The Yearbook of Wireless Telegraphy and Telephony, 1913, pages 323-326:
WIRELESS TELEGRAPHY AND THE MERCANTILE MARINE
WIRELESS telegraphy is now recognised as an essential part of the equipment of ocean-going passenger vessels, and, to a rapidly increasing extent, of cargo vessels and smaller craft. It has reached its present position partly through the evidence of its value to ships in distress, but mainly through the experience gained regarding the general usefulness of an extended means of marine communication.
In professional circles of the mercantile marine great importance is attached to the fact that wireless telegraphy has destroyed the isolation of ships at sea. Apart from the anxieties thus relieved, and the risks of loss and delay thus diminished, there are many economies in connection with embarkation and disembarkation which may be arranged now that it is possible to send messages to ships at almost any point of their course.
In the event of a breakdown a wireless message will not only counteract a rise in re-insurance by allaying uneasiness ashore, but also, by the diversity of help it brings, succeed in reducing what might otherwise be a high salvage charge, or even lead to escape from it altogether if the distress summons brings alongside a vessel of the same company.
A master can readily ascertain well in advance the weather conditions on his track--a matter of the first importance in Eastern waters, where hurricanes and typhoons commonly prevail during certain seasons; and he can be advised of the state of tides and bar harbours when approaching from the sea--a matter for his earnest attention, especially on the West Coast of Africa.
In foggy weather, again, a vessel's position can easily be ascertained by wireless; of the presence of floating derelicts, ice or other dangers to navigation she is always in a position to be advised or give advice. Safe and rapid navigation can be materially assisted by the checking of the ship's chronometer by wireless time signals.
Valuable time and tons of coal can be saved by the facilities with which owners of a vessel can get into touch with her for the purpose of changing her course when once she has cleared, and profit not seldom gained by the ability to order a vessel home at top speed to take a special cargo on a sudden rise in freights for a prompt steamer. Time, pilotage, and port dues can also be saved too by advising that bunker coal is not available at a port for which she is making.
Docking, berthing, amount of coal for bunkers, extra stores, space available for cargo, medical officer's attendance, hospital accommodation for accidents, ambulance, baggage, train accommodation, mails, time of arrival--all can now be arranged for in advance by wireless with an immense saving of money and time.
The utility of wireless telegraphy in such cases--and in a hundred other instances that will readily present themselves to any shipowner--coupled with the knowledge that a special section of Lloyd's Register is devoted to ships fitted with wireless apparatus, and that rates of insurance on such ships are considerably lower than on vessels not so equipped, has assured radiotelegraphy an impregnable position in the estimation of shipowners, underwriters, and the travelling public.
The equipment of lifeboats on liners with small installations has already received serious consideration, it being recognised that, in the event of a wreck, such lifeboats could not only remain in touch with one another, but keep oncoming vessels acquainted with their position.
The advance of maritime wireless telegraphy to the indispensable part it now plays in the daily round of a ship at sea has been extraordinarily rapid. At the beginning of 1909, after eight years of development work, there were 125 ships of the mercantile marine fitted with Marconi apparatus. By the end of that year the number had risen to nearly 300; to-day the total is well over 1,500.
On the North Atlantic route, where, owing largely to the establishment by the Marconi Companies of shore stations in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States, wireless telegraphy has seen its greatest development, 182 vessels, comprising the principal vessels on all the leading lines, are equipped, and many others are in course of being fitted. On the South Atlantic route the figures are also remarkable, and the number of ships fitted during the past two years has increased almost threefold. On South African routes similar rates of increase are to be noted. The opening of stations at Durban and Swakopmund, operated by the South African Government, has given an impetus to the adoption of wireless.
In Eastern waters, from Gibraltar to Shanghai, the possibilities of wireless telegraphy are enormous. Particularly in the typhoon season is wireless voted "a boon and a blessing" by merchants and shipowners with interests centering in the China Seas.
From Shanghai to San Francisco the tale is the same. The Marconi Company has taken over a very large number of vessels equipped by the United Wireless Company, and the American Marconi Company has large orders in hand for vessels trading over this route.
Wireless apparatus, in fact, figures not only on the large ocean liners, but on the vessels on the Great Lakes and the Amazon, on private yachts, lightships, cable-laying vessels, on whalers, sealers, and Arctic fishing boats. And in touch with all these, directly or by relaying, are a large number of land stations.
The development of regular communication between an increasing number of moving stations has necessitated not only a carefully devised organisation, but a uniform method of working. This, in turn, has necessitated a practical standardisation of apparatus. At the same time, the demand for absolute reliability in the hands of ordinary operators has led to the evolution of a type of apparatus which is free from complications and is constructed to work continuously without derangement. Most of the working parts are contained in solid boxes, which protect them from damage and limit the responsibilities of the operator to superficial adjustments and the ordinary business of receiving and transmitting messages.
The type of apparatus in most common use for marine intercommunication is known as the 1½ kw. set. It is with this set that the majority of liners and the large passenger vessels traversing the great ocean highways are equipped.
The everyday transmitting range of these sets varies according to the height, length, and shape of the aerial, these factors being determined in turn by the dimensions of the ship. When employed with an aerial having a mean height of 100 ft., the installation is capable of working over a range of 250 nautical miles over water, the maximum range considerably exceeding this figure; while the night range may be anything from two to three times the day range. The 1½-kw. installation is arranged to tune in transmission to waves of 300 and 600 metres, and to tune in reception to all waves between 100 and 2,500 metres.
Recent legislation on the subject of wireless telegraphy in the United States and elsewhere insists upon the provision of emergency apparatus guaranteed to work for a certain length of time in case of breakdown or failure of the power plant from which the wireless apparatus receives its electrical energy. In point of fact, this is merely confirming the practice of the Marconi Company, who have always provided emergency apparatus In this a battery of accumulators, charged by the ship's dynamo, provides current to work an induction coil.
For cargo vessels, where efficiency with compactness is essential, a special set, known as the cargo set, has been designed. It is a small power installation designed to produce transmitting waves of 300 and 600 metres with a simple change over from one to any other. Equipped with this set, notable particularly for its economy of space, an owner may send his vessel to sea confident that if trouble arises many other vessels will come speeding to her aid at the first tappings of the key.