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ADDITIONAL REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE ON SOUND-SIGNALS.
Resolved, That the former Committee on Sound-Signals consider and report the specific cases in which new fog-signals should be adopted and to report specific signals for such cases.
WASHINGTON, November 21, 1889.
To Rear-Admiral S. R. FRANKLIN, U. S. Navy,
President of the International Marine Conference, etc.:
SIR: Agreeably with the reference of the Conference on November 8, for the Committee on Sound-Signals to consider and report the specific cases in which new fog-signals should be adopted and to report specific signals for such cases, we beg to submit that in the opinion of the committee it is desirable to adopt the sound-signals mentioned in the following report for compulsory or permissive use as advised.
The sound-signals at present authorized or adopted by the Conference, to be used during fog, mist, falling snow, or heavy rain, areWhistle or siren :
One long blast of about four seconds' duration, "a steam-vessel under way."
Two such long blasts, "a steam-vessel not at anchor, but stopped and having no way upon her."
One blast, "a sailing vessel on the starboard tack."
Two blasts, "a sailing vessel on the port tack."
Three blasts, "a sailing vessel with the wind abaft the beam."
Rung continuously for about five seconds, "a vessel at anchor."
fishing vessel off the coast of Europe, north of Cape of Fin-
The sound-signals at present authorized and those adopted by the Conference to be made by steam-vessels when in sight of one another
One short blast, "I am directing my course to starboard."
Three short blasts, "I am going full speed astern."
In choosing characters for additional signals the committee have acted on the principle that—
1. Although efficient mechanical fog-horns, capable of producing sounds of varying duration, are increasing in numbers on board both sailing and fishing vessels, many fog-horns are at present incapable of producing long as well as short sounds.
2. A signal consisting of long sounds is not sufficiently distinctive from one made up of "short" sounds to enable characters consisting of similar sounds but of different durations being readily read without liability of mistake. It is only when sounds of different durations are combined in one signal that they are sufficiently distinguishable apart.
3. The sirens of many light-houses and light-vessels sound characteristic high and low notes of different pitch, and this custom is increasing; the committee, therefore, consider it desirable that such characters should be solely used to distinguish fixed sea or coast dangers, and that all signals made by a moving or stationary sea-going vessel should be characters in one tone or key.
The most unmistakable and easily remembered sound-signals-like those now authorized-consist of a single sound or a combination of sounds of equal lengths; and the committee advise the adoption of such characters for any new signals made by one vessel wishing to warn another of her presence, whether she is under way, not under command, or at anchor in a fair-way at sea.
One, two, or three sound blasts on a fog-horn are already in use by sailing vessels under way.
It is not laid down what the length of these blasts should be, but, by the construction of the fog-horns used in the past, they are necessarily blasts of equal duration; we submit that they should be so regulated and termed short blasts.
The one, two, or three short blasts on the whistle or siren of a steam vessel communicating with another vessel, which is in sight of her, might be mistaken for a similar number of sounds on the fog-horn of a sailing vessel unless the instruments are unmistakably different in tone. And the one "long" blast of a steam vessel under way in a fog, etc., may, in certain cases, be mistaken for the one "short" blast helm signal by a steam vessel; but inasmuch as all these signals have been in use for many years without fault being found with them by mariners the committee are not prepared to advise any change in their characters.
The two "long" blasts on a whistle or siren, recently adopted by the Conference, to indicate a steam vessel not at anchor but stopped and
having no way upon her might, in some cases, be mistaken for a steam vessel's two "short" blasts helm signal to another vessel in sight. To make these signals as distinct as possible the committee recommend that the words "two such long blasts” should be altered to "two prolonged blasts."
The Conference having provided in Article 13 that a steam-vessel hearing apparently before the beam the fog signal of a vessel, the posi tion of which is not ascertained, shall, so far as the circumstances admit, "stop her engines." We recommend that similar wording should be adopted in Article 12, sec. (b).
