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  #26  
Old 24th March 2010, 16:53
John Tremelling John Tremelling is offline  
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I have often wondered what difference the use of Degaussing gear would have made to the deviation. At the time my investigative nature had not developed to the degree which it has today, but I do not ever recall seeing a seperate deviation card during my short time at sea.
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  #27  
Old 24th March 2010, 21:15
Harvatt Harvatt is offline  
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Thank you so much for your comment Andrew , it is much appreciated .


Harvatt
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  #28  
Old 24th March 2010, 21:30
Harvatt Harvatt is offline  
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To John Tremelling , from my experience , the main de-gaussing coils installed around
the hull and super structure would on their own, have made a huge difference, being
there to neutralize the ship`s magnetic field about and below the water line , to counteract the magnetic mine . This difference between the original and the new situation makes a big difference to any residual compass errors , which in turn is counteracted by fitting coils on the Binnacle. A separate deviation card would be supplied or alternatively a separate set of errors entered on the deviation card itself after having set the coil strength on the binnacle .

harvatt
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  #29  
Old 24th March 2010, 21:55
Harvatt Harvatt is offline  
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Interesting comment Slick , I have over the years , come across this being done. Logically this should make little or no difference, by virtue of the compass design. The float to which the compass card is mounted is almost like a free floating body , it balances on a pivot , thus allowing it to line itself up with the magnetic field around it .
If we were able to take that field created by the ship`s hull and the electromagnet away, the compass would point to the North . Usually the Compass North will be frozen
to a point on a bulkhead after discharging or loading by this method and take some time
to revert back to normal - if ever ! I new of one vessel which had discharged by this method and believe it or not it sailed from Hong Kong to the Humber with it`s North point
frozen to the wheelhouse forward bulkhead . It made it`s way all that distance by following other vessels and using the Sun and Stars to position find.
Harvatt
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  #30  
Old 25th March 2010, 12:12
John Tremelling John Tremelling is offline  
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Thanks Harvatt, I had never noticed a coil in the binacle, nor a separate deviation card, however it all sounds very logical and I am sure that they existed.
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  #31  
Old 25th March 2010, 19:12
callpor callpor is offline   SN Supporter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Briggs View Post
It won't be too long before a magnetic compass is no longer required as part of the ship's fit out.
It is being discussed in IMO already!
John,

Regardless of what IMO may or may not decide at least one of the Oil Majors will always require an independent means to alert watchkeepers if any of their electronic wizardry is going adrift.

In the latest edition of International Marine Transportation's (IMT) Minimum Environmental & Safety Criteria (MESC) published since 1992 for any vessel which wishes to be considered for ExxonMobil or Affilate service, including berthing at any of their or J/V Terminals, the first Navigational Safety requirement states " Vessels MUST have a means to provide warning if the vessel deviates off her intended course; e.g. GPS cross track error, autopilot alarm etc. An independent magnetic off course alarm is strongly preferred." From my own long past experience with ExxonMobil where the term "MUST" is used it never ever means "MAYBE" and "strongly preferred" means that it is a MUST requirement for any term charters and will become a MUST for all vessels in the next edition of the MESC.

It was interesting to note on a very modern vessel (twin ECDIS + INS etc) that I rode on a short voyage last month, for an independent assessment of Navigational & watchkeeping practice, that there was a new Deviation Card displayed, prepared after a full swing off Bergen at the end of last year and that the magnetic compass error was checked and recorded at least once every watch. However, the vessel did not have any other independent means to alert them to a malfunction of the electronics. In my report I recomended that the Owner consider fitting a Magnetic Off-Course Alarm - a relatively inexpensive but fail safe means to fulfil this requirement.

Regardless of state of the art electronics any navigator should recognise the benefits of their Magentic Compass, and it was encouraging to see that on this vessel they understood this fact.

What a great thread this is, initiated by a real expert on the subject. Thanks Havatt.

