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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The few R/O s that I met were absolutely larger than life characters, BUT a wee bit strange.

At first I thought they had DTs but apparently it was just the morse key twitch, when talking to you they were also moving their wrists and sending morse at the same time.

The ones I knew did drink a lot and some even suffered from AIDS (Alcohol Induced Dizzy Spells).

The radio room was always a mystery to me and I've often wondered what the R/Os did all day.

Did they:
Send a status and position report to the owners....have a beer
Maintenance, polish the morse key...have a beer with the first mate
Listen for a weather report...have a beer with the chief engineer
And so on

I don't want to read a book on it but perhaps one of the sparkies on the site could write a paragraph on "a day in the life" of a radio officer.
 

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The hardest part of packing for a deep sea trip for me was finding room
for all the paper-back books I used to read on watch.

malcolm
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Malcolm that's eight hours of the day accounted for. LOL
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Dave thanks for the explanation, it certainly didn't look as easy as I thought. One thing that did intrigue me was, what seemed to me, your extensive use of VHF (I may have misunderstood you), I always thought VHF was a very short range frequency which would have made it unrealistic for ships at sea.

Again it was a great explanation thanks for taking the trouble.
 

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Derek,
VHF was an invaluable piece of equipment for relatively short range communication. Talking to harbour authorities, pilots, tugs etc..or commercial communications like telephone calls. Distance of comms was dependent on line of sight, the higher the antennae the better the range. Indicatively on the P&O passenger ships we used to have viable communications at around 90 miles...not bad at all. Hope that helps the overall picture for you.
 

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Dave made a very good point in his message. The fact that an R/O is mainly left to his own devices on board (because, like thundered, there weren't many people who knew what we actually did) it was up to the individual R/O to set his own standards. My first trip on the Mangla (a nice, relatively modern ship) was with a senior R/O who was hired by Cunard-Brocklebank on the same day as me. He was an absolute alcoholic party animal who was fired at the end of that trip. We sailed from Las Palmas at about 7:30 in the morning on that first day and he was already drunk and stretched out on his day bed. I asked him what I should be doing and he said "Go on watch". Well, I sat in the radio room for the next 8 hours straight wondering what all the knobs, buttons and bells actually did but too scared to find out. I was that green that when the steward arrived with a glass of fresh, cold fruit juice I said no thanks, I don't have any money on me to pay for it!!! I did manage to get the main receiver tuned to 500khz, and scribble some 'by-the-book' entries into the log, and that was about it until my erstwhile chief managed to surface long enough to send the departure telegram. Having said all that, it was possibly a blessing in disguise. It was me that did the majority of the repair work. It was me that was called out at 2 a.m. to fix the radar. It was me that did all 8 hours of the watch every day. It was me that, having done the coastal trip on our return to Europe, was promoted to the heady heights of Chief R/O for my next deep-sea voyage. I was still 18-1/2 then.

I vowed never to end up like my senior on that first trip. This isn't to say that I haven't fallen off a morse key now and then, but I mostly saved the partying for shore, which in those days we had plenty of days in port to allow for that.

On joining a new ship, I tended to work like stink for the first month, or however long it took, to bring it up to my standards (whatever they were) and then sit back for the rest of the trip (equipment breakdowns not-withstanding) with my feet up on the operating desk with yet another book (mostly science fiction!). Mind you, the days went by quickly enough what with keeping a close eye on the clock, winding the clock, getting time signals for the clock, etc., etc......
 

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DaveM...... The lads paying off were always a pain. The old man would have closed their accounts by the time they wanted to make their calls or send a final telegram. So they were always wheedling for me to pay for it on my account and they'd pay me in cash when they got their money off the old man. I stumped up twice because their cir***stances truly were dire said:
I'd forgotten about the carry on trying to collect money for private radio traffic. It seemed as though everyone wanted a phone call but nobody wanted to pay for it. Many folk would be surprised to hear that shortages had to be paid for by the RO. One good thing about company employment was that you just gave a list of debtors to whoever did the wages.

As you can see from the above posts, Derek, there was plenty going on in the old radio shack, but nobody saw it happening and there was nobody in the bar for a mutual appreciation society.

John T.

PS I like to think I was conscientious p*** artiste - a time and a place for everything.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks again gents for the interesting insights into that "mystery" room on ships
 

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Spare a thought

Hi Fellow Sparks and all ...

Have a though for me, least you guys did not have to come to Periscope depth and try and talk to the world with a mast 1 ft out of the water with the mast being washed over and try and talk to somebody, and the Skipper doing his nut because nobody would answer me.

Ahh Happy days ...not !!

Regards
Martin
 

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Hi 'Navyblue'

Welcome to the site. I am sure it would be interesting to hear
some stories from the Grey Funnel Line. I am sure you must
have quite a few!

malcolm
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Hi Martin, welcome to the site, a couple of posts ago you just answered a question I posed here a few weeks ago....could subs communicate by radio under water...From your posts it looks like the answer is no. I'd heard tales of them towing a long wire behind the vessel but obviously that's just not so. Anyway I hope you enjoy the site.
 

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Hi Derek..

To answer your question ( in part)

We needed a mast out of the water to Transmit,

Yes, we could tow a wire half a mile long , and or two omni-directional buoys
they were used for receiving the broadcast only, VLF and LF.

Not sure it thats still the case.....most communications is done by
Satellite comms now, I was using Satellite Comms way back in the late 70,s
early 80,s. Im sure its more suffisticated now.

Regards
Martin
 

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Do you think that it is possible that somewhere, somebody has actually archived all our lovingly completed logs, or have they all been pulped and turned into toilet rolls?

Rgds
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for that insight Malcolm, definitely no napping with that log to be kept was there?
 

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Do ships still have sparkies or do they have other duties like electronic officers to tend the many pieces of gagitary that is now on board
?
 

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lakercapt,

I'm afraid R/Os are generally an extinct breed nowadays. GMDSS has seen to that! The only exceptions are large passenger ships (presumably because of the volume of traffic) and the Grey Funnel Line!

The quaint 'Holywood' image of Sparky, lashed to his chair and hammering out ...---... on the key as the ship sinks beneath him, is no more!

Gulpers
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The quaint 'Holywood' image of Sparky, lashed to his chair and hammering out ...---... on the key as the ship sinks beneath him, is no more!

Gulpers[/QUOTE]
Sad in many ways Gulpers because there are many do***ented cases of these brave lads doing just that, their sacrifice should not be forgotten.
 

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Couldn't agree more Derek. Don't take the comment the wrong way, it wasn't meant to cause offence. Some of my fondest shipboard memories involve Sparkies and the crazy antics they used to get up to!

Rgds,

Gulpers
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Gulpers nobody could possibly take offence at what you said because obviously none was meant, like most of us you were lamenting the loss of yet another of our loved traditions (in as much as anyone could love an R/O) LOL
 
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