radio watchkeeping on board - Ships Nostalgia
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radio watchkeeping on board

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  #1  
Old 17th January 2010, 15:47
7woodlane 7woodlane is offline  
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radio watchkeeping on board

Further to comments on headphones v loudspeaker. Headphones were not supplied as a cosmetic add-on to be worn when one felt like it. They were to be worn during the watchkeeping hours at all times. Those Ericsson phones weighed a ton and uncomfortable they certainly were, but distress watchkeeping was your primary duty. Weak signals from lifeboat radios would have slim chance of being detected via a loudspeaker (as if a reason be needed). The loudspeaker watch receiver to be used only when operating on working frequencies (copying traffic lists, weather forecasts, etc). Apart from the requirement to wear the phones, the advantage to the rest of the world meant because of that they did not have to put up with the racket coming out of the radio room. This also applied to shore stations. Finally, it is a great pity that some of us cannot go about our business in the world without selfishly impacting on those around them.
David Whitehead.
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  #2  
Old 28th January 2010, 22:55
Trevor Clements Trevor Clements is offline  
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Oh dear! I must have been a very naughty boy, because I often had the main receiver on loudspeaker.
I used to put the headphones on for GKA weather each evening or NSS, and that was because the Captain had a habit of standing looking over my shoulder while I was taking it down, and making distracting comments. When it was NSS, they went plenty fast enough without added distractions.
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  #3  
Old 29th January 2010, 15:41
Vital Sparks Vital Sparks is offline  
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I used the speaker because I didn't like the feeling of claustrophobic isolation induced by the headphones. It's a great pity some of cannot go about or business without unnecessarily imposing our viewpoint upon others.
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  #4  
Old 29th January 2010, 16:34
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charles henry charles henry is offline  
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[QUOTE=7woodlane;394954 They distress watchkeeping was your primary duty. Weak signals from lifeboat radios would have slim chance of being detected via a loudspeaker

A very puristic attitude but the first sentence is true.

However the facts of life were that the minute there was a distress situation you notriced it immediately by the bedlam of idiots sending "QRT distress"
Having been involved I found that by reverting to my 50 watt quenched spark gap emergency transmitter I had no problem in handling the situation.

If you have to revert to headphones to hear a spark transmission then you need a hearing test. (Tongue in cheek, nothing personal)
de chas
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  #5  
Old 29th January 2010, 16:46
Gareth Jones Gareth Jones is offline  
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I have to take issue with this - I worked at GNF in the early 60's, and 500, 2182, ch 16vhf, and Thames Radio ch16 vhf were all monitored on speakers. The only exception being weekdays 0800 to 1200 when a W/T working point was opened up and the man watching 500 only had to give qry's to the calling ships, he was continuously on 500 so the speaker could be shut off.

In fact an extension speaker on 2182 was supplied in the landline room since the R/T man at night (10pm till 8am) had to cover all landline duties as well as all R/T.

GNF in those days was a busy station and at times the operating room could be an absolute cacophony with all those speakers on and the staff bawling into the microphones.

At sea I used headphones through preference - I felt it more professional - although I was once told by an old man that he liked to hear morse coming from the radio room - it made him feel that his ship was part of the seagoing maritime community - I said it told him the sparkie was in there and not on his bunk studying the backs of his eyelids !!!
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  #6  
Old 29th January 2010, 17:31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gareth Jones View Post
I have to take issue with this - I worked at GNF in the early 60's, and 500, 2182, ch 16vhf, and Thames Radio ch16 vhf were all monitored on speakers.
Oh, and didn't it show? Spent more time calling GNF on 500 (without response) than all the other UK coast stations together. Dreaded getting the Pernis/Shellhaven run when I was with Joe Shell - easier to give a TR to PCH when leaving for Rotterdam than to raise GNF. The only other station to run it close was GLD from south of Ushant but I believe that was a consequence of the location of the GLD receiving antenna locations.
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  #7  
Old 29th January 2010, 17:53
Gareth Jones Gareth Jones is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ron Stringer View Post
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Oh, and didn't it show? Spent more time calling GNF on 500 (without response) than all the other UK coast stations together. Dreaded getting the Pernis/Shellhaven run when I was with Joe Shell - easier to give a TR to PCH when leaving for Rotterdam than to raise GNF. The only other station to run it close was GLD from south of Ushant but I believe that was a consequence of the location of the GLD receiving antenna locations.
I couldnt have been on watch when you were calling !!!

