Wartime Standard Ships, Nick Robins

Wartime Standard Ships, Nick Robins

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Wartime Standard Ships, Nick Robins

Wartime Standard Ships, Nick Robins

Although the Liberty ships are the most famous of the ‘standard’ types, this book reveals that there were a surprisingly large number of other standards, starting in the First World War with British ships that fell into more general ‘types’, as it was believed that shipyards would work better on ships they were familiar with. When the United States was drawn into the ship building programme a series of more standard types emerged, but the heyday of the standard ship was the Second World War, where more or less identical ships of various types were built in the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany and Japan.

The book could have done with more basic explanations of some of the maritime terms that are used, as it will appeal to a wider, non-specialist audience. This would include some background on the classification societies that get mentioned fairly often, exactly what a tramp steamer is, and some of the technical ship building terms (sheer, tumblehome etc).

The first two chapters look at the idea of the standard ship and give design overviews of the main types. We then look at the British, American and Canadian ships of the First World War and their interwar uses. The bulk of the book looks at the larger ship building programme of the Second World War, mainly organised by country, but with dedicated chapters for the Liberty and Victory ships. The final three chapters look at the post-war careers of the standard ships, their impact on later ship design and their successes and failures. This final chapter also includes sections on the military careers of these ships, both those that were converted into auxiliary warships (mainly transports) and those that were used as cargo ships.

This is an interesting book that covers a great deal of material in a fairly small amount of space, providing a good overview of the massive civil shipbuilding programme that played a major part in the Allied victory in both World Wars, by producing these standard ships quicker than the Germans could sink them.

1 - The Concept: Austere, Functional and Lots of Them
2 - Fit for Purpose: The Design Criteria
3 - Ships Built in Britain During the Great War
4 - The American and Canadian Great War 'Bridge of Ships'
5 - The Commercial Role of the Standard Ships of the Great War
6 - At War Again - Rebuilding, Lessons Learnt and Lend-Lease
7 - United States Maritime Commission - C, T and N Classes
8 - The Empire Ships Built in Britain
9 - The Liberty Shipbuilding Programme: Built by the Mile and Cut Off by the Yard
10 - Canadian Shipbuilding and Shipowning, and Australia's Rivers
11 - Liberty's Successor, the Victory Ships
12 - German Standard Ships Built in the Second World War
13 - Japanese Standard Ships
14 -The Big Sell-Off and Post-War Commercial Success of the Standard Ships
15 - The Influence of Standard Ship Design on the Evolution of Naval Architecture
16 - Successes and Failures - An Unparalleled Achievement

Author: Nick Robins
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 160
Publisher: Seaforth
Year: 2017

Battle of Plassey

The Battle of Plassey was a decisive victory of the British East India Company over a much larger force of the Nawab of Bengal and his French [1] allies on 23 June 1757, under the leadership of Robert Clive. The battle helped the Company seize control of Bengal. Over the next hundred years, they seized control of most of the Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, and Afghanistan.

Great Britain

  • East India Company

Mughal Empire

  • Bengal Subah
  • French East India Company
  • Major Kilpatrick
  • Major Grant
  • Major Eyre Coote
  • Captain Gaupp
  • Capt. William Jennings

Nawab Siraj ud-Daulah

  • 750 British soldiers
  • 100 Topasses
  • 2,100 Indian sepoys
  • 100 gunners
  • 50 sailors
  • 8 cannon (six field artillery pieces and 2 howitzers)
  • about 7,000 infantry
  • Bengal Subah:
  • 5,000 cavalry of Siraj ud-Daulah
  • 35,000 infantry (5,000 defected)
  • 15,000 cavalry of Mir Jafar
  • 53 field pieces (mostly 32, 24 and 18-pounder pieces)

The battle took place at Palashi (Anglicised version: Plassey) on the banks of the Hooghly River, about 150 kilometres (93 mi) north of Calcutta and south of Murshidabad, then capital of Bengal (now in Nadia district in West Bengal). The belligerents were the Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah, the last independent Nawab of Bengal, and the British East India Company. He succeeded Alivardi Khan (his maternal grandfather). Siraj-ud-Daulah had become the Nawab of Bengal the year before, and he had ordered the English to stop the extension of their fortification. Robert Clive bribed Mir Jafar, the commander-in-chief of the Nawab's army, and also promised to make him Nawab of Bengal. Clive defeated Siraj-ud-Daulah at Plassey in 1757 and captured Calcutta. [2]

