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Years ago I was attending a Tanker Safety Course somewhere on the Solent. Those attending included a Ship Master from Mobil Tankers and a "Senior Officer" from a well known passenger company. There was a heated discussion about the wearing of uniforms and braid etc. The Senior officer asked how did a visiting Pilot know who was the Master when nobody was in a proper uniform to which the Master from Mobil replied that he was the only one on the ship wearing a baseball cap with the words CAPTAIN !
 

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Years ago I was attending a Tanker Safety Course somewhere on the Solent. Those attending included a Ship Master from Mobil Tankers and a "Senior Officer" from a well known passenger company. There was a heated discussion about the wearing of uniforms and braid etc. The Senior officer asked how did a visiting Pilot know who was the Master when nobody was in a proper uniform to which the Master from Mobil replied that he was the only one on the ship wearing a baseball cap with the words CAPTAIN !
Nice one[=P]
 

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Never wore mine ashore through choice,a walk to the agents once in amsterdam and once in Port Elizabeth because I only had half an hours break.
 

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On the QE today the senior IT man wears 2 1/2 rings with purple in between, the ER store keeper is a 2 ringer with purple in between, god knows what rings the mechanics wear. Some of the silver ringers try and get them to look like gold rings. One of the senior officers mentioned to me that being nearly every crew member has braid, he is surprised Cunard do not give it to passengers to denote what type of cabin they have. Heard one mate when in the lift tell
some lady in answer to her question " Madam I am the senior navigation officer on this vessel with a captains certificate to take over if necessary"
I leave you with my thoughts.
If you mean the QE2. After the ship was re-engined, or engined as some call it. There was such a raft of stores related to the new plant, plus the usual nut/bolts both english metric BA etc over 60 different kinds of lamps plus all the spares with associated with 24 room service pantries 4 kitchens etc etc. They took over two of the car carrying holds to become the Tech stores. Over 10,000 sf of stores. Then you had the other stores carried in the steering gear, working alleyway etc.
The first Officer storekeeper was an Engineer with a Seconds ticket.
The Senior IT guy was actually an Electronics Officer who was seconded from the Radio Dept when the created the Electronics dept rather than just Electricians.
 

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On one cruising season from Sydney with P&O I was given a copy of Womans Weekly(?) with a main article on cruising, the female author wrote about the officers on board and the colour of the braid, I don't remember it verbatim, but the gist of it was;-
White - .. if you like money... you may end up being rich...
Red- for danger
Green- for go
Blue - ?
"But ladies if you come across a purple stripe watch out, because you are up against a true professional. The difference is that while the rest think they are God's gift to women, this guy knows he is!"
Kept the article for years!
Kerry
 

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In a similiar vein, we had a Junior Eng on the Egton who would not touch the drink and of course he rarely went ashore until one day he suddenly decided to "go for it" and drunk us all under the table, it appeared that his Parent's owned an Off-Licence and he had plenty of training stowing bottle's of drink into his above the shop bedroom. The Purple denotes the colour of the Engineer's face when the compressed air is about to run out due to over exuberant engine movement's by those up top who should have had the Jetty brought to them.
Excellent! Love it!!!!!! Stick it to em(==D)
 

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On my first trip in 1961 in Blue Star, the deck officers had straight stripes with the curl in the top one (3/8th inch), but all the engineers and electricians had the normal straight ones with diamonds where applicable. Why did they have two types of braid in Blue Star, or was it peculiar to that particular ship (Rhodesia Star). Or was it just their personal choice? I never found the braid rules to be enforced very much in quite a few companies and have sailed with 3rd engineers with 4 stripes and mates with 4 as well. Also, 3rd mates with two and 3rd R/Os with two!
Bob
 

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Spongebob
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My experience was that we found a variety of department and rank insignia on board Union co vessels as crew transferred from other companies and took time ,if ever to change their braid.'
NZ Shipping Co wore shoulder epaulets only, even on their doeskin No ones, others had the plain sleeve stripes, others like the RN style, while most had what was the Merchant Navy standard .

Bob
 

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As an engineer that sailed on the Orient Line in the early fifties we wore our braid on our shoulders, and had our own distinctive company hat badge, those really were the days.
 

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Electrical Engineers

I would add Refrigeration Engineers who had light blue.
Hi Chris - I sailed with you on a Clan Boat many years ago.

I recall Captain 'Curly' Rose asking the Ch. Lecky if he had found the earth on the board. Lecky replied, 'Yes Sir, found it last night so I put it in a flower pot on the boat deck'
 

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I spent a few years at sea as a Deck Officer, one thing I have never found a satisfactory answer to is the reason for different coloured piping on officers braid:-

Engineers - purple
R/O's - green
Pursers - red? (memory fading)
Reefer's / Lecky's - yellow? (memory fading even more)

Can anyone explain why there were different colours piping and what was the reason for each particular colour.

Thanks
The colour purple was awarded to the Engineers on all merchant ships durinng the second world war for thier bravery by standing by thier posts not being able to fight back & going down with thier ships.
 

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On cruise-ships they have the Environmental Officer who also wears purple, I also saw a ships officer wearing green. Medical department Red for blood,ours not theirs.
 

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Sorry djh204, the purple piping was worn by engineer officers well before WW2.
Not 100% sure of the dates but the RN engineer officers were wearing it by the late 19th century and the merchant marine engineers followed on some time after that.
 

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Malim Sahib Moderator
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The colour purple was awarded to the Engineers on all merchant ships durinng the second world war for thier bravery by standing by thier posts not being able to fight back & going down with thier ships.
To repeat a post of mine from earlier in the thread:

"MN "branch" colours are based on the same RN colours introduced in 1864. As uniforms began to appear on merchant ships, many companies copied the RN style.
In 1922, MN uniform was standardised with the appropriate colours, diamonds etc at the same time as the UK Merchant service was granted the title "Merchant Navy" by King George V. There's an M notice about it all somewhere. Some shipping companies (e.g. P&O, Cunard) retained their own style of braid.
I'm afraid the common Titanic story and that of the 2nd World War is a myth, as Engineers began to wear purple braid from as far back as the 1860s, formalised in 1922.

Mates - no colour
Electricians - Light Green
Engineers - Purple
R/O's - initially 'wavy' braid and thence (1950s onwards) straight with dark green
Pursers - White
Chief Stewards - zig zag
Doctors - Red"
 

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I only ever saw surgeon red once and that was when we received a visit from some officers off a cruise ship in Vancouver.
Rgds. Dave
It depends what Country provides the ship's officers.

Italian distinction cloth uses different colours and if the Officers are Italian or paid by a nominal Italian company then they will use their colours.

It can be confusing to see Hotel staff wearing red distinction cloth and the Surgeon (and his staff) wearing White.

While boarding a Costa ship one time I was talking to a man who I assumed to be a Purser or Chief steward but his badge said something like Medico or Chirugo, which threw me for a while.
 

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James_C #56 has accurately described the Mercantile Marine Uniform as prescribed in the Order in Councils, however several members seem to be confusing this with company livery which can easily be identified by the absence of MM cap badge.
Livery is a distinctive uniform worn by servants, employees, officials etc. There is no restriction on the amount of livery braid worn by a cinema commissoner, bus conductor or merchant ship's officer, only subject to the whim of the employer. As few ships remain under the British flag I presume the uniform rules, if any, of the flag state are applicable and the MM badge will be conspicuous by it's absence.
 
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