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How to Avoid Confusion of Orders

How to Avoid Confusion of Orders
Report No. 99046/47/48

MARS 99046 How to avoid Confusion of Orders 1

The subject of confusion of orders has already been documented in MARS 99010 and MARS 99029. My own experience is not to give an 'ahead' or 'astern' movement with words like 'slow' or 'half' but to indicate the increase or decrease of speed by the numbers 1 to 6 as was denoted on the telegraphs on one ship which I sailed on. This caused much less confusion. The telegraphs in question were Chadburn 'Synchrostep' Electric Mark IV - but I need to point out that the vessel was 33 years old. Possibly they thought differently in the days when she was built about engine movement commands on coastal vessels - on the other hand perhaps they were ahead of their time.

MARS 99047 How to avoid Confusion of Orders 2

When I was on twin screw container ships, we always used commands as follows :

Stop Port, Stop Starboard or Stop TWO! Full Ahead TWO!, etc

TWO!, said with a bit of emphasis, was a brilliant substitute for Both, being unambiguous and brief, and I cannot recall any engine command misunderstandings in the 4 years I spent on twin screw ships. When I first went to sea the "Queens" had four screws, I didn't sail on them, but I remember commands such as 'Slow Astern Port Outer, Dead Slow Astern Port Inner, Slow Ahead Starboard Inner, Half Ahead Port Outer'. And then there were the rudder commands.....

MARS 99048 How to avoid Confusion of Orders 3

American seamen are often chided by our international counterparts, especially pilots, for being the only nationality to use "left" and "right" for helm orders rather than port/starboard. As my national pride requires, I often must defend our time-honoured tradition as a method to reduce confusion of orders. Americans use left/right for rudder commands and port/starboard for engine commands - hence "Left Full" can easily be recognised as a helm order and not an engine command and vice versa. I can easily conceive the confusion caused by using port/starboard for both. When I sailed on twin screw vessels the term "All" was used for both engines, as in "All Ahead Both".