed to the warm, shallow water of the Gulf of Mexico). So GND was the last of the mainland stations to be equipped. I can't remember when the BP and Shell rigs went up off Aberdeen but I am sure that, for example, Sea Gem and Staflo were up there before 1970. They worked through GND I know. I remember going to sort out problems on the pipe laying barge Saipem Castoro Due, anchored off Peterhead, and working GND but I think that was later than 1970 because she used Spector rather than Autospec.

Using a spectrum analyser was the obvious way to monitor the system but in the late 1960s they were both uncommon and extremely expensive facilities to find in a marine service organisation. To buy one would have exhausted our total equipment capital expenditure budget for about 18 months. Better to buy several VHF signal generators and test sets for our UK service depots, at a time when the marine world was beginning to "discover" that VHF radiotelephones could be useful (and the US Coastguard had made their carriage mandatory for ships visiting the USA). We were spending our own money, not the taxpayers.

In the event, we used the "old-boys" network and borrowed the analyser unofficially, from a friend in one of the Marconi research and development labs, where such exotic beasts were commonplace. Such things take time to organise - the GEC organisation kept a pretty tight control of its assets! If you could put up a good business case you could have anything in the world. However it was hard to predict, quantify and cost, just how often ISB stations on rigs (and at Post Office coast stations) would go faulty, how long they would take to diagnose and repair, how many visits would be needed by Marconi service engineers, how much that would cost and what percentage of the failures and visits (and their cost to Marconi) would be avoided if we purchased a spectrum analyser. In those days, pre-computer, there were not enough hours in the day to prepare a fully documented and supported case. We just got on with the job as best we could with what we had, as we had been trained to do at sea.

R651400
3rd April 2012, 17:03
I know I am right on both counts but who exactly is your Mr Cap???

Ron Stringer
3rd April 2012, 19:43
I know I am right on both counts but who exactly is your Mr Cap???

Mr Cap was one of the early exploration rigs in the North Sea. It even drilled off the Tees but seeking coal, not oil. I once visited her when I was working at South Shields, flying out from Stockton in a Whirlwind helicopter. Ah, the memories, the memories.

trotterdotpom
3rd April 2012, 22:06
Was Mr Cap named after Hartlepool's famous Andy? Wouldn't have thought it was too difficult to find coal off the Tees. I did a "vocational visit" down Trimdon Grange colliery and by the time we reached the coal face, we were somewhere near Holland. That was probably why I decided that going to sea looked pretty good!

John T

R651400
4th April 2012, 05:18
Ron/t.p Thanks info on "Andy." Drilling for coal anywhere between the Tees to the Forth seems like taking same to Newcastle.
Remember as a lad taking home the well rounded lumps which we referred to as sea coal from the beach nr my village on the Firth of Forth/North Sea.

Ron Stringer
4th April 2012, 07:58
Ron/t.p Thanks info on "Andy." Drilling for coal anywhere between the Tees to the Forth seems like taking same to Newcastle.

There were several mines that had deep and extensive workings out under the North Sea, going back to the 19th century, but they had no idea just where the limits were.

I believe that the NCB were trying to determine the extent of the undersea coalfields off the Durham coast without the delay and expense involved in cutting exploratory tunnels and faces from underground. Using the offshore rig technology developed in the gas fields off Norfolk was someone's bright idea. Quite innovative, I thought at the time.

R651400
4th April 2012, 10:46
At GCC in 1964 I have two notable memories one monitoring the first broadcast transmission of pirate radio ship Radio Caroline with their theme tune "Caroline" by the Fortunes.
Second was the US oil survey/research vessel Anna when they struck gold.
I've little or no information on Anna excepting memories of regular link calls each and every evening mainly for stores and this particular one with a bit more euphoria than usual.

david.hopcroft
4th April 2012, 11:54
I started at GKZ in 1968, after Sea Gem and Mr Cap. I think we had a spectrum analyzer or at least our engineers brought one with them.

Mr Cap - http://www.britishpathe.com/video/mr-cap-drills-for-oil

Sadly, the Sea Gem was lost when it collapsed into the sea while jacking down. It was in the West Sole Field in block 48/6. http://www.britishpathe.com/video/mr-cap-drills-for-oil

Anecdotally, the chap who was on watch at the time used to tell the story that the Baltrover called Humber without any urgency prefix coincidentally in a silence period, and was indeed reminded of that !! 'Yes........ but I have just seen an oilrig collapse into the sea........'

David
+

trotterdotpom
4th April 2012, 11:59
At GCC in 1964 I have two notable memories one monitoring the first broadcast transmission of pirate radio ship Radio Caroline with their theme tune "Caroline" by the Fortunes.
Second was the US oil survey/research vessel Anna when they struck gold.
I've little or no information on Anna excepting memories of regular link calls each and every evening mainly for stores and this particular one with a bit more euphoria than usual.

