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Old 09-12-2016, 04:42 PM   #1
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Contacting War Ships via VHF for Communication

Background:
-Heading down the coast, about 10 miles offshore Oceanside.
-3 Naval ships are in front of me, each is separate by a couple miles, doing maneuvers. Common for this area.
-On Radar, 10 mile scale, the Cruiser in front of me is moving to port – should be clear.
-The Cruiser to Starb, is at least 4 miles away. Fine.
-The Carrier is to port, but I watch her start a slow turn, and heading toward me. But, keep in mind they are still 2-3 miles away.

Me (so I can keep the comments relevant):
-Worked on merchant ships including tankers, and spent time in the USNR, but I was a Snipe (Engineer) so I don’t profess to be a nav/rules/radio expert, and that was a long time ago.
-I have been on fishing boats since age 12, and my own boat many times around Naval ships, but never had a need to speak to them in the past.

The Situation:
-I will pass the Carrier on my port, and will clear them by 2-3 miles.
-They hail me on 16, know the boat name (AIS), and probably what I had for breakfast that morning.
-They ask that I go to 10, its cordial, and they inform me they are starting to turn south. They are moving slow, and keep in mind, still 2-3 miles away.
-I ask for permission to stay on course 150, a pause for about 1 minute, they say fine – out.
-Yes, I could have avoided this trio of ships, but it would have required me to change course to get around the Cruiser to my Starb, and added another 10 miles or so, to an already 90 mile journey that am.
-I know I need to keep my distance, and was 2-3 miles away from the carrier, but they said 5 miles – didn’t know that.

So my question.
=>What would others have done?
=>Would you contact them on 16? I avoid 16 because we all know it’s for emergencies, and I don’t want to bother a carrier unless its important.
=>If you would contact them, would you use another channel, say 10?

I know there are a lot of passage makers on this board, and people with a heavy cruising background, so I wanted to throw this out there to get some feedback. Never too old to learn.
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Old 09-12-2016, 04:48 PM   #2
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Interesting. I would hail on 16 as it is the hailing and distress frequency.
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Old 09-12-2016, 04:51 PM   #3
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Have been in that exact same situation. You did it correctly. Another good reason to have AIS. Monitor 16. Let them call you. They will tell you what they want you to do. They have to do this all the time. You are just making it easier because you have AIS and can be reached on Channel 16.

Channel 16 is for hailing and distress.

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Old 09-12-2016, 05:03 PM   #4
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I've called war ships before. Treat them like any other boat, but obviously respect any requested keep-back distance.

In this case I'd probably try them on 13 first, assuming you were outside any VTS system. The vast majority of commercial boats monitor 13 and use it for bridge to bridge communications. If they didn't answer, I'd call on 16. 16 is the default hailing channel, so don't be afraid to use it. That's what it's there for. Just move promptly to a working channel. And I would have held course too. Since they were the ones maneuvering, it makes sense for them to contact you to alert you of their intentions.

One sentiment you expressed I think should be debunked, which is that you are "bothering" them if you call them. Just the opposite. I can't tell you how many times I've contacted much bigger boats, tows, etc., to negotiate or confirm a pass, and they are uniformly appreciative. One challenge we all face is not knowing whether another boat sees us, knows what they are supposed to do, etc. If you see a commercial boat, chances are pretty good they will operate predictable. If you see a recreational boat, you really have no idea and have to be prepared for them to operate unpredictably. As soon as you call the other boat and make arrangement, the guessing game is over.

Bottom line, seems to me that you did just fine.
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Old 09-12-2016, 05:11 PM   #5
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You'll have a better chance of making contact with Military vessels on 16 than 13 (unless they have a pilot aboard. Thats just the way it is, they often don't monitor 13. They may or may not be transmitting an AIS signature too.
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Old 09-12-2016, 05:16 PM   #6
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You contact them on 16 It is the calling channel. Then you switch to a working channel (in this case they said 10.) It could as well have been 06, 12, 22. Then you have your discussion.

It is about 50/50 that they will answer when I have called at various places. They will usually answer if there is a CPA issue or they want to make you alter course. If you are TOO close they will call you directly. AIS is a good thing.

But they will sometimes not answer if they see that you are well clear, and don't want to bother with comms with 'another boater trying to be talkative'.

I met a sub coming out of New London last Tuesday. I was going to be about .5 mile astern of him. I called him and let him know I would stay astern and increase CPA as a courtesy. In reality I couldn't have caught him if i wanted to. But I did slow down so they could detect it on ais that I was cooperating.

In my experience Navy ships will only talk on channel 13 when they are in inland waters, or near to it. When at sea they will almost always only monitor 16.
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Old 09-12-2016, 05:45 PM   #7
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About three years ago heading East out to Nine Mile Reef here off Jax a boomer from King's Bay was crossing from the North. I watched him on my radar and based on his and my speed I would be a good mile behind his stern as we crossed.