The battle was preceded by an attack on British-controlled Calcutta by Nawab Siraj-ud-Daulah and the Black Hole massacre. The British sent reinforcements under Colonel Robert Clive and Admiral Charles Watson from Madras to Bengal and recaptured Calcutta. Clive then seized the initiative to capture the French fort of Chandernagar. [3] Tensions and suspicions between Siraj-ud-daulah and the British culminated in the Battle of Plassey. The battle was waged during the Seven Years' War (1756–1763), and, in a mirror of their European rivalry, the French East India Company (La Compagnie des Indes Orientales) [1] sent a small contingent to fight against the British. Siraj-ud-Daulah had a vastly numerically superior force and made his stand at Plassey. The British, worried about being outnumbered, formed a conspiracy with Siraj-ud-Daulah's demoted army chief Mir Jafar, along with others such as Yar Lutuf Khan, Jagat Seths (Mahtab Chand and Swarup Chand), Umichand and Rai Durlabh. Mir Jafar, Rai Durlabh and Yar Lutuf Khan thus assembled their troops near the battlefield but made no move to actually join the battle. Siraj-ud-Daulah's army with about 50,000 soldiers, 40 cannons and 10 war elephants was defeated by 3,000 soldiers of Col. Robert Clive. The battle ended in 11 hours approx.

This is judged to be one of the pivotal battles in the control of Indian subcontinent by the colonial powers. The British now wielded enormous influence over the Nawab, Mir Jafar and consequently acquired significant concessions for previous losses and revenue from trade. The British further used this revenue to increase their military might and push the other European colonial powers such as the Dutch and the French out of South Asia, thus expanding the British Empire.


Presenta con dovizia di particolari storico-tecnici le navi mercantili di disegno standard realizzate durante le due guerra mondiali dagli Stati Uniti, dal Canada e dalla Germania e Giappone.

In both World Wars there arose a pressing need for merchant tonnage both to supplement existing ships but, more importantly, to replace ships that had been sunk by enemy action, and the key to the Allied strategy in both wars was a massive programme of merchant shipbuilding. This need gave rise to a series of standard designs with increasing emphasis on prefabrication and a progression towards welded hulls. This new book tells the remarkable story of the design and construction of the many types that not only contributed to their country s war efforts, but were also responsible for a cultural change in world shipbuilding that would lay the foundations for the post-war industry. The story begins in the First World War with the National type cargo ships which were the first examples of prefabricated construction. The best known of all types of wartime standard ships, of course, were the Liberty ships and their successor, the better equipped Victory ships, both built in the United States. Some 2,700 Liberty ships were built and this incredible achievement undoubtedly saved the Allies from losing the War. In Canada, the Ocean and Park ships made a further major contribution. Germany and Japan also introduced standard merchant shipbuilding programmes during the Second World War and these are covered in detail. The many different types and designs are all reviewed and their roles explained, while the design criteria, innovative building techniques and the human element of their successful operation is covered. Some of the story has been told piecemeal in a range of diverse books and articles, a few with extensive fleet lists. However, the complete history of the twentieth century wartime-built standard merchant ship has not previously been written, so this new volume recording that history within its appropriate technical, political and military background will be hugely welcomed

Peter and Alexander Campbell were the sons of Captain Bob Campbell, who ran a steamboat on the River Clyde. In 1887 their paddle steamer Waverley was moved from the Clyde to the Bristol Channel [1] and they set up the White Funnel fleet for coastal cruising.

They had a shaky start when they were summoned before the Bristol Magistrates in July 1887 for having an uncertified engineer for the Waverley. [2]

The company was formally formed in 1893 and they used the White Funnel image as a company logo. During the First World War, twelve of the fleet were requisitioned by the Admiralty as minesweepers and a troop ship. Two ships, Brighton Queen and Lady Ismay were lost.