We used to get blokes on horses and carts flogging seacoal. Presumably it bobbed up due to all the holes the drillers were making. For some reason it was regarded as inferior to "real coal", but it was significantly cheaper. The oil drillers sure kept quiet about their gold discovery.

John T

R651400
4th April 2012, 17:05
Apols for digressing from the nub of the thread.
t.p..After so many years I sometimes wonder if I am dreaming that particular link call and then not even giving a second thought to it's future implications.
I would really like to find out more about the Anna if there is anyone out there who has info.

Ron Stringer
4th April 2012, 20:56
We used to get blokes on horses and carts flogging seacoal. Presumably it bobbed up due to all the holes the drillers were making.

Joking aside, the seacoal was washed ashore in many places along the NE Coast. Some of the coal seams came to the surface on the seabed (rather like it does in various places on land, where they can drift mine, or opencast mine). After every period of stormy weather there would be masses of coal washed from the exposed seams and brought ashore by the waves.

Patagualino
22nd April 2012, 20:37
I had a junior R/O when I was on an Italian ship for United Marine Electronics....He was a nice enough lad & I was determined for him not to suffer the same as I did on my first trip.......Unfortunately, I soon found out that is ability to receive Morse was all but non-existent! I spent hours with him getting him up to speed....we got there in the end but I'm at a loss to understand how he passed the exam.
(As an aside, we were both in the Radio Room listening to the BBC when they announced that John Lennon had been murdered.....so 1980 then. It was one of those "Where were you when ........." moments.....)
And in common with many ex-shipmates....never heard from him again.

Troppo
23rd April 2012, 06:38
I was alongside in Brisbane as a first tripper when I heard the news about Lennon....still remember it.

R651400
23rd April 2012, 16:31
Patagualino's nr 2 ??

Techy
7th September 2012, 14:05
[QUOTE=Anyone else with Trainee R/O tales?

Mike[/QUOTE]

I was traine R/O with a lovable alcoholic chief from Glasgow, on a BP Tanker Gulf to Ilse of Grain every voyage. Sandy had a secret store of booze and was completely our of it for days on end - I just did what I had been trained to and no one said anyhing !!! When he sobered up he was hot stuff on a morse key but useless at any thing technical he weighed 7 stone.
He said he was grateful to me for keeping things going and bought me a portable typewriter. Which he accused me of stealing from him when he went on his next bender.

david.hopcroft
7th September 2012, 19:39
Similar experience as Junior first trip on a tanker, Gulf-Bataan, with a chief who was doing a 'tax year'. He would quite literally disappear for a few days, so I just 'did what was to be done' also. Good experience though.

David
+

Techy
8th September 2012, 13:57
Hi David,
Yes when I went Solo on John Holt not long after I was confident (age 20 what else would I be?).

gand00k1n
12th November 2012, 19:53
I went to Brunel in 77 and did the MNTB Electronics Cert course and some C&G certs thanks to CP Ships. They endeavoured to send most of their ROs on the MNTB course. The Brunel course was excellent thanks to some very good instructors such whose name slip my mind now except for Alan Melia and Mr Needham.

M29
13th November 2012, 12:23
I went to Brunel in 77 and did the MNTB Electronics Cert course and some C&G certs thanks to CP Ships. They endeavoured to send most of their ROs on the MNTB course. The Brunel course was excellent thanks to some very good instructors such whose name slip my mind now except for Alan Melia and Mr Needham.

Hi
Glad you found it good and hope it helped in your career.

Best Wishes

Alan Melia.

PS you may also remember Peter Prance, Bob Kneeshaw, John Whitehead, Don Weston, David Heald, etc.

mikeg
13th November 2012, 18:58
Certainly helped my career hugely! Did the MNTB Electronics Cert at Brunel during 1973. I enjoyed the course very much, very hard work though! Can't now recall many of the personnel there but Alans and Peter Prance's names do come to mind. Remember building a SWR meter as a project there.

richardwakeley
15th November 2012, 06:41
gand00k1n,

I also did the MNTB course at Brunel in 1977. We may have been in the same class. There were several of us there from Blue Flue.

Alan,

Many thanks for reminding me of your names. I certainly learned a lot on that course. Rather a long time ago now, so I have forgotten the imaginary numbers!

Best regards,
Richard

M29
15th November 2012, 21:14
gand00k1n,

I also did the MNTB course at Brunel in 1977. We may have been in the same class. There were several of us there from Blue Flue.

Alan,

Many thanks for reminding me of your names. I certainly learned a lot on that course. Rather a long time ago now, so I have forgotten the imaginary numbers!

Best regards,
Richard

Richard, if they were imaginary, then you needn't remember them! they were just a figment of your imagination! Fortunately the beer down at the Ashley Hotel (ship aground bar) wasn't imaginary.

Best wishes
Alan