It was a surprise then when he hailed me and stated that recreational vessels should stay 500 yards away from a military vessel. I thought about a retort, but decided not to answer at all since there was no question asked. Just pointed a few degrees up and slowed.
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Old 09-12-2016, 08:09 PM   #8
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Thanks for the responses.
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Old 09-12-2016, 09:10 PM   #9
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"I avoid 16 because we all know it’s for emergencies, and I don’t want to bother a carrier unless its important."

That is an odd statement. Especially for someone with your professed background.
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Old 09-12-2016, 09:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Capt.Bill11 View Post
"I avoid 16 because we all know it’s for emergencies, and I don’t want to bother a carrier unless its important."

That is an odd statement. Especially for someone with your professed background.

Agree, reading it back it is an odd statement.

I monitor 16, have used it to hail other boats, but very infrequently.

In my area it is over used, and I routinely hear idle banter regarding “fishing spots”, “can I have a radio check”, etc.

So in my mind, it is mostly for emergencies.

One of my rules is to avoid drama on boat forums. I am new to this forum, but I have been on others for awhile.

I therefore wanted to give a brief background, so I would not get a bunch of responses that were directed toward a newer boater.

I am on vacation today, so I had the time to write out a summary of what happened, and I appreciate the great feedback I got.

Interesting how you grabbed on to one statement, and then questioned my background, and that is the only reason I am responding back to you, otherwise my policy is to ignore these type of comments.

If it helps, I can scan and email my unlimited HP and tonnage, 3rd Asst Engineer License, “Captain” Bill. It expired over 30 years ago, and is now a wall hanger.

I also have my USN honorable discharge cert if you would like a copy of that.

I think I made it clear in my post that I was engineer in those days, down in the bilge, and not on the bridge. I also clearly stated I have been out of that world for a long time, and my job for the past 30 years is shoreside, and not related to the maritime field. IE, I am just a recreational boater trying to have fun, but also learn from sharp people such as on this forum.

Fletcher - Out.
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Old 09-12-2016, 10:09 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fletcher500 View Post
agree, reading it back it is an odd statement.

i monitor 16, have used it to hail other boats, but very infrequently.

in my area it is over used, and i routinely hear idle banter regarding “fishing spots”, “can i have a radio check”, etc.

so in my mind, it is mostly for emergencies.

one of my rules is to avoid drama on boat forums. I am new to this forum, but i have been on others for awhile.

i therefore wanted to give a brief background, so i would not get a bunch of responses that were directed toward a newer boater.

i am on vacation today, so i had the time to write out a summary of what happened, and i appreciate the great feedback i got.

interesting how you grabbed on to one statement, and then questioned my background, and that is the only reason i am responding back to you, otherwise my policy is to ignore these type of comments.

if it helps, i can scan and email my unlimited hp and tonnage, 3rd asst engineer license, “captain” bill. It expired over 30 years ago, and is now a wall hanger.

i also have my usn honorable discharge cert if you would like a copy of that.

i think i made it clear in my post that i was engineer in those days, down in the bilge, and not on the bridge. I also clearly stated i have been out of that world for a long time, and my job for the past 30 years is shoreside, and not related to the maritime field. Ie, i am just a recreational boater trying to have fun, but also learn from sharp people such as on this forum.

fletcher - out.
boom!!!!
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Old 09-12-2016, 10:34 PM   #12
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Boom boom, lol
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Old 09-12-2016, 11:47 PM   #13
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Old 09-13-2016, 12:16 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher500 View Post
Agree, reading it back it is an odd statement.

I monitor 16, have used it to hail other boats, but very infrequently.

In my area it is over used, and I routinely hear idle banter regarding “fishing spots”, “can I have a radio check”, etc.

So in my mind, it is mostly for emergencies.

One of my rules is to avoid drama on boat forums. I am new to this forum, but I have been on others for awhile.

I therefore wanted to give a brief background, so I would not get a bunch of responses that were directed toward a newer boater.

I am on vacation today, so I had the time to write out a summary of what happened, and I appreciate the great feedback I got.

Interesting how you grabbed on to one statement, and then questioned my background, and that is the only reason I am responding back to you, otherwise my policy is to ignore these type of comments.

If it helps, I can scan and email my unlimited HP and tonnage, 3rd Asst Engineer License, “Captain” Bill. It expired over 30 years ago, and is now a wall hanger.

I also have my USN honorable discharge cert if you would like a copy of that.

I think I made it clear in my post that I was engineer in those days, down in the bilge, and not on the bridge. I also clearly stated I have been out of that world for a long time, and my job for the past 30 years is shoreside, and not related to the maritime field. IE, I am just a recreational boater trying to have fun, but also learn from sharp people such as on this forum.

