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SRS Mermaid Sea Rangers Site FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)



Category: Main ->

Question
·  What are Ensigns & who is entitled to wear them?
·  How do ships keep time?
·  How to make a timer to keep accurate ships time
·  Where can I find out more about ships time?

Answer
·  What are Ensigns & who is entitled to wear them?

They are national flags as worn by the ships of a nation. Many countries that have navies as well as merchant ships use two ensigns, one for naval ships and one for merchant vessels. For British ships three ensigns are used, white, red and blue. All flags have the union flag in their top left hand quarter. The white ensign is the flag of St George with the union flag in its top left hand quadrant. Ships and naval shore establishments fly the White Ensign, indicating that they are units of the Royal Navy. Naval auxiliary vessels fly the Blue Ensign. HM Revenue and Customs also fly at Blue Ensign defaced with a crown & portcullis, as can HM Post Office vessels. Merchant ships commanded by Retired Officers of the Royals Navy are permitted to fly the Blue Ensign. The Red Ensign is flown by vessels of the merchant navy. The Royal Yacht Squadron, who are based in Cowes, on the Isle of Wight, have the Admiralties permission to also fly the white ensign. Many yacht clubs also have approval for their yachts to fly the Blue Ensign defaced with the badge of the club. Any British vessel may fly the Red Ensign and many yacht clubs also have permission to fly this defaced. The scout association have the scout badge on their Red Ensign. The Red Ensign is nicknamed ?The red duster?. Royal Air Force vessels fly a sky blue ensign, defaced with an RAF roundel. The use of the union flag on a vessel is illegal and has been since the days of Charles 1 when he ordered that it be restricted to His Majesty's ships "upon pain of Our high displeasure" in the 17th century. This is thought to be mainly due to its unauthorised use by merchant mariners to avoid paying harbour duties by passing themselves off as Royal vessels. Originally all three ensigns belonged to the Royal Navy. When the fleet was at sea for long periods during the 18th century it was customary to give each division of a fleet a different coloured ensign. Thus, the senior division (in the centre) took the Red Ensign, the next senior (the van) the Blue Ensign and the junior division (the rear) took the white. In practice the three flags became confused and in battle and at the Battle of Trafalgar, Lord Nelson ordered that all ships should wear the White Ensign, the White Ensign being much more easy to distinguish in the smoke of battle than either the red or blue. This practice gradually spread and in 1864 the Admiralty officially laid down that henceforth the White Ensign was to be the only ensign worn by ships of the Royal navy. As a consequence the Red Ensign, the senior colour, was adopted as the national ensign of Great Britain and therefore taken as the merchant flag; the Blue Ensign was given to the Royal Naval Reserve. The union flag is worn by HM Ships of the Royal Navy , when in harbour, at the forward jackstaff, between the hours of 0800 and sunset, unless the ship is being refitted.

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·  How do ships keep time?

Keeping time onboard ship was once essential for navigation. Find out how ships keep time and make sure your ship would make it home. Just like schools ships have timetables, to make sure that everyone knows what?s going on. In Nelson?s Navy all the men ate at the same time but they couldn?t all sleep at the same time. If everyone went to sleep at the same time what do you think would happen? The ships day began at 12 noon when the angle of the sun over the horizon was taken to help find out where the ship was. The day was divided into 7 watches, like this: Time 24 hr clock Watch title 12noon to 4pm - 12.00-16.00 - Afternoon Watch 4pm to 6pm - 6.00-18.00 - First dog (After the Dog Star, first to be seen at night.) 6pm to 8pm - 18.00-20.00 - Second dog 8pm to midnight - 20.00-00.00 - First watch (1st watch of the night) 12am to 4am - 00.00-04.00 - Middle watch ( middle of the night) 4am to 8am - 04.00-08.00 - Morning watch 8am to 12noon - 08.00-12.00 - Forenoon (Before noon ) Just like in school the sailors were split into groups. In school they are called classes; on board a ship they are called divisions. Each division would have something different to do during each watch.

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·  How to make a timer to keep accurate ships time

Use a sand timer to measure out half an hour then ring the right number of bells. Get two clear plastic bottles of the same size and shape, something like a shampoo bottle will do. Use a short piece of plastic drinking straw, (the thinner the better) and wrap it in plasticine. Fill one of the bottles with salt. Stick the plasticine into the open neck of the salt filled bottle and then stick the other bottle on top. Try and get the same amount of plasticine in each bottle. Turn the timer over and if you have a stopwatch start it. Otherwise carefully watch a clock or watch until exactly half an hour has passed. When half an hour has passed, turn the timer onto its side to stop the salt running any more. Very carefully remove the top bottle and empty out the extra sand. Replace the top bottle, and test your sand timer. You may need to test and adjust a few times to get a really accurate half hour timer. You could try creating, a 1-minute, a 5-minute or an hour or even a 24-hour timer, but you will need much bigger bottles for 24 hours.

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·  Where can I find out more about ships time?

http://www.hms-victory.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=102&Itemid=143

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