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  #1  
Old 4th November 2012, 18:56
Manchester Manchester is offline  
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Marconi Courses

Thinking back I wonder how many R/Os did a shore based course say on the Predictor radar and ended up on their next ship with a KH SDR radar. Seemed to happen to me every time. Conqueror course and end up next ship with ITT. Also did the Marine Electronics Diploma at South Shields for Manchester Liners and end up on a Strick ship "Serbistan" for a year with no electronics requirement. Method in their madness - I wonder?
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  #2  
Old 4th November 2012, 20:31
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Think it was down to what was described as "exigences of the service".

Exigence is defined as a sudden unforeseen crisis that requires immediate action. It seemed to be a stock word in the vocabulary of the personnel department.

The sales programme and the service department having decided that the company needed more guys trained on a particular equipment, a series of courses would be arranged at various places. When the due date came up, the staff clerks would be asked to find people who were not signed on articles and allot them to a course. Of course sods law said that just before (or, occasionally after) a course started, there would be an urgent call for an R/O to be provided to a ship. So one of you would be diverted from the course to that ship and to hell with the training course.

Alternatively you might finish the course and of all the ships that were requiring an R/O, none would be fitted with the equipment on which you had just become an outstanding expert. Bear in mind that, as a sort of rent-a-man, when you were signed on articles, you were earning money for the company from the shipowner. When you were not on articles but still being paid (as was the case when you were on training courses), you were an expensive overhead, costing the company but not bringing in any revenue. So when the cry went up for a man, anyone with a ticket and not on articles would do, regardless of whether or not he had received training on the particular equipment fitted on the ship.

I had one such experience in reverse. In 1961 I attended a two-week radar course in Cardiff. There I was to master the intricacies of the Marconi 'Radiolocator Mark IV' in Week 1 plus the Monday/Tuesday of Week 2. The Wednesday/Thursday of Week 2 were to be devoted to the Marconi 'Quo Vadis' radar, with Friday being the all-important "Test", which checked what had been learned about the two radars.

Come the Tuesday afternoon of Week 2, when we were just wrapping up the tail ends of the 'Radiolocator Mark IV', I was told to get back to the Merchant Navy Hotel to collect my kit and catch a train to Avonmouth, where a ship was waiting for an R/O so she could sail. On arrival I boarded her and, on my way to my cabin (on the Bridge deck, accessible only from outside), I passed through the wheelhouse. The radar was a 'Quo Vadis'.
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Last edited by Ron Stringer; 4th November 2012 at 20:44..
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Old 5th November 2012, 00:36
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I found just the opposite, went on a Predictor course, next ship fitted with Predictor. Same thing happened with a SDR course next ship had SDR ditto with Photoplot and Decca radar course and It had a huge advantage as obviously everything was fresh. I guess it was a combination of luck and canny Shell planning.
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Old 5th November 2012, 07:45
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I guess it was a combination of luck and canny Shell planning.
Mikeg,

You had a charmed life (or were in a special class) since there was such a wide variety of products fitted on ships across the various shipping companies. Nevertheless you must also have had a lot of luck on your side unless you were with a premium customer.

Shell were such a valued customer that in the 1960s and early 1970s the then MIMCo service manager, Ron Taylor, laid on courses specifically customised for R/Os serving on their ships. If Walter Little, the Shell radio superintendent, said that he would like to keep an R/O on Shell tankers, then Ron made sure that the guy had appropriate training on the more advanced equipment before he was posted to Shell vessels which had kit that was not covered by the standard PMG/BOT courses.

Eventually Shell went direct-employ and thereafter took charge of their own training but prior to that Walter could get almost anything he wanted.

Incidentally Ron Taylor is still going strong (although not so strong as he was) and living in Northumberland.
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  #5  
Old 6th November 2012, 08:58
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During none of the time I was with Marconi did I receive any sort of course or training. In 1972 I paid off a Bank Boat in Liverpool after a 13 month trips and was asked if I could join another ship the following week.
At that point I gave them the heave-ho and joined Kelvin Hughes whose very first act was to send me to the end of Southend Pier for a month on a Photoplot course (a truly strange and fascinating contraption.) "Sudden unforseen crisis" pretty much sums up how Marconi worked.
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  #6  
Old 6th November 2012, 10:27
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BobClay's is not my experience of Macaroni.

Sent me of for AMEC in South Shields for the best part of 1975 (remember, not a course qualifying for study leave and so entireley 'extra' to their cost and for which they needed to get about three years further service from the student to reach break-even).

Also did a fairly mundane course on TOR. Always received courteously delivered technical advice/instruction from Chelmsford (or appropriate expert) when requested.

