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U.S.S. Little Rock
CL 92 / CLG 4 / CG 4


Semaphore

* * * The SM Rating * * *


Signalman

Page last updated: 09 Dec 2013

Admiral's Flag Hoisted SM3 D. A. Green

An unknown Signalman hoists the Admiral's flag
on board USS Little Rock CLG4.

Photo by Bob Stangle PH2 1960-1961
(Click photo for a larger view.)

D.A. Green, SM3
examines the Aldis signaling lamp as Little Rock prepares
to enter Istanbul, Turkey in April 1965.

Note the mosque on the shoreline.
This is the Dolmabahçe Mosque just north of Istanbul.
(Click HERE for more information on the mosque.)

Photo by Bob Ernst LTjg 1962-1965
(Click photo for a larger view.)


What Signalmen did "Then"....

( From NAVPERS 1670,  Dated 1943 )

DUTIES: Sends and receives messages by flaghoist, flashing light, and semaphore. Stands watch on signal bridge. Knows all flags used in flaghoist. Memorizes much material in connection with flaghoist (signal, calls, governing flags, etc.), as experience increases. Does "spotting" work, identifies vessels and aircraft. May take sun and star sights and assist Quartermaster, on smaller ships.

EQUIPMENT USED: Semaphore flags, searchlight, blinker tubes, flaghoists, navigational and recognition lights.

TYPES OF BILLETS: All types of ships except the smallest
.

What they do "Now"....

( From NAVPERS 18068F,  Dated 2003 )

Signalmen (SM) stand watches on signal bridges; send and receive messages by flashing light, semaphore, and flaghoist; prepare headings and addresses for out‑going messages; handle, route, and file messages; encode and decode message headings; operate voice radio; maintain visual signal equipment; render passing honors to ships and boats; display ensigns and personal flags during salutes and during personal and national honors; perform duties of lookouts; send and receive visual recognition signals; repair signal flags, pennants, and ensigns; take bearings, recognize visual navigational aids, and serve as navigators' assistants.

General Rating

SM  Signalman (1902 - 2003)

Note: The rating of Signalman (SM) was merged into Quartermasters (QM) in 2003.
Specialty Rating

None

Training: Naval enlistees are taught the fundamentals of the Signalman rating through on-the-job training or formal Navy schooling. Advanced technical and operational training is available in this rating during later stages of career development.

Course Title Course Name
Location Calendar Days
SM A Signalman "A" School
Great Lakes, IL 33

Training includes lectures and practical exercises covering visual communications procedures, including international Morse code, flag identification and signaling; publications, flashing light and semaphore drills and positions, as well as message construction and procedures. After "A" school, US Navy Signalmen are assigned to all types of ships. TAR Signalmen are assigned to NRF ships in CONUS. Upon completion of sea tours, TAR SMs will be assigned to reserve centers across the country including the heartland. While assigned to reserve centers TAR SMs will train and administer Selected Reserve Personnel. During a 20-year period in the Navy, SMs spend about 60 percent of their time assigned to fleet units and 40 percent to shore stations.

Working Environment: Signalmen usually work outdoors or in a clean, air-conditioned electronic equipment space, and frequently perform their work as part of a team, but may work on individual projects. Their work is mostly mental analysis and physical dexterity. USN SMs are stationed primarily aboard USN deploying ships, TAR SMs are stationed aboard Naval Reserve Force (NRF) ships that deploy or conduct local operations.

International Signal Flags

Zero
Numeral
0
"Zero"

A
Letter
A
"Alpha" or "Alfa"

O
Letter
O
"Oscar"
One
Numeral
1
"One"

B
Letter
B
"Bravo"

P
Letter
P
"Papa"
Two
Numeral
2
"Two"

C
Letter
C
"Charlie"

Q
Letter
Q
"Quebec"
Three
Numeral
3
"Three"

D
Letter
D
"Delta"

R
Letter
R
"Romeo"
Four
Numeral
4
"Four"
   
E
Letter
E
"Echo"

S
Letter
S
"Sierra"
Five
Numeral
5
"Five"

F
Letter
F
"Foxtrot"

T
Letter
T
"Tango"
Six
Numeral
6
"Six"

G
Letter
G
"Golf"

U
Letter
U
"Uniform"
Seven
Numeral
7
"Seven"

H
Letter
H
"Hotel"

V
Letter
V
"Victor"
Eight
Numeral
8
"Eight"

I
Letter
I
"India"

W
Letter
W
"Whisky"
Nine
Numeral
9
"Niner"

J
Letter
J
"Juliet"

X
Letter
X
"Xray"
1st Substitute
1st
Substitute

K
Letter
K
"Kilo"

Y
Letter
Y
"Yankee"
2nd Substitute
2nd
Substitute

L
Letter
L
"Lima"

Z
Letter
Z
"Zulu"
3rd Substitute
3rd
Substitute

M
Letter
M
"Mike"

Prep
"PREP"
4th Substitute
4th
Substitute

N
Letter
N
"November"

NEGAT
"NEGAT"


The International Code of Signals (INTERCO) is a signal code used by merchant and naval vessels to communicate important messages about the state of a vessel and the intent of its master or commander when there are language barriers. INTERCO signals can be sent by signal flag, blinker light, flag semaphore, Morse code, or by radio.

