When conditions, such as travel through narrow
waters, make a commodore's control of the convoy
impracticable, the convoy must be ordered to proceed
independently. The masters will then know they
should no longer look for guidance.
Although the commodore is responsible for the
safe conduct and information of the convoy,
MASTERS, INDIVIDUALLY, ARE AT ALL TIMES
RESPONSIBLE FOR THE SAFE NAVIGATION
AND HANDLING OF THEIR SHIPS.
The commodore will issue maneuvering orders to
ships in convoy. The OTC may request the
commodore to order a maneuver, and the transmission
be overheard. Care must be exercised by merchant
ships to ensure that only those orders addressed to
them are obeyed. Orders from the OTC to the
commodore are not intended for the ships in convoy
until relayed by the commodore and addressed to ships
in the convoy.
The vice commodore, if assigned, will sail in a
ship other than that in which the convoy commodore
sails. His/her duties are to assist the commodore and
to assume the duties of convoy commodore should the
convoy commodore's ship become incapacitated. If
the convoy splits, he/she may take charge as
commodore of a section.
The rear commodore, if assigned, assists the
commodore and vice commodore in their tasks and
acts for them in their absences. If the convoy splits,
he/she may take charge of a section.
SPECIAL CONVOY FLAGS
LEARNING OBJECTIVES: List and define
special flags flown in convoy formations.
The majority of flags used in convoy
communications will be familiar to signalmen because
of their normal use in international and Allied
A large XRAY flag is flown by the commodore's
ship while the convoy is forming up or reforming or
whenever the commodore wishes to make the ship
readily identifiable. It is flown on similar occasions by
the vice or rear commodore's ship when such officer
has assumed command of the convoy or is acting
independently of the commodore when in charge of
some of the convoy.
The NCSO at the port of departure of a convoy
will assign a distinguishing flag to be flown by all
ships and escorts in a particular convoy. It only has
local and temporary significance to assist in mutual
The commodore's ship normally acts as the guide
ship of the convoy, but he or she may have another
ship to take over as guide. A ship ordered to take over
as guide will immediately hoist her largest merchant
ensign and keep it flying as long as she remains guide.
LEARNING OBJECTIVES: Explain the
procedures for the forming of ships in a convoy
The arrangement of ships in a convoy is termed
convoy formation. While convoys have traditionally
been formed in columns in line ahead on a broad front,
higher speeds and different types of merchant ships,
and the modern vehicles, weapons, and sensors of
opposing forces may require convoys to be of any size
or shape in order to get the best protection possible.
CONVOY GRID SYSTEM
A formation grid is shown in figure 7-1; the grid
allows almost total variation of ship stations within a
convoy. The formation grid also allows for the
situation where it is considered that several small but
interrelated convoys are required.
Escorts may or may not be stationed on the same
grid system. Convoy station designators are used as
convoy internal call signs (see fig. 7-1).
The convoy will be formulated by the OCA, OTC,
NCSO, and the Sailing Order Folder
issued to each ship before sailing. Once at sea, the