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Forum LockedShip Identification

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BillCarson436 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BillCarson436 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Ship Identification
    Posted: 12-May-2009 at 03:19
Hello...
 
In the Age of Sail- 1700's to 1800's, what method was used to Identify Ships
at a distance - other than Nationality - but was there a way to ID another
ship as for instance, would Nelson have the ability to determine if another
ship on the horizon was one of theirs - Tonnant or Ajax or Colossus ?
 
JCP
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote gcle2003 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12-May-2009 at 14:16
Assuming the ship wasn't being deliberately misleading (which was common) she would be flying her country's flag (of some kind). In British ships in the period you quote, the union jack was flown in the bows, and either the red, white or blue ensign at the masthead and aft, depending on the division of the fleet the vessel was assigned to.  
 
In order to identify a particular vessel, the Royal Navy (and I believe others) assigned a 'private' number to each one which in theory every other British vessel would then have on her list . On sighting another vessel a captain would fly the (coded) current challenge signal, to which the other ship would reply with the correct response and her private number. If the exhange were satisfactory, the challenging ship would then fly her private number, and the two would know who they were (and who their captains were and which was senior, an important matter).
 
Of course quite often in the Navy sailors on one vessel would recognise another through having previously sailed with her or in company with her.
 
(NB. Whatever you may read since 1908 at least it is correct to call the Union Flag the Union Jack wherever it is displayed.)
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BillCarson436 View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BillCarson436 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 29-May-2009 at 20:48
Hello...
 
That was exactly the answer I was looking for.  Thank you.
 
I'n surprised I haven/t come across that info before now ?
JCP
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