Ocean Weather ships

20th March 2010, 14:21
Have published a website about the 4 ex RN castle class corvette Ocean Weather Ships. If anyone has any more material that they would like to donate to the site then it will be gratefully received. I will be updating the site in a few weeks time.

26th August 2010, 10:12
I have moved my site to www.weatherships.co.uk

26th August 2010, 16:50
IAEGMOOH, Have just spent an hour looking at your extremely interesting web site, it is a credit to you. The unpleasantness the crew received when a north atlantic storm blew up does not bear thinking about.

Bob Murdoch
26th August 2010, 17:19
Brings back memories. I trained at the Watt Memorial College in Greenock for my radio tickets. Used to pass the Weather Ships berth every morning and evening. At least one of my fellow students (ex national service air force operator, I think) could not handle the theory and went on to the weather ships.
That was back in the late fifties.
Dont know how they managed to stand it on the Castles, let alone the ex-Flowers.
They did a great job. As have you with your site.

26th August 2010, 17:30
Thanks for the insight into the "other side". As an R/O on the north Atlantic in the mid-sixties I used to send regular OBS messages to the weather ships. From memory, which is not infallible after all these years, the callsigns that I recall for the OBS messages to the weather ships that were appropriate to our routes were in the ITU issued series: 4YA, 4YB, 4YC, 4YD, and 4YE.

Bob Murdoch
26th August 2010, 18:20
Hi, me again. Try this site if you have not found it already yourself


19th September 2010, 20:23
Just to let you know that I have just updated my site with additions to most pages

20th September 2010, 23:56
An ex Brocklebank master called ( I think), Jerry Booth was master omn the weatherships.
It must have beend very uncomfortable job riding out the winter storms. I feel a bit sick thinking about them !!

23rd October 2010, 17:06
Have added some updates to my site again

Hugh Ferguson
24th October 2010, 13:29
My 91 year old neighbour did a stint in the Ocean Weather ships in 1957 and he has given me the following:-

Flower class corvettes preceded the Castle class frigates. Britain maintained two Ocean Weather ships, India in position 59N.19W and another in Western Approaches.
Each O.W.S. stayed 21 days on station and had to remain within 25 miles of her allotted position: so the drill was, in order to conserve fuel, steam 25 miles up-wind of station, and then allow to drift 50 miles down wind, repeating the manouvre over a period of 21 days.

(My neighbour intends to look up some more details and he hopes to come up with this in due course.)

24th October 2010, 22:00
Thanks Hugh, What is his name so I can give him a mention on the site.

Hugh Ferguson
24th October 2010, 22:35
Sorry, Paul, he asked to remain anonymous so I must respect his request.

Hugh Ferguson
28th October 2010, 18:16
In addition to the task of taking hourly surface observations, day and night, which have to be coded into 5 figure groups of numbers which have to be obtained from a comprehensive book, and passed by radio to the shore based Central Meteorological Station, the Ocean Weather ships based at Greenock, when on station, had to measure the upper atmosphere.
This was done 4 times a day by using a radio-sonde. The sonde is carried aloft by a balloon made of rubber and inflated by hydrogen. The sonde itself is a small cylinder about 12" high and 8" in diameter. Inside the sonde are the elements one needs to measure temperature, another to measure humidity and the third, an aneroid element to measure pressure.
Each element in turn is contacted by a rotor activated by a windmill on the outside of the sonde and a battery inside the sonde causes the element to emit a signal which is picked up by an officer aboard the ship.
In preparing for a launch, the sonde is calibrated in the office aboard the ship, meanwhile an assistant inflates the balloon in a large balloon shelter towards the stern. When the sonde is calibrated so that the elements are sending the same as the conditions on the sea surface, the officer carries it out to the balloon shelter and ties it to the end of 90ft. of string the other end of which is attached to a radar reflector which is hanging some 20ft. below the balloon.
The trick then is to get the whole apparatus into the air without hitting anything, either balloon shelter, bulwarks or ocean waves.
The operators then go below into their met office and plot on a graph the signals emitted by the sonde as the balloon rises.
At first the signals are quite frequent as the balloon rises at about a 1,000 ft/min.. As it ascends into rarer air the balloon expands and the rate of ascent slows. Eventually the balloon bursts and and the whole apparatus drops into the sea. The signals cease after about an hour and meanwhile the ship's radar has been plotting the range and bearing of the balloon and its radar reflector, and from these readings the wind strength and direction at heights obtained from the readings of the sonde can be calculated.

29th October 2010, 13:26
Thanks Hugh thats a good account of the work of the metmen onboard

Hugh Ferguson
29th October 2010, 13:41
Part 3: conclusion
In adition to gathering meteorological data, the Ocean Weather Ships had secondary roles in providing air-sea rescue facilities for aircraft and shipping in distress and acting as navigational track points for transatlantic aircraft.
Aircraft could also be made aware of jet streams which are often associated with N. Atlantic low pressure systems and the active polar-front between the cold north-easterly air from the Arctic and the warm moist south-westerly flow from the tropics.
It is on record that a trans-atlantic aircraft, using a jet-stream ahead of a large low pressure system centered just south of Iceland, cut two and a half hours off its flying time by flying in that jet-stream.
Upper air measurements and research were also carried out by aircraft of Coastal Command and it was usually arranged that half way through its stay on station, an Ocean Weather Ship would receive a water-proof package of mail which was dropped by an aircraft upwind of the ship for its sea-boat to pick up.
In the summer in one Ocean Weather Ship on station India (59N.19W) off-duty crew played cricket! Stumps were set up on the forward end of the balloon shed and the bowler bowled the ball, from right aft by the counter, into the shed. The ball was tied on the end of a length of cord-line and fielders were spread out on the quarter-deck. Boundaries and sixes were frowned on; if the cord-line broke, the ball was lost at sea.

10th November 2010, 22:41
I have updated www.weatherships.co.uk again

Union Jack
11th November 2010, 11:38
My compliments on a very good job well done, IAGEMOOH, and a great personal tribute to your Father who I'm sure would have been thrilled by what you have done in his memory.

Additionally, I couldn't help noticing the fascinating coincidence whereby, on the concurrent Royal Navy thread on "Court Martial of Alastair Mars", Jim the Hat has posted:

The one thing I would say at this point is ,if after leaving(dismissed the service) why did he not apply for a "certificate of service "as MFG this would have , at least to serve as second mate in the MN I am sure that in the mid 50s there were plenty of opportunities.

when, according to the photographs on the Crew List webpage http://www.weatherships.co.uk/crew.htm , that is exactly what Alastair Mars did!


3rd December 2010, 12:28
I have updated the site again and would like to draw your attention to a new page regarding the possibility of a memorial to the Castle Class Ships


6th August 2019, 19:52
Thanks for a very interesting website, which is a credit to you Paul......often wondered when I used to do weather charts at sea...if you had a nice R/O who would not mind getting all the codes for you....about the weather ship readings and what the ships were like. Really enjoyed the site very interesting ,many thanks