Did have one unpleasantness with Mr. Bridge (one of those strange creatures claiming management skills and who demostrate them by flatly refusing to believe the client wants something other than the standard unchanged product). But even this turned out to my advantage as by way of a deserved apology I finally got to the GTVs.

Last edited by Varley; 7th November 2012 at 00:27..
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  #7  
Old 6th November 2012, 13:23
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Well when I joined Marconi in as a junior I only did 3 months as a junior, and was then put on a Stephenson Clarke coaster (a 'flattie') on my own as it wasn't considered necessary for me to complete 6 months for a coaster. This was an ok ship, but there was no HF and very little work, so in terms of experience for a junior, it was close to useless.
They then sent me deep sea on my own ... and that was then I started to think that Walt Disney was running Marconi.
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  #8  
Old 6th November 2012, 13:27
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I did a course at Marconi East Ham depot in 1964 on the Radiolocator MK IV and after it finished I was promptly placed on the Regent Falcon which had a Quo Vadis, never ever did see a MK IV again which thinking back was probably a good thing.
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  #9  
Old 6th November 2012, 14:32
Keith Adkins Keith Adkins is offline  
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January '64 sent to Cardiff to do a Mk IV radar course, lasted 3 days when, being alphabetically at the top of the pile got sent overnight to Hull(not a pleasant journey) to join the City of Canberra, and what did we have a Mk IV - as they say you learnt on the job. Also probably the happiest 12 months of my sea going career on the Manz run- see my piece on the ship
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Old 6th November 2012, 17:11
Naytikos Naytikos is offline  
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When I joined Niarchos they immediately sent me on a Crusader course at Maldon. There were two italians who fired continuous verbal machine guns at each other and ignored everyone else for the whole week; a huge chap from BP who found it physically impossible to look up at the underside of the lower drawer during the practical faultfinding exercise; a chap from the British Antarctic Survey and myself.
At the end of the course I got three days and then flew to Japan to join a 2-month-old bulk carrier with a Crusader/R408 set-up.
I never understood why the company would send R/Os on a Crusader course especially for the nine similar ships fitted with the transmitter, and not for the equally ghastly Hermes radar with which they were all also equipped.

A couple of years later, though, they did send me on a Decca course at Croydon and then straight to a ship with the radars I had just been studying.
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  #11  
Old 6th November 2012, 17:28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobClay View Post
Well when I joined Marconi in as a junior I only did 3 months as a junior, and was then put on a Stephenson Clarke coaster (a 'flattie') on my own as it wasn't considered necessary for me to complete 6 months for a coaster. This was an ok ship, but there was no HF and very little work, so in terms of experience for a junior, it was close to useless.
They then sent me deep sea on my own ... and that was then I started to think that Walt Disney was running Marconi.
Now THAT would have given me the shivers. Never a virtuoso on the key I was sent off on my own after 5 months and the necessary dispensation to sink or swim. Consequently I thought it was the standard method so was not very kind to my juniors when they came along.
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  #12  
Old 6th November 2012, 17:49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobClay View Post
Well when I joined Marconi in as a junior I only did 3 months as a junior, and was then put on a Stephenson Clarke coaster (a 'flattie') on my own as it wasn't considered necessary for me to complete 6 months for a coaster.
You only needed 3 months sea time under supervision when signing Home Trade articles, rather than the 6 months required for Deep Sea. Once you had 6 months' sea time under your belt, you were fit for anything (according to the PMG and the BOT).

A colleague at MIMCo's Chelmsford office had exactly the same initial training experience as you; at the end of his 3 months as a junior on a cross-channel ferry he was posted to a flattie. After his first trip from one of the London power stations to Dunston Staithes and back, a technician came aboard in London to help at a radio survey. My friend was rather put out when the technician pointed out that the transmitter was connected to the dummy aerial - he had worked all his TRs and traffic in that condition and said he had not experienced any communication difficulties at all.
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Last edited by Ron Stringer; 6th November 2012 at 19:14..
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  #13  
Old 6th November 2012, 17:54
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I can sort of appreciate that as the radio room was about the size of a telephone box. Getting into it was like getting into an Apollo capsule. Still, you could reach everything from the seat, there was that.
I can always remember the old man telling me that on his first trip to sea he got bombed by a Zeppelin ! I dont know if that was true, but it's not a story you're likely to hear anymore and that's for sure. ☺
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Old 6th November 2012, 19:13
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...and not for the equally ghastly Hermes radar ..
Did the first Hermes/Argus course held at Hull Depot - Freddie Dearlove and Bill Sawney ran the course. It was terrible - Freddie just read out the service handbook, while recording it on reel-to-reel for use at subsequent courses. Two weeks of purgatory in high summer in a hot and airless office.

