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WASHINGTON, THURSDAY, December 5, 1889. 11 o'clock a. m. The Conference was called to order at 11 o'clock a. m., Rear-Admiral Franklin in the chair.

Admiral NARES (Great Britain). Mr. President, at the latter part of the session of yesterday, the Conference decided to refer to the SoundSignal Committee the question of considering the characters for two new fog-signals, one to meet the case of a vessel not under command, and the other to meet the case of a telegraph vessel laying or picking up a cable. The committee have met and considered these two subjects. They are quite prepared now to advise the Conference what they consider to be the best characters; but we put it to you whether the subject should be discussed at once, while it is fresh in the memory of each of the delegates, or whether our signals should be printed and wait two or three days before they are discussed. We thought that as the Conference had, I may say, demanded the characters for the special signals, there would not be very much trouble in placing our reasons for adopting the course we have adopted before the Conference at once, and we will be quite prepared to meet any proposals which are placed before us by the other delegates. So, if the Conference are agreed, we are quito prepared now to put before you the characters which we have been asked for.

The PRESIDENT. If there be no objection, the Conference will con. sider the subject now.

Admiral NARES (Great Britain). Mr. President, the committee have been asked for two signals, one for a vessel not under command and the other for a vessel laying or picking up a telegraph cable. Now, one is practically unable to get out of the way of an approaching vessel, and the other may be going with some speed through the water. They are not at all in the same position. We, therefore, thought that a single character would not be appropriate for the two ships, and that it would be more advisable for the approaching ship to know decidedly whether the vessel was not under command and whether he must keep out of her way, or whether she was in the position of a telegraph ship. So we have to consider two characters.

In our former report we have said that it was immaterial when an approaching vessel finds in her course another vessel not under command, whether that vessel was stationary or whether that vessel was at anchor; and we are quite right about that on principle. But the reason why we have not adopted the same signal now is this: A ves. sel at anchor in a fair-way may be at anchor, and she often is, in a very strong tide-way, and, therefore, it would not be a good thing to give that vessel the same signal as to a vessel not attached to the ground and drifting through the water. So we considered that the signal in f is not appropriate for either of these two cases.

We also considered that in Article 12 (b) the two prolonged blasts for vessels stopped and having no way upon them would not be appropriate. That signal will practically be given in this way: There will be two steamers meeting, and we have told them that they should stop, because all of this is in a fog. The two vessels will be stopped, and will want to give their two blasts, that is two prolonged blasts; and that will be as much as to say, “Yes, I am stopped ; I am an impediment in your way; but at the same time I can take care of myself, and at the proper time I can come on; in fact, I am only stopped temporarily.” So, that will not do for a vessel not under command. So, practically, we have got to give two new signals. Now, what shall they be? First, consider the vessel not under command. We mention in our report that in the London River a vessel which is not able to maneuvre is required by these regulations to give four short blasts. A vessel not under command is in precisely the same position. She is not able to maneuvre according to the regulations. These four short blasts are known to a great number of mariners already. They have been very successful, and they will be easily remembered.

We venture to put it to the Conference that in all cases when a vessel under way is unable to get out of the way of an approaching vessel, that she shall sound these four blasts. But we do not intend to have this music continually. We intend that a vessel not under command should make her ordinary signals, which are well known, and that when she hears the fog-signal of an approaching vessel, then she must give her distinctive signal, and that distinctive signal will be four short blasts. Four prolonged blasts are deafening and it takes a long time to make them. The four short blasts is a signal which has been introduced in the London River, and it is a successful signal and it is already pretty well known. We do not think it is necessary to include it in the wording of this article, but this would practically include also a vessel becalmed or stationery, because she is unable to get out of the way of an approaching vessel. Whether our actual wording, as seamen, would be adopted by the gentlemen here who are to help us from the courts, we do not know; but we will place the wording before you as it comes from us as seamen. The wording is :

“ A ship under way which is unable to get out of the way of an approaching vessel, through not being under command, or unable to maneuvre as required by these regulations, shall, on hearing the fog-signal of an approaching vessel, sound, on her whistle, siren, or fog-horn, four short blasts."

We shall have to argue both signals separately, and I think it will be preferable to let the Conference know at once the whole rythm of sig. nals which will be before them, because presently when we argue them they ought to know what the other signal is. Practically the not-undercommand signal is four short blasts, and in that we include every case of vessels unable to mancuvre as required by these regulations. If we have not worded it well, that at least is our intention.

Now we come to the telegraph-cable ship, and we think that the sig. nal proposed by the gallant delegate from Germany is a very appropriate one. It is rather against the principle we have argued, but practically we are put in this position. Since we argued the principle we have distinctly adopted two long blasts and called them “prolonged blasts,” and we have said that they should be from four to six seconds? duration; in fact, to prevent two prolonged blasts from being mistaken for the helm signal of two short blasts. The Conference have already decided that we can adopt two short and two long, and that the two long are to be decidedly two prolonged blasts.

Now, the Conference having decided that, we think they can go a step further, although we have got three short blasts to indicate a steamer going full speed astern; that, of course, is not to be made in a fog. That is when two vessels are in sight of each other. But still one ship may be in sight of her and another ship may be in the fog, and so the three short blasts might be mistaken. It will be for the Conference to decide that question. If we can arrange to choose this prolonged blast, I think the whole rythm is very simple. So we propose that a telegraph-cable ship shall give three prolonged blasts. In the same way as the not-under-command signal, a telegraph vessel laying her telegraph.cable would be practically sounding her single blasts. When another vessel is approaching her and she wants to declare her character she gives three prolonged blasts. In the committee it was considered if the three long blasts can possibly be mistaken for three short-of course there is a danger comes in there—but if the Conference thinks it can not, then we propose to have three prolonged blasts. First of all, let her give her one long blast, that is a steamer under way, and follow it in a little while by two. I must say that a majority of the committee think that now that you have adopted two blasts you may go a step further and take three prolonged blasts.

