REMINISCENCES | The slow march of technology

I don’t know how they cope these days with all the electronic equipment, which keeps ship systems together, having to be updated or even replaced, every eighteen months or so. On our oldest ladies – some of them the wrong side of 35 years old – the equipment they took to the scrapyard was mostly that which had been installed when they left their shipyards. Our company was no mean-minded tramp outfit – our Commonwealth cargo liners were the best that the owner’s money could buy - but marine technology moved rather slower in those days.

BOOK REVIEW | Casemate Short History: Battleships – The War at Sea

By Ingo Bauernfeind 

The battleship era was quite short. It commenced in 1906 when the Royal Navy launched its first "Dreadnought" and was effectively over by the end of the Vietnam War in 1975. It was, though, a glorious era when national power and influence was measured by a nation’s battleship fleet.

COLUMN | What’s in the box? [Grey Power]

Well, there’s a turn up for the books. Sixty years after the first containers were taken to sea, a major shipping company has announced that it is to check up on what is in at least some of them. Maersk has announced that it is to undertake random checks on the contents of containers leaving and entering US ports, in an effort to encourage rather more precision and accuracy in the descriptions of their contents, and to check that the boxes have been stowed properly.

REMINISCENCES | The fog of lore

These days big containerships can be found rushing through thick fog in the Dover Straits at 23 knots, visibility nil and thinking nothing of the terror they spread around them aboard ships which are less well equipped. Fog at sea is still horrible stuff, but not as beastly as it used to be with our single primitive radar sets. Nobody really trusted this equipment, so it was dead slow ahead on the telegraphs, doubled up watches and lookouts forward, looking and listening for the sound signals of other ships, while our own siren blasted into the murk every couple of minutes. “Tense” was the word to describe it.

BOOK REVIEW | Mutiny, Mayhem, Mythology – Bounty’s Enigmatic Voyage

 

By Alan Frost

Alan Frost is, without doubt, one of Australia’s best two current historians. The other is Geoffrey Blainey. He is fair, objective, apolitical, perceptive, diligent and a very imaginative and thorough researcher. He specialises in British eighteenth century Pacific exploration, discovery and colonisation. He also writes very stylishly. It is thus a blessed relief to read a true, well-written history after a couple of second rate “novelised” ones.

BOOK REVIEW | Jacques Devaulx, Nautical Works

By Élisabeth Hébert and Gerhard Holzer. Edited by Jean-Yves Sarazin.

Taschen has just released an extra large coffee table book about 16th century Le Havre pilot Jacques Devaulx, who was commissioned by the Duke of Joyeuse to produce an illustrated manuscript summarising the naval knowledge of the times, from astronomy and cartography to nautical charts and navigational tools and techniques.

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