During the Second World War the fleet was requisitioned again. Four new vessels were planned after the war, but only PS Bristol Queen and PS Cardiff Queen were built. They lasted until 1967 and 1968 respectively. After this the company used motor vessels until 1979 when it finally folded. [3]

The company had a brief fling with high speed craft in the summer of 1963, using the experimental SRN2 as a ferry between Penarth and Weston-super-Mare. [4]

Wartime Standard Ships

The subject of the book is very interesting.
The pictures are great and clear.

Th print is very small and hard to read.

This is an excellent book on the WW I and WW II British, Canadian, and US mass production cargo ships such as the "Liberty", "Ocean," "Empire," and "Fort" types. It also includes the US Maritime Commission C-1, C-2, C-3, and C-4 interwar designs.The book also covers the similar Japanese and German ships. The book cover issues such as design histories, engine design and selection, crane capacities, and construction yards. Extensive information on dimensions, dead weight tonnage, speeds, and so forth is provided.

For more books on this and similar subjects, I recommend the following:

* "Ships for Victory" by Lane (1951 and 2001).This is the ultimate book on the US Maritime Commission ships (e.g., "Liberty," "Victory," C- Types" etc) designed and constructed during the 1930s and the 1940s war years

* "The Big L: American Logistics in World War II" by Gropman (1997)

* Cargo Liners" by Greenway (2009)

* "The Golden Age of Shipping: The Classic Merchant Ship 1900 - 1960" by Gardiner and Greenway (1994)

* "Pacific Express: The Critical Role of Military Logistics In World War II" by McGee and McGee (2009)

Wartime Standard Ships

The subject of the book is very interesting.
The pictures are great and clear.

Th print is very small and hard to read.

This is an excellent book on the WW I and WW II British, Canadian, and US mass production cargo ships such as the "Liberty", "Ocean," "Empire," and "Fort" types. It also includes the US Maritime Commission C-1, C-2, C-3, and C-4 interwar designs.The book also covers the similar Japanese and German ships. The book cover issues such as design histories, engine design and selection, crane capacities, and construction yards. Extensive information on dimensions, dead weight tonnage, speeds, and so forth is provided.

For more books on this and similar subjects, I recommend the following:

* "Ships for Victory" by Lane (1951 and 2001).This is the ultimate book on the US Maritime Commission ships (e.g., "Liberty," "Victory," C- Types" etc) designed and constructed during the 1930s and the 1940s war years

* "The Big L: American Logistics in World War II" by Gropman (1997)

* Cargo Liners" by Greenway (2009)

* "The Golden Age of Shipping: The Classic Merchant Ship 1900 - 1960" by Gardiner and Greenway (1994)

* "Pacific Express: The Critical Role of Military Logistics In World War II" by McGee and McGee (2009)

Couple buy rotting WW2 ship used during D-Day on eBay for ultimate restoration project

A couple who bought a ship used during D-Day on WW2 on eBay say the purchase was ‘a heart over head decision’ which led to them taking on the ultimate restoration project.

Gemma and Simon Robins, who are camper van renovation specialists, purchased the ‘ML 1392 Medusa’ in January after they ‘fell in love’ with the vessel.

But the mammoth renovation is now likely to cost them more than £50,000.

Buying the 72ft war ship was never part of the couple’s original life plan but Gemma said after viewing it for the first time it pulled on her heartstrings because it had so much history, Liverpool Echo reports.

She said: “We didn’t plan on buying a ship but Simon would always sit there at night and look at eBay.

“One night I was brushing my teeth and he was lying in bed and he was like ‘look at this boat’. I had a look at it and I thought ‘what are you thinking about?’

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“Usually I would just brush him off with his crazy ideas but I was looking at it and realised what a historical boat she was.

“I never ever wanted a boat that big in my life but it sort of pulled on my heartstrings.

“The people who owned the boat before the person we bought it off, they were going to scrap her and take the engines out and sell them.

“So the fella who we bought it off was like ‘you can’t do that, she is a piece of history.’"

The ship, now called Sarinda, has a compelling past having been a navigation leader during the D-day landings in June 1944.

