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    Re: Changing Zone Descriptions at Sea
    From: Jeremy C
    Date: 2009 Nov 16, 17:10 EST
    The RO's watch, and their requirement to keep GMT on their special clocks is gone from most ships.  If you have an RO (and that in itself is a rarity) they are dayworkers and spend their time fixing the ship's electronics and computer networks.  They don't do all that much communicating except perhaps firing off messages via sat. emails.
    The endorsement mentioned by Henry is part of the international STCW (standards of training and certification of watch standing).  There are two levels to this.  The first is basic celestial navigation which is your standard LOP and Azimuths of the sun, planets, and stars.  You need this endorsement to get limited tonnage oceans licenses and unlimited tonnage lower level licenses (3rd and 2nd mate).  The second endorsement is for the upper level (chief mate and master unlimited) and goes into such fun stuff as ex-meridians, high altitude sights, and lower transits.
    Sadly this STCW endorsement is very basic and all the academy cadets are now being taught just enough to pass the practical demonstration and written tests.  As little as many of my classmates ten years ago knew about celnav, I have seen, and gotten reports from a teacher from my alma mater, that today's cadets know even less.  My last cadet didn't know the procedures to shoot or reduce an upper transit.  He literally shot a sunline at the time he calculated transit to be.  <sigh>
    In a message dated 11/16/2009 12:03:57 P.M. Eastern Standard Time, h.halboth@yahoo.com writes:
    To all,
    Obviously, I forgot to mention two (2) things in m previous post, for which I certainly apologize ...
    1. The universal and old seaman's adage, applicable to so many posts appearing on this List, i.e., "Different ships, different long splices.', meaning many things are done differently on different ships, in different Companies, and with different Unions..
    2. The Radio Shack clock, which may not be applicable to many modern ships not carrying a Radio Operator. As traffic lists were scheduled by GMT, it was necessary that the RO be aware of GMT - his clock was sometimes set to GMT, sometimes a dual handed special manufacture clock, and sometimes he just kept track of the time difference. On single operator ships, he ususally arranged his work hours independently to coincide with traffic list broadcasts - otherwise the "auto alarm"  kept watch for distress calls. It is perhaps interesting to note that in the early days of radio one of the deck officers, usually the 3rd Mate, acted as the radio operator. Again, however, "differnt ships, different long splices".
    Jeremy has otherwise amply and well filled us in on procedures applicable to the modern "all electronic" ship". I rather suspect that his interest in clestial navigation has made him into somewhat of an "enigma" to his compatriots. I have now discovered that the USCG apparently issues a special certificate, or endorsement, as a "Qualified Celestial Navigator" - can this really be true?

    --- On Sun, 11/15/09, Anabasis75@aol.com <Anabasis75@aol.com> wrote:

    From: Anabasis75@aol.com <Anabasis75@aol.com>
    Subject: [NavList 10692] Changing Zone Descriptions at Sea
    To: navlist@fer3.com
    Date: Sunday, November 15, 2009, 3:12 PM

    I will add to Henry's description of how time is changed at sea.  He is correct, the MOST ships still maintain the three 20-minute changes during the evening watches.  I do have one captain who defies tradition, as is his derogative, and changed it one hour at a time.  The trick was that he would switch watches that this was done on as we entered each new time zone.  For example, for the first change the 8x12 would do it at 2200 hours.  For the next zone the 12x4 would do it at 0200, and finally the 4x8 would do the third change at 0500.  This makes all time changes outside of the work hours of all but the two people on the bridge and would not cause major confusion (usually).
    The reason for the 20 minute changes is indeed to spread the pain or sleep bonus among the three watches.  The normal times are 2200, 0200, and 0600 so as not to interfere with people's work schedule.  To be frank, typically the watch officer hits the "advance" or "retard" button on the master clock when he wants to.  For example, when I do it on the 4x8 watch, i do it soon after I arrive, so between 0400 and 0430.  It doesn't really matter at that point.
    The navigational time it is COMPLETELY different.  The DR's, fixes, all of that, are retarded the WHOLE hour at 0200 on the 2nd Mate's watch (he's the navigator.).  He usually also does the bridge clocks (not hooked up to the ship's master clock) at this time as well.  So you will see either no 0200 fix, or two 0200 fixes depending on what direction we are traveling, as well as a note in the deck log book about advancing or retarding the clock 1 hour to conform to a particular time zone.
    I suspect that this may have been done on the 4x8 watches in times past due to the fact that the 4x8 were traditionally the 2nd mate watches.  Perhaps Henry can weigh in on that point.
    For some very fast ships, I have also heard of 2 hour changes in a night.  I have no personal knowledge on how that is done.  I suspect 40 minutes per watch.

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