Radio, radio, radio transmission


After spending a week listening for 8 hours a day to channel 16, I can’t help but wonder about the origin of the various strange terms. Why is French the language of the maritime trade for instance. Anyway, for all those classic things you here, what do they really mean?

  • Out. You should normally never say “over and out” 
  • Roger or Copy. Roger stand for the first letter in “Received”
  • Wilco. Stands for WILl COmply. You should never hear Roger Wilco as Wilco implies Roger.
  • Mayday, mayday, mayday. It derives from the French, venez m’aider which means “come help me”. It means the vessel is in grace or immediate danger like sinking. It originated in 1923 from Frederick Mockford who was asked to think of a word that would indiczte distress. He was in London and since most of the traffice was to Paris, he proposed M’aidez. The Morse code is SOS which the Gemerans first used in 1905. It is three shorts, three longs and three shorts and then it was easy to remember as SOS. So it never stood for Save our Souls but that is a backronym or mneumonic to help you remember it.
  • Mayday relay. A call you make on behalf of another vessel. If you hear a Mayday and there is no Coast Guard acknowlegement after a single repetiion and a two minute wait, you should send a Mayday Relay.
  • Seelonce Mayday. Comes from the Coast Guard or the vessel in distress and it means to all other communication on this channel while Mayday is in progress. It is actually French and is spelled Silence M’aidez.
  • Seelonce Feenee. This is French Silience Fini and means silence finished and you can use the channel
  • Pan, Pan. Vessell reqiures assistance but is not in desitress. It comes from the French word Panne which refears to a mechanical breakdown. BTW, no one doe it, but you actually ahve to say Pan six times to do it correctly. The morse code is X X X. The mneumonic is Possible Assistance Needed so you know the difference between this and Mayday
  • Securite, Securite, Securite. Urgent navigational or other information to pass along. Securite means safety in French

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