The First International Code was drafted in 1855 by the British Board of Trade, revised in 1887, and modified at the International Conference of 1889 in Washington, DC. After World War I the Code was prepared in seven languages: English, French, Italian, German, Japanese, Spanish and in Norwegian. The new version introduced vocabulary for aviation and a complete medical section. The Code was revised in 1964 and was adopted in 1965.

Every signal in the INTERCO has a complete meaning. A recipient does not need to receive two or more signals to complete a message.

Some Sample Flag Messages
AC
I am abandoning my vessel.
AD
I am abandoning my vessel which has suffered a nuclear accident and is a possible source of radiation danger.
AN
I need a doctor.
GM
I cannot save my vessel.
IT
I am on fire.
MAA
I request urgent medical advice.
MS1
My vessel is a dangerous source of radiation; you may approach from my starboard side.
US4
Nothing can be done until weather moderates.

“Dressing Ship”

“Dressing Ship” is to rig out a vessel with flags and pennants by running a line of bunting from the bow, over the Mast(s) to the stern. A single vertical line of International Code flags is typically used on naval vessels. Flags and pennants are arranged (bent on) alternately.

In that there are twice as many letter flags as numeral pennants, it is usual to follow a sequence of two letter flags, one numeral pennant, two letter flags, one numeral pennant, etc. The sequence of flags and pennants can be any order. However the following sequence is recommended both for an attractive color pattern and to eliminate the chance of “spelling” something inadvertently.

Starting at the bow: A, B, 2, U, J, 1, K, E, 3, G, H, 6, I, V, 5, F, L, 4, D, M, 7, P, O, Third Repeater, R, N, First Repeater, S, T, Zero, C, X, 9, W, Q, 8, Z, Y, Second Repeater.

If, because of the length of the vessel, additonal flags are required, the sequence is repeated.



For a nice link to Signal Flag info, click HERE


U.S.S. Little Rocks's Call Letters and Flags

November
Bravo
Victor
Whiskey
"November"
"Bravo"
"Victor"
"Whiskey"

Click HERE to see more info on the Call Signs of the USS Little Rock

Semaphore Flag Signalling
Semaphore Chart

The Semaphore flag signaling system is an alphabet signalling system based on the waving of a pair of hand-held flags in a particular pattern. The flags are usually square, red and yellow, divided diagonally with the red portion in the upper hoist.


The flags are held, arms extended, in various positions representing each of the letters of the alphabet. The pattern resembles a clock face divided into eight positions: up, down, out, high, low, for each of the left and right hands (LH and RH) six letters require the hand to be brought across the body so that both flags are on the same side.

Flag Positions

One way to visualize the semaphore alphabet is in terms of circles:

   * first circle: A, B, C, D, E, F, G;
   * second circle: H, I, K, L, M, N (omitting J);
   * third circle: O, P, Q, R, S;
   * fourth circle: T, U, Y and 'annul';
   * fifth circle: 'numeric', J (or 'alphabetic'), V;
   * sixth circle: W, X;
   * seventh circle: Z

In the first circle, the letters A to C are made with the right arm, and E to G with the left, and D with either as convenient. In the second circle, the right arm is kept still at the letter A position and the left arm makes the movements; similarly in the remaining circles, the right arm remains fixed while the left arm moves. The arms are kept straight when changing from one position to another.


All modern navies use manual semaphore signaling. Semaphore is a highly secure, but short range and slow form of communication.


The Aldis Signal Lamp

Aldis Lamp

Aldis signal lamps were pioneered by the British Navy in the 19th century, and were used extensively on naval vessels until the end of the 20th century. They provided handy, secure communications during periods of radio silence. They had a secondary function as simple spotlights.

Aldis lamps were about 20" in diameter, used a carbon arc lamp as their light source, and were typically mounted on pedestals. These could be used to signal to the horizon, even in conditions of bright sunlight. Often thought only possible to communicate by line-of-sight it was possible to illuminate cloud bases both during the night and day. This could be used to communicate beyond the horizon. A maximum transmission speed possible by using flashing lights was no more than 14 wpm.


Tidbit:  To read a copy of the U.S. Navy manual for the "24 Inch Searchlight, Model 24-G-20",  CLICK HERE


Morse Code
Morse Code

Photos from 1960 - 1961 USS Little Rock Cruise Book
(click picture to enlarge)
Signal via light
Signal with Aldis
Signal Flags
Do you know these sailors? If so, please send info to the Webmaster.


Dolmabahçe Mosque

Dolmabahçe Mosque

The Dolmabahçe Mosque

Designed by architect Karabet Balyanhe, the construction of the mosque was
completed in 1855. The unique arrangement of the windows, said to resemble
a peacock's tail, is relatively rare in mosque construction.

The Dolmabahçe Mosque is just north of Istanbul on the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus strait
connects the Sea of Marmara to the Black Sea. (The Sea of Marmara joins the Mediteranean
via the Sea of Crete and the Aegean Sea.)


Here is an interesting Navy Photo of the U.S. Sixth Fleet Band approaching the landing near the Dolmabahçe Mosque

Sixth Fleet Band Istanbul 1961


Here is photo of the Dolmabahçe Mosque
as it appeared in the 1962-1963 Cruise Book


Mosque photo from 62-63 Cruise Book

Mosque

This great picture of the Dolmabahçe Mosque was taken by
shipmate Tom Jones EM2 (1962-1966) from one of the
LITTLE ROCK's small boats. (Great shot Tom!)



Were you an SM on the Little Rock?
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Add your story to the Message Board under the
"What Did YOU Do On the Little Rock" postings.


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