TV on ships - Ships Nostalgia
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  #1  
Old 23rd January 2020, 13:19
Worldspan Worldspan is offline
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TV on ships

Back in the 1970s/1980, well after I'd come ashore, I got interested in DX TV. In those days Band 1 TV was still active and there was some impressive DX ... also on much higher frequencies, too, during good conditions.

I remember seeing rotatable TV aerials on some ships and wonder whether anyone served on ships with TV. How did they manage with the many standards around the world? Was reception OK? Presumably this was the responsibility of the R/O.

How about today? I went on a cruise a few years ago and there was a TV in our cabin but I never turned it on. Do ships (not necessarily passenger ships) have satellite TV and is it successful given the pitching and rolling of a vessel? Do they use internet TV?

BTW, in 1937 George Kelsey assisted the EMI research team with experiments into the reception of TV aboard the Cunard White Star liner MV Britannic en route from London to New York via Southampton and Le Havre. Kelsey was later head of the RAF team that monitored German TV from the Eiffel Tower at Beachy Head during WW2. There's an Eastbourne Local History booklet about the latter. See:

www.eastbournehistory.org.uk/publications.php

Thanks in advance for comments ...

W

Last edited by Worldspan; 23rd January 2020 at 13:27.. Reason: Omission
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  #2  
Old 23rd January 2020, 14:31
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Wismajorvik Wismajorvik is offline  
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Mid 60s, On a rather tired tanker, officers clubbed together and purchased a similarly tired valve black and white tv with which we could watch channels in New York and Venezuela and for a few hours while passing Puerto Rica. Antenna lashed to a railing. Fortunately those countries used the same US standard.
A few years back I commissioned a global satellite system on an FPSO. The cabins were fitted with multi system TV monitors. I guess this would be the set up on cruise ships.
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  #3  
Old 23rd January 2020, 15:52
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I would guess that all cruise ships have satellite TV these days, and I know from experience that very many offshore oil and gas support vessels have it. Pitching and rolling is not a big issue with the Ku band antennas which are quite small and stabilised with a gyro heading.

When ships travel over long distances satellite footprints fade out. Ku has a limited beam footprint but C band is wider. The ET on board has to reconfigure the satellite receiver and often the set-top boxes too. It can be a hassle transiting between coverage areas. Subscriptions must be set up with different providers as the ship moves around the globe.

Most satellite TV providers concentrate beam patterns on land masses and coastal areas. The demand for Sat-TV at sea is minuscule compared with terrestrial users. For this reason there are large dead spots at sea with Ku band providers. C-Band covers most oceans but is expensive due to the larger dish and dome size.



Here endeth the lesson.
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  #4  
Old 23rd January 2020, 17:13
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On many modern cruise ships the 'stateroom' television is just a monitor for a multi media system.
Apart from live satellite broadcast reception they might offer:
Programmed films
On-demand premium films
On board, in-house productions including safety briefings, daily activity updates, replays of on-board lectures etc.
Facility to book events and activities.
Checking on board account (bar bill).

The actual television programmes vary according to where the ship is, obviously, but will also be set to whatever languages are predominant on board at the time.
BBC World service and CNN are generally available anywhere. - Maybe the odd drop-out in the middle of the Bering sea...

Just look at a large modern cruise ship - The satellite antennae domes are about as abundant as ventilators on an old time steam ship - Most of them are for more important things than watching TV and surfing the internet of course.
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  #5  
Old 23rd January 2020, 17:46
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oceantramp oceantramp is offline
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On the Canadian coal trade in the 50's we purchased a television. The problem was going up and down the St Lawrence river we lost reception going round bends. Someone had to go out and change the aerial each time. Our third Engineer then made an aerial it look like a hedgehog with spikes sticking out in all directions problem solved.
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  #6  
Old 23rd January 2020, 18:42
R870879 R870879 is offline  
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Back in the late 60's, early 70's, Fyffes new M boats were equipt with two tv sets in both officers and ratings rec rooms. One was for the US and Japanese coasts and one for the British and European coasts. In port, they were next to useless, due to the poor reception caused by the surrounding cranes,sheds,etc. Once the ship set sail, you lost the signal anyway.
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  #7  
Old 23rd January 2020, 18:58
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I remember when the old saw "Rum, bum and concertinas" changed to " Rum, bum and old record players" and the appalling cost of batteries that ensued. TV on a ship? I can scarcely credit it.
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  #8  
Old 23rd January 2020, 19:56
sparkie2182 sparkie2182 is online now  
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The number one cause of friction...... the crew TV.
A brand new multi band TV reduced to being skip worthy within a few weeks....... guaranteed.........treated with less delicacy than a winch.
If the TV worked.... the ae didn't.......the officers set was always better than the one below which was always seen as being part of a conspiracy.

