Do ships still blow the whistle in fog? - Ships Nostalgia
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Do ships still blow the whistle in fog?

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  #1  
Old 27th May 2012, 07:06
Clanline Clanline is offline  
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Do ships still blow the whistle in fog?

I was watching a documentary last night (Coast) and they had a piece about lighthouse fog horns which have all been phased out and this got me wondering if ships are still 'supposed' to blow theirs in fog.

With all the fancy aids they have nowadays is this so?
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Old 27th May 2012, 08:16
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Yes they do. I guess it's to do with the ability of ships to move, where lighthouses tend not to.
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  #3  
Old 27th May 2012, 08:19
Robin Craythorn Robin Craythorn is online now  
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Sounding the ship's whistle or fog horn is still a legal requirement when in poor visibility as per the International Collision Regulations, however in practice and with good radar performance, plotting and watch keeping the whistle is usually sounded only if any other target
is within two miles distance or there is the possibility of yachts or other small targets in the vicinity

Robin Craythorn
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Old 27th May 2012, 08:37
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I was on a cruise a couple of years ago and we hit thick fog passing Lisbon of all places (not foggy there in my experience) and the very loud fog horn blew for about 12 hours.
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Old 27th May 2012, 09:43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Clanline View Post
I was watching a documentary last night (Coast) and they had a piece about lighthouse fog horns which have all been phased out and this got me wondering if ships are still 'supposed' to blow theirs in fog.

With all the fancy aids they have nowadays is this so?
Well the one here in Sunderland was going full blast last night!
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  #6  
Old 27th May 2012, 11:59
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Craythorn View Post
Sounding the ship's whistle or fog horn is still a legal requirement when in poor visibility as per the International Collision Regulations, however in practice and with good radar performance, plotting and watch keeping the whistle is usually sounded only if any other target
is within two miles distance or there is the possibility of yachts or other small targets in the vicinity

Robin Craythorn
Well here in the busy port of felixstowe as soon as the fog comes in the ships blow their fog horns continuously,if the breeze is in the wrong direction it tends to keep one awake.

jim
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Old 27th May 2012, 12:23
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With all the fancy aids they have nowadays is this so?

Good point, but obviously still done for the benefit of those who don't - better safe than sorry, rather like the old adage "Remember the next astern!".

That said, I do recall serving in one ship in which the Commander (E) (aka "Chief") ensured that the supply to the siren on the same side of the ship as his cabin was always shut off for some reason ......

Jack
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Old 27th May 2012, 12:27
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If anything happened, in fog, or any other form of restricted visibilty, the first question that would be asked at the enquiry would be - " Were you making the relevant sound signals, as required by the International Collision Regulations". If your answer is no, then what ever happened, you have no leg to stand on, and, you are history.
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Old 27th May 2012, 14:46
Klaatu83 Klaatu83 is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by taxi-man View Post
If anything happened, in fog, or any other form of restricted visibilty, the first question that would be asked at the enquiry would be - " Were you making the relevant sound signals, as required by the International Collision Regulations". If your answer is no, then what ever happened, you have no leg to stand on, and, you are history.
That is absolutely correct. In fact, ships are also still required to carry a manually-operated "fog horn" in case the ship's whistle is not operational. I was on one ship where we actually had recourse to use it. We set it our on the bridge wing ans set one of the crew to blowing it. I do not know if the sound carried very far.

in addition, if anchored in fog, the law still requires that they ring a bell at the bow and sound a gong at the stern.
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Old 27th May 2012, 14:51
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Incoming tide here in Sunderland, in what was once Great Britain, and the fog horn from the lighthouse is in full flow.
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Old 27th May 2012, 16:33
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One trans-Pacific passage, we were dodging typhoons, about seven in total and we made 9 days. There was continuous fog from Yokohama to Vancouver. The fog horn was going the whole time! It also broke some diaphragms and I had to go up and change them. I made sure that the horn was "locked out" before doing the work! The whole swimming pool deck would reverberate like a drum skin. No one got much sleep!
Rgds.
Dave
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  #12  
Old 27th May 2012, 16:55
vectiscol vectiscol is offline  
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Ships with a fully-enclosed bridge and/or one-man watch have to be fitted with a sound reception system in order that fog sirens can heard.
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Old 27th May 2012, 17:18
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Near where I live, in Bembridge Isle of Wight, there are a couple of bouys and beacons that have fog horns and ships anchored off also sound their fog horns. It is often at this time of year when the sun causes a sea fog but it is still sunny on shore.
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  #14  
Old 27th May 2012, 20:40
trotterdotpom trotterdotpom is offline  
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I well remember the performance required to start up the fog horn on Nab Tower. Maybe you heard it, Ted.