She also aided in the capture of a German submarine in March 1945. Since then, the ship has had many homes and has fallen into disrepair.

Gemma added: “She was a WW2 boat on D-Day and to see her neglected and left to rot, it was a heart over the head decision because we haven’t really got the budget to do it, so we went to look at it the next day and we fell in love with it.”

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The ship was set for the scrapyard and Gemma revealed it was her mum who encouraged the couple to buy it, adding: “It was my mum, she was like, ‘oh Gemma, just buy, just buy it’ so she encouraged us to get it.”

“It’s hard to say how much it will cost to renovate and repair. She’s a massive boat, she’s 72ft long, she’s got five bedrooms, and she needs totally gutting and starting again.

“The superstructure is all rotten and falling apart and the only really good part of the boat is the engines, which still run and the actual hull, which is originally from WWII.

“When we bought her I said to Simon we could probably scrape enough money to buy her, but we haven’t got any money to fix her. So we knew it was going to be a long-term project.”

In order to track and document their progress, the couple decided to create a YouTube channel dedicated to the restoration of the ship.

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In three months, the channel, aptly named Ship Happens, has notched up 22,000 subscribers.

Gemma, who is a mum-of-two from Huyton, Liverpool, said: “The whole YouTube idea, we only filmed it for the family.

"Because of Covid, no one could come and see it, so we said we’d film it so all the family could see it online and the channel just took off.

“We didn’t expect it at all, because we’re not YouTubers or anything like that, we’re just normal people."

The renovation of the boat will cost them upwards of £50,000, and the couple said they had been overwhelmed with support and donations, not just by friends and family, but strangers who have taken an interest in the project.


To determine a position on the Earth's surface, it is necessary and sufficient to know the latitude, longitude, and altitude. Altitude considerations can naturally be ignored for vessels operating at sea level. Until the mid-1750s, accurate navigation at sea out of sight of land was an unsolved problem due to the difficulty in calculating longitude. Navigators could determine their latitude by measuring the sun's angle at noon (i.e., when it reached its highest point in the sky, or culmination) or, in the Northern Hemisphere, to measure the angle of Polaris (the North Star) from the horizon (usually during twilight). To find their longitude, however, they needed a time standard that would work aboard a ship. Observation of regular celestial motions, such as Galileo's method based on observing Jupiter's natural satellites, was usually not possible at sea due to the ship's motion. The lunar distances method, initially proposed by Johannes Werner in 1514, was developed in parallel with the marine chronometer. The Dutch scientist Gemma Frisius was the first to propose the use of a chronometer to determine longitude in 1530.

The purpose of a chronometer is to measure accurately the time of a known fixed location, for example Greenwich Mean Time (GMT). This is particularly important for navigation. Knowing GMT at local noon allows a navigator to use the time difference between the ship's position and the Greenwich Meridian to determine the ship's longitude. As the Earth rotates at a regular rate, the time difference between the chronometer and the ship's local time can be used to calculate the longitude of the ship relative to the Greenwich Meridian (defined as 0°) using spherical trigonometry. In modern practice, a nautical almanac and trigonometric sight-reduction tables permit navigators to measure the Sun, Moon, visible planets, or any of 57 selected stars for navigation at any time that the horizon is visible.

The creation of a timepiece which would work reliably at sea was difficult. Until the 20th century, the best timekeepers were pendulum clocks, but both the rolling of a ship at sea and the up to 0.2% variations in the gravity of Earth made a simple gravity-based pendulum useless both in theory and in practice.

First examples Edit

Christiaan Huygens, following his invention of the pendulum clock in 1656, made the first attempt at a marine chronometer in 1673 in France, under the sponsorship of Jean-Baptiste Colbert. [2] [3] In 1675, Huygens, who was receiving a pension from Louis XIV, invented a chronometer that employed a balance wheel and a spiral spring for regulation, instead of a pendulum, opening the way to marine chronometers and modern pocket watches and wristwatches. He obtained a patent for his invention from Colbert, but his clock remained imprecise at sea. [4] Huygens' attempt in 1675 to obtain an English patent from Charles II stimulated Robert Hooke, who claimed to have conceived of a spring-driven clock years earlier, to attempt to produce one and patent it. During 1675 Huygens and Hooke each delivered two such devices to Charles, but none worked well and neither Huygens nor Hooke received an English patent. It was during this work that Hooke formulated what is known as Hooke's Law. [5]