Regards, Chris Allport
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  #32  
Old 25th March 2010, 20:54
rodhaigh rodhaigh is offline  
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Gents,
As a pratising compass adjuster myself, I found this thread very interesting.
The use of the instrument is declining, along with the knowledge of its foibles, however there are still many concientious shipmasters and owners who insist on having the compass up to scratch.
Some of the same owners and/or shipmasters also show remarkable lack of knowledge about the compass.
I have had a fisherman, due for an adjustment, bring his compass into my office for me to adjust because the fish were running and he had to go out to catch them.
Another fisherman with a trailer boat wanted to know why we had to launch the boat (the weather was foul), couldn't we tow it around the local supermarket car park.
A marine super gave the crew of a tug the day off as there were no movements booked and left me the keys to the wheelhouse so I could get in to do the compass adjustment.
A couple of weeks ago I was booked by the owner's rep. on a large dredger. When we got out to the vessel (she was anchored in the stream) I was informed that the engines were not usable, but couldn't I make out the deviation card from the compass error book?
Finally, as a little plug, I conduct an excellent training course for compass adjusters by correspondence.
Cheers
Rod Haigh
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  #33  
Old 25th March 2010, 21:46
Harvatt Harvatt is offline  
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Well said Rodhaigh , I once adjusted the compass on a cruiser in the Humber , when I
had finished and handed him his deviation card, he asked the best way to get to
Bridlington , I could not resist telling him to carry on down to Spurn and turn left! I had
another one with four of the wrestlers who were appearing on the TV , they were on
their way to Spain - no real idea of navigation, not been to sea before - they had to
call out the Lifeboat off Yarmouth . This obviously was the yachting world but my point
in a way is that the Ships Compass in most of it`s forms was for so long just not taken
seriously. I do feel just maybe today , it carries a bit more thought even allowing for
all the electronic equipment available .
Harvatt
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  #34  
Old 25th March 2010, 22:00
Harvatt Harvatt is offline  
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Ships Magnetic Compass. Do any members have any information about the last days of
The Admialty Compass Observatory at Ditton Park in Slough ? I had a period when I had to go there every few weeks to take Magnetic Compasses for testing and
certification they were a lovely staff there , from the director of Compass Department
downwards. Unfortunately I left the trade for a period and I had not realised they closed
Slough and I believe split beween Portland Bill and John Lilley and Gillie Ltd . North Shields.
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  #35  
Old 25th March 2010, 22:18
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Ron Stringer Ron Stringer is offline
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The Admiralty Compass Observatory at Ditton Park in Slough

Lovely place. All bridge mounted electronic equipment (radiotelephones, radars, echosounders, direction finders etc.) had to be submitted for measurement and calculation of the safe distance that they had to be kept from the magnetic Standard and Steering compasses. Drive in across parkland and then across the bridge over the moat and through the gateway into the inner courtyard.

You could have been anywhere in England but in reality you were only yards from the M4 and only a couple of miles from the Heathrow Airport perimeter fence.

It was closed in 1977 but for the life of me I can't remember what we had to do thereafter to obtain compass safe distance certification for new products.
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  #36  
Old 25th March 2010, 22:44
Tony Breach Tony Breach is offline
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Harvatt, The magnetic compass was used seriously during my time at sea. In 1963 I was an AB on the paddle steamer BRISTOL QUEEN (which had a West Hartlepool wheelhouse; otherwise an open bridge). The ship had two magnetic compasses the standard & steering & all courses were in quarter points resulting in my quickest ever climb up an impossible learning curve. In 1964 I was 3rd mate on Bank Line's BEAVERBANK circumnavigating on their copra run. She had a magnetic auto-pilot by Arkas of Denmark, a truly wonderful & accurate instrument.

Reading from my Standing & Night Order book from SPRING DELIGHT, my last ship in 1987: "The gyro & standard magnetic compasses are to be compared frequently. Conditions permitting, the magnetic compass error & deviation are to be determined by azimuth or amplitude at least once during each watch & additionally after each significant alteration of course once the standard compass has settled. Officers should bear in mind that while a gyro compass may fail for various reasons a magnetic compass will not".

