A captain's pain points in everyday operations

"Be nice if instead of using the VHF to call port control with the “stupid questions” (ship’s name, IMO number, last port, next port etc) it was done using some other standardized method.

Same with calling the pilots, for example the channel used for calling Singapore pilots, Have to be ready when one call ends to jump in before the next ship. At the same time while dealing with heavy traffic."

All of this could be easily automated using Routine priority DSC messages. Could even be programmed to give an automatic response on query by port control. The system was designed decades ago to provide for just such functionality but for some reason is hardly used for anything except distress.

Probably because it is generally easier to use the VHF for voice communication versus fiddling around with the DSC functions for most mariners. It is more of a momentary loss of situational awareness carrying on a conversation versus putting together a text message or going through menus to find a canned message.

Also, as many times as we have all done the weekly DSC test, the percentage of people on the other side of that test that even bother to ping it back to you is dismal. Most successful DSC tests start with a voice call to inform the other operator that you are going to use the DSC.

So yeah. A fairly useless system in everyday use with the current standard.


Did you see a Japanese fighter plane while this was going on? (Some of you will know what I’m referring to.)

I got it.

I think that’s the fault of the equipment makers who make hopelessly difficult interfaces.

But DSC also works with computers, so it would be pretty simple to design a box – with a proper keyboard for input – which would allow you to input data needed for routine messages, and receive them. It would be really useful for the kind of cases mentioned in the previous post. Except that it would require everyone to have one, including port control.

…and change the dang frequency. After three decades (+), my high pitch hearing is not what it was.

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A surprising number of ships have severely restricted visibility from the bridge. The inability to see ahead of the vessel from a reasonable conning station is a very tense situation when navigating in a narrow winding channel with a lot of traffic. Those were the ships I hated the most. I’ll take an annoying alarm any day in exchange.