Wednesday, February 13, 2013

FTV 2/13/2013 Communicating Without Words

Another warm, sunny day out at sea on the T.S. Kennedy.  Whether they're on maintenance (deck or engine), support bill (scullery, inside cleaning, etc.), have watch, or training; our days move along. However, this afternoon went much different than the Kennedy's normal, quiet routine. Yes, there was another boat drill due to our weekly schedule. But the POD (Plan of the Day; a document posted everywhere on the ship to notify cadets and crew of what is planned out for the day) instructed us to leave our life preservers behind this time. Muster was quick, but the boat drill wasn't over. The PA system announcement told us all to make our way to the Helo Deck. The entire crew, cadets and staff, gathered around the aft starboard corner on the Helo Deck. There, a barrier of benches blocked off a section where some of the ensigns stood waiting for the crowd to settle. It was time to demonstrate how the different flares that we have aboard the ship work!

Once the pyrotechnics were to begin, the ensigns donned their firefighting PPE and got started. It was an amazing display! One of the flares seemed to set the sea ablaze with an orange smoke (no flame), a smoke flare. Another looked like a big sparkler (a hand flare). One type shot out with a bang; a trail of smoke left behind, and a single red spark fell from the sky. The loudest one of all had a bucket like container with a handle; when set off, a very loud bang was followed by a ribbon of rope that shot out as far as the eye could see. It was fun to have everyone together to watch the pyrotechnics. It was also nice that some of the cadets got to join in the action! This is just one of those things that makes MMA stand out as a college option; you
just can't get this type of experience at any college. Three blasts of the ship's whistle ended our boat drill and special meeting.

There are three main types of flares, with different options available for each type:

Orange smoke – effective as a line of sight distress signal for daytime use only.

Red handheld – effective as line of sight distress signal by day and night, and very bright, with a good visibility range. These are very visible from an aircraft, and burn for up to 60 seconds.

Red parachute or rocket – capable of attracting attention in daylight for up to 10 miles, with a night-time range of up to 40 miles. The rocket launches the flare up to 300m and the flare burns for 40–60 seconds as it slowly descends under the parachute.

Color Coded Signals Activity
Ship Communications
Signal Flags and Codes

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