Site Map | Search |Merchant Fleet Main Page | Home 

Available Discussion Forums

Commodore J. Elliott's Suggestions for Improvements
(incomplete report)

Page 1 - Ships in HX 205

Gyro Compasses
Brown's Steering Compass is excellent but it is essential that some sort of servicing should be provided in New York for example.

Pacific Grove, due to near explosion of torpedoes had her Gyro put out of order, and apparently no proper help with repair could be obtained in New York or Halifax. Consequently, the compass was of no use during time I was in the ship. This was a serious matter, as the standard compass is so situated, being surrounded by D.E.M.S. structure, that it must be difficult to compensate properly without destroying most of the directive force.

This is so beneficial to convoy that anything to perfect the handling of ships in fog will be of enormous benefit.

I think it is of first importance to increase the confidence of Masters to the extent that the convoy can proceed with (a) minimum of lights shown i.e. none at all - is best. (b) least noice possible. The fog buoy also needs improvement, so that it also can stand long periods of tow.

With regard to lights - Art. 56 b and the signal LO - are dangerous, being liable to far too liberal interpretations. I nver make LO on principle or for that matter LT2 either. LO is positively dangerous since no clusters in the Merchant Service can be rigged and be under control of Officer of the Watch. LT2 is not used because the shaded light is not standard. I find in fog that lights go on in any case, all of different character and I never am in fog without having to sound LK or make LN subsequently.

Unfortunately, the Admiralty pattern blue bulb is much too dense for use in fog. In one ship the blue light was repeatedly reported as being on. On personal investigation I found that the only way they ever knew if it was on was by feeling the bulb, which was almost red-hot but showing no visible light. This destroys confidence in the pattern and other lights or bulbs are inserted in stern light fittings with what I call disastrous results when a fog lifts suddenly. For the occasions in fog when a light is necessary or might be necessary - a proper blue light definitely switched from the bridge should be used, this should be standardized.

I think greater emphasis should or could be given at Conferences on the fact that steady speed and good steering would make any lights in a fog needless. Over and above this, of course, are the private hints from owners regarding collision dangers which influence Masters the other way.

Tu sum up: - I would like to see LO erased. I have found ships in the convoy using it with the result that I had to make Neg.(?) LO but not with completely successful results and glare etc. like a searchlight when fog thinned.

I would also re-write b art. 56 to avoid any liberal interpretations on the subject of lights in a fog.

Some Commodores at Conferences say "In fog, not a sound", others, "Sound every five minutes, make as much noices as possible".

I think a minimum on the lines of (d) art. 56, but more emphatic. Columns: 20 min. or 30 min. - never more frequent than 20 min. intervals. No B.O.T. or Rule of Road Sigs. - individual ships number to be used if required.

Fog buoys vary a lot - the Admiralty suggestion is good - but wire tow sinks the buoy. Tow rope should not be less that 200 fms. Ships will not come in to less than a cable in any case, so that if the abreast of bridge idea is to be carried out, obviously tows have to be longer than 200 fathoms. Here again standardization would help.

Some simple signal with explanation (HX.1) of how to do it is required for forming single line from two columns. Alternate ships should fit in but are told nowhere that this should be practice. As it is faster ships crowd on and racing and pushing is not good.

(The rest of the document is very blurry and hard to decipher - I may have interpreted some of the numbers and words incorrectly).

There is no signal to shift a complete column, i.e. no. 4 to be no. 5 - no. 5 to be no. 6. To give correct numbers at sea to 3 changed columns takes 15 signals instead of 3. Likewise it is not possible to renumber a column that has received new ships e.g. 61, 64, 63, 63 - each ship must be told individually its new number. Instead of a signal "From front to rear renumber in present order and correction" 61, 62, 63, 64.

Emergency Turns
I have recently seen a letter by Sir Raymond Pitmaurice on the subject of turns - if I may say so I thoroughly agree with his contentions. In every way the wheel helps in the Commodore maintaining control as compared to the Emergency Turns.

The Emergency Turn is an Emergency Turn - it might well be laid down - and it would not be difficult to state when exactly one should be used. I would say never unless the wheel cannot provide the solution to immediate tactical requirements. It is interesting to note the rather varied opinions of what to do when a convoy is attacked at night: I think a useful supplement to Part 334? of W.A.0.1. from the convoy point of view could be provided, also from results on the Tactical Table. I am not a submarine officer, but I fail to see how a 6 knot or 9 knot convoy can escape, in reasonable visibility, from a submarine, still more from submarines, by undirected emergency turns, unless the visibility is so poor as to make the emergency turn a greater danger than the enemy in any case. Also undirected turns seem to me to cut right across the ethics of "Rasberry".

I have been in the habit of making a signal to S.O.'s of escorts on the subject and I find so far that it is not among them that any difference of opinion with regard to convoy's actions exists. Now recently from Viscount I had a typed ? - exchanged at time I sent my usual signal. I quote from Row? 7. It is understood that in case of attack by submarine at night, emergency turns will not be made unless SO. of escort make for same". Subsequent signals added, "in order to clear the battle area".

The above was completely in accord with my own signal to Viscount and previous escorts - my only rider being, "unless I am in possession of......(rest of this document is missing)

Page 1 - Ships in HX 205

Back to Convoy Index

To the next HX convoy in my list HX 206


 Site Map | Search |Merchant Fleet Main Page | Home