The first published use of the term was in 1684 in Arcanum Navarchicum, a theoretical work by Kiel professor Matthias Wasmuth. This was followed by a further theoretical description of a chronometer in works published by English scientist William Derham in 1713. Derham's principal work, Physico-theology, or a demonstration of the being and attributes of God from his works of creation, also proposed the use of vacuum sealing to ensure greater accuracy in the operation of clocks. [6] Attempts to construct a working marine chronometer were begun by Jeremy Thacker in England in 1714, and by Henry Sully in France two years later. Sully published his work in 1726 with Une Horloge inventée et executée par M. Sulli, but neither his nor Thacker's models were able to resist the rolling of the seas and keep precise time while in shipboard conditions. [7]

In 1714, the British government offered a longitude prize for a method of determining longitude at sea, with the awards ranging from £10,000 to £20,000 (£2 million to £4 million in 2021 terms) depending on accuracy. John Harrison, a Yorkshire carpenter, submitted a project in 1730, and in 1735 completed a clock based on a pair of counter-oscillating weighted beams connected by springs whose motion was not influenced by gravity or the motion of a ship. His first two sea timepieces H1 and H2 (completed in 1741) used this system, but he realised that they had a fundamental sensitivity to centrifugal force, which meant that they could never be accurate enough at sea. Construction of his third machine, designated H3, in 1759 included novel circular balances and the invention of the bi-metallic strip and caged roller bearings, inventions which are still widely used. However, H3's circular balances still proved too inaccurate and he eventually abandoned the large machines. [9]

Harrison solved the precision problems with his much smaller H4 chronometer design in 1761. H4 looked much like a large five-inch (12 cm) diameter pocket watch. In 1761, Harrison submitted H4 for the £20,000 longitude prize. His design used a fast-beating balance wheel controlled by a temperature-compensated spiral spring. These features remained in use until stable electronic oscillators allowed very accurate portable timepieces to be made at affordable cost. In 1767, the Board of Longitude published a description of his work in The Principles of Mr. Harrison's time-keeper. [10] A French expedition under Charles-François-César Le Tellier de Montmirail performed the first measurement of longitude using marine chronometers aboard Aurore in 1767. [11]

Modern development Edit

In France, 1748, Pierre Le Roy invented the detent escapement characteristic of modern chronometers. [12] In 1766, he created a revolutionary chronometer that incorporated a detent escapement, the temperature-compensated balance and the isochronous balance spring: [13] Harrison showed the possibility of having a reliable chronometer at sea, but these developments by Le Roy are considered by Rupert Gould to be the foundation of the modern chronometer. [13] Le Roy's innovations made the chronometer a much more accurate piece than had been anticipated. [14]

Ferdinand Berthoud in France, as well as Thomas Mudge in Britain also successfully produced marine timekeepers. [12] Although none were simple, they proved that Harrison's design was not the only answer to the problem. The greatest strides toward practicality came at the hands of Thomas Earnshaw and John Arnold, who in 1780 developed and patented simplified, detached, "spring detent" escapements, [15] [16] moved the temperature compensation to the balance, and improved the design and manufacturing of balance springs. This combination of innovations served as the basis of marine chronometers until the electronic era.

The new technology was initially so expensive that not all ships carried chronometers, as illustrated by the fateful last journey of the East Indiaman Arniston, shipwrecked with the loss of 372 lives. [17] However, by 1825, the Royal Navy had begun routinely supplying its vessels with chronometers. [18]

It was common for ships at the time to observe a time ball, such as the one at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, to check their chronometers before departing on a long voyage. Every day, ships would anchor briefly in the River Thames at Greenwich, waiting for the ball at the observatory to drop at precisely 1pm. [19] This practice was in small part responsible for the subsequent adoption of Greenwich Mean Time as an international standard. [20] (Time balls became redundant around 1920 with the introduction of radio time signals, which have themselves largely been superseded by GPS time.) In addition to setting their time before departing on a voyage, ship chronometers were also routinely checked for accuracy while at sea by carrying out lunar [21] or solar observations. [22] In typical use, the chronometer would be mounted in a sheltered location below decks to avoid damage and exposure to the elements. Mariners would use the chronometer to set a so-called hack watch, which would be carried on deck to make the astronomical observations. Though much less accurate (and expensive) than the chronometer, the hack watch would be satisfactory for a short period of time after setting it (i.e., long enough to make the observations).