The "communal ae" came in a close second

One of the least pleasing memories of the job..... I still can't look at a wire coat hanger without thinking of those days

Last edited by sparkie2182; 23rd January 2020 at 20:19..
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  #9  
Old 23rd January 2020, 19:58
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Farmer John View Post
old record players.
I am reminded of the last train into Weymouth station on a Sunday night - always chock full of Jolly Jacks returning from weekend leave.
One or more of them would often report loss of kit en route.
When taking details the of contents of said bag there was invariably a top of the range music player of some sort.
When the first personal cassette players came out it was always a Sony Walkman that was lost and within a week or so of the CD version being released they always reported it as a Sony Discman, obviously.
Unsurprisingly if we recovered said lost bag, someone must have taken the Walkman or Discman out and left an inferior model in its place.
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  #10  
Old 23rd January 2020, 20:26
granty granty is offline  
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Hi
When I was in a couple of Coasters in the late 60s we had a Telly it was connected to a converter something to do with AC DC electrics we had to pay 5 Bob a week for it that was 4 ABs Cook the Galley Lad and the Donkeyman
Every time you altered course you had to go up and turn the Aerial they hated it when I was on the Wheel. I remember in Rotterdam one time we managed to get the Cup Final but no sound I had a radio so got the sound on that and had the commentary fantastic days
Granty
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  #11  
Old 23rd January 2020, 20:42
Pilot mac Pilot mac is offline  
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How times have changed! On most ships that I served a TV was supplied but was only any good on the UK coast, rarely did anyone watch TV and if anyone did it was considered an unwanted distraction in the bar. It was usually banished to the saloon.

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  #12  
Old 23rd January 2020, 20:48
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Closest I got to tv on board ship was when Rangitane berthed in the London dicks in 1957 and a set came on board to be set up in a small passenger lounge for the use of those standing by.
Tiny little screen , foggy picture ,crackly sound , short programme time etc but we sat there mesmerised by the marvel of it all.
We never had TV on the Union co in NZ until after I went ashore but with limited range transmission the early times saw the programme disapear off the screen about 50 miles out to sea .
Not that many years later I heard of crew's refusing to sail until the colour screen was working well .

Bob
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  #13  
Old 23rd January 2020, 22:23
holland25 holland25 is offline  
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Blue Funnel in 1960 used to put TVs on board when we got to New York. It stayed
with us all the way down to the Gulf and back. It was OK in port but not very good at sea. Couldn't stand all the commercials. One trip we went to Havana and I think I remember watching bull fighting on it. A few years later in the RFA we had TVs but we spent a lot of time at Portland on a buoy and it was a full time job adjusting the aerial as we swung around.
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  #14  
Old 24th January 2020, 00:03
Laurie Ridyard Laurie Ridyard is offline  
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Hains SS Co always put TVs on board in port.

I particularly remember we we had one when doing repairs in Tokyo.

A Japanese version of " Saturday Night at the London Palladium " came on , and there appeared a Japanese singer dressed as a cowboy , complete with stetson, leather tassled jacket and cowboy boots.

Very funny ! He sang " Rawhide ! " . Only he could not pronounce his Ls,
and was singing " Lawhide Lawhide ! Lawhide ! "

ATB

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  #15  
Old 24th January 2020, 00:20
dannic dannic is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sparkie2182 View Post
The number one cause of friction...... the crew TV.
A brand new multi band TV reduced to being skip worthy within a few weeks....... guaranteed.........treated with less delicacy than a winch.
If the TV worked.... the ae didn't.......the officers set was always better than the one below which was always seen as being part of a conspiracy.

The "communal ae" came in a close second

One of the least pleasing memories of the job..... I still can't look at a wire coat hanger without thinking of those days
Reefer Scythia in 1978, sailed from Sheerness and had to stop off at Brixham to pick up new big screen tv for crew bar as they had complained their telly didn't work - not surprising as someone had put a screwdriver through it!
Got there early hours and leccy and sparky had to turn to and show new telly worked, before could sail out and continue voyage, to central America where no likelihood of a tv signal! For next few months!

Dannic.
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  #16  
Old 24th January 2020, 00:44
sparkie2182 sparkie2182 is online now  
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My recollections exactly.
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  #17  
Old 24th January 2020, 01:28
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On one ship, all cabins had combo TVs/Radio/Cassette player. Word was that the said sets and about 230 more were "un manifested cargo". The ones not in cabins went over the wall, prior to making the first port!

