/ Ship distress signal
(If you here this alarm, STAY WHERE YOU ARE, etc etc!)
We were stood on the cliffs in Pembrokeshire the other day and we heard this exact sequence, probably from one of the tankers in the bay. We decided we had better ring the coastguard. After some deliberation with his colleagues the operator concluded the ship was giving the signal to another vessel of "I don't know what you are doing". I wasn't going to keep him on the line asking any more about it, but can anyone here shed any light on this? It strikes me as pretty silly to have a "normal" signal that is the same as an emergency signal. Any thoughts!?
Aren't a lot of signals at sea based on avoiding collisions? ie telling another ship your intentions, or giving them an instruction as to what to do?
Someone has to make a decision, and a ship that cannot easily change speed or course, needs to make their intentions clear.
It makes sense to me...
Not sure I understand your point - I think one of us has misunderstood something!
- The general alarm signal is ......._
See e.g. http://www.marineinsight.com/misc/marine-safety/different-types-of-alarms-on-ship/
- We heard a ship gave that signal
- The coastguard says the ship was in fact using that signal to indicate something that was not a "general alarm"
- I think it is bizarre that that signal has more than one use.
Sure it wasn't five blasts, meaning 'I'm unsure of your intentions'?
> - I think it is bizarre that that signal has more than one use.
What makes you think the person in a coastguard control room knows much about sailing? Sure, they'll know how to monitor channel 16 etc, but I doubt they all know sound signals. For the record:
1 blast = I'm turning starboard
2 blast = turning port
3 blasts = going astern
5 blasts = I don't know your intentions (I.E. wake the f*ck up)
1 long blast = going into a blind bend
there are others for overtaking too.
Very sure! I have never heard the tankers in St Brides Bay sounding off in 25 years of being about there on and off, so it caught my attention and two of us counted the hoots. It was definitely 7 short and one long.
Maybe the coastguard guy didn't get it right, but he did put me on hold and consult with a colleague, so they obviously gave it some thought before telling me it was ok. Perhaps the explanation for *why* it was ok got lost in translation somewhere along the way!
The only possible explanation I can think of was that I heard both an initial message *and* the response as one, although it sounded very consistent in its intervals as far as I can remember.
OK, I missed that suggestion of yours. Could well be, though I'd have hoped they would have warned the coastguard in case well-intentioned passers-by dial 999!!
It will have been a drill. We have to do them every 2 weeks.
Remember the general alarm is only a signal to the crew of the vessel to action, it's not a call for assistance. Assistance will be requested via a UHF, VHF or AIS distress call. If you hear another vessel's general alarm you don't move in to help unless they ask you to.
OK, guess that settles it then!
The only remaining mystery is why I've never heard this before! I reckon I've spent a full year of my life on the bay, which probably averages 3 or 4 tankers at anchor. Maybe they tend to do their drills at sea, or the wind was in an unusual direction or something.
He was probably tooting at a friend on another boat.
We usually do it at sea. It's just the polite thing to do. Can be done anywhere really. The captain we have is nice, drills around lunchtime with a little warning. None of this 3am alarms out of the blue, though you do get up pretty rapid when they decide to do it.
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