WILLINGNESS TO WORK. Together, these
qualities can take you a long way in the Navy.
THE SIGNAL BRIDGE
LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Describe the
various types of signal bridges and state one
characteristic all have in common.
The signal bridge, where you will spend your
working hours, is a platform high in the superstructure
of a ship. All visual signaling takes place from this
point. The size of the signal bridge and its location
vary according to the type of ship. On some ships the
bridge is on the same deck as the navigation bridge,
where the conning officer is stationed. On others it is
on the flag bridge or on a separate bridge.
A cruiser has a large bridge, providing ample
space for the signal gang to operate. On the other hand,
the bridge of a fast frigate cannot offer nearly as much
signaling space. Some ships are equipped with divided
signal bridges, port and starboard. Regardless of how
the signal bridge is laid out, it always is designed to
give the best possible vision from ship to horizon.
In many respects, flaghoist, semaphore, and
flashing light are far superior to radio. Especially is
this true when the mission of the unit or force demands
radio silence; that is when security considerations
silence all electronic communications. With radio
silence in effect, only visual signals may be used to
convey messages. Visual signaling is used widely,
even in peacetime when security often is not a major
issue. Flaghoist is used almost exclusively by task
force commanders to maneuver their ships during
As a Signalman 3 or 2, you must have the ability
to send and receive messages and recognition signals
by flashing light, semaphore, and flaghoist. You must
learn to prepare the headings for outgoing messages
and to become proficient in the correct procedures for
handling, routing, and filing messages.
One of your first steps in becoming a Signalman
is to learn all you can about the organization in which
you will work. Obviously, no book can anticipate or
cover all the questions you will have about your new
job; so when questions arise, check with your division
petty officer. Make it a point to learn something new
each day about your job and your ship. On a modern
ship, ignorance is a very real danger to you and your
Become familiar with all the different spaces of
your ship and what their functions are. Put particular
emphasis on the communication and navigation
spaces, such as the communication center, radio
central, the bridge, and the signal bridge. Learn the
quickest, shortest, and alternate routes to each from
different sections of the ship.
Another thing to learn is that Signalmen are
generally considered the very smartest in military
appearance. Therefore, always be in a clean, neat, and
proper uniform. Also, the spaces in which you work
should be the cleanest and most orderly aboard ship.
It is your job to make it so.
DUTIES TO PERFORM
LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Define the term
phonetic alphabet; list procedures to form
letters of the alphabet and numerals; state the
purpose of the message blank. Describe the
following Signalman duties: flagbag operator,
spotter, searchlight operator, semaphore
operator, Signalman of the watch, boat
Signalman, in-port duty Signalman, and
As a Signalman, you will be tasked to perform
many duties. How you perform these duties could
directly affect the mission of your ship. Some of these
duties are explained in the following paragraphs.
One of your first duties after joining the signal
gang will be to record visual messages. Probably on
your first day on the bridge you heard one of the
operators call out, "Stand by to record." You may have
noted that the operator went directly to the signal light
and began to receive the message, while another
Signalman, maybe a striker like yourself, grabbed a
message blank and began to record the information the
operator called out.