Although in fairness it was a busy station then - and you will remember what the QRM was like on 500 in those days dont forget we had PCH OST OSA FFB all on our doorstep 500 was sometimes a continuous wall of meaningless sound. I can remember opening up 2381 R/T watch at 9 am and going straight up to qry 15.
Having said all that i must admit there were some guys there - well - best keep my mouth shut - what is done is done and cannot be undone.
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  #8  
Old 29th January 2010, 19:52
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charles henry charles henry is offline  
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Part of the reason for GLD being busy was probably partly due to homeward bound ships from the south trying to get a TR in long before there was any need, there was a general feeling that once you officially contacted GLD you were almost home. (It used to be called having the Channels).

de chas
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  #9  
Old 29th January 2010, 22:22
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Contact from the Bay of Biscay

Quote:
Originally Posted by charles henry View Post
Part of the reason for GLD being busy was probably partly due to homeward bound ships from the south trying to get a TR in long before there was any need, there was a general feeling that once you officially contacted GLD you were almost home. (It used to be called having the Channels).

de chas
Charles, take your point but never had trouble working GLD because of traffic levels, only difficulty making contact from the south. From the west or the north, all was fine but from the Bay and the west of the Channel it was often difficult to raise him. GNI on the other hand was much easier to raise from there, but of course the GPO in its wisdom always discouraged you from working anything but the nearest coast station, the one they had designated as covering the area that you were in.

Apparently the problem at GLD was a technical one, not operator-related at all. The siting of the receiving antennas was such that they were screened from the south and so coverage was restricted in the Bay. Oddly enough if you were further west, out towards the Azores, or even off the Spanish coast at Finisterre, the range at which you could raise GLD was much longer. However if you were much closer in, approaching Ushant from the south or having rounded it and heading up Channel, you seemed to be in a 'dead spot'.

I used to work GNI instead and to hell with GPO procedures. Sometimes got negative comments from the GNI operators when they asked for my QTH when setting up R/T link calls, but most of the time cleared the traffic without too much trouble.
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  #10  
Old 30th January 2010, 06:06
Naytikos Naytikos is offline  
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I agree with the general consensus with regard to using headphones; the only time I did was when taking the greek press from SVA whilst listening to ball-by-ball on the World Service.
Gareth's description of GNF is interesting: I once set up three separate simultaneous R/T QSOs with other company ships in the Arabian Sea, one on VHF, one each on 2 and 4 Mc/s, all on loudspeaker. At the time, I thought "it must be like this all the time in coast stations"!
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  #11  
Old 8th February 2010, 02:09
Mimcoman Mimcoman is offline  
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At Stonehaven Radio in the late Eighties, when there was still a large amount of traffic on 2182 kHz, it was necessary to wear a headset to be sure you could distinguish who was calling. (We kept a loudspeaker on 2182 kHz as well, of course.) Later on, when BT started demanning various sites, GND and GLD were responsible for the UK 2182 watch, with multiple loudspeaker outputs, but the amount of traffic on 2182 had died away to a pale shadow of the earlier cacophony and you could manage with a loudspeaker watch. GND listened to 2182 kHz receivers at GLV, GPK, GHD, GNK (in Shetland), GKR, GND and GCC. Initially, the BT installation engineers had all the signals coming out of one speaker, but we built our own system with individual speakers - much better.

When I was at sea, I usually kept a loudspeaker watch, unless I was working traffic, as a headset was too restrictive while doing maintenance etc. I did, however, have a headset with an extra-long cable, which I used to keep a distress from the boatdeck if the a/c had packed in again!

Last edited by Mimcoman; 8th February 2010 at 02:10.. Reason: spelinngg
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  #12  
Old 8th February 2010, 06:33
Naytikos Naytikos is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mimcoman View Post
I did, however, have a headset with an extra-long cable, which I used to keep a distress from the boatdeck if the a/c had packed in again!
Useful trick.

When I had a long QRY and a meal-time came up I used to patch an Rx through the ship's PA system and turn off all of the loudspeakers except the one in the officers' mess; did that on several ships and no-one minded.
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  #13  
Old 20th February 2010, 02:35
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I never used phones.
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  #14  
Old 25th February 2010, 14:31
trotterdotpom trotterdotpom is offline  
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I never used phones.
Troppo, you bad, bad, boy!

