Reading Roger Bowen’s letter ‘We’d Better Call For Joe’ in the February 2016 issue of Sea Breezes, brought back to mind my first encounter with a Radar Set when I joined the Clan MacLachlan as Second Officer in April 1952.
This Metro Vic ‘Seascan’ was a massive piece of equipment, all electronic valves and obviously designed for the Royal Navy as the bearings were in 180° green or red and the range indicator was calibrated in yards. We were given no instruction on how to operate this wonderful new aid to navigation, just left with a massive book of instructions which, we found, omitted one vital procedure in getting this modern wonder to work. The valves took some time to warm up and, once ready, a valve called a ‘Thermistor’, I think, was supposed to switch the radar on, but it didn’t. We learned by trial and error to give the base of the cabinet a kick to wake up the valve and turn the set on.
One day, while I was working out the noon position, days run etc, Captain Gordon came on the bridge and switched the radar on. After a while he shouted out: “Second Officer, why is this set not working?” Without looking up, or thinking, I shouted back: “Have you kicked it Sir?” WHAT??” Annoyed at my work being interrupted, without saying a word, I walked over and gave the radar a mighty kick. The valve went ‘ping’ and the set came on. The look on Captain Gordon’s face made my day.
CAPTAIN ROBERT FULLARTON
4 Ewenfield Avenue
Ayr, KA7 2QQ