Although industrial production methods began revolutionizing watchmaking in the middle of the 19th century, chronometer manufacture remained craft-based much longer. Around the turn of the 20th century, Swiss makers such as Ulysse Nardin made great strides toward incorporating modern production methods and using fully interchangeable parts, but it was only with the onset of World War II that the Hamilton Watch Company in the United States perfected the process of mass production, which enabled it to produce thousands of its Hamilton Model 21 and Model 22 chronometers of World War Two for the United States Navy & Army and other Allied navies. Despite Hamilton's success, chronometers made in the old way never disappeared from the marketplace during the era of mechanical timekeepers. Thomas Mercer Chronometers is among the companies that continue to make them.

Without their accuracy and the accuracy of the feats of navigation that marine chronometers enabled, it is arguable that the ascendancy of the Royal Navy, and by extension that of the British Empire, might not have occurred so overwhelmingly the formation of the empire by wars and conquests of colonies abroad took place in a period in which British vessels had reliable navigation due to the chronometer, while their Portuguese, Dutch, and French opponents did not. [23] For example: the French were well established in India and other places before Britain, but were defeated by naval forces in the Seven Years' War.

The most complete international collection of marine chronometers, including Harrison's H1 to H4, is at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, in London, UK.

The crucial problem was to find a resonator that remained unaffected by the changing conditions met by a ship at sea. The balance wheel, harnessed to a spring, solved most of the problems associated with the ship's motion. Unfortunately, the elasticity of most balance spring materials changes relative to temperature. To compensate for ever-changing spring strength, the majority of chronometer balances used bi-metallic strips to move small weights toward and away from the centre of oscillation, thus altering the period of the balance to match the changing force of the spring. The balance spring problem was solved with a nickel-steel alloy named Elinvar for its invariable elasticity at normal temperatures. The inventor was Charles Édouard Guillaume, who won the 1920 Nobel Prize for physics in recognition for his metallurgical work.

The escapement serves two purposes. First, it allows the train to advance fractionally and record the balance's oscillations. At the same time, it supplies minute amounts of energy to counter tiny losses from friction, thus maintaining the momentum of the oscillating balance. The escapement is the part that ticks. Since the natural resonance of an oscillating balance serves as the heart of a chronometer, chronometer escapements are designed to interfere with the balance as little as possible. There are many constant-force and detached escapement designs, but the most common are the spring detent and pivoted detent. In both of these, a small detent locks the escape wheel and allows the balance to swing completely free of interference except for a brief moment at the centre of oscillation, when it is least susceptible to outside influences. At the centre of oscillation, a roller on the balance staff momentarily displaces the detent, allowing one tooth of the escape wheel to pass. The escape wheel tooth then imparts its energy on a second roller on the balance staff. Since the escape wheel turns in only one direction, the balance receives impulse in only one direction. On the return oscillation, a passing spring on the tip of the detent allows the unlocking roller on the staff to move by without displacing the detent. The weakest link of any mechanical timekeeper is the escapement's lubrication. When the oil thickens through age or temperature or dissipates through humidity or evaporation, the rate will change, sometimes dramatically as the balance motion decreases through higher friction in the escapement. A detent escapement has a strong advantage over other escapements as it needs no lubrication. An impulse from the escape wheel to the impulse roller is nearly dead-beat, meaning little sliding action needing lubrication. Chronometer escape wheels and passing springs are typically gold due to the metal's lower slide friction over brass and steel.

Chronometers often included other innovations to increase their efficiency and precision. Hard stones such as ruby and sapphire were often used as jewel bearings to decrease friction and wear of the pivots and escapement. Diamond was often used as the cap stone for the lower balance staff pivot to prevent wear from years of the heavy balance turning on the small pivot end. Until the end of mechanical chronometer production in the third quarter of the 20th century, makers continued to experiment with things like ball bearings and chrome-plated pivots.