I guess I live in the past!
Tony
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  #37  
Old 25th March 2010, 23:56
Harvatt Harvatt is offline  
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Hello Tony- that was a quick reply. Yes the Arkas Auto-Pilot was good, as were a lot of
Danish instruments-not always polished finish but generally always reliable. I have fond memories of Bank Line , adjusting compasses on many of there vessels but one had to be a bit careful walking on deck during discharging. i was once carrying a compass back
after repair and went flat on my back but at great personal risk did not dare drop it at that
late time before sailing.Maybe I did not word my message quite right, I feel I should have hinted that the compass was a piece of equipment often taken to much for granted
by some. As a Compass Adjuster I often felt that I was under pressure to get the job
done and be away. It was difficult sometimes, particularly in the Winter, trying to write
out a deviation card with frozen fingers and with the tug alongside waiting for me to get
aboard to be taken back, all the time being carried along by the tide.
I suppose we all tend to remember the heartaches the most
Harvatt
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  #38  
Old 26th March 2010, 00:40
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R798780 R798780 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Breach View Post

Reading from my Standing & Night Order book from SPRING DELIGHT, my last ship in 1987: "The gyro & standard magnetic compasses are to be compared frequently. Conditions permitting, the magnetic compass error & deviation are to be determined by azimuth or amplitude at least once during each watch & additionally after each significant alteration of course once the standard compass has settled. Officers should bear in mind that while a gyro compass may fail for various reasons a magnetic compass will not".

I guess I live in the past!
Tony
A little tongue in cheek, but may I beg to differ (re the last statement):

Leaving Chalna on Maskeliya we were in hand steering with a defunct gyro compass. As apprentice I made the fourth QM for that episode. While polishing brass in the wheelhouse I heard the QM on the wheel report that he had the helm hard a starboard and she was swinging to port. According to the magnetic compass she was, til you looked out of the window, that told a different tale. "Steer into the wind" ordered Clifford Hicks, while they fitted the spare bowl. A day later the gyro was fixed.

Tony Sprigings recounted his first command where the needles fell off the card in the magnetic compass whilst on passage with no working Gyro. Seems he made Liverpool by steering for visible landmarks.

I have experience of a TMC - Transmitted Magnetic Compass - which could be switched into the Autopilot. The problem there was that the compass had been adjusted for somewhere around Gothenburg. Rolling in a heavy swell off Antofagasta in the South Pacific produced interesting results as the compass card swung wildly.

On an earlier occasion I was trying to compare standard with gyro, this time in the South Atlantic approaching Capetown. The compass card not only swung wildly, twice it did a full revolution. This was just shortly after the 7 day war closed the Suez Canal and India had to be reached via the Cape on ships which previously only ventured as far south as the Seychelles (4 degrees south ?)

A relatively simple matter to lower the bucket and later reverse the heeling magnets while 'Masters' was still fresh in the mind..........but
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Last edited by R798780; 26th March 2010 at 00:42..
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  #39  
Old 26th March 2010, 10:25
vic pitcher vic pitcher is offline  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Breach View Post
Harvatt, The magnetic compass was used seriously during my time at sea. In 1963 I was an AB on the paddle steamer BRISTOL QUEEN (which had a West Hartlepool wheelhouse; otherwise an open bridge). The ship had two magnetic compasses the standard & steering & all courses were in quarter points resulting in my quickest ever climb up an impossible learning curve. In 1964 I was 3rd mate on Bank Line's BEAVERBANK circumnavigating on their copra run. She had a magnetic auto-pilot by Arkas of Denmark, a truly wonderful & accurate instrument.

Reading from my Standing & Night Order book from SPRING DELIGHT, my last ship in 1987: "The gyro & standard magnetic compasses are to be compared frequently. Conditions permitting, the magnetic compass error & deviation are to be determined by azimuth or amplitude at least once during each watch & additionally after each significant alteration of course once the standard compass has settled. Officers should bear in mind that while a gyro compass may fail for various reasons a magnetic compass will not".

I guess I live in the past!
Tony
Magnetic Arkas fitted to Pass of Glenclunie. Completely reliable
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  #40  
Old 26th March 2010, 12:13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony Breach View Post
Reading from my Standing & Night Order book from SPRING DELIGHT, my last ship in 1987: "The gyro & standard magnetic compasses are to be compared frequently. Conditions permitting, the magnetic compass error & deviation are to be determined by azimuth or amplitude at least once during each watch & additionally after each significant alteration of course once the standard compass has settled. Officers should bear in mind that while a gyro compass may fail for various reasons a magnetic compass will not".
If a ship has gone ashore due to magnetic compass error, in an area of magnetic anomaly, such an entry being produced at a court of inquiry into the ability of the OOW could prove exceedingly embarrassing to the master.