The committee are of the opinion that it is undesirable to adopt as a character any combination of more than four sounds, either of equal or of varying duration, except they are so numerous and continuous as to be unmistakable.
Acting on this principle they have chosen the following characters for compulsory use during fog, etc., when another vessel is not in sight:
Three blasts on a whistle or siren to denote a steam-vessel when her engines are going full speed astern. The committee recommend the adoption of the above wording in lieu of the present wording in Article 19, "I am going full speed astern."
Two short blasts repeated once, with a short interval between the pair ́of blasts, on a whistle, siren, or fog-horn, to denote respectively a vessel under steam or sail towing another vessel; and the same character for permissive use to denote also, if necessary, a vessel being towed.
The continuous sounding of any fog-signal, or, while the fog-horns in use are capable only of making single blasts, any number of short blasts greater in number than four, following each other in quick succession on a fog-horn, to denote a vessel in distress.
Considering that it is immaterial to an approaching vessel what the impediment is that she necessarily has to get out of the way of, and that a similar character signal of one blast on the fog-horn alternating with a ring of the bell has long been the authorized and established signal for fishing boats fishing on the coasts of Europe north of Cape Finisterre, the committee have chosen two prolonged blasts on a whistle or foghorn, alternating with the ringing of a bell, to denote a vessel at anchor in a fair-way at sea, and have adopted the same character to denote a vessel not under command.
The committee are informed that in the London river four short blasts on a steam-vessel's whistle denotes that the steam-vessel is unable to comply with the regulations and alter course to get out of the way of a neighboring vessel which is in sight in consequence of being dangerously near the side of a narrow channel-way, and the steam-vessel thereby demands that the other vessel should get out of her way. Such being the case, they have considered it unadvisable to adopt the same character as a signal for another purpose at sea.
The characters referred to above practically exhaust the combination of easily-remembered sounds of equal duration, and it follows that for
further signals characters combining long and short sounds must be chosen.
The committee consider it desirable to distinguish the few special "communication" signals asked for by mariners from the warning or danger-signals by adopting combination characters commencing with a short sound, and on this principle they have chosen the characters mentioned below.
Short, long, short;
stopped; you may feel your way past me."
Short, short, long; --
"I want a pilot."
to denote "my engines are
to denote "a pilot-vessel;" or,
We are of opinion that Article 12, prescribing what sound-signals apparatus should be carried by vessels, should be limited to vessels above 20 tons gross tonnage, smaller sailing vessels and boats being allowed to make any efficient sound-signal.
We have received evidence that improved mechanical fog-horns are now obtainable at a reasonable expense, and that such horns are largely used; especially is this the case on board of the vessels fishing on the banks of Newfoundland, where, in addition to the safety of the vessel, the interests of those engaged in fishing are increased in accordance with an increase in the efficiency of their fog-horns, which are used for signaling to their out-lying boats when fishing at a distance from the parent vessel.
With a view to insuring as much as possible the efficiency of all fog. horns, we recommend that the words "a bellows or other," in Article 12, be eliminated in order to prevent as much as possible the use of inferior instruments.
In agreement with the decision already come to by the Conference, we recommend the use of a gong in lieu of a bell in Chinese and other waters where such instruments are in common use on board vessels; but inasmuch as a large number of light vessels in other waters use such instruments to sound a special signal indicating their position as a warning mark defining a neighboring sea danger, the committee invite the consideration of the Conference to the desirability of not allowing a gong to be used in such waters.
In accordance with our recommendations as above, we suggest for the consideration of the Conference the following readings of the articles in the regulations:
Addition to Article 9. A pilot-vessel wishing to attract attention may sound on her fog-horn, whistle, or siren, three blasts, viz, short, short, long, with intervals of about one second between them.
ARTICLE-(k). In fog, mist, falling snow, or heavy rain-storms, a drift-net vessel attached to her nets, and a vessel when trawling, dredging, or fishing with any kind of drag-net, and a vessel employed in linefishing with their lines out, shall at intervals of not more than one minute make a blast with her fog-horn, followed by ringing her bell.