Fletcher - Out.
Cheez, chill out. I wasn't questioning your back ground.

Of course short of you posting all your paper work there is no way I could know for sure who or what you really are. Anymore then you could know for sure who or what I am. It's the frik'in internet after all. Anybody can pop up and claim to be anybody. At least at first.

But as a professional mariner, referring to you in this case, it just seemed an odd statement to make regarding when and why to use 16.

And it still does. But it's just an observation not an accusation.

And by the why I am a licensed captain and have made my living doing so for over 30 years on white boats. So welcome aboard, have a beverage and relax.
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Old 09-13-2016, 12:58 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fletcher500 View Post
Background:
-Heading down the coast, about 10 miles offshore Oceanside.
-3 Naval ships are in front of me, each is separate by a couple miles, doing maneuvers. Common for this area.
-On Radar, 10 mile scale, the Cruiser in front of me is moving to port – should be clear.
-The Cruiser to Starb, is at least 4 miles away. Fine.
-The Carrier is to port, but I watch her start a slow turn, and heading toward me. But, keep in mind they are still 2-3 miles away.

Me (so I can keep the comments relevant):
-Worked on merchant ships including tankers, and spent time in the USNR, but I was a Snipe (Engineer) so I don’t profess to be a nav/rules/radio expert, and that was a long time ago.
-I have been on fishing boats since age 12, and my own boat many times around Naval ships, but never had a need to speak to them in the past.

The Situation:
-I will pass the Carrier on my port, and will clear them by 2-3 miles.
-They hail me on 16, know the boat name (AIS), and probably what I had for breakfast that morning.
-They ask that I go to 10, its cordial, and they inform me they are starting to turn south. They are moving slow, and keep in mind, still 2-3 miles away.
-I ask for permission to stay on course 150, a pause for about 1 minute, they say fine – out.
-Yes, I could have avoided this trio of ships, but it would have required me to change course to get around the Cruiser to my Starb, and added another 10 miles or so, to an already 90 mile journey that am.
-I know I need to keep my distance, and was 2-3 miles away from the carrier, but they said 5 miles – didn’t know that.

So my question.
=>What would others have done?
=>Would you contact them on 16? I avoid 16 because we all know it’s for emergencies, and I don’t want to bother a carrier unless its important.
=>If you would contact them, would you use another channel, say 10?

I know there are a lot of passage makers on this board, and people with a heavy cruising background, so I wanted to throw this out there to get some feedback. Never too old to learn.
As a former carrier sailor (CV-64) and one who worked in CDC and Operations, I'll second the comment that you did well.

A carrier, when conducting flight operations, calculates the true wind and then calculates the speed and direction to get 25 knots of wind down the angle deck. At that time, they also become a restricted manuverability vessel, and will fly day shapes and lights at night to advertise same.

Talking to the carrier is the right thing to do, as they generally have operational control of the vessels operating with them, and can direct the force as required- or advise you to maneuver away.
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Old 09-13-2016, 01:10 AM   #16
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I also had a conversation with a warship off of Oceanside. I had heard him say he was moving closer to shore to anchor, but I was on a course to cross his bow (at about 1/2 nm) so I thought it would be prudent to find out if he was comfortable with my plan to cross. I hailed him on 16, he came back, we picked a working channel and we had our conversation.

Long story short he didn't seem concerned about me crossing his track as long as I held my course. Initiating the conversation via 16 seemed like the right approach and it worked well.
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Old 09-13-2016, 12:45 PM   #17
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As others have noted calling them on 16 would have been fine. I've done that (more with commercial traffic on 13) and it is no big deal.

But this got me thinking: I usually identify the traffic on AIS and hail them by name. But I do have the option of automagically using the MMSI from their AIS to make a DSC call rather than just hailing on 16/13. Anyone tried that?

More generally, anyone use DSC for anything other than the big-red-button?
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Old 09-13-2016, 01:08 PM   #18
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It has been my experience that often the numbers and call signs are not true. Frequently the hull numbers are the only thing that is real. They often turn on and off. And unless you are a perceived threat they may ignore calls anyway.

Several years ago I was calling one and it turned out the mmsi was for a yard tug in Norfolk.
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Old 09-13-2016, 01:39 PM   #19
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Of course 16 is the channel to use. Or at the very least try first.

I mean they call it the " International hailing and distress frequency/channel" after all.
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Old 09-13-2016, 02:16 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Capt.Bill11 View Post
Of course 16 is the channel to use. Or at the very least try first.

I mean they call it the " International hailing and distress frequency/channel" after all.
And it only takes a very few seconds of air time. Five seconds to call. Five to respond and two to say what channel to go to. The only problems are when someone decides to try to have their conversation on 16, but they're generally reminded of proper etiquette, more in some areas than others.
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