Marine chronometers always contain a maintaining power which keeps the chronometer going while it is being wound, and a power reserve to indicate how long the chronometer will continue to run without being wound. Marine chronometers are the most accurate portable mechanical clocks ever made, achieving a precision of around a 0.1 second per day or less than one minute per year [ citation needed ] . This is accurate enough to locate a ship's position within 1–2 miles (2–3 km) after a month's sea voyage.

In strictly horological terms, "rating" a chronometer means that prior to the instrument entering service, the average rate of gaining or losing per day is observed and recorded on a rating certificate which accompanies the instrument. This daily rate is used in the field to correct the time indicated by the instrument to get an accurate time reading. Even the best-made chronometer with the finest temperature compensation etc. exhibits two types of error, (1) random and (2) consistent. The quality of design and manufacture of the instrument keeps the random errors small. In principle, the consistent errors should be amenable to elimination by adjustment, but in practice it is not possible to make the adjustment so precisely that this error is completely eliminated, so the technique of rating is used. The rate will also change while the instrument is in service due to e.g. thickening of the oil, so on long expeditions the instrument's rate would be periodically checked against accurate time determined by astronomical observations.

Ships and boats commonly use electronic aids to navigation, mostly the Global Navigation Satellite Systems. However celestial navigation, which requires the use of a precise chronometer, is still a requirement for certain international mariner certifications such as Officer in Charge of Navigational Watch, and Master and Chief Mate deck officers, [24] [25] and supplements offshore yachtmasters on long-distance private cruising yachts. [26] Modern marine chronometers can be based on quartz clocks that are corrected periodically by GPS signals or radio time signals (see radio clock). These quartz chronometers are not always the most accurate quartz clocks when no signal is received, and their signals can be lost or blocked. However, there are quartz movements, even in wrist watches such as the Omega Marine Chronometer, that are accurate to within 5 or 20 seconds per year. [27] At least one quartz chronometer made for advanced navigation utilizes multiple quartz crystals which are corrected by a computer using an average value, in addition to GPS time signal corrections. [28] [29]

Wartime Standard Ships, Nick Robins - History

Due to the recent developments relating to COVID-19 we are currently working from home and as such there will be a delay in response to any postal submissions. Response to online submissions will continue as normal.

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The Merchant Marine Were the Unsung Heroes of World War II

“The sailor from the merchant ships was in those days known to America as a bum,” the former mariner and author Felix Reisenberg wrote. “He was associated with rotgut whiskey, waterfront brawls and quickie strikes that held up big passenger ships at New York, New Orleans and San Francisco . . .”

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The era was the earliest stages of the United States’ involvement in World War II, and Nazi Germany was already bringing the war right to the nation’s shores – with shocking results. U-boats devastated merchant shipping off the U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast, attacking vessels within sight of beaches in Virginia, North Carolina and Florida, and at the mouth of the Mississippi River. America was too undermanned and ill-equipped to defend its own shoreline. U-boats used the glow of American coastal cities to silhouette merchant ships for torpedo strikes, like ducks in a carnival shooting gallery.

On those ships were not military personnel but merchant mariners -- civilian volunteers with the U.S. Merchant Marine, hauling vital war cargo for the Allies. Merchant mariners were the supply line that provided virtually everything Allied armies needed in order to survive and fight on foreign battlefields. The seamen had no military standing or government benefits, but they possessed an unusual variety of courage and gave their lives for their country as valiantly as those in the armed forces did.

Surviving a U-boat attack often meant running a gauntlet of dangers, including fire, explosions, icy water, sharks, flaming oil slicks and long odysseys in open lifeboats. “You were taking a chance, that’s for sure,” recalled Jack Rowe, a merchant mariner from tiny Gwynn’s Island in Mathews County, Virginia. “But a lot of people were taking chances. You couldn’t just say, ‘Why me?’”