Last edited by K urgess; 26th March 2010 at 14:56.. Reason: Quote fixed
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  #41  
Old 26th March 2010, 14:05
Tony Breach Tony Breach is offline
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I take your point Binnacle & possibly it should have been modified such as "normally will not" or similar. In an area of known magnetic anomaly, there would most probably have been a reference & instruction in the night orders. However, I don't think that ship traded to such areas. In any case the OOW is required to compare compasses frequently & the master to be advised of anything unusual or untoward in another order. It should also be remembered that the compass will still be accurate & the OOW or master must compensate for the probability of the possible anomaly of the magnetic field.

The reason for my wording of that particular order goes back to when I was 2nd mate & with the ship making about 21 knots through a tropical downpour in very poor visibilty in the afternoon watch with the master also on the bridge listening to the radio, the signal to the repeaters failed without warning or alarm. The gyro was Plath Navigat & I don't remember if it clicked or not & I was head in the radar for most of the time with the PPI in North-up gyro stabilised mode which indicated the vessel on course. There was no wind so no waves to indicate a change in direction - then the ship came out from under the cloud & the sun was in the wrong place. Checked the magnetic which gave the dreaded answer. The master had noted nothing until I showed him the direction of the sun & he was very fair to me when we had figured everything out although we didn't know how long the ship had been doing her own thing. A sun sight in the south west, as was the course, indicated we had lost about 12 miles but we had to wait for evening stars to get a position. I was pretty cut-up about it as like every 2nd mate I was proud of my navigational expertise - the engineers had a ball with me! Ever since then I made frequent compass comparisons when checking the gyro course & required the OOW to do the same while telling him of my experience. I recommended to owners that a magnetic off-course alarm be fitted but have never ever seen one.

Tony
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  #42  
Old 26th March 2010, 14:47
borderreiver borderreiver is offline  
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When going for my master orals in 1973 you had to adjust a magnetic compass . I approached the compass in the senor examiner's room in Dock street and turned the balls looking for any movement of the compass needle. The examiner asked what I would do if there is any movement of the needle. I told him they must be residue mag-ism left in the balls and I would take them off put a chain stopper on them and send the cadets on a long route match with them after explaining to the cadets why they had to do this. The orals cont with this type of humor and I passed .

As a cadet on the Border Reiver going up the Elbe the in the winter of 63 the gyro compass failed.
The helmsmen could not see up the periscope due to the cold has made the mixture the compass was in broken up with solids going to the bottom.
The spare compass was brought out and placed on top of the steering consul. Later when the sun come our the main compass become normal needless to say it was sent ashore for the liquid to be replaced.
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  #43  
Old 26th March 2010, 18:29
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Binnacle Binnacle is offline  
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After adjusting the compass on the deviascope while up for orals I suddenly remembered I had a pen knife in my trouser pocket. As the examiner had written a book on Ship's Magnetism I knew he would not take kindly to my stupidity and dreaded the door would swing open before I had recorrected the compass with the knife at a safe distance. Fortunately he was fully engaged in the next room grilling a fellow candidate.
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  #44  
Old 26th March 2010, 21:46
Harvatt Harvatt is offline  
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Easily done Binnacle , even outside the examination room. I adjusted the compass on an
openbridge tug many years ago, prior to it sailing from the Humber to the Thames. Upon
arrival the Tug Skipper put in a complaint that I had made a hopeless adjustment. Upon
it`s return I went aboard to investigate and fortunately it was in front of the Skipper I
found a Marlin Spike lying almost dead athwart inside the Binnacle well immediately
beneath the compass. I pulled this out, gave it to the Skipper and swung the tug again
- the errors were virtually the same as those on the deviation card I had Left previously
. What can you say ? a lesson learned ,but in the hands of a less experienced skipper
it could have been serious.