John T
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Old 27th May 2012, 22:21
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If tin whistles are made of tin, what are foghorns made of?
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  #16  
Old 27th May 2012, 22:56
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesgpobog View Post
If tin whistles are made of tin, what are foghorns made of?
I seem to remember they were made of brass,cos the mate used to send me up to polish them.

jim
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Old 27th May 2012, 23:33
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I recall the differences between a steam whistle and one operated on compressed air. The former often let out a fizzle squeak as it cleared its throat of condensed steam and for some reason the bigger the ship the deeper throated the sound.
The old steam tugs usually had a higher pitched whistle than a big ship and I wonder if that was a rule for identification in the fog
Part of the procedure for preparing the engine room for sailing was to enter "Air whistle on" in the log.
I have posted before my experience sitting in a small dingy on the edge of the Rangitoto Channel surrounded by a sudden dense fog and hearing the Pacific Island passenger ship MV Matua entering port with long blasts that seemed to be coming from all points of the compass, scary indeed.

Bob
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Old 28th May 2012, 07:36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamesgpobog View Post
If tin whistles are made of tin, what are foghorns made of?
Fog?? I seem to remember that was one of Lonnie Donegan's lines in "Does your chewing gum loose it's flavour on the bed post over night?"
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  #19  
Old 28th May 2012, 08:04
Cutsplice Cutsplice is offline  
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I had it in my standing orders when visibility was 2 miles or less sound appropiate sound signals and inform me. I never worried about people moaning about the noise of the whistle, the whistle was on the foremast and bridge etc was aft plus earplugs if necessary so no good claiming they could not sleep a/c windows shut no problem.
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  #20  
Old 28th May 2012, 09:47
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Cumbrae lighthouse used to play a record synchronised to the foghorn. It went "One mile, two miles, three miles...etc" It was simultaneously broadcast on a radio frequency and when the sound of the foghorn was heard the distance on the radio was logged as the distance off. A bi-aural headphone device was then used to obtain a bearing to the source giving a bearing and distance off.

Can't understand why it never became universal.
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  #21  
Old 28th May 2012, 13:02
Clanline Clanline is offline  
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Thanks for all the replies. Now I know.

I used to enjoy blowing the twin whistles (air and steam I think) on the U-C passenger ships and watching the passengers on deck jump out of their skins!
They packed quite a punch, especially if you were right in front of them!

We did have a few embarrassing occasions when saluting other company vessels when only a gurgle came out of the whistle!

On some of the Union Castle and Clan Line vessels we had an automatic system for fog horns which made live easier on the bridge even if it did make you jump!
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  #22  
Old 28th May 2012, 14:32
Ian Brown Ian Brown is offline  
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I was on the bridge of a vessel sailing from Livorno which met a vessel heading inwards and due to small fishing boats to starboard the Master decided to alter to port. He backed his actions up with the correct sound signal - 2 short blasts - as he put the wheel to port. Unfortunately the air to the whistle had not been opened after being in port and so there was only enough (leaked) pressure in the system for 1 short blast.....
Not a happy Captain.
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Old 28th May 2012, 15:41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cutsplice View Post
I never worried about people moaning about the noise of the whistle, the whistle was on the foremast and bridge etc was aft.
The foghorn on the Barber Priam was on the fwd stbd side of the ramp support. The exhaust, visible in my avatar was aft. The reverbaration of the auxy deck was impressive when the horn blew!
Is the regulation one twenty second blast every two minutes?
Rgds.
Dave
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Old 28th May 2012, 16:33
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Slight thread drift
Does anyone still use the bell forward and the gong aft at anchor in fog? If it's not automatic, sound the statutory signal is going to cause problems on many ships with limited crew. Could even cause problems with working hours.

Perhaps it's time to scrap it, as it is of no use warning large ships with closed in bridges.
Andy
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  #25  
Old 28th May 2012, 16:36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat McCardle View Post
Well the one here in Sunderland was going full blast last night!
The lighthouse in scarbrough still blows its foghorn in foggy weather
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