Sailed with the Hermes on my next ship and in 17 months it went wrong twice. The first was a mechanical design fault - the bolts securing the 12-foot antenna to the turning gear vibrated loose on the maiden voyage and sheared. The antenna disappeared over the bridge wing into the southern Red Sea, somewhere near Perim Island. The replacement ATU had fitted bolts, which did not vibrate loose again, for which I was grateful. I was less grateful that it arrived aboard in Santos, so that I had to fit it (quite a big job without cranes at the berth) and so I didn't get any shore leave there.

The only other fault was a component fault - the failure of the internal dielectric within an oil-filled, high voltage capacitor in the transmitter. The resultant arcing caused overheating and the capacitor's case burst and dumped about a pint of red oil over me, so the fault was pretty easy to find. Replacement bits arrived at the next port, Ras Tanura and were fitted in minutes. Not a lot of good to have free time in Ras T.

This was on a new ship, a 63,000 dwt tanker which, of course, only had the one radar fitted. No expense spared with some of those major oil companies!
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Old 7th November 2012, 11:50
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Mikeg,

You had a charmed life (or were in a special class) since there was such a wide variety of products fitted on ships across the various shipping companies. Nevertheless you must also have had a lot of luck on your side unless you were with a premium customer.

Shell were such a valued customer that in the 1960s and early 1970s the then MIMCo service manager, Ron Taylor, laid on courses specifically customised for R/Os serving on their ships. If Walter Little, the Shell radio superintendent, said that he would like to keep an R/O on Shell tankers, then Ron made sure that the guy had appropriate training on the more advanced equipment before he was posted to Shell vessels which had kit that was not covered by the standard PMG/BOT courses.

Eventually Shell went direct-employ and thereafter took charge of their own training but prior to that Walter could get almost anything he wanted.

Incidentally Ron Taylor is still going strong (although not so strong as he was) and living in Northumberland.
Ron,

I'm sure a great deal of luck was on my side. I had a lot of respect for Walter because you could discuss technical matters with him and he would always listen and act if required (following his loss Shell Radio Superintendents did not in my opinion have quite the same active R/O-Head Office contact or the technical appreciation that Walter had). A number of my training courses were attended just prior to new-build appointments (five in all) so that may have accounted for part of it. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Shell especially with new ship appointments. It was great to have such involvement and for the R/O to actually have a say and be listened to!
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Old 9th November 2012, 12:22
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I worked for Shell (via AWA) on a 150000T VLCC called Nivosa/VJNV.

Nice ship - lovely BIG radio room and workshop.

Awful run, though...Oz/Gulf...
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  #17  
Old 11th November 2012, 01:02
Steven Lamb Steven Lamb is offline  
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Ron
"Exigences of the Service" as you state - most apt for MIMCO !
Did a couple of "Exigences" for Bob Porter as I guess I lived too near the Lpool depot. The 1st being a "character assignment" on a Greek bulk carrier in Langton dock whereby the authorities went thru the vessel's certification etc and found that the West African R/O onboard had not got a full ticket !
"Muggins" here kindly obliged and sailed with the vessel. On the next occasion I got a "panic phonecall" from Bob asking me to get down to Avonmouth a.s.a.p. (no explanation given) to join a Harrison Clyde Ro-Ro.
As usual you 'raced' to get onboard only find the ship not sailing for 'x' number of days later ! The panic on this occasion amounted to the fact that the existing R/O onboard could hardly stand-up ! Even at 08:00 in the morning he was 'out of the game' and had to be eventually helped down the gangway and put in a taxi. Looking back - I can still picture Bob's 'impish' smile when you rolled up in his office and told him about your ventures. Happy days !
As for MIMCO courses - I did the Conqueror course in Glasgow and the bloke teaching it was excellent. A typical "Exigence" happened towards the end of this course as an Irish lad was press-ganged out of the classroom and told he was joining a Denholm's Reefer straight away. He must of only had about 2 days to go to finishing the course.

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Old 20th November 2012, 00:53
Hugh Wilson Hugh Wilson is offline  
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Marconi sent me to Glasgow on a Crusader course, sometime in 1969 I think it was. I arrived in the depot as instructed at 09.00, to find that I was the only one on the course and that I would be there for the whole week. Before making a start, the instructor and I had a cup of coffee, which took us to around 10.00. At 10.15, the phone rang and it was the personnel officer. By 10.30, I was in a taxi back to my hotel, then the airport, for a flight to Hamburg to join a Nigerian National ship, River Benue, fitted with a Crusader/Pennant installation. When I asked 'Why me - I'm supposed to be on a course?' I was told that I was the only R/O available with Crusader experience. All 15 minutes of it!!
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Old 20th November 2012, 15:18
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Wow Hugh, you're a quick learner!
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