Re one of your other posts, "Ariake" was supposed to be my last ship after the night of the long knives in 1992. Went aboard in Brisbane - looked like a good job, but I ended up doing a round the world yee ha swansong on "Australian Venture".

Did we ever meet?

John T.
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  #15  
Old 26th February 2010, 15:17
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Hello John

VJAV would have been more interesting, for sure.

We may have met.

I did a lot of time on Wiltshire/VJEK.
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  #16  
Old 2nd March 2010, 00:15
majoco majoco is offline  
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I always used phones, to the extent that I carried my own around from ship to ship. Those SG Brown type "F" that Mimco supplied were awful things. The best thing that I came across was on an ex-Maersk tanker that was bought by Safmarine - the radio gear was by Pedersen or something like that - and it had a 'mixer' that had all the radio audios fed into it from all over the ship - including the PA/Broadcast and the bridge VHF - so that you could select what you wanted listen to and how loud. Switchable to a loudspeaker too, so that you had one radio in the headphones and one on the speaker but could instantly switch from one to the other. Marvellous!

Last edited by majoco; 2nd March 2010 at 00:16.. Reason: Corrected American spelling!
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  #17  
Old 2nd March 2010, 10:21
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Fascinating thread.

To those of you who used phones - how did you keep 5 ton when you were up on HF?

Split audio to the phones?
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  #18  
Old 2nd March 2010, 12:58
K urgess K urgess is offline
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As it says in the log (L/S 500). Resumed 500 (Res500) when done.
Regs required a loudspeaker watch on 500 when using headphones on any other frequency, I believe.
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  #19  
Old 2nd March 2010, 13:18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marconi Sahib View Post
As it says in the log (L/S 500). Resumed 500 (Res500) when done.
Regs required a loudspeaker watch on 500 when using headphones on any other frequency, I believe.
Did that too, Kris, but as I mostly sailed with the 'Alert' as L/S Watch Receiver, there was no risk of being distracted unless someone was virtually alongside.

Only on a couple of ships where I did short trips was I lucky enough to get 'Mercury'/'Electra' pairings.
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  #20  
Old 2nd March 2010, 13:35
K urgess K urgess is offline
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Mostly just a paper exercise I must admit, Ron.
Definitely not as good as a proper watch on 500 but then, in those days, there were enough ships around to make sure nothing was missed.
The only thing I've found in the bible so far is Section 28 aobut log filling.
"(xii) A positive entry when beginning or terminating loud
speaker watch on the distress frequency, or when watch
on the distress frequency is discontinued to enable the
operator to persorm other essential radiotelegraph duties
which make it impracticable to maintain the watch."
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  #21  
Old 3rd March 2010, 07:53
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I find this whole phones thing facsinating.

As I said, I never wore them. There was no requirement on Aussie ships, or even on G ships I sailed on. My first chief never wore them, either.

I used to use the Lifeguard N A/A as a 500 watch rx, as it had a BFO, and was just as sensitive as the main rx.
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  #22  
Old 3rd March 2010, 12:08
K urgess K urgess is offline
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The only times I used the loudspeaker rather than the phones during a normal watch was if I had to do some work in the radio room that involved moving about.
Otherwise it was the usual "Feet up reading a book".
Faint signals could easily be missed no matter how sensitive a receiver was because the volume had to be kept reasonably low to avoid disturbing others especially irate captains during an afternoon siesta.
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  #23  
Old 3rd March 2010, 12:59
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Of course, I never, ever read on watch....



I remember when this stupid zealot relieved me....he was horrified to think that I read on watch...I remember saying to him..."so what do you do, mate, sit there with pen poised, waiting for the CQD from MGY?"....

Another nutcase sparkie....there were certainly a few of them....

Last edited by Troppo; 3rd March 2010 at 13:01..
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  #24  
Old 3rd March 2010, 13:12
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Sailed on a couple of ships where the ambient noise in the radio room was such that it was hard to hear signals with the headphones clamped to your head, let alone on a loudspeaker.
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  #25  
Old 3rd March 2010, 13:13
K urgess K urgess is offline
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Old habits die hard.
My trip as junior involved working in a radio room directly above the Old Man's bedroom and, of course, I had all the late watches.
If I so much as moved a chair.......
At least it meant no late night, last minute messages that involved firing up the DC 'Span.
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