Now, we will go through for a moment the whole rythm of signals which we have proposed. We have the one prolonged blast for a steamer moving. The Conference has adopted two prolonged blasts for the steamer stopped; she is an impediment in the way. Now, we tell you there is another impediment in your way and a little worse impediment, and that she shall give three prolonged blasts; and then there is another man who demands the right of way. Then he gives you four short blasts, and you must get out of his way under all circumstances if he demands it. So that, in principle, all blasts over one give you practically a vessel which you have to be careful about.

We think these signals will be easier remembered if they are in a se. quence of this kind, and we have tried to introduce them in that way. Another reason why this signal may be easier remembered is that by adopting the three prolonged blasts we are giving a telegraph ship the same number of blasts as she has lights. She has her three ligbts and now she will have her three blasts. These are the steps which we have considered in committee, and these are the signals which we have brought before you.

Mr. GOODRICH (United States). Mr. President, may I call the attention of the gallant delegate from Great Britain to the fact that they have not indicated how often the signals are to be sounded? Do they desire to do that?

Admiral NARES (Great Britain). Mr. President, it is distinctly worded. The wording is that on hearing the fog-signal of an approaching vessel,—The approaching vessel would be sounding her signal every two minutes,—and every time that signal is heard by a telegraph-ship or a vessel not under command, she is to give her distinctive signals. We do not wish these signals to be given oftener than can be avoided. The three prolonged blasts on the telegraph-sbip will be a very severe tax on the officers on the bridge, and the fewer times it is sounded, so long as it is sounded often enough to give the warning, the better.

Mr. GOODRICH (United States). Mr. President, then I would suggest after the word ' sound" to insert the words “in answer to each signal."

Admiral NARES (Great Britain). Mr. President, of course that is all a mere matter of wording. We have worded it as seamen. The wording is not before the Conference yet. If the Secretary will read it, then perhaps you will arrange about that business afterwards. We were asked for two signals and we have given them. Now we are in the hands of the Conference.

The PRESIDENT. It will first be read for the information of the Conference.

The proposition is as follows:

“A ship under way which is unable to get out of the way of an approaching vessel, through being not under command, or unable to maneuvre as required by these regulations, shall, on hearing the fog-signal of an approaching vessel, sound on her whistle, siren, or fog-horn four sbort blasts."

Captain RICHARD (France). Mr. President, it is evident to my mind that the subject in regard to which I am about to ask the gallant chairman of the Sound-Signal Committee has been a matter of careful consideration in the committee. I am not, therefore, offering any criticism; I am only asking for information, so that the Conference may be enlightened on the subject to which my attention is directed.

It has been demanded that vessels charged with the telegraphic serv.

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ice and with paying out their cables, or vessels no longer under command, should not sound their special signal until they should hear the vessel approaching them. I must say that this rather astonishes me, and for that reason I ask for an explanation. You will please observe that if they sound the special signal which bas been given to them only when they shall hear a vessel in their vicinity, there may be some difficulty, for instance, in the case of a sailing vessel which at the present time carries a sounding apparatus which can not be heard very far; you allow them to give the special signal only when the vessels are very near to each other, and when a sailing vessel can not manœuvre. I think that the notice is then given at the eleventh hour, and inasmuch as those vessels have the privilege of using special sound-signals, they should be given the burden as well as the advantage of it. It is evi. dent that the committee has carefully discussed this question in its sessions. The explanation which I now ask is a résumé of that discussion and of the powerful motives which induced them to arrive at their decision.

The PRESIDENT. Is the Conference ready for the question upon the first proposition of the delegate from Great Britain ?

Admiral NARES (Great Britain). Mr. President, I intended to explain about not continually sounding the signal. It is far too great a tax on the officers of the watch; and if the signals are sounded too often and too much the otficers can not listen to the signals of the approaching ship; but it is far more important for them to be sure that another vessel is in that vicinity, or it is quite as important as for them to be sounding their own signal. But if there is no other way out of it than to jump from their first signal to the other character signal, I would like to suggest that we can not see our way out of the difficulty. It is very certain that either they must keep on sounding them every two minutes, or we can not give them the character at all.

Mr. FLOOD (Norway). Mr. President, as the one who yesterday took the liberty of proposing a new paragraph to be added to the rule, I beg to state that I am fully satisfied with what has been so ably said and explained by the gallant delegate from Great Britain. I fully understand the difficulty of having a sound-signal of four short blasts continually repeated on board of a vessel, and the great tax it will be on the officers who have to stand in the continual sounding of the siren. So I think that the provision made use of, that this signal is only to be used when they hear an approaching vessel will be practically satisfactory. It is just as necessary for the officers on the bridge to be able to hear a signal as for the other vessel approaching to hear their signal. The officers on the bridge and the man on the lookout would be so deafened by hearing their own signal that it would make it very difficult to hear the signal of an approaching vessel.

The PRESIDENT. Is the Conference ready for the question! The Secretary will please read the first proposition of the delegate from Great Britain.

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