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Old 12-08-2010, 12:02   #1
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Morse Code for Flash-Lighting Ships

Whilst we were being steam-rollered by some huge ship in the middle of the night with only our spot light to flash the guy on the ships bridge started sending me Morse Code with his spot light!

A few nights later it happened again!

Do many ships officers still know morse code and use it on spot lights?

Lin Pardey in 1973 said she flashed some ship D ─ • • which means "Keep Clear I am Manouvering with Difficulty".

Would any ships know this stuff these days?

Would it be better to scare the crap outta them with P • ─ ─ • : MY NETS HAVE COME FAST ON AN OBSTRUCTION or would they just think you are leaving port?




Is it a good idea to flash something at ships?


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Old 12-08-2010, 12:08   #2
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Hi Mark,
Well at least they recognised you were there and did not run you over:-)
Seriously, a strong light directed at the bridge is IMHO the best way to ensure they see you - but I've never attempted morse code contact.
John
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Old 12-08-2010, 12:15   #3
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Mark: I would think anyone over 40 might still retain Morse code skills. I'm a little over that, but had to learn Morse in Boy Scouts, again when qualifying for a radio license and again, during pilot training (civilian), so, yes, there may be a few 'throw-backs' out there that know Morse code & use it. (certainly ex-Navy)
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Old 12-08-2010, 12:15   #4
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I think deck officers still require morse code. I still remember mine from years ago. We always contacted other ships with the Aldis lamp, before the days of vhf. It's still in the requirements for Aussie deck officers.

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Old 13-08-2010, 00:28   #5
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Thanks guys

We will try it for a while.

I will report back!
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Old 13-08-2010, 01:57   #6
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Old 13-08-2010, 02:23   #7
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From an ex navy signals guy in what seems like a previous lifetime, my experience with Morse code via flashing light with merchant ships was not usually a positive experience. We used to routinely "exchange identities" (i.e. international radio call-sign) and the where from/where to thing when happening on a “merchantman” in the middle of the ocean. They could usually read our light OK, but we could not always read theirs without them having to get them to repeat slowly. I think that they must have turned a searchlight on/off to produce the characters which did not produce a crisp Morse character compared to the shutter system our lights used.

The smaller aldis lamps were not much use if the distance was more than a few miles in bright sunshine so we used a 10" 1 million candle power signal projector (10 nautical miles +) in daylight - the technology involved had not improved much since WW1.... Although reading Morse code by infrared using a NOD (night observation device) used to be an interesting experience.


5" aldis lamps were great at night, but used to have a shade with either red or green filter to reduce the brightness.

Would use a small 2" light or even a torch for really close in signalling - e.g. during refuelling at sea - or even semaphore if we wanted to show off our skills.

Most semaphore seemed to be of a “operator to operator” nature – arranging to meet up at a pub in the next port.....
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Old 13-08-2010, 02:45   #8
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GOTCHA!!!!!!!!

-. --- - / .- / -.-. .... .- -. -.-. . --..-- / -- .- - .

Morse Code Translator


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Old 13-08-2010, 03:00   #9
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Morse code is required for any upper license in the USCG. Not sure about the rest of the world but STCW requires all the white list countries to be on the same education level with mariners and the US is on the withe list
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Old 13-08-2010, 05:02   #10
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Old 13-08-2010, 05:43   #11
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Originally Posted by Spirit28 View Post
[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]From an ex navy signals guy in what seems like a previous lifetime, my experience with Morse code via flashing light with merchant ships was not usually a positive experience. We used to routinely "exchange identities" (i.e. international radio call-sign) and the where from/where to thing when happening on a “merchantman” in the middle of the ocean. .


]
From my experience with US Warships, they always bugged us going through the Formosa Straits. We didn't mind the usual questions, "What ship", "Where bound" but they use to ask all sorts of other questions pertaining to cargo. That's why we did not like talking to them.

Usually on a night watch we would call up other merchantmen to kill the monotony. Sometimes we would know the other ship or the other ship was from the same shipping company and a conversation would ensue but the usual conversation would be "what ship, where bound".

As to signalling, all ships carried an Aldis lamp. It's only a small lamp, not like the large lamps carried on warships and not very useful in daylight. We seldom used it in daylight. We were required to learn semaphore too but never used it.
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Old 14-08-2010, 06:28   #12
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GOTCHA!!!!!!!!

-. --- - / .- / -.-. .... .- -. -.-. . --..-- / -- .- - .

Morse Code Translator


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Ahh.. I see you have discovered my secret weapon
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Old 14-08-2010, 06:42   #13
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Old 14-08-2010, 10:56   #14
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I had to know Morse Code at 6 words per minute and have the meanings of the international code of flags memorized to get my Third Mates license back in 1986. Since then I have renewed my license by having enough sea time over the past five years. This exempts me from having to take the renewal exam. I have no idea what other merchant marine officers of other countries are required to know. I still know some Morse code but not every letter and I certainly can no longer read Morse at 6 WPM. The same goes for the meaning of the flags. I still know the meanings of the ones that are used more commonly, but not all of them.

It's one thing to ask merchant marine officers to have it memorized after not testing for a long time but to expect cruisers to have it memorized?...are they kidding?

I think using Morse code by light sent by a ship to a pleasure boat was not the smartest thing to do. Whoever sent it should know that the chances are pretty good that the intended receiver is not going to know Morse code or the meanings of flags off the top of his head.

Morse is still used though. Some mid-channel buoys send alpha. Racons transmit Morse letters as well.
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Old 14-08-2010, 11:34   #15
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Is it a good idea to flash something at ships?


Thoughts?


Mark
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Mark,,, I think it depends on WHAT you are flashing,,,, I do not think ship captains like being mooned,, so watch what you are flashing at them
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