The only TV that I remember was in the crew bar. I also remember watching, during a crew change when I was the only prior serving eng onboard (2.5 trips, that trip), "A Bridge Too Far", only it was the US version. I didn't know that the Americans won WW2 on their own!!!!
Rgds.
Dave
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  #18  
Old 24th January 2020, 08:27
Paul Braxton Paul Braxton is offline  
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Memories of continually trying to faultfind, or adjust the colour TV sets, mainly in the crew bars of British crewed ships. No training or experience, but you just had to do what you could, and we got a Marconi course on colour TV eventually. As far as I was concerned, the constant hassles and time-wasting of turning aerials, trying to explain to irritated crewmembers something about the inefficiency of ship's aerials, range, etc., all falling on deaf ears, was just a pain in the butt, something equivalent to being pestered unmercifully to do the football results! I did get quite competent with that one, but the TV situation and the flakey VCR's we started getting on BenLine in the early '80's were one of the things better forgotten.
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  #19  
Old 24th January 2020, 10:15
P.Arnold P.Arnold is offline
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In the 70’s, Marconi supplied a Bush auto multi standard colour TV. In ideal conditions it could operate on all TV systems. As mentioned, in port with cranes etc, the TV set would start hunting through the systems.
I remember one ship coming in complaining that the set didn’t receive TV broadcasts in colour in India. As a result numerous ‘twiddlers’ had been in action in the back of the set, with the number of pots’ etc to try and get the programmes received, in colour.
At that time India only had Black and White, I explained.
The crew were not impressed.
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  #20  
Old 24th January 2020, 10:58
P.Arnold P.Arnold is offline
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And, sailed with a Captain who purchased out of his own pocket, an Omni directional antenna c/w amplifier for his cabin TV.
“Receives TV broadcasts anywhere in the world” he said.
“Not in the middle of the North Atlantic” I says.

He too, was not impressed.
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  #21  
Old 24th January 2020, 11:48
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We had multi standard TV's supplied on the Bowater vessels, when in port one of the cadets would be sent to the monkey island to adjust the aerial till a decent picture was received with a relay of people shouting when it was watchable.
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  #22  
Old 24th January 2020, 12:12
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RFAs were supplied with the Marconi/Bush TV which handled SECAM, PAL and NTSC formats. Reckoned NTSC meant Never The Same Colour. They were big heavy units and I spent a lot of time carting them into our maintenance room after the onboard “experts” had been fiddling with them. Quite a few ended up with beer mugs through the screen after the crew got peed off with them.
Awful devices.
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  #23  
Old 25th January 2020, 03:25
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On the older Great Lakes ships I sailed TV's were in the crew's mess room and officers saloon. On newer vessels including conversions, there were recreation rooms both forward and aft, where the TV's lived and used by both the crew and the officers. I recall the Cuban Missile Crises in 1962? Watching President Kennedy speaking on TV.

Both on the ships where my Dad sailed and I grew up and I sailed myself the most popular TV antenna was a burned out mogul screw base 500 watts light bulb. Attached: 500-Watts-Light-Bulb.jpg. I never saw one of these 500 watts bulbs used aboard ship, but they were used extensively at bulk commodities loading and unloading docks, as well as steel plants we visited. All one needed to do was ask someone who worked there.

Generally in ports TV reception was decent albeit taking into account operating, shore side, bridge cranes, etc. Upon leaving port TV signals faded fast. While running the St. Mary's, Detroit and St Claire rivers, with the vessels changing course the TV signal was often flaky.

Offshore, TV's were in the crew's mess room and officer's saloon. Pretty much wherever we went there was some TV being broadcast. If from no other source, the US Military operated the Armed Services Radio and TV Networks on Midway, Guam and Okinawa, South Korea, South Vietnam, Japan and Thailand.

Attached: 500-Watts-Light-Bulb.jpg (69.0 KB)

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  #24  
Old 25th January 2020, 07:33
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TV was compulsory on Oz ships. There were at least 4 on board.

All the comments re cranes in port creating multipath (ghosting) make me smile.

I remember being called down to the crew's bar with a complaint of "TV's not working, sparkie"...to find a PMU sauce bottle sticking out of the screen...a result of a dispute over programs, I was told...
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  #25  
Old 25th January 2020, 20:43
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In the sixties, we were scheduled to be on the U.S. Coast for a couple of months. Having a Chinese crew, a guard was always stationed at the bottom of the gangway.
The Third Mate decided we should get a TV, so went ashore with a couple of the crew, and returned with a rather large TV set. While struggling up the gangway with said set, the U.S. Guard asked the 3/o " Do you have TV back home?". 3/o replied "Yes mate. we invented it." The guard collapsed laughing. "Gee, that's a good un!" he was heard to say.
The TV soon fell out of favour due to the number of repeats and commercials.
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Last edited by Ken Wood; 25th January 2020 at 20:47.. Reason: Typo
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