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Strange objects on H.M.S. Monarch, anyone know what they are?

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At the stern, over the ships name there is a cruciform object in a mesh cage, it has balls at the end of each of its arms. It appears to have SOMETHING to do with ground tackle but its no anchor, what is it? Also in the same photo there is an odd asymmetric boxy object aft of the stack in the photo but looks like its to Port of the stack, or is it on an obscured ship alongside? its fairly large and its pretty high up for such a large boxy object. what is it? The same mystery cruciform object is visible in this shot of H.M.S. Courageous. Again its configured so it may be used over the side and it appears to have the balls and the steal cage.http://i.imgur.com/GVucE9B.jpg


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I have only found one picture of a fog buoy in use so far - boxy with the cruciform structure with floats at the end would seem to generate the splashing and noise as described in this picture.




Several sources describe it, but perhaps none so eloquently as this:


HMS Naneric 3 July 1918 Convoy Mid-Atlantic

"6.0 dropped fog buoy"

(Poetry to the rescue)

"A fog-buoy was a marker float, towed on the end of a fine wire or rope, from the stern of each ship (except the last) of a line in close company, in fog. In line ahead (each ship following in the wake of another) the standard distance apart was 2 1/2 cables, or 500 yards. If the visibility was less than that distance, then the ship ahead streamed (= let out) a fog-buoy to a distance of 500 yards, and the ship astern kept the buoy abreast its bridge. Thus you knew that you were the right distance astern of your next ahead. The buoy consisted of a cross of wood, about 4 feet long, and 3 feet wide, in the form of a crucifix, towed, as it were, from the short, head, end. The cross arms were to prevent it from turning over, while at the foot end was a scoop, made of galvanized sheet iron/steel, which threw up a plume of water, readily visible. But the fog-buoy would not "guide you through the haggard night" in fog - you really would be unlikely to see it even if it was alongside you, no more than 25 yards away: darkness plus fog means adopting some other formation. But "squattering" exactly describes the buoy's motion, jerking, jinking, tunnelling through the waves."

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  • 1 month later...

Hi folks,


I would have to agree with Zeh WRT the fog buoy; my experience has been with using the type he has shown (but my experience has been since 1970's).  We also used these as 'splash targets' for small arm firings etc.


Could the cruciform shape be a 'weight' for attaching to marker buoys such as a danbuoy or the like?  We used to drop these as either drifting (unweighted) or static and would in my tme be weighted with a large concrete weight - this looks a little more elegant especially for releasing it?





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Never heard of 'fog-buoys' before, learned something.


As to the boxy object near the funnel: could it be a searchlight in its tapaulined cage. At least the German Imperial Navy ships had such searchlight protectors that sit quite prominently fore and aft.



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Well, I still don't know what they are, but the frame they are in looks similar to

present day manoverboard frames.

I was, and still am, intrigued, so I searched.

In a photo of HMS Captain (1869) in the same position there's something similar, just a dumb bell, no frame.

Most photos of Royal Navy battleships show the fitting till1930.

The earliest notice of the T shaped fog buoy is from 1912, so I don't think it is a fog buoy.

German ships of WWI vintage have a normal round buoy in the same position, so I would

think it is some kind of manoverboard.

Does anyone know if the Royal Navy used that sort of cross shaped lifebuoy?




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This is what I would have thought they were. Similar devices were used on French ships since the 18th century, as can be seen on many models in the Musée de la Marine. In case of man-overboard, they could be dropped by the man at the helm. I would suspect then, that they also have some release gear that allows them to be dropped from a central location ?



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  • 3 weeks later...

I think Thanasis got the answer, I found this description in a Tasmanian newspaper, the Deloraine and Westbury Advertiser, May 13, 1911:



If, as often happens, a person should fall overboard when it is dark, the ordinary lifebuoy is not much use unless the vessel happens to be provided with a searchlight.
The item we illustrate is intended specifically as a night buoy, lt consists of two hollow metal globes which are so buoyant that when in the water a man's weight will not sink them. The vertical tube contains a composition of calcium and phosphorous which ignites on coming into contact with water.

In the case of "man overboard" one of these buoys is thrown towards him, and as the composition instantly lights up, there is a definite guide for him to make for, provided he can swim, till such time as he is rescued.


Edited by Per
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