The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-boats

Standing lookout on a merchant ship was nerve-racking, especially around dawn and dusk, when the colors of the sea and sky merged into a gray haze, and any ripple of motion or flash of color might be the plume of a torpedo. “Occasionally a man will get the jitters and will be noticed walking the deck at night when he should be asleep,” recalled mariner Raymond Edwards. Once a torpedo struck, every moment became precious and every decision irreversible. “Even two seconds could mean the difference between life and death for any member of the crew. Running in the wrong direction might cut a sailor off from all means of escape. Jumping overboard at the wrong spot or at the wrong instant might easily cost a life. If a sailor is lucky enough to be alive after a torpedo hits his ship, it takes quick thinking and fast action to get him off the ship and into a lifeboat. Many are saved by sheer luck.”

The U-boat war was particularly unforgiving to merchant mariners. The Merchant Marine suffered a higher casualty rate than any branch of the military, losing 9,300 men, with most of the losses occurring in 1942, when most merchant ships sailed U.S. waters with little or no protection from the U.S. Navy. In March 1942 alone, 27 ships from six Allied nations were sunk off U.S. shores. Statistically, America’s coastal waters were the most dangerous, the scene of half the world’s sinkings. The experience of being torpedoed was so common that the president of the Boston Seaman’s Club founded a 󈬘-Fathom Club” for those who had survived it. “I hope the membership won’t become too large,” he added, but it grew larger every day as rescue ships brought oil-soaked survivors to the docks at Halifax, Boston, New York, Norfolk, Morehead City, Miami, and Havana. Many of the mariners who survived torpedo attacks went right back to sea, often sailing through the same perilous waters, only to torpedoed again. One mariner was torpedoed ten times.

Despite their sacrifices, the members of the 40-Fathom Club were viewed by the American public with some ambivalence. Mariners were in such demand that shipping companies had lowered their standards and filled out crews with drunks, idlers, thieves, brawlers, and card sharps. The Merchant Marine’s image was further eroded by the presence of Communists in the maritime unions, although most mariners had no interest in radical politics.

But they were deplored by some Navy leaders for refusing to bend to military discipline. Other critics complained the mariners’ wartime bonuses raised their pay higher than that of military men— ignoring the facts that mariners received no government benefits, paid income taxes, and earned money only when their ships were at sea. If their ships were torpedoed, they stopped getting paid the moment they hit the water. They were off the clock when swimming for their lives. And their civilian status would shut them out of a lifetime’s worth of military benefits including health care, money for college and low-interest loans.

Not everyone piled on the Merchant Marine. President Franklin D. Roosevelt praised mariners in speeches, and his wife, Eleanor, credited them with “supreme courage” and suggested they be issued uniforms. Helen Lawrenson, a writer for Collier’s magazine, waded into a dingy seamen’s bar in Greenwich Village and was charmed by a group of mariners who went by the names of Low Life McCormick, No Pants Jones, Screwball McCarthy, Foghorn Russell, Soapbox Smitty, Riff Raff, and Whiskey Bill. Ten of the twelve mariners she met had been torpedoed at least once, and one of the other two complained, “I feel so out of place. I’m a wallflower, a nobody.” Lawrenson wrote that the mariners cut decidedly unromantic figures, guzzling “vast and formidable quantities of beer” while belting out sea ditties with raw lyrics. Beneath the surface, however, she found them intensely patriotic, casually fearless, and wise to the workings of the world. “They were the best informed, the most widely traveled, and the most truly sophisticated men I have ever met,” she concluded.

The New York Times characterized merchant mariners as the war’s unsung heroes: “No one steps up to the bar to buy them drinks. No moist-eyed old ladies turn to them in the subway to murmur ‘God bless you.’ The cop on the beat, gentle with the tipsy soldier or the unsteady gob [Navy man], is apt to put his nightstick to the britches of a merchant sailor who has tippled heavily in the town’s bars to celebrate his rescue from the sea.”

Most of the mariners who sailed against the U-boats are gone now. The few thousand who remain have come to regard Memorial Day as a celebration that has never fully included them. But it’s still not too late to remember, belatedly, how much we owe them.

From THE MATHEWS MEN: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-boats by William Geroux, published by Viking, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC Copyright © 2016 by William Geroux.

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