Harvatt
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  #45  
Old 26th March 2010, 22:35
Harvatt Harvatt is offline  
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To Ron. Pleasedyou thought the same about the " ACO ". I have only good memories of it. I remember the Director Compass Department during most of my visits - He was in
fact an ex Admiralty Swinging Officer and by coincidence I had worked alongside him on many occasions when on trials for new vessels built in our area for the Navy. I always
admired the high standard of Magnetic Test Equipment, in fact I was envious - always
looked forward to going and indeed I learned a lot from them. I was surprised to see it
closed in 1977, like yourself it would be interesting to learn what form it`s replacements
took. Would I be right in thinking that Bill Clarke was still M.D. of John Lilley and Gillie at

that time, a lovely fellow - called everyone " Sunshine "

Harvatt
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  #46  
Old 27th March 2010, 19:31
sidsal sidsal is offline  
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Nowt to do with compass adjustment but an anecdote. I was 3rd mate on a Brocklebank ship just after ww2. It was the custom to replace all the sounding pipe brass plugs with wooden bungs for passage through the Suez canal because the Gyppos would steal them.
All well and good until we cleared the G of Aden en route to Ceylon/Calcutta in the SW Monsoon and started to roll heavily. One of the lascars came rushing onto the bridge - " Sahib - compass fall down on poop".
The after emergency compass on the poop had had its brass fixing pins stolen !
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  #47  
Old 28th March 2010, 21:41
Harvatt Harvatt is offline  
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To my friends on the "Bridge" -"Ships Magnetic Compass" ,can I call you friends ? I originally tried to become involved with SN because of concern for say the last 80 years of this subject - particularly the early part. Has this period and piece of Marine History rapidly disappeared ? Thankyou for accepting me as a member - at this point though I feel as though I have become sidetracked into finding an interest in the posts of all you experienced Seafarers. My life for so many years was "The Ship`s Magnetic Compass" and all it`s accessories. During this life, I must have adjusted compasses both at sea around the Country and on many rivers, on some 1500 - 2000 vessels; alright some of this number were follow ups, and most Nationalities. I was involved in making, designing and repairing most of this type of equipment. I felt that between us we could restore interest in both this and the many skills generally. Let it not be forgotten that these instruments were produced by many small "Marine Opticians" , not just the "Kelvin Hughes" , "Heath" "Henry Browne" etc., and much of it was made using Hand Tools, Treadle Lathes and old fashioned machinery by comparison with today`s standards. I am
really talking about the Pre and early fifties, when Shipbuilding was at a Peak - when " Brown`s Deviation and the Deviascope " was about the only Compass book on the bookshelves. Am I too wrong in not wanting this Old Trade and it`s Skills to be forgotten?
Harvatt

Last edited by Harvatt; 28th March 2010 at 21:44..
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  #48  
Old 28th March 2010, 22:10
John Dryden John Dryden is offline  
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At least B.Cooke & Sons in Hull are still there.I remember when I was a lad at Trinity House spending ages looking at the window display.To this day I can,t walk past without looking in at the instruments and polished brass!
John.
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  #49  
Old 29th March 2010, 02:34
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Harvatt - You are certainly not "too wrong" in wanting to remember this old trade and all the skills that go with it.
This site is "Ships Nostalgia" and much of it concerns the 40's, 50's and 60's when the magnetic compass was such a critically important instrument for the navigators.
Magnetism was never my favourite subject in Masters but I must admit I got a great deal of satisfaction in being able to produce a reasonable result after a session on the deviascope.
An older magnetic compass with its magnificent wood work and polished brass is a thing of beauty and a credit to the craftsman who created it. As John Dryden said these instruments hold a fascination for all of us.

I am sure you must have many stories of adjusting compasses and we would really enjoy reading about some more of your experiences, so please consider posting them.
I well remember adjusting compasses in Singapore roads and trying to maintain the course that the adjustor had called for. Just as we had settled down on a course and things were looking reasonable the adjustor would call for another heading and we had to swing around into a situation of ships everwhere ahead of us - a ROR nightmare. The engine room were probably cursing as it was all a matter of adjusting speed to avoid collision.
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  #50  
Old 29th March 2010, 04:27
lakercapt lakercapt is offline  
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Seem to remember on a fairly new Palm line ship steaming off Portland to test the degaussing gear and also doing a swing to adjust the magnetic compass with it switched on. There was a separate deviation card supplied.

In "Robbie" boats all had auto pilot working off the steering compass and they worked well (except when we were boarded by British marines on our way to Londonderry to search for weapons and a marine with an automatic machine gun stood near the compass and caused it to wander. On auto it did not know that the RN frigate near us was in for a close encounter)
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