MN Radio Officers watch periods

Can anyone tell me what shifts we worked in Blue Funnel. I think one shift was 2 hours  but I have no memory of what the full shift hours were. 


  1. Last couple of trips I did, the ships had Marisat sat-com and all Company/Agent/Charters messages/phone calls were sent/rcvd by the sat-com (JRC JUE-15A MkII) as were majority of private phone calls home @ £5.00/minute if memory serves me.

    The old-man used to sign me off watch so I could assist the eleccy – great radio room and radar/Radar equipment but lousy electrics. Didn’t mind, it was assisting the Eleccy who was ran ragged most days.

    Happy Daze!

  2. The watch keeping times that I was required to keep were laid down in the Hand Book For Radio Operators
    1961 Appendix 3 pages 167 and 168. My time at sea was during the 60’s
    Times were GMT which for example in the Eastern Atlantic, Med, North Sea and Baltic were:-
    0800-1000,1200-1400,1600-1800 and 2000-2200. These were Single Operator times (H8)
    Two Operator ships (H16) kept watch 0000-0600,0800-1400,1600-1800 and 2000-2200

  3. A different interpretation of the rules? I realise that the forum started off relating to Blue Flue, and I did not work for them (I was BP Tankers).
    The following is the system as I understood it and which I used in the mid/late 70’s. I am fairly convinced that I once saw this in writing in an official document, but due to the passage of time I cannot remember where.
    All times, ship’s time.
    From 0800 to 1200, one continuous radio watch of 4 hours.
    From 1800 to 2200, a continuous watch of 2 hours, any 2 hours at the discretion of the R/O taking into account traffic requirements.
    In addition, 2 more hours watchkeeping split up as required, but no period could be less than 30 minutes.
    For example, 0800 to 1230, 1500 to 1600, 2000 to 2230. Plenty of permutations available, adjustable for traffic and the ship’s location. For example, in the Gulf, four hours adrift from UK time, between 0800 and 1200, not much chance of Head Office messages, only local traffic; 1800 to 2200 was more useful for the other 4 hours.

    • Hello Dave……

      You’re quite right on watchkeeping hours!

      I ALWAYS did 0600 to 1200, Ship’s Time – with a break for Senior Officer’s breakfast at 0830, of course! ‘Bronzy’ from 1200 to 1700 – though I would go and send the lunchtime ‘OBS’ for a few minutes in the afternoon – Dinner at 1730, and on watch again, 1800-2000.

      Suited me very well, and no one ever complained throughout!

  4. As far as I remember the watches were changed mid 70’s to follow ship’s time… two continuous hours between 0800-1200, two continuous hours between 1600-2200 and the other 4 hours at discretion of officer in charge (ie R.O) or master. I usually did 0800-1200 and 1600-2000

  5. John, I have checked with an R/O who had many years experience with Blue Funnel. The answer is is that Holt’s followed the normal British MN system of 2 hours on and 2 hours off for 4 watches during the day. The watch was, in general, carried out by the 2nd R/O. This was the system until the